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Medieval Archives

MAP80: Sword for Hire: Mercenaries in the Middle Ages

Medieval Archives
Medieval Archives
Fight For Profit

Soldiers in the Middle Ages fought for King and Country. But what did they do when the wars ended? Not all soldiers retired back to a life of farming or trade. Some men wanted to continue fighting and they fought for profit

Medieval Mercenaries rose to prominence in the 13th and 14th centuries. The Mercenary Companies were made up of men from every corner of Europe; Germany, France, England, Spain, Scandinavia, Italy.

Mercenary Companies

The Mercenaries formed companies, small (and in some cases large) armies of men who would fight for the right price. The Catalan Company, always outnumbered but never at a disadvantage counted around 8,000 men in its ranks.

The White Company led by the infamous Sir John Hawkwood, employed over 15,000 men at its peak. Hawkwood was a longbowman for Edward III in the Hundred Years War and fought at both the Battle of Crécy and Poitiers.

Further Reading

If you are interested in learning more about Medieval Mercenaries below is a list of books I used while researching this episode.

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Lesson Notes
  • In today's lesson we discuss:
  • John Hawkwood and the White Company
  • Albert Sterz
  • Werner von Urslingen and the Great Company
  • Konrad von Landau
  • The Varangian Guard
  • Roger de Flor and the Catalan Company
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