Preparing to fight: Raising soldiers and supplies

In late medieval England, armies were mostly made up of professional soldiers fighting under contract.

The king, a nobleman or even a squire would draw up a written contract (an indenture) with a second party, outlining terms for military service in return for an agreed wage. These terms usually included the number of men-at-arms (heavily armed soldiers on horseback) and archers (mounted or on foot and armed primarily with longbows) to be recruited, the length of service and confirmation of the daily rates of pay. Read more about how soldiers were recruited on our blog.

Soldiers in the field needed to be fed, and supplied with weaponry and other provisions – a complex task which involved transporting items over sea and land. The entry in the Close Rolls from our collection provides insight into the arrangements made to provide for Henry’s army.

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