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Robert Morgan




Location: Sunny SoCal
Joined: 10 Sep 2012

Posts: 89

PostPosted: Sat 03 Oct, 2020 6:47 pm    Post subject: Composition of a medieval camp         Reply with quote

Good evening all,

I'm looking for some decent sources for what the composition and set up of a medieval military camp would look like, say in the 12th or 13th centuries. There would be smiths and armourers for weapons repair, of course, but what about the baggage train? How would soldiers and nobles sleep (on the hard ground or on portable mats, for example)? What would the chuckwagon, for lack of a better term, look? How would they be arrayed or organized while on the march or stationary for the night? What other occupations would be represented amongst the camp followers? Things like that. Many thanks to all. As I've gotten into medieval weapons over the past few years, I've also begun wondering about the nitty gritty details.


Bob
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 03 Oct, 2020 6:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A good primary source is The Unconquered Knight by Gutierre Diaz de Gamez.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 155

PostPosted: Sun 04 Oct, 2020 12:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a good account of an army marching and making camp by Guillaume Guiart in the 1304 campaign in Flanders. He fought in the campaign, so his impressions are likely to be quite representative. You can find it in DeVries and Livingstone Medieval Warfare - A Reader pp.117-121

He describes the erecting of tents and their furnishing for richer folks but the infantry make do with shelters made of branches. He also describes the train of civilians who follow the army and set up on the edge of camp. These build ovens and bake tarts and pastries, set up spits and roast food, sell cheese and bread and sell wine from barrels .

Anthony Clipsom
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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 34

PostPosted: Tue 06 Oct, 2020 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There we go, wine barrels! I was wondering about beer as my interest in homebrewing and history sometimes cross over, but I was sure they had to have booze of some kind...

Thanks to those who gave sources, will have to dig into some of that.
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Robert Morgan




Location: Sunny SoCal
Joined: 10 Sep 2012

Posts: 89

PostPosted: Tue 06 Oct, 2020 10:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all. Great information as always. From earlier threads about medieval food, the wine was likely white and not red, but who knows? These are interesting topics about what an average knight or man at arms would have experienced.

Robert
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 155

PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2020 12:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff Cierniak wrote:
There we go, wine barrels! I was wondering about beer as my interest in homebrewing and history sometimes cross over, but I was sure they had to have booze of some kind...

Thanks to those who gave sources, will have to dig into some of that.


Fear not, beer is mentioned in the description - I just missed it out Happy

Anthony Clipsom
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Jonathan Dean




Location: Australia
Joined: 16 Feb 2019

Posts: 44

PostPosted: Sat 10 Oct, 2020 2:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One interesting part of Guiart's description is the following sentence: "Before that would be a vast multitude/(If Guillaume Guiart doesn’t lie)/You could see stretching out,/So many tents spread across the fields,/That more than a great league extends/The perimeter and the enclosure."

David Nicolle suggests that camps were usually defended by ditches and earthworks, while Clifford Rogers evidently doesn't believe that any form of fortification was usual. Roger of Wendover, on the other hand claims the French were arrayed "in the area delimited by the wagons and the baggage" which, although not true, suggests he saw it as normal practice for wagons and baggage to form at least part of a camp's perimeter. The Teutonic knights also deliberately arranged their tents in a ring in order to protect their horses and equipment, which seems related to the Hungarian practice of a wagenburg with close set tents as a second barrier (or possibly dates earlier, if the camp at Dorylaeum was intended to be a makeshift defence).

So, although some sort of perimeter around the camp might not have been universal, it looks like wagons, parts of the baggage and/or the tents often formed the boundary of the camp, if only to stop people from pilfering the horses.

Guiart's description also mentions a lot of dicing and frequent, bloody fights when the inevitable cheaters are caught out/someone accuses someone else of cheating, which is evidently a pet hate of his (he thinks they should be punching dough instead!).
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 155

PostPosted: Sat 10 Oct, 2020 3:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suspect from general impressions while reading that major fortification of marching camps wasn't done. However, structured camps seems to have been the norm, with the commander's tent somewhere near the middle. 15th century English army ordnances are clear on assigning of lodgings and avoiding arguments about who lodged where. Whether or not camps always had a formal perimeter I'm unsure. They certainly watched the approaches to camp, with procedures for appointing watches, setting watch words and the like. Again, 15th century English ordnances had instructions for how to stand to in case of an attack on the camp. Essentially, troops in the sector under attack held their ground, while others mustered at the commanders lodging, leaving only enough men behind to secure their lodging. Interestingly, Charny , in his questions about knightly behaviour, has a question on what the watch should do if the camp is attacked from a different direction to that it is guarding.
Anthony Clipsom
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Jonathan Dean




Location: Australia
Joined: 16 Feb 2019

Posts: 44

PostPosted: Sun 11 Oct, 2020 10:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There was definitely a formalisation of procedure for secular armies in the 15th century (the Templars had similar written rules in the 12th and the Teutonic Knights in the 13th), I just find it interesting that the two opposing views are "based on Roman practice" and "didn't happen until the 15th century", whereas the evidence seems to suggest that it was done, perhaps not 100% of the time, in a similar manner to 15th century ordinances, just without a surviving written record.
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