BATTLE, a general engagement between the armed forces, naval or military, of enemies. The word is derived from the Fr. bataille, and this, like the Ital. battaglia, and Span. batalla, comes from the popular Lat. battalia for battualia. Cassiodorus Senator (480-?575) says: Battualia quae vulgo Batalia dicuntur ... exercitationes militum vel gladiatorum significant (see Du Cange, Glossarium, s.v. Batalia). The verb battuere, cognate with “beat,” is a rare word, found in Pliny, used of beating in a mortar or of meat before cooking. Suetonius (Caligula, 54-32) uses it of fencing, battuebat pugnatoriis armis, i.e. not with blunted weapons or foils. Battalia or batalia was used for the array of troops for battle, and hence was applied to the body of troops so arranged, or to a division of an army, whence the use of the word “battalion” (q.v.).
A “pitched battle,” loosely used as meaning almost a decisive engagement, is strictly, as the words imply, one that is fought on ground previously selected (“pitched” meaning arranged in a fixed order) and in accordance with the intentions of the commanders of both sides; the French equivalent is bataille arrangée, opposed to bataille manœuvrée, which is prearranged but may come off on any ground. With “battle,” in its usual meaning of a general engagement of hostile forces, are contrasted “skirmish,” a fight between small bodies (“skirmishing” technically means fighting by troops in extended or irregular order), and “action,” a more or less similar engagement between large bodies of troops. (See also Tactics and Strategy.)
BATTLE ABBEY ROLL. This is popularly supposed to have been a list of William the Conqueror’s companions preserved at Battle Abbey, on the site of his great victory over Harold. It is known to us only from 16th century versions of it published by Leland, Holinshed and Duchesne, all more or less imperfect and corrupt. Holinshed’s is much the fullest, but of its 629 names several are duplicates. The versions of Leland and Duchesne, though much shorter, each contain many names found in neither of the other lists. It was so obvious that several of the names had no right to figure on the roll, that Camden, as did Dugdale after him, held them to have been interpolated at various times by the monks, “not without their own advantage.” Modern writers have gone further, Sir Egerton Brydges denouncing the roll as “a disgusting forgery,” and E. A. Freeman dismissing it as “a transparent fiction.” An attempt to vindicate the roll was made by the last duchess of Cleveland, whose Battle Abbey Roll (3 vols., 1889) is the best guide to its contents.
It is probable that the character of the roll has been quite misunderstood. It is not a list of individuals, but only of family surnames, and it seems to have been intended to show which families had “come over with the Conqueror,” and to have been compiled about the 14th century. The compiler appears to have been influenced by the French sound of names, and to have included many families of later settlement, such as that of Grandson, which did not come to England from Savoy till two centuries after the Conquest. The roll itself appears to be unheard of before and after the 16th century, but other lists were current at least as early as the 15th century, as the duchess of Cleveland has shown. In 1866 a list of the Conqueror’s followers, compiled from Domesday and other authentic records, was set up in Dives church by M. Leopold Delisle, and is printed in the duchess’ work. Its contents are naturally sufficient to show that the Battle Roll is worthless.
See Leland, Collectanea; Holinshed, Chronicles of England; Duchesne, Historia Norm. Scriptores; Brydges, Censura Literaria; Thierry, Conquête de l’Angleterre, vol. ii. (1829); Burke, The Roll of Battle Abbey (annotated, 1848); Planché, The Conqueror and His Companions (1874); duchess of Cleveland, The Battle Abbey Roll (1889); Round, “The Companions of the Conqueror” (Monthly Review, 1901, iii. pp. 91-111).
(J. H. R.)
BATTLE CREEK, a city of Calhoun county, Michigan, U.S.A., at the confluence of the Kalamazoo river with Battle Creek, about 48 m. S. of Grand Rapids. Pop. (1890) 13,197; (1900) 18,563, of whom 1844 were foreign-born; (1910, census) 25,267. It is served by the Michigan Central and the Grand Trunk railways, and by interurban electric lines. Here are the hospital and laboratories of the American Medical Missionary College (of Chicago) and the Battle Creek Sanitarium, established in 1866, which was a pioneer in dietetic reform, and did much to make Battle Creek important in the manufacture of health foods, and in the publication of diet-reform literature. Among the principal buildings, besides the hospital and the sanitarium, are several fine churches, the central high school, the Post tavern and the Post theatre. The city is a trading centre for the rich agricultural and fruit-growing district by which it is surrounded, has good water-power, and is an important manufacturing centre, its chief manufactured products being cereal health foods, for which it has a wide reputation, and the manufacture of which grew out of the dietetic experiments made in the laboratories of the sanitarium; and threshing machines and other agricultural implements, paper cartons and boxes, flour, boilers, engines and pumps. Extensive locomotive and car shops of the Grand Trunk railway are here. In 1904 the total factory product of Battle Creek was valued at $12,298,244, an increase of 95% over that for 1900; and of the total in 1904 $5,191,655 was the value of food preparations, which was 8.5% of the value of food preparations manufactured in the United States, Battle Creek thus ranking first among American cities in this industry. The water-works are owned and operated by the municipality, the water being obtained from Lake Goguac, a summer pleasure resort about 2 m. from the city. Battle Creek, said to have been named from hostilities here between some surveyors and Indians, was settled in 1831, incorporated as a village in 1850, and chartered as a city in 1859, the charter of that year being revised in 1900.
BATTLEDORE AND SHUTTLECOCK, a game played by two persons with small rackets, called battledores, made of parchment or rows of gut stretched across wooden frames, and shuttlecocks, made of a base of some light material, like cork, with trimmed feathers fixed round the top. The object of the players is to bat the shuttlecock from one to the other as many times as possible without allowing it to fall to the ground. There are Greek drawings extant representing a game almost identical with battledore and shuttlecock, and it has been popular in China, Japan, India and Siam for at least 2000 years. In Europe it has been played by children for centuries. A further development is Badminton.
BATTLEMENT (probably from a lost Fr. form bastillement, cf. mod. Fr. bastille, from Med. Lat. bastilia, towers, which is derived from Ital. bastire, to build, cf. Fr. bâtir; the English word was, however, early connected with “battle”), a term given to a parapet of a wall, in which portions have been cut out at intervals to allow the discharge of arrows or other missiles; these cut-out portions are known as “crenels”; the solid widths between the “crenels” are called “merlons.” The earliest example in the palace at Medinet-Abu at Thebes in Egypt is of the inverted form, and is said to have been derived from Syrian fortresses. Through Assyria they formed the termination of all the walls surrounding the towns, as shown on bas reliefs from Nimrud and elsewhere. Traces of them have been found at Mycenae, and they are suggested on Greek vases. In the battlements of Pompeii, additional protection was given by small internal buttresses or spur walls against which the defender might place himself so as to be protected completely on one side. In the battlements of the middle ages the crenel was about one-third of the width of the merlon, and the latter was in addition pierced with a small slit. The same is also found in Italian battlements, where the merlon is of much greater height and is capped in a peculiar fashion. The battlements of the Mahommedans had a more decorative and varied character, and were retained from the 13th century onwards not so much for defensive purposes as for a crowning feature to their walls. They may be regarded therefore in the same light as the cresting found in the Spanish renaissance. The same retention of the battlement as a purely decorative feature is found throughout the Decorated and
- This is the same word as “scrimmage,” and is derived from the Anglo-French eskrimir, modern escrimer, properly to fight behind cover, now to fence. The origin of this is the Old High German scirman, to fight behind a shield, scirm. Modern German Schirm.