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Revisiting mercenaries under Henry Fitz Empress, 1167–1188

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Chapter Summary

In 1945, Jacques Boussard put forth the argument that Henry virtually transformed English armies by preferring the shield-tax or scutage over the still-functioning feudal levy. Boussard found large quantities of mercenaries in the Pipe Rolls, peaking at just over 6,000 effectives during the Great Revolt of 1173?1174. He therefore concluded that Henry had reshaped feudal armies into paid, professional forces that were faster, better-organized, and more effective in both battle and siege operations. This chapter focuses on first example of Henry II deploying tactical units of mercenaries, the siege of Chaumont in 1167. Chaumont is an example of mercenary tactics employed in a constrained area of operations, but in our second case, the Battle of Dol, we find Henry placing more and more trust in the ability of mercenary groups to obey his command and those commands of his subordinates.

Keywords: Chaumont; Henry Fitz Empress; Jacques Boussard; mercenaries



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