Medieval Military Ranks – Parts, Organization, Care, Strategy, and more
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Medieval Military Ranks
Medieval Military Ranks indicates the rank occupied in the military hierarchy and gives the right to command.
In general, it relates to a particular job. Still, staff and services development has led to officers and non-commissioned officers without troops sometimes bearing a specific designation.
Medieval Military Ranks includes:
junior officers, corporals, and master corporals;
NCOs, sergeants and master sergeants, warrant officers and chief warrant officers and majors;
junior officers, second lieutenants, lieutenants, and captains;
senior officers, commanders, lieutenant-colonels and colonels;
The term “general was first used ” from the 15th century in opposition to the word “particular officers,” which designated the owners of units, the brigade’s generals, division, army corps, and army.
Medieval Military Ranks – Constituent parts of the army
The first medieval armies consisted of warlike hordes, as they had already existed in antiquity.
For the knights, military service was a matter of duty and honor. They lived to fight. Success in battle was the quickest way to gain wealth and recognition.
For the mercenaries, however, fighting was part of their profession.
Often the younger sons of noblemen hired themselves out as professional soldiers because they had little left after the eldest son had inherited the family.
Even for the peasants called up, military service was more of a duty than an honor.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, commoners joined the professional army, as the pay was usually well above what more peaceful activities brought in.
Medieval Military Ranks Organization
Compared to the massive national armies of modern times, the organization of the feudal armies was simple.
There were no standing regiments, divisions, or corps until the end of this age.
If a feudal army was called together, each vassal went to the agreed meeting point with his retinue of knights, archers, and foot soldiers.
Once there, the troops gathered according to their function in the battle.
The knights and their squires marched together, just as the archers and foot soldiers did.
In the late Middle Ages, the mercenary profession was highly regarded.
So-called advertisers put together mercenary armies, which enabled the wealthy landlords or the respective cities to set up a powerful armed force.
There were mercenary armies in which all mercenaries fought with the same weapon.
Other mercenary armies were composed of forces from all branches of service.
Often calculated, the size of these armies was according to the number of lances present.
A lance consisted of a knight and additional mounted troops, foot troops, and long-range weapon units and formed the army’s smallest unit.
An army with 100 lances thus comprised a few hundred fighters.
The command structure within the feudal army was flat. A large staff to support the military leader and relay his orders was seldom necessary.
They rarely planned food and medical supplies. In the Middle Ages, armies lived on what they killed or harvested during a siege or a march through an area.
The residents of the respective area were often exposed to great hardship by the armies.
It made little difference to them whether an enemy or a friendly army plundered their fields.
Medieval armies did not linger in one area long as the local food and fodder supplies were quickly exhausted.
This particular problem arose during all sieges. If a besieging army did not make provisions for the supply of food and fodder for the siege period, it could run out of stores.
The army was a force to lift the siege, which might have been successful.
Hygiene was another problem when an army stayed in one place for a long time.
A medieval army carried many animals in addition to the horses of the knights.
Due to inadequate sewage disposal, diseases such as dysentery often broke out and considerably decimated the army.
The Middle Ages’ military strategy aimed to create the economic basis for wealth to send armies into the field.
It initially meant devastating or defending land because fields and pastureland formed the basis for all prosperity.
Over time, agriculture lost its importance, and the cities became more prosperous and increasingly important as trade and industry flourished.
Securing or taking castles was a vital element of the war, as used courts to defend farmland.
The warriors who occupied a castle also controlled the surrounding land. As the cities grew, they too were fortified.
Gradually, the defense or conquest of cities became more important than the battle for castles.
Armies carried out campaigns to take strategically critical fortified points, devastate the country, or prevent the enemy from carrying out such a movement.
If the enemy penetrated the country, a direct counterattack prevents the government from being devastated.
The Battles’ main aim was to capture and hold strategically essential points in the Holy Land to control the entire country from there.
The individual battles should break the respective supremacy of one side or the other.
As the Middle Ages progressed, battles evolved from clashes of ill-organized warbands to skirmishes that use tactics and maneuvering.
It was partly due to the army’s differentiation and the further development of the branches of arms and their tactical and strategic use.
The first armies of the Dark Ages were made-up of hordes of foot soldiers.
With the advent of heavy cavalry, this changed, and the best armies comprised knights.
Foot soldiers were carried along to devastate enemy territory and do the heavy lifting of a siege.
During the battle, the foot soldiers threatened danger from both sides as the knights tried to engage their opponents in close combat.
It was confirmed at the beginning of this age because the foot soldiers were untrained farmers who were obliged to do military service to their feudal lord.
Archers also proved useful for the siege but ran the risk of being overrun on the battlefield.
Discipline continued to improve as more and more knights fought for pay and less for fame and honor.
The cavalry has three groups, or divisions, sent into battle one after the other.
The first wave of attacks would either breakthrough or scatter the enemy, thus paving the way for the second or third wave of attacks.
Once the enemy fled, the slaughter and murder began.
In practice, the knights followed their plans rather than those of the commander.
For the knights, fame and honor were paramount, so they tried to push themselves into a good position in the front row of the front division.
Overall, victory on the battlefield was behind personal honor. As soon as the enemy was in sight, the knights charged forward, ruining any strategic plan.
Occasionally the commanders dismounted their knights to have better control of them.
It was possible to improve the chances, especially with smaller armies, which had little hope in a competition of attacks.
Dismissed knights supported the armed forces and encouraged the standard foot troops.
The knights and other foot soldiers holed up on the battlefield behind stakes or other structures designed to take the force of the cavalry attacks.
By the end of the Middle Ages, the significant cavalry had reduced number on the battlefield.
In the Dark Ages, the tactic used by foot soldiers was to switch to hand-to-hand combat and attack each other.
To stop the enemy, the Franks hurled their axes just before engaging in hand-to-hand combat. For the victory, the Warriors relied on their strength and fury.
The advent of knights caused the infantry to briefly disappear from the battlefield, primarily since there was simply no such thing as disciplined and well-trained infantry.
The foot soldiers of the early medieval armies were primarily farmers who were only sparsely armed with weapons and had received no training whatsoever.
The Saxons and Vikings developed a particular defensive formation, the so-called shield wall, in which the men stood next to each other and held their long shields together so that they formed a barrier.
It enabled them to protect themselves against archers and cavalry that their armies did not have.
In areas that did not have the means to send heavy cavalry into the field, such as mountainous regions and emerging cities, the infantry revived.
Inevitably, they found ways and means to send mighty armies with very little or no cavalry into the field.
It turned out that horses refused to attack barriers made from sharpened stakes or spearheads.
A disciplined force of spearmen was able to stop the heavy elite cavalry of the wealthier nations or feudal lords and cost only a fraction of what had to be raised for heavy cavalry.