Saxon military revolution, 912-973? Myth and reality

B. S. Bachrach, D. Bachrach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


For more than a generation Karl Leyser's influential thesis, which credited Henry I with undertaking a military revolution which made possible the Saxon dynasty's rule of Francia orientalis, has dominated the scholarly literature. According to Leyser, Henry radically reformed the Saxon military by building a large force of heavily armed mounted fighting men. These men provided the means necessary to assure Saxon domination. It is argued here, by contrast, that this Saxon military revolution is a myth and that the continental Saxons, as contrasted to those in England, saw the gradual development of a heavily armed mounted fighting force following their conquest by Charlemagne in 805. The real Saxon military revolution was Henry's creation of the agrarii milites and the building of frontier fortifications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-222
Number of pages37
JournalEarly Medieval Europe
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2007

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