Thursday, June 18, 2015

Military Ranks In Kulhn

I have been working on a major battle scene recently, and it has brought home just how incoherent the military ranks in medieval Europe and post-medieval armies really were. Some of them are ancestral to modern ranks. For example, a commissioned officer was someone who had received a royal commission. A warrant officer was someone who had been given a warrant by a commissioned officer. And so on.

But each country had their own system, and none of them were as detailed as a modern army. Even in the early years after the medieval period, it was still a case of the local lord marching off to battle with whatever few peasants he could gather up. The knight or baron would say something like, "John, you take Tim and Will. Go hide behind that hill with your crossbows while we drive the enemy to you." Or the functional equivalent. Most permanent fighting forces were mercenary companies, who had their own systems for organizing things.

Kulhn is different in that it does have a standing army. It has to have a standing army, because the Lertolian empire, which owns the western approximately four fifths of the continent, has an advanced and well organized military machine. The only reason that they haven't bothered to finish conquering the rest of the continent is the expense of fighting their way over the mountains. And then, of course, the aggravation of needing to administer the place. Especially with Kulhn's haunted forest in the way.

But the presence of the Lertolian empire has made it imperative for the eastern kingdoms to tighten down their military arrangements, just to survive. Kulhn's land army is organized in a way that is not nearly as rigorous as a modern military, but still tighter and more efficient than medieval Europe. I won't get into their navy here, which is basically an afterthought at this point in their history. Kulhn is not a naval power by any means.

The royal army in Kulhn consists of primarily militia and a small percentage of regular soldiers, with the rest being provided by the most powerful nobility from their personal household troops. The royal regulars are maintained, fed, housed, and supplied through taxes levied by the throne against the noble houses. The militia maintain themselves, based on whatever arrangement they have worked out with their local lord. There are no slaves or serfs in Kulhn, and many of the peasant militia are small landholders themselves. However, no one is required to supply a levy of troops unless they own more than a square league of land.

The ranks are not patterned after the Lertolian model, since the Lertolian legions are much larger and more diverse than anything east of the Nahksaur mountains. Military ranks in Kulhn start at common soldier, then squad leader (commands five), then sergeant (commands five squads), then team leader (varies), then commander (might be either a squire or a knight, might command team leaders in field, or might operate in administration), then captain (usually a knight bachelor who does not own land, usually part of general's staff), and ultimately the commander general.

Above the commander general (aka  just 'the general') are the highborn. These are the nobles who bear kinship to the throne in some way, as well as the royal family itself. If a member of the highborn is present, they always take command by default, with relative authority being decided by birth rank.

Hopefully this will clarify things a bit for anyone who reads Recompense. I estimate it to be about 85% done, after last weekend's marathon writing session.