Ch 04 The Decline of Feudalism

Ch.04-The Decline of Feudalism

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CHAPTER IV: THE DECLINE OF FEUDALISM

SECTION 3: WALES, IRELAND AND SCOTLAND

 THE NORMAN CONQUEST WAS OF ENGLAND ONLY.

 WALES

THE WELSH WERE GRADUALLY PUSHED BACK, BUT RESISTED OCCUPATION TO THE LAST.


HOWEVER, THE WELSH POOR WERE EASY RECRUITS FOR THE CONQUEST ARMIES.

 

IT WAS THE WELSH WHO MOULDED ENGLISH BATTLE TACTICS. THE WELSH LONGBOW GAVE THE ENGLISH TECHNICAL SUPERIORITY OVER THEIR OPPONENTS.

 

ENDLESS GUERRILLA FIGHTING IN THE HILLS AND VALLEYS GAVE WAY TO HEAVY ARMED TROOPS, WHICH INCLUDED LONGBOWMEN WHO PROVED SO EFFECTIVE AGAINST THE IRREGULAR TRIBAL WARRIORS OF THE IRISH AND SCOTTISH PIKEMEN AND THE FEUDAL CAVALRY OF FRANCE.

 

IRELAND

IT WAS IN IRELAND WHERE THE NEW TACTICS WERE TESTED IN 1169 BY THE EARL OF PEMBROKE. THE INVADERS WERE WELSH TRIBESMEN WHO WERE LITTLE DIFFERENT FROM THE IRISH AMONG WHOM THEY SETTLED.

THE RESULT WAS THE CREATION OF THE IRISH RULING CLASS WHO WERE NEITHER FEUDAL NOR TRIBAL. THEY BECAME MORE IRISH WITH TIME, BUT RULED FROM ENGLAND.


THE ENGLISH FOOTHOLD IN IRELAND REMAINED UNTIL THE SUBJECTION OF IRELAND WAS UNDERTAKEN BY THE TUDORS.

 

IRELAND REMAINED DIVIDED AMONG INNUMERABLE BARONS AND CHIEFS. THEY CHECKED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND IMPOVERISHED THE PEOPLE.

 

IRELAND HAD BEEN ONE OF THE RICHEST AND MOST CIVILISED COUNTRIES IN WESTERN EUROPE, BUT AFTER SUCCESSIVE DANISH AND ENGLISH INVASIONS BECAME ONE OF THE POOREST AND MOST BACKWARD.

 

SCOTLAND

THE SAME METHODS OF WAR WERE FIRST PUT TO THE TEST AGAINST REGULAR OPPONENTS IN SCOTLAND.


SCOTLAND BECAME LARGELY FEUDAL BETWEEN 1066 AND 1286 AND GAVE EDWARD I THE CHANCE TO PUSH FORWARD WITH EXTENDING HIS KINGDOM OVER ALL BRITAIN.

 

BRITAIN

CENTURIES EARLIER, INVADING ANGLES HAD SETTLED ON THE EAST COAST, UP TO THE NORTH AND OVER THE LOTHIAN PLAIN - THE KINGDOM OF NORTHUMBRIA.

 IN 1018, A BATTLE AT CARHAM ADDED LOTHIAN TO SCOTLAND.

 

THIS BATTLE DID MORE THAN FIX THE FRONTIER BETWEEN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND. IT DETERMINED THAT SCOTLAND WAS NOT PURELY CELTIC BY SPEECH AND RACE, AND IT WAS OPEN TO FEUDAL INFLUENCE FROM THE SOUTH.


AFTER 1066, FEUDAL BARONAGE GREW. ROBERT BRUCE HAD 90,000 ACRES IN YORKSHIRE, AND HIS RIVAL JOHN BALLIOL HELD LANDS IN NORMANDY, ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND.

THE ENGLISH AND SCOTS HAD MOSTLY FRIENDLY RELATIONS FOR TWO CENTURIES, BUT EDWARD I SETTLED A DISPUTE FOR THE SCOTTISH THRONE WHEN ALEXANDER III of SCOTLAND DIED, AND HE SUPPORTED THE CLAIM OF JOHN BALLIOL.


HAVING MADE HIM KING, EDWARD THEN GOADED JOHN TO REVOLT BY SLIGHTS AND INSULTS, AND, IN 1286, HE SUCCEEDED.

EDWARD MARCHED NORTH AGAIN AND SACKED BERWICK, WHICH HAD A LARGE FLEMISH POPULATION.  HE DEPOSED BALLIOL AND RECEIVED SUBMISSIONS FROM SCOTTISH BARONS AGAIN.

EDWARD LEFT THE EARL OF WARENNE IN CHARGE, BUT THE SCOTS FOUND THE PRESENCE OF A FOREIGN GARRISON INTOLERABLE.


WILLIAM WALLACE RAISED AN ARMY DRAWN FROM THE TRADITIONAL SCOTTISH CIRCLE OF PIKEMEN, A DEVELOPMENT OF THE SAXON SHIELD WALL, BUT ENGLISH
ARCHERS SHOT GAPS IN THE RANKS THROUGH WHICH THE CIRCLE WAS BROKEN, AND IT WAS EASY FOR THE ARMOURED HORSEMAN TO RIDE DOWN THE PIKEMAN.

AT THIS POINT, ROBERT BRUCE, SON OF THE CLAIMANT TO THE CROWN OF 1286, HAD BEEN SHIFTING ALLIEGANCE BETWEEN SIDES WITH DIPLOMATIC SKILL BUT CROWNED HIMSELF KING AT SCONE. FOR SOME YEARS, HE CARRIED ON A GUERRILLA WAR AGAINST THE ENGLISH.

EDWARD COULD DO LITTLE. AFTER HIS DEATH IN 1307, AN IRREGULAR WAR WAS RAGED UNTIL EDWARD II TOOK A HUGE ENGLISH ARMY IN 1314 AND WAS CRUSHED AT BANNOCKBURN.

THE DEFEAT WAS DUE TO BRUCE'S SKILL IN THE CHOICE OF BATTLEGROUND, IN PART, BUT MORE TO THE STUPIDITY WITH WHICH THE ENGLISH ARMY WAS HANDLED. EDWARD LAUNCHED HIS CAVALRY WITHOUT COVERING FIRE FROM HIS ARCHERS.

 

THE LIMITATIONS OF FEUDAL CAVALRY WERE EXPOSED LATER BY THE BLACK PRINCE AT CRECY AND POITIERS IN THE HUNDRED YEARS’ WAR.

 

(Chronicles of the Hundred Years’ War, (1337-1453)

The "Hundred Years’ War" between France and England (1337-1453) was an episodic struggle lasting well over a hundred years, with much of the time free of any conflict at all.

 

The battles were violent, but there were also occasions for the display of chivalric ideals. Crecy and Poitiers were the battlefields upon which the legends of the Black Prince were made.

(MORE ON THIS LATER)

 

BANNOCKBURN WAS NOT IN FACT CONCLUSIVE AND WAS RESUMED BY EDWARD III WHO WAS VICTORIOUS AT HALIDON HILL, NEAR BERWICK IN 1333.

 

GUERRILLA FIGHTING CONTINUED BUT WAS INCONCLUSIVE DUE TO THE HUNDRED YEARS’ WAR ABSORBING ALL AVAILABLE ENGLISH RESOURCES.

FURTHER ATTEMPTS AT CONQUEST WERE MADE, WHICH KEPT THE SCOTS FEUDAL AT A TIME WHEN FEUDALISM IN ENGLAND WAS RAPIDLY DECLINING.

 

IT LEFT THE SCOTS BACKWARDS, BUT THE NOBILITY, WHICH PRESERVED THE FEUDAL TRAITS THAT WERE IN CONTRADICTION TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE REST OF THE COUNTRY, WERE LARGELY RESPONSIBLE FOR INTERNAL DISORDER AND THE WARS OF THE 15th CENTURY.

(THE ANGLO-SCOTTISH WARS OF INDEPENDENCE INVOLVING JAMES II OF SCOTLAND )

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