Friday, September 23, 2011

Check It Out: Halsall's Battle in the Early Medieval West

I haven't made much time for the blog in recent weeks, but I thought I would share something with you that I recently read on Guy Halsall's blog, Historian on the Edge.

I took my time and enjoyed reading Guy's post of Battle in the Early Medieval West. He describes the piece as an unpublished entry submitted for an "Encyclopaedia of Classical Battle or some such." If you have not read Halsall's Warfare and Society in the Barbarian West c.450-900, then this is a great place to start. This piece really re-energized my love for the period after spending quite a bit of time researching, playing, and writing about other military subjects.

I think I am just starting to grasp how differently this period was from Roman Imperial Europe and the Late Medieval West. I mean, I thought that Dark Age warfare was different, but only in a rather superficial way for the most part - ie. not like Late Medieval warfare. As one might expect from Halsall, he challenges the idea that the military trip(s) from Point A (Late Antiquity) to Point B (Late Medieval) are smooth or that they can be interpolated simply by looking at data from better recorded periods.

How does this apply to wargaming? Well, right now I think I'm going to let that swim about in the back of my mind for a bit. I can kind of see pieces of how one could adapt rules to capture at least some aspects of Dark Age warfare, at least in regards to army list stats/abilities of certain types of armies. Try this - take a good look at how Halsall describes 6th Century weaponry and combat, and see if you can build a tabletop unit that moves and fights in the way described. Of course, this is just part of Dark Age warfare - there's also the matter of command and control and tactics. I'm looking forward to revisiting this subject later.


  1. Thanks, Paul. Glad you enjoyed it. I'd certainly like to hear about how you think it might apply to wargames when you've thought about it some more!

  2. Will do, Guy. Definitely more on this subject later.

  3. By the way, my wargames blog, still very much a work in progress, is at

  4. Very nice - I have added this to my blog list. Thanks for link!