Quality of Feudal Arms

Sep 2017
109
Pennsylvania
#51
I may have missed this point being made with all the minutia regarding the Mongol invasions. If so I apologize.

I think it bears noting that OP made a very broad generalization that we're talking about "Medieval, Western European Armies." That's a phrase which can encompass an entire continent, a full millennium and interacts with about eight distinct cultural spheres. In the fifth century urban society is at a low ebb as the WRE collapses, so small war bands are the order of the day. From there forward progress occurs, until at the conclusion of the Medieval period with the Renaissance/Age of Discovery Western European powers begin to assert dominance over pretty much the whole world in the military, religious, political and financial arenas for the next few centuries.

Throughout this whole period it would seem to me that, overall, western European armies were at least adequate, compared to the military forces of the other cultures they faced. For instance, the Crusaders eventually got thrown out of the Holy Land, but then the Moors eventually got thrown out of Spain. Neither the Mongols nor the Turks ever made it particularly far into Western Europe, while the Tartars and Khazars trampled Russia until the Kievan Rus threw them out.

Once the population recovered enough to get the economy back on solid ground Medieval armorers churned out a constant stream of innovative arms and armor in support of a massive weapons manufacturing industry which goes back to the 10th century. Even before that weapons manufacturing was technologically advanced, just lacking the infrastructure to support mass production.

When you talk about multi-ethnic/multi-national confederations such as the Crusades, western European armies tended to suffer from fragmented command structures and factionalism which hindered their operations abroad. That's true of every coalition force in history though. Napoleon took apart the HRE in the 19th century because its army was really a coalition.

Whenever western European armies went against one another they did as well as their commander's competence, state of readiness and willingness to fight allowed. For the most part there was parity of technology and training in that, until the tail end of the Medieval period standing armies of professional troops were almost non-existent. Even then, mercenaries were a well-established sector of the economy by that point and tended to outperform the noble, warrior class on the field of battle.

I don't, personally, think that Medieval Western European Armies were any worse than the armies of any other period when you factor in the various exigencies that determined their make up.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
4,097
Sydney
#52
I actually think they were much better than anything else in the world at parity in number
europe was in a constant state of warfare , this tend to promote excellence in fighting skills
their only competitor was the Ottomans who incorporated much European technique into their own military organisation
 
Sep 2014
1,167
Queens, NYC
#53
From my slim reading, I suspect that in the medieval period (476-1517 A.D.) most Chinese armies would be qualitatively superior to almost any contemporary European army of comparable size.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,531
#54
From my slim reading, I suspect that in the medieval period (476-1517 A.D.) most Chinese armies would be qualitatively superior to almost any contemporary European army of comparable size.
When led by an organized central authority which appointed competent commanders I would say almost any state would be able to defeat smaller feudally organized state over time BUT Byzantines vs Turks and Jin/Song vs Mongols slightly disparage that (though Mongols were not really 'feudal' they also were only sort of centrally organized).
 
Nov 2010
7,514
Cornwall
#55
From my slim reading, I suspect that in the medieval period (476-1517 A.D.) most Chinese armies would be qualitatively superior to almost any contemporary European army of comparable size.
Rather strange statement. For a start what is a 'european army'? 1000 Templars maybe? The Caliphal army of Almanzor? Or a load of peasants raised in between harvest gathering?

And 476 to 1517 is a long period.

I wouldn't even compare the Visigothic army of Alaric II in standard with that of Euric a few years earlier - so how is anyone going to compare it with Chinese?
 
Nov 2013
683
Texas
#56
Rather strange statement. For a start what is a 'european army'? 1000 Templars maybe? The Caliphal army of Almanzor? Or a load of peasants raised in between harvest gathering?

And 476 to 1517 is a long period.

I wouldn't even compare the Visigothic army of Alaric II in standard with that of Euric a few years earlier - so how is anyone going to compare it with Chinese?
Logistics- Chinese armies were probably a lot larger, not just because of more people either

Mettalurgy- Especially prior to the Crusades, I'd argue that Chinese armies had superior mettalurgy (as the Blast Furnace was not seen in the west until the 12th century.) While a case could be made the west had crucible steel; a case could also be made that the west didn't have very much of it.
 
Nov 2010
7,514
Cornwall
#57
Logistics- Chinese armies were probably a lot larger, not just because of more people either

Mettalurgy- Especially prior to the Crusades, I'd argue that Chinese armies had superior mettalurgy (as the Blast Furnace was not seen in the west until the 12th century.) While a case could be made the west had crucible steel; a case could also be made that the west didn't have very much of it.
I think he said 'qualitatively' so not counting numbers. I think leadership probably has a lot to do with it. I'm sure there were shambolic Chinese armies just as there were elsewhere, the generalisation is far too broad.