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Was watching the directors cut of Kingdom of Heaven, and one of the scenes had an actor playing what seemed to be a nobelman stating that he is according the privilege of ransom. While I remember that being so in my readings, in this scene, he was killed instead.

What my question is were nobles more likely to be ransomed when captured in battle (such as Richard the Lionheart to use a famous example), offed unless they were extremely high ranking such as a King or Duke, or a halfway point between the two?

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you mean the execution of en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynald_of_Châtillon on capture? It was unusual for Saladin but was for Raynalds long history of misdeeds. – pugsville Apr 8 '14 at 6:38
Yes, in era essentially ruled by murderous thugs, Saladin was pretty much a moral exemplar of his times. Either that or he had REALLY good propaganda. Probably both. – TechZen May 8 '14 at 16:14
I would add that if you want to understand the medieval ages, think more drug-gang or mob warfare instead of Chivalry. The aristocrats were in the end just a caste of killers. Honor codes and religion provided only the merest brakes on their murderous behavior. There were no "rules" much less laws. Individual nobles usually made cold cost/benefit analysis, including reputation cost and other social factors, and then just did whatever gave them most advantage at the moment. – TechZen May 8 '14 at 16:18
up vote 10 down vote accepted

In GENERAL, captured nobles were ransomed. That's because this maximized their value to their captors.

One notable exception was the battle of Agincourt, in 1415, during the 100 years' war. At one point, the French lines approached the English prison camp, and King Henry V feared that the prisoners would not only be released, but re-armed, and take the smaller English army in the rear. So he gave the order to kill all but the highest-ranking prisoners. But such cruelty was rare, even in medieval times, and usually stemmed from panic or fear of attack.

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+1 Note that Charles of Orleans was kept confined in England after his capture at Agincourt, and Henry wouldn't have him ransomed, because he was deemed too important an opponent. He was kept in England for twenty-four years, because he posed a serious risk as the leader of the important Orleans-Armagnac faction and was a duke of royal blood. – Cerberus Oct 26 '11 at 1:59
It was not that unusual for some captives to be kept indefinitely (or sometimes released as the politics changed) for political reasons rather than ransomed. So very top political lords while generally kept in good conditions (with some horrible exceptions) would often be kept indefinitely – pugsville Apr 8 '14 at 6:35
I would strongly disagree that cruelty was rare in medieval times, it was just sharply divided by class. The nobles where largely a vast extended family squatting on the backs of the commoners. Of course, they treated their cousins relatively well, especially if it were profitable to do so. But peasants and merchants suffered horribly both directly in battle, after battle and even in the very movement of rapacious armies. Peasant soldiers on the loosing side where often executed in mass to prevent them from becoming bandits. Even if they escaped, they faced the serious threat of starvation. – TechZen May 8 '14 at 16:23

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