Bloodied Banners: Martial Display on the Medieval Battlefield

Robert W. Jones

Groundbreaking reassessment of the role played by armour, weapons and heraldry in medieval warfare, showing their cultural as well as military significance.
Date Published :
May 2015
Publisher :
Boydell and Brewer
Series :
Warfare in History
Illustration :
17 color. 14 b/w.
No associated books available.


A penetrating investigation of medieval martial display... The reader is struck by its originality, and by its sophisticated and critical interpretative engagement with historical and literary sources. Particularly notable is theauthor's subtle exploration of the function of armour: not only its practical role, but as a form of display... A refreshingly different approach to the world of the medieval combatant and his place within that `host of many colours' that was a medieval army, it adds a new dimension to our understanding of medieval warfare. ANDREW AYTON, University of Hull

The medieval battlefield was a place of spectacle and splendour. The fully-armed knight,bedecked in his vivid heraldic colours, riding out beneath his brightly-painted banner, is a stock image of war and the warrior in the middle ages. Yet too often the significance of such display has been ignored or dismissed as the empty preening of a militaristic social elite.
Drawing on a broad range of source material and using innovative historical approaches, this book completely re-evaluates the way that such men and their weapons were viewed,showing that martial display was a vital part of the way in which war was waged in the middle ages. It maintains that heraldry and livery served not only to advertise a warrior's family and social ties, but also announced his presence on the battlefield and right to wage war. It also considers the physiological and psychological effect of wearing armour, both on the wearer and those facing him in combat, arguing that the need for display in battle was deeper than any medieval cultural construct and was based in the fundamental biological drives of threat and warning.

Dr ROBERT W. JONES teaches Medieval History at Advanced Studies in England, a branch campus of Franklinand Marshall College, in Bath. He was formerly a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Leeds, and an Associate Lecturer at Cardiff University.


Heraldic display and the role of identification on the battlefield
The banner as a symbol of identity, authority, and status
Badges and communal display
Audible display on the battlefield
The practical function of armour on the battlefield
The psychological role of armour on the battlefield
The display value of the sword and horse on the battlefield
Religious symbolism in martial display
Martial display and the case for a fourteenth-century military revolution