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The English way of war, 1360-1399

Baker, Gary Paul


Gary Paul Baker


Andrew, 1959 Ayton


This thesis challenges the orthodox view that the years 1360 to 1399 witnessed a period of martial decline for the English. Several reasons are advanced to support this hypothesis: the problems of hindsight and perception (as in a comparison with the periods directly before and after the one under consideration), the fact that the ‘strengths’ of England’s enemies have been overly praised, whilst the ‘weaknesses’ of the English have been overly emphasized and her achievements either ignored or belittled. There are, however, two central arguments against the hypothesis of decline. The first is that the changes that occurred in the structure and recruitment of armies in the first-half of the fourteenth-century had by the second-half of the century, and certainly after the resumption of the Anglo-French war in 1369, profoundly altered the composition of the English military-community; the men who fought within these armies. Increasing demands from the crown for military service, not to mention exogenous demands for English soldiers, coupled with increasing fiscal expense for the individual to fight, meant that the social composition of the community changed. War became increasingly the preserve of a nascent, professional, (at least by the standards of the day), fighting force whose military experience stretched over decades. That England possessed such a fighting force, compared to those of her enemies, strongly counters the notion of a military decline.

The second major argument against military decline in this period is that the English ‘conduct of war’ has long been misunderstood, and overly denigrated, due to this lack of clarity. The English, far from being on the back-foot and at the mercy of their enemies, were actually pursuing an aggressive, battle-seeking strategy, to win a decisive engagement and quickly end the conflicts in which they fought. This strategy, also employed in the first-half of the fourteenth-century with great success, was both desirable, and a financial necessity, in the period under scrutiny.


Baker, G. P. (2011). The English way of war, 1360-1399. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Nov 5, 2014
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords History
Public URL
Additional Information History Department. The University of Hull
Award Date May 1, 2011


Thesis (2.7 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2011 Baker, Gary Paul. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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