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Were there Marshals/Generals of the armies, and what powers

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Were there Marshals/Generals of the armies, and what powers

Postby jmadsen » Fri Mar 21, 2008 3:16 am

This will be a rather complicated issue, I think, so I will try to give some background on why I'm asking to help you understand the question I am trying to ask.

========================================

I am a coder for a Medieval MMORPG that is a text-based, largely dependent on interaction game. In other words, the relationships are what is important in the game, not on-screen fighting, etc.

The land and time are fictitious, but based roughly on England, 12th-13th century. Because it is a game, we make certain allowances to allow the participants to have fun, so there are known historical inaccuracies. However, we do our best to be "correct", or at least realistic, where we can.

Because of the nature of the game, a player is either a King/Duke/Lord (of a region)/Common Noble sworn to a Lord. All of these levels may recruit a unit of soldiers and join an army to do battle.

So finally, here's the question:

There is currently a conflict between Marshals - anyone chosen to lead a collection of knights into war - and the Lords and Dukes, over who has the "authority" over the knights during war time. Part of my problem in solving this is, I can't really seem to find any precedence for a Marshal position in history - it seems to be a game mechanics position only.


There is no right answer to this, of course, but can anyone give examples of this type of organization, or how armies in say, The Hundred Years War, were organized from the top. When the King and his advisers settled on a plan, how did the orders get passed out? If a Duke decided to withdraw his contributions (in knights) to the army, what happened?

This is very long, so I'll stop now. Ask me anything I've left out that will help you understand my question. Thanks!
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Postby Damien » Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:37 pm

It was a surprisingly simple, but convoluted in practice, process.

Knights owed fealty to their direct lord. That could be anyone from another knight, to the king himself, or anyone in between. Whoever the knight gained his land-grant from was his immediate liege and he was bound to that person.

The person he was bound to was, in turn, bound to someone else in the same manner -- all the way up until you get to the king.

To simplify:

Jeff owns a huge piece of land.
Jeff gives Tom a part of that land. Tom owes fealty to Jeff.
Hugh accepts a land-grant from Tom, which diminishes Tom's own holdings, but makes Hugh his subject. Hugh owes fealty to Tom, who owes fealty to Jeff.


Of course, in reality it got WAY more complicated due to even kings having grants of land from other kings - people betraying their lieges, or having land-grants from multiple different lords and thus owing service to different people at once.


But we'll go with a simple model, since that's easiest.



The end result in battle was simple enough -- a man reports to his liege. So a knight reports to, say, a Baron. The Reeve takes orders from the Duke. The Duke takes orders from the King.

Authority belongs to the person to whom the soldiers owe their immediate loyalty. He can order his troops to do whatever he wants. But he has to answer to HIS immediate lord, and so on.
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Postby jmadsen » Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:09 pm

Thanks. I would say two things about this answer:

1) I'd prefer not to have some one answer who plays the game I'm talking about ;-) (unless it's only by incredible coincidence you chose to use the same names as the owner of the site and myself in your example).

Not that your answer isn't correct, but I don't want an answer that might be clouded by how a person feels the game ought to be played, which might (even unconsciously) be the case here. (BTW, I agree with this analysis and think it's how the game SHOULD be played, but I want a "neutral" answer.)

2) I'd like if someone is able to confirm/deny the existence of "Marshals/Generals/etc." - a person who worked for the King or the army sponsor and took "control" of the knights for a battle. I didn't think these ever existed in this way, but would like to hear from someone more knowledgeable.

If anyone can quote sources that I can read more about this, thank you in advance.
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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:33 am

Damien has the system pretty much as it is J. This typically is referred to as Feudal after the 'feud' or 'fief' a knight or vassal is given. He is dead on that it was a bit more complicated in actual use but the set up is basically that way.

Marshals, Constables, Generals did exist in the medieval period. Generals are not really a specific office or title though more of a job like captain.

Check out William Marshal. His name in French is more telling Guillaume le Maréchal- Basically William the Marshal in English. On the continent he was known simply as the Marshal. The King of England makes it a hereditary title but his line does with his sons as not one has male offspring. His son William becomes the next Marshal of England after his father's death and the Bigod family since Hugh Bigod had married one of William Marshal Sr.'s daughters. Info on William Marshal's period biography can be found here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%27Histoi ... e_Marechal

Basically there is no simple answer to your question though as each European county has its own names and terms for similar office with differing powers and authorities to the king. The Constable of France was the highest military man under the king. In England it is the Marshal- In effect they are both simply generals and the king's advisors. In war they were the king's agent on the field if he was not there and if there usually entrusted by the king to lead a battle. Both typically have peace time powers and duties as well. In England early on this included the king's security and head of his household of knights.

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Postby jmadsen » Sun Mar 23, 2008 9:41 am

Thanks to you both - I guess it pretty much confirms what i thought, and I can't find anything different, so I'll use that answer.

As far as our game goes, I think the single line - "the king's agent on the field if he was not there" should serve our purpose. If your lord assigns you to an army, you are now under the indirect command of the King himself until you are withdrawn from the Army. Shouldn't be any doub who you are taking orders from.

Just helps to reinforce the game idea.

Thanks!
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Postby Damien » Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:13 pm

Wow, that IS a funny coincidence. But no, I don't play the game. Don't even know what game you're talking about. The only 'game' I play is Battle for Middle-earth 2, and the occasional Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Other than that, I have little time for anything besides work and sleep.

So no coloured commentary from me. Just the facts, ma'am. Or something like that.
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Postby jmadsen » Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:14 am

Wow! :shock:

Good, then I got two unqualified opinions, so all the more help. Thanks!
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Postby Danielas » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:16 pm

Damien you play battle for middle earth!? any way
about generals the barons and knights would become generals for the battle but there would not be a man who was just a general
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Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:03 pm

J,

I am not sure how unqualified I am... I do teach medieval history and research it for a living. There certainly are people who know this without the schooling though as well as people who specifically study such offices more or less as a career.

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Postby jmadsen » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:40 am

sorry, by "unqualified" I meant "unbiased because they play the game and already have opinions".
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Postby Prince Imdol » Tue Apr 15, 2008 12:45 am

I always thought knights had some sort of authority over armies. But I do think Captains, Marshals, and Generals did exist. They may have had a different name, but altogether, they existed.

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