Utilizing thematic system in 14th - 15th centuries

Oct 2011
Let's say that, instead of your classical feudalism, Western European military and social organization had - for whatever reason - developed along the lines of Eastern Roman / Byzantine thematic system. What would it have meant for history of Western Europe?

Bonus question: how could thematic system be incorporated into organization of, say Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom under Matthias Hunyadi, and what would it have meant for its politics, military performance and defensive capabilities?


Following is what I wrote for fantasy setting I'm working on, and is roughly how I imagine this system working:


During active military service, soldiers receive pay from state, but outside of that they live off the land. Because of this, each soldier is given a plot of land to live from in exchange for military service. These troops are required to appear at yearly muster, and serve on a seasonal basis. Each provincial soldier is given a certain value of land: minimum is four (4) pounds of gold for light cavalryman, twelve (12) pounts of gold for a heavy cavalry soldier, and two (2) pounds of gold for a sailor or an infantryman. More usual values are five and three pounts, for light cavalryman and infantryman, and correspond to a small estate. One pound of gold is worth 20 solidi, and will purchase between 6 and 15 ha, or 60 000 – 150 000 m2 of land. One peasant may own 8 to 20 ha of land; as such, many light infantrymen are peasants.

Price of a war horse is 20 solidi, draught horse is 10 solidi; mail armour is 100 solidi, full plate armour for cavalryman is 320 solidi, and infantry plate half-armour is 140 solidi. Open-faced helmet is 4 solidi. A person owning land of two pounts of gold (40 solidi) has to have a helmet, a spear, and a gambeson. Military service itself is hereditary. Land passes from oldest son to oldest son, or else to closest (capable) male relative in case that soldier does not have a son or son is not capable of military service for one reason or another.

Empire also maintains standing army of full-time soldiers. Large portion of this army is concentrated within and around the imperial capital. Each province also has a detachment of full-time soldiers, typically stationed within provincial capital as well as various fortresses. These standing, salaried troops form the core of provincial armies, which are then supplemented by the part-time militia.

In extremis, military service may be required of all citizens of age 17. to 46. (iuniores); if necessary, citizens of ages 47. to 60. (seniores) will also be called up. These levies are generally lightly armed, usually having only a spear, a shield, a chain shirt and a simple open-faced helmet.
Would it work?
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