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Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's LawsPerspectives on the Law of War in the Later Middle Ages$
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Theodor Meron

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198258117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198258117.001.0001

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(p.208) 12 Conclusions
Henry's Wars and Shakespeare's Laws

Theodor Meron

Oxford University Press

Because of the various attributes of medieval society and the nature of medieval society, the events discussed in this book did not serve as a perfect venue for coming up with understandable, reasonable, and humane laws of war. Since there was a great number of states that could be perceived to be equal, the government had to rely on certain hierarchical relations which involved both princes and knights. As the concept of sovereignty is obscured by how knights are treated as higher beings than those who express national loyalty, there is no definite way of distinguishing civil wars from international wars. As such, there was a multitude of misused concepts as a result of the lack of comprehensible distinction. Soon after that, however, medieval society was finally able to come up with a generally accepted artificial distinction between field combat and sieges. The norms within laws of war served as more than just abstract ideas, and as such were imposed by means of military discipline, and various courts.

Keywords:   medieval society, laws of war, distinction, hierarchical relations, knights, princes, national loyalty, military discipline, artificial distinction

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