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Re: (TFT) Reality in Melee (The Space Gamer #20, 1978), Elephants in war

On May 13, 2011, at 3:15 PM, raito@raito.com wrote:

Quoting Joey Beutel <mejobo@comcast.net>:
Please, you are totally right that my statements are a bit strong (and
therefore a bit misleading). I guess the real point is that soldiers
are all different, and some knights were probably very disciplined,
while some hoplites might break at the sight of the enemy. The key
there though is that the stye of warfare required of a hoplite to be
successful is much more dependent on his discipline, less so for a
Knight, who also wasn't really expected of much, as he was essentially an unpunishable noble... (which led to their downfall in some ways, as
their style of fighting just doesn't work out too well in modern,
1500s- warfare... its not so much that they lacked discipline that
killed them, it was that their style which didn't really require as
much discipline just didn't work anymore).

There's a huge difference between warfare in 1000 vs. 1300 vs 1500.
In western Europe circa 1000, you don't really have wars as such, you have more raiding. In 1300, you have wars, but the Knights job was to take other Knights for prisoners. So you have discipline within a lance, but not particularly external to it. By the time 1500 rolls around, you start to have the rise of the national armies, and it's always been true that 1000 guys can take 1 man. National wealth led to that. The other very large difference is that in 1000 and 1300 wars are not particularly fought for land, they're fought for money. By 1500, the wars are explicitly about taking land. (Not that land didn't get taken previously, but the main thrust was money, not land. In the later period, it's about land, not money.)
Thats why I simplified the Knight side of things down to 'pre 1500' and 'post 1500.' War changed a lot in those times, obviously, but the overall nature of war from a knights perspective wasn't that different in up to 1000 and up to 1300, as it was essentially skirmishes between knights in both periods.

And nobles weren't unpunishable, except in a modern sense.
If they behaved badly, they got punished by other nobles (as long as the offenses were against nobles). Floout the Law of Arms, and someone will come after you, and your buddies won't back you up.
Strangely, the Japanese wars had very close parallels.
My point here is that it was okay to charge ahead without orders because you were seen as your own commander, in a sense. The overall commander might not think you're smart, but you wouldn't really get punished (except by the enemy!), at least to my knowledge.
Neil Gilmore
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