Thursday, May 7, 2020

Campaign Design - Military Organization in the Freeholds

Military Organization in the Freeholds

Standing armies are essentially unheard of in the Freeholds. In addition to being expensive to maintain, a ruler or noble who keeps a large fighting force on hand without an obvious threat to defend against is likely to be viewed with suspicion by his neighbors. Consequently, most of the lords and kings of the Freeholds rely upon a small cadre of household troops that are supplemented in times of need with a call to a lord's feudal subordinates and a citizen militia.

One of the most important offices in a Freehold is the folcgesiþ, the warleader or marshal of the kingdom. This is a position appointed by the ruling monarch, usually from his own household - it is fairly common for an æðeling to also be the nation's folcgesiþ - but it is not uncommon for the office to be held by a sibling or cousin of the monarch, or more rarely one of the æorls or þegns of the realm. In wartime, the folcgesiþ is the ðengel's commander in the field, assuming that the ðengel doesn't command his armies himself. He is assumed to speak with the ruler's voice, and act with the ruler's hands, and consequently in military matters all others in the realm are supposed to defer to the folcgesiþ's authority. When not leading armies in the field, the primary responsibility of the folcgesiþ is to ensure the readiness of his sovereign's troops, by recruiting and providing for his household troops, ensuring that the various noble Houses are able to fulfill their feudal military obligations, and by keeping watch on the readiness of the fyrdd. In practice, these responsibilities mean that the folcgesiþ often ends up acting as the senior official in a kingdom on almost all administrative matters.

For the most part, a king or landholding noble will maintain only enough troops to garrison key castles and fortresses and handle everyday problems such as bandits, counting on his ability to expand his forces in times of need. These household troops are referred to as the folgoþ and are commanded by the húscnehts acting as both an officer corps and an elite component. These troops are generally professional soldiers, skilled at arms and equipped as well as their liege can afford. In many cases, household troops will supplement their provided equipment whenever possible, under the reasonable assumption that better armor and weapons will improve their chances for survival when they are called upon to fight. When answering the call of their liege, a House will usually bring their húscnehts and a portion of their household troops to fulfill their obligations.

In times of great danger, such as when a Freehold is invaded, its rulers can call upon the fyrdd, a citizen militia composed of all of the free men in the kingdom.Fyrddmen are expected to provide their own equipment, although many ruling Houses have taken it upon themselves to create armories stocked with basic supplies to ensure that their fyrddmen are adequately provided for. Although there is no hard and fast rule concerning what a fyrddman must arm himself with, the basic assumption is that every fyrddman will be equipped with a bow and spear and wear some sort of light armor, usually leather. Many commoners have the Fyrddman feat, which provides them with the basic skills needed to fulfill their obligations. Although some might think that the obligations of being a fyrddman would grate upon the populace, it is an important mark of social status, and as a result, most denizens of the Freeholds eagerly claim the role. Even so, most ruling nobles are reluctant to call out the fyrdd except in the most serious circumstances, as keeping the farmers and artisans of the nation in the field for battle for any length of time can be crippling for their land's economic health.

When a king or noble calls upon his vassals and assembles his forces for war, the resulting assembly is called a herefolc, or sometimes an innhere, although the second only applies to a purely land-based force. When an army is composed entirely of húscnehts, it is often referred to as an ísenhere, or iron-clad army, due to the fact that all such individuals are almost always armored in steel armor. On those rare occasions in which the fyrdd is also called up to fight alongside the herefolc, the resulting panoply is referred to as a þrymm, which is roughly translated as "host".

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