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The military careerist in fourteenth-century England

Ayton, Andrew


Andrew Ayton


This article seeks to explain how it was that the careerist soldier became so prominent and ubiquitous a feature of the English military scene during the second half of the fourteenth century. Beginning with a characterisation of the military careerist in his various guises, the discussion proceeds with an investigation of how the pool of militarily-employed manpower and the wider recruitment context changed during the fourteenth century owing to the impact of exogenous agencies of change on the dynamics of recruitment. The importance of expanded employment opportunities across Europe and the socio-economic consequences of the Black Death are noted, but particular attention is given to how the English crown’s management of war strategy and operations, and its influence on army structures and recruitment mechanisms, created a fertile soil within which military careerism could flourish. The roles played by ‘supersized’ mixed retinues and by opportunities for service in garrisons (especially at Calais) and at sea are considered in turn. The article concludes with an assessment of how the rise of the careerist affected the character of England’s military community and the social cohesion of its armies.


Ayton, A. (2017). The military careerist in fourteenth-century England. Journal of Medieval History, 43(1), 4-23.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 31, 2016
Online Publication Date Oct 3, 2016
Publication Date Jan 1, 2017
Deposit Date Nov 29, 2016
Journal Journal of medieval history
Print ISSN 0304-4181
Electronic ISSN 1873-1279
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 1
Pages 4-23
Keywords Careerism; Military service; Soldiers; Armies; Garrisons; Navies; Recruitment; Calais (France); Edward III; King of England, 1312-1377; Richard II, King of England, 1367-1400
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the accepted manuscript of an article published in: Journal of medieval history, 2017. The version of record is available at the DOI link in this record.