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K. Horton




Location: Youngstown, Ohio
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2009 2:47 pm    Post subject: The Elite and Personal Guard         Reply with quote

Hello Gents,
I was just wondering, as I was doing some reading, and came across the name Spatharii and Hastarii and Protospatharii which were the imperial guards in the court at Constantinople armed with a spatha and a spear. Everyone here is familiar with the Huskarls and Praetorians. What are some other special forces, special guards, or highly skilled soldiers in the time frame of 100ad-1700's? Feel free to enlighten me if I have mis-stated any of the names or their occupations.
Ken
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Xan Stepp




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2009 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Varangian Guard, the Mamaaliik (sing. Mamluk), Jannisaries, and the Swiss guard come to mind.
Deyr fé, deyja frćndur
deyr sjálfur iđ sama;
en orđstír deyr aldregi
hveim er sér góđan getur.
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Antonio Lamadrid





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PostPosted: Thu 08 Jan, 2009 10:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Merovingians kings were guarded by the Truste. Its members, the antrustiones, also did other military and police duties.

http://books.google.es/books?id=NdkuRi2HRRIC&...;ct=result


Late Visigothic kings were protected by the gardingos, who were also the heavy cavalry of the army. The gardingos were a corps based on ethnic lines, as only Goths were allowed into it, Hispano-Romans being banned.

I have not found much about them in English searching with google.

http://books.google.es/books?id=KLgCN3cHngwC&...;ct=result
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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 12:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeomen of the Guard...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeomen_of_the_Guard
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David Huggins




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 1:57 am    Post subject: Elite forces         Reply with quote

I guess the Anglo-Scandinavian Huscarl could be viewed as an elite troop, in their role as being the personal guard of their Kings and Earls/Jarls. (They where also used to enforce the King's Law and as Tax Collectors in some circimstances)
best
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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David Huggins




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 2:58 am    Post subject: Elite guards         Reply with quote

Dooh WTF?! Sorry Mr.Horton I should have read the original post before jumping in with my size 12's and seen you had already said about the Huscarls.

Berserkers and Ulfhednar could be considered elite troops.

Would the Knightly Orders ..Teutonic Order, Hospitaller Order, St.John etc etc be considered elite troops/units/guards.

How about the Papal Guard, when where they formed?

Aztec, Toltec Zapotec and Mayan cultures also had specialized troops/guards

As I understand it there is still an Order of Archers associated with the British Monarchy!

best
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 6:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eagle Warriors.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 7:28 am    Post subject: Re: Elite guards         Reply with quote

David Huggins wrote:

As I understand it there is still an Order of Archers associated with the British Monarchy!

Yep, thats the Yeoman I linked to above. Happy
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the question of what is an eltie unit needs to be quantified. Is it a small unit, making a minority of a fielded army? Is it a btter trained and or better morale? Better equipment? All of the above?

For instance, take the Saxon huscarls at Hastings. IIRC it is estimated there were 3-4000 Huscarls in England at this time, say maybe 2000 of the 7500 or so Saxons at Hastings may have been Huscarls. WHile I agree they are an elite unit, the same could be said for the Norman knights. They numbered about the same, were equipped better than the foot of archers of the Normans, their morale was better, etc. etc.

Their is about is much reason to classify the knights at Hastings as elites as their is to classify the Huscarls.

THat being said, would knights in general be considered elite troops?

Look at Sparta. As they usually made up a minority of troops fielded in a Greco-Persian battle, and they were of high morale, would these be considered elite? How about in a Spartan army, where most are Spartan Hoplites. Are they still considered elite?

Or are we limiting eltie status to much smaller units, often finctioning as bodyguards? I.E. the 300 man bodyguard of Leonidas was an elite unit, but the main body of Spartans was not.

If using this classification though, the Huscarls would not be an "elite" unit. Maybe the Royal Huscalrs would?

Hardrada had a retinue (actually the term "Hird" was used by Scandanavians, Hucalrs being one of the lower ranking classes of the Hird - of course IIRC in the 12th centuries Hird may have referred to a general muster, though I am a bit foggy on this) of at least 1000 that he took on campaign against Denmark around 1060 - did he campaign with an elite unit? It was his personal Hird, so it seems it would qualify, and many were probably former Varangians that accompanied him out of Byzantium.

If it's the personal bodyguard of the King or other leader, most armies throughout history have had this, be it the "Commitas" of the germanic tribes, the Teulu of the Welsh, etc. etc. Many of these due to the lack of attention given to them by historians we don't even know of, much less how we would rank them as elite types.

With all that - I'd throw in the Hellenistic Companion cavalry, though based on battlefield performance they may have slipped a little from the days of Alexander. Maybe the Byzantine Kataphractoi as well.
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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cuachiqueh were an elite aztec unit, but I only know what Medieval Total War 2 and wikipedia tell me about them, sorry.
E Pluribus Unum
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K. Horton




Location: Youngstown, Ohio
Joined: 21 Jan 2008

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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Gary Teuscher"]I think the question of what is an elite unit needs to be quantified. Is it a small unit, making a minority of a fielded army? Is it a better trained and or better morale? Better equipment? All of the above?

Their is about is much reason to classify the knights at Hastings as elites as their is to classify the Huscarls.

THat being said, would knights in general be considered elite troops?

To clarify, I was mostly thinking of a group within an army noted for it's tenacity and martial skills, highly trained and involved not only with defense of the country but as also a private guardian to a king. I consider the Huskarls to be on of these, from what I have read. These would not neccasarily have better weapons, maybe armor, but overall just more training. I don't think all knights would be considered, maybe the groups within the group( templars,hospitallers), instead of just men with money that can buy better weapons than most and fulfill their duties in the fuedal system. The secret service kind of, only not secret

Worried ..make sense. The responses thus far are great and I look forward to more reading on them.

Ken
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In 12th century medieval era, powerful lords often had a mesnie or household set of soldiers/ friends. These could be titled individuals (William Marshal's close set of approximately 28 friends, some 20 or so in active form of tennant office as well as military obligations that actually continued over a period of roughly 40 association..to retirement age... comes to mind.) These were typically involved in most of the conflicts and tournaments. As such, they were highly experienced, and politically savvy as well. They were not necessarily the most elite in terms of just combat skill, but were favored for all around capabilities including; combat skill, leadership, diplomacy, and loyalty.
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 4:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I was mostly thinking of a group within an army noted for it's tenacity and martial skills, highly trained and involved not only with defense of the country but as also a private guardian to a king. I consider the Huskarls to be on of these, from what I have read. These would not neccasarily have better weapons, maybe armor, but overall just more training.


By this definiton you would probably want to limit the Anglo-Saxon Huscarls to the Royal Huscarls, and leave out those in service of Earls.

I've always looked at Huscarls as somewhat the equivalent to a Knight. Both made up similar percentages of the army, both were the best trained and equipped troops out there, we know the later Gallowglaich had servants assigned to them, my guess is Huscarls did as well, similar to the squires/pages of a knight.

The only thing is Huscarls may have been more centralized than the knights, though this is tough to figure exactly, are their are mentions of Huscarls in the Viking age who were "away at their lands". I fail to recall if there was the use of money fiefs to support them.
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K. Horton




Location: Youngstown, Ohio
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 5:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How about weapons of choice? Were there certain groups distinguished by a weapon of choice in their service and time. One they excelled with and not many others ie. poleax, axes(huskarls), obviously swords, what types.

Ken
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 4:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Varangians and Gallowglass were also known for their axe skills. Maybe you could include doppelsoldners (is that the spelling?), landsknechts who were double paid for wielding the two handed swords in the front ranks...
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 12:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excubutores
Imperial guards
A manual calls for greaves for the excubutorii

Basilikoi Anthropoi
Literally: The Emperors Men
Imperial Guards

Klibanophoroi
A revival of the cataphract
used for tactical shock charges
Spathion, Mace, Martiobarboulloi: lead weighted javelins, Tzikourion: axe, Klibanion: lamellar cuirass, cheiropsella: greaves, manikella: vambraces, Kontos: lance, thureos: small sheild strapped to the arm leaving the rider free to use a bow, another weapon, or control his horse,
sabatons, mail guantlets, three layer mail aventail, epilorikon: gambeson, Toxon: Bow, lance case.

Horse: Oxehide klibanion split at the front, chanfron
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Maybe you could include doppelsoldners (is that the spelling?), landsknechts who were double paid for wielding the two handed swords in the front ranks...
Armour. Any soldier who could field his own armour got payed twice the normal rate. That's a Doppelsöldner.
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Werner Stiegler wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
Maybe you could include doppelsoldners (is that the spelling?), landsknechts who were double paid for wielding the two handed swords in the front ranks...
Armour. Any soldier who could field his own armour got payed twice the normal rate. That's a Doppelsöldner.



According to ARMA a Doppelsoldner is man who can use a great sword and he gets payed double
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I've gathered, a Doppelsold is a veteran landsknecht, similar to a corporal in rank.
A typical landsknecht regiment would have 300 regular "speistrager" or pikemenn, and 100 doppelsolds. The doppelsolds could use whatever weapon they chose, often carrying helbards or handguns.
In addition to these, the captain of the company would have a group of Trabants, or bodyguards. These reciveved three times the regular pay, and frequently carried two handed swords.
"sold" means wage, so "doppelsoldner" directly translates to "double-wager"

The scandinavian Hird was a combination of court, aministration and military retinue.
Anyone who swore fealthy to the king became a Huskar (house man), and theoretically a member of the Hird. There was however a distinction between the "seated hird" and the "non-seated hird". The former where quite litteraly those who where "seated at the kings table" and those who where doing his work elsewhere.
The norwegian hird, at least, had four main classes; The Huskarls where the regualr servants and soldiers of the king, and could vary widely in tasks and wealth. The Guests where the kings scouts and secret police (think army rangers, the Gestapo and IRS combined... They flew a black banner in battle.) The Hirdmenn where the personal bodygards and close retinue of the king. They where lead by Skutilsveins (litteraly "platter men", as they ate from the same platters as the king.)

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jan, 2009 1:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

K. Horton wrote:
[To clarify, I was mostly thinking of a group within an army noted for it's tenacity and martial skills, highly trained and involved not only with defense of the country but as also a private guardian to a king.


In that case, the hastarioi, spatharioi, and protospatharioi you mentioned in your original post probably don't qualify, since they're not really groups on their own--they're just ranks within the Byzantine imperial guard hierarchy (if I remember correctly).
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