Medieval Warfare

Starting from the 14th century, armies around the world had no option but to change their battle tactics and conform to the new technical, cultural and social development. The move into new and more organized war tactics that took place between the 14th and 16th century gave rise to what is now formally referred to as medieval warfare (war of the middle ages). The move was characterized by increased use of cavalry, artillery and some form of fortification like castles to better on defense and offense.

Unlike battles fought in the pre-medieval era, battles in this era showed some tincture of organization with the complexity and effectiveness of the plans varying according to the period and region. Nonetheless, the effectiveness of such meeting boiled down to how much control the general had over his/her war council and how experienced the team was in the art of war.

However, the real problem in medieval wars lay in managing the soldiers while in battle. Since there was no clear one on one means of communication from a leader to his men, misinterpretations and confusion was common in teams that had not yet bonded in their art of war. Communication could be done either through musical signals, audible commands, messengers or visual signals.

A typical medieval warfare would start with the missile troops (such as archers and catapults) launching an attack on their target army in bid to break its formation. This would make the opponent disorganized and more vulnerable to attacks from the cavalrymen. After the breaking of formation, the skill and stamina of the cavalry team was the only determinant to the winning or losing of the battle.

It is in the medieval period that the art of fortification and its counter action, a siege, was born. With the most famous of the fortifications being a castle, these structures were designed to keep enemy armies from swarming in and overwhelming the defending forces. In bid to strip the attacked of this advantage, many army generals came up with innovations like battering rams, siege towers and catapults (collectively known as siege engines) that were used to destroy the walls of the fortification to allow the entry of cavalries.

The late medieval period was marked by the entry of canons. Though most argue that these weapons only led to psychological torture and wrecked havoc in the enemy lines, they were important in giving infantry men a chance to chase after and destroy a retreating army. The winning or losing of a medieval battle therefore depended on how well an army could hold its formation when attacking or retreating.