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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    How defenceless were peasants and citizens in ancient times? You see them being totally helpless against enemies in a lot of things--but in some cases, you'd think they'd be rather tough. The question is, how much was common across Europe.
    What do you mean by defenseless? Are we talking about an invading army, or merely raiders/marauders? Or simply bandits/criminals? When and where is going to matter too. Rome at its height was pretty secure place to live: Pax Romana.

    I'm reminded of a story my father tells about what his ancient history professor told him. Concerning the annual war against the "helots" by the Spartans: the professor pointed out that while the helots were not typically armed, they had numbers on their side, and a lot of farm implements are comparatively dangerous to somebody wielding a sword or spear. Unlike modern soldiers equipped with machine guns and artillery, Spartans had to get in amongst the helots to fight them. A quick glance at the wikipedia article for more details would indicate that trickery was sometimes resorted to, rather than outright combat.
    Last edited by fusilier; 2012-10-12 at 02:31 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    What I mean is, in RPGs, movies, games, everything, farmers and citizens are the weakest of the weak. Generally, anything can kill two or three farmers, by their viewpoint.

    I don't consider that to be the case. Certainly, some citizens might be unusually non-violent and basically get slaughtered if something violent comes along. But then, I'm not sure that's often the case.

    Farmers have tough lives. They have to deal with critters, weather, hard work, and sometimes with people.
    Citizens weren't always wimps either. There are quite a few cases where they were required to keep watch on the walls, and help defend the city or stronghold if it came under siege.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    What I mean is, in RPGs, movies, games, everything, farmers and citizens are the weakest of the weak. Generally, anything can kill two or three farmers, by their viewpoint.

    I don't consider that to be the case. Certainly, some citizens might be unusually non-violent and basically get slaughtered if something violent comes along. But then, I'm not sure that's often the case.

    Farmers have tough lives. They have to deal with critters, weather, hard work, and sometimes with people.
    Citizens weren't always wimps either. There are quite a few cases where they were required to keep watch on the walls, and help defend the city or stronghold if it came under siege.
    Well, that's still very unclear...

    Generally they were "the weakest of the weak". Considering that such broad category as "citizens" leaves pretty much only professional warriors/soldiers and marauders and what not beside them - those would be from definition more warlike.

    Farmers have tough lives. They have to deal with critters, weather, hard work, and sometimes with people.
    Hard work, weather, elements and poverty by no means prepare someone for violence alone.

    Together with some other circumstances, they might, but that can't be answered generally.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Peasents were not necesarily helpless, there were many skills that peasents develope that could turn out to be usefull in battle (I'm looking at you english peasent archers) but they were definitly not what anyone would consider equal to a professional soldier/maurader.
    So yes there are plently of cases some very famous of peasents defeating proffessional soldiers but they do not by any means make up the majority of cases.
    Generally (though not always) peasents tended to preform just as well sometimes better at range as proffessional soldiers but were much worse in close. This makes a lot of logical sense. Archery is a skill that takes a lifetime of training to develop, A peasent archer spends a lot of time in the woods hunting food, learning to avoid detection by his prey and to hit the target reliably at distance, In battle the only difference is that the target is shaped differently, and so the skills translate fairly well. The same goes for the shepherd boy who must constantly use a sling to fend off wolves (or possibly lions depending on the part of the world). The skills that a peasent generaly does not learn are those related to hand to hand combat as usually there is not use for them in a peasent's life. Also, most professional soldiers in medieval times did most of their training with hand to hand weapons. The mercenary archers that were available tended to have been peasents and learned their skills that way then decided that there was more money in fighting than in living on a dirt farm.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    @Fusilier yes the 3,000 number does include merchant ships, but there was always a gray area in the Venetian fleet between military and civilian vessels since galleys were routinely used to carry passengers and cargo (particularly in dangerous areas) and merchant vessels were almost always heavily armed.

    I saw the Viking sword thing, it was interesting on some levels but also (to me) disappointing on others. There is a good thread about it on Myarmoury with comments by Petter Johnnson among other experts.

    http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=26994

    As for Citizens in warfare

    The former is something, if you define 'Citizens' as townfolks, which I've been trying to explain on this forum and others for a few years now. Townsfolks were tough, especially those from the Free Cities and Republics. The (by todays standards) very small town of Venice which Fusilier and I have been discussing was a military power on an equal footing with the Kingdoms of France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

    The other question and Peasants in Warfare

    ...it's actually a good question. One I've been trying to figure out for a while.

    My short answer is this: In places which were hard to get into by large armies: craggy hills, mountains, deep forests, marshes, you often had quite tough peasants. In more easily accessible areas, open land, rolling hills, large valleys... peasants tended to get 'tamed' into the status at or near serfdom (basically slaves to the land) and once they got disarmed, they tended to be pretty easy to defeat by real soldiers. There were also areas which were kind of mixed or in between.

    More complex answer:
    there is a difference between what I'd call "Clansmen", and Free Peasants, and Serfs, and Outlaws. Clansmen are people from places which were never fully Christianized / Feudalized during the early Medieval period (by which I mean, roughly 800- 1000 AD- some people use different time frames). Vikings for example, in that exact period, were mostly essentialy farmers (i.e. peasants) or fishermen or simple traders, who also fought as what amounted to a clan militia. In places like the (relatively inaccessible) highlands of Scotland and certain other parts of Europe this went on well into the Feudal period and beyond, into the Early Modern Era (1500-1800), it was the same in parts of Lithuania, which didn't become Christianized until the 1400's, and in Albania and in the Carpathians and the Pyrennes and some other wild places. We know how tough the Scotts were, and not just in 'missile combat' - in fact like a lot of peasant infantry the excelled in close-quarters fighting. Others like the Samogitians in Lithuania were even tougher, arguably, having resisted over 200 invasions by the Teutonic Knights and ultimately defeated them.

    Then you have free peasants. These are people who agree to pay rent to some Lord or Prelate (a 'prince of the Church' like a Bishop or Abbot) but who are still armed and live in relatively inaccessible areas. This contributes to them being pretty tough as well. These folks would include the cantons of Zug and Uri and Schwys in the Swiss Confederation, the Saxons of the Dithmarschen the Chodovs of Bohemia the Gorali in Poland. In Sweden and Norway peasants proved to be tough enough that they were brought into the national diet or assembly in the 15th Century after the Dalarna uprising. They started out with the benefit of their terrain (very deep forests and tough winter conditions) and after decades of attempts to surpress them had aquired so much military kit from their enemies that they had become a powerful military force. These types of Peasants could be very tough indeed, in fact they tended to dominate warfare in some areas, especially when they formed powerful military alliances with towns like in the Swiss Eidgenossenschaft or in the Hussite uprising.

    Finally you also get groups of runaway peasants like the Zaparozhian Cossacks who become very powerful outlaw nations.

    But this is for the most part the exception, and particularly in strong Monarchies like France and England, the peasantry is very much under the thumb of the Lords, and peasant uprisings like the Jacquerie led to disaster for the peasants. even though in England famously there were Yeoman archers, peasant rebellions like Wat Tyler's uprising of 1381 were viciously crushed, though they did lead to some softening of conditions for peasants. Even in the Holy Roman Empire the big peasant revolt of the 1520's was smashed.

    The rule seems to be, once the 'peasants' in question got disarmed by some landlord or other, they lost their military culture, and it was very hard to get that back once gone. Usually from that point onward they were ground down in poverty, more and more, all the way up to the French Revolution when the peasants were finally able to overturn one authoritarian social order, only to quickly create another (the Empire of Napoleon)


    The bottom line though, for the most part the 'push-over' status of peasants, or commoners in general, is a myth propagated by people writing in the pay of nobility in France and England which, like a lot of other myths of the pre-industrial period, (the 30 lbs blunt European sword, the lack of European martial arts, the 20 year life span, everybody muddy and illiterate and so on) has been happily propagated by RPG's and computer games and popular film. Which is a little ironic since these forms of entertainment are based on interest in the period by their audiences. It's always been a bit of a paradox to me.

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    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2012-10-12 at 11:08 AM.
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  6. - Top - End - #156
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Awesome post! Thanks Galloglaich!
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    @Fusilier yes the 3,000 number does include merchant ships, but there was always a gray area in the Venetian fleet between military and civilian vessels since galleys were routinely used to carry passengers and cargo (particularly in dangerous areas) and merchant vessels were almost always heavily armed.
    Yes. At the time, civilian ships were often pressed into service as needed. But this is probably more true in Northern Europe than it was in the Mediterranean where the galley dominated warfare. There were privately operated galleys, but most, as I understand it, were owned by the government. And the "great galleys" used for merchant work, weren't the same as the "ordinary galleys", and numerous smaller vessels, which made up the usual military fleet. This is not to say that sailing vessels weren't also pressed into service in the Mediterranean as needed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I saw the Viking sword thing, it was interesting on some levels but also (to me) disappointing on others. There is a good thread about it on Myarmoury with comments by Petter Johnnson among other experts.

    http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=26994
    Thanks for the link. I'm going to make one comment, my recollection of the discussion of the origin of the Ulfberht swords was that they weren't actually sure, and they floated a couple of different theories -- including Frankish origins.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    As for Citizens in warfare . . .
    The original post did mention "ancient times", although I'm not sure exactly what was intended. I think to a certain extent, under serfdom, peasants were assumed to be servile, and that gets translated into "weak". In theory serfs gave up certain freedoms and they were guaranteed protection by the lord - so fighting becomes less necessary. Certainly a lack of combat training and limited access to weapons would put them at a disadvantage to professional soldiers. However, it should be remembered that marauders and the like typically plan surprise attacks -- and if the local watchmen are on their guard, the militia might be able to react in time. Freemen living in border areas probably had more fighting experience. Indeed, in certain time periods everybody was required to have a weapon. City militias were common, and sometimes surprisingly effective. Of course, the Republic of Rome relied upon a citizen army.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusilier
    In theory serfs gave up certain freedoms and they were guaranteed protection by the lord - so fighting becomes less necessary. Certainly a lack of combat training and limited access to weapons would put them at a disadvantage to professional soldiers.
    With the exception of serf-knights and other armed mercenaries recruited or developed from the serf class, serfs (notably serf-levies) were almost always useless in battle. This is the source, in fact, of the myth that peasants were useless in battle when generally they were far from it.

    This is related to another common mistake / trope is to conflate townsfolk with peasants. Big difference! Townsfolk in Medieval Europe were priviliged, basically the middle class and upper-middle class of their time. Some peasants were wealthy as well, though most were not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuisilier
    City militias were common, and sometimes surprisingly effective. Of course, the Republic of Rome relied upon a citizen army.
    City militias were usually extremely effective, they tended to be the best infantry in every era... sometimes I wonder if I hallucinated all the carefully researched posts I've made on this. As with the serfs, it made a big difference if the cities were autonomous or not. Free Cities or City-States typically had excellent militias.

    In ancient times, Athens and Sparta - largely urban militias.

    Etruscans - urban militias.

    Rome - urban militia.

    Carthage - urban miltiias (plus mercenaries).

    In the Medieval era, probably the most obvious glaring example of formidable urban militias are the Swiss Confederation, in which both the rural militia of Uri, Schwyz and so on, and the urban militias of Berne and Zurich especially were dominant in both the armies of the confederation themselves, particularly in their victory during the Burgundian Wars in which they ended the most powerful Dynasty in late Medieval Europe, as well as the subsequent defeat of the powerful Emperor Maximillian I and basically anyone else who crossed them. But also the (for some reason more famous) "Swiss Mercenaries" who were the toughest infantry in Europe for at least 100 years.

    Also the urban militias of the Northern Italian Lombard League which defeated the Emperor of Germany twice, the urban militias of Flanders (today Belgium and Holland) which wiped out the cream of French Chivalry in the Battle of Golden Spurs, the Hanseatic League which defeated England and Denmark among other opponents, the Bohemian towns like Prague during the Hussite rebellion, which repeatedly defeated German / Austrian / Hungarian Crusader armies. The Dutch against the Spanish in the 16th Century. And too many others to mention.

    However, it should be remembered that marauders and the like typically plan surprise attacks -- and if the local watchmen are on their guard, the militia might be able to react in time. Freemen living in border areas probably had more fighting experience. Indeed, in certain time periods everybody was required to have a weapon.
    This is definitely true, but Freemen were by definition not serfs. In places where fighting was common, strong rural miltias were typically obligated to keep arms ready. For example in Scandinavia the Leidang required every farmer to keep arms and armor ready in case of raids.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leidang

    There were similar laws in many parts of Poland and Bohemia and throughout Germany and Austria, in Spain and in many other places. But these guys were Free Peasants, not serfs. Serfs were sometimes armed, and even made into soldiers, even knights, but they typically didn't own their own weapons if they were. The vast majority of serfs never had any military training or weapons and were not effective in combat, or meant to be.

    The idea of serfdom is that they work and the knights do the necessary fighting, though it often didn't work out very well for the serfs. In practice what happened is that a lot of feudal warfare consisted of knight A killing and robbing the serfs of knight B (who hides in his castle), and then knight B killing and robbing the serfs of knight A in return (while A hides in his castle). The serfs, lacking castles, would hide in the woods or holes in the ground if they were lucky, that was about their only recourse.

    Peasants or towns by contrast would punish violent neighbors, (knights, prelates or other towns) when necessary, and try to forge commercial links with those that were friendly, thereby seeking to create a zone of peace so that they could conduct commerce in their district and protect lines of trade. This was called the landfried. (you have to read German for that article, sadly) The idea though was to establish what was called the 'peace of the roads', this is the origin of the English Common Law concept of the Justice of the Peace (of the roads). In Medieval Central and Northern Europe those were people appointed to oversee the punishment (typically execution) of people involved in robbery and raiding in protected zones (like major roads and waterways)

    That was the way it worked in Central Europe anyway. In Italy, the towns had more serious rivalries and tended to get in wars with each other which drew in powerful neighbors like the Kings of Spain and France (to the ultimate detriment of Italy). In France and England the towns were subordinate to the King and the other powerful Princes who might be vying for the Kingship. In Iberia (Spain and Portugal) it was kind of a combination of all of the above.

    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2012-10-12 at 02:06 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    This is definitely true, but Freemen were by definition not serfs.
    But they can still be peasants, which is why I mentioned them. I think we are in general in agreement. Civic militias weren't always the best forces around, but there were periods where they were.

    The discussions of serfdom, and how abused serfs were, reminded me of a book I read recently: Slavery from Roman Times to the Early Transatlantic Trade. In the discussion about how slaves became serfs, the author points that free peasants also became serfs. Basically, toward the end of the Roman Empire the legal foundations for serfdom were laid, but this still left many free peasants, and while slavery was declining, it still left slaves. In short rural slaves became serfs, because it was easier for their lords -- by granting them some autonomy they were less likely to run away. There were fewer outlets (i.e. cities) for produced goods, so lords just needed to make sure that their basic needs were taken care of with a little surplus to sell at the limited markets.

    What's really interesting is that free peasants also gradually became serfs. How that happened isn't entirely clear in the work: all that is mentioned is that it rarely happened by choice on the part of the peasant, but that there were gradual, incremental changes of the relationship between peasant and lord that took place over generations.
    Last edited by fusilier; 2012-10-13 at 02:44 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    What's really interesting is that free peasants also gradually became serfs. How that happened isn't entirely clear in the work: all that is mentioned is that it rarely happened by choice on the part of the peasant, but that there were gradual, incremental changes of the relationship between peasant and lord that took place over generations.
    Usually through a combination of inheritance laws and debt bondage. When land passed on to the next generation wasn't enough to support the family, they didn't have many options.

    Regarding peasants' fighting capabilities, I think we need to define what class of people we're including as well as culture and time. Are we limiting it to laborers or including landowners? Britain's yeoman class often made up the bulk of available military. But we're talking about landowners generally successful enough to hire labor and purchase their own weapons.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Did Yeomen often train in fighting?
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Did Yeomen often train in fighting?
    Yeomen were obliged to train with bow at least every Sunday since 14th century, and then formed the bulk of English longbowmen.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Were they inclined to train with melee weapons?
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Were they inclined to train with melee weapons?
    I'm not aware of any tradition of training.

    There are accounts of them joining the melee after arrow volleys were no longer feasible, but I can't think about anything mentioning that they were in any way particularly skilled.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I'd be surprised if they didn't have at least some basic training.
    After all, they knew they were going to be called upon to go to war at some point. Besides, something like a staff is probably better at warding of highway men.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Bear in mind that because of their constant archery training, these yeoman are likely to be fairly strong (or at least their backs and right arms were), so brute force usually made up for the lack of any formal training.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Thiel View Post
    I'd be surprised if they didn't have at least some basic training.
    After all, they knew they were going to be called upon to go to war at some point. Besides, something like a staff is probably better at warding of highway men.
    Oh, staff, some wrestling and generally some brawling was most probably expected from young free peasant.

    But this isn't really the same like fighting with battle weapons, in large groups with coordination etc.


    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    Bear in mind that because of their constant archery training, these yeoman are likely to be fairly strong (or at least their backs and right arms were), so brute force usually made up for the lack of any formal training.
    Bow training certainly could help a lot, but there's no way that fairly static, slow, pulling/pushing exertion like that would develop 'brute force' as far as hitting, wrestling, struggling goes...

    Really different types of strengths.

    And obviously no amount of it can make up for lack of training...

    English archers were certainly more than capable of taking their swords/axes/mallets and charging already shaken Frenchmen at Agincourt, to help in breaking them completely - at least that's what most essay's mention, but nothing about actual 'fighting skill'.

    Certainly mallet for stakes driving wouldn't be very sane weapon against opposing opponent anyway.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Strength and endurance are nice, as is a bit of wrestling or staff sparring. But fighting in battle requires technique, unit co-ordination and discipline.

    Think of it like a team sport. You can pull 11 farmers or fishermen who have never played soccer and put them on a field, give them a ball and say "go for it." They may beat 11 receptionists who've never played soccer, because they will probably be in better physical shape, but any school or club team in the world --let alone any professional team-- will mop the floor with them because technique and teamwork and strategy matter.

    Strong, active peasants may have a good foundation for militia training, but without training, they will usually lose badly to professional if they try to play the professionals' game.

    Guerrilla warfare, ambushes, raids and other less set piece situations can even up those odds and reduce the advantage of professional armies who train for open battle, playing to the skills of men who might be hunters, and rough terrain can limit the advantages of troops used to fighting in formation, but there's no substitute for actually learning how to fight.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Here's a question for the laughs:

    If Hollywood was right, and armour did function like cardboard, what would the effect be on the medieval/ancient world?
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Here's a question for the laughs:

    If Hollywood was right, and armour did function like cardboard, what would the effect be on the medieval/ancient world?
    For one thing I'd expect there to be a lot less armor. Armor was generally labor intensive, resource intensive, and thus fairly expensive. This was only ever worth it because of the way armor actually worked, and quite well. If it worked as it did in Hollywood, nobody would bother.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I can also imagine the popularity in ranged weapons sky-rocketing. As well as the popularity in shields.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Here's a question for the laughs:

    If Hollywood was right, and armour did function like cardboard, what would the effect be on the medieval/ancient world?
    Armies would look like 300. If clothing adds no protection then all it will do is slow you down so off it goes.

    If shields are also given the armor treatment then warfare becomes rocket tag and archers dominate everything. Military development goes toward making better and better bows and siege weapons while melee weapons are neglected. If not then archers will probably still gain an increase in emphasis world round, but shielded infantry would still exist, probably just relegated to standing around the archers and protecting in case anyone gets the suicidal notion to close the distance and attack the archers directly.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    (If armor were useless)
    Following on the 'all archers all the time' posts (though don't forget slingers in this equation, of course): I imagine you'd see military doctrine that only developed in our world after firearms became accurate, common, and able to penetrate (a lot of) body armor. Trench warfare, camouflage instead of uniforms, relatively spread out units rather than tight formations, and so on.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    But they can still be peasants, which is why I mentioned them. I think we are in general in agreement. Civic militias weren't always the best forces around, but there were periods where they were.
    I disagree in that, I think quite often the civic militias were the best forces around, generally they were the best infantry available across a very wide stretch of time.

    The discussions of serfdom, and how abused serfs were, reminded me of a book I read recently: Slavery from Roman Times to the Early Transatlantic Trade. In the discussion about how slaves became serfs, the author points that free peasants also became serfs. Basically, toward the end of the Roman Empire the legal foundations for serfdom were laid, but this still left many free peasants, and while slavery was declining, it still left slaves. In short rural slaves became serfs, because it was easier for their lords -- by granting them some autonomy they were less likely to run away. There were fewer outlets (i.e. cities) for produced goods, so lords just needed to make sure that their basic needs were taken care of with a little surplus to sell at the limited markets.

    What's really interesting is that free peasants also gradually became serfs. How that happened isn't entirely clear in the work: all that is mentioned is that it rarely happened by choice on the part of the peasant, but that there were gradual, incremental changes of the relationship between peasant and lord that took place over generations.
    I agree that is an interesting process and something very worth looking int, which I've tried to do for a few years. I currently think more often than not, by the post-Roman era, free peasants were the ones made into serfs. This started with the Roman Latifundia model

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latifundium

    During the Migration Era and into the Medieval period, as the Roman system returned and / or spread throughout the barbarain controlled zones, basically the adoptation of Christianity on a (often forcibly) converted people led directly to the introduction of Feudalism and a large portion of the formerly free population being made into serfs, with a few being elevated into nobility to help control the others. This was a standard Roman technique such as Julius Caesar described doing to the Gauls pre-Christianity. It was also common that the nobility and royal families would be converted to Chrisitanity for political reasons, but the 'people' would remain pagan. Terms like 'pagan' (pagani) and 'heathen' (of the heath) used to also be euphemisms for the common people or peasants. This put an important cultural divide between the ruled and the rulers. Even after the common people had been converted more effectively, they often practiced their religion in a different way than the nobility did.

    By the later Medieval period, when most Europeans had been converted to Christianity, these giant estates or farms started being created especially in Iberia where the perpetual religious war raged, by the Spanish (Visigoth, whatever) and Moorish Kingdoms, using captive populations of the other religion. Same thing in Sicily and Southern Italy (Naples), and in the Balkans. The Latifundia system became more developed in the later era of the Reconquista contributing to the Morisco revolt of the 16th Century.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morisco_revolt

    The Spanish transfered this system to the New World when they conquered it, applying the same treatment to many (though interestingly, not all) of the native tribes. This became the basis for the Hacienda system (Fazenda in Portuguese areas) in much of Latin America, but also in places like the Philippines and in India and China.

    Starting in the 13th Century, the Teutonic Order established a similar system in Prussia called the Folwark. In their own recors they are extremely open about how they broke up the pagan tribes of the Prussians, Livonians, Estonians and so on, and made them into serfs. "They were slaves of the Devil, let the now be the slaves of Christ" was their motto (I have lot of data on this if you are curious about it). The Lithuanians, who were stronger than the other Baltic people (and better protected by dense forests), managed to hold off the Crusades and only convert to Christianity in the late 14th Century on their own terms, and one really important rule they established was no foreign prelates (religious leaders like Bishops or Abbots) were allowed in their country. So as a result few Lithuanians were made into serfs, but Lithuania itself conquered much of the former Russian area, and those people were a different religion (Greek / Russian Orthodox vs. Latin / Catholic) and (Ruthenian /Ukranian / Belorussian) folks were rapidly forced into serfdom, on giant Latifundia style (Folwark) estates ruled by Christian Lithuanian Dukes or 'Magnates'. When Poland and Lithuania merged, Poland adopted the same system especially in her southern regions.

    This in turn quickly led to a horde of escaped serfs joining escaped slaves fleeing the Tartars down into the river cataracts to form the first big Cossack gangs, which ultimately became the Zaparozhian Sich.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    For one thing I'd expect there to be a lot less armor. Armor was generally labor intensive, resource intensive, and thus fairly expensive. This was only ever worth it because of the way armor actually worked, and quite well. If it worked as it did in Hollywood, nobody would bother.
    Yeah if armor only protected againt 'glancing blows' like in movies and a lot of History channel portrayals I don't think anyone would wear it. Or only when they were forced to. Like flak jackets in Vietnam.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I disagree in that, I think quite often the civic militias were the best forces around, generally they were the best infantry available across a very wide stretch of time.
    The Italian urban militias declined with the rise of the Condottiere system, while they didn't disappear completely, in some areas they were very limited often just supplying pioneers (and usually from the rural militia). Condottiere forces tended to be very cavalry oriented, but infantry companies became increasingly common. I suspect something similar happened in the German states, although probably at a later date.



    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I agree that is an interesting process and something very worth looking int, which I've tried to do for a few years. I currently think more often than not, by the post-Roman era, free peasants were the ones made into serfs. This started with the Roman Latifundia model

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latifundium
    Interestingly, by the Renaissance, I've read references to people hiring themselves out to "Latifondi" in southern Italy. So by that time, they were hiring laborers in addition to serfs.


    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The Spanish transfered this system to the New World when they conquered it, applying the same treatment to many (though interestingly, not all) of the native tribes. This became the basis for the Hacienda system (Fazenda in Portuguese areas) in much of Latin America, but also in places like the Philippines and in India and China.
    In the New World they initially applied old systems, but fairly quickly that changed to the encomienda/repartimiento system. Note that while typically presented as two different systems, they are actually parts of the same system, but at certain times an emphasis was made on one part over another.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    The rule of thumb was, as long as the towns remained independent, they had good militia.

    In Italy, as the towns lost their independence to Signore usually soon afterword their militias declined. And as towns became more patrician (like say, Venice and Genoa), their militias became somewhat more cavalry oriented. But the independent towns retained strong militias well into the Early Modern era. Venice being case in point.

    In 'The German States', (i.e. Central Europe north of the Alps), the towns were not at each others throats so much the way the Italian towns were, so they only really had to contend with the Princes and the Church, not with each other. They also tended to deeply mistrust mercenaries. They did use them for external conflicts, since money was always towns greatest offensive weapon against the Princes, but often would not let them inside the walls. The town militia even had to perform town watch (i.e. police) duties because they wouldn't trust foreigners with the keys to the town gate. For this reason very few of the larger Free German (or German / Slavic, or German / Norse) towns lost their independence to Signores, except in cases where the Ottomans took over the region like in Hungary.

    The mercenaries themselves, the Swiss and the Landsknechten, were usually at least half or a third derived from urban militias.

    So (in my opinion) the answer is no, you didn't see the same decline in the 'German' towns militia as you saw in some cases in Italy. They remained part of the army of the HRE all the way to the 18th Century. The principle limitation was they wouldn't go very far from the town gates... except on ships. Town militias were involved with the navy as well, especially in the Hanse cities. Danzig for example retained a formidable naval presence all the way into the 18th Century. Venice of course as well.

    Regarding Latin America, I always wondered (but never understood) why some parts seemed to be completely stuck in a very feudal / late Roman style system with huge estates owned by a tiny minority and very, very poor population of campesinos (indios), like say Guatemala, while others seemed to get fairly urbanized fairly early on at least in parts with some kind of real middle class (Argentine say), and others kind of in between. And then you even have Costa Rica which has almost like a Swiss system of independent rural peasants, but they are a bit of an aberration. I don't know much about the history of Latin America, if you care to please elaborate, you seem to know it pretty well.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The rule of thumb was, as long as the towns remained independent, they had good militia.

    In Italy, as the towns lost their independence to Signore usually soon afterword their militias declined. And as towns became more patrician (like say, Venice and Genoa), their militias became somewhat more cavalry oriented. But the independent towns retained strong militias well into the Early Modern era. Venice being case in point.
    I'm not so sure about that. My study of the condottiere hasn't linked them to the rise of signore, and I'm pretty sure the decline of the militias (late 13th century) began before the rise of the powerful signore. But it varied from city to city, and I was speaking in generalities. Venice's militia was probably stronger, but that didn't prevent them from hiring many many mercenaries. And the militias seems to have gone through phases -- almost disappearing around the end of the 14th century, and then being more significant again toward the end of the 15th century (at which point, incidentally, there were also more professional forces being operated directly by the state).

    Of course, in any siege, the militia is going to play a significant part, but usually only on the defensive. The besieging armies were mostly mercenary.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    In 'The German States', (i.e. Central Europe north of the Alps), the towns were not at each others throats so much the way the Italian towns were, so they only really had to contend with the Princes and the Church, not with each other. They also tended to deeply mistrust mercenaries. They did use them for external conflicts, since money was always towns greatest offensive weapon against the Princes, but often would not let them inside the walls.
    Italian cities often refused to allow mercenaries inside their walls, as they were seen as too disruptive. In one case permanent winter barracks, outside of town, were built for some Condottiere, but that wasn't repeated.


    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The town militia even had to perform town watch (i.e. police) duties because they wouldn't trust foreigners with the keys to the town gate. For this reason very few of the larger Free German (or German / Slavic, or German / Norse) towns lost their independence to Signores, except in cases where the Ottomans took over the region like in Hungary.
    The use of the phrase "lost their independence" seems a bit unusual in this context. The end of the commune system and the beginning of the Signoria, doesn't mean the city-state fell under external influence (i.e. became the dependent of another country). It was a change in government style, and the term Signoria is fairly nebulous itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The mercenaries themselves, the Swiss and the Landsknechten, were usually at least half or a third derived from urban militias.
    Now we are back to the question of when does some cease to be a militiaman and become a mercenary. However, yes, these men were often a product of the urban militias, and, as we have noted before, Genova was known for its crossbowmen.


    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Regarding Latin America, I always wondered (but never understood) why some parts seemed to be completely stuck in a very feudal / late Roman style system with huge estates owned by a tiny minority and very, very poor population of campesinos (indios), like say Guatemala, while others seemed to get fairly urbanized fairly early on at least in parts with some kind of real middle class (Argentine say), and others kind of in between. And then you even have Costa Rica which has almost like a Swiss system of independent rural peasants, but they are a bit of an aberration. I don't know much about the history of Latin America, if you care to please elaborate, you seem to know it pretty well.

    G
    Unfortunately, most of knowledge is limited to the history of New Mexico, although that required a study and understanding of the systems that were used by the Spanish crown. In short, the Spanish crown had a problem in Europe that they didn't want repeated in the "New World". Basically, their tax structure was designed so that the nobility was exempt from taxes. This meant that the tax burden fell mainly upon the middle and lower classes, which could be exhausted -- at one point in the 1500s, when asked to levy another tax, the governor of Sicily reported that there was no more money in the province to be collected; there was money, it was just in the hands of the tax-exempt nobles.

    In the Americas, Spanish settlers in new lands were elevated to the lowest position of nobility (the "dons"), this gave them the legal right to "command" the indigenous peoples, and served as an incentive for settlement. But not wanting to simply recreate the situation in Europe, the Spanish crown gave various protections to the "indios", that, in theory, limited the amount of work they could be called to do, to give them enough time to be self sufficient, and required that they be *payed* for their labor. That would give the crown something to tax! ;-) That was the theory anyway: the Spanish typically would claim that circumstances were exceptional, and "required" that the indigenous populations perform more work and for less/no pay.

    Again that's a very general overview of the system. There were tons of local variations, official exemptions, and differing approaches.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Ah, while reviewing my go to book on the subject, Mercenaries and their Masters, I found this:

    Throughout the thirteenth century the militia armies of the Lombard and Tuscan Leagues were strengthened by the presence of a sprinkling of mercenaries. The idea that mercenaries only appeared in the next period of Italian warfare, the fourteenth century, as civic and republican spirit died and masterful 'tyrants' took over, has long since been exploded.
    It is perhaps true that in northern and central Italy the large numbers of men available for communal armies led to a slower development of the role and the numbers of mercenaries than in northern Europe; . . .
    It is also noted that the rural levies increasingly made up a large part of the armies of italian city-states as those states expanded their control over larger areas

    The Florentine army which was defeated by the Sienese at Montaperti in 1260 contained about 1,400 communal cavalry and about 6,000 communal infantry supported by some 8,000 infantry levies from the rural areas of the Florentine state.
    However, the author is not terribly impressed by the communal levies, stating that in addition to their role being primarily defensive:
    they were not particularly well trained, and they owed their strength to numbers and determination rather than to skill or battle experience.
    The rise of the condottiere (and specifically condottiere companies) and the decline of the communal militias has to do with a change in the political scene in Italy starting around 1250. The causes are complex. The cities were expanding, both in population and economy. Which resulted in the need to secure their hinterlands, but also the money to pay for more mercenaries. Now that the threat of invasion and meddling from German emperors was gone, the defensive alliances that had existed before turned on each other and the small communes started to quarrel and gradually be absorbed into larger and fewer states. The constant warfare made the hastily summoned, primarily defensive, militia not as effective.
    Permanent specialized infantry were needed for frontier garrison duty and for effective siege warfare. Above all, professional cavalry were needed for the aggressive summer campaigns and for the ravaging attacks that were so destructive to the rival city's economy.
    The author then turns to the subject of factionalism -- which was also on the rise as the result of a lack of external threats. Factionalism made it difficult to organize the militia especially for anything other than the defense of the city.
    The fact that mercenaries were appearing well before the fourteenth century to some extent weakens the case for the signori as the innovators, but more importantly a study of the rise of any of the Italian signori shows that the basis for their power was consent not force. Many of the signori were the leaders of factions, and it was the factionalism which had contributed to the decline of the communal militia not the change to one man rule.
    This is just one factor in many that led to the decline of the militia.

    Finally the author turns to military technology. He argues that the crossbow (and long bow, and saracen bow), required more training and practice than a spear. In addition to this, they influenced armor, resulting in a shift toward more metal armor. The new weapons and equipment encouraged new tactical techniques that required more experienced troops as well. These factors together increased the gap in effectiveness of a part-time soldier versus a professional one. As an example he provides a brief description of the battle of Campaldino (1289).

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    What can you tell me about this design of armor? Is it based on something or pure fantasy.

    On one hand, it really looks like actual armor, but on the other, this looks very unlike anything I've seen in reality.
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