Results 1 to 17 of 17

Thread: Medieval Military Ranks

  1. #1
    Exarch's Avatar Praefectus Castrorum
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    19,568

    Default Medieval Military Ranks

    I know that medievaL WARFARE was largely feudal and all, but i was wondering, in the standard king's army, what was tyhe hierarchy amongst the nobles?
    for eg, what made a certain noble a 'constable' and what were the differences between an earl and a count and a duke in order of warfare? did a duke have precedence over an earl?
    and of course just how professional were the 'sergeants'?
    who taught them the arts of war?
    did merc bands have their own style of martial arts?

    but my main q. is militqary ranks in the king's army, cuz it all seems quite higgly piggly as opposed to the professional armies of Rome...

  2. #2
    Dayman's Avatar Romesick
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Philadephia, PA
    Posts
    12,446

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    It would depend on the nation/lord.

  3. #3
    clandestino's Avatar Sagittarius
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Novi Sad, Serbia/Hell
    Posts
    3,382

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    what made a certain noble a 'constable'
    Constable, admiral and marshall were state offices and military ranks
    in medieval army and they were given or should I say commisioned by monarch to distinguished noble soldiers. Constable was commander in chief of countrie's armed force with marshall as a second in command I think. Of course there were major differences between countries so it's hard to generalise. Only way someone could get the title of constable was a royal apointment and it was usualy given to expirienced proffessional soldiers like Di Guesclin but it could also be given to some influential high noble as honorary title.
    what were the differences between an earl and a count and a duke in order of warfare? did a duke have precedence over an earl?
    There were no practical military subordinance between count and duke in high and late Middle ages cause the commander of the army was apointed by the monarch (or who ever raised the army) and that could be anyone from baron to royal prince. In practice however, there were few dukes who would listen the commands of an earl and likewise so the most of these feudal armies were in quite mess, for example the French army in 100 years war. On the other hand proffesional and semi-professional armies like English had beter developed command line with captains as a commanders of different companies within army. In late Middle ages when proffessional armies became predominante the proper rank structure and command line with generals, colonels and captains were introduced.
    join the light side of the Force: Kosovo is Serbia



    If you don't like me you are gay!

    == BARBAROGENIUS DECIVILISATOR ==


    Trava je za sminkere i homoseksualce a loza za prave jebace i znalce









  4. #4
    antaeus's Avatar neon
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    3,412

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    it is all higgldy piggldy. some dukes were more powerful than kings, some princes never became kings... etc.

    as a basic rule though

    1. there is the king/queen... and possibly their children the princes/princesses of the realm..

    2. the dukes - a duke was the equivalent of a roman dux or governor of a large region (a duchy) the duke was a military commander who had responsibility for an area and its defences. many of the early duchies were actually the continuation of roman administration maintained by new germanic overlords.

    3. the counts - from the roman comes they were originally specific military positions. usually subordinate to a duke and or the king, but occasionally sat above the dukes. this is similar to the position of earl in britain. counts were often responsible for defence on a local level, and in feudal territories, for the administration of their local area. also floating somewhere in this level was the marquess.. who sometimes sat above counts and earls.. and sometimes below.

    4. viscount/sherif. and other similar titles... they carried out the day to day business in a local area.. sometimes administered justice etc. they were sometimes appointed directly by kings and dukes, and sometimes the roll was hereditary.

    5. baron.. the baron was lord of a manor or village. it was often a title used as a reward for service etc sometimes hereditary. they were subordinate to all of the above.. they are the generic nobleman.

    6. knights - junior noblemen, they were free men who were the bottom rank of the feudal chain of command, they usually owned their own house or manor, and in peacetime administered estates and small villages.

    in an army - the generic ranks of society would be maintained - but given the ambiguity between some of them, and the variation of powers each had.. sometimes armies were governed by personal power alone irrespective of the order of rank. each rank would bring with it their own retainers, bodyguards, sometimes mercenary or small semi-professional armies. the viscounts, sherifs, barons and knights would bring their companies of knights and retainers and if required, serf/peasant militias. these would be organised on any number of familiar terms.. you might see constables, captains, sergeants, lieutenants etc etc among the companies - distributed by merit or by favour...

    its very difficult to apply exact meaning to each term because they change so often, they merge, swap and float about all over. a knight might become powerful, a duke might dominate a king, a count challenge for the throne.. and there were a million and one different other variations and terms across europe.

    perhaps people can add other meanings and ranks.
    Last edited by antea; May 28, 2008 at 06:01 AM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB MARENOSTRUM

  5. #5
    clandestino's Avatar Sagittarius
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Novi Sad, Serbia/Hell
    Posts
    3,382

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    Feudal hierarchy between titles had little influence on command structure of classical feudal army consisted of seniors and their vassals. In those armies each vassal listen only to his immediate senior and his senior did the same. So, a knight was subordinate to baron if he was his vassal but he wasn't subordinate to duke if he wasn't his vassal! In the best case they all would follow the commands of king or his lieutenant in the army but in some cases they wouldn't listen to no one if they didn't like the command. It was wery hard to force nobleman to accept the command of his piers not to mention one of someone of lower status. This kind of insubordinancy was in fact one of the reasons for transffer from feudal to proffessional armies.
    join the light side of the Force: Kosovo is Serbia



    If you don't like me you are gay!

    == BARBAROGENIUS DECIVILISATOR ==


    Trava je za sminkere i homoseksualce a loza za prave jebace i znalce









  6. #6
    antaeus's Avatar neon
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    3,412

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by clandestino View Post
    So, a knight was subordinate to baron if he was his vassal but he wasn't subordinate to duke if he wasn't his vassal!
    and so the holy roman empire all of a sudden became a mass of independent microstates! because subordinates are only loyal to their immediate senior..

    Last edited by antea; May 28, 2008 at 05:59 PM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB MARENOSTRUM

  7. #7
    ThiudareiksGunthigg's Avatar Tasmanian Devil
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    6,377

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by clandestino View Post
    Feudal hierarchy between titles had little influence on command structure of classical feudal army consisted of seniors and their vassals. In those armies each vassal listen only to his immediate senior and his senior did the same. So, a knight was subordinate to baron if he was his vassal but he wasn't subordinate to duke if he wasn't his vassal!
    Er, no actually. If someone proved themselves as good commander they were often put in charge of units, wings or even whole armies regardless of their social rank. In the Hundred Years War Sir John Knollys commanded armies in key engagements, despite having risen from virtually nothing and only being a knight. He commanded forces which included far higher ranking men. Why? Because he was a proven commander and good tactician.

    Ditto for Sir John Chandos, who originally wasn't even of the minor nobilty, and who went on to command armies in France, inlcuding the army of Duke John de Montfort, who gave command to Chandos on account of his military skills and success.

    And the same goes for Bertrand du Guesclin, who went from being a minor knight from a inconsquential Breton family to Constable of France, commanding armies made up of many men far his social superior.

  8. #8
    Exarch's Avatar Praefectus Castrorum
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    19,568

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by ThiudareiksGunthigg View Post
    Er, no actually. If someone proved themselves as good commander they were often put in charge of units, wings or even whole armies regardless of their social rank. In the Hundred Years War Sir John Knollys commanded armies in key engagements, despite having risen from virtually nothing and only being a knight. He commanded forces which included far higher ranking men. Why? Because he was a proven commander and good tactician.

    Ditto for Sir John Chandos, who originally wasn't even of the minor nobilty, and who went on to command armies in France, inlcuding the army of Duke John de Montfort, who gave command to Chandos on account of his military skills and success.

    And the same goes for Bertrand du Guesclin, who went from being a minor knight from a inconsquential Breton family to Constable of France, commanding armies made up of many men far his social superior.
    given the feudal system these individuals lived under, i imagine it wouldve galled the senior peers something fierce having to follow orders from a lowly knight.
    would they've been elevated by the king afterwards? i imagine an individual being promoted to 'constable' would at least become a duke or marquis.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    They were also British I assume, which is a much different system than say the French. Part of the reason for the French debacle of the Hundred Years War was the gluttony of noblemen in the French Armies. The armies had a nominal "commander", who was the most senior nobleman usually, but by and large it was a free for all with the nobility. They mostly all fought for their own honor, glory, and riches, with little consideration for the greater battle at hand. So it made things a bit hard to control at times for the French (Agincourt is a prime example).

    Additionally there's always the fun fact that nobles had a retinue of vassals with them. These men were in the exclusive pay and service of their lord, and if he died they often just left an engagement, as there was no payment to be had from it.
    Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.

    -Marcus Aurelius

  10. #10
    ThiudareiksGunthigg's Avatar Tasmanian Devil
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    6,377

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    Quote Originally Posted by Exarch View Post
    given the feudal system these individuals lived under, i imagine it wouldve galled the senior peers something fierce having to follow orders from a lowly knight.
    They seem to have coped, considering these lowly knights had a tendency to win battles.

    would they've been elevated by the king afterwards? i imagine an individual being promoted to 'constable' would at least become a duke or marquis.
    John Chandos was eventually rewarded by being made Viscount of Saint-Sauveu and Du Guesclin was given a duchy by the Castilian king Henry of Trastamara for helping him gain his throne in the face of an English-backed rival. I don't recall if Sir John Knollys ever got a higher rank than knight.

    But it should be noted that these elevations in rank came after they had been successful commanders in many battles and campaigns and as a reward for service, not to make up for their lower birth or to avoid problems with them giving orders to higher nobility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gaius Flavius Belisarius
    They were also British I assume
    Er, no - Du Guesclin was Constable of France.

  11. #11
    clandestino's Avatar Sagittarius
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Novi Sad, Serbia/Hell
    Posts
    3,382

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    Er, no actually. If someone proved themselves as good commander they were often put in charge of units, wings or even whole armies regardless of their social rank.
    As I said in my first post: " Only way someone could get the title of constable was a royal apointment and it was usualy given to expirienced proffessional soldiers like Di Guesclin...'' so you haven't said anything new.
    Apointments of lower nobility to high command duties just corroborate my claim that there were no practical subordinance between feudal titles in the military terms ,as I also said in my previous posts. So the baron wasnt'n subordinate to earl, like captain to major in modern army and that was one of the Exarch's questions which I tried to answer.
    join the light side of the Force: Kosovo is Serbia



    If you don't like me you are gay!

    == BARBAROGENIUS DECIVILISATOR ==


    Trava je za sminkere i homoseksualce a loza za prave jebace i znalce









  12. #12

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    Ah, I didn't read that last sentence where it clearly states he was a Breton raised to the Constabulary of France.
    Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.

    -Marcus Aurelius

  13. #13
    Exarch's Avatar Praefectus Castrorum
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    19,568

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    thanks for your helpful input guys

  14. #14
    4th Regiment's Avatar Princeps Prior
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    1,360

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    Serbia medieval army (and probably all other southern Slavic) had military ranks comparable to modern armies and some of them are use in modern Croatian army – satnik (captain, satniya - company), boynik (major, boyna - battalion). Other names are not in the use anymore but next rank would be chelnik (colonel) and voyvoda (duke –usually commander of the army in the campaign). Voyvoda was also supreme military rank in pre WWI Serbia
    ps.some people are confused here, noble ranks like count, baron etc are not primary military titles (but could be of course)

  15. #15
    Exarch's Avatar Praefectus Castrorum
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    19,568

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    ok take the modern rank 'sergeant' or 'corporal'; was a standard professional common soldier titled a 'sergeant'? a serjeant-at-arms?

  16. #16
    clandestino's Avatar Sagittarius
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Novi Sad, Serbia/Hell
    Posts
    3,382

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    ok take the modern rank 'sergeant' or 'corporal'; was a standard professional common soldier titled a 'sergeant'? a serjeant-at-arms?
    Sergeants were primary lightly armoured and less equiped cavalry and infantrymen in contrast to fully equiped knights. I dont't think that common soldier was titled as sergeant like todays private, sergeant was more like a type of soldier, like hussar,dragoon...
    join the light side of the Force: Kosovo is Serbia



    If you don't like me you are gay!

    == BARBAROGENIUS DECIVILISATOR ==


    Trava je za sminkere i homoseksualce a loza za prave jebace i znalce









  17. #17

    Default Re: Medieval Military Ranks

    Sergeants were originally professional soldiers who served their lord on a full time basis. They were essentially men at arms with no claims to noble status. Their role was to train the local levies as best they could.

    Corporals were originally more experience men who had served in the levies before, and led small groups of men (the modern equivalent of a squad I suppose).
    Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.

    -Marcus Aurelius

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •