Surrender in Medieval Europe—An Indirect Approach<sup>*</sup>

John Gillingham

in How Fighting Ends

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693627
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741258 | DOI:
Surrender in Medieval Europe—An Indirect Approach*

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This chapter distinguishes two phases in the culture of war in Europe. In the first, the capture and enslavement of women and children were respectable war aims; in consequence the systematic killing of adult males (especially those of high-status) was routine; for a warrior to surrender was shameful and very rare. In phase two, the demise of slavery meant that for the first time women and children came to be regarded as non-combatants, and high-status warriors treated as a source of profit (ransom). In consequence the knightly class came to recognize circumstances in which surrender was both sensible and honorable. It amounts to a shift from the Old Testament-style warfare still characteristic of the early Middle Ages to war in the ‘age of chivalry’.

Keywords: enslavement; women and children; ransom; non-combatants; chivalry; Old Testament warfare; knights

Chapter.  12380 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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