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Alain D.





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PostPosted: Sun 16 Sep, 2012 12:44 pm    Post subject: Arms Ownership in European Militia and Mercenary Armies         Reply with quote

I'm wondering about arms ownership from Swiss mercenaries and German Landsknecht up to mercenary armies of the Thirty Years War. From what I've read it sounds like mercenaries from 1450-1650 sometimes armed themselves and other times were provided roughly standardized weapons from their employers and officers. I don't know if any such ratios could be determined, but I'm curious about the numbers of soldiers who armed themselves versus those were received or rented weaponry from their employers. Presumably only wealthy, professional mercenaries could arm themselves while peasant conscripts were likely reliant on whatever their employers provided.
Burgher guards and city militias also seem to have provided some of their own weaponry and wealthier individuals like those in Rembrandt's The Night Watch seem likely to have used their own ornate arms and armor. How common would it have been for Early Modern soldiers to own their own equipment?


-Alain
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Sep, 2012 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The price of arms and armour had dropped drasticaly by the renaisance, and landsknecht mercenaries where very well paid. Their wages started at about 4 florins a month, twice that of a common labourer. The Doppelsoldners recieved twice this amount, the trabants (captains bodyguards) three times.

For comparison, a cheap sett of 3/4 "alemain rivet" plate could cost as little as 1,5 florins. So, basically, even a regualr speistrager og reislaufer could afford his full equipment of his first monthly pay. Which he recieved in advance.
A smart Warlord could of course buy supplies in bulk, and sell them to his own men simply by deducting it from their first payment.

A thread on prices in the 16th c:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=7265

"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: Tue 18 Sep, 2012 11:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was a very gradual change. In 1450 most would-be soldiers were expected to show up at the recruiter's place with their own gear, although they could be resupplied by the employer if their weapon broke or ran out of ammunition. Note the swords lost in the River Dordogne; one plausible theory for their origins is that they came from a consignment intended for the English garrisons along the river, probably to be sold to soldiers who had lost their swords or simply wanted to acquire a new one. On the other hand, by the 1650 most recruits probably showed up at the regimental recruiter as clueless civilians who had to be equipped and trained from scratch (except for the relatives of older soldiers who might have had the chance to learn something while they tagged along as camp followers). However, even then officers and some of the most elite cavalrymen still followed the older practice of joining up already furnished with arms, if not necessarily fully trained in their use. And it's worth noting that firearm-using soldiers were originally expected to pay for their own powder and shot, sometimes well into the 17th century!
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Sep, 2012 7:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alot of mercenaries came out of town militias, in Central Europe (Holy Roman Empire, Flanders, Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland) these were required by law to be armed and armored with their own gear going back to the 12th or 13th Centuries. Members of the craft guilds made up most of the infantry and part of joining the guild included the obligation to own harness and weapons, usually either a polearm or a crossbow (or by the 15th Century increasingly, a firearm)

In certain places like Bruges, Ghent, Bologna and some other towns, they had armed guilds which were associated with the craft guilds as part of the town defense. Most Central European towns also had Konstafler societies which provided cavalry to the militia. These people, the wealthier citizens of the town, were obligated to provide a horse and armor for a 'lance' or heavy cavalryman.

You can read a little big about the urban militias in this article.

http://www.medievalists.net/2011/01/13/towns-...l-germany/

It was more mixed in rural zones, where often the peasants were not well armed, but in places like Switzerland where there were landsgemeinde the peasants were also armed and part of a militia like in the towns. So for example while the urban militias of Zurich and Berne were very prominent in the Swiss military machine (both as mercenaries and in their own wars) so were the rural miltiias from Uri, Schwyz, Zug and so on. This was also the cases in certain parts of Saxony, Sweden, Bohemia and Swabia where many of the Landsknechts were recruited from.

J

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Sep, 2012 7:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a muster roll from 1615 (a bit late, since as Lafayette mentioned, these things changed in the 17th Century) but you can still see where each individual in all of these districts is listed in the militia roll with the type of weapon and / or armor he has

http://www.reichsstadt-rottweil.de/musterung1615.htm

J

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Joshua Spencer




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Sep, 2012 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Everything I have read about the Swiss and Germans is that initially they were required to provide their own basic equipment. Not saying that this is the law, only that its what I have read. With a pay rate of four guilders a month plus pillaging rights, that would have changed dramatically though. It can be assumed that a fairly successful Reislaufer or Landsknecht after just a couple months on campaign, could have a dramatically different equipment set. Given the mindsets of the two I would guess the Swiss would have had more potential for better equipping themselves. The Landsknecht were notorious for their love of camp pleasures which could get rather expensive.
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Alain D.





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PostPosted: Fri 21 Sep, 2012 3:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the responses everyone, those are the answers I was looking for. Great links, I particularly like that muster roll. The thread on prices also helps put things into perspective. It seems that militias were much better armed than I had imagined.

At what point do Landsknecht really disappear? I always imagine Landsknecht as mostly late 15th century to late 16th century, but don't really imagine the mercenaries of the Thirty Years War as Landsknecht anymore. I think of Landsknecht as self-equipped and prepared for war while Thirty Years War recruits seem closer to the "clueless civilians" described by Lafayette. What happened to the Landsknecht and their mercenary culture? Too expensive?

-Alain
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Joshua Spencer




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PostPosted: Fri 21 Sep, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Landsknechts really start to see a decline after 1550 and effectively wiped out by 1590.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Sat 22 Sep, 2012 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Here is a muster roll from 1615 (a bit late, since as Lafayette mentioned, these things changed in the 17th Century) but you can still see where each individual in all of these districts is listed in the militia roll with the type of weapon and / or armor he has

http://www.reichsstadt-rottweil.de/musterung1615.htm

J


Interesting list...

I do have some questions though:
- What does "Ganze Ristung" mean? Complete armor or complete equipment (whatever that means)? The number surprise me for such a late date. Also, does it mean that these were cavalry?

- What's a Haggenschüz?

- What are Zümmerleuth und Friesen? Carpenters or some kind of engineers? From Frisia / Ost-Friesland?
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Sat 22 Sep, 2012 3:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
.
I do have some questions though:
- What does "Ganze Ristung" mean? Complete armor or complete equipment (whatever that means)? The number surprise me for such a late date. Also, does it mean that these were cavalry?

This refers to a comple infantry armour, it is found together with the pike (lang spies) and other men are recorded with "Ringkrägen und Langspies" i.e a large collar/gorget & pike. In some entries the men are explicitly called "doppelsöldner" which by then was another name for a fully armoured pikeman.

Quote:
- What's a Haggenschüz?

A Hackbutter, i.e an arquebusier though by this time the weapon is actually what is known as a caliver in English.

Quote:
- What are Zümmerleuth und Friesen? Carpenters or some kind of engineers? From Frisia / Ost-Friesland?

It means carpenters/woodworkers, in military units a form of pioneers whose skills and equipment were aimed at cutting and working wood. Essential men to have on the march and in camp.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep, 2012 1:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks. Regarding the carpenters, I was a bit confused by the addition of "Friesen" which usually means people from Frisia.

Perhaps some of the carpenters were from that area, but it still seems strange to me, as it shouldn't be too difficult to find local carpenters as well.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep, 2012 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua Spencer wrote:
Everything I have read about the Swiss and Germans is that initially they were required to provide their own basic equipment. Not saying that this is the law, only that its what I have read.


It was in the law in some places, not necessarily in others.

For the Swiss, every able bodied man between certain ages had a militia obligation, and the militia obligation meant depending on their estate / status (i.e their wealth) they had to muster with certain equipment which would be designated like in that muster roll. Usually there was some minimum of armor and weapons.

In the rest of Central Europe, it varied greatly from one place to another. In the Free Cities, Royal Free Cities and Imperial Free Cities throughout the HRE, Bohemia, Sweden, Poland, Hungary and so forth, generally all full citizens in the town were obligated under the militia to personally own weapons and armor. This was stipulated both in the town charter and in the guild laws.

For example, these excerpts from the craft guild regulations for the shearers of the Flemish town of Arras in 1236 AD:

Quote:
7. And whichever brother of this fraternity of shearers
does not come to the militia when it is called, shall not
remain in the city, unless it is through the aldermen of
the city, 20 sous should go to the confraternity.

25. And each master should have his arms when
someone summons them. And if he does not have them,
he owes 20 sous.

26. Whichever of the brothers does not go around with
the burgomeister, the first night that the militia
overnights, owes 10 sous.

27. Whichever of the brothers leaves the district by land
and by day, and will not embark, owes 10 sous to the
confraternity.

28. And whichever of the brothers takes the weapons of
the fraternity, if he does not return them on the day that he
took them, he owes 20 sous to the fraternity, unless he is
keeping them with the consent of the burgomeister and the
aldermen.

29. And if any brother begins to mix it up after the militia
has been quieted, he owes 40 sous to the confraternity,
saving that which is owed to the lord.

30. And at the hour when the mayor and the aldermen order
the brothers to arm, he who does not arm owes 10 sous.


Foreign visitors to Central Europe made note of the heavily armed burghers, for example Enea Silvio Piccolomini, the future Pope Pious II, commented on the state of military preparedness in Germany in 1444 AD: “…not only every noble, but even every burgher in the Guilds has an armoury in his house so as to appear equipped at every alarm. The skill of the citizens in the use of weapons is extraordinary.”

However in the stronger monarchies, including the stronger Kingdoms like France and England but also some of the princely monarchies within the Holy Roman Empire, they did not have Free Cities or autonomous peasant zones like in Switzerland, and the militia might actually be a levy of ill-equiped and untrained pesants or serfs; the armies in these places were heavily weighted toward cavalry and they used mercenaries for infantry.

Even this though isn't a universal rule, apparently militias in York and London and some of the other English cities involved in the Hanseatic trade were similar in some respects to the Central European ones, and I suspect it was the same in France. In Spain everything is distorted by the more or less permanent war in the Middle Ages, and it becomes a strong Kingdom after that, but some areas like the Basque region and Catalonia were more autonomous and had strong militias.

Quote:
With a pay rate of four guilders a month plus pillaging rights, that would have changed dramatically though. It can be assumed that a fairly successful Reislaufer or Landsknecht after just a couple months on campaign, could have a dramatically different equipment set. Given the mindsets of the two I would guess the Swiss would have had more potential for better equipping themselves. .


The pay rate for mercenaries seems to be astounding, compared to the cost of armor and weapons and many other things. It has been hard for me to get my head around for quite a while. But I agree the economic status for a mercenary would seem to change dramatically. Of course you could get rich as a civilian in the towns as well, but this was mainly true if you were a master in the craft guild, or a merchant. A relatively small percentage, for younger journeymen and apprentices the life of a mercenary must have been very tempting.

Quote:
The Landsknecht were notorious for their love of camp pleasures which could get rather expensive


Agreed. Urs Graf among others gives us some very evocative images of this...





J

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep, 2012 8:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suspect the economy of a mercenary company may have been distorted like the economy of a gold-rush town in California in the 19th Century....

J

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Joshua Spencer




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep, 2012 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There were some controls put in place to control things. The Landsknecht had their own staff to help keep things in working order, including people to move ahead of the train to negotiate deals with towns along the campaign trail to prevent price gouging. How often it all worked out is questionable, but controls did exist.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep, 2012 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:


The pay rate for mercenaries seems to be astounding, compared to the cost of armor and weapons and many other things. It has been hard for me to get my head around for quite a while. But I agree the economic status for a mercenary would seem to change dramatically. Of course you could get rich as a civilian in the towns as well, but this was mainly true if you were a master in the craft guild, or a merchant. A relatively small percentage, for younger journeymen and apprentices the life of a mercenary must have been very tempting.


The whole idea behind the Landsknecht system is that the pay should be sufficient to be able to raise a regiment quickly if needed.
And noone is going to leave their regular job for a job that pays the same, but includes the risk of beeing killed, maimed or die of camp diseases.

Landsknecht regiments are only chartered for six months at a time, unless recomishoned.
But, since the pay was good, one could be fairly certain that people would reenlist once a new regiment was raised. This time alleady owning weapons, and perhaps qualifying as doppelsolds.

For comparison, a "Close Protection Operative" could earn 300$ a day and up during the early days in Iraq.

"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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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Sep, 2012 12:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua Spencer wrote:
There were some controls put in place to control things. The Landsknecht had their own staff to help keep things in working order, including people to move ahead of the train to negotiate deals with towns along the campaign trail to prevent price gouging. How often it all worked out is questionable, but controls did exist.


Yes there was a type of sergeant in most Landsknecht companies called a 'hurenwiebel' (whores sergeant) or something like that who was in charge of dealing with the camp followers.

Quote:
The whole idea behind the Landsknecht system is that the pay should be sufficient to be able to raise a regiment quickly if needed.
And noone is going to leave their regular job for a job that pays the same, but includes the risk of beeing killed, maimed or die of camp diseases.

Landsknecht regiments are only chartered for six months at a time, unless recomishoned.
But, since the pay was good, one could be fairly certain that people would reenlist once a new regiment was raised. This time alleady owning weapons, and perhaps qualifying as doppelsolds.

For comparison, a "Close Protection Operative" could earn 300$ a day and up during the early days in Iraq.


Yes, good point... that is a good explanation and analogy thanks. Although most of the armed military contractors today don't act as regular troops but mostly as bodyguards, trainers, analysists and other support jobs from what I understand.

J

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 27 Sep, 2012 12:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua Spencer wrote:
With a pay rate of four guilders a month plus pillaging rights, that would have changed dramatically though. It can be assumed that a fairly successful Reislaufer or Landsknecht after just a couple months on campaign, could have a dramatically different equipment set.


Though mind that pay in early modern European armies, beyond the first couple of months or so, had a tendency to fall in arrears or not get paid at all....
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Sep, 2012 4:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alain D. wrote:

At what point do Landsknecht really disappear? I always imagine Landsknecht as mostly late 15th century to late 16th century, but don't really imagine the mercenaries of the Thirty Years War as Landsknecht anymore. I think of Landsknecht as self-equipped and prepared for war while Thirty Years War recruits seem closer to the "clueless civilians" described by Lafayette. What happened to the Landsknecht and their mercenary culture? Too expensive?

-Alain

I do think that description gives the Landsknechts too much of a doubt and the 30YW period troops not enough.

The self equipped Landsknecht/Reislaufer was an ideal rather than the reality due to the cost clothing, arms & armour. Armour in particular was expensive, a full set of infantry armour could cost as much as 16 guilder, a set with back breast and collar together with a helmet cost 7-8 guilder while a set without the collar was 6 guilder. (Landsknecht pay was 4 guilders a month, 8 if you were a doppelsöldner)

Weapons could also be a problem, in 1513 the Swiss mustered an army for service with the Duke of Milan. It suffered from a critical shortage of pikes as the men had prefered to turn up with the less cumbersom halberd rather than the long and heavy pike.

The solution was for the military contractor or hiring ruler/state to supply the men with arms & armour they needed to be properly equiped for combat. For examples Emperor Maximilian purchased thousands of sets of infantry armour for the Landsknechts in his service together with tens of thousands of pikes and other weapons. As the individual landsknecht lost much of his purchasing power due to inflation in the later half of the 16th Century the Military contractors & State supplied more and more of the equipment needed by the infantry, by the end of the century they were effectivly supplying all of it (with a few exceptions).

Centralized ownership of the arms & armour also allowed the state to disarm the troops once their service was over rather than having to release a horde of armed & unemployed mercenaries on the countryside.

Landsknechts could and would be just as skilled or unskilled in the art of war as the recruits of the 30YW as they were both recruited using methods that saw little change between 1500 and 1650.

The German military system was based on temporary units raised by military contractors, unit quality recruiter finding enough experienced men and officers who could serve as the core of the unit. If such men were in short supply or the contractor lacked the connections to find qualified recruits then the unit suffered from poor training and cohesion until it had time to settle down and improve it self. Something which was easier said than done in combat conditions.

Continous warfare allowed charismatic and famous commanders like Georg von Frundsberg & Mark Sittich von Ems to raise regiments filled with battle hardended veterans in the 1520’s but when the Huguenots & Dutch protestants raised large numbers of Landsknechts in the 1560’s they found that the quality of the units often left much to be desired as many of veterans of the Valois-Habsburg wars in the 1550’s had vanished in peacetime life or been sucked into warfare on the fringes of Europé (such as the Baltic wars & the struggle with the Ottomans in Hungary.)

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Joshua Spencer




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Sep, 2012 4:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Joshua Spencer wrote:
With a pay rate of four guilders a month plus pillaging rights, that would have changed dramatically though. It can be assumed that a fairly successful Reislaufer or Landsknecht after just a couple months on campaign, could have a dramatically different equipment set.


Though mind that pay in early modern European armies, beyond the first couple of months or so, had a tendency to fall in arrears or not get paid at all....


Always in mind. I was working under the pretense of things going like they should and factoring plundered weapons. If they didn't get paid they wouldn't have been around to have been around to be an artistic or statistical reference.
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Alain D.





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PostPosted: Sat 29 Sep, 2012 9:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great responses everyone, this is answering a lot of questions I had. Thank you for that explanation on the decline of the landsknecht and move toward centralized armories, Daniel, that greatly clarifies the transitions over time.

-Alain
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