Alright, so I guess this is a first for me. I’m going to actually explore some of the subjects I touched upon on Monday. Today’s topic, is the Military.
When writing about a military, there are a number of ways to break it down that vary from genre to genre, and time period. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to spend more time focusing on the area I’m good with – medieval – though I’ll be touching on other areas too.
The Break Down
First, any military falls under 3 categories:
- Space (for Sci-fi, which tend to cross air and sea)
That is the general breakdown, however we can split it up further.
- Infantry – Close combat fighters. – Pikemen, Swordsmen, etc…
- Stealth – Assassins, Scouts, Snipers
- Ranged Infantry – Archers, Musketeers, Crossbowmen
- Cavalry – People on Horseback
- Artillery/Siege – Catapults to Mortars, and everything in between.
- Ships… okay, so I’m not too good at the non-medieval thing. At least I’m honest about it.
- Stealth – Bombers, Scouts, Satellites
- Fighter – Jets, Planes, and standard Air v. Air
- Bombers – Bombers, Blimps
Every military has two things in common. First, is that there are always more regular troops than elites. For example, the U.S. Navy Seals are vastly out numbered by the Army. Second, is that Counter-measures are always in place.
The reason the spear/pike was so common among soldiers in the medieval era, was because the average peasant barely wore armor. They couldn’t afford it. So when a knight comes in on a horse, swinging a sword around, you needed to, first, be able to reach him, and second, get through his armor. Spear already gives you some decent range, but to an enemy on horseback, you’re below them with a long, pointy stick. It’s much easier to get at the good, fleshy points like that.
Tactics have evolved over the years, but many points remain true. I recommend Sun Tzu’s Art of War for good information as there’s too much to cover here.
As a Driving Force in History
There’s a couple of sayings, “Might makes right,” and “The victors decide how history will be written.” The bigger the army, the more power you hold, and the more devastation you’ll bring in your wake. As I mentioned before, the bigger an army, the more you have to feed it. An army can’t live entirely off of transported supplies, and will often live off of the land. A foreign land to be precise, leaving little for their people, destroying them without lifting a blade more than a few times. Thus entwining a military victory with destroying an economy as well.
To be honest, military and economy often go hand in hand through history. You cannot lay waste to a kingdom without depriving it of resources, and, even when pushed back, they need to rebuild the areas you destroyed. However, to say they aren’t political tools is a gross misunderstanding. As I said, “Might makes right.” Against a bigger and stronger army, smaller countries often have trouble standing up and defending themselves. Not everyone can have a group like the Mohists around to help out, so they usually gave in to the military pressure if they couldn’t band together with other small countries to survive.
The Crusades. Need I say more? Religious influence in politics leads to military campaigns against other religions.
Science and Technology develop to make better weapons, stronger armor, and more efficient armies.
Without a doubt, it’s a driving force of history.