PDA

View Full Version : Medieval army size



efreysson
03-04-2011, 09:47 PM
Two hours ago I got the news that a publisher MIGHT be willing to publish my fantasy novel this spring! So the next 24 hours or so might be my last best chance to make fixes to my manuscript. One issue sprang to mind:

I have a besieged city-state (medieval-ish) that is about to come under attack, and I need to figure out how big an army it could reasonably have. The population in the city and the surrounding farmland and villages is around 40.000 and the state is fairly wealthy due to a trade port and bountiful farmland. The idea is that they have an age-old problem with barbarian raiders and so every healthy male is required to learn some basic combat and how to serve in a militia.

Can someone give me a rough estimate of how large an army such a society could maintain on a permanent basis? And maybe how many men would be of fighting age, assuming plenty of food and more advanced medicine than in medieval Europe?

waylander
03-04-2011, 11:57 PM
Maybe 7,500.
Half of your 40,000 population are female.
Half of the remaining population are too young/old/disabled.
If everyone else turns up you have 10,000, but not everyone will turn up

Nick Blaze
03-05-2011, 03:04 AM
Maybe 7,500.
Half of your 40,000 population are female.
Half of the remaining population are too young/old/disabled.
If everyone else turns up you have 10,000, but not everyone will turn up

This is a pretty good estimate. Give or take a thousand.

thothguard51
03-05-2011, 03:24 AM
You have a publisher looking at your book, but yet you have not narrowed down the defensive size of an Army defending a city?

This makes me wonder what else do you not have narrowed down. No offense...

efreysson
03-05-2011, 12:03 PM
You have a publisher looking at your book, but yet you have not narrowed down the defensive size of an Army defending a city?

This makes me wonder what else do you not have narrowed down. No offense...

It's something of a background detail. And I have narrowed down the size. I just wanted a few second opinions.

KQ800
03-05-2011, 06:37 PM
Can someone give me a rough estimate of how large an army such a society could maintain on a permanent basis? And maybe how many men would be of fighting age, assuming plenty of food and more advanced medicine than in medieval Europe?

I think you are talking about two things here, a permanent army and a militia are not the same thing. One of them is solded men, (soldiers) that is people who are professionally trained and paid to excercise and fight as a career. The other, militia, is an emergency corps that will mobilize in defense, but who will not have much in the way of logistics and experienced leadership.

Did you want to know how many mercenaries or soldiers a city of 40 000 could keep, or how many militiamen they could mobilize?

WriteKnight
03-05-2011, 08:58 PM
I should think a 'standing army' of probably one to two thousand men. This includes cavalry, and infantry, and 'artillery' (archers and/or gunners). If your world has an order for compulsory militia - then perhaps another three to four thousand could be called out - for a probably max of six to seven thousand men.

It's a fantasy novel - so you can push those figures around a bit - but that is the believable, realistic range for an earth style 'medieval' army - if you look at the broadest definition of the word 'medieval'.

GeorgeK
03-06-2011, 05:02 PM
Maybe 7,500.
Half of your 40,000 population are female.
Half of the remaining population are too young/old/disabled.
If everyone else turns up you have 10,000, but not everyone will turn up

If they are the ones being besieged, then everyone sort of by definition will show up. Women and children and the elderly can drag rocks for the catapults freeing up the trained military for actual fighting, or play drop the rock, or drag the wounded on litters back to the infirmary.

KQ800
03-06-2011, 06:39 PM
If they are the ones being besieged, then everyone sort of by definition will show up. Women and children and the elderly can drag rocks for the catapults freeing up the trained military for actual fighting, or play drop the rock, or drag the wounded on litters back to the infirmary.

Yep, keep the women in mind when you go to war. Remember "The British Soldier":

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains.....

Nivarion
03-07-2011, 01:03 AM
A lot of how big the fighting force you'll get out of a population also depends on the enemy their fighting.

You'll probably not send your old men, women and children to fight an enemy that want's to annex the city to their empire with as little blood as possible. The guys in charge will certainly try, but not as many will show up.

An enemy who is there to kill every man, woman child and animal in that city will probably find every man woman and child who can see lightening and hear thunder defending that city.