Soldier in Later Medieval England

This is the most significant project ever undertaken on the late medieval soldier. For the first time hard data has been produced on individuals and groups (such as the soldiers serving under one particular leader, or in particular locations).

Our project provides a dynamic picture over eighty years of English warfare, from 1369-1453, as opposed to a study of a single campaign. This project gives over a quarter of a million examples of military service, using a variety of sources in a consistent fashion gathered together in a searchable on-line database. Whilst this represents only about 40% of the original evidence (many muster rolls were discarded when the accounting process was over) this is a level of completeness which medieval historians rarely enjoy, and provides a corrective to the view of the period as unsophisticated, or of the army as being no more than a collection of private retinues over which the crown had little control.

There was more effective control and better recording than under Henry VIII. Perhaps its most important contribution is to dispel the myth that the English demilitarised in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. There is much continuity across the period, but also momentous changes, not least the rising proportion of archers. Contributing only 50% of the army in 1369, by 1453 they were providing 83%. Taken altogether, our findings show the complexity of military society, the sustainability of careers across time, the place of personal choice, and the multi-ethnic nature of the army. These are topics of perennial interest across centuries. The on-line database is one of very few searchable collections of medieval nominal data. It has already been used by many historians and students of the period as well as ‘citizen historians’ and will continue to furnish a major resource.


  • Professor Anne Curry
  • Professor Adrian Bell, ICMA Centre, University of Reading
  • Dr Andy King
  • Dr David Simpkin, University of Southampton & ICMA at University of Reading
  • Dr Adam Chapman