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 Post subject: Conquering a Kingdom!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:23 pm 
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Location: Helsinki, Finland
Hello,

I've been trying to stick to the old trosforums but boy, does this place already have a lot of highly useful information!

I'm planning a campaign centering at Farrenshire, just before the Gelurean offensive. How do you conquer a kingdom?

How big are feudal armies? In the Demographics on Weyrth thread I posted a link to a medieval demographics page, which lists the amount of noble households being 1/200 of the total population. This probably assumes a feudal society, one which Farrenshire supposedly is. If the total population of Farrenshire is around 1.35 million, there are 7000 noble households. From some sources I've read that each of these should provide one mounted knight, or the money to hire one, so there would be 7000 knights. Each knight would during wartime have a couple of foot soldiers, totaling maybe 20000 more men. This would be perhaps the largest army Farrenshire could present.

But how does conquering actually work? The demographics figures assume total settlement of arable land (this figure is around 50-60% of land area of Farrenshire). If there are not enough peasants, the whole population will shrink. If there are no lords to manage the peasants, cities will suffer. So it's a bit difficult to kill off the Farrenshire army, since a big bunch of it is the lords that manage the peasants. Gelure would have to put its own men to man the countryside manors, or appoint new lords from the population. I don't see 7000 knights of the Gelurean army staying behind to collect taxes from the working peasants!

I think some of the Farrenmen, seeing that hope is lost, swearing fealty to the Gelurean conquerors. Any lords not willing to convert would be replaced with eager (=landless) men/knights from Gelure, who would then appoint men to handle their estates while they proceed with the conquering of the next kingdom. In any case, some of the fighting force will have to stay in the conquered lands to keep any rebels at bay. The problem I see is, that there are not many "unemployed" people to leave back.

To a serf or peasant, it's not that big of a deal. Your previous lord is may be replaced by someone else, and the policies might change a bit (perhaps more taxes to account for the warring). Maybe the act of conquering mostly hurts the people in power.

Does conquering a feudal kingdom work at all like this?


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 Post subject: Re: Conquering a Kingdom!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:33 pm 
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Location: Vienna, Austria, Europe
Your idea of how a feudal realm is conquered is a workable one. It was historically done in about the way you describe. Peasants did indeed often really not care much who ruled them, and lords were either replaced (if the conqueror was strong enough to do so) or subverted and brought over.

If we were to stay with our parallel to Europe during the middle ages, we might assume that Farrenshire equals a Western European country sometime during the second half of the 14th century. This would mean that its army is in a transitional stage between feudal and professional – maybe some kind of standing army of the king’s augmented by feudal contingents. Also, many noble lords might be paying a special kind of tax instead of serving themselves, which would be used by the king to hire professional fighting men. Thus, actual knights would make up a smaller portion of the overall army than assumed by you. For instance, the French army defeated at Poitiers in 1356 was supposedly made up of 20.000 footsoldiers and crossbowmen, but no more than 1.000 knights. The French army at Agincourt in 1415, where an unusually large number of knights was present, is estimated to have been 20.000 to 30.000 men strong, about a third of which were knights.

Assuming a population of 1.35 million, the actual numbers you assume for the Farrenshire army (27.000) seem ok for a desperate war of defense to which the country lends its every effort. But the overall number of 7.000 knights seems too high. One can assume that 1% to 2% of the population are of the noble (knightly) class; let’s assume a whopping 2% and therefore 27.000 out of the 1.35 million. Of these 27.000, no more than one fifth would be able-bodied, adult men; let’s say 5.400. Of these 5.400, a good number would have entered the Church, leaving us with slightly over 4.000 fighting men – or over 2.000 if we assume 1% instead of 2% nobles.

But with all his research into France during the second half of the 14th century, Ian can probably give you more and more accurate details.

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 Post subject: Re: Conquering a Kingdom!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:58 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Grettir wrote:
But with all his research into France during the second half of the 14th century, Ian can probably give you more and more accurate details.


I recommend:

The Organization of War Under Edward III
H. J. Hewitt
Pen and Sword Militrary

It covers the period 1338 - 1362, and details everything you might be looking for in terms of the conduct of way under Edward. Transportation, logistics and supplies, how conquered territory was handled, how his armies were structured, and the whole "mindset" issue (what was he trying to do and why was he trying to do it).

Regards,

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Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


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 Post subject: Re: Conquering a Kingdom!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:44 am 
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Location: Helsinki, Finland
Hey, thanks for the info.

Re: amount of knights, yes, my figures seemed a bit high. I was thinking that a noble "household" provides either the knight or money to hire one. What the money is used for, well maybe there just ain't enough knightly men, so the king (or the next lord up) can hire what, 4 soldiers for the price of one knight?

If there are a total of 7000 noble houses, and 2000 of them provide a knight, the rest could hire up to 20000 more men. A part of this hired force could be the standing army, even during peaceful times. I'm not too interested in gritty details, just that I'm roughly on the right ballpark.

Grettir, in the Demographics thread wrote:
Considering the good climate and supposedly high development of the agriculture of farrenshire and the coastal location of its cities, I would guess that one could easily increase the population numbers derived from the calculator by 50%, if one was so inclined.

I was suspecting this. Let's say the larger coastal cities (especially Mouren) are dependent of food imported from mostly abroad but also from smaller coastal towns. What if Gelure cuts off all food transport in Farrenbay?

The large cities will quickly starve. This should be bad for the economy and popularity of the rulers. There's also surplus of food in the countryside. Might be an incentive for the Ouestenreich to launch attack. What a nice leverage for the Gelureans.

Any other suggestions? Did the Europeans already have ambassadors in the mid 14th century or how did the rulers communicate?

Ian, I checked the local library for the book you quoted, and it's not in their collections. Why would they have it anyway :)


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 Post subject: Re: Conquering a Kingdom!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:33 pm 
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Overdrive wrote:
Re: amount of knights, yes, my figures seemed a bit high. I was thinking that a noble "household" provides either the knight or money to hire one. What the money is used for, well maybe there just ain't enough knightly men, so the king (or the next lord up) can hire what, 4 soldiers for the price of one knight?


Knight-to-commoner ratios vary greatly in medieval battles, from anywhere between 1:30 to 1:3. The number of soldiers hired for the price of 1 knight might be as low as 1 if the soldier is well armed and mounted, or as high as 10 to 15 if we are talking of lightly armed and armoured skrimishers.

But reviewing historical parallels, an army size of about 1% of the overall population is the most an average preindustrial society can maintain indefinetly; prosperous ones maybe half again as much and poor ones only half as much. Most countires limited themselves to much less, often less than 0.5% of the entire population. With 1.35 million inhabitants, Farrenshire might have a “standing” army of roughly 10.000 men, counting both mercenaries and feudal contingents. For a war abroad, which is more expensive due to supplying troops far away, Farrenshire might be able to send out half this amount, but in an emergency, as with a domestic war of defense, twice to three times this number might be raised. But maintaining an army this size would put crippling economic strains on the country after one or two years.

A maximum of about 2.000 actual fighting knights seems alright for me. The rest would be too young, or too decrepit, or too female to fight, or they would be monks or priests, or paying special taxes to avoid actual service.

Overdrive wrote:
Did the Europeans already have ambassadors in the mid 14th century or how did the rulers communicate?


In around 1350, there were not yet really permanent ambassadors in the way we have today. Countires who entertain especially close contacts might have something along these lines, but this would still be the rare exception. News from other countries are usually gotten from travellers, most often from merchants who frequent the courts (and often double up as spies). If a monarch wants to communicate with another one, he sends an embassy, headed usually by a bishop or a ranking noble.

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