HIST 5341  (32489): 



Th 7:00-9:30 pm, HH 106


Office: 143 Holden Hall                                   Office Hours:  MW 11:00am-12:00; 

Telephone: 834-7544                                                                Th 9:40-10:15 pm,

john.howe@ttu.edu                                                        and by appointment

Web: http://myweb.ttu.edu/jhowe                                                

FAX:  742-1060

On-line synchronously on Zoom Wednesdays  2:00-4:00pm 






To survey the history of warfare in the Western Middle Ages, defined here not only as military strategy and tactics but also "as the product of a whole cultural, technical and economic environment" (Philippe Contamine, War in the Middle Ages [1984], p. xii). To survey the rapidly developing historiography of medieval warfare. To provide graduate students with an important perspective on the overall development of Western Civilization in the Middle Ages.




Required Books

Bachrach, Bernard S., and David S. Bachrach. Warfare in Medieval Europe, c. 400-c. 1453. New York: Routledge, 2016.
            Kelly DeVries. Infantry Warfare in the Early Fourteenth Century. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 2006.
            Kelly DeVries and MIchael Livingston, Medieval Warfare: A Reader. Readings in Medieval Civilizations and Cultures 21. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.

Kelly DeVries & Robert Douglas Smith. Medieval Military Technology. 2nd edition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012.


 Class Attendance

Attend class regularly. Difficult material will be analyzed in class, much of it presented through student reports. Part of the course grade is based on class participation, and you cannot participate if you are not present. If you must miss more than three classes, you should not be enrolled.

Required Reading

Reading--a great deal of reading--is central to this graduate topics course. At the end of this syllabus, the "Reading and Class Schedule" lists specific readings to be completed for each class from required books, electronic documents, or reading lists. Read all assignments on schedule because they are the basis of student reports and class discussions.

Book Reviews

Over the course of the semester, students will write nine book reviews based upon books chosen from the assigned reading lists. Each should not be much longer than two double-spaced typed pages. These are due on the days indicated, and late assignments are accepted only on rare occasions and only with good reason. Students should be prepared to speak in class about the books they have reviewed.

Wikipedia Project

Wikipedia, the largest reference work on the internet, is an on-line encyclopedia with more than 5,700,000 English-language articles. It intends to be "a summary of human knowledge," not a venue for original research. In contrast to standard reference books, its articles are written by volunteers, not by selected experts. In practice, these self-appointed authors are largely English-speaking, well educated, technologically-aware young males, perhaps with too much time on their hands. Wikipedia's coverage of the Middle Ages is relatively weak: many of its medieval articles are "stubs" referring to articles in non-English Wikipedias; others are substantially "borrowed" from standard on-line sources such as the early twentieth-century Catholic Encyclopedia. 

As an assignment for this class you are asked to help Wikipedia improve itts coverage of medieval military history. Information on the mechanics of how to do this can be found in a Wikipedia tutorial on-line. Either 1) write a new article on something related to medieval military history (beginning a new subject, however, requires you to register as a user and to gain approval for your subject from the editing board) or 2) make significant revisions to an existing article (this is simpler to begin, but you will need to document your specific work: although a history of revisions can be accessed on-line, it is easier to showcase your contribution if you submit your changes to me by printing out the article "before" you work on it and then again "after" you have finished). If you make changes that can be challenged, you should support them with published and verifiable sources. For this assignment it is probably easiest to choose to work on a relatively neglected subject, but not one too neglected inasmuch as Wikipedia's parameters require that each article's subject must be "notable" in some significant media world. Editing more prominent and much debated articles, especially ones that have been vandalized frequently or altered back and forth in "edit wars," may require editorial approval before you are allowed to make changes. This assignment should be completed by the start of class on Thursday November 12.

Examination Essays

There are no regularly scheduled examinations. However, on the basis of the required readings for the course and the books reviewed in class, students will write two essays (about 1000 to 1500 words each), due on Saturday. December 5, at 10:00pm, answering any two of the following questions:

1. An early fourth-century Roman army fights a comparably-sized early fourteenth-century Western European army in a field battle. Which one will win? Why?

2.      In warfare in the Latin West in the High Middle Ages, which was more important:  military efficiency or political, social, ideological, and religious considerations?


3.      In the Middle Ages, did the Latin Church change its attitudes about the legitimacy of warfare and military pursuits?

4.      Did cavalry ever dominate the battlefields of the medieval West?

5.      Did women play an important role in chivalric culture? 

6.      Which would be better described as "societies organized for war": the early medieval post-Roman kingdoms or the "feudal monarchies" of the High Middle Ages?

7.  Did changes in military technology significantly change medieval social and political order?

These essays will be easier to write if students, when reading their assignments and when reviewing notes after class, enter relevant points into note files or data bases devoted to each question. Then the "examination" becomes largely a matter of organizing already-rcollected data relating to your two favorite questions.


Contingency Statement:
            If Texas Tech University campus operations are required to change because of health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible that this course will move to a fully online delivery format. Should that be necessary, students will be advised of technical and/or equipment requirements, including remote proctoring software.


Necessary Accommodations:

Any student who, because of a disabling condition, may require special arrangements in order to meet course requirements should contact the instructor as soon as possible so that the necessary accommodations can be made.


Observance of a Religious Holy Day:  

Texas House Bill 256 requires institutions of higher education to excuse a student from attending classes or other required activities, including examinations, for the observance of a religious holy day. The student shall also be excused for time necessary to travel. An institution may not penalize the student for the absence and should allow for the student to take an exam or complete an assignment from which the student is excused. No prior notification of the instructor is required.


Academic Honesty:  

"Texas Tech is committed to creating an exciting university atmosphere that is free of academic dishonesty. All members of the university community, including faculty, students, and staff, are upheld to the standard of having integrity in the work they produce. The standard is for all members of the Texas Tech community to contribute to the campus environment in an ethical, fun, and honest manner. Integrity matters because student success matters." Academic integrity violations are outlined in the Code of Student Conduct, Part X. B3 of the Student Handbook.  Because we live in an imperfect world, these ideals have been undergirded with enforcement mechanisms that mandate specific disciplinary outcomes for academic integrity violations--see TTU Student Judicial Programs

            At minimum students are required to conform to all the requirements of Texas Tech University and of the State of Texas related to student and faculty health during the Covid 19 pandemic.  These include a mandate that students wear face coverings over mouth and nose, both during class and while in public spaces in univrtsity buildings.  No student will be allowed in the classroom who is not appropriately wearing a face mask. Even though this is a small class, we will be using a standard seating arrangement and assigned seats (Texas Tech requests this in order to facilitate potential contact tracing).  Students should exit the room in an orderly manner in order to maintain social distancing when possible.
            If at any time during this semester you feel ill, in the interest of your own health and safety as well as the health and safety of your instructors and classmates, you are encouraged not to attend face-to-face class meetings or events.   To help with such decisions, and with Covid reporting requirements, Texas Tech has developed a self-screeniing and Covid reporting platform.
            If face-to-face classes cannot be held safely, further changes may be required. Texas Tech's priority here is the safety of its students and employees.  Possible adjustments include shifting some or all of instruction on-line.  Students enrolling in this class should have access to the internet and the ability to participate in on-line meeting programs scheduled synchronously at the present class time (Th 7-9:30pm). 


The course grade will be computed as follows: 45% from the nine book reviews (i.e. 5% from each); 15% from the Wikipedia project; 30% from the two comprehensive essays (i.e., 15% from each); and 10% from class participation.

The class participation grade is determined by attendance, class preparation, and class contributions. At the end of the semester, each student will be classified into one of three groups: 1) outstanding; 2) generally average; and 3) significantly below acceptable standards. In computing the course grade, the first group gets the class participation component credited as an ‘A’; the second group has the points removed from the averaging process (so they neither help nor hurt); and the third group has them credited as an ‘F’.



  Th  Aug 27      Introduction: The Study of Medieval Warfare

 [Th Aug 27      Last day for student-initiated course enrollemnts]

                         DeVries Technology 53-58, 115-22, 187-97; DeVries Reader xiii-xv.  Read the General Reference Books bibliography for orientation in medieval military history.  Read and review a book from List #1: Roman Warfare 

Th Sept 3        The Imperial Roman Army

                        Vegetius' De Re MIlitari [Read any full text version. Options include an online archaic English translation at Vegetius, Military Institutions of the Romans, afforable Kindle and paperback translations from Amazon, and an online Latin text]

[W Sept 9       Last day to declare P/F, or to drop a course and receive an automatic W for courses dropped.]

Th Sept 10      Ancient Military Theory

                        DeVries Reader 19-21. Read and review  a book from List #2: Early Christians and Warfare

Th Sept 17      Early Christian Attitudes toward Warfare

                        DeVries Reader 145-50, 197-206. Read and review a book from from List #3: Byzantine Warfare

Th Sept 24      Byzantine Warfare 

                         DeVries Technology 5-34, 58-66, 99-114; DeVries Reader 86-88, 153-60, 195-97, 255-57, 343-45. Read and review a book from reading List #4: Early Medieval Warfare;  

Th Oct 1         Barbarian, Carolingian, and Anglo-Saxon Warfare

                        DeVries Reader 25-27, 132-40. Read and review a book from List #5: The Church and War  

Th Oct 8         The Church and Warfare  

                        DeVries Reader 5-6, 11-12, 71-74, 99-101, Charles Oman; Lynn White JrBachrach(s) 1-153

Th Oct 15       Infantry & Cavalry

                        DeVries Technology199-281; DeVries Reader 265-66, 274-75, Bachrach(s) 154-273.  Read and review a book from List #6: Fotifications

Th Oct 22       Fortifications and Sieges  

                        Bachrach(s) 274-390;  Read and review a book from List #7: Frontier Wars or List #8: Battles

Th Oct 29       Frontier Warfare / Battles

                        Read and review a book from  List #9: Chivalry / Tournaments

Th Nov 5         Chivalry / Tournaments

                        DeVries Infantry Warfare.  Finish Wikipedia project.

Th Nov 12      Late Medieval Warfare

                        Read and review a book from List #10: Late Medieval Warfare. Work on examination essays

Th Nov 19      New Weapons, New National Armies                         

[Th Nov 26     Thanksgiving Holiday]

[Th Dec 3        Day of no classes]

                        Finish Examination Essays

Sat Dec 5 at 10 pm      Final deadline for submitting examination essays.  These may be left under the door of HH143, or in the History Office, or submitted by email to John.Howe@ttu.edu.