Fighting priests

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uksimes
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Fighting priests

Postby uksimes » Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:47 pm

Would 'men of the cloth' have gone into battle at Agincourt or WotR, or is it an reenactorism, or even worse, something made up by Bernard Cornwall in 'Azincourt'?


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby guthrie » Tue Aug 28, 2012 6:07 pm

We had a discussion about this a while ago I think. Have you searched the forum?

On the "men of the cloth used maces" thing, that's a Victorianism that is totally wrong. I'm not aware of much actual evidence that they went into battle, although I know of some who hung about the sides during the battle after accompanying their side to it.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Sir_John_Thomas » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:05 pm

I suppose the most famous warrior priest would be Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux, William the conqueror's half brother. He was certainly not afraid to get stuck in with the sword, and was often found in the thick of the fighting. I know it's earlier than 100 years war and WOR, but that's all I can think of.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Sir_John_Thomas » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:11 pm

Just remembered about Henry Despenser the "fighting Bishop" who had a hand in putting down the peasants revolt, he was said to have led the assault in the battle of North Walsham, that was in June 1381, So that's right on the nail for 100 years war, hope it helps.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Earl Mortimer » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:12 pm

Anthony Bek. Bishop of Durham. Fought at Falkirk 1298 with edward the first. Had his own knights and men. And loved a good fight.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Phil the Grips » Tue Aug 28, 2012 7:33 pm

Leofgar of Hereford liked a bit of a rammy too.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leofgar_of_Hereford

If I rememebr it rightly the key is "public war"- it's OK if it's defence of the nation, not if it is just going about smashing heads for private gain or personal vengeance.

Youll also note these are all examples of seriously high ranking and wealthy chaps- no lone monks swinging maces or halberds while singing hymns a la Walter Scott.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Fox » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:48 am

Some of the Militant Orders are still active by the time of the WotR; in England that really means only the the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (Hospitallers).
John Langstrother, prior of the Order of St. John, leads the Lancastrian Cavalry at Tewkesbury.

At a lower level the monks at Vale Royal Abbey were involved in all sorts of shennanigans, including running protection rackets; but I've not seen any suggestion that they got their hands dirty themselves.

In the mid-15thC the Abbot gets ambushed murdered by the local vicar and his friends, supposedly after raping a girl.

But this is seen, even at the time, as extreme behaviour; and is a long way from going to war.

The priest who accompanies Henry V to Agincourt, and conviniently chronocles the whole thing for us, does not fight; indeed he is absolutely terrified.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby m0rt » Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:05 pm

Cardinal Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester leads one of the crusades against the Hussites in the early 15th Century. He reportedly fought in the siege of Stribro in 1427 (and by fought, I mean ran away before the Hussites got there, however Henry Beaufort was apparently really angry about this and tore up the Imperial Satndard)

I think he was a bit of a warrior of God type.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Dave B » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:46 am

Well, as Phil points out, all the examples anyone can come up with are wealthy, important types. I think it's fair to say that men from titled families often got involved in wars, and that some men from titled families got themselves appointed as churchmen, and that there would be some overlap there. But I think the units of priests on the battlefield is nonsense.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:02 pm

As Fox said, there were still a few 'warror-monks' around, but most of them won't be ordained as priests.

Also, several bishops had responsibilites as land-owners to provide fighting men for the king (though that's not to say that they fought themselves).

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Re: Fighting priests

Postby hobbitomm » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:27 pm

Not sure it's entirely on topic, but of course, of the three combatants of I.33, two are churchmen (well, one's a monk, one's a scholar). That's the earliest surviving fencing manual, teaching unarmoured sword and buckler work.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Dave B » Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:40 pm

But then isn't sword and buckler very much a civilian weapon as well as a military secondary at the time?

I've been lucky enough to put on the white gloves and have a look at it by the way. Not relevant to the discussion, but I thought I'd have a bragg.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby hobbitomm » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:05 pm

Yep! I.33 (you lucky sod! They'd sent it down to Lunnon when I was in Leeds Armoury Library) is very much a civilian self defense manual (which is why I questioned its relevance to the OP). But on the flip side, if that's what you knew how to use....



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Dave B » Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:01 pm

They dug it out for the handling session at SWASH at the armouries in 2011 - in fact you can see the handling session in the Video here....

http://thebfhs.org.uk/default.asp?iId=GEGGIG


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Benedict » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:00 pm

Phil the Grips wrote:Leofgar of Hereford liked a bit of a rammy too.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leofgar_of_Hereford

If I rememebr it rightly the key is "public war"- it's OK if it's defence of the nation, not if it is just going about smashing heads for private gain or personal vengeance.

Youll also note these are all examples of seriously high ranking and wealthy chaps- no lone monks swinging maces or halberds while singing hymns a la Walter Scott.


Various other pre-Conquest bishops were involved in leading armies. At least three were present at Brunanburh in 936 and several others were killed in battle (including the bishop of Dorchester at Ashingdon in 1016, where he was celebrating Mass near the battle-line and was killed for his episcopal ring). This seems to reflect the role of bishop as counterpart to the ealdorman, with both jointly leading the shire troops.

However, this is definitely bishops leading military units rather than fighting in person. Bishops were important landowners, and owed military service. At least in the tenth century, the bishops and ealdormen of southern England had comparable landed resources (200-300 hides), and at a notional 5 warriors per hide would have each led 40-60 fighting men. Oswald of Worcester (mid/late 10th century) had an 'archiductor', who presumably commanded the episcopal contingent.

Because important clergy needed to travel a lot (around their dioceses, to the royal court etc), they needed an armed retinue for protection, so they would have fighting men on tap anyway. The third Lateran Council in 1179 permitted archbishops 40-50 mounted retainers, bishops 20-30, cardinals 20-25, archdeacons five to seven and rural deans two.

Going back to Bishop Leofgar, the incident where he was killed in 1055 was preceded by the Welsh burning down Hereford - and killing at least one of the cathedral canons who was armed and defending the doorway with his sons.

The other angle is the number of times lawcodes and conciliar canons prohibit priests and clergy from hunting, bearing arms and fighting... which rather suggests that they kept on doing it regardless.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Alexander » Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:10 pm

A bit later, 17th century: Bernhard von Galen.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:39 pm

Buckfast abbey sent a monk with a spear to help protect the coast against the French in the 1450's. In Italy there are instances of monks picking up arms to fight towns people and even other monasteries that had stolen relics. This falls more into the kind of endemic violence of the period than warfare. The same would hold true of the various clerics who led armed gangs of thieves from the safety of their churches in the 14th century.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Dave B » Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:32 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Buckfast abbey sent a monk with a spear .....


Nice to know that the association of tonic wine and getting into fights has a long and noble history.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:02 pm

Howayanboyleyerheadyergobshite, yer no maw da. I takes you all on, one atta tim or altaegether makes nae differ tae me.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby chrisanson » Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:33 pm

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Howayanboyleyerheadyergobshite, yer no maw da. I takes you all on, one atta tim or altaegether makes nae differ tae me.


goow on then



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Chris, yclept John Barber » Tue Oct 23, 2012 12:31 pm

Going back up the scale, the Archbishop of Sens was amongst the French dead at the battle of Crecy.


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Tod » Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:32 pm

If you are thinking about running around in a grey/brown habit with a sword etc I think you can forget it in any period unless you are trying to protect against robbers or raiders. On the other hand spend several (lots!) grand and you could be one of the higher levels as quoted above.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Michal » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:47 pm

Some pictorial reference:
Image Bishop Adhemar of Le Puy carrying the Holy Lance in one of the battles of the First Crusade

Image Turpin, archbishop of Reims, follows Charlemagne and does not give a damn about maces.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Tod » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:10 pm

If some one gets that level of kit I'll buy them a drink.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Phil the Grips » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:26 pm

Tod wrote:If some one gets that level of kit I'll buy them a drink.

If they include the Holy Lance, with provenance, I'll buy them the whole bottle!


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:47 pm

If it's just a long red stick with a sharp bit on the end (like that picture), it shouldn't be too tricky... :D


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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Normannis » Sat Nov 10, 2012 1:28 am

I know it's not the period for the BC references... but my diss. touched on this AND...

1) When appointed as the Archdeacon of Canterbury Thomas Beckett was put in charge of a few (failed) military expeditions in his role as the Lord Chancellor when Henry II campaigned on the continent. In at least one source I read it explicitly described him as armoured in his osberc (sic).
2) Richard I seized a Bishop in battle, one Philip of Beauvais. When the Pope demanded Richard release him he replied;
"It was not as a Bishop I captured him but a knight fighting fully armed, a laced helm upon his head"... which is pretty damn conclusive that in the late 12thC at least it was normal enough for high men of notable status to take up arms, regardless of their status as churchmen.

The thing about maces seems to hinge on two (random) pieces of antiquarian 'evidence' and a huge assumption; that Odo of Bayeux is carrying a club on the Tapestry and not some form of bacculus or staff of rank (as indeed, William has one too) and that maces are explicitly included in the Templar statutes (as a 'Turkish Mace/Club' depending on the translation). Throw in a belief about churchmen being out-and-out banned to spill blood and you get this fantastic tale about the mace being allowed but the sword being banned. Neither of the above sources are clear as to what weapons the men carried, however, but the complete absence of any period evidence of the mace theory does mean it holds as much water as the theory all 12thC lords also wore man-thongs under their armour.
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Re: Fighting priests

Postby behanner » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:51 am

For much of the 15th century their were potential arrays of Clergy in England for defense of the realm there is an article about it during the early part of the century.
Someone else can check the sources but one of the men in charge of part of the coastal watch against the Arrival campaign of Edward IV was a priest and I believe a friar was used to shoot off a cannon while an army was slipping away in another battle of the WOR.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby The_Kyle » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:52 pm

behanner wrote:For much of the 15th century their were potential arrays of Clergy in England for defense of the realm there is an article about it during the early part of the century.
Someone else can check the sources but one of the men in charge of part of the coastal watch against the Arrival campaign of Edward IV was a priest and I believe a friar was used to shoot off a cannon while an army was slipping away in another battle of the WOR.


Blore Heath apparently.



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Re: Fighting priests

Postby Lindsay » Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:14 pm

The archbishop of St Andrews was killed at Flodden along with the Bishop of the Isles and several abbots.


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