For a long while now I have found that one regular source for many stories in the main media is the Science Daily web site. For any hapless intern or late running journo’ it can be a treasure house of potential items which with a bit of summary and reworking can be made into a printable or viewable story.
Quite often indeed there is a “hot story” claimed to be from determined work that is given a slant or edge to make a point to the punters. “The Mail” is one newspaper that makes free and sometimes imaginative use of this web site.
The trouble is the hacks that work for the main media often do not quite understand what the article they borrow is really driving at. Sometimes they make a mess of it. Usually there are subtleties missed or caveats ignored.
On advantage of this web site is that it can be possible to go back to source and see the fuller item in the shape of its original publication. This can be very instructive if compared against what the main media might make of it.
The story below about ransom practice in medieval warfare was intriguing because it puts the fighting in this era into an altogether different perspective.
Many of the key fighting men, the Captains and Sergeants who did the business, were mercenaries, paid men who did not necessarily act from personal loyalties or any of our modern notions of nationalism
It might explain why down the years the rulers and elites were anxious to gain and keep control over the way men actually functioned in the battles they were asked to fight.
In later centuries when the cannon and the musket and later rifles put the killing and contact at a distance and changed all this, as did the later murderous industrialisation of the battlefields.
Given the way that Chivalry was supposed to work for the horsed elite, if indeed lower down the ranks in some sphere of the battlefields or indeed the way a battle was conducted was less about killing and more about winning and taking prisoners then it makes the typical film or blood and thunder productions very wrong.
Of course, this introduces elements of uncertainty into the warfare. Certainly, there were times when a bloodbath was intended or happened if the combat went out of control. All too often these were members of one family were seeking to wrest power from their siblings or cousins.
In our modern age in the conflicts we get into the West seems to have the idea that to inflict a defeat or two should be enough and then we might negotiate. But what if our enemies neither want to end the fight nor to talk?
We could be in the process of finding out.