Medieval Warfare V Issue 1: Treason and Treachery - Betrayal in the Medieval World

Medieval Warfare V Issue 1: Treason and Treachery - Betrayal in the Medieval World

Medieval Warfare V Issue 1: Treason and Treachery - Betrayal in the Medieval World

In the Medieval period most treachery was personal - against an individual rather than a state or an institution. These articles include some of the most famous examples of treason, as well as some less familiar.

We start with a look at one of the most notorious Byzantine families, the Doukas. As well as provided several Emperors, they also included Andronikus Doukas, who famously betrayed the Emperor at the Battle of Manzikert, a defeat that opened up the eastern provinces to conquest. This article places that betrayal within a framework of family ambition.

The second article looks at alternative ways to end a siege, including simple betrayal, tricks, sending in false orders, taking advantage of a defensive mistake such as leaving a gate unguarded or convention, where the defenders agreed to surrender if not relieved within a set period of time. Even the strongest castle could fall to a good trick, as the English often found out in Wales.

Next is a less familiar topic, the fate of Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria, countess of Holland until her relatives betrayed her and seized the province.

Another unfamiliar topic is the battle of the River Talas (751), a rare clash between Arab and Chinese armies. Here there is an argument about whether any betrayal took place - one group of Turks sided with the Arabs, having previously been attacked by the Chinese. The Chinese thus viewed them as part of the Empire, while the Turks presumably didn’t share that view.

More familiar to me is the reign of Edward II, which saw the fall of his Despenser favourites, his betrayal and removal from the throne by his wife Isabella and her lover Mortimer, and their eventual overthrow by her son Edward III. 

Finally we look at the role of the Stanley Family during the Wars of the Roses, where they managed to stay neutral for large parts of the conflict, before finally playing a vital role at the battle of Bosworth. Here at least it is fairly clear what their motives were - they were related through marriage to Henry Tudor, and had only narrowed escaped being executed by Richard at the start of his reign, so for Richard to expect them to be loyal to him was rather foolish.

Away from the theme there are three articles. The first looks at the problems encountered when the Higgins Armory Museum of Massachusetts closed and moved its collection into a nearby museum. Next is a look at the Swiss Pike, studying how important it was within Swiss armies, how it was used and how it was countered. Finally comes a look at the fragments of the Anglo-Saxon poem Waldere, and what they might tell us about shield wall fighting. This is an alternative view of these fragments, which are normally said to describe lone heroic fighting, but the author does make a good argument.

Getting personal with treason: Historical Introduction
The Doukai: Byzantine politics of betrayal
Not by siege, but by guile: Alternatives to siege warfare
Losing Holland: A countess betrayed
Treacherous auxiliaries: The Battle of the River Talas
Favourites and Feuds: The treason against Edward II
To kill a king: The Stanleys in the Wars of the Roses
On the move: The Higgins Armory Museum Collection
The Swiss Pike: The weapon, tactics and countermeasures
The shield-wall of Waldere: New evidence for Anglo-Saxon tactics

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