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Trickery and Deception in Medieval Warfare, c. 1000 - c. 1330

Titterton, James William (2019) Trickery and Deception in Medieval Warfare, c. 1000 - c. 1330. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis analyses the use and depiction of deception in warfare during the central Middle Ages (approximately 1000–1320). It studies contemporary narrative histories to understand how combatants employed trickery in combat but also to understand how their society viewed the morality of using such deceitful tactics. Chapter One examines the challenges of using medieval chronicles, which are often employed as clear windows onto the past, for studying military history. Chapters Two to Seven analyse different forms of military deception and their portrayal in chronicles, beginning with the field of espionage and strategic deception and continuing into more tactical deceptions, such as ambushes and disguises. Chapter Eight undertakes a close reading of the vocabulary used by chroniclers to describe trickery and cunning, revealing that the same terms could be used for both licit and illicit acts of deceit and that cunning was considered a legitimate alternative to brute force in war. The final chapter considers those rare cases when chroniclers explicitly discussed the morality of deception in war, whether between Western Europeans or in conflicts with the variety of non-normative enemies that Westerners encountered in this period. The evidence indicates that trickery occupied an ambiguous place in medieval thought. It could be admired as a display of skill and daring but also portrayed as treacherous and underhand, depending on the individual chronicler’s perspective. The Appendix contains a taxonomy of incidents of deception, drawn from over seventy chronicle sources, demonstrating the ubiquity and variety of trickery in medieval military narratives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Medieval, military, deception, trickery, tactics, chivalry, chronicles, Latin, Old French
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of History (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mr James Titterton
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2019 11:04
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2019 11:04
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24194

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