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Prisoners of War in the Hundred Years War
Ransom Culture in the Late Middle Ages


  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107529304

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About the Authors
  • The status of prisoners of war was firmly rooted in the practice of ransoming in the Middle Ages. By the opening stages of the Hundred Years War, ransoming had become widespread among the knightly community, and the crown had already begun to exercise tighter control over the practice of war. This led to tensions between public and private interests over ransoms and prisoners of war. Historians have long emphasised the significance of the French and English crowns' interference in the issue of prisoners of war, but this original and stimulating study questions whether they have been too influenced by the state-centred nature of most surviving sources. Based on extensive archival research, this book tests customs, laws and theory against the individual experiences of captors and prisoners during the Hundred Years War, to evoke their world in all its complexity.

    • Develops an Anglo-French perspective on the subject, introducing English-speaking readers to French sources and literature
    • Tests laws, concepts and theories against individual examples and experiences, uncovering previously unknown cases
    • Reveals how ransoming developed as a private arrangement between individuals and how procedures evolved for managing these relationships
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book offers an important and sustained analysis of the culture of ransoming in England and France during the Hundred Years War. Building upon an unrivalled knowledge of the archival sources, Ambühl highlights the practical circumstances that shaped the development of practices of ransoming amongst the soldiers themselves. This is an essential corrective to modern romantic assumptions that interpret ransoming through the lens of chivalric literature or the writings of royal lawyers and propagandists.' Craig Taylor, University of York

    '[Ambyhl] studies the customs and practices surrounding the capture and ransom of prisoners of war during the Hundred Years' War, particularly in the 1370s and the 1420s to 1440s. … Detailed archival work in France and England undergirds this study. … For the most part, experience must be extrapolated from what the actors did, what the sources tell us most about is what they did with money. The book is thus at its strongest in dealing with financial questions, and the chapters on the setting and payment of the ransom itself are its most important contribution. The author gestures throughout, however, at a wide range of debates about war and society in the later Middle Ages, and thus the book merits a broad readership.' Adam J. Kosto, Renaissance Quarterly

    'Rémy Ambühl's important book is the first comprehensive examination of the whole ransom system … an illuminating read and is destined to be a standard text.' Michael Hicks, The American Historical Review

    'The book succeeds admirably as a detailed, authoritative account of the ransoming business in the Hundred Years War, with some tremendous archival work - receipts, ordinances of war, and court records, as well as chronicles and treatises on chivalry - furnishing an abundance of important examples … an important and extremely valuable study.' Sean McGlynn, The English Historical Review

    'This is a judicious, well-written book that will be the standard reference on the subject of military ransoms during the Hundred Years War … As a monograph on the ransoming of combatants … this is an excellent book.' Justine Firnhaber–Baker, French History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107529304
    • length: 316 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Law, ransom and the status of the prisoner of war
    2. Princes, masters and prisoners
    3. Status and politics in Lancastrian Normandy
    4. The process of ransoming (I) from capture to captivity
    5. The practice of ransoming (II) the price of freedom
    6. Merchants, banking and trade
    7. Assistance to prisoners I: vassals and subjects - the end of customary aids?
    8. Assistant to prisoners II: kings and princes - first or last resort?
    9. Assistance to prisoners III: the social circle of the prisoner

  • Author

    Rémy Ambühl, University of Southampton
    Rémy Ambühl is Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Southampton.

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