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Thread: Military ranks in medieval times

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    Member Member Oberiko's Avatar
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    Howdy all.

    I know that the military was a relatively loose structure in medieval times, but I think the basic heirarchy for the army went

    Levies/Soldiers -> Sergeants -> Knights -> Nobles

    Could anyone fill me in on where I could be wrong? And was it the same ranking scheme for the navy?

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    Member Member Plantagenet's Avatar
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    In the Empire, it looked something like this:

    Emperor/King of Germany
    -Tribal (Regional) Duke
    # # -Local Counts

    So the King would lead the "national" army. Under him, the Dukes led the individual tribal "Battles" (divisions), which contained the contingents under the Counts from his Duchy.

    So for example, at the Battle of the Unstrut (1075), Henry IV led the entire royal army and also personally commanded the division of Franconians (the King held that Duchy at the time); the Dukes of Swabia, Lotharingia, & Bavaria each commanded a "tribal" division from their Duchy, in which served the Counts from each Duchy.

    As far as actual "ranks" go, I'm not sure there were formal ranks, at least in the Early Middle Ages, except for Constable, Marshal, etc. Even "Sergeant" wasn't exactly a "rank" as it is now.



    My ancestors came with William the Bastard and won their lands by the sword, and with the sword I will hold them against all comers.
    -Earl John de Warenne of Surrey

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    Tovenaar Senior Member The Wizard's Avatar
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    And what formations and organisations were used?
    "It ain't where you're from / it's where you're at."

    Eric B. & Rakim, I Know You Got Soul

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    Member Member Plantagenet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (Wizzy @ Jan. 22 2004,16:10)]And what formations and organisations were used?
    Western armies were divided into "Battles" (divisions). Each was theoretically a self-contained formation including cavalry, infantry, & archers, although there were many instances of cavalry/infantry-only divs. They were based on the region from which they were raised; so the regional Duke would lead the "tribal" div., with the local Counts from his Duchy/tribe leading the smaller contingents within it. There were traditionally at least 3 Battles:

    -On the march or fighting in column, they were Vaward, Main, & Rearward. Single-file, Vaward led, Main came next, Rear last.

    -Fighting in line abreast, they were Right Wing, Center, and Left Wing, or sometimes (like English in Hundred Years War) 2 wings & 1 reserve behind.

    -Since the Vanguard attacked first in column, and the Right Wing usually did in line, they were considered positions of honor. For example, in Germany, the Duke of Swabia claimed it was his ancient right to lead the van; in Outremer, the Templars were usually accorded the right wing.

    -4th div., if present, was commonly the tactical reserve under the overall commander (King, Prince, Constable, Marshal, etc.). Additional divs. were possible.

    -I don't know what the smaller contingents within each Battle were called, but they were basically equivalent to Regiments. Cavalry was broken down further into Squadrons, which the Normans called Conrois, whatever that means.



    My ancestors came with William the Bastard and won their lands by the sword, and with the sword I will hold them against all comers.
    -Earl John de Warenne of Surrey

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    Tovenaar Senior Member The Wizard's Avatar
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    Ah.

    That was very educational, thanks a lot
    "It ain't where you're from / it's where you're at."

    Eric B. & Rakim, I Know You Got Soul

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    Member Member Plantagenet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] (Wizzy @ Jan. 23 2004,13:04)]Ah.

    That was very educational, thanks a lot
    Don't thank me...thats the sort of useless babble that comes from wasting my entire college career on history classes, rather than learning something practical that would get me a high-paying job.
    My ancestors came with William the Bastard and won their lands by the sword, and with the sword I will hold them against all comers.
    -Earl John de Warenne of Surrey

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