1. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    Medieval army question.

    Discussion in 'Research' started by RusticOnion, Feb 14, 2012.

    Hey guys I was just wonder how many archers do you think an army should have? Answer in percent or numbers or what ever.
     
  2. TheTranskinator
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    TheTranskinator Member

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    It's kinda up to preference and other factors. What's the nationality of the army? What is the terrain that they are generally in? Do they have enough supplies for a large amount of archers? Do their enemies typically use troops or tactics strong or weak against archers? There are lots of things that could influence the number. Also, keep in mind most soldiers wouldn't just strictly be archers. A lot of archers probably had some training in sword fighting, as many swordsmen were probably trained at least a little in archery. Just some thoughts to consider when thinking about the amount of archers...

    And to be honest, I don't know how many there should be :p
     
  3. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, Genghis Khan's army was made up almost entirely of archers on horseback whose skill with the sabre was usually secondary to their ability with the bow.
    The Romans used bows somewhat less, preferring shield wall tactics and such.
    Even barbarian hordes throughout history barely used archery, preferring that for hunting, using claymores or broad axes for war.

    Really, you have to consider the place your people are coming from. Archery is no good in forest combat. Too many trees getting in the way (guns, on the other hand, excel due to faster firing and aiming). However, on the plains (thing Genghis Khan), arrows are great. If you're defending in a siege, you'll want crossbows or archers.

    To be honest with you, you want a fair few archers for some vague skirmish on a battlefield, but once the two sides have met, they're going to have to pull out their other weapons and join the real battle.
     
  4. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    Well, let's look at this situation from a general/lord's perspective. Archers are great for attacking enemies from afar, with the mobility that catapults/trebuchets lack, but they're specifically anti-personnel. They're also somewhat vulnerable, as an enemy that's able to get close to an archer's basically too close to be shot, and if the enemy's armed and trained specifically for hand-to-hand, you'll have a dead archer. So, to supplement the archer, they require either extensive sword training to fight sword-and-shield or mounted foes with only a single short sword, as would be standard armament, or other foot-soldiers around them to keep those foes at bay. A 50/50 mix would be the most risky ratio, because if any swordsmen fall, the archers are going to be taken out. For safety, and assuming the inclusion of cavalry and/or siege engines, I'd say a 20/60/20 mix, with 20% consisting of Archers, 20% of cavalry or machine operators, and 60, the bulk, being the soldiers that will make up the body of your force. But that's for a "generic" army, all based on my opinion too. Just remember: a jack of all trades is no match for a specialist.
     
  5. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    Probably not though.
    Swords were not that common on the battle field. They where expensive and used mainly by those with money. What is peoples obsession with them? Spears and other weapons that where modified farming tools where much more common. Also remember that archery was a lifelong skill to acquire. As one man said “ to get a good archer, start with his grandfather” . so it sort of split archers into two groups, the conscripts with cheep bows, who did not really know what they were doing. And the professionals that really came into their own latter in the medieval period, and who with the pick formations made Calvary a side game. Now the crossbow was different, it was flatter shooting, and easier to learn to use. As an interesting note the Vikings and the Muslims valued and where better with bows during this time. Might explain their military success against others.
    It is believed that bow and arrow has killed more people than any other personal weapon in history. Arrows are good at killing. Think about this, if you are struck with an arrow you cannot simply pull it out. Barbs on the arrow make it so you have to cut a larger whole to pull it out, or push it through to break. That and often it was a wax that held the head in place. Meaning that too much pulling might dislocate the arrow head inside the body, a arrow head that had been stuck in the dirt earlier. Remember also that a good war bow will have a draw of at least 60lbs.

    There was a shortage of good bowmen until later in the period. This suggest that generally they would take as many as they could get. As for percentage they want that will vary. I would say 30 to 40 percent of professionals and crossbow men
     
  6. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    anoter thought

    Also some historians view the Yeomen’s proficiency with long bows as something that checked the power of the nobility.
     
  7. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    This is great guys, you've all given me a lot to think about.

    Would you guys mind critiquing my entire army?

    1. V's

    The back bone of the army consists of axe and buckler wielding infantry, wearing leather armour and bronze chest mail. For reference I'll call these V's)

    The standard regiment of infantry will consist of 90 V's.

    2. U's

    The next step up from the V's are the U's who use the Bardiche http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bardiche and are dressed in light steel mail with some plate over important areas.

    The job of these soldiers is to boost the morale of the V's and to use their Bardiche's to harass the enemy infantry from behind the V's engaging them. The typical ratio of U's to V's are 1:3

    The smartest and most agile V's are recruited as U's.

    3. B's

    These soldiers are heavily armoured in either iron or steel plate and prefer to use two handed weaponry such as claymores and battle-axes.

    These soldiers appear at the front line of the army, but are usually used to ambush and attack enemy lines from the flanks and rear.

    Only the bravest and strongest V's are chosen for this position, the ratio of B's to V's is 1:6.

    4. R's

    These soldiers are the "support" for the army, dressed in light leather armour and wielding a bow they are competent archers, but are also given the duty of scouting, hunting, foraging and perimeter watch.

    5. Cavalry will be apart of the army eventually but at a later date.
     
  8. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Remember that feudal times are times of extreme poverty. There's no real laws governing tax and therefore not many people are going to have the money for good armour or weapons. I'll refer you to James Berkley's post which was brilliant. Steel armour, for example, is harder to make than chain mail. Chain mail is actually better in most chances. Steel plate would be more likely to buckle under a heavy blow. Chain mail was essentially that era's version of kevlar.

    Again, reference James Berkley's post and remember that not every "army" in medieval times had the training and equipment of today's military. These are advanced times we live in when things like kevlar body armour can be mass produced. Back then, a lot of time and effort went into armour.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you should ask a mod to move this to the research section, where it belongs...
     
  10. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I'm dealing with that as I go.

    That's why I've decided against cavalry units as I think it would be rather unrealistic for raw recruits to start shooting moving targets on horseback.
     
  11. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    That depends entirely on the country and the time period. When and where are you interested in?
     
  12. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    Own country, vsing an army using Roman weaponry and tactics.
     
  13. CheddarCheese
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    CheddarCheese Contributing Member

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    By own country, do you mean a country you've made up?

    Also, it should be noted that your army is a couple of centuries ahead of the enemy army. If your enemy army is using Roman weaponry and tactics (about 1-5th century), and your army already has Bardiches (which are about 14-15th century weapons), then there exists a time inconsistency.
     
  14. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    A lot of medieval battles, especially in the earlier sections during that time had battles with less then 90 soldiers a side. The rise (re rise?) of infantry came latter in the time period.

    Also the time periods are an odd mix. It is hard to see many medieval armies fielding an army as large or complex as a roman legion. The military industrial complex (best wording I can think of) just did not exist for them.
     
  15. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    The middle ages were a thousand year long time period of world history. Consider how much has changed in your own country over the last 10 years. Asking how many archers were used in a medieval army is impossible to answer since it's overly generalized. I'd suggest you do one of the following:

    - Figure out what country and time period (and under who's rule) the battle takes place, and do some research on it. There're historical books available for pretty much any nerdy specifics -- but you'll have to go to a specialist bookstore and find them. Googling it won't give you much reliable info.

    - Don't go into specifics about this stuff at all in your story. Likely readers will find it rather dull reading anyway.

    - Make up your own stuff entirely and call it fantasy.
     
  16. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    I originally had the feudal period as a reference point, but the forum rats slapped me on the wrist for it. I think that I should atleast give the reader a decent indication of what's in the army.

    I am making my own stuff, I'm just going to base it on other people's assumptions.
     
  17. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    There was no single 'feudal' period, so that doesn't help me much :)

    If it's based on Roman tactics, don't have many archers at all. Spears, yes - lots of them. Javelin auxillaries too if this is a big campaign army. But the only archers were levied hunters and auxilliaries from conquered Gallic and Germanic tribes, and even then they were few and far between.
     
  18. sunwave
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    sunwave Member

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    I think one of the important parts to consider: Everyone in your "army" is armored. This is only realistic if it is really, for example, a city watch or castle guards. A force specially trained to fight, at least.
    Usually, if a lord needed an army, they would recruit many, many commoners, and most of them do not have armor. I can not tell you any numbers though. I am not sure of any numbers myself, for any time period.
     

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