Monday, February 23, 2015

Sins of the Crusades Notes on Army Organization

Sadly its really hard to research Komnenian Armies. This is because of the haphazard situation and the constant conflicts unlike Justinian/Belisarius and Maurice's time as well as titles being a tool of manipulation (an arbitrary manner to move people up or down the pecking order). Then there is the adoption of Western organization, which is simpler and more useful given the constraints of the time. To make it easier and more intuitive I will limit the terms used with those that are more modern and easier to follow.

This is also from my experience in fighting in groups, and how challenging it is to coordinate as well as some management science insight. I've noticed the Military Fiefs determine how things are organized because these are the simplest ways of disseminating resources.

This is meant to make it easier to understand military organization. For the non-military characters in the game, this is to understand the logistics - that a soldier = a household, typically with a tenant farmer attached (I was not able to assemble these into a proper thesis but reading up on Byzantine Economics by Kenneth Harl is where I got this). That their leaders have greater and greater households awarded to them, and it is up to their virtues or vices how these resources are spent. As you can imagine, the higher up the chain, the more they need specialists and administrators and how limited they are in recruiting skilled talent, or how fortunate they are to have any skilled administrators.

Military Terms

Komnenian Army
Byzantine Army

  • A Squad is 10 men, with one of them leading them called a Sergeant (Dekarch).
  • We will use Companies (Pentekons and Hekatons), lead by a Captain (aka Pentatonarch or Hekatonarch), to call a group (of typically 5) Squads. So this is typically 50 men average mode (100 an uncommon number and a mark of a upward climbing military career).
  • We will use Bandon, lead by a Commander (aka Companions or Komes) to call a group of Companies (typically 3 to 10). 200-1000 men.  
  • We will use Army (Tagma), lead by a General (Strategos), to call a group of Bandons (2 to 10). Generals and their Armies vary greatly and posturing makes it hard for us to tell how many is an army. Which is not a bad thing because that is part of the game, the confusion sowed by the differences in organization.   

In the mindset of the time grouping focused on having more maneuverable units which needed competent leaders as well as awarding Households to compensate and support the soldiers. So the Army had a tendency to break up into small subunits of Companies in order to make it easier to coordinate and maneuver. A fairly experienced captain can organize up to 50 men within the parameters and expectations of the time. So most grouping is having as many Captains as possible. Captains get a large household, while his sergeants and soldiers get a household with tenants. Gaining men and resources is up to the ingenuity and aggressive manner of the Captain and his posse.

When a captain is sufficiently skilled and experienced his men grow to 100, and he moves up to be a Commander when he can organized more as he promotes within his Company his own sergeants. Commanders aka Counts, who are typically given estates of a fifty to hundred households, organizes their assets in Companies, while his whole strength is called a “Bandon” or “Band”.

A General, typically gets a vacated or recaptured Fief or Provincial Estate worth hundreds of households. If held and maintained, the succeeding generations become Dynasts themselves. Wealthier generals have been in the military for generations and have a much larger army, they stylize themselves as Dukes (Doukas) or Princeps or what ever title the Emperor will give them. the Appearance of strength and power is important so they tend to look for titles and estates to gain. You will notice that the Byzantine/Roman Imperial bureaucracy allows for this, rewarding titles, and to make it easier for the players and myself I'll simplify this with small notes on how many titles or households or soldiers instead of remembering or researching every single title.

Households and Soldiers

Note that Soldier = Household is a very typical formula for thousands of years. Also note that the more mobile, or farther from the household the soldier operates, the need for multiple households per soldier to support him. The longer the operation the more households is needed. Its from my chinese studies that about 10 households per soldier was about the cost of the border operations of various Dynasties in China. You think in households because you think in how to make it ongoing. Sun Zi had a formula for it in ounces of silver and Chinese miles, the romans I'm sure had such rules of thumb but it wasnt as widely adopted and evolved as the Chinese.  

A household is the soldier's household, and plus that of its tenants. This is a fluid number and not necessarily 1+1. The soldier can have slaves, and they provide the labor or tenants farmers who have migrated or have been captured.
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