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Old April 19th, 2017, 10:23 AM   #1
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Did commiting atrocities boost the morale of barbarian troops?


When at war, didn't the orgy of atrocities against enemy non-combatants start once the Huns/Mongols/etc. finished off enemy combatants?

Didn't the hordes constantly raid defenseless villages to cull and enslave men, women, and children?

How morale-boosting did they find their atrocities?

Reportedly, even members of the Einsatzgruppen found their jobs demoralizing - which makes you wonder how much more maniacal the ancient barbarians must have been.
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Old April 19th, 2017, 11:03 AM   #2

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I would not say it boost their morale. It was certainly a release from the stress and trauma of war. We are learning in recent years how PDST is prevalent among those who fight in wars. Maybe it was some sick, twisted way to inflict the pain and anguish a warrior was feeling upon others. Innocents are always an easy target. It would take one with a strong moral compass to avoid sinking into the gutter.
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Old April 19th, 2017, 02:20 PM   #3
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Well pillaging might certainly increase morale.

I mean, who wouldn't want to become filthy rich stealing other peoples stuff?
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Old April 19th, 2017, 02:23 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CPTANT View Post
Well pillaging might certainly increase morale.

I mean, who wouldn't want to become filthy rich stealing other peoples stuff?
True. That was often their "pay."
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Old April 19th, 2017, 02:26 PM   #5
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Rape and pillage was seen as an incentive for the attacking force to succeed and a punishment for the defending side for either being on the wrong side or for refusing to surrender.

Did it affect them afterwards? Did they feel sympathy for the people they'd robbed and/or murdered and the women they'd raped? You would hope they would, but I doubt many did.
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Old April 19th, 2017, 05:46 PM   #6

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Cultural values have a lot to do with it. If you're part of a culture that celebrates war and conquest, then you're not going to feel guilty about looting, raping, and pillaging because that's how you conquer. You're doing a glorious thing, even your gods probably think so, so what's to feel bad about? It's also very easy to dehumanize people you see as foreigners. Chinese peasants were barely human to the Mongols because their way of life and culture was so alien. Even civilized people fall into that mindset during wartime. For most "barbarian" people the wartime mindset was permanent.
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Old April 19th, 2017, 05:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fenestella View Post
When at war, didn't the orgy of atrocities against enemy non-combatants start once the Huns/Mongols/etc. finished off enemy combatants?

Didn't the hordes constantly raid defenseless villages to cull and enslave men, women, and children?

How morale-boosting did they find their atrocities?

Reportedly, even members of the Einsatzgruppen found their jobs demoralizing - which makes you wonder how much more maniacal the ancient barbarians must have been.
In general I don't think "barbarians" behaved much differently than the "civilized".
The "civilized" forces also committed ( and commit ) atrocities.

As others already said, looting was how soldiers were paid before there was national/state armed forces.

Massacres was probably a way to decrease the morale of the enemy and not to boost one's morale. But there are many things to consider. Atrocities may be a tactic, strategy or part of a warrior culture.
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Old April 19th, 2017, 06:48 PM   #8

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Massacres happened last for a variety of reasons.

1) you don't need the extra mouths to feed. Practicality says letting them go will resort in them either rejoining their tribe/army and making them dangerous again or having nothing to do but become bandits that will trouble the locals. Practical choice is put them to the sword. Keeping them as slaves might work if you are close to home, or they are not too many. But circumstances might render that impractical.

2) you hate them/revenge .... these guys invaded your country, burnt you villages, killed your friends and carried away women and children. Teach them a lesson...

3) politics. Make an example. Kill enough now and you hopefully won't need to kill more again in the future. Let other tribes and states no the cost in fighting you.

4) future conflict. Kill all these warriors now. Next time you have to fight these guys then maybe their troops will be greener and easier to beat. They might not be able to fight you for a generation or two.

Same theory can be applied to looting and pillaging.
Practicality... it's difficult to keep armies supplied, it's easier to let them rob, scavenge and steal food from enemy farms and civvies.
Revenge.. punish these people for their failure to respect your strength.
Future conflicts .... burn 1 city and others might cave with out resistance, flee before you get there.

And as stated, looting was the main way warrior cultures got any kind of "pay" or perks, other than being given food, gifts and a roof.
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Old April 20th, 2017, 04:29 AM   #9

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'Barbarians' is a ridiculously broad brush.
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Old April 20th, 2017, 09:13 AM   #10
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Inb4 Alexander troops, Roman legions, China imperial army, Soviet red shirts and British gentlemen didnt rape or pillage.

Last edited by A Vietnamese; April 20th, 2017 at 09:16 AM.
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