Medieval Warfare: Logistics


Time to take a look at medieval logistics and a big thank you here to check for sending me this book from my wish list now one very important aspect here is there is this for a long time there was this trope going on of the Dark Age of like this basically Logistics were in the Dark Ages. They were bad. But in Roman times were good. So this is not particularly true So it was basically the assumption besides Pre-modern Europe. There was no good logistics except for Rome Which is not particularly true because if we look at the realities of the amount of the armies are large they were What deploys each equipment and everything else you had to had some kind of logistical system all the medieval times as it wouldn’t have worked They would have just died(?) and we dive deeper into the numbers later on a new series and also there’s this campaign of Edward I in Scotland, you know the bad guy form from Braveheart and there’s a lot of paperwork we have and about logistics. So if the create a lot of paperwork about logistics Then this implies that there’s some kind of logistical system present at this point, and it was probably not the only one Now let’s get down to the basics So how much calories on average does a soldier need and they assumed various? scholars that on average it’s about 3,600 which is more than we actually use nowadays and the question is what was what was the basic, so mainly grains and Bacharach notes, well Bacharachs because they’re brothers, you know, it’s around 2.5 kilograms a day on a mixture of grain, meat and beer or wine or/and wine, so For instance, a litre of beer can have 300 to 600 calories whereas a litre of wine about 800 calories And then you can you can use more meat or more fat and you need (or use?) less grain and so you can Adapt a bit and it was dried meat for instance has the same calorie, but there’s less water in it, but you have the same amount of calories so it can reduce the weight a bit But on average about two point five kilograms, they conclude Now for animals, it’s very important that animals had different sizes back then. So from what is known for instance cattle was about 1/2.3 of the size of nowadays Then other important aspect of animals is that for instance horses were way more fragile and humans So they need way better Sustenance, they need to be fed more regularly else they might perish and also they need about ten times as much water as a human and They need about ten kilograms of fodder. Some of you might know. Ok. Well, it’s a horse I just give it grass. Well, no Horses are stale feed animal. So this means About fifty percent of the food it gets must be barley, oat or something. So something that isn’t grass For instance in contrast to pony you can feed pony mostly with grass And of course, you also need to realize you’re on campaign so they are not riding around in the meadow. They are They carry stuff, at least the warrior or something. So this was also a problem for instance with the Wehrmacht. So people say ok. Let’s just give them grass. No, no, you have to feed your horses and everything They require a lot so in horses as far as I know a way less Resource efficient than for instance trucks. But yeah, let’s keep the Second World War out for now Now, let’s look at some examples we have from transport so a man on average can carry about 43 to 46 kilograms 25 kilometers a day Now one way there are several ways now to Transport various goods One of the probably easiest ways at least for providing meat is herding So you bring you bring a whole herd of animals with you now you say okay. This might be a real Logistical or a real maintenance issue? Because if you have a large herd you need a lot of people to cover? from what we know from the Wild West it’s basically that 50 men around are sufficient for a herd of 2,000 animals Because they usually follow a leading animal and one trick apparently is you put a bell on the two leading Animals and everyone falls behind. I haven’t tried this but they know that and and it seems it makes sense because We know that they had large herds and they traveled around and everything so then You have also pack animals. So also a mule can carry about 100 kilogram of course and then you have vehicles and you have two different kinds of carts which are basically two wheelers and You have wagons which have usually four wheels so the estimated average for cart is to supply 280 men per day and for wagon is 370 What’s the main difference? So if you use pack animals you you’re very mobile but to carry only 100 kilogram With a cart you are less mobile, but still higher maneuverability than a wagon and for wagon You need to have good roads and good weather and everything. So there’s always the trade-off. So first off if you have animals since they are always very leading a lot of water you need to deploy or march along fresh water routes and Then you also need to look. Okay, what types of animals do I have so the efficiency of a cart is way higher then of a pack animal Packard nodes that the number for pack animal is about five percent of what it carries needs it as food for a car It’s two percent and four wagons is 1.5 But again with pack animals you’re way more mobile you can Take that small Small trailers you couldn’t use with a cart or even less than with a wagon There’s always this efficiency Mobility, efficiency, weather conditions, road conditions and the main thing is of course the fresh water supply Another thing was of course ships and boats, of course in this case You have to have also the roots. I mean you have to have the river or some waterway and The other problem is of course availability because here we are talking about. Okay, do we have proper shipping? Can you buy proper shipping? Can you organize ships? What type of the ships so This is very interesting. So On the ship side. Yeah, it’s really more more on certain aspects that you can use it. For instance for the Crusades to certain degree and what I know Richard I and Philip II of France used for instance many ships but our esteemed So if we now look at some certain numbers for a 1000 packs of animals you need about nine thousand kilogram of food per day of which about four thousand kilogram need to be grain and for a thousand men, you need about two thousand five hundred kilograms per day as you can see these are very Extensive numbers and without some serious system, without some serious planning That’s not gonna go well because one thousand men isn’t so huge. This isn’t the huge army. This is a Larger band of raiders. Let’s call it this book, but it’s substantial, but you also need two thousand five hundred kilograms So The thing is in Rome you had a centralized system This is different to the medieval times where we have, with the exception of England, mostly a decentralized system So what does it mean in Rome you had usual broad tax And then they provided for the army except for the later years mainly the whole logistical systems and everything and you had a centralized army. In medieval times you have basically mainly a militia but the militia is also used for offensive warfare and you have certain magnates for instance Lords, but also Magnates like from the church and they have had to sustain the militia and they were used during Warfare as well. So they provided the logistics the food and everything for their troops. And this was quite expensive There’s this number of around 50% of the revenue For especially for churches or for for church officials. They had to spend on on This on the maintenance of the troops and there’s one example for one time the one guy managed to have 30 about 30% only for the expenses So but this seems to be one of the rare exceptions so mainly in in peace The government let’s call the government the royal house or something had only to maintain its own troops But not the all the militia troops Yet the question is what happens at war now we have some edicts before from the Carolinian period where it’s noted that the Militia have to bring Food for three months and equipment and equipment for six months so the issue is if You only consume two kilogram per day for three months if 100 kilogram that each guy must bring to the campaign and If he has amount you have to air about one 450 kilograms as well. So if he has a horse or something, so there’s the issue Can you bring like 100 kilograms so the battles assume that most people pull together and got a cart or a wagon So the thing with carts and wagons is that they did they were so common that they are rarely mentioning This was is usually only mentioned if they were if they were lost in battle or something so if the enemy caught the logistics or something bad happened then they are mentioned. But besides that, we don’t really know what was organized so This was one way, and the government said: “Okay, you have to provide for yourself.” and then after this period usually the government provided so One way was for instance, which did for the Crusades organizing markets So the government said, okay You guys we will pass through or something have a market ready and also to fix the prices to certain degree. So That the the soldiers, the militia themselves could spend the money so this was probably also maybe like okay bring stuff for three months, bring it in money or whatever and Another way was in friendly territory to have their own bases monasteries were quite often used for this because they had plenty of space and everything and they would use the spaces and Then if available to certain degree for instance on a Carolingian period government facilities, they had a lot of stuff still there various aspect to think about 2000 or something that they could use to get the supplies from Now this mainly assumes you have a good infrastructure now problem is if you attack a territory like in the east where the infrastructure was rather bad and if I was a prepared for defense in depth so for instance They know okay We always defend only certain places and all the supplies we have we either hide bring into the fortifications or destroy scorched earth So at you basically so in this case for instance quite often These campaigns had to be interrupted or stopped only they had a limited goal then he achieved it But often the enemy ran and then he had to turn back because else they would be out of supplies Another way was to build home bases or conquer each base after another so one year you conquer this space next year conquer this fortification and Slowly you conquer these lands Now another case of course is Northern Italy. You must think about a lot of fortifications and everything was quite hard but They had so much struggle internally That usually local allies provided supplies for invading armies to certain in doing So this is another way how to manage this that you have local allies or people that provide you with the proper logistics Now a lot of… (idk). Basically is that a lot of logistics or supplies were provided by plundering? this is not really true there were some exceptions and There was basically one faction who did this very well which were the Vikings and I talked about them in an earlier visualized video already, but the thing with the vikings was to use the existing infrastructure in the West and the rivers and everything there were very few fortifications and everything so they could use the system and exploit the strengths of The logistics of the infrastructure in the West and also the focus right off most monasteries and as mentioned before they usually had large supplies There anyway and large amount of riches? But what is very interesting is that they also had supply ships because there are their long boats which are famous they couldn’t put much in there and it’s likely that they couldn’t put Enough stuff in there to actually make a journey and the other thing is if you loot a lot which they did how you transport it back if you have this very fast nice ship with Very few displacement, but you can’t put anything in there so so they had these supply ships and The other aspect of it is there was a weak infrastructure and defense in depth as As mentioned before, plundering didn’t work. And another thing is as mentioned in my medieval warfare video already If we go primary, you know, it must disperse your army and if you disperse your army, you’re in a very dangerous situation You don’t have radio back then so dispersing your army isn’t spreading out means, okay Your troops a piecemeal and the enemy if he knows and if we’re in enemy territory He knows the territory better than you do he is his local guides He has people informing him and everything, his lines of communications are way better He can usually react better and then he can Kill off part of the troops or engage them while your main army is somewhere else So this didn’t really work. So dispersion is dangerous, but you need it for proper foraging and plundering around, at least on a large scale and we’re talking sometimes about larger armies because the main Form of warfare were sieges and you can’t do sieges with a small band of raiders. You need a large Are you need your siege craft and everything else or at least if you don’t transport the siege craft you build it locally In some cases it must be built locally in some cases they have parts and they put it together depending on what kind of equipment But you need a large amount of people for that and for a large amount of people as you noticed were one just one thousand man for one day in two thousand five hundred kilograms, and then you have probably around a Certain amount of animals to carry all the stuff and in Indian or not a few taunts and this every day So just doing in there now, let’s hope we plunder them some villages or some some monasteries Nah, not gonna cut it usually of course There was occasional small plunder, but for large armies It was not a way to sustain a campaign So it would be very stupid and as mentioned also in medieval warfare video troops are very expensive. You don’t ask them as know that their battles will usually avoid it because sometimes they were not decisive enough and you just lost a lot of your troops a Lot of your lords or otheer aspects so it would be more reckless to just okay? We don’t have enough supplies here. Just walk in there and then Lose a lot of people. I mean they had already plenty of health problems and other elements So it would be just utter negligence so The other aspect is Crusader logistics basically a lot of agreements happen before the first crusade for instance A lot of agreements were made with all the countries that passed through and with Byzantine To organize local markets and everything. So this is stock contests for instance two people’s crusade which Wasn’t very well organized and everything went down the drain and as mentioned before Richard the First and England and Philip II of France They sailed to To the far east and they use this so to a certain way to circumvent certain loss logistical aspects, of course But then you have to have a fleet and for France it was easier because in the Mediterranean they had a port and everything, but you also Where do you get the ships from you have a standing Navy or do you take it from from your traders from it merchants? How does this affect the overall economy? What is when the street ships get lost? So this is also their aspect. Yeah, you just take some ships But where do you take them from and who is going to meet them elsewhere is in the long run going to hurt your kingdom? Now to summarize: Logistics in the medieval age were definitely a thing we have paper trails We have large armies that couldn’t have been sustained just on plunder or no existing logical system on an organized way now in medieval times even more decentralized systems in comparison to Rome you have Services instead of taxes or a mixture between both so services for instance you have a lord, your vassal and he brings certain troops with him and He provides all the logistics for the troops and and other aspects whereas in Rome you had more of a broad tax then Plunder happened, but it was not able to sustain a large campaign, a large army the only difference the ones that really used is well were the Vikings but they were always not large armies and if they came in Larger armies to conquer something they also they acted differently. So it is also very important So and generally plundering for large army is the interests if you use it to sustain the army because you have to disperse the army and then it’s rather weak And there were limited to the advantages of transport So pack animals are probably most mobile and maneuverable, but the efficiency is rather low Whereas wagons have a very high efficiency of food to transport capacity But you need good the roads and you need good weather add up. And for everything you need fresh water Because well a horse takes about ten times the amount of water as a human and the human already needs quite a lot of water So usually the campaigns were along fresh water routes. And if not, yeah, that was a major, major challenge To support the troops with proper fresh water or wine or beer Which is better for conservation now Thank you to all the patreon supporters topic and a big thank you for check for sending me the book Thank you for watching and see you next time

93 Comments

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *