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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2015 1:23 pm    Post subject: How Retainers and Standing Armies should work in Middle Ages         Reply with quote

First, I would like to understand why retainers cannot be classified as individuals of a standing army.

Second, the difference between Ordinances of England and France with retainers and standing armies? I had read that the French had already instituted standing armies in 1364, forming a contingent of 3,000 men at arms, but sources only accept the establishment of a standing army in 1445. What went wrong?

Finally, why can say that the military orders (Templars, Teutonic etc) were forms of standing armies in High Middle Ages?
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2015 1:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Pedro,

A great deal of reading is necessary to understand the multifaceted issues that accompany your questions. I can roughly answer your first inquiry since it is more general than the latter concerning England and France, which I do not know any specific circumstances of.

Retainers were not considered members of standing armies because they were not employed in full-time military roles. A standing army is made up of men who serve their lords or government on a full-time basis, such as in most modern military systems. Retainers were typically members of the lower nobility such as landed knights and barons, whose primary duty was to uphold their fiefs - i.e. to administer agricultural and commercial ventures with the resources they held in fealty from their liege lords, or owned outright as allodial property.

Only during particular seasons of the year or in times of immediate threat to the realm were retainers called upon for military duty, which was generally done cyclically to ease the financial and time-related burdens associated with active service. As the middle ages continued, many feudal systems reverted to the regular collection of military taxes in lieu of forcing retainers to join expeditionary forces. It became apparent in much of Western Europe by the late 13th century that mercenaries paid with the funds provided by absentee retainers were more disciplined and far more likely to remain in active service for extended periods of time than retainers, who often complained of their obligations or outright refused to comply with the requests made of them.

Eventually such revelations led to the foundation of the first standing armies in places such as England and France, as well as the permanent, semi-independent condottiere armies that roamed throughout Italy by the late 14th century.

Cheers!

-Gregory
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2015 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Teutonic and Livonian Orders did have what you might think of as a standing army going back to the 13th Century but it was very small, suitable mostly for defense, mostly boiling down to various small permanent garrisons at all their castles and towns. Offensive operations were made possible either seasonally when Crusaders came from other parts of Europe (almost every year, sometimes up to three times per year) and during emergencies, when military forces were augmented by urban militias, rural levies mostly from the Abbeys owned by or renting from the Order, 'auxiliaries' from friendly (or coerced) Baltic tribes, and local knights who owed fealty to the Order. The latter tended to be relatively weak due to Order policies restricting the amount of land they could own, while the town militias were not always reliable since they didn't always agree with the Order on policy. The towns provided most of the navy.

Effectively the Order operated as a leadership cadre and a kind of structural backbone for the other forces. They had a lot of resources in terms of infrastructure and supplies and so on, and tried to make the most of their own well trained, well equipped forces in that way.. So on the one hand you could say they were not really a truly standing army, but on the other, they fought significant engagements 3-4 times a year at least (during 3 seasonal raids by the Order, and 1 by their enemies, the Lithuanians, who would usually attack during the Order's annual gathering).

Many regions of Central Europe had Landfrieden organizations with well-organized militias (a mix of town militias and the private bodyguard forces of various Princes and Prelates) which were mostly for defense but could be used offensively as well, and saw action on a routine basis.

The first real professional army in (late) medieval Europe of a size that could have strategic importance, may have been the Hungarian Black Army. Of necessity they were almost constantly mobilized and involved in some action against the Turks, or Frederick III or whomever.

Venice almost without a doubt had the first professional standing navy in medieval Europe, though it doubled as both a merchant and military force, it represented the technological and organizational leading edge in it's day. They had some kind of standing army as well, on top of a robust militia they also had garrisons in dozens of locations all around the Eastern Mediterranean and into the Black Sea, Adriatic, etc.



More generally I would distinguish between a standing army, a militia, a feudal levy and a popular levy as follows:

The standing army is always under arms, always ready to fight, and always being fed and paid. This is hard to do in a time when warriors are a kind of skilled specialists and are usually paid really well. Discipline was also a major challenge and groups of people organized into armies tended to do whatever they wanted to, and needed to be constantly fed and paid, (especially from their own point of view) which could lead to major problems involving your army destroying your own land if they weren't on campaign.

A militia is an army and in the medieval period could be pretty sophisticated and effective, but it turns back into a group of civilians whenever it isn't needed. Sometimes it does this on it's own if it doesn't like how the war is going which can be a problem for leaders.

Feudal levies are also kind of an army, since but Feudal levies and militias in some places* fought all the time so they were quite professional. But they did whatever they wanted, if anything even more than the town militias did - and were more prone to ride off on their horses, or even switch sides, if they didn't like how things were going.

Popular levies were less independent but also less skilled.

More permanent armies which you saw later on during the rise of the State in the 17th Century and so on were typically based on forced levies, and later true conscription, and pay was a lot lower, while discipline was much more strict.

The Hungarian Black army was a combination of militias, a knightly levy and a lot of very expensive mercenaries. It was too expensive to keep running, but was needed almost all the time. With the help of supporters with deep pockets (like the Pope and the republic of Venice at various times and to various degrees) it was able to keep going.

France had a huge population and an extremely efficient agricultural system, capable of feeding millions. They also had a lot of trouble with their own mercenaries during and after the 30 Years War. Yet they had a long border to defend and their Kings wanted to have lots of adventures in Italy and elsewhere so they had the incentive to make a permanent army before most other places did. The notion of making your army spend all their time training (in order to keep them out of trouble and also to make those not already skilled warriors into somewhat useful troops) was relatively 'new' in medieval Europe, though it was a notion they were aware of from the Romans.

To a large extent, the very idea of a permanent army was controversial in this era, since it represented a notion of permanent war.

Jean

* conversely in other places where there was typically peace both militias and feudal levies were pretty bad...

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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Tue 07 Apr, 2015 3:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would say some retainers were a form of semi-permanent soldiers.

Many English lords and other high nobility had a household guard who were paid an annuity and lived 'in his household'. In other places they were called pensioners I believe, in essence it's a soldier employed on a basis of yearly pay and usually required lifetime commitment to his lord. These small permanent guards or armies were not big but they certainly were top notch troops, often fed, clothed and armed at their lords expense too.

English garrisons in France (and possible in England too) were also recruited with an indentured contract most of the time. In times of peace these could be very small but they were more or less permanent.

Add up those garrison forces to the permanent household guards of all lords of the realm and you might find that England even in a time of peace employed hundreds, if not more than a thousand, soldiers.
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2015 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:
Retainers were not considered members of standing armies because they were not employed in full-time military roles. A standing army is made up of men who serve their lords or government on a full-time basis, such as in most modern military systems. Retainers were typically members of the lower nobility such as landed knights and barons, whose primary duty was to uphold their fiefs - i.e. to administer agricultural and commercial ventures with the resources they held in fealty from their liege lords, or owned outright as allodial property.

Only during particular seasons of the year or in times of immediate threat to the realm were retainers called upon for military duty, which was generally done cyclically to ease the financial and time-related burdens associated with active service. As the middle ages continued, many feudal systems reverted to the regular collection of military taxes in lieu of forcing retainers to join expeditionary forces. It became apparent in much of Western Europe by the late 13th century that mercenaries paid with the funds provided by absentee retainers were more disciplined and far more likely to remain in active service for extended periods of time than retainers, who often complained of their obligations or outright refused to comply with the requests made of them.

Eventually such revelations led to the foundation of the first standing armies in places such as England and France, as well as the permanent, semi-independent condottiere armies that roamed throughout Italy by the late 14th century.

Cheers!

-Gregory




I thought the retainers were soldiers / warriors hired by a baron or higher to guard your demesne and particularly his castles. I mean, it's quite strange to think that castles did not have any garrison in peacetime, even if it was symbolic. In general, I would expect that the retainers were formed by common and landless knights attached to this service as a sworn sword.

After all, a knight with land would probably be organizing their feud, training or doing anything else. I had read a fictional history book: Wars of Roses of Conn Iggulden, where he mentions certain Baron Hightower, one that took about 20 knights who were claimed "the best among those held by their house" to support an uprising in Maine. I know, it's just a book, but it seems to make sense to me. The way you mentioned, do not seem to have much distinction between a retainer and levy used in wartime.

I also do not believe that mercenaries were more disciplined than knights. I mena, the unique bond they have with the employer is paying. In the absence of this, they often would disband or plunder cities for compensation. Also, it probally should occur many situations when the power balance changes in favour of the enemy lord, and they eventually would withdraw. But, how Condotierros were "semi-independent"?
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2015 10:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro,

Being a retainer to a liege lord was essentially a military task, but in exchange for military services to a lord, grants of land (i.e. fiefs) were typically given rather than wages - this holds true for most of Central and Western Europe from c. 900-1400. It was necessary for retainers to spend large amounts of time working as administrators or actually cultivating their own properties throughout the year - and particularly during the busy seasons in Spring and Autumn, for the sowing and harvesting of summer crops. Agriculture was the major source of revenue for the medieval nobility, and it was critical for landowners to be at home during peak seasons.

This system obviously required retainers to be on leave from military service for a majority of the year. In exchange, service was expected in various forms, such as garrisoning local castles and forts, which were often within reasonable distances from land holdings to allow agricultural and manorial work to continue without interruption. For foreign expeditions, most lords, from kings down to local barons, had developed rather sophisticated contractual systems that provided specific details concerning the terms of service, necessary provisions, remuneration, etc... In order to avoid legal or personal feuds developing between lords and retainers.

I'll reiterate the point that it's very hard to blanket-statement the details concerning the feudal system of obligations that developed between lesser and greater nobility during the Middle Ages. From kingdom to kingdom, region to region and even castle to castle, the expectations and style of symbiotic relations between lords and retainers varied immensely. There are many fundamental aspects, which I've roughly discussed above... If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, then I propose some of the following books for reading:

The Knight in History by Frances Gies (1984)
The Chivalrous Society by Georges Duby (1977)
The Three Orders by Georges Duby (1980)
The Medieval Soldier by A.V.B. Norman (1971)

The more I've read about feudal military systems, the more apparent it's become that most men who served as retainers to the upper nobility were - despite their outward appearance and recognition as being members of a warrior elite - first and foremost tenants, landlords, family men, administrators, tradesmen, tax collectors, advisers, and lawmen. Pick two or three or four of those for any feudal retainer, and they will certainly be doing those things more actively than fighting during their lifetimes. This, in my view, makes it impossible to equate a feudal retainer with a soldier in a standing army, which implies a full-time obligation that cannot be interrupted by other forms of work.

I cannot comment much on details regarding the foundations of state armies in 14th century England and France, but as a case in point concerning either mercenaries versus feudal levies being more disciplined, I am aware that throughout the early part of the Hundred Year's War the English made their point by having professional troops repeatedly defeat "superior" French feudal forces. Both Crecy and Poitiers stand out as exemplary in this regard.

As far as the possibility of desertion is concerned, all of the work that feudal levy men were expected to perform back home actually led to mass desertions on long-term campaigns that carried on beyond the expected period of time. It was not unheard of for whole retinues of knights and militias would leaved their lords stranded in foreign lands in order to return home during critical agricultural seasons. It was also often the case that if a lord retained his men beyond the promised periods of time, their feudal obligations to one another would be broken by such breaches of trust.

On the other hand, mercenaries did indeed just want money, and as long as they were being paid or were promised plunder then they would remain with their commanders for as long as years at a time. This sort of service proved invaluable for long term campaigning, which truly began in earnest to be seen regularly during the Hundred Year's War (a major reason for the simultaneous development of the first standing armies in England and France).

Cheers!

-Gregory

(Edited for clarification.)


Last edited by Gregory J. Liebau on Thu 09 Apr, 2015 6:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2015 5:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's worth noting that people didn't always like being paid solely with money since its value fluctuated more dramatically than land or similar productive assets. Many mercenaries and professional soldiers served in the hopes that they'd get noticed and win grants of land, property, or tax farms that'd give them a decent peacetime income once the current war is over.

Of course, on the other hand, paid service had a longer and more extensive history than most people think. By the 13th century it was quite normal for militias to be paid out of the king's or the lord's pockets if they had to serve beyond the borders of their shire/province/whatever the local region was called. Men-at-arms summoned under the feudal debt of service also regularly expected to be paid if they had to serve for more than 40 days. There was a full spectrum of contractual and service arrangements between short-term unpaid service for strictly local defence and purely mercenary service with no rewards apart from money and loot. So there's nothing simple about it and don't expect any short answers if you want accurate ones.


To return to the French Ordonnance of 1445, the Ordonnance army wasn't the first standing army in France or Europe, but it was the earliest army that can be said to be a direct ancestor of the modern French army. Most of the early modern French Army's institutions evolved within the context of the late-medieval Ordonnance and many prestigious units down to the end of the ancien regime still claimed direct or indirect descent (whether real or spurious) from the units established during the Ordonnance era. No other medieval standing army had such a long-lasting spiritual and organisational legacy; the last one (the Hospitallers) went down with Napoleon's conquest of Malta, the Black Army disintegrated after King Matyas' death, the Burgundian Ordonnance was too ambitious and unwieldy and largely broke down after Charles the Bold's death too (although a few units were reorganised and incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire's military structure, which in turn died with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918) . . . you get what I'm talking about.

I have no idea about what is meant by the "English" ordinance. The development of late-medieval English armies went down a different track and didn't have such a distinct watershed as the French Ordonnance (or the Burgundian ones).
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2015 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette,

Thanks for bringing up the points about mercenaries often hoping to become landed for their service, and cash being given to retainers for attending contracted expeditions. It slipped my mind entirely, and is another important aspect of the greater question posed here.

I'd also add that many knights, squires and professional men-at-arms of various social distinctions were content to remain landless, and essentially stuck to their lords in military and courtly functions on a regular basis. There are no simple right answers - just a lot of variety to be admired. It's important to remember that we're discussing a social system that matured like wine over the course of nearly four hundred years, before the cork was popped and it turned out rather sour in the end...

-Gregory
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2015 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:


I'd also add that many knights, squires and professional men-at-arms of various social distinctions were content to remain landless, and essentially stuck to their lords in military and courtly functions on a regular basis. There are no simple right answers - just a lot of variety to be admired. It's important to remember that we're discussing a social system that matured like wine over the course of nearly four hundred years, before the cork was popped and it turned out rather sour in the end...

-Gregory


Could you clarify the bit about landless Knights, squires and professional men-at-arms? As far as I am aware the vast majority of non-knightly men-at-arms were still of gentle birth with only a minority being rich merchants. Didn't loss of land tied to nobility also entail loss of nobility? I know it worked the other way around but wouldn't landless gentry not pass their nobility on to their children?
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2015 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:
The more I've read about feudal military systems, the more apparent it's become that most men who served as retainers to the upper nobility were - despite their outward appearance and recognition as being members of a warrior elite - first and foremost tenants, landlords, family men, administrators, tradesmen, tax collectors, advisers, and lawmen.


I think this is key when it comes to Feudal retainers and also matches all of my research. Most throughout Europe (and this is one of the few universal themes I think you could say applies to almost all of Europe in this period) were first and foremost ranchers, farmers, herders .... administrators of estates. If you are the castelan of a castle, more than likely you are also the administrator of a large estate, the collector of taxes, maybe some kind of magistrate, a negotiator, a broker of goods. Importing wine, exporting wool or vice-versa. Even the Teutonic Knights spent most of their time doing stuff like this.

On the higher end of the spectrum, a large number of aristocratic knights, men with titles, were not particularly warlike at all, but were into managing their estates, or they were religious fanatics or eccentric gardeners or what have you. Certain families tended to be more warlike but that didn't include every generation (and the first born son typically inherited the estate, depending on the specific inheritance laws in the region, so the guy who got the status wasn't necessarily the most qualified even within his own family). Some were very warlike. But this wasn't necessarily the rule, and even the most warlike ones spent a lot of their time just managing their estates, running a plantation or what have you.

You can get a sense of the feudal system in some of the more rural parts of modern day Latin America. The Hacienda, and the foremen and managers who work on it and are in charge of the workers and tenant farmers (campesinos - serfs). Those guys are the henchmen of the Jeffe, the Lord.

As for the knightly class, another thing to keep in mind is the historical importance of unfree serf knights. This was particularly well standardized in the German speaking areas. They comprised a large percentage of both administrators and soldiers.

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

Jean

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2015 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Gregory J. Liebau wrote:


I'd also add that many knights, squires and professional men-at-arms of various social distinctions were content to remain landless, and essentially stuck to their lords in military and courtly functions on a regular basis. There are no simple right answers - just a lot of variety to be admired. It's important to remember that we're discussing a social system that matured like wine over the course of nearly four hundred years, before the cork was popped and it turned out rather sour in the end...

-Gregory


Could you clarify the bit about landless Knights, squires and professional men-at-arms? As far as I am aware the vast majority of non-knightly men-at-arms were still of gentle birth with only a minority being rich merchants. Didn't loss of land tied to nobility also entail loss of nobility? I know it worked the other way around but wouldn't landless gentry not pass their nobility on to their children?


There were landless but noble (titled) courtiers who were paid (who might get land late in life which could be passed on to their children), there were courtiers from non-noble families but who had attended university (which vastly increased their status), there were the serf-knights I mentioned before, there were mercenary captains (contractors or condottieri) who made their living exclusively from war (at least for a time). There were religious brother-knights and prince-prelates, who controlled but did not own territory (and at least in theory, could not pass their land down to their descendants), and there were what you call 'merchant knights', among other things.

As for these merchant knights, they were usually from the patrician class which is often mistakenly equated with the nobility.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrician_(post-Roman_Europe)

These people were not second class knights - far from it They were their own thing and had their own military orders and so on, quite often they excluded nobles (you had to have town citizenship to be in the order). They were usually much wealthier and better educated than noble or serf-knights and often better equipped. They formed the cavalry arms of town militias, especially of city-states and Free Cities, and also in many cases formed the political class and made up the city council and the burgomeisters. Most often they were merchants but that varied a great deal town by town - in patrician controlled towns like Venice, Bern, Lubeck or Nuremberg they were almost all merchants, in guild oriented towns like Ghent, Strasbourg, Cologne, or Zurich many of them were from the most prominent or rich craft guilds (which specific crafts could vary widely depending on the main industries of the town). Some of these organizations were called 'constafler' societies, some went by other names. In addition to Italy and Flanders, they existed in all the German speaking towns well beyond the borders of what is today Germany. For example this group was in the Baltic region, based in what are today Riga and Tallinn.

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

Generally speaking, there was a certain equivalency between powerful burghers (patricians, guild aldermen, city senators), princes (high ranking secular nobles), and prelates (territorial rulers of the church, like bishops, abbots, archbishops, cardinals etc.). If you wanted to do business in a powerful town like Nuremberg or Venice you might want to buy a town citizenship, because if you didn't have one you were potentially subject to strict laws and corporeal punishment. If you wanted to do business in the court of a powerful prince, like the Herzog of Bavaria or the Duke of Burgundy, you might want to get yourself a noble title first. If you intended to do business in the territory of the Pope or the Archbishop of Trier, you might want to send a son or a nephew to study Canon law and (at least nominally) become a Priest., which gave you influence and protection from the Church (and made it easier to do business with them).

So for example, a mighty patrician like Jacob Fugger 'The Rich' or Cosimo de-Medici, might buy or receive as favors, knighthoods from powerful princes or kings and had younger members of their family admitted into religious orders. But they were actually patricians in their own lifetime, often with special enhanced patrician status like the so called 'grossburgher' citizenship.

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

Jean

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Last edited by Jean Henri Chandler on Thu 09 Apr, 2015 1:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2015 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are there any French or English Patrician/Burgher cavalry military organization? I was looking at those countries when I made my comment, in both those countries nobility was obtained when you got a piece of land with that status attached such as a manor. Do you have some info of how many Ordnance Gendarmes were of non-noble decent because I have a feeling that percentage is really low.

As for courtiers how did they sustain themselves at the court without land? Or are we talking about courtiers who received patronage or an annuity/pension to live on? I know many monarchs had household troops always close at hand but were these courtiers too or did they serve as soldier/guard for most part of their stay at the court?

I kinda fail to see why any men-at-arms in military service would be content without land if he had the possibility to obtain it. Without it you essentially have no retirement fund except for what you saved and what your lord might give you when you fail to be useful in battle.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2015 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Are there any French or English Patrician/Burgher cavalry military organization? I was looking at those countries when I made my comment, in both those countries nobility was obtained when you got a piece of land with that status attached such as a manor. Do you have some info of how many Ordnance Gendarmes were of non-noble decent because I have a feeling that percentage is really low.


Yes, some. Most prominently I do on Burgundy, as well as probably some of the French zone around Burgundy. There are ordinances on this, several of them are in the Osprey book on the Burgundian army. They directly quote a lot of the ordinances, apparently the merchant knights made up a lot of the cavalry (so I guess it depends if you consider Burgundy part of France or not, which you could go either way on I think)

http://www.amazon.com/Armies-Medieval-Burgund...0850455189

I really don't know how much of this existed in the rest of France, I'm ashamed to admit that is a big gap in my knowledge. I know they did have some military societies in some of the English towns especially Hanseatic linked towns on the East coast, notably York and London (in fact part of London and the bishops-gate into the city was actually protected by the patrician society of the German merchants in the steelyard*). Some of this was curtailed in 1396 when the King suppressed the towns rights, but apparently there was still some kind of pretty substantial cavalry element to the York militia in the 1450's. I think this was true in Scotland as well though I'm not certain.

I know in Paris the patriciate was gradually merged into the nobility, I think that was the case in a lot of French cities, but I also think (IIRC) this was post medieval, in the 17th or 18th Century. Maybe somebody with better knowledge about France can chime in on that. i know the French preferred to think of only 3 Estates (unlike 4 in many other parts of Europe) so they eventually just merged the more powerful and connected Bourgeois into the 1st.

Quote:

As for courtiers how did they sustain themselves at the court without land? Or are we talking about courtiers who received patronage or an annuity/pension to live on? I know many monarchs had household troops always close at hand but were these courtiers too or did they serve as soldier/guard for most part of their stay at the court?


Pensions, I think mostly, and Church tithes or Benefices if they were clerical. I believe it varied a great deal from prince to prince but I know the king of France gave out a lot of pensions.

When they got older a lot of them became diplomats and administrators, or were put in charge of various bureaucratic offices. Quite a few in more strictly monarchical countries either traveled with the king or stayed in the big administrative centers (like Paris).

Quote:

I kinda fail to see why any men-at-arms in military service would be content without land if he had the possibility to obtain it. Without it you essentially have no retirement fund except for what you saved and what your lord might give you when you fail to be useful in battle.


as we were mentioning, owning land also means having to administer it and protect it ... deal with drought and locusts and floods and early frosts. Keep in mind the European economy was shifting from land based to cash / trade based in the later medieval period. Rents had shifted to cash for example for the most part in the 14th Century or earlier. And land could always be taken away capriciously. In a country like France influence and patronage may have become more important than land. membership in certain knightly orders could also be hereditary and meant a permanent status boost to the family.

Jean

* in fact German Hanse merchants actually rebuilt the gate in 1471

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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2015 7:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean,

Thanks for chiming in! All of the details you've provided to stuff the gaps is very appreciated - I didn't feel like I had time to do so last night, and now I find that there is no need. You bring up the Ministeriales in central Europe (and primarily in the Kingdom of Germany), which are an excellent case-in-point concerning the fabulous amount of non-military work carried on by retainers... However, the Ministeriales were a rather peculiar phenomenon as well, which does not help one to really appreciate the circumstances of knights and retainers in Western Europe - though there were certainly many intersections and lots of generalizations can be drawn safely.

For anyone interested in the nitty-gritty of social life among the German knightly and ministerial classes, I highly recommend reading German Knighthood 1050-1300, by Benjamin Arnold (1985). The chapter titles are as follows: Monarchy, Lordship, and Violence in the Medieval German Empire : Knights and Ministeriales in the Eleventh and Twelve Centuries : The Servile Legal Status of Ministeriales : The Rights of Ministeriales in Written Custom : Ministeriales as Vassal-knights and Retainers : The Ministeriales and their Lands : Ministeriales and Marriage : The Household, Judicial, and Administrative Offices of Ministeriales. Knighthood and Towns : The Imperial Retinue of Ministeriales and its Part in German Politics : Ministeriales and Violence.

I provide that brief of chapter titles to show off the variety of functions and expectations among the Ministeriales, who came to predominate the German knightly class by the early 13th century and continued to live on in a stable social situation into the 15th century. If one can stomach that, then I suggest John B. Freed's Noble Bondsmen - Mininsterial Marriages in the Archdiocese of Salzburg, 1100-1343 (1995) which truly gives a feel of the complexity that can be attained in studying the society of medieval men-at-arms!

Cheers!

-Gregory
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2015 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply Jean.

it does raise two questions with me though, but if I derail this thread to much feel free to point that out.

Where those landless courtiers a majority? Many modern day authors in various books point out that court life was quite expensive for a large part of nobility. Those courtier soldiers would be extremely expensive compared to men-at-arms recruited from landed gentry would they not? A noble/non-noble acting as a man-at-arms without land has to be provided with armor, a set of horses, a few grooms, an annuity to maintain himself, his family and possible money to maintain himself as a courtier if he was not acting as a guard and on top of this quarters and housing for his family would have to be found. Landed gentry might have one or two sons furnished with armor, horses and pages and a way of maintaining themselves in peace, they would only have to be recruited and paid during a campaign. I certainly see the benefit of maintaining a few men-at-arms near your court/person but as a military force they would surely be a minority right?

I don't think I fully agree with you on the switch of land based economy to cash based since they are not mutually exclusive. Feudal tax/duties and such were increasingly paid in money instead of grain I know that, but land is still equal to money. The British landed gentry managed to maintain themselves as non-working nobles until the 20th century solely by rents over land they owned and rented out to farmers. On top of that the guys who were maintained by an annuity or pension were paid with money obtained from *drumbeats* land based rents. Of course certain taxes were an exception to this but rents from landownership still played a significant part. Prussia likewise had Junkers until the second world war I believe.


I hope I did not contradict myself in this but I had some trouble putting it to words.
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2015 7:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter,

I will chime in on both points, if Jean does not mind. I'm afraid that in the first instance my answer may go off-tangent before the end, though I think my points are relevant in the scheme of things.

Quote:
Where those landless courtiers a majority?


There is very little evidence to suggest just how much of the civil gentry was landless (there are perhaps some isolated studies that can confirm such figures for very specific regions and periods of time). Fundamentally, and seeming a good place to start, would be to realize that most of Western Europe turned its back on the Frankish tradition of splitting property between all sons through legal marriage (e.g. Charlemagne's division of the empire between his sons), and began instead to rely on fixing allodial and fief properties within a sphere of influence by making sole heirs and heads of household from the eldest sons.

This, of course, left many sons and daughters with nothing more than well-wishes or dowries to fix their prospects. The trend became apparent by the eleventh century when chroniclers (mostly clergymen) complained of many the young would-be, could-be gentlemen riding about the countryside causing trouble, forming brigand bands, settling old scores against family foes, etc... Often for no more than trifling rewards. Such issues were one of the motivating forces behind the Truce of God rulings at the great church councils starting c. 1050, which forbade Christian men to fight on particular days of the week and holidays.

So it seems reasonable to assume that yes, surely there must have been many landless men riding about hoping to earn their living by seeking employment among powerful nobles as members of fighting retinues. This was certainly the case among many, and exactly what brought about the heyday of the melee tournament scene in France, England and Germany during the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. However, there were also many younger brothers who stayed on to work dutifully besides their old families, whether as protectors in times of need or in more mundane roles by up-keeping manorial projects and agricultural production.

Before I digress, it's important to remember that many gentlemen who did not inherit family lands were absolutely in a position to bargain for it by giving their services to great lords, and that a vast percentage of the land in Western Europe remained in the hands of nobility and was granted as fiefs all the way through the 15th century. It is likely that a majority of men would have preferred to have at least some land which they could fall back on, even if it only afforded them a paltry lifestyle. Granting fiefs was the most reputable and traditional way to secure the loyalty of a retainer throughout the era. Even men such as William Marshall, who spent nearly twenty years as a landless knight in service of various lords (including Young Henry II) did not come into his vast wealth of property until he was married at a late age.

So, the landless versus landed question becomes tricky among military men, as often the case was that a man could remain without property and in service as a retainer for many years before finally coming into his own and taking land. In other cases the transition may never have occurred, due to ill-chance or a total disinterest in owning land. There were hundreds of thousands, if not millions of noblemen born over the course of a few hundred years which we're discussing, so it's hard to check facts and figures!

Now for the digression. Among those noble men who did not receive land during their lifetimes, and could perhaps truly be called courtiers in one form or another, there is no reason to assume that they all functioned as military retainers...

Many young noble men without hopes of inheritance would wind up working as cogs in the growing mechanisms of administration in the English, French or Imperial governments, being sent off to the budding universities to learn how to understand financial computations, or argumentation and law, or to perform vast arrays of clerical work. Perhaps even more likely than secular work, younger brothers were given up to the church at a young age, in order to learn the necessities of holding spiritual office. It's been argued by notable historians that the number of nobles who found their way into the folds of the church - be it as a lifelong monk or an ambitious priest turned pope - was perhaps a greater number than those left behind to tough things out in the secular world! These men, sans those of the monastic orders (though not all of them are excluded) were almost certainly attached to some court of nobility, in roles as readers, scribes, lawyers, financiers, administrators, diplomats, etc... And they were nearly all of them of noble birth, yet renounced the sword from an early time.

So, there are lots of reasons why, at any given time or place, fluctuations may have occurred that would dramatically alter the percentages of landless noblemen who were finding their way as military retainers among the high courts, or else entirely occupied in some other position in life and not necessarily of any military expediency. Was there a war going on? Was the church at a point of true prosperity? Was there a schism? Was the Plantagenet Empire at its height, or Frederick II spinning the cogs of empire?

Quote:
I don't think I fully agree with you on the switch of land based economy to cash based since they are not mutually exclusive.


As far as that's concerned, there is no doubt that during the High Middle Ages Europe saw a true era of progress as a monied economy, and that by the 14th century cash-based payments for any sort of short-term endeavors were probably preferable to all but few men who participated in military affairs. Certainly, the two are not mutually exclusive, but Jean has the gist of it when he says that the transition is apparent. For details on the rise of the money economy in Europe, I recommend Duby's The Early Growth of the European Economy, which deals largely with the period immediately following the Carolingian Empire, but goes on towards the 12th century. To witness the early effect of the cash economy on knighthood in particular, Duby also deals with the question earnestly (and not without some speculative contemporary scorn) in William Marshall - The Flower of Chivalry.

Cheers!

-Gregory
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2015 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the extensive reply, it has given me a wider view of how complicated it could be. As for the second bit, maybe I misread what Jean said but I thought he said land was worth less than patronage or cold hard cash. I see medieval land ownership (or even later as the examples I provided) as money, I don't see money replacing land ownership if you get what I mean.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2015 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not saying that money totally replaced land in Europe at any point, it still hasn't today. France in particular remained a heavily agricultural based society. But like today, commercial and government enterprises were often a more direct and efficient route to wealth. This for example is why Burgundy was able to compete with France militarily, in spite of their smaller population and much smaller land area. It is why merchant 'bankers' like the Fuggers, the Welsers, the Medici and others, were so rich that they routinely loaned money to Kings, Popes and Emperors instead of the other way around.

So I'm not talking about a split from land / agricultural based to cash economy overnight, but simply to a shift in emphasis.

Land was also more specialized in the Late Medieval period than it had been before. A regular fief with some acreage for peas and wheat and grazing land for cattle or sheep was worth rather vastly less than say, a salt mine or an alum mine or a lead, gold, copper or silver mine, or a well organized vinyard with a good species of vine, or a a big textile mill complex, or a complex of water wheel powered stamping, fulling or paper mills, or a complex where saltpeter was made. Or a forest to which lucrative hunting, logging and 'forest product' rights could be leased. These were the basis of the wealth of the Fuggers and so on and also of many of the Princes. But courtiers and gentry of the lower to middling ranks that did most of the fighting (point of the spear so to speak) generally tried to somehow intercept the money being made in the secondary and tertiary economy since they didn't control it themselves. In the more chaotic parts of Central Europe this was quite often done illegally or semi-legally. So for example another specialized type of land of enhanced value was a castle or tower on the Rhine or some other major waterway, (since most commercial traffic used the rivers, lakes, coasts etc.) from which you could stretch a chain to block traffic until they paid you a 'toll'. Or you could just rob caravans or ships going by and kidnap the merchants, though this carried certain risks - raubritter or robber knights were routinely killed or captured and had their castles burned. it didn't stop them from mugging the likes of Henry IV of England on his way to the Crusades in the Baltic for exmample.


this guy was robbed and 'shamefully mishandled' by Robber knights in mecklenburg in the late 14th Century

In more strictly controlled areas of Europe, such as in strict monarchies like France, there was a bit less of this, and a bit more official taxation, fee collecting, tariff collection, and so on, in a more regulated fashion. Fees to use the mills, penalties and fines paid in court (both secular and religious) fees paid to purchase licenses, to buy your way out of military obligations, guild fees, marriage licenses and so on and so forth, all trickled up to the central administration. Sometimes on a small scale (for example nearly every Free City and equivalent also did this within their zones of control) and sometimes on a very large scale. In a heavily populated kingdom like France this represented a huge amount of money.

The kit for a handful of armored lancers costs much less than the taxes on a single middling burgher in Augsburg. It can start to get more expensive if you start putting gold leaf on the armor or get really fancy horses (horses could have the same kind of range in value as cars, so you could range from a Honda Civic to a Tesla to a Lamborgini). But generally speaking the cost of the military kit is a pittance compared to the income of a medium to high ranked French courtier.

Many courtiers who were working full time as diplomats, soldiers, or administrators could not tend to an estate. So they were given titles and benefices which represented connections to these income streams. A common thing was to give someone title to land that was held by the enemy, for example, Duke of Outramer or Bishop of Cyprus, but which nevertheless still had certain income streams dedicated to them.


Regarding ministeriales, I have a couple of comments. First, we have to keep in mind that the phenomenon changed in "Germany" during the medieval period. Initially they were almost all truly serfs, landless and existing more or less at the sufferance of their lord (which was one of their main advantages). Within a few generations though ministerial knights had indeed acquired property and sometimes married their offspring into families with older noble lineages. By the 15th Century the serf 'stain' had largely worn off and many of these people were effectively what we would think of as knights in most respects. They were distinguished in Germany from the Free Knights - who during the transition of Germanic (and Slavic etc.) tribes into Feudal society had retained their independence, in that ministerials by contrast still owed fealty to their Lord. This is what we tend to think of as Feudalism anyway in our modern simplified view of it, all knights have a liege by definition. But many were in fact independent and didn't owe any feudal obligations, if anything that was what was unique about "German" knights - some of them were independent, just like some of the German towns. Which brings me to my second point

I don't think the ministerialis were actually unique to "Germany" by any means, they had the equivalent status in Italy and I believe, in England, among other places. Certainly all over the Slavic and Scandinavian parts of Central and Northern Europe as well. I think in German-speaking areas it was just more systematically organized due to the nature of German law. There were limits to what the first born son was going to be good at, and independent knights (with or without theoretical Feudal obligations) were less predictable and controllable than a talented young land from a humble background, elevated in status, armed and equipped by a Lord. And it was these people who made up a great deal of the heavy cavalry arm of the medieval armies. Sometimes people call them sergeants or 'men at arms' (a term used to described many, many different things) but I think they were pretty common all over Europe.

My third point on ministerials is that German law, especially town law was so ubiquitous it spread far beyond Germany, so when you are talking about medieval Europe I actually think France is a bit more of an outier in many respects, and German law more typical - I believe it governed more people if you add it up and definitely was used in a wider range of territory.

Jean

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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2015 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Jean,

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
I'm not saying that money totally replaced land in Europe at any point, it still hasn't today. France in particular remained a heavily agricultural based society. But like today, commercial and government enterprises were often a more direct and efficient route to wealth. This for example is why Burgundy was able to compete with France militarily, in spite of their smaller population and much smaller land area. It is why merchant 'bankers' like the Fuggers, the Welsers, the Medici and others, were so rich that they routinely loaned money to Kings, Popes and Emperors instead of the other way around.

So I'm not talking about a split from land / agricultural based to cash economy overnight, but simply to a shift in emphasis.


Oh I was thinking we were still talking about nobility which cannot (directly) own or run commercial enterprises without losing their noble status. I was not looking at it from a state level but more where the great magnates/lords drew their soldiers from, initially I thought landed nobility and their sons supplied men-at-arms.

An interesting thing about those merchant bankers is that they often operated without any kind of security interest and monarchs could often just write loans off without any kind of repercussion. During the wars of religion especially the 30 years war the Dutch republic started issuing government bonds as a form of financing war allowing it to punch far above its weight without relying on those bankers(which were initially less than enthusiastic about dealing with a fledgling republic) , but we're getting sidetracked here.

Quote:
Land was also more specialized in the Late Medieval period than it had been before. A regular fief with some acreage for peas and wheat and grazing land for cattle or sheep was worth rather vastly less than say, a salt mine or an alum mine or a lead, gold, copper or silver mine, or a well organized vinyard with a good species of vine, or a a big textile mill complex, or a complex of water wheel powered stamping, fulling or paper mills, or a complex where saltpeter was made. Or a forest to which lucrative hunting, logging and 'forest product' rights could be leased. These were the basis of the wealth of the Fuggers and so on and also of many of the Princes. But courtiers and gentry of the lower to middling ranks that did most of the fighting (point of the spear so to speak) generally tried to somehow intercept the money being made in the secondary and tertiary economy since they didn't control it themselves. In the more chaotic parts of Central Europe this was quite often done illegally or semi-legally. So for example another specialized type of land of enhanced value was a castle or tower on the Rhine or some other major waterway, (since most commercial traffic used the rivers, lakes, coasts etc.) from which you could stretch a chain to block traffic until they paid you a 'toll'. Or you could just rob caravans or ships going by and kidnap the merchants, though this carried certain risks - raubritter or robber knights were routinely killed or captured and had their castles burned. it didn't stop them from mugging the likes of Henry IV of England on his way to the Crusades in the Baltic for exmample.


Yeah I've been to a few of those castles which could effective block a river, safely seated on a spur rock they could charge tolls with impunity. I do believe western Europe had mining rights fall under feudal law.
In fact there was a recent issue with it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_manor#Fracking

Quote:
There were fears in 2014 and earlier,[27] that holders of the manorial rights would allow fracking under the homes and near local communities of people living within the manorial estate after a disclosure that 73,000 applications to assert manorial mineral rights had been received by the land registry. Many of the applications received were from The Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall asserting their historic "manorial mineral ownership".[28]




Quote:
The kit for a handful of armored lancers costs much less than the taxes on a single middling burgher in Augsburg. It can start to get more expensive if you start putting gold leaf on the armor or get really fancy horses (horses could have the same kind of range in value as cars, so you could range from a Honda Civic to a Tesla to a Lamborgini). But generally speaking the cost of the military kit is a pittance compared to the income of a medium to high ranked French courtier.

Many courtiers who were working full time as diplomats, soldiers, or administrators could not tend to an estate. So they were given titles and benefices which represented connections to these income streams. A common thing was to give someone title to land that was held by the enemy, for example, Duke of Outramer or Bishop of Cyprus, but which nevertheless still had certain income streams dedicated to them.


Ah yes I heard about those stations with noble titles attached to them but surely this was only done for those in administrative, judicial and high military officials? When Philippe de Commines changed sides from Burgundy to France he was given land on top of pensions.

On 28 October 1472 a pension of six thousand livres tournois was given to ‘Sir Philip de Commynes, knight, lord of Renescure, King’s counsellor and chamberlain’. In the same month Commynes received the principality of Talmont and the baronies, castles, castellanies, lands and lordships of Olonne, Curzon, Château-Gaultier, la Chaume and Berrye in Poitou. At about the same time the King gave him 30,000 gold crowns to help him purchase the lordship of Argenton (Deux-Sèvres) from his future father-in-law. On 27 January 1473 he married Hél;ène de Chambres and became lord of Argenton It is by the title ‘sire (or seigneur) d’Argenton that he is usually referred to in French documents. In the meantime he accumulated a series of titles and offices, including the captaincy of Chinon. In 1476 he became senschal of Poitou and captain of the castle of Poitiers in succession to Charles d’Amboise, lord of Chaumont.


Lets look at those Companies D'ordnance which had roughly 2000 men-at-arms, how many do you reckon were courtiers of either the king of France or Burgundy? Surely they can't all have been cogs in this administrative machine of France or Burgundy?

I fear we might be discussing different things or have different definitions. As I stated earlier I am aware Kings such as those of France had a household guard which followed the (traveling)court of the king which were held under arms most of the time and might have had some civic functions. Next to this some courtiers with civic function or those without any function at all might serve as commander or men-at-arms, but surely these men cannot have been the main recruitment pool for an army? Taking them on campaign would weaken the administrative capability of the remaining court and the loss of a battle could result in the entire administration being wiped away.

https://books.google.nl/books?id=HbfJX2Y1bBkC&pg=PA68&lpg=PA68&dq=david+potter+renaissance+france+at+war+the+royal+guards&source=bl&ots=n-nO_Hj07j&sig=W-BcdNFjbawKFQHxUZiiw-7_wvM&hl=nl&sa=X&ei=eBEoVZ3kHY7raJyWgJgH&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=david%20potter%20renaissance%20france%20at%20war%20the%20royal%20guards&f=false

Quote:
One of the most honorable ways for a nobleman to serve the King was in the
elite royal bodyguard. Under Charles VII, the household guard was still relatively
small but in subsequent reigns increased to a core of 200 gentilshommes,
100 Swiss, 200 French mounted archers, and the 100 Scots guards and 24 Scots
archers of the bodyguard


Correct me if I am wrong but I believe the companies D'ordnance who formed the bulk of the heavy cavalry were stationed all across France in times of peace and not close to any royal court. David Potter mentions gentlemen of the court who volunteered to gain prestige and stations but the number seems to hover around 100. I was under the impression men such as Bayard or Monluc both sons of nobles with a manor to their name formed the bulk of men-at-arms in those companies.

Again, perhaps we are talking alongside each other or otherwise mistaking what we say.


Pieter
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Apr, 2015 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
An interesting thing about those merchant bankers is that they often operated without any kind of security interest and monarchs could often just write loans off without any kind of repercussion.


Not being fools, in many cases the bankers who 'lent' the money while fully aware that it wouldn't be paid back. They basically saw it as buying influence or financing their preferred candidate into higher office, just like oligarchs do today. For example the rise of the Hapsburgs in the Holy Roman Empire was largely due to the steady support of the Fugger family, especially Jacob Fugger, who trust me was neither a fool nor a pushover.




Anyway I think we did get sidetracked but only because we are talking about different individual elements of a large and complex picture. When you are talking about rank and file heavy cavalry horsemen (nominally knights) in an army as large as the army of the king of France, and where they actually came from and how they supported themselves, It's a complex story with many facets and angles.

Some of the higher ranking knights, bannerets in this army, were indeed courtiers (diplomats, administrators and so on) in the direct employ of the King of France. Part of his personal entourage. A lot of those guys did have other jobs -even when there was a more or less permanent army it wasn't fighting all the time - and these were the men that the king trusted and relied on to enforce his will. Others of this same stratum were the immediate entourage of regional princes, barons and dukes and so on. The Duke of Normandy or of Langedoc or Champagne, what have you.

Personal bodyguards (or 'muscle') and entourage of individual princes and kings were always an important part of any medieval army going back to pre-Christian times, even those made up primarily of feudal or popular levies or militias. Early examples of this include the Rus Druzhina and the Saxon Hird

The next stratum below that, knights bachelor and the various squires, constaffler, sergeants and so forth, were a combination of some men who worked on a cash basis, and some who owned land, and some who lived in cities (and to further complicate matters many burghers also owned land in the rural area around the city and were gentry in the country) and some who were really just rich peasants or roaming soldiers of fortune.

But soldiers who were in a standing army were by definition not able to spend a lot of time managing their demesne, especially if it was far away from the administrative center(s) of the King (or prince) they worked for, so many of these people made their living in other ways, quite often by the means of income streams of the type I described in my last post, or simply directly on the payroll as a 'cup bearer' or 'master of the stable' or something.

As for this rule that nobles couldn't directly own commercial enterprises, I wonder who you think enforced that? I'm routinely amazed by how rigid and consistent people thought the rules (secular or religious) were in the medieval period, the reality is that it was far more chaotic than that.

But you seem to have missed my point, which I'll re-iterate at the risk of boring readers: it did not really require direct management of enterprises like a mine or a dye works to provide income for a prince or a lower ranking noble, or a knight (who might not be a noble at all, and in many cases were not). Sometimes they did directly own such enterprises (in spite of some ostensible stain on their honour) but in other cases they were often drawing income from the taxes, tithes, tolls, fees and tariffs that drew off money from these income streams, or when necessary (or in duress) tried to enforce illegal tolls or simply rob caravans and ships.

The latter strategy was though as I said, quite dangerous. Many towns destroyed castles of raubritter almost every single year. Hanseatic towns of the Wendish circle destroyed over 200 in a 10 year span and in some cases hung the owners. It was high-stakes poker.

Anyway the income streams from government (via tax, fees, fines etc.) in one form or another, and to be clear, I'm definitely talking about medieval, pre-State governments here, was the main way that a 'permanent' standing army like the army of France would be paying soldiers who didn't have their own income streams.

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic


Last edited by Jean Henri Chandler on Fri 10 Apr, 2015 12:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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