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Mercenaries and paid men. The mercenary identity in the middle ages - Introduction

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Chapter Summary

Mercenaries have never had a good press. One aspect of the poor press which mercenaries have received is that they are seen as the most brutal and degraded of soldiers. Cruelty, in particular is often seen as their defining characteristic. The chapters in this book reveal how common mercenaries were in Europe and even elsewhere in the Middle Ages. They also point to their impact on the conduct of war. English-speaking people, in particular, tend to regard foreigner and mercenary as synonymous because of Magna Carta. The key to understanding the mercenary in the period after AD 1000, and perhaps even before, is to grasp how important war was to the European upper class.

Keywords: Magna Carta; mercenary; Middle Ages



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