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factions... did they ever exist?

Discussion of topics concerning life in the middle ages around the world, including architecture, history, and warfare.

Postby Ebu Deyyus » Wed Dec 05, 2007 9:05 pm

Ottoman army had a uniformity. not bodywears but headwears were standardized(is it how it is written) janissaries would wear their unique white caps and azaps had to wear red turbans. you may think was this needed as muslims looked nothing like europeans(though balkan, eastern european countries imitated turkish helmets; chichaks), ottomans were also fighting other muslim states such as persians, mamluks and other turkish emirates, so sultan had to recognize his own troops looking hundreds of kilometers away upon his army.
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Postby DerBum » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:52 pm

The Spartan army all had the Greek letter Lambda on their shields... this stood for Laconian (which is what the Spartans often referred to themselves as). In addition the Spartans all wore red cloaks in battle. Roman armies also generally had uniform insignia for the shields and standards. In medieval times men-at-arms might not have their own heraldry, but might bear a variation of their lord's. During battle commanders kept track of who was where and which side they were on using standards in the same way the Romans did. You might not be able to see indentify individual groups of men, but normally you could see a standard moving through the crowded battle field.
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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:23 pm

OK. Here is a quick break down of some concepts from medieval history I will share.

Feudal structure. Many historians today doubt it existed, or at least in the form that people think of it in. In a form where it was man A gives man B land in return for his military service etc. this happens but this is over simplified as some get money, office etc for their service and you are usually only required to make war inside your own country. In England there are volumes of books that have these- The Patent and Close Rolls have a great deal of them. In a 'feudal' system each man provides his own arms and that of the men he is required to bring. There may be some similar arms and armour, clothing etc due to this but there is nothing to say it has to be.

'Bastard Feudalism' is very similar as far as arms and armour goes. Lesser knights and gentry, even commoners join a greater lord for lands, money, power, etc. for their service to him. In this situation they'd wear their lords livery/coat of arms though.

Country and Town levies. Each man over 16 was required by multiple statutes to own arms and armour according to their own wealth. These regulations change. In Henry VI's reign the lowest level needs own 1 bow, 24 arrows, a jack (padded/textile armour) and a sallet.

Cities and towns would often be led by officials that were under the king so in a way the king had more direct control of these troops. Often towns had the kings flag as well to march under as well at times as their own to go along with it. Southampton in the 3rd quarter of the 15th had two flags with the kings arms on them.

Some towns would actually give all their soldiers a shirt and hat in the same 'uniform' colours. London does this from at least the 14th onwards, so in a sense they have uniforms quite early. The earl of Arundel does the same in 1346 with his men as does the black prince.

Whena lord equips his force he often would keep arms and armour for them. If bought in mass from one place likely they could be similar so some measure of possible uniformity.

So going back to the main question. Yes their were factions. More often than not they were not uniformed or uniformly armed or armoured but as I listed above it happens in a number of situations.

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Postby Etzel » Wed Jan 30, 2008 8:53 pm

A simple and cheap way to show which side the soldiers belonged to was to wear a piece of textile tied around the arm or something like that.

At the battle at Brunkeberg (Stockholm) 1471 the Swedish army was commanded by their leader Sten Sture to wear a twig with green leafs to tell them apart from the danish army. The same tactic was used in a battle in the 17th century but with a small sheaf insteed.

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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:48 am

Etzel,

that is a good point. It is very common practice in the 15th century europe usually seems fabric crosses of some saint. In England it starts in 1385 with richard II and the red cross of St. George. Not sure when the scots start with the cross of St. Andrew but by the 15th it is fairly common.

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Postby Pallando the Blue » Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:40 am

Heir of Black Falcon wrote:'Bastard Feudalism' is very similar as far as arms and armour goes. Lesser knights and gentry, even commoners join a greater lord for lands, money, power, etc. for their service to him. In this situation they'd wear their lords livery/coat of arms though.


Cool, that's what I'm trying to organize now.

Oh, and with the Janissaries, weren't they captured Christians anyway? So the white hat would be helpful to distinguish them from their European enemies.
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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:21 am

Janissaries are usually captured christians for the most part. Basically the Ottomans allowed christians to live in the lands they conquered under some immensly harsh terms. One was financial the other was the ottomans were allowed to go and select young males for military service. This was where the janissaries came from. Basically a group raised to war. Originally they were not allowed to marry so they basically were raised to do one thing serve the ottoman king. So they were an very disciplined and organisaed for who typically was very loyal to their leader. This later changes. It was basically a slave army but they were given benefits to retain loyalty. As they had originally no offspring it makes things quite apart from feudalism.

Initially they were trained at everything, including archery. Later in the 15th towards the end but more particularly in the 16th they began using firearms as the main- and sometimes only ottoman firearm units on the field of battle. Into the 17th janissaries are seen with bows which is not odd when one considers that archers amde up likely the percent of their armies missile arms into the 16th and 17th.

Janissaries may have been of european stock but their garb, weapons and armour would have been that of the ottomans.

Randall
Last edited by Heir of Black Falcon on Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Danielas » Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:29 pm

where did you get that information about jannicerys (sorry about the spelling)
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Postby wobnam » Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:17 pm

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Postby Tedward » Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:21 pm

Danielas wrote:where did you get that information about jannicerys (sorry about the spelling)


You could always start with the Wikipedia Article on Janissaries.

BTW, in regards the spelling, you can always Copy (Ctrl-C) and Paste (Ctrl-V) from the previous posting. :)
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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:09 pm

I am lucky enough to study medieval history for a living so all sorts of semi helpful info in my brain, at least I like to think so.

There are loads of primary source about on the wars between the west and ottomans problem is finding them translated. If I were to recommend a starting point that is general you could look into Oman's The Art of Warfare in the Middle Ages and a newer one Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World AD 500 to AD 1500. This is followed by another book 1500 on and preceeded by one pre 500 for those interested and are very well done.

More specific Ottoman History/Warfare books

Medieval,
http://www.palgrave.com/products/title. ... 0333613864

For post medieval info this was useful,
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5_RC ... en#PPP1,M1


I do not study Eastern History much anymore but hope that gives you something to look at.

R

Sorry keep finding spelling errors I have to edit...
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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:20 pm

If you want an earlier start here is a good book based more on near eastern cultures during the crusades.

The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives: Islamic Perspectives
by Carole Hillenbrand

R
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Postby Teherean » Wed Jul 30, 2008 10:02 am

About the ''recognizing friend and foe in battle'' thing, I don't really think it mattered. A medieval battle was far more bloodier than the battles nowadays. I think most soldiers would go blind for friend and foe and instinctiveley would wave around with their weapon in self defence. Af course, then you think everyone would be dead afterwards, but I guess battles took the time they needed for killing the other party or completeley empetying the battlefield.
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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Wed Jul 30, 2008 11:48 am

Actually it seems medieval armies knew very well who was on their side, even if fighting with people of similar local, faction etc.. The area in which you live is one place that in a small geographic area there is a great deal of fighting between towns, cities and local lords that easily looked alike but there are few accounts, I know of none, where they accidently kill friends. The lack of friendly fire occurs because you often could see the person you were killing. You stayed in a formation. The idea of mass one on one conflict may relate to early medieval but by the high and late period is not true. Medieval armies were in groups. Only if you left your group would you face a high likelihood of being killed by a friend and that might have been intentional for fleeing or breaking.

About them being bloodier.... I do not know if that’s true really. There are loads of battles with very few casualties. I guess with the introduction of bombs, mortars, mines, etc war got far bloodier. Not to say medieval war was not bloody but I do not think it that straightforward.

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Postby deathdog1 » Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:52 am

I think I weighed in on this already, but I'm all for the soldiers wearing the "basic kit" provided by their particular baron. In Glomshire (my fiction world for my movie) Crownies serve Lord Jerek (you could call him the king) and Forestmen are the lord's rangers. I have a scattering of of folks from other factions/etc. who serve different barons. This means that it's ok for a pirate to be in the service of a baron -- a necessity to flesh out the army. Of course, the skellies, zombies, and goblins are commanded by Mordock, the evil sorcerer king.
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