Charles Oman

Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman, KBE, FBA (12 January 1860 – 23 June 1946) was a British military historian. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering. Occasionally his interpretations have been challenged, especially his widely copied thesis that British troops defeated their Napoleonic opponents by firepower alone. Paddy Griffith, among modern historians, claims that the British infantry's discipline and willingness to attack were equally important.

Charles Oman
Oman in 1940
Oman in 1940
BornCharles William Chadwick Oman
12 January 1860
Muzaffarpur district, India
Died23 June 1946 (aged 86)
Oxford, United Kingdom


Oman was born in Muzaffarpur district, India,[1] the son of a British planter, and was educated at Winchester College and at Oxford University, where he studied under William Stubbs. Here, he was invited to become a founding member of the Stubbs Society, which was under the patronage of Oman's don. In 1881 he was elected to a Prize Fellowship at All Souls College, where he remained for the rest of his academic career. He was elected the Chichele Professor of Modern History at Oxford in 1905, in succession to Montagu Burrows. He was also elected to the FBA that year, and served as President of the Royal Historical Society (1917–1921), the Numismatic Society and the Royal Archaeological Institute.

Oman's academic career was interrupted by the First World War, during which he was employed by the government's Press Bureau and the Foreign Office.

Oman was the Conservative Member of Parliament for the University of Oxford constituency from 1919 to 1935, and was knighted KBE in the 1920 civilian war honours list.[2]

He became an honorary fellow of New College in 1936, and received the honorary degrees of DCL (Oxford, 1926) and LL.D (Edinburgh, 1911 and Cambridge, 1927). He died at Oxford aged 86.

He was awarded the Medal of the Royal Numismatic Society in 1928.[3]


Two of Oman's children became authors. His son Charles (C. C. Oman) wrote several volumes on British silverware and similar houseware, worked as a Keeper of the Department of Metalwork in the Victoria and Albert Museum,[4] and was active in the Folklore Society[5] (and was in turn father to Julia Trevelyan Oman). His daughter Carola Oman was notable for her historical biographies.


  • The Art of War in the Middle Ages (1885)
  • "The Anglo-Norman and Angevin Administrative System (1100–1265)", in Essays Introductory to the Study of English Constitutional History (1887)
  • A History of Greece From the Earliest Times to the Death of Alexander the Great (1888; 7th ed., 1900; 8th ed., rev., 1905)
  • Warwick the Kingmaker (1891)[6]
  • The Story of the Byzantine Empire (1892)
  • The Dark Ages 476–918, Period I of Periods of European History (1893; 5th ed. 1905)
  • A History of England (1895; 2nd ed. 1919)
  • A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, Vol. I: A.D. 378–1278 (1898; 2nd ed. 1924)
  • A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, Vol. II: A.D. 1278–1485 (1898; 2nd ed. 1924)
  • England and the Hundred Years War, 1327–1485 A.D. (1898), No. III of The Oxford Manuals of English History, Charles Oman, ed.
  • "Alfred as a Warrior", in Alfred The Great, Alfred Bowker, ed. (1899)
  • Reign of George VI, 1900-1925. A Forecast Written in the Year 1763 (preface and notes) (1763; republished 1899)
  • England in the Nineteenth Century (1900)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. I: 1807–1809 (1902)
  • Seven Roman Statesmen of the Later Roman Republic (1902)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. II: Jan. 1809-Sep. 1809 (1903)[7]
  • "The Peninsular War, 1808–14", in The Cambridge Modern History, Vol. IX, Napoleon (1906)
  • "The Hundred Days, 1815", in The Cambridge Modern History, Vol. IX, Napoleon (1906)
  • "Inaugural lecture on the study of history" (1906), in Oxford Lectures On University Studies, 1906–1921 (1924)
  • The Great Revolt of 1381 (1906)[8] (See The Great Revolt of 1381.)
  • The History of England from the Accession of Richard II. to the Death of Richard III. (1377–1485), Vol. IV of The Political History of England (1906), William Hunt & Reginald Poole, ed.
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. III: Sep. 1809 – Dec. 1810 (1908)
  • A History of England Before the Norman Conquest (1910; 8th ed. 1937), Vol. I of A History of England in Seven Volumes (1904–), Charles Oman, ed.
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. IV: Dec. 1810 – Dec. 1811 (1911)
  • Wellington's Army, 1809–1814 (1912)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. V: Oct. 1811 – Aug. 1812 (1914)
  • The Outbreak of the War of 1914–18: A Narrative Based Mainly on British Official Documents (1919)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. VI: Sep. 1812 – Aug. 1813 (1922)
  • The Unfortunate Colonel Despard & Other Studies (1922)
  • Castles (1926)
  • "The Duke of Wellington", in Political Principles of Some Notable Prime Ministers of the Nineteenth Century, Fossey John Cobb Hearnshaw, ed. (1926)
  • Studies in the Napoleonic Wars (1929)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. VII: Aug. 1813 – Apr. 1814 (1930)
  • The Coinage of England (1931)
  • Things I Have Seen (1933)
  • "The Necessity for the Reformation" (1933) (public lecture)
  • A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth century (1937)
  • The Sixteenth century (1937)
  • On the Writing of History (1939)
  • Memories of Victorian Oxford and of Some Early Years (1941)
  • The Lyons Mail (1945)


  1. ^ "OMAN, Charles William Chadwick". Who's Who,. 59. 1907. p. 332.
  2. ^ "No. 31840". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 March 1920. p. 3759.
  3. ^ "The Royal Numismatic Society-The Society's Medal". The Royal Numismatic Society. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Society Meetings, 18 June 1958". Folklore. 69 (3): 216. 1958. JSTOR 1258870.
  5. ^ "Minutes of Meeting: June 15, 1949". Folklore. 60 (3): 305. 1949. JSTOR 1256648.
  6. ^ Tait, James (October 1892). "Review of Warwick the Kingmaker by Charles W. Oman". The English Historical Review. 7: 761–767.
  7. ^ "Review of History of the Peninsular War, Vol. II, January–September 1809 by Charles Oman". The Athenæum (3953): 145–146. 1 August 1903.
  8. ^ Tait, James. (January 1907). "Review of The Great Revolt of 1381 by Charles Oman". The English Historical Review. 22: 161–164.

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lord Hugh Cecil
Rowland Prothero
Member of Parliament for Oxford University
With: Lord Hugh Cecil
Succeeded by
Lord Hugh Cecil
A. P. Herbert
Academic offices
Preceded by
Charles Harding Firth
President of the Royal Historical Society
Succeeded by
John William Fortescue
1919 Oxford University by-election

The 1919 Oxford University by-election was held on 19–24 March 1919 after the incumbent Coalition Conservative MP, Rowland Prothero was created as the first Lord Ernle. It was retained by the Conservative candidate Prof. Charles Oman.


Austrasia was a territory which formed the northeastern section of the Merovingian Kingdom of the Franks during the 6th to 8th centuries. It was centred on the Meuse, Middle Rhine and the Moselle rivers, and was the original territory of the Franks, including both the so-called Salians and Rhineland Franks, which Clovis I conquered after first taking control of the bordering part of Roman Gaul, now northern France, which is sometimes described in this period as Neustria.

In AD 567, Austrasia became a separate kingdom within the Frankish kingdom and was ruled by Sigebert I. In the 7th and 8th centuries it was the powerbase from which the Carolingians, originally mayors of the palace of Austrasia, took over the rule of all Franks, all of Gaul, most of Germany, and Northern Italy. After this period of unification, the now larger Frankish empire was once again divided between eastern and western sub-kingdoms, with the new version of the eastern kingdom eventually becoming the foundation of the Kingdom of Germany.

Battle of Ellendun

The Battle of Ellendun or Battle of Wroughton was fought between Ecgberht of Wessex and Beornwulf of Mercia in September 825. Sir Frank Stenton described it as "one of the most decisive battles of English history". It effectively ended Mercian Supremacy over the southern kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England and established West Saxon dominance in southern England.


Belemite was a term used during the Napoleonic Wars by English troops to describe an officer who shirked his duty, preferring to remain safely behind the lines. Belém, outside of Lisbon, was the location of a convent used by the army as a hospital. Charles Oman in his 1912 “Wellington's Army, 1809–1814” describes,

The "Belemites," so called from the general depot at the convent of Belem in the suburbs of Lisbon. This was the headquarters of all officers absent from the front as convalescents or on leave, and the limited proportion who stayed there over-long, and showed an insufficient eagerness to return to their regiments, were nicknamed from the spot where they lingered beyond the bounds of discretion.Wellington occasionally gave an order to Colonel Peacocke, the military governor of Lisbon, to rout up this coterie. There were always a sprinkling there who were not over-anxious to resume the hard life of campaigning, and loved too much the gambling-hells and other sordid delights of Lisbon.


The caracole or caracol (from the Spanish caracol - "snail") is a turning maneuver on horseback in dressage and, previously, in military tactics.

In dressage, riders execute a caracole as a single half turn, either to the left or to the right, representative of the massed cavalry tactic of caracole previously used in the military.

Variations of the military caracole has a long history of usage by various cavalry forces that used missile weapons throughout history. The Scythians and Parthians were thought to use it, while ancient Iberian cavalry famously developed their own variation known as the 'Cantabrian circle'. It was noted in the 13th century to be used by the Mongols of Genghis Khan and also by the Han Chinese military much earlier. It was later adapted by European militaries in the mid-16th century in an attempt to integrate gunpowder weapons into cavalry tactics. Equipped with one or more wheellock pistols or similar firearms, cavalrymen would advance on their target at less than a gallop in formation as deep as 12 ranks. As each rank came into range, the soldiers would turn their mount slightly to one side, discharge one pistol, then turn slightly to the other side to discharge another pistol at their target. The horsemen then retired to the back of the formation to reload, and then repeat the manoeuvre. The whole caracole formation might move slowly forward as each rank fired to help press the attack, or move slowly backward to avoid an enemy's advance. Despite this complex manoeuvring, the formation was kept dense rather than open, as the cavalrymen were generally also armed and armoured for melee, and hoped to follow the caracole with a charge. The tactic was accompanied by the increasing popularity of the German Reiter in Western armies from about 1540.

The effectiveness of the caracole is debated. This tactic was often successfully implemented, for instance, at the battle of Pinkie Cleugh, where the mounted Spanish herguletier under Dom Pedro de Gamboa successfully harassed Scottish pike columns. Likewise, at the battle of Dreux mercenary German reiters in the Huguenot employ inflicted huge casualties on the Royal Swiss pike squares, although they failed to break them.

Some historians after Michael Roberts associate the demise of the caracole with the name of Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (1594–1632). Certainly he regarded the technique as fairly useless, and ordered cavalry under Swedish command not to use the caracole; instead, he required them to charge aggressively like their Polish-Lithuanian opponents. However, there is plenty of evidence that the caracole was falling out of use by the 1580s at the latest. Henry IV's Huguenot cavalry and Dutch cuirassiers were good examples of cavalry units that abandoned the caracole early on — if they ever used it at all.

According to De la Noue, Henry IV's pistol-armed cavalrymen were instructed to deliver a volley at close quarters and then "charge home" (charge into the enemy). Ranks were reduced from 12 to 6, still enough to punch a hole into the classic thin line in which heavy lancers were deployed. That was the tactic usually employed by cavalry since then, and the name reiter was replaced by cuirassier. Sometimes it has been erroneously identified as caracole when low morale cavalry units, instead of charging home, contented themselves with delivering a volley and retire without closing the enemy, but in all those actions the distinctive factor of the caracole, the rolling fire through countermarching, was absent.

The caracole was rarely tried against enemy cavalry, as it could be easily broken when performing the maneuver by a countercharge. The last recorded example of the use of the caracole against enemy cavalry ended in disaster at the battle of Klushino in 1610, when the Polish hussars smashed a unit of Russian reiters, which served as the catalyst for the rout of much of the Russian army. The battle of Mookerheyde (1574) was also another example of the futility in using caracole against aggressive enemy cavalry, as 400 Spanish lancers charged 2,000 German reiters (in Dutch employ) while the second line was reloading their pistols, easily routing the whole force and later the whole Dutch army as well. It is significant that 20 years later, the Dutch cuirassiers easily routed the same Spanish lancers at the battle of Turnhout and the battle of Nieuwpoort, so that according to Charles Oman, in 1603 lancers were finally disbanded from the Spanish army. Nevertheless, variations of caracole tactics continued to be used well into the 17th century against enemy cavalry. During the battle of Gniew of 1626, the Polish light cavalry used it with success twice. The first time light cavalry units under Mikołaj Abramowicz fired at the Swedish cavalry rank by rank, but instead of withdrawing to reload, it immediately proceeded to charge the enemy with sabres. Later the same unit also tried the caracole using gaps in the line of charging husaria heavy cavalry.

It is worth noting that 16th- and 17th-century sources do not seem to have used the term "caracole" in its modern sense. John Cruso, for example, explained the "caracoll" as a maneuver whereby a formation of cuirassiers received an enemy's charge by wheeling apart to either side, letting the enemy rush in between the pincers of their trap, and then charging inwards against the flanks of the overextended enemy.

Column (formation)

A military column is a formation of soldiers marching together in one or more files in which the file is significantly longer than the width of ranks in the formation. The column formation allowed the unit rapid movement and a very effective charge (due to weight of numbers), and it could quickly form square to resist cavalry attacks, but by its nature only a fraction of its muskets would be able to open fire.

The line formation offered a substantially larger musket frontage than the column, allowing for greater shooting capability, but required extensive training to allow the unit to move over ground as one while retaining the line.

It is also applied by modern armies to vehicles, troops and naval vessels.

François Xavier de Schwarz

François Xavier de Schwarz or François-Xavier-Nicolas Schwartz (8 January 1762 – 9 October 1826) was born in Baden but joined the French army in 1776. He became a cavalry officer during the French Revolutionary Wars, fighting with the 2nd Hussar Regiment in numerous actions including Jemappes, Fleurus, and Neuwied. After being captured in an abortive invasion of Ireland, he was promoted to command the 5th Hussar Regiment. He led the unit in the War of the Second Coalition, most notably at Hohenlinden and in the subsequent pursuit of the Austrians.

Under the First French Empire, he distinguished himself at Austerlitz in December 1805. A year later he became brigadier general after fighting at Prenzlau, Stettin, and Golymin. After being posted to Spain to fight in the Peninsular War, he suffered defeats at the hands of the Spanish forces in Catalonia at Bruch Pass and Manresa. In September 1810 he was captured at La Bisbal and spent the remainder of the Napoleonic Wars in British custody. Historian Charles Oman called Schwarz unlucky.

Indian Empire Society

The Indian Empire Society was a London-based lobbying organization, formed in 1930 to promote the cause of the British Empire in India.

The Society came into being at a meeting in July 1930 held in the Caxton Hall, London, at which the prime mover was Sir Michael O'Dwyer, a former Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab, following correspondence between the 4th Marquess of Salisbury and George Clarke, 1st Baron Sydenham of Combe. Its activists were mostly former members of the Indian Civil Service and included several former provincial governors of British India, among them O'Dwyer, Lord Meston, and Sir Reginald Craddock. Its principal goal was to resist the policy of Indian constitutional reform which successive British governments of the 1930s had begun to pursue.

Field Marshal Sir Claud Jacob, a former Commander-in-Chief, India, was chairman of the Society's Executive Committee.The society's aims, and its membership, often overlapped with those of the India Defence League. The society frequently cited its deep concern for the fate of the Indian masses under a democratic system. A joint letter (written in 1933) sums up the society's attitude:

"As retired Government servants, with long experience of Indian conditions, we are convinced that a too rapid advance towards self-government would be fraught with the utmost danger, not only to British trade and commerce, but also to the security and happiness of the 350,000,000 of our Indian fellow-subjects." (published in the Times, 1933)

The society's first public meeting was held in Westminster in July 1930. The first president was Lord Sumner. Winston Churchill joined in October 1930 and made speeches to the society on a number of occasions.. Other prominent members included:

Lord Ampthill, former governor of Madras

Sir Hugh Barnes, former governor of Burma

Sir Reginald Craddock, former governor of Burma

Sir Mark Hunter, former official in Burma

Sir Michael O'Dwyer, former lieutenant governor of Punjab

Sir Charles Oman, historian

Sir Louis Stuart, former chief judge of Oudh

Lord Sydenham, former governor of Bombay

Waris Ameer Ali, former district judge in the United Provinces of Agra and OudhCorrespondence and papers of the Society from 1930 to 1948 are held in the Bodleian Library's Special Collections and Western Manuscripts section.


Jinete (Spanish pronunciation: [xiˈnete]) is Spanish for "horseman", especially in the context of light cavalry.

List of presidents of the Royal Numismatic Society

The following have served as presidents of the Royal Numismatic Society.

1836–39 John Lee

1839–41 Edward Hawkins

1841–43 H. H. Wilson

1843–45 Lord Albert Conyngham

1845–47 H. H. Wilson

1847–49 William Debonaire Haggard

1849–51 Edward Hawkins

1851–55 The Lord Londesborough (Formerly Lord Albert Conyngham, President 1843–45)

1855–74 W. S. W. Vaux

1874–1908 Sir John Evans

1908–14 Sir Henry Hoyle Howorth

1914–19 Sir Arthur Evans

1919–30 Sir Charles Oman

1930–35 Percy H. Webb

1935–36 Sir George MacDonald

1936–37 Percy H. Webb

1937–42 Edward A. Sydenham

1942–48 Harold Mattingly

1948–53 C. Humphrey V. Sutherland

1953–56 Michael Grant

1956–61 Christopher E. Blunt

1961–66 Philip Grierson

1966–70 Derek Allen

1970–74 Colin M. Kraay (de)

1974–79 R. A. G. Carson

1979–84 David Grenville Sellwood

1984–89 John P. C. Kent

1989–94 T. V. Buttrey

1994–99 Michael Metcalf

1999–2004 Harold B. Mattingly

2005–2009 Joe Cribb

2009–2013 Nicholas Mayhew

2013–2018 Andrew Burnett

2018–present Roger Bland

Oxford Phasmatological Society

The Oxford Phasmatological Society was an organisation from Oxford that investigated paranormal phenomena. It lasted from 1879-1885. It is considered the oldest psychical society in existence.It was founded by Charles Oman, Henry Nicholas Ridley and F. C. S. Schiller. Similar to the later formed Society for Psychical Research it collected and investigated reports of ghosts, hauntings and psychic phenomena.Meetings were held in the rooms of Schiller at Balliol College. Arthur Headlam was a President of the society.

Oxford University (UK Parliament constituency)

Oxford University was a university constituency electing two members to the British House of Commons, from 1603 to 1950. The last two members to represent Oxford University when it was abolished were A. P. Herbert and Arthur Salter.

Royal Archaeological Institute

The Royal Archaeological Institute (RAI) is a learned society, established in 1844, with interests in all aspects of the archaeological, architectural and landscape history of the British Isles. Membership is open to all with an interest in these areas.

Royal Historical Society

The Royal Historical Society (abbr. RHistS; founded 1868) is a learned society of the United Kingdom which advances scholarly studies of history.

The society was founded and received its Royal Charter in 1868. Until 1872 it was known as the Historical Society. In 1897, it merged with (or absorbed) the Camden Society, founded in 1838. It is now based at University College London.


Sagunto (Valencian: Sagunt [saˈɣunt]; Spanish: Sagunto [saˈɣunto]) is a town in Eastern Spain, in the modern fertile comarca of Camp de Morvedre in the province of Valencia. It is located c. 30 km north of Valencia, close to the Costa del Azahar on the Mediterranean Sea.

It is best known for the remains of the ancient Iberian and Roman city of Saguntum, which played a significant part in the Second Punic War between the Carthaginians (under Hannibal) and the Romans.


Scoti or Scotti is a Latin name for the Gaels, first attested in the late 3rd century. At first it referred to all Gaels, whether in Ireland or Britain, but later it came to refer only to Gaels in northern Britain. The kingdom their culture spread to became known as Scotia or Scotland, and eventually all its inhabitants came to be known as Scots.

Sobral de Monte Agraço

Sobral de Monte Agraço (Portuguese pronunciation: [suˈβɾaɫ dɨ ˈmõt(ɨ) ɐˈɣɾasu]) is a municipality in the District of Lisbon in Portugal. The population in 2011 was 10,156, in an area of 52.10 km².The present Mayor is António Lopes Bogalho, elected by the Unitarian Democratic Coalition.

Stubbs Society

The Stubbs Society is the University of Oxford's oldest and most illustrious forum for scholarship in international history, grand strategy and foreign affairs.

Named in honour of the Victorian historian, William Stubbs, in 1884, the Society has throughout its history welcomed many prominent speakers across the arts and sciences. It counts distinguished statesmen, military personnel, diplomats, journalists, academics and businesspeople, including Nobel laureates and Victoria Cross holders, among its alumni. Notable ex-members include former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, Lord Lang (Archbishop of Canterbury), Sir Charles Oman (military historian), Sir Isaiah Berlin (political theorist) and former Home Secretary and Lord High Chancellor, the Earl of Kilmuir.

Treaty of Fontainebleau (October 1807)

The Treaty of Fontainebleau was a secret agreement signed on 27 October 1807 in Fontainebleau, France between King Charles IV of Spain and the French Emperor Napoleon. Under the treaty, the House of Braganza was to be driven from the Kingdom of Portugal with the country subsequently divided into three regions.

Negotiated and agreed between Don Eugenio Izquierdo plenipotentiary of Charles IV and Marshal Géraud Duroc as the representative of Napoleon, the accord contained 14 articles along with supplementary provisions relating to troop allocations for the planned invasion of Portugal.

According to historian Charles Oman, it is probable that Napoleon never had any intention of carrying out the treaty's provisions. Aside from his desire to occupy Portugal, his real purpose may have been to surreptitiously introduce a large French force into Spain in order to facilitate its subsequent takeover.

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