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Bishops during battle

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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Bishops during battle

Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Wed December 29th, 2010, 8:39 pm

Here's another question for you: would an English bishop (13th c) be in attendance during a battle? If not on the field, would he perhaps be nearby if he were a valued advisor to the king? I would be grateful for any info. Thanks!

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Post by annis » Fri December 31st, 2010, 8:16 pm

Bishops were an integral part of the feudal aristocracy of medieval Europe, and acted accordingly at a time when many disputes were settled by battle. Bishops were the leaders of the church, serving under the pope, the bishop of Rome. Most bishops were noblemen. Bishops supervised the church's priests, monks and nuns and administered its business. In many parts of Europe the church owned vast areas of land and commanded a large number of knights. It was not unusual for a bishop to lead his own knights into battle.

From The History of Feudalism

'The top players in feudal Europe come from a small group of people - an aristocracy, based on skill in battle, with a shared commitment to a form of Christianity (at once power-hungry and idealistic) in which the pope in Rome has special powers as God's representative on earth. As a great feudal lord with moral pretensions, holding the ring between secular sovereigns, the pope can be seen as Europe's headmaster.

Bishops and abbots are part of the small feudal aristocracy, for they are mostly recruited from the noble families holding the great fiefs. Indeed bishops can often be found on the battlefield, fighting it out with with the best."

One example that comes to mind is that of Antony Bek, the Bishop of Durham, who took part in Edward I's Scottish campaigns.

"Taking part in Edward's campaigns in Scotland, the bishop (Bek) received the surrender of king John I of Scotland at Brechin in 1296, and led one division of the English army at the battle of Falkirk in 1298. During the Falkirk campaign, but before the battle itself, a section of the army under Bek captured Dirleton Castle."

Source: Wikipedia
Last edited by annis on Fri December 31st, 2010, 10:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Miss Moppet
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Post by Miss Moppet » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 9:33 pm

[quote=""Alisha Marie Klapheke""]Here's another question for you: would an English bishop (13th c) be in attendance during a battle? If not on the field, would he perhaps be nearby if he were a valued advisor to the king? I would be grateful for any info. Thanks![/quote]

I can't remember the details, but didn't Richard I capture a bishop and send his mailshirt to the Pope? If the bish had a mailshirt it seems likely he had fought at some point. If I come across the reference I will post it.

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Post by Margaret » Mon January 3rd, 2011, 9:58 pm

I think Pope Leo X (Michelangelo's patron) may have led armies into battle. Certainly, the movie of The Agony and the Ecstasy has him doing so, and we know what great pains Hollywood takes to be accurate in all ways. ;)
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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Tue January 4th, 2011, 4:18 am

Ooo, thanks everybody. I'm loving the help!

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Post by Eigon » Tue January 4th, 2011, 7:00 pm

One of the Saxon Bishops of Hereford certainly went into battle against the Welsh (I forget his name, sorry).
And Bishop Odo of Bayeux is portrayed on the Bayeux tapestry riding into battle carrying a mace. Bishops were apparently allowed maces because bashing people over the head was okay, but drawing blood (as with a sword) was Very Bad.
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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Tue February 1st, 2011, 1:51 am

I just read on Sharon Kay Penman's blog that the thing about bishops carrying only maces is a myth. Wonder where she dug that up...her blog is a fun source of info.

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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue February 1st, 2011, 4:27 am

[quote=""Margaret""]I think Pope Leo X (Michelangelo's patron) may have led armies into battle. Certainly, the movie of The Agony and the Ecstasy has him doing so, and we know what great pains Hollywood takes to be accurate in all ways. ;) [/quote]

Margaret, you must have Leo confused with another pope. I know the one you mean, he was before the Borgia Pope, whose name escapes me at the minute. (It will surface as soon as I hit 'send'.)

Leo was the incompetent who flubbed the reformation. (1514-1521)He was a Medici, young, but in poor health, very fat and given to excesses of every kind. He sponsored many artists, poets, and humanists, but he spent money like mad and broke the bank--hence all those indulgences.

Leo wouldn't have led any soldiers anywhere. But the one who had the Sistine Chapel painted (might have been Julius, that's ringing a bell) was almost always at war with somebody.

On the original topic, Cardinal Jimenez Cisneros (died 1516) personally led troops against the North African city of Oran in 1509.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Tue February 1st, 2011, 4:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by EC2 » Tue February 1st, 2011, 2:41 pm

[quote=""Alisha Marie Klapheke""]I just read on Sharon Kay Penman's blog that the thing about bishops carrying only maces is a myth. Wonder where she dug that up...her blog is a fun source of info.[/quote]

I recall reading that and it's probably true. Maces, however, appear to be a symbol of high office - a sort of rod of authority if you will. The mace-carrying bishop with ethical reasons of non blood spillage quoted is one of those myths that becomes so ingrained that it loses its mythology and becomes the truth. Likes swords clearing scabbards. They're silent. They don't give a metallic rasp as you see in films.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Alisha Marie Klapheke
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Post by Alisha Marie Klapheke » Wed February 2nd, 2011, 3:21 am

[quote=""EC2""]I recall reading that and it's probably true. Maces, however, appear to be a symbol of high office - a sort of rod of authority if you will. The mace-carrying bishop with ethical reasons of non blood spillage quoted is one of those myths that becomes so ingrained that it loses its mythology and becomes the truth. Likes swords clearing scabbards. They're silent. They don't give a metallic rasp as you see in films.[/quote]

It's funny you that you mention the absence of sound as a sword clears a scabbard. My husband and I were watching RED last night and at one point in the movie a man who was simply holding a big knife lowered it to his side with a SCWZING! Ha! It was ridiculous and they were not trying to be funny.

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