The chevauchée has gained recognition for its use during the Hundred Years' War between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France. It was not a new tactic and had been used many times before; for example, William the Conqueror had used the tactic before the Battle of Hastings to encourage Harold to engage in a battle. The difference was that during the Hundred Years' War the tactic was used more frequently, on a larger scale and more systematically than before.
The English used the chevauchée in lieu of a larger standing army, and it was carried out primarily by small groups of mounted soldiers, rarely more than a few thousand men. This was the characteristic English strategy in the 1340s and 1350s after first being used by the forces of Edward III of England in the Second War of Scottish Independence. In part because of these tactics, the French were forced into the battle of Crécy.
The chevauchée was not used exclusively by the English; at times it was also employed by the French
. The tactic focused on undermining the enemy government's authority and destroy his resources by focusing on taking hostages and other material goods rather than engaging in large scale military battles.
In medieval Bedouin culture, ghazwa was a form of limited warfare verging on brigandage that avoided head-on confrontations and instead emphasized raiding and looting. The Umayyad-period poet
al-Kutami wrote the oft-quoted verses: "Our business is to make raids on the enemy, on our neighbor and our own brother, in
the event we find none to raid but a brother." William Montgomery Watt hypothesized that Muhammad found it useful to divert this continuous internecine warfare toward non-Muslims, making it the basis of the Islamic holy war. As a form of warfare, the razzia was then mimicked by the Christian states of Iberia in their relations with the taifa states.
A large scale raid organized by an Iberian Christian king in Muslim territory was called a fonsado; this is perhaps the earliest word used for such raids. In contrast, the word cabalgada was introduced later to denote a smaller raid, whose main purpose was plunder. The word algara referred to either a raiding party, or perhaps to a yet smaller raid. A 12th-century Christian chronicler wrote: "Every day large bodies of knights leave castles on what we call algarades and roam far
and wide, pillaging all the territory of Seville, Córdoba and Carmona, and setting it all alight."
A 13th-century Iberian example of a raid called cavalgada is the operation launched at the order of Ferdinand III of Castile in April 1231. It departed from Andújar, and first advanced towards Córdoba, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. The raiders hit Palma del Río, killing many inhabitants. Thereafter they proceeded as far as Seville, which they bypassed heading towards Jerez and Vejer. When they were intercepted by an army of Ibn Hud near the Guadalete river, the battle of Jerez occurred. The Castilian raiders managed to rout the Moorish army, and withdrew with booty, not before they killed all their prisoners. The raid and battle were amply described in the chronicles of Alfonso X of Castile.