Size of a medieval army

Zeno

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
13,691
♪♬ ♫♪♩
The common soldier may have been glossed over in terms of publicity, but I highly doubt that when a medieval chronicler says that an army consists of 8,000 men, all of them were knights.
What i was saying is that some sources may claim there were, for example only 350 warriors, when in fact there were 350 noble warriors + a few dozen/hundred/thousand armed militia or peasants...
 

Earl_of_Rochester

Ad Honoris
Feb 2011
13,609
Perambulating in St James' Park
The common soldier may have been glossed over in terms of publicity, but I highly doubt that when a medieval chronicler says that an army consists of 8,000 men, all of them were knights.
True, but for a ragged bunch of tramps like the tafurs I doubt they'd be mentioned at all, as well as the baggage train and camp followers etc. Yet the tafurs still took part in battle as rather skinny, cannibalistic, shock-troop fanatics.

Bit like a night out in Cardiff really.

EoR
 
Nov 2010
258
Herzliya, Israel
So a 10k army made of around 1500 noble knights, 3000 mercenaries and 5500 peasents seems logical?
 
Apr 2010
16,748
Slovakia
So a 10k army made of around 1500 noble knights, 3000 mercenaries and 5500 peasents seems logical?
Peasant is not most correct word. Feudal levy instead. Which would consist of free farmers, petty landlords and townsfolk.

As a king or great lord, you would avoid arming and training your serfs except most desperate situations.
 

Zeno

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
13,691
♪♬ ♫♪♩
Larger cities, like the ones you'd find in Flanders at the time, did have armed militia. The count could sometimes use some of them.
 

SPERRO

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,480
North East England
The size of a medieval army during the 100 years war period (especially English), was dictated by the treasury. Henry V's campaign in 1415, saw an English total of around 10000 troops (Nobles included). The number of Knights included here would be around 200 max.
To this total, you would have to include victuallers and army stores (arrows etc), blacksmiths and Armourers, fletchers, Horse fodder train, some artillery and its transport.
Therefore, if you include the non combatent element, the 10000 could be doubled.
 
Apr 2010
16,748
Slovakia
In most pre modern armies, number of non combatants was usually 3 times that of fighting man. Those included all sorts of people who followed army, from traders and craftsmen to campwives. Not counting servants of more wealthy soldiers. Knights could have retinue of dozen different servants and several horses.
 

SPERRO

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,480
North East England
In most pre modern armies, number of non combatants was usually 3 times that of fighting man. Those included all sorts of people who followed army, from traders and craftsmen to campwives. Not counting servants of more wealthy soldiers. Knights could have retinue of dozen different servants and several horses.
Agreed, but in Henry V's campaign, finance was a little short. In addition, as the campaign wore on, many troops were lost to disantry and poor sanitation. By the time that the battle of Agincourt took place, the army was reduced to around 6000 troops (most of whom were bowmen).
 

clement

Ad Honorem
Jun 2011
2,141
California, USA
Still, armies could be much larger than that. In most battles, indeed, there were less than 10,000 men. But on some occasions, there were much more. During the 1st crusade, the crusaders left Europe with 35,000 men, mainly from France, flanders, Western Germany and Italy (although a minority of them made it to Jerusalem). Before the battle of Falkirk, Edward I gathered nearly 30,000 men. Philip IV of France could use 40,000 men in his campaigns in Flanders. At its (medieval) peak in the 1340s, the French army could have had as many as 100,000 men in total, including 60,000 on the northern front and 35,000 on the battlefield of Crecy. During the siege of Calais, Edward III had at least 25,000 men... At las Navas de Tolosa, there were 50,000 Spaniards.

But we must keep in mind that when a king gathers 50,000 men (which is exceptional even for France) he rarely uses all of them on the battlefield. It is difficult to command so big an army on the battlefield... And the main difficulty was not so much to gather a big army than to keep it for a long time. Thus, military campaigns seldom lasted for more than a few months.