Can anyone recommend possible battles/wars to write about for a 2000 word university essay?

Jan 2015
3,363
Front Lines of the Pig War
#12
I need to write an essay for a uni course on medieval Europe.

What I really want is an open research question that can have multiple possible answers to be debated. What I'd really like to do is research causes for the outcome of battle a conflict, i.e "what was the most important factor leading to the victory/defeat of X in the Battle/War of X?" or "what was the main turning point in the Battle/War of X?

I was thinking of doing Agincourt but I think the answer is fairly straightforward there - the English longbowmen.

I don't know many medieval battles as my main interest in history is more 19th century. Most medieval battles seem fairly straightforward - e.g.French knights charge, get shot to pieces, the end, compared to battles like the Waterloo or Gettysburg which involved multiple different assaults, and you could argue for any one of them as the turning point.
As something relevant for Australia in particular, what about Gallipoli - could the British/Anzac forces have won with better planning & strategy? Or was it doomed from the start?
 
Oct 2017
102
South Australia
#13
As something relevant for Australia in particular, what about Gallipoli - could the British/Anzac forces have won with better planning & strategy? Or was it doomed from the start?
Interesting suggestion, one which I have read quite a lot about in the past - Peter Fitzsimmons book on Gallipoli is excellent.

However, this essay has to be on a topic from the medieval period, sorry if I didn't make that clear enough. Moreover, I have since chosen a topic so this thread is probably finished, as I mentioned here:

Since starting this thread I've spoken to my lecturer and decided to change the focus of the question a bit, I'm now going to research when and why noble knights were replaced by professional footsoldiers as the dominant force on the battlefield (and if knights were ever actually supremely dominant), using specific battles as case studies. I might start a new thread on this as I need some ideas for battles to use as case studies. Your suggestions have been helpful in considering this though, so thankyou for the help!
Thanks for your suggestion though, that would indeed be a fascinating question to study at another time!

I'm assuming you are Canadian, from the area of Prince Rupert's Land on the Hudson Bay? Kudos to our noble Commonwealth allies ;)
 
Sep 2014
931
Texas
#14
I need to write an essay for a uni course on medieval Europe.

What I really want is an open research question that can have multiple possible answers to be debated. What I'd really like to do is research causes for the outcome of battle a conflict, i.e "what was the most important factor leading to the victory/defeat of X in the Battle/War of X?" or "what was the main turning point in the Battle/War of X?

I was thinking of doing Agincourt but I think the answer is fairly straightforward there - the English longbowmen.

I don't know many medieval battles as my main interest in history is more 19th century. Most medieval battles seem fairly straightforward - e.g.French knights charge, get shot to pieces, the end, compared to battles like the Waterloo or Gettysburg which involved multiple different assaults, and you could argue for any one of them as the turning point.
The Battle of Plataea, where the Greeks joined together to defeat Mardonius. Everything was going wrong on the Greek side...Sparta was having issues with belligerant captains, there was the famous Persian warhorses (the Greeks actually hand picked some men to do battle with a horse). And the aftermath. Hell, it would make one hell of a movie.
 
Oct 2017
102
South Australia
#15
The Battle of Plataea, where the Greeks joined together to defeat Mardonius. Everything was going wrong on the Greek side...Sparta was having issues with belligerant captains, there was the famous Persian warhorses (the Greeks actually hand picked some men to do battle with a horse). And the aftermath. Hell, it would make one hell of a movie.
Plataea is indeed a very interesting battle, however unfortunately this essay has to be on a topic in the medieval period. Furthermore, this thread is finished as I have now chosen my topic. Thanks for your post all the same though! The Greco-Persian Wars are fascinating
 
Likes: bedb
Jan 2015
3,363
Front Lines of the Pig War
#16
According to the OP is an "essay for a uni course on medieval Europe".

And I just recalled that we have a homework policy that I just disrespected in my previous post: History Homework Help
Interesting suggestion, one which I have read quite a lot about in the past - Peter Fitzsimmons book on Gallipoli is excellent.

However, this essay has to be on a topic from the medieval period, sorry if I didn't make that clear enough. Moreover, I have since chosen a topic so this thread is probably finished, as I mentioned here:



Thanks for your suggestion though, that would indeed be a fascinating question to study at another time!

I'm assuming you are Canadian, from the area of Prince Rupert's Land on the Hudson Bay? Kudos to our noble Commonwealth allies ;)
Not quite Hudson's Bay.
More like holding down the front line in the Pig War... :D
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,378
Albuquerque, NM
#17
First let me commend Tulius for remembering the homework policy. However, in this case the OP has evidently done enough to satisfy their due diligence, and the request asks only for suggestions of battles for the OPs essay.

As I understand it the OP is looking for a two-thousand word essay topic appropriate to an under-grad course in Medieval History. The OP tells us he mostly interested in Military History, but I'm pretty sure the Course requirement is far more open. Medieval History courses tend to be upper-division, so the OP presumably has the basics already. The amended OP topic (see #13 above) opens the doors to a much wider range of possible essay topics. Indeed, the OP's assignment now is beginning to look like a Thesis or Dissertation and may be too large for the limited time and course requirements. I would suggest the OP limit themself to a narrower topic than suggested in #13.

I can recommend Hans Delbruck's History of the Art of War, Medieval War v. 2 as a source for almost any topic dealing with an in-depth analysis of Medieval warfare. The USMA Guide to the Study and use of Military History is another essential reference for the study of Military History in general.

Here are a few things you might want to consider: Select a topic with a large body of academic literature; generally for under-grads sticking to their native culture/history/language is better than trying to master more difficult topics, and maintain as narrow a focus as possible ... remember 2000 words is hardly enough to introduce the primary elements of your argument. I remember a professor of Medieval History (a Jesuit) who required his students to provide rather complete citations even when participating in class discussion (Book, Author, page and quarter page of the book related to the student's questions/answers. That too was an upper-division course, but I've had Post-Grad Professors who were pussycats in comparison. Keep it simple and there are fewer ways to lose your 3.999 GPA
.
 
Likes: Tulius

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,378
Albuquerque, NM
#18
How about this ... investigate the costs of a being a "knight" in Britain between the reigns of Longshanks and the Black Knight. The three Edward Plantagenets. Two famous military leaders and a widely regarded blacksheep between. Longshanks efforts in Wales and later in Scotland still stike a cord with moderns, and Edward lll and his son are a shelf load of books and studys alone. The Black Knight is a wonderfully romantic figure who didn't live to ascend the thrown, but is never-the-less a heroic figure in myth and legend.

Or ... maybe focus just on the long reign of Edward III who was a pawn played by Edward II and his mother Isabel (sister to the King of France) had to stage a coup against Mum and her erstwhile lover. Edward III was a literate man for his time who loved pageantry and Courtly Ideals. After his Daddy, III was a welcome relief for many and the economy began to recover. Edward III quickened the conflict over the muddled relationship with France over III's Continental possessions (Duke of Normandy owing fealty to the King of France and/or King of England a soveriegn peer) into what became the 100 Years War. Edward III won most of his battles, but in the end failed to hold on to even Calais. Edward III lost a dear relative to the Black Death as she traveled to marry and cement an alliance with Spain. On a less personal level, Edward's handling of plague problems showed courage and seemingly a deep concern for his subjects (not something his Daddy or Grand-Daddy would probably have lost sleep over). Losing his son and partner the Black Prince may have been a contributing factor in Edward III's final years and the end of the Plantagenets.

Look out I'm starting to become interested again in the period.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,696
Portugal
#19
I can recommend Hans Delbruck's History of the Art of War, Medieval War v. 2 as a source for almost any topic dealing with an in-depth analysis of Medieval warfare. The USMA Guide to the Study and use of Military History is another essential reference for the study of Military History in general.
Delbrück is a classic. I don’t know the USMA Guide, but I surely will take a look.

Even if severely outdated Charles Oman and his “A History of the War in the Middle Ages” is still a reference, and available freely online.

Just to post some old references here:

Ferdinand Lot, and his “L'art militaire et les armées an Moyen Age en Europe et dans le Proche Orient, Paris, 1946 (2 vols.)” and J. F. Verbruggen, “The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, from the Eight Century to 1340”, in its English translation (1977) from the original in Dutch (1954), are also references that I read partially. A bit more recent is one, that I fully read, Philipe Contamine and “La guerre au Moyen Âge” (1980). Even more recent are the several works of Christopher Allmand, that I saw often quoted, but never actually read it.

Off topic: Nice to see you posting Asherman. We all know that you have been on a difficult period, to say the least, and lacking better words, and I think that we all hope that you can overcome all this, as best as humanly possible. Personally I must say now that it is always interesting to read your posts, it doesn’t matter if I agree or disagree with them, they are academic and thoughtful. All the best for you! And I rarely say this online.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,378
Albuquerque, NM
#20
Thank you. Things personally are slowly sorting themselves out, and I'll be ok. It isn't that I've been totally absent, only that time and circumstances have confined my little efforts to putting out the worst of forest fires here. I like helping people, and writing small essays is much more to my liking than enforcement and administration.
 

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