Barbarians at the Gate

From: Ian Cooper <>
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2000 16:23:33 +0000 (GMT)

heortlings have more heroes?
- ----------------------------

The Heortlings certainly have more warriors. It is the old 'barbarians at the gate' problem that afflicted Rome, Byzantium.

Order creates stability, stability creates economic productivity, higher standards of living etc. One of those benefits is economic specialization e.g. a professional standing army. You don't have to worry that the crops/animals you spent all last year nurturing are going to be taken from you by the hostile neigbours who are not as good at agriculture, but have a lot of big guys with spears. Somebody else worries about that for you: the state with its professional soldiers. You can concentrate on increasing the crop yields and on forward planning instead of learning to use a spear. Of course the soldiers don't have time to grow their own food, so you'll have to pay a tax to make sure they can spend their time training for war. But you don't mind, after all, with all that extra time on your hands you can grow more crops...

[Of course like ancient Rome the barbarians may end up
sacking your capital, becuase you have grown 'soft and decadent']

If you are an Orlanthi it is just you and your kin. Your ancestors tried large states before, but you know everyone just ended up as thralls. Of course that means that you and your kin are the only ones standing between your cattle/crops and the neighbours, that is why you were given a spear and shield when you became a man, and your kinfolk showed you how to use it. Everyone knows that 'violence is always an option'. Of course the clan will help you, but in return you have to help them. The fyrd is the levy of warriors the clan makes on the farmers to beat off raiders. Some rich farmers can avoid fighting themselves and concentrate on getting in the harvest by outfitting one of their kin with a mail-coat, horse and sword - in return for supporting a weaponthane the clan will reduce their households contribution to the fyrd. But that is the closest thing you've got to a professional soldier, unless you hire mercenaries. Of course if all the clans could stop fighting each other and collect their professional soldiers together maybe you could take on the lunar regiments... mind you those lunars do seem to have a lot of rich famers, how else did those guys find the time to build the trebuchets and ballistas that always seem to slaughter your troops before you get close enough to use your spears.

[The outside threat of the Viking raids was a factor
in turning the Anglo-saxon nations of England into the nation of England; a state which a hundred years later had one of the most efficient government systems in NW Europe]

And then of course there is the constant feuding, a legal system that encourages the kinfolk to enforce legal claims. It is a really good job you know how to use your spear and shield, otherwise anything you grew would not belong to you by the end of the year.

Though one or two of the appesers say that if we stopped fighting amongst ourselves, settled down to the plough, and let the lunar soldiers enforce order we would all be better off...

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