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  1. B055man

    B055man Member

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    How does surrendering a castle work?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by B055man, Sep 19, 2022.

    There is a wizard who captures and imprisons the lord of a castle and threatens to kill him if his men don't surrender his castle to a griffin. They agree to the terms and leave the castle, allowing the griffin to move in.

    Just wondering how does surrendering a castle actually work historically? Is it just a case of the surrendered people packing up their things and leaving and the victorious people moving in with their things, or in this case a griffin, or is there more to it than that? I know it's probably mundane and trivial to go into for a story but I want to add these details into my story.
     
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  2. Earp

    Earp Contributor Contributor

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    I'm no expert, but I'd guess that the 'surrendering' usually involved the deaths of the current occupants.
     
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  3. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Depends on the terms of the surrender. In medieval warfare, noblemen would generally be held prisoner and ransomed (unless they were particularly notorious), and the soldiers probably just dispersed into the countryside, back to their homes. It's unlikely the occupants would have been given enough time to "pack up", as such - most of the contents of the castle, including the people, would be spoils of war.
     
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  4. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

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    I think it would depend a lot on how much the inhabitants value the King, how much they trust the wizard, how much they feel tied to the castle in any 'patriotic' way, and also, how much the wizard and griffin value the castle (the defenders can always burn it down). I don't think there are any hard rules, but generally the longer a stronghold resists a siege, the less quarter they can expect if they get breached or capitulate at some point. Usually if the sieged city/location surrendered quickly they'd get better terms but this isn't always the case.

    First thing that came to my mind was the Siege of Jerusalem of 1187 where the defenders were allowed to leave unharmed if they paid a 'ransom' which varied by sex and perhaps class. I only know of it from the the movie Kingdom of Heaven but the movie seems to be fairly accurate (by Hollywood standards).

    Another thing I thought of was the Siege of Fort William Henry from the French and Indian War (7 Years War). Obviously, this is not a medieval siege, but it's notable that the defenders were given fairly generous terms to withdraw if they surrender. Contrary to what is shown in Last of the Mohicans, it doesn't look like they were allowed to take ammunition with them, so that explains the massacre that occurred when some of the French allied tribes broke the terms and attacked them.

    Basically, I think you have a lot of flexibility as long as the behaviors and agreements are consistent with the characters and the rest of the worldbuilding (since this is fantasy).
     
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  5. B055man

    B055man Member

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    To go into more detail, the lord isn't a King, he's a minor/moderate lord in his kingdom that has been war torn and slowly returning to peace but resources everywhere have been depleted. His castle is surrounded by hills and fields and the odd village and farm. Inside his castle is an artifact that the wizard wants while the griffin has a grudge against the lord and wants to take his castle as a roost as well as a big middle finger (or talon) to him. Once the wizard has what he wants from the castle, the griffin is free to do whatever it wants with the castle and the surrounding lands.

    That's what I'm pondering, whether the ones in charge should be killed.

    I'm pondering whether lord should be kept prisoner or killed afterwards. His soldiers are free to go home if they surrender. The wizard only wants the artifact, everything else of value inside the castle is for the griffin.

    The kingdom has plagued by war for a while so the men don't have the resources to hold up inside the castle. Their only options are to starve inside, fight and die or surrender and live, the latter of which is chosen.
     
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  6. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    The fall of Constantinople comes to mind when the Ottoman empire allowed the christians to leave. It is now called Istanbul.
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

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    I'd suggest just looking at historical sieges that most closely match the specifics of your setting. In addition to the ones mentioned, you could look at the sieges of
    • Alesia in 52 BC
    • Jerusalem in 70 AD
    • Masada in 73-74 AD
    • Leningrad during WWII ???
    During the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD some defenders wanted to end the siege and negotiate, but some zealots were so determined to continue fighting they supposedly burnt the food stores to encourage fighting.

    So the scenario you describe has happened many times in history with different results. Sometimes the defenders have no choice due to starvation to just open the gates and let the attackers pillage the city/castle/temple.

    But other times they negotiate a more peaceful transfer. A lot depends on how rational the leaders are, how much leverage either side thinks they have, whether there are old scores to settle, etc.
     
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  8. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    In my WIP, i have 3 examples of this happening.

    The first guy killed everyone loyal to the old king when he took over and let live those who swore allegiance to him.

    When he died and another guy took over, he was basically like "you dont have to like me. You can continue living your lives unbothered by me... but you need to acknowledge that im the new ruler and any violence you attempt against me will be met with violence"

    The last person who took control after him essentially said "im not like those last 2..." ( :p )

    Anywho... With the exception of the 2nd guy, surrender was all by force.

    I asked a question on here about surrendering and usurpation, and one of the answers stuck with me: something along the lines of of the person taking over has enough backers and enough people within the castle who will follow/fight for them, then they can take the throne with little conflict (which is how my last character came to rule).
     
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  9. Jlivy3

    Jlivy3 Member

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    Why does the griffin want a castle?
     
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  10. B055man

    B055man Member

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    Several reasons
    1) The griffin holds a grudge against the lord and wants to take his home as revenge.
    2) The castle is a bigger roost and comes with much more territory than its previous roost.
    3) There is a plenty food and water around the castle and outer lands.
    4) The griffin always wanted a castle and now has the opportunity to get one.
     
  11. Jlivy3

    Jlivy3 Member

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    Ah, so people probably wouldn't hang around after the surrender, for fear of becoming griffin food.
     
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  12. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor

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    I like the griffin/dragon switch. A Skyrim mod featured that. He was old, powerful, and greedy (just a like a dragon) but there's a kind of juxtaposition there you don't get with scales and fire.
     
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  13. B055man

    B055man Member

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    Interesting, what was the name of that Skyrim mod out of interest? Also the griffin has something else to make up for the lack of scales and fire breath.
     
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  14. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor

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    It's a grim one called Beyond Reach. Relatively up to date, and features a massive new region with compelling stories. My only significant complaint is that it runs a bit long. Otherwise well-polished as far as content mods go.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2022
  15. MartinM

    MartinM Banned

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    @B055man

    There are many cases of capturing a castle, but would look at Caesar and the Battle of Alesia during the Gaelic Wars, it’s a great twist. In any form of warfare, the worst possible action is to lay siege to an enemy’s castle. This I think you need to first understand before looking at terms of surrender. Even in fantasy the Art of War still applies...

    Julius Caesar - Wikipedia

    Battle of Alesia - Wikipedia

    The Art of War - Wikipedia

    CHIVALROUS | meaning, definition in Cambridge English Dictionary


    Castles are a pre-built structure long before any conflict. That means they take advantage of the high ground and of deep knowledge to the surrounding area. They can hold a large mass of food stores and built over a well can keep the population from starving for a long time.

    To take a castle, you’ll be fighting an up-hill battle against a dug in enemy. Losses will be multiples to the attacker compared to the defender. In most cases it’s a retreating force back to a castle that then turns into a siege.

    The problem with laying a siege to a castle is manpower. You need to encircle and cut off all access to the outside world 360 degrees. That takes a huge number of resources and staying power. Also, weakens any individual point to a thin line. Read Alesia.

    Your story...

    You use the threat to kill the castles, Lord. I assume the wizard already has the Lord and is threating the men still in the castle. If so, they wouldn’t surrender. This is bad chivalrous behaviour even from an enemy. It's wrong.

    If the castle surrenders through starvation, then you’d expect certain terms. The Wizard might want to control the area using existing man power. So, install a puppet leadership of familiar faces to the local population. Those that bend the knee. The senior rulers are never executed, but usually taken back home and ransomed back to the defeated enemy. Richard the Lionheart an example. Never kill an asset. Any daughters are married into the Wizards power group to strengthen his local position. The rest put into slavery.

    Executions only occur when you don’t have the manpower to handle a large number of prisoners. Think Henry V at Agincourt had to massacre thousands of French surrendered troops.

    Hope this helps a little,

    MartinM.
     
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  16. B055man

    B055man Member

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    I'm written some more since these posts. The lord is heirless after his sons were killed in war so his line and the castle's status is shadowed in uncertainty. Distant cousins and relatives are far away and don't have noble recognition or status that he has. He is also seen as a jerk and an unpopular figure amongst the local population.

    The wizard has the lord in custody and wants to trade him for the castle, although the issue with this is that without his castle, the lord has no valuable assets, I'm not sure what to do with that. The wizard doesn't want to install a government in the surrounding area, he just wants to take a valuable artifact inside and then go about his merry way. The griffin wants the castle and whether it wants to install a government itself, turn it into a big nest or monster den or strip the whole structure down is up to the griffin, the wizard doesn't care.

    The main dilemma I have is getting the lord's men out of the castle and the griffin in. A lot of the future points in the story I have a clear road map for. I'm just kinda stuck here :(
     
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  17. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Simple—Griffin goes in, there's lots of screaming, and the lord's men come running out tripping over each other. :supergrin:
     
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  18. MartinM

    MartinM Banned

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    @B055man

    It’s your story, you write what you want too. So, with your added information I took away a few points. Please take them with a pinch of salt, I know nothing. Just my thoughts...

    If the rightful lord of the castle was in fact the Griffin, who was ousted many years ago. Then this is the basic Robin Hood (Griffin) plot with the Lord as the Sheriff of Nottingham and the Wizard Richard the Lionheart. The secret object the golden arrow.

    The wizard has the lord in custody and wants to trade him for the castle

    What does this mean? The Wizard allows all the men to leave the castle, collect their Lord then retreat further back? Surely the Wizard tells the men if they deliver to him the artifact, he will release their Lord and withdraw his forces from their lands. Much better trade all round.

    The Griffin, then as a different motive to the Wizard. This conflicts or contradicts the Wizard. Also, the castle dilemma makes no sense. Why is it there? Originally it protected the local population.

    Imagine, the Griffin went to war to help the Wizard. The caretaker Lord abused his position and taxed the crap out of the local population. Enforcement using his own goons or men. The Griffin wants his castle, land and people back. In return he’ll give the Wizard his prized artifact. The People want the Griffin and that’s the standoff...

    MartinM.
     
  19. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Given that this features wizards and griffins its not likely that realism is top priority so just write it

    there are various options ranging for everyone being allowed to depart unharmed (vis the surrender of jerusalem to saladin) to everyone being slaughtered. with points in between like women and children being allowed to leave but the men killed, or the ordinary soldiers being allowed to go but not the officers and so on

    Genghis khan used to use a three step process...when the mongols arrived before a city walls he would pitch a white tent, if the city surrenders and bowed a knee to him while the white tent was up no one would be harmed. After five days he would replace the tent with a red one, signifying that now the armed men would be killed but non combatants allowed to leave, after another five day he would pitch a black tent signifying total destruction and no one left alive.

    Total destruction isnt actually in a conquerers interests because they want people alive to serve them and make them money (or goods) but the point here was deterrence once one city had been destoyed the next city quickly learnt to surrender while the white tent was still up, thus sparing the mongols the casualties involved in a prolonged seige
     
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