School of Histories, Languages and Cultures

Dr Andrew Ayton


andrew ayton

Former academic staff

Email: a.c.ayton@hull.ac.uk


I am primarily an historian of the warfare, military-organisational structures and combatants of late medieval Europe. What this means in practice is that I’m not only interested in the operational, recruitment and logistical issues that are traditionally associated with military and naval history, but also the political, diplomatic, socio-economic and cultural contexts of warfare. While I am curious about developments throughout Christendom and indeed beyond, I am above all a research specialist in the organisation of war and the military communities of fourteenth-century England, and the Anglo-Scottish and Anglo-French wars of that period.

Armies and combatants

I am particularly interested in (i) the identity of the combatant, his cultural world and socio-economic background; and (ii) the distinctive character of the late medieval army – an impermanent but robust entity, reliant on the socio-economic networks within the military communities from which it was recruited, with stiffening provided by temporary institutional structures. I have from the outset of my career been an advocate of prosopography (collective biography), and the abundant data available for the study of late medieval English armies and military service have certainly lent themselves to this approach. Perhaps beginning with a large-scale project focussing on the campaign and battle of Crécy (1346) , I have more recently developed an interest in how warfare in all its aspects was presented, in a variety of forms, in contemporary historical accounts.

Medieval Hungary

While it is certainly the case that most of my publications and a significant part of my teaching have focussed on the English wars of the late medieval period, I should stress that I also have a strong secondary interest in the military (indeed, wider) history of east-central Europe, with particular reference to the kingdom of Hungary – the ‘realm of St Stephen’. This, I believe, has helped me to avoid the pitfall of viewing late medieval Europe exclusively from its north-western corner; and it has also encouraged exploration of the many and varied transcultural interfaces within and on the periphery of Christendom.

The Anatomy of Military Disaster

In recent years I have supplemented and extended these core interests in both the teaching and research spheres. A conviction that I should know more about post-medieval warfare prompted me to offer a module focussing on the circumstances of, and processes driving, several notable military disasters during the early modern and modern periods. After all, as the old saying has it, the best way to learn about a subject is to teach it. And stepping out of my comfort zone has certainly been good for me. The Anatomy of Military Disaster has probably been, for me, the most enjoyable module of my teaching career. I have learned a great deal, but I am certain too that the benefit has been two-way, for adopting a comparative approach has enabled me to highlight the ‘constants’ and continuities of warfare, as well as the more obvious processes of change.

Ships and mariners

In the research sphere, I have recently built substantially on a longstanding interest in the naval dimension of medieval warfare by securing grant funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for a project entitled Shipping, mariners and port communities in fourteenth-century England (RES-000-22-4127), which aims to bring greater clarity and precision to academic and public understanding of the English merchant fleet (shipping and manpower) during this period. A key output from the project, an Open Access database documenting the English ships and crews involved in over 10,000 voyages during the period 1320-1400, has been deposited at the UK Data Service and can be downloaded from the UK Data Service.

I am a native of Dorset and very much a country dweller at heart, but I have spent most of my working life in the big city, first (briefly) in London, and then, from 1985, in Hull. I am, in fact, a Hull graduate, so joining the Domesday Project team here in 1985 brought me back to a familiar campus. Having, from 1987, been employed on the Computers in Teaching Initiative in the History Department, I was appointed to a lectureship in 1989.

Selected Publications


  • (Co-editor, with Sir Philip Preston) The Battle of Crécy, 1346, Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005. Pp. xii, 390. Paperback edn, 2007.
  • (Editor) Pál Engel, The Realm of St Stephen. A History of Medieval Hungary, 895-1526, London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2001. Pp. xx, 452. Paperback edn, 2005.
  • (Co-editor, with J.L. Price) The Medieval Military Revolution.  State, Society and Military Change in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1995. Pp. viii, 208. Paperback edn, 1998.
  • Knights and Warhorses. Military Service and the English Aristocracy under Edward III, Woodbridge: Boydell, 1994. Pp. xiv, 304. Reprinted in paperback with new preface, 1999.


Shipping, mariners and ports in fourteenth-century England.
A database of 10,289 records concerning voyages made by English ships and mariners during the fourteenth century. Compiled during the 18-month term (April 2011-October 2012) of an ESRC-funded project based at the University of Hull (Shipping, mariners and port communities in fourteenth-century England; RES-000-22-4127), and deposited for public use at the UK Data Service. [Co-author with the PDRA on the project, Dr Craig Lambert.]


  • ‘A maritime community in war and peace: Kentish ports, ships and mariners, 1320-1400’ [co-author with Craig Lambert], Archaeologia Cantiana, 134 (2014), 67-103
  • ‘János Thuróczy: Chronica Hungarorum’, in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History, Volume 5 (1350-1500), ed. D. Thomas, A. Mallett et al., Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013, pp. 551-9
  • ‘The mariner in fourteenth-century England’ [co-author with Craig Lambert], in Fourteenth Century England VII, ed. W.M. Ormrod, Woodbridge: Boydell, 2012, pp. 153-76
  • ‘Military service and the dynamics of recruitment in fourteenth-century England’, in The Soldier Experience in the Fourteenth Century, ed. A.R. Bell, A. Curry et al., Woodbridge: Boydell, 2011, pp. 9-59.
  • ‘Armies and military communities in fourteenth-century England’, in Soldiers, Nobles and Gentlemen: Essays in Honour of Maurice Keen, ed. P. Coss and C. Tyerman, Woodbridge: Boydell, 2009, pp. 215-39.
  • ‘From Muhi to Mohács: armies and combatants in later medieval European transcultural wars’, in Transcultural Wars from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century, ed. Hans-Henning Kortüm, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2006, pp. 213-47.

Chapters in A. Ayton and P. Preston, eds, The Battle of Crécy, 1346, Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005:

  • ‘The battle of Crécy: context and significance’: pp. 1-34
  • ‘The Crécy campaign’: pp. 35-107
  • ‘The English army at Crécy’: pp. 159-251
  • ‘Crécy and the chroniclers’: pp. 286-350
  • ‘Topography and archery: further reflections on the battle of Crécy’ [co-author with Sir Philip Preston]: pp. 351-77

Entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. OUP: Oxford, 2004:

  • Thomas Ashton (supp. fl. 1346), ODNB, ii, 683
  • Sir Hugh Hastings (d. 1347), ODNB, xxv, 764-5
  • Laurence Hastings, twelfth earl of Pembroke (d. 1348), ODNB, xxv, 769-70
  • Robert Morley, second lord Morley (d. 1360), ODNB, xxxix, 236-7
  • John Northwood, first lord Northwood (d. 1319), ODNB, xxxxi, 155-6
  • Thomas Ughtred, first lord Ughtred (d. 1365), ODNB, lv, 860-1


‘Sir Thomas Ughtred and the Edwardian military revolution’, in The Age of Edward III, ed. J.S. Bothwell, Woodbridge: York Medieval Press/Boydell, 2001, pp. 107-32

‘Arms, armour and horses’, in Medieval Warfare. A History, ed. M. Keen, Oxford, OUP, 1999 (paperback edn, 2001), pp. 186-208

‘Edward III and the English aristocracy at the beginning of the Hundred Years War’, in Armies, Chivalry and Warfare in Medieval Britain and France, ed. M. Strickland. Harlaxton Medieval Studies, 7. Stamford: Paul Watkins, 1998, pp. 173-206

Chapters in A. Ayton and J.L. Price, eds, The Medieval Military Revolution.  State, Society and Military Change in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, London & New York: I.B. Tauris, 1995:

  • ‘The military revolution from a medieval perspective’ [co-author with J.L.Price]: pp. 1-22
  • ‘Knights, esquires and military service: the evidence of the armorial cases before the Court of Chivalry’: pp. 81-104

‘English armies in the fourteenth century’, in Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, ed. A. Curry & M. Hughes, Woodbridge: Boydell, 1994 (paperback edn, 1999), pp. 21-38.  Reprinted in C.J. Rogers, The Wars of Edward III, Woodbridge: Boydell, 1999, pp. 303-19

‘The English army and the Normandy campaign of 1346’, in England and Normandy in the Middle Ages, ed. D. Bates & A. Curry, London & Rio Grande: The Hambledon Press, 1994, pp. 253-68

‘Katonai forradalom a 14. századi Angliában’ ['The military revolution in fourteenth-century England'], Aetas: történettudományi folyóirat, 1994, no. 4, 5-26

‘Military service and the development of the Robin Hood legend in the fourteenth century’, Nottingham Medieval Studies, 36 (1992), 126-47

‘War and the English gentry under Edward III’, History Today, 42 (March 1992), 34-40

‘Domesday Book re-bound, c. 1346’, Notes and Queries, New Series, 36/3 (September 1989), 298-9

‘John Chaucer and the Weardale campaign, 1327’, Notes and Queries, New Series, 36/1 (March 1989), 9-10

‘William de Thweyt, esquire: deputy constable of Corfe Castle in the 1340s’, Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset, 32/329 (March 1989), 731-8

‘Ecclesiastical wealth in England in 1086’ [co-author with V. Davis], in The Church and Wealth, ed. W. J. Sheils & D. Wood, Studies in Church History, 24, 1987, pp. 47-60

Back to top