PDA

View Full Version : Medieval Bootcamp



Mr. Mask
05-27-2013, 07:30 PM
I've been considering a story placed in a bootcamp, during more ancient times.

Is much known about ancient training? I figure there are many similarities with modern training, but I wonder what differences there are.

To be more specific, I wonder what the training camp of a very professional military of the 1,200s of Europe might be like. Would there be drill instructors who profane the recruits in a similar fashion to the Marines?

I know about a few ancient methods of exercise they used to use, which helps an amount. Logs were pretty useful.

dirtsider
05-27-2013, 07:52 PM
If you're thinking of European military in the 1200's, it would be totally different than modern armies and modern training. It took a lot of time and money to train up a professional soldier - a knight - so only the nobles would be trained as such. Or someone sponsored by a noble family. And they started as young as 7 as a squire to an older knight. They had to learn how to ride a horse, care for said horse, as well as the armor and weapons.

My suggestion: Google medieval tourneys or jousts. (Not the modern ren fair jousts, mind!) Medieval tourneys weren't the same as what you see today, which are primarily shows put on for the public. Medieval Tourneys were the recruiting centers of their times.

waylander
05-27-2013, 08:28 PM
Is this for knights or men-at-arms or a citizen militia?

Mr. Mask
05-27-2013, 08:37 PM
Was thinking more of men-at-arms. Information about how mercenaries or citizen's militia got trained might be just as useful, admittedly.

Cranky1
05-27-2013, 08:41 PM
There were knights and then there were mercenaries. Although knights were paid, they would have been of a higher class than the regular mercenary. I am thinking you would want to read more about mercenaries and how armies were built more than how they were trained.

Mr. Mask
05-27-2013, 08:45 PM
I think I know enough about army structures for the story. I know someone who can help me with that if I encounter such a problem. But, even after researching the subject a lot, I haven't found much on the training culture or details of training soldiers in past ages. You often hear which armies seemed to be betterly trained--but often little about how they were trained.


Noticed Sider's post: Thank you for the suggestion. I'll remember to try looking up the medieval tourneys (I guess you mean the original ones, which were more like actual battles?).

Sarpedon
05-27-2013, 09:19 PM
It varied by period. The Romans had a training program that was very recognizable. Soldiers were given wooden swords, spears and wicker shields that had lead weights in them to make them heavier then the real thing. They would practice by bashing man-sized posts. They also learned marching, unit formations, how to encamp, and all the various things that made the Roman Legions the best fighting force in the ancient world.

In the middle ages, things were a bit more random. Most Medieval countries didn't have training programs because they had no standing army. Aristocratic youth were trained to fight from childhood. Young boys would start being formally taught wrestling and boxing from a tender age, with archery and swordsmanship starting from 8-10. In most armies, at least in the early middle ages, you were assumed to have done this all on your own time, and when your lord summons you, you had better be ready. England still has a law that requires every male to practice archery once a week. This is an unenforced relic of the period.

As the middle ages wore on, professional armies became dominant. In the 100 years war for example, the professional English armies routinely defeated the French, despite numerical weakness, until the French developed similar professional institutitions. After the 100 years war, France's army was dominant in Europe.

In the late middle ages, complex formations began to dominate again, with the Spanish and the Swiss taking the lead when it came to well trained blocks of infantry. Sadly, I don't really know what the method of training was, but it must have been rigorous, given the size and complexity of the formations. Many cities at that time had large squares that would double as drilling ground for the local militia. These were especially common in the planned towns of the era.

Medieval fighting manuals are available online. Search for Talhoffer, and you will start to find the network of medieval texts. In the late middle ages, a variety of fighting schools opened accross Europe. These were private schools that catered to the middle and upper class. The poor tended to engage in sports that provided their training. Boxing, wrestling, staves, archery, even bowling had their military applications.

Mr. Mask
05-27-2013, 09:30 PM
I am aware of Talhoffer's manual, and agree that such manuals are very useful.

Thank you for your break down. It is very informed and I feel it has given me some perspective. After looking around, it seems there is no information on ancient training regimes in detail, unfortunately.

Xalarik
05-27-2013, 10:22 PM
The Byzantine army was organized, disciplined, well trained and most importantly, supported by military science and text-books, the Strategikon of Maurice being the most notably of the manuals. I think (hope! :)) you might have better luck researching the Byzantine army's training camps. Not European but employed European mercenaries and troops.

Buffysquirrel
05-27-2013, 10:31 PM
You need to specify a country as well as a time period.

Mr. Mask
05-27-2013, 10:53 PM
The Byzantine army was organized, disciplined, well trained and most importantly, supported by military science and text-books, the Strategikon of Maurice being the most notably of the manuals. I think (hope! :)) you might have better luck researching the Byzantine army's training camps. Not European but employed European mercenaries and troops. The Byzantine are a great idea. I'll see if I can find a good translation of some of their manuals. Thank you for that.


You need to specify a country as well as a time period. If you know any good examples, I'll take any. French, German, Italian, Russian or whatever else. Swiss and Hungarian training is something I'd have a preference for.