medieval military organization

chapter 4 of mitterauer’s “Why Europe?” is very heavy on medieval military organization. v e r y. to the point where i nearly dozed off a few times last night trying to get through it. (i finally just gave up.)

so it’s prolly REALLY GOOD re. war thingies! i think a few of you guys who are into all that stuff (he talks about roman and medieval cavalry a LOT) might like it. (~_^)


  1. It’s the point of feudalism basically.

    Say you have 100 villages and each village can support one spear (a knight plus half a dozen or so armed retainers). If you have a well-organised state you can levy a tax on each village, collect it, bring it to Rome and use it to build barracks, recruit men, train them and feed them all together. This is organization-intensive but gives economies of scale.

    If you lose the ability to organize on that scale then you have to decentralize everything. Instead of bringing each village’s surplus to a central spot you send a knight to each village. They live in their fief, get food from there, train there etc. Then in time of war the king calls them to the capital. It’s a less organization-intensive system.


  2. @g.w. – “It’s a less organization-intensive system.”

    yes. decentralized. and it was so decentralized in europe because of … the outbreeding? maybe? possibly? or it couldn’t have been so decentralized without the outbreeding, maybe.

    and, at least in germany, it set the stage for the very federal nature of that nation. i think. at least that’s how it’s seeming to me right now. (^_^)


  3. “and it was so decentralized in europe because of … the outbreeding?”

    Well i think it’s simply a result of a collapse. Europe lost the ability to maintain a standing army. It goes with the collapse of towns and trade. Feudalism wasn’t a step forward it was a step back.

    “and, at least in germany, it set the stage for the very federal nature of that nation”

    However now you put the thought in my head, the combination of feudalism and the specific European exogamy thing may have led to a different trajectory to both the standard non-european feudalisms (of which there’s been many) *and* the trajectory if the exogamy thing had happened as part of a centralized Roman state.


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