There are quite a few terms being thrown around on the internet and this board when discussing military history. Quite a lot of them really have different meanings to different people often resulting in the thread devolving into shitfests with people trying to prove which word means what. Shall we have a thread defining some of the vague terms we use in military history once and for all to the benefit of future threads?
Some terms I often hear are Professional or levy, warrior or soldier and Civic militia and the dreaded 'peasant levy'. Especially in medieval/dark age threads the meaning of these words can lead to shitposting.
I don’t know what the strictest definition of the world is in the modern day English language but I have seen it used often to describe the quality of a soldier or warrior. Frankly this can be quite confusing when looking at the root of the word. I propose we cut the word Professional loose from any hint of quality and see it rather as an indication of in what condition a particular person fights. As in he fights in an army as a profession, he knows no life outside of fighting. When the war is over he won't go back to farming his lands or making pottery, he stays with the army and does whatever shit they make him do. Modern day armies can be seen as consisting mostly of these professional soldiers, typically they don't have a civilian occupation on the side and they probably want to serve until they get a honorable discharge rather than being sacked the moment a war is over.
Some historic examples of a professional soldier/warrior are the Post-Marian legionaries who were recruited in their late teens or early twenties and could be expected to serve 25 years, they did not know a live outside of fighting until they served their term. Spartans can be seen as another professional, they had a large population of slaves do all the labor and farming while every Spartan citizen was expected to take on fighting as their main occupation.
The medieval period saw some professional forces too although they never constituted the main part of a medieval army. Charlemagne had a small household guard whose only job it typically was to fight, even the Germanic tribes of the migration era had such soldiers/warriors living with the king or chieftain. Though their numbers were small or even insignificant they can be said to be professional. Knights or man-at-arms are a bit of a mixed bag, most of them had other occupations besides fighting as they were landowners and sometimes bureaucrats, courtiers and lawyers. However some of this gentry class did try to make fighting and soldiering or war in general their main occupation. They traveled from the Baltic crusade to reconquista Spain and wherever there was a war, this group ties in closely with the ever present mercenary. Especially Italy (but also the rest of Europe) saw mercenary companies travel from war to war trying to earn their next meal. Some of these mercenaries did not intend to stay with a particular company their entire lives but some certainly did. After the Thirty years war and during the enlightenment era the absolute monarchs of Europe had professional armies, a redcoat soldier could spent most of his active life fighting or hanging around in barracks without returning to some sort of civil occupation. This all changed when Napoleon came around.
For some this has probably become a synonym for inept or low quality and the opposite of professional. I think this term is the opposite of professional but in defining the terms of service for a particular soldier. As opposed to the professional this person had an occupation before entering the army and he will probably return to this life when the war is over.
Some prime examples would be the army of the Athenian city state of Ancient Greece, the pre-Marian reforms roman army, the Carthaginian army, many medieval armies and soldiers, civic militias etc etc. Some mercenaries occupy a somewhat gray area between levy and professional. They were volunteer based as opposed to some sort of civic duty laid down in law or custom. A prime example would be the Landsknecht(e), these mercenary companies were often raised for a short period of time and raised from a group of people with other occupations, however not all returned to their civilian life. A more modern example would be the conscripted armies of the Napoleonic era that lasted well into the 20th century for many countries or even exist today. Reservists like some historic mercenary groups occupy something of a grey area.
It should be noted again that Levy does not indicate the quality of the soldiers per say, levied troops managed to beat professional troops from time to time, empires were forged and destroyed with these part timers. A way in which the Napoleonic or modern day conscription differs from some historic examples is that the state often provides the equipment for the raised soldiers whereas in most levied troops the soldiers were expected to bring their own armor and weapons according to his wealth.
In some cases this levy or militia can be said to be filled with volunteers (i.e. Reservists, part time mercenaries) and in other cases the custom of the tribe, feudal or national law could demand service in the army. A thing that should be remembered is that these obligations could create a legal obligation for every male between 15 and 60 to serve but this rarely really happened. The Roman and various Germanic tribes excluded slaves which already reduced the manpower base from which they drew soldiers by a large chunk. High and Late medieval societies often had a theoretical obligation for every able male to serve in the army for 40 days should the king or lord require it. In practice the said lords would often appoint local people to select only the best equipped and physically fittest of those legally obligated to serve. Records show that medieval cities with populations as high as 50.000 often only provided a couple of hundred soldiers at most. The practice of only selecting the best to serve also eliminated the popular image of a flail equipped peasant dressed in rags facing a fully armored knight on horseback, back then leaders realized bringing under equipped people to a battle formed a logistical and tactical nightmare.
>Warrior or soldier:
I honestly don’t really know what to do with these two terms, in fact it seems the distinction as some sort of tangible thing is the work of romantic authors and fantasy novels. I suppose you could say warrior refers to an individualistic fighter rather than a regimental drilled faceless guy. However this distinction might be more the work of a society's concept of various fighting people rather than reality. On one hand people might consider the Germanic tribesman that faced the Romans in the first century AD as warriors rather soldiers. Which is kind of weird since the Romans describe them time and again fighting in formations such as the phalanx or wedge. On the other hand people could consider the Roman legionary a faceless soldiers while their gravestones reveal something different. These guys had their exploits listed on their graves and were evidently quite individualistic (and totally full of themselves). The same goes for medieval knights/man-at-arms, literature from the time and even modern day works paints these guys as individualistic warriors while period military manuals and sources make it clear they fought in well ordered formations, with some poets even describing just how well ordered their charge was.
als je niet Vlaams bent is die afbeelding culturele toe-eigening
maar dat geeft niet omdat daar over boos zijn iets is voor nichten, hollanders en fransen.
je bent toch geen frans he anon?
>Vlaamse miltie die franse ridders een nieuwe aars gaf
>geen vermelding van de Vlamingen of de Gulden sporen slag
wil je echt nen goedendag tegen uw koppeke krijgen anon?
frieten met een dubbele portie dub stoofvlees
das goe vreten
ben ik blij dat ik nu geen amerikaan ben
die gasten moeten nu afbeelding gerelateerd zijn. Je weet wel zo een van de koreaanse hoer wijven die mijn groot vader heeft geneuk toen em daar was in de jaren 50
Militias tend to be 'standing' as in even though they are part-time they train regularly and can be seen as similar to reservists today. A levy is when the state or someone in a position of authority hoovers up civilians to fight. Of course a levy in a society like Rome is different because they have training standards and standardised equipment
I am pretty sure the pre-marian armies had little standard in armor and such. I believe they used rather vague terms like bring sword, shield and helmet without specifying the length of the sword or the thickness of the shield. If you can provide any documents describing pre-marian people training together I'd appreciate it.
You also might want to add the term "Mercenary". It hasn't always meant its modern association as a privately raised force that fights for the highest bidder. A lot of the household guards of the Saxon kings and Irish chiefs would be referred to as "mercenaries", despite the fact that they were usually fighting for a lord for their entire careers: but there's this notion, especially in feudal societies, that if you fight and you get paid, you're a mercenary, as opposed to say someone who fights out of feudal obligation.
Not him, and I don't know about training together, but the manipular legions did have equipment lists that you were supposed to bring depending on your wealth assessment in the last census.
I would recommend Storming the Heavens: Soldiers, Emperors and Civilians in the Roman Empire, Westview Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8133-3523-X., by Antonio Santosusso