Last updated

In medieval and early modern France, the arrière-ban (Latin retrobannum) was a general proclamation whereby the king (or duke) summoned to war all the vassals of his vassals. [1] The term is a folk-etymological correction of Old French herban (attested 1101), from Germanic here (army) and ban (proclamation); compare German Heerbann . [2]

Although in theory, the arrière-ban depended on feudal relations, in practice it amounted to a general levy on all able-bodied males in the kingdom. [3] In theory, this included all men between the ages of 18 and 60 years, [4] in practice such a wide-ranging levy was never carried out for fear of conjuring an ill-suited mob. [3] Most arrière-ban's were in fact local in nature. [3] Conscription could be commuted by a money payment, which became an important source of revenue for the crown. [1] [5]

The Duke of Normandy retained the right of arrière-ban and used it routinely down to 1204. The distinction between the public obligation of freemen and the feudal obligation of the duke's vassals was maintained, but in practice the arrière-ban may have been used mainly to call up the better armed subtenants of his vassals. [6]

Considered archaic and appropriate only in emergencies, [3] the royal arrière-ban was re-instituted in France by Philip IV (1285–1314), who asserted his right to military service from the tenants and vassals of his vassals. [1] The arrière-ban was proclaimed throughout the Kingdom of France on 30 April 1337, at the start of the Hundred Years' War. [7] Thereafter, there were numerous summons, causing the practice to become ineffective and unpopular. After the disaster at Poitiers, the arrière-ban was not used for some decades as Charles the Wise introduced a more permanent fighting force. It reappeared after 1410. [4] Its practice continued into the early modern period, notably during the Thirty Year's War. In 1636, when the Spanish approached Paris, Louis XIII successfully gathered thousands of noblemen to defend the city by calling ban (of his vassals) and the arrière-ban (of all free men), allowing him to repel the Spanish. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Feudalism Combination of legal and military customs and form of government in medieval Europe

Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society around relationships that were derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labor. Although it is derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), which was used during the Medieval period, the term feudalism and the system which it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people who lived during the Middle Ages. The classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations which existed among the warrior nobility and revolved around the three key concepts of lords, vassals, and fiefs.

Battle of Crécy 1346 English victory during the Hundred Years War

The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August 1346 in northern France between a French army commanded by King Philip VI and an English army led by King Edward III. The French attacked the English while they were traversing northern France during the Hundred Years' War, resulting in an English victory and heavy loss of life among the French.

Vassal Person aligned with a lord or monarch

A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch, in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support by knights in exchange for certain privileges, usually including land held as a tenant or fief. The term is also applied to similar arrangements in other feudal societies.

France in the Middle Ages History of France during the Middle Ages

The Kingdom of France in the Middle Ages was marked by the fragmentation of the Carolingian Empire and West Francia (843–987); the expansion of royal control by the House of Capet (987–1328), including their struggles with the virtually independent principalities that had developed following the Viking invasions and through the piecemeal dismantling of the Carolingian Empire and the creation and extension of administrative/state control in the 13th century; and the rise of the House of Valois (1328–1589), including the protracted dynastic crisis against the House of Plantagenet and their Angevin Empire, dominated by the Kingdom of England, cumulating in the Hundred Years' War (1337–1453), compounded by the catastrophic Black Death epidemic (1348), which laid the seeds for a more centralized and expanded state in the early modern period and the creation of a sense of French identity.

Duchy of Normandy Medieval duchy in northern France

The Duchy of Normandy grew out of the 911 Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte between King Charles III of West Francia and the Viking leader Rollo. The duchy was named for its inhabitants, the Normans.

Treaty of Paris (1259) 1259 treaty between France and England

The Treaty of Paris was a treaty between Louis IX of France and Henry III of England, agreed to on 4 December 1259, ending 100 years of conflicts between the Capetian and Plantagenet dynasties.

Château Gaillard French medieval castle in Les Andelys, Normandy

Château Gaillard is a medieval castle ruin overlooking the River Seine above the commune of Les Andelys, in the French department of Eure, in Normandy. It is located some 95 kilometres (59 mi) north-west of Paris and 40 kilometres (25 mi) from Rouen. Construction began in 1196 under the auspices of Richard the Lionheart, who was simultaneously King of England and feudal Duke of Normandy. The castle was expensive to build, but the majority of the work was done in an unusually short period of time. It took just two years and, at the same time, the town of Petit Andely was constructed. Château Gaillard has a complex and advanced design, and uses early principles of concentric fortification; it was also one of the earliest European castles to use machicolations. The castle consists of three enclosures separated by dry moats, with a keep in the inner enclosure.

Battle of Blanchetaque Battle during the Hundred Years War

The Battle of Blanchetaque was fought on 24 August 1346 between an English army under King Edward III and a French force commanded by Godemar du Fay. The battle was part of the Crécy campaign, which took place during the early stages of the Hundred Years' War. After landing in the Cotentin Peninsula on 12 July, the English army had burnt a path of destruction through some of the richest lands in France to within 20 miles (32 km) of Paris, sacking a number of towns on the way. The English then marched north, hoping to link up with an allied Flemish army which had invaded from Flanders. They were outmanoeuvred by the French king, Philip VI, who garrisoned all of the bridges and fords over the River Somme and followed the English with his own field army. The area had previously been stripped of food stocks by the French, and the English were essentially trapped.

Dukes in France

The title of Duke was the highest hereditary title in the French nobility during the time of the monarchy in France.

Battle of Caen (1346) Battle during the Hundred Years War

The Battle of Caen was an assault conducted on 26 July 1346 by forces from the Kingdom of England, led by King Edward III, on the French-held town of Caen and Normandy as a part of the Hundred Years' War.

Homage (feudal) Medieval oath of allegiance

Homage in the Middle Ages was the ceremony in which a feudal tenant or vassal pledged reverence and submission to his feudal lord, receiving in exchange the symbolic title to his new position (investiture). It was a symbolic acknowledgement to the lord that the vassal was, literally, his man (homme). The oath known as "fealty" implied lesser obligations than did "homage". Further, one could swear "fealty" to many different overlords with respect to different land holdings, but "homage" could only be performed to a single liege, as one could not be "his man" to more than one "liege lord".

England in the High Middle Ages Period in English history

England in the High Middle Ages includes the history of England between the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the death of King John, considered by some to be the last of the Angevin kings of England, in 1216. A disputed succession and victory at the Battle of Hastings led to the conquest of England by William of Normandy in 1066. This linked the crown of England with possessions in France and brought a new aristocracy to the country that dominated landholding, government and the church. They brought with them the French language and maintained their rule through a system of castles and the introduction of a feudal system of landholding. By the time of William's death in 1087, England formed the largest part of an Anglo-Norman empire, ruled by nobles with landholdings across England, Normandy and Wales. William's sons disputed succession to his lands, with William II emerging as ruler of England and much of Normandy. On his death in 1100 his younger brother claimed the throne as Henry I and defeated his brother Robert to reunite England and Normandy. Henry was a ruthless yet effective king, but after the death of his only male heir William Adelin in the White Ship tragedy, he persuaded his barons to recognise his daughter Matilda as heir. When Henry died in 1135 her cousin Stephen of Blois had himself proclaimed king, leading to a civil war known as The Anarchy. Eventually Stephen recognised Matilda's son Henry as his heir and when Stephen died in 1154, he succeeded as Henry II.

Hundred Years War Conflicts between England and France during the 14th and 15th centuries

The Hundred Years' War was a series of armed conflicts between the kingdoms of England and France during the Late Middle Ages. It originated from disputed claims to the French throne between the English royal House of Plantagenet and the French royal House of Valois. Over time, the war grew into a broader power struggle involving factions from across Western Europe, fueled by emerging nationalism on both sides.

In the Middle Ages, the ban or banality was originally the power to command men in war and evolved into the general authority to order and to punish. As such, it was the basis for the raising of armies and the exercise of justice. The word is of Germanic origin and first appears in fifth-century law codes. Under the Franks it was a royal prerogative, but could be delegated and, from the tenth century, was frequently usurped by lesser nobles.

Feudalism in England

Feudalism as practised in the Kingdom of England during the medieval period was a state of human society that organized political and military leadership and force around a stratified formal structure based on land tenure. As a military defense and socio-economic paradigm designed to direct the wealth of the land to the king while it levied military troops to his causes, feudal society was ordered around relationships derived from the holding of land. Such landholdings are termed fiefdoms, traders, fiefs, or fees.

Warfare in Medieval Scotland Overview about warfare in Medieval Scotland

Warfare in Medieval Scotland includes all military activity in the modern borders of Scotland, or by forces originating in the region, between the departure of the Romans in the fifth century and the adoption of the innovations of the Renaissance in the early sixteenth century. In this period conflict developed from minor raids to major conflicts, incorporating many of the innovations of continental warfare.

Feudal duties

Feudal duties were the set of reciprocal financial, military and legal obligations among the warrior nobility in a feudal system. These duties developed in both Europe and Japan with the decentralisation of empire and due to lack of monetary liquidity, as groups of warriors took over the social, political, judicial, and economic spheres of the territory they controlled. While many feudal duties were based upon control of a parcel of land and its productive resources, even landless knights owed feudal duties such as direct military service in their lord's behest. Feudal duties were not uniform over time or across political boundaries. And in their later development also included duties from and to the peasant population, such as abergement.

Siege of Aiguillon Siege during the Hundred Years War

The siege of Aiguillon, an episode in the Hundred Years' War, began on 1 April 1346 when a French army commanded by John, Duke of Normandy, laid siege to the Gascon town of Aiguillon. The town was defended by an Anglo-Gascon army under Ralph, Earl of Stafford.

Lancasters <i>chevauchée</i> of 1346 Campaign during the Hundred Years War

Lancaster's chevauchée of 1346 was a series of offensives directed by Henry, Earl of Lancaster, in southwestern France during autumn 1346, as a part of the Hundred Years' War.

Hundred Years War (1345–1347) Series of military campaigns in 1345–1347

English offensives in 1345–1347, during the Hundred Years' War, resulted in repeated defeats of the French, the loss or devastation of much French territory and the capture by the English of the port of Calais. The war had broken out in 1337 and flared up in 1340 when the king of England, Edward III laid claim to the French crown and campaigned in northern France. There was then a lull in the major hostilities, although much small-scale fighting continued.


  1. 1 2 3 Theodore Evergates (1995), "Ban, Banalité", in William W. Kibler; Grover A. Zinn (eds.), Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, Garland, pp. 175–176.
  2. "arrière-ban, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, January 2018. Accessed 18 February 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 John Bell Henneman, Jr. (2017), "Arrière-ban", in William W. Kibler; Grover A. Zinn (eds.), Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, pp. 71–72, ISBN   978-1-351-66566-7 , retrieved 7 January 2021
  4. 1 2 Allmand, Christopher (4 February 1988). The Hundred Years War: England and France at War C.1300-c.1450. Cambridge University Press. p. 95. ISBN   978-0-521-31923-2 . Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  5. Collins, James B. (28 September 1995). The State in Early Modern France. Cambridge University Press. p. 20. ISBN   978-0-521-38724-8 . Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  6. F. M. Powicke (1913), The Loss of Normandy (1189–1204): Studies in the History of the Angevin Empire, Manchester University Press, p. 311–312.
  7. Jonathan Sumption (1991), The Hundred Years War I: Trial by Battle, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN   0-8122-1655-5 , p. 184
  8. Collins, James B. (28 September 1995). The State in Early Modern France. Cambridge University Press. p. 62. ISBN   978-0-521-38724-8 . Retrieved 7 January 2021.