Through battles such as Courtrai (1302), Bannockburn (1314), and Morgarten (1315), it became clear to the great territorial princes of Europe that the military advantage of the feudal cavalry was lost, and that a well equipped infantry was preferable. Through the Welsh Wars the English became acquainted with, and adopted the highly efficient longbow. Once properly managed, this weapon gave them a great advantage over the French in the Hundred Years' War.
The introduction of gunpowder affected the conduct of war significantly. Though employed by the English as early as the Battle of Crécy in 1346, firearms initially had little effect in the field of battle. It was through the use of cannons as siege weapons that major change was brought about; the new methods would eventually change the architectural structure of fortifications.
Changes also took place within the recruitment and composition of armies. The use of the national or feudal levy was gradually replaced by paid troops of domestic retinues or foreign mercenaries. The practice was associated with Edward III of England and the condottieri of the Italian city-states. All over Europe, Swiss soldiers were in particularly high demand. At the same time, the period also saw the emergence of the first permanent armies. It was in Valois France, under the heavy demands of the Hundred Years' War, that the armed forces gradually assumed a permanent nature.
Parallel to the military developments emerged also a constantly more elaborate chivalric code of conduct for the warrior class. This new-found ethos can be seen as a response to the diminishing military role of the aristocracy, and gradually it became almost entirely detached from its military origin. The spirit of chivalry was given expression through the new (secular) type of chivalric orders; the first of which was the Order of St. George founded by Charles I of Hungary in 1325, the best known probably the English Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III in 1348.
Read more about this topic: Late Middle Ages
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