Best military in Europe in the year 1150?

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,799
Combined or individually and in terms of per person war capabilities, field armies, or total war estimate?

Few states that had a good army also had a good navy and versa. The Italian Maritime Republics on a per person basis definitely had the best navies and since Venice and Genoa both constantly used their trade ships as warships and had stockpiled extra warships one of those would likely win the best navy term though Byzantines still had something in 1150 it was relatively weaker while the various Muslim Emirates could field a large number of competent warships they had no organizing principle and shouldn't be included as one entity.

Army is way more difficult to judge because most campaigns were relatively short and field armies were small though most states could field 2-3 more field of declining quality if their primary army was totally defeated. I would go with Norman Sicily by per person capabilities but going to a total war estimate I am not sure- much of that comes down to organization and political will more than simply economy and size of the population.
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
3,061
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Since 1150 was before the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the first choice would be the Roman or "Byzantine" Army, since it was the best army in Europe Constantly from about 200 BC to AD 1204, except for relatively short intervals.

The Huns may have been the supreme military force in Europe in the reign of Attila from 434 to 453.

The First Bulgarian Empire from 681 to 1018 might sometimes have had a more powerful army than the "Byzantine" one.

The Frankish military under Charlemagne and Louis I from 768 to 840 might have been more powerful than the "Byzantine" military.

Tsar Simeon I of the First Bulgarian Empire may have had a better army than the "Byzantine" one during his reign from 893 to 927.

The Caliphate of Cordoba in Spain may have had the best army in Europe in about 950 to 1010, although the "Byzantine" army was also very powerful about that time.

The Almoravid army which invaded Spain to fight the Christians in 1086 and returned to annex the Muslim states and fight the Christians in 1090, might have been the most powerful army in Europe for some time.

And there may have been other armies inEruope more powerful than the Roman or "Byzantine" one from time to time. But the Roman or "Byzantine" army was usually the most powerful in Europe and as far as I know 1155 was not an exception.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,116
Cornwall
Since 1150 was before the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the first choice would be the Roman or "Byzantine" Army, since it was the best army in Europe Constantly from about 200 BC to AD 1204, except for relatively short intervals.

The Huns may have been the supreme military force in Europe in the reign of Attila from 434 to 453.

The First Bulgarian Empire from 681 to 1018 might sometimes have had a more powerful army than the "Byzantine" one.

The Frankish military under Charlemagne and Louis I from 768 to 840 might have been more powerful than the "Byzantine" military.

Tsar Simeon I of the First Bulgarian Empire may have had a better army than the "Byzantine" one during his reign from 893 to 927.

The Caliphate of Cordoba in Spain may have had the best army in Europe in about 950 to 1010, although the "Byzantine" army was also very powerful about that time.

The Almoravid army which invaded Spain to fight the Christians in 1086 and returned to annex the Muslim states and fight the Christians in 1090, might have been the most powerful army in Europe for some time.

And there may have been other armies inEruope more powerful than the Roman or "Byzantine" one from time to time. But the Roman or "Byzantine" army was usually the most powerful in Europe and as far as I know 1155 was not an exception.
I always think with the Byzantine army they were at times so spread out that total numbers aren't that relevant - it's what you can concentrate at one point. For example in 550 they had 150,000 troops on paper but couldn't put more than 5,000 in Hispania because of rebellions in Africa, trouble with Persia and the Balkans and Italy!

Not too dissimilar with Charlemagne - with such a huge empire how much can be concentrated? Paris was being attacked by the Vikings and of course there was the Spanish debacle in 778

Caliphate of Cordoba/Amiris - yes, powerful old beast possibly up to 70,000 full time troops under Almanzor - totally funded by 'loot' - but also had many fronts to face - albeit fairly weak Christian kindoms but Almanzor also did 3 campaigns in North Africa (or his troops did)

Almoravids - a bit deceptive really- a study of Zalaqa/Sagrajas reveals Almoravid troops are thought to be relatively low - probably something over 10,000 but including 'allied' troops from Badajoz, Sevilla and Granada. Numbers in battles like Cosuegra and Ucles were relatively low on both sides.

The Almohads seem to have a been a sort of bigger, badder brother projecting armies of around 30,000 into 'Hispania' including 'allies' and a few Christian mercenaries or dissenters. There are descriptions of this army moving on campaign (under Abd Al Mu'min in Africa and Yaqub Al Mansur later), with it's multi-cultural make-up, the Caliph near the front with enormous bodyguard and massive drums heard for many miles at the very front

Descriptions orginate in Huici Miranda's Historia Politica del Imperio Almohade (at least)
 
Nov 2014
511
ph
Well the Komnenian army could get up to 40000 troops for a very large battle like Myriocephalum, and up to 20000 for a normal campaign, so that definitely puts them up there.