Medieval Warfare and its Effects on Society/Economics

S'mon

Legend
The Black Death certainly killed more people and disrupted society more than any of the wars - possibly all of the wars combined, with the exceptions of one or two local campaign specifically aimed at the total eradication of a particular society (Charlemagne against the pagan Saxons, roughly where I'd start the "middle ages"; the failure of the Hussite crusades at the other end).

Something to consider is that warfare in the medieval period is characterised not by battles or sieges, but by raids. That doesn't always mean the raid is restricted to a region close to the border. The Great Chevauchee (led by John of Gaunt of Shakespeare fame) crossed France from Calais to the English king's territories in Gascony, looting and pillaging much of the way. Other armies covered equal or longer distances in their raids (in eastern Europe, Mongol successor states raided extensively, and did so for centuries). In other parts of the world raiding was more local, but where the borders were stable it could go on for long enough that the border regions basically developed farmer-warriors who lived in fortified villages and expected to engage in a certain amount of raiding or raid-defence every year. The impact on the population and wealth of eastern Europe was much greater from those centuries of persistent raiding for loot, slaves and random destruction than the effect on France of one great expedition. Yet persistence over time isn't necessarily going to do that much damage - the Viking raids lasted for a couple of centuries and England came out of them as one of Europe's wealthier kingdoms (Scotland didn't, but Scotland was poor before they began and didn't regress noticeably). Effectively you can say there's no "front line", and an army can appear anywhere; but that unless you're unlucky enough to be in that army's path you probably don't notice much effect; and if it comes by again next year and rides over you, then you're going to develop defences to make that harder and a society where most people are able to defend themselves and those that aren't have moved somewhere safer.
Arab raiding effectively depopulated the north-Mediterranean coasts in some periods. But I think it was a lot more intensive than what the Vikings managed. And they were carrying off populations, which the Vikings did a fair bit, but medieval Christian Europeans didn't since slavery died out fairly early except in a few fringe locations like Scotland.
 
@Sotik The conflict you have in mind does sound somewhat similar to the Hundred Years War (1337-1453, though there were many lulls and periods of truce in that time). That war's raids were far more extensive and devastating however, which was their intent.

You might find this podcast about it interesting. It's an interview with David Green, the author of The Hundred Years War: A People's History. It covers the effects of the war on civilians, including those at a distance from the front.
 
Aspects of war that will be felt far from the front:

Recruitment of troops
Propaganda
Increase in taxation and use of purveyance (compulsory purchase for less than market value)
Acquisition of plunder and slaves
Increase in prices
Disruption of trade
Refugees
Raids and special forces operations, especially if movement capabilities are increased by magic
Technological development. In Fantasyland, this almost always means magic.
Increase in nationalism and xenophobia/bigotry

And if the war goes badly:
Revolt
Famine
Iconoclasm
 
Propaganda:

"Edward III issued writs de orando pro rege (prayers for the realm and its good government) almost annually from the late 1330s to the mid-1350s. He also called on the preaching talents of the English clergy to explain his reasons for going to war, the legitimacy of his claim to the French Crown and to emphasise the remarkable patience he had shown before he had been compelled to take up arms. The friars were particularly important in delivering these messages. The Dominicans were required to present the king’s claim in ‘public and private sermons’ and to emphasise his restraint, his desperate attempts to keep the peace in the face of the duplicity of ‘Sir Philip de Valois’ (Philippe VI), who ‘calls himself king of France’ and who ‘by force and against justice’ had usurped the French throne, seized Gascony, stirred up the Scots and conspired even to ‘subvert the English language’."​
- The Hundred Years War: A People's History (2014) David Green​

The effect of raids:

"When the war reopened in 1346, the English turned to a new strategic approach. In 1346, 1349, 1355, 1356 and 1359 Plantagenet troops launched major chevauchées into almost every corner of France, laying waste broad bands of territory (typically some fifteen miles wide) along the lines of their passage. Once the armies reached areas away from the heavily defended frontier areas, they were able to destroy sizeable towns and even cities as well as the smaller settlements of the countryside: on the Crécy chevauchée, for example, the towns of Caen, Cherbourg, St-Lô, Lisieux, Barfleur, Carentan, Valonges, Gisors, Vernon, Poissy, St-Germain-en-Laye, St Cloud, Pontoise, Poix, Longueville, Neufchâtel, Le Crotoy, and Étaples, and the suburbs of Beauvais, Montreuil-sur-Mer, and Boulogne, were all more-or-less destroyed, along with nearly a dozen others. In one of the two major chevauchées of 1355, the Black Prince rode from Bordeaux to the Mediterranean and back, destroying some 500 castles, towns, villages, and hamlets, along with Limoux and the suburbs of Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Narbonne, some of the largest cities of France. By 1359-60, when a large English army rode from Calais to Reims to Burgundy to Paris, France was left 'overwhelmed, and trampled under foot', 'on the verge of destruction', and 'tormented and war-ravaged' from one end to the other."​
- Medieval Warfare (1999), ed. Maurice Keen​

Taxation and debasement of coinage:

"[The King of France] taxed his people very severely, for he made them pay double the subsidy which they had to pay the year before. And the tax collectors said that this was for the arrière-ban [the call-up of the militia] which had been proclaimed at the beginning, but in truth it could not be said to have been a real arrière-ban, because the army never actually went forth. And besides this common tax, everyone was required to take part in musters of arms. Then it was put to the rich men that they were not sufficiently equipped, and that they would therefore have to pay certain fines. In this year [1338], Pope Benedict granted the tithes for two years from the churches to the King of France, on condition that he not demand any other subsidy from the clergy; but the condition was not met, for there were few clerics of whatever estate or condition who didn't have to make some other aid to the King. He even asked of his own clerks of Parlement, of the chamber of inquests, and of the chamber of accounts, and even of the knights of his household, that they lend him their silver vessels in order to make coins. This they did and so he struck a great deal of money, and then before the year was over he returned to them the silver, according to the measurements which had been taken. And he continually lessened the silver content of his coinage, and so made florins out of pennies."​
- Medieval Warfare again, quoting a contemporary chronicle​
 
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Zardnaar

Hero
I can answer this depending on how detailed.
War was smaller scale 20k troops were rare, William took England with 5k or 6k.

There was no effective taxation in the modern sense. Kings usually borrowed money and the cost would fall in vassals.

Logistics sucked, a siege was often just as dangerous to the attackers due to sanitation. Imagine having 10 000 troops camped in a field with no sanitation or possibly water for several weeks.

Byzantines and Caliphate's could field bigger armies but that's more in the east with centralised power structures and rich provinces.

Populations were smaller. 1492 Castile had 4 million people, Aragon 1 million and they formed Spain.

France was a super power with a massive population relative to anyone else. Logistics and tax limited how many men could be thrown at a problem along with when, it's a big time period.
 
Various effects:

As the [crusading] movement developed, so more and more westerners became touched directly by it. By the mid-thirteenth century, for example, there can have been few laymen and laywomen who did not hear at least one crusade sermon, probably more, in the course of their lives… With the extension of crusade taxation and other fund raising expedients, fewer and fewer pockets can have remained untouched, whether those of the peasant, townsman, cleric, or whomever. And crusaders’ thirst for cash obviously presented opportunities for those wishing to extend their interests in a particular locality, for example, since the supply side of the land market was significantly eased at times of crusade. Similarly, the wealth of the Italian maritime republics was clearly enhanced by the demands of crusaders for shipping and supply, and the establishment of the Latin settlements in the East allowed them to extend their trading ventures. The need for weapons, foodstuffs, and other necessaries also provided temporary growth in demand in crusaders’ homelands for a whole range of items, although it is impossible to know whether the economic stimulus stemming from expenditure for the crusades was outweighed by the disruption that crusading also caused to economic life.​
- Oxford History of the Crusades (1995) ed. Jonathan Riley-Smith​

Xenophobia/bigotry:

Although no crusade was launched against the Jews of western Europe, their communities were profoundly affected: directly from crusaders’ physical attacks and financial extortion; and indirectly by increasingly overt anti-Semitic prejudice and discrimination arising from the development of a culture of aggressive Christian piety and religious xenophobia that crusading reflected and stimulated…​
The concerted atrocities inflicted on Jewish communities in the Rhineland and northern France in 1096 during the early stages of the First Crusade… set a new pattern for persecution that revolved around money, faith and civil protection. From May until July various Franco-German contingents of crusaders wrought havoc in Jewish communities the length of the Rhineland and elsewhere in northern France. From both Christian and Jewish sources, their motives appeared both material and religious. The desire to seize Jewish cash to pay for crusade expenses was widely shared; Godfrey of Bouillon extracted 1,000 marks from the Jews of Cologne and Mainz, later victims of the depredations of the followers of Count Emich of Flonheim, who committed a series of the worst outrages. The desire for money was nonetheless closely allied to a declared collective sense of vengeance on enemies of the cross. While religious claims may have acted as a cover for violent mercenary grand larceny, it appeared to some victims as a potent ideological inspiration, supported by the many instances of enforced conversion...​
This combination of material greed, sincere or feigned enthusiastic religious hostility, and the limits of establishment protection was displayed again during the Second Crusade, when, among other outbreaks of persecution, a charismatic Cistercian preacher Radulph whipped up anti-Jewish violence again in the Rhineland in 1146; and in England during the early stages of the Third Crusade in 1189–90, attacks that culminated in the massacre and mass suicide of Jews at York in March 1190.​
- The World of the Crusades (2019) Christopher Tyerman​
World of the Crusades - attacks on Jews.png
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Fights were supposed to be exclusively between members of the warring class, which were almost universally heavy cavalry. Serfs were in theory completely outside of warfare, and though they had to support it in their taxes they weren't supposed to be fighting it.
Warring classes, not warring class. Men at Arms, Sergeantry; Yeomanry; Gentry, and early Nobility were all warring classes. (just before the renaissance, few nobility would be warriors

Further, calling up the rabble was VERY common for defensive actions... and serfs were expected to be called along with the other peasants. Serving as men at arms or yeoman was social mobility.

The ideals were as stated, the truth was far, far uglier.[/QUOTE]
 
Disruption of trade (negative):

Pirates and privateers preyed on the French and English shipping in the Channel every time war between France and England broke out; with the result that during the Hundred Years War, i.e. for nearly 150 years, the sea-borne trade between Brittany and Normandy on the one hand and the English south coast on the other was reduced to a small and fitful trickle. The North Sea was thrown into a chaos of universal and promiscuous privateering of this kind in the fifties and sixties of the fifteenth century, and there were occasional outbursts of wholesale piracy in the disturbed periods in Anglo-Flemish relations in the early fourteenth century. But in the times when wars were not raging and in areas outside the range of privateering bases, the main channels of sea-borne trade were maintained more or less open.

- The Cambridge Economic History of Europe Vol 2 (1987) ed M Postan and Edward Miller​

Disruption of trade (positive):

The Hundred Years War, which had severely hit the English wool trade, was Castile's blessing. Along with the wool trade grew wool-related industries, and there was an important growth in Castile's ports - Burgos, Santander, Seville - and in shipbuilding, and these in turn led Castilian trade in the Atlantic in other produce.

- Oxford History of Medieval Europe (1988) ed George Holmes​
 

LuisCarlos17f

Adventurer
Medieval warfare wasn't only open battlefield, but also castle sieges, and theses are too expensive to be built, and also it needed a lot of time.

And then they weren't professional soldiers, but ordinary people. Who fights and dies in the war is a farmer who isn't working and paying taxes.

The technology doesn't mind. Wars always are too expensive but if the enemy is too weak.

(In D&D some magic weapons are more expensive than building a church or a tower, or hiring a complete squad of mercenaries).
 
Propaganda and recruitment:

The core of all crusade promotion consisted of papal proclamation of the expedition in question since popes alone possessed the requisite authority to declare a crusade and offer the spiritual and material privileges enjoyed by crusaders… Urban II instructed the assembled prelates to announce what he had said throughout the churches of their dioceses and to preach the cross. He himself proclaimed the crusade in the course of his itinerary around France...​
The basic form of [the crusade encyclical] was finally established by Quantum praedecessores (1145) for the Second Crusade: an initial narrative section explaining why a crusade is necessary, an exhortation to take the cross, and a listing of crusader privileges...​
Before secular assemblies, two famous examples are the preaching of St Bernard before Louis VII and the magnates of France at Vézelay in 1146, and his dramatic preaching at Conrad III of Germany’s Christmas court the same year. Indeed, it became entirely normal for crusade preachers to utilize such occasions, as well as more recreational gatherings like tournaments, in an attempt to secure the vows of important men in attendance, to launch promotional campaigns more broadly, and, frequently from the Second Crusade, to make public a prince’s assumption of the cross. Many were highly stage-managed affairs planned weeks or months in advance with little left to chance. The parlement held in Paris in March 1267 is a good example. There, Louis IX took his second crusade vow, followed immediately by three of his sons and others close to him, his relics of the Passion deliberately on public display for the occasion: he had secretly informed the pope of his intentions the previous September.​
- The Oxford History of the Crusades (1995) ed Jonathan Riley-Smith​
Unlike his mentor Gregory VII’s similar proposal in 1074 to assist Byzantium and march on to Jerusalem, Urban’s provided a clear structure of message, response and reward: the positive incentive of remission of penance instead of Gregory’s bleaker, more amorphous emphasis on martyrdom; the replacement of Gregory’s vague promise of ‘eternal reward’ with precise spiritual and temporal rewards signalled by swearing a vow and taking the cross. Oaths provided a familiar, serious bond of commitment. Simple, memorable slogans were deployed: ‘Take up your cross and follow me’, ‘Liberate Jerusalem’, ‘expel the infidels’, ‘earn salvation’, ‘God Wills it’. The subsequent campaign of public ceremonies, private conversations, sermons, letters, legates, and the recruitment of local opinion formers, notably monastic networks, displayed propaganda management of a high order.​
- The World of the Crusades (2019) Christopher Tyerman​
 
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Finance:

The attempt to raise funds was central to every crusader’s preparations… If a crusader had any savings then he would use them, but chivalric society was not generally renowned for thrift… Another obvious response was to call in debts owed to the crusader before departure…​
It was exploitation of rights and material assets that from the beginning provided the surest means of raising liquid cash in sufficient quantities. First, there was sale of produce, stock, and chattels; timber, in particular, was a commodity often sold to raise money quickly. One of Earl Richard of Cornwall’s first actions on taking the cross in 1236 was to cut down and sell his woods, while Alphonse of Poitiers is known to have raised a considerable sum from timber sales for his second crusade in 1270. Lords might also enfranchise their serfs in return for cash, as the measures of Alphonse of Poitiers again illustrate, or sell rights and privileges to townsmen living under their jurisdiction. In one instance, in March–April 1202, Count Hugh of St-Pol established three, perhaps four, urban communes within his lands to raise money towards his participation in the Fourth Crusade.​
The first compulsory tax precisely tied to a specific crusading expedition was the famous Saladin Tithe (1188), to help finance the Third Crusade. It was… a tenth for one year of the value of income and movables of all subjects, lay and ecclesiastical, excepting crusaders who would receive the tithes of their non-crusading vassals.​
- The Oxford History of the Crusades​
In 1189–90, Richard I of England (1189–99)... indulged in an orgy of asset-stripping, selling offices, titles, property and rights. An experienced general, Richard recognised the huge expense of war and the especially great costs of crusading. Government receipts for 1190, at over £30,000, showed a 50 per cent increase on normal revenue in the 1180s, excluding income from the Saladin Tithe, which a contemporary optimistically believed may have reached upwards of £60,000; and other extraordinary levies, such as that on the Jews, which may have brought in a further £10,000. Even so, equipping and manning Richard’s crusade fleet of about one hundred vessels of various sizes alone may have cost almost £9,000 just for the first year’s wages, a further £5,700 for hiring ships and thousands more on equipment (from horses to siege engines) and food (bacon, cheese as well as grain for biscuits).​
- The World of the Crusades​
 
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macd21

Explorer
Fights were supposed to be exclusively between members of the warring class, which were almost universally heavy cavalry. Serfs were in theory completely outside of warfare, and though they had to support it in their taxes they weren't supposed to be fighting it.
That may have been the ideal, but in practice often wasn’t the case. A lot of medieval warfare involved avoiding the enemy as much as possible, while killing his serfs and taking his stuff. The idea being to preserve your troops (which were expensive) while pressuring your opponent to make a concession.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Now, I will admit my google skills aren't that great, but when I look into the subject I actually find people saying that war wouldn't have affected those far removed from the battles at all and that the fighting would have mostly been carried out by knights and the kings trained soldiers. So as someone with next to no knowledge on medieval warfare, what kind of effects did war have on society and the economy of a kingdom as a whole?
Even if the main battlefields are isolated, depending on the sizes of the armies, famine and disease tend to follow in their wake. A large army, like the infantry of the First Crusade, consumes a lot of food and other resources while on the march - if they want to remain in fighting shape. If they're pillaging along the way, the communities they pass, if not slaughtered outright, stand a high chance of suffering excess mortality from famine.
And then there's disease. Not only will it probably ravage the armies themselves as their close living quarters will allow the spread, they'll contribute to diseases borne of pollution and fouled water supplies like cholera and, more broadly, dysentery.
 

Bluenose

Adventurer
Medieval warfare wasn't only open battlefield, but also castle sieges, and theses are too expensive to be built, and also it needed a lot of time.

And then they weren't professional soldiers, but ordinary people. Who fights and dies in the war is a farmer who isn't working and paying taxes.
I suppose it depends how you define a professional soldier, but towards the end of the medieval period any state that could afford it preferred to take money in the form of taxes, leave the peasant-farmers at home, and go to war with an army of professional volunteer soldiers. It could be raised by Commission of Array in England, hired from a minor Prince who'd decided to form a Condotta in Italy, or formed as an Ordonnance Company in France/Burgundy, or if you go beyond western Europe there's some other ways of maintaining an army that don't depend on trashing your own tax base. Although sometimes that full-time army was so expensive that you couldn't afford it anyway, isn't that right Hungary?
 

macd21

Explorer
I suppose it depends how you define a professional soldier, but towards the end of the medieval period any state that could afford it preferred to take money in the form of taxes, leave the peasant-farmers at home, and go to war with an army of professional volunteer soldiers. It could be raised by Commission of Array in England, hired from a minor Prince who'd decided to form a Condotta in Italy, or formed as an Ordonnance Company in France/Burgundy, or if you go beyond western Europe there's some other ways of maintaining an army that don't depend on trashing your own tax base. Although sometimes that full-time army was so expensive that you couldn't afford it anyway, isn't that right Hungary?
That rather depends on what era of ‘medieval’ you’re talking about, and what region.
 

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