Re: The fyrd

From: Michael Hitchens <>
Date: Tue, 5 Dec 2000 12:31:13 +1100 (EST)

> >That's just the point - the fyrd doesn't train. It's individual members
> >might, to greater or lesser degrees, but they don't train as a unit. And
> >cattle raids don't give any experience in such things - they're too
> >disorganised.
> Military historians have a specialist word for disorganised raids,
> disasters.

        Cattle raids aren't stand up fights. They developed in the RW to avoid mass combat while still satisfying the cultural need for conflict. They were disorganised, in the sense that there was little in the way of sub-unit organisation or leadership. They were mobs with some idea what they were doing.

        On the other hand, what they are in Glorantha has never been clearly set down, so it may be they are something different.

> 'Obey Chosen Leaders' isn't in there just for laughs. IMO a
> cattle raid against a capable foe (& they are capable. the hazards of O/i
> life got the incompetents generations ago) must be organised or it will
> fail. No the RSM won't be out there shouting Eyes Right, it will be
> organisation apropriate to the culture requiring training apropriate to the
> culture.

Correct. Which means if they are faced with a set piece battle situation against a properly drilled force they are in trouble.

> To achive organisation amongst the fyrd they train as a unit, or
> more likely sub-units.

Do they? This is the question. For Sartar, we don't know the answer. *My* feeling is that there is no real unit or sub-unit training for the Heortling fyrd, but we won;t know until we're explicitly told.

> >Which means one on one they miught be quite good. But put
> >them up against an organised fighting force and they're in trouble.
> DOTTS. Depends On The Tactical Situation. See your example below.

Yes, and the the example is extreme.

> Thats called 'tactics'. A great part of military training & effort in the
> field goes into getting the enemy to fight on your terms & ground not his.
> Why would a body of warriors trained to fight an Orlanthi battle choose to
> fight a Lunar one? Hit the column when its in trouble & can't form
> otherwise you're fighting in someone else's specialty & will have your arse
> deservedly kicked.(as they do later)
> Just because the German tactics don't look like Roman tactics don't mean
> they're not tactics.

This was an extraordinarily unusual, almost unique event. The Romans thought they were moving through friendly territory. Indeed, the man who organised the ambush had been travelling with them until just a few days before the attack. I'd say it was much more strategy than tactics. It was not something that could be repeated and really not something to draw general conclusions from.

The question is quite simple. Arrange equal (large) numbers of Lunar regulars and Fyrd/weaponthanes in a (reasonably) open field, for a set piece battle. Who do you expect to win? Why?

My answers are: The Lunars. Because they have far superior unit training and discipline.

If the Orlanthi leader can get the Lunars into broken terrain *and* break up the unit integrity than the Orlanthi have a much better chance. *But* the Lunars can get to enough settlements without this happening. Why do you think the Lunars conquered Sartar and Tarsh and have an empire?

> The Orlanthi have the decided advantage (over both
> Lunars & Germans) of dispersed power. Taking the cities will not destroy it
> as the power centers in places of worship as much or more (they have a
> pretty immanent pantheon) than in places of business.

Over the Lunars, yes.  

> > The Anglo-Saxon fyrd (I'm assuming the same term means some
> >relationship) was poorly disciplined - look at what at Hastings.
> Once again their dicipline is not the Birkenhead Drill. Different dicipline
> for different times & technologies. And Hastings was as much a victory of
> superior & new (to the A/S anyway) technology as of 'dicipline'. They were
> fighting in an enemy outside their experience. The enemy against whom they
> had experience ( & so tactics & 'dicipline') were defeated earlier after
> which they did a forced march south re-recruiting as they went. Norman
> 'dicipline' persisted long enough to be tested at Agincourt, where it was
> found wanting.

Yes, Hastings was lost by the superiority of the new over the old. What lost it was the fyrd. They are what broke, half early, half later. The knights couldn't break the carls. It wasn't the mounted technology that beat the fyrd (except that it enabled the Normans to run away quickly when they needed it) but their own lack of discipline.

Saying that they beat someone so had 'discipline' against that enemy is nonsense. *Maybe* they had the same *relative* discipline, but that's all. I wouldn't put the French army at Agincourt in the same box as the Norman army at Hastings. Same basic technology, but same discipline? Do you really think the French were capable of the feigned retreat William used to break the second half of the Fyrd? I don't think so. And interestingly it was arrows that won Agincourt and arrows that killed Harold. In both cases, I'd say, it was superior discipline, aided by technology, that won out. But better discipline from both losers would have changed the result. The British at Agincourt were almost out of supply. A little more patiece and the French would have won without a fight. And if the fyrd hadn't broken Willian would never have been king.

Anyway, all this has drifted so OT that it's not that relevant for Glorantha. Issaries will tell us how disciplined and well trained the fyrd is. Then we'll know.


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