Henry II

A Medieval Soldier at War, 1147–1189


There are no book-length studies in any language on the military career of King Henry II of England (1154-1189). Historians have generally regarded his warfare as cautious and limited, and the king himself, while noted for his considerable political and legal accomplishments, is not considered one of the great commanders of the Middle Ages. This book reexamines the medieval evidence and situates Henry II within the context of practiced warfare of the twelfth century. It sketches a narrative of his military activities from boyhood to death and examines his use of fortifications, manpower, strategy, tactics, and weaponry in the prosecution of war. The result is a revision of the king's military legacy: far from a passive or disinterested general, Henry II sought to vanquish his foes and expand his empire by way of direct military confrontation and was, in reality, a proficient commander of men.
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Biographical Note

John D. Hosler, Ph.D. (2005) in European History, University of Delaware, is Assistant Professor of British History at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD. Specializing in medieval French and English warfare, his research has appeared in such publications as the Journal of Medieval Military History and the Haskins Society Journal.

Review Quote

“Hosler’s book is a welcome addition to the history of twelfth-century Europe, correctly asserting the central importance of war, the preparation for war, and war’s aftermath to all aspects of life……this work will be valuable for specialists in medieval military history and the history of twelfth-century Europe, for graduate students, and for advanced undergraduates.”
David S. Bachrach in Journal of Military History, Oct 2007, Vol. 71/4

"Gelingt, genuin militärgeschichtliche Befunde in den allgemeinen Forschungsstand zu Heinirch II. zu integrieren...Die gebotene Befunde...und die intensive Aufarbetung der Quellenlage machen die Lektúre des flüssig geschiebenen Werkes...zu einen Gewinn."
Holger Berwinkel, Deutsches Archiv für Erfoschung des Mittelalters 65,1 (2009) 421-422

Table of contents

List of Maps .. vii
Preface .. ix
List of Abbreviations .. xi
Introduction .. 1

Chapter One Historiography .. 9
Nature of the Military Evidence .. 11
Chronicle Sources .. 14
Record Sources .. 31
Literary Sources .. 33

Chapter Two Henry’s Political and Military Career .. 37
Scotland and Wales .. 51
The Continent .. 56
The Conquest of Ireland .. 66
The End of Louis VII .. 76
The Death of Henry the Younger .. 82
The Wars against Philip Augustus .. 88
The End of the Reign .. 98

Chapter Three Military Organization .. 103
The Question of Obligation .. 104
The Matter of the Fyrd .. 113
Mercenaries .. 119

Chapter Four Strategy Tactics, Logistics .. 125
High Medieval Strategy and Henry II .. 125
Battle as Strategy .. 130
Vegetian-Style Campaigns .. 148
Transport and Logistics .. 157

Chapter Five Castles and Siege Warfare .. 171
Fortress Construction .. 171
Castle Strategies .. 176
Siege Warfare .. 182
Castles and Henry II: the 1160s .. 188

Chapter Six The Great Revolt, 1173–1174 .. 195
Main Rebel Attacks .. 199
Henry II’s Responses .. 206
The Second Year .. 211
Endgame: the Great Revolt Fails .. 215

Chapter Seven Conclusion: Henry the Soldier .. 221

Appendix 1: Henry Plantagenet’s Military Campaigns .. 233
Appendix 2: Laudabiliter .. 237

Maps .. 240

Bibliography .. 245

Index .. 263


All those interested in Anglo-Norman, British (including Ireland, Wales, and Scotland), or French history, military history, medieval political history, kingship, and medieval biography.


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