Armed and Educated: Determining the Identity of the Medieval Combatant.
Matzke, Johann Keller Wheelock
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
This paper seeks to test the validity of long-held beliefs as to the amateur nature of medieval European warfare. Furthermore, the aim is to add data and an examination of those results to the study of Europe’s martial traditions. In order to do so, this paper makes a detailed study of primary source references as to the nature of Europe’s martial traditions and methods. As the outcomes of this paper and a study of this nature rely on the interface between the workings of a human actor and the tool, there is a strong actualistic element to this study. As a result of this actualistic framework, the process undertaken to study the injury patterns of experimental archaeologists engaging in recreated martial activities also plays a significant part in the paper. The results of this study are clear: training in the martial arts was far more widespread in medieval Europe than previously considered and evidence of this can be discerned, in part, from the examination of trauma in skeletal remains, as well as the study of modern experimental archaeologists. The results also suggest strongly that the majority of combatants engaged in some form of martial training. However, due to several factors, such as: the small population of experimenters working in this research area as well as the high safety standards across all participating groups, this research can only begin to hint at answering this theory. This study then also raises questions as to the degree and manner of martial training across social groups. Finally, the results of this experiment demonstrate that, regardless of the form it takes, martial training inherently increases the likelihood that if the learned skills are used in a martial setting, they are highly likely to leave diagnostic evidence.
Master of Philosophy in Archaeology