The military system of a state is explained by its resources, principally financial, the structure of its government and administration, the level of its technology, the organization of its society and the nature of its economy, but one must also take into account its objectives and strictly military imperatives. Every state in effect seeks to raise armed forces adapted to its ambitions and to its own fears. This was the case in England at the end of the Middle Ages when military institutions were founded as a result of the interaction of several factors. First, it was a society where the feudal regime had changed almost completely into a system of land tenures, creating the need to establish new personal ties between those who governed and the men who were capable of serving them in war—’bastard feudalism’. Secondly, the fact that the principal English strength lay in the massive use of the longbow, a weapon which was popular rather than aristocratic, led to the need to draw on the resources of every level of society, independent of juridical status, in order to recruit a sufficient number of highly qualified archers. Finally, the adoption of a deliberately aggressive and expansive foreign policy implied the sending of forces against Scotland, Wales and Ireland, but above all across the sea. These expeditionary corps had to be capable of waging war away from their base for six months, a year, two years or even more. Garrison troops, intended to hold permanently a certain number of places on the continent and also, if the need arose, capable of turning themselves into a proper army of occupation, were vital.
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