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History Corner!

posted by seher on - last edited - Viewed by 506 users

Hey kids,

As promised, I made this thread for those of us that like to get our history nerd on at times. From time to time I'll drop some knowledge nuggets from the random things I have and like to study, summarized thusly from the last thread I jacked:

@seher said: My areas of focus were ancient to medieval Asia and medieval Europe, largely military but also some religious persecution/heretical sects.

I have decided, however, in the interests of keeping things civil on my employer's forums, that I won't touch on things in the realm of politics and/or religion that have a bad tendency on the internets to cause heated arguments, even when begun with the purest of intentions.

I'm going to start off answering Lena's question about books on early Renaissance mercenaries, with a little background for those of you that don't know a lot on the subject. The background will, by necessity, be brief and very simplified; just ask if there's something you'd like me to elaborate on. To keep it Telltale, this is going to move into a discussion about Machiavelli and how, in actuality, he's a little like Harry Moleman.

So, to start, mercenaries. As most people know, Italy was where the Renaissance started and that put them in a strong position of leadership in darn near everything that we associate with the period. Most importantly for this topic, a lot of city-states, most notably Florence, Milan and Genoa, became incredibly wealthy. This great wealth gave the people the ability to hire people to fight their wars so they didn't have to, time fighting would be time that they weren't making money of course. So, for a period of approximately 150 years, Italian warfare was dominated by the condottieri (from condotta, or, contract).

There are some books on the subject, of varying degrees of scholarship. The two best are:

MERCENARIES AND THEIR MASTERS: Warfare in Renaissance Italy
Michael Mallett

Mercenary Companies and the Decline of Siena
William Caferro

Both authors are excellent scholars and pretty good reads as well.

There was and is a lot of debate about whether the condottieri system was a good or a bad thing. Machiavelli absolutely hated the system and wrote a lot about his feelings.
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75 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Hug! Thank you so much! I was actually a little worried that you'd not be able to start this thread so quickly since you guys are probably busy with the mac stuff. I'm going to look those books up tomorrow :D

    I've also thought up another question, if that's okay. The Mongols of Genghis Khan's day (or however his name is spelt now) were amazing fighters, but when they were always on the move, how did they forge their weapons? Did they purchase their weaponry from others? Have segments of their population that were sedentary? Carve their arrow heads instead of forging them? I've always wondered about that.

  • @Lena_P said: Hug! Thank you so much! I was actually a little worried that you'd not be able to start this thread so quickly since you guys are probably busy with the mac stuff. I'm going to look those books up tomorrow :D

    I've also thought up another question, if that's okay. The Mongols of Genghis Khan's day (or however his name is spelt now) were amazing fighters, but when they were always on the move, how did they forge their weapons? Did they purchase their weaponry from others? Have segments of their population that were sedentary? Carve their arrow heads instead of forging them? I've always wondered about that.

    Couldn't Blacksmiths be on the move as well theoretically?

    Also, this thread gets the Ribs award of confusion, titled 'And if the player gets to the endzone, it's a touchdown!'

  • From my brief research, it appears that the Mongols actually didn't use all that much metal relatively speaking.

    Their armor was primarily hardened leather and skins to A) keep out the cold and B) keep light and mobile for their long rides. In terms of weapons, they relied heavily on composite bows (wood, sinew, and horn), though did need iron arrow head for at least some of their arrow types. (They had three, iron-headed long range arrows, v-headed skin piercing arrows, and whistling arrows. The latter were cut with holes such that they whistled as they flew through the air. This could be used for directions AND to scare the bejeezus out of their enemies.)

    They did have a standard military issue curved sword. These, and the rest of the standard issue metal weapons seem to have come from special workshops set up.
    "100,000 strong army of Chinggis Khaan was well armed and possessed the latest warfare technology available. Hundreds of workshops across the Mongol state produced weapons. A suburb was set up in the capital city of Kharhorin, where skilled craftsmen brought from all corners of the vast empire made bows, arrows, sables and armor."

    The rich, high ranking soldiers had well crafted halberds and the like, but it seems like these were rather expensive and rare, probably due to the difficulty to make them in quantity.

    Finally, they had long spear and javelins made out of wood. They also had various types of siege weaponry, but that's all wood as well.

    Ref: http://www.mongoliatoday.com/issue/7/warriors.html
    http://ryanwolfe.weebly.com/weapons.html

  • Telltale Games: We're Over-qualified in Awesome.

    :D

  • @StLouisRibs said: Couldn't Blacksmiths be on the move as well theoretically?

    Blacksmiths, yes.
    Forges? That sounds harder.

  • Also, I'll be very sad if this thread stops after today.

  • I think you severely underestimate my ability to blather on about most of the breadth of history regardless of who is listening/reading.

    I'll have more to add about the Mongols and the original topic but it'll have to wait until I get home to my books and notes.
    ________
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  • Somebody tell me their favourite historical story of all time to get me excited!!

    Mine's the story of "Gaius Popillius Laenas" who was an elderly envoy for Rome trying to stop a war with Egypt. When he met with the Egyptian king and his armies he drew a line in the sand in front of the king and told him not to move untill he'd fully considered his actions. Such was the sheer power and might of the Roman empire, the Egyptian king never crossed the line and our elderly envoy after facing down the ruler and armies of Egypt on his own, returned to Rome.

    Yeah I probably told it wrong but the moral shines through. Your turn!

  • Well Jed, I'd have to do some thinking about my favorite historical story but for now, I can briefly share my favorite mythological story.

    Those of you that play TF2 with us know me as Hathor, here's why:

    Once, long ago, Ra/Osiris was pretty mad at the people for not respecting him anymore. He decided to send Sekhmet/Hathor down to punish them. She started killing them, enjoyed it way too much and worked herself into a berserk rage, threatening the destruction of humanity. To stop her, Osiris changed the vast rivers of blood on the ground to beer. Hathor, in her crazy rage, starts drinking it (thinking it's blood) and ends up passing out in a drunken stupor and humanity is saved.
    ________
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  • @seher said: Well Jed, I'd have to do some thinking about my favorite historical story but for now, I can briefly share my favorite mythological story.

    Those of you that play TF2 with us know me as Hathor, here's why:

    Once, long ago, Ra/Osiris was pretty mad at the people for not respecting him anymore. He decided to send Sekhmet/Hathor down to punish them. She started killing them, enjoyed it way too much and worked herself into a berserk rage, threatening the destruction of humanity. To stop her, Osiris changed the vast rivers of blood on the ground to beer. Hathor, in her crazy rage, starts drinking it (thinking it's blood) and ends up passing out in a drunken stupor and humanity is saved.

    I really love the way mythology doesn't care much for morals in their stories half the time :D

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