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Forum Lockedthe medieval Europe Ranks

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    Posted: 16-May-2009 at 17:16
I'm a bit confused with Medieval Europe Rank. As far as I see, there are vassal ranks (Duke, Viscout, Count, Baron, ....); while the other hand I find ranks such Captain, Lieutenant, Corporal, and sergeant.
 
So, what is the different? (and can you give me the complete lists of 100 years era English and France Vassal's Rank with the explanation about it?)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-May-2009 at 19:52
Really not sure what the question is... Are you talking about the respective ranks of feudal levies? Or the social structure of feudal kings?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-May-2009 at 20:06
I'm not sure I get your questions, Brainsucker.  Are you asking the difference in military endeavors or are you asking the difference in regards to social structure?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-May-2009 at 20:25
The ranks of nobility in England by the end of the middle ages were, and still are: baron (baroness), viscount (viscountess), earl (countess), marquis (marchioness), duke (duchess), prince (princess), king (queen) where prince is the son of a king/queen and princess the daughter of one. The French titles equivalent are baron (baronne), vicomte (vicomtess), comte (comtesse), marquis (marquise), duc (duchesse), prince (princesse), roi (reine). In France and earlier in the middle ages a prince isn't necessarily a son of a king, but may be the sovereign of a territory that doesn't rate as a kingdom.
 
In the middle ages, as opposed to now, 'captain', 'lieutenant', 'sergeant', 'corporal' were not ranks but appointments, with 'lieutenant' in particular simply meaning 'deputy'. A 'captain' or 'corporal' might be in charge of an arbitrarily sized military group, with 'captain' generally senior. 'Sergeant' is a bit more complicated because as 'servant' it is used in many contexts as well as the military one: the court official responsible for enforcement was for instance 'Sergeant-at-arms'. I'm not sure how it was used in the military, if at all.
 
In the middle ages 'captain' at sea simply meant, as now in one sense, the person commanding the vessel, whatever his rank.
 
I don't know how far this applies to France.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JRScotia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-May-2009 at 20:58
A prince still may be a sovereign in a principality such as Monaco. Before Wales was conquered, I believe the Prince of Wales was also a sovereign. 

Military ranks were totally different in the middle ages. Nobility led their own levies and were expected to have the skills to do so. (The penalties for not tended to be severe) There were some breakdowns in ranks such as the difference in a knight and a knight banneret--an honor that could only be conferred on the field of battle by a king. But that was actually more honorary than practical. In England, the Great Marshal of England had substantial military duties.

As far as my research has been able to find sergeant-at-arms was never used militarily, although I wouldn't venture to absolutely guarantee that. At the least, I can say it wasn't common.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-May-2009 at 21:43
Well unless he means the seargent class of footsoldiers, a rank below the knighthood. A little like the middling sort of peasant capable of supplying himself with better arms and some kind of armour. I'm not really sure though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JRScotia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-May-2009 at 04:57
True, but I've never found that rank referred to as a "sergeant-at-arms" but only a sergeant. That isn't to say it might not be somewhere, but I've searched to try to find that exact thing and never found it.

As far as I can tell your description of what a sergeant was is correct although sometimes it seems to refer to a servant. I wonder if they might have served both functions, particularly if no squire was available or in addition to a squire. It's difficult to tell the exact function which probably means it varied.


Edited by JRScotia - 17-May-2009 at 04:59
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-May-2009 at 11:20
Originally posted by JRScotia JRScotia wrote:

A prince still may be a sovereign in a principality such as Monaco. Before Wales was conquered, I believe the Prince of Wales was also a sovereign. 
Well the question was about the middle ages, which is why I mentioned sovereign princes. It was also about England and France, so I left out various central and eastern European possibilities for other possible princes and sovereigns who weren't kings.
As I pointed out, in the middle ages terms like 'sergeant' and 'captain' weren't ranks, but appointments: jobs that people were assigned to temporarily. A captain in one groups didn't necessarily outrank a sergeant in another. In fact the sergeant at arms of a major court could well have authority over a captain (in the name of the court he served).
 
(I think the reason you don't see 'sergeant-at-arms' as a military designation is because everyone in a military group is 'at arms'. The 'sergeant-at-arms' of a court or a council was specifically the 'sergeant' who was armed, whereas other court sergeants would be clerks and other functionaries.)
 
A term that is even more varied  than 'sergeant' of course is 'constable' which could vary from one of the great offices of state to Shakespeare's lowly Dogberry.


Edited by gcle2003 - 17-May-2009 at 11:29
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brainsucker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2009 at 08:08
wow, thanks for the explanation. Further question : Is there any title below Baron?

Can you explain the structure of military organization of the Medieval Europe? I know that every Baron, Earl, Marquis, Duke, and King has their own troops. What I'm confused is that in those troops, there should be a more detail Military Organization that they follow.

And, just like your explanation that captain is a position; then what is General? Are there general in the Medieval Europe?


Edited by Brainsucker - 18-May-2009 at 08:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JRScotia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-May-2009 at 19:22
Prince of Wales was a title from the middle ages. I can't say I know anything about the antiquity of the title of Monaco though.

You're correct that titles such as Marshal and Constable were appointments. They weren't even necessarily military. The term captain is one that I rarely see used. It's a good point that the term "sergeant-at-arms" would be redundant in any army. Smile

Brainsucker, you're confusing military armies with modern armies. There were no generals as such. In a war, a king might appoint someone to oversee the entire operations if they were too busy to lead it themselves, but nobles pretty much still retained control of their own forces.

As an example of what gcle2003 was trying to explain, let me give you an example in an area I am quite well acquainted with.

In 1307, Robert the Bruce was crowned King of the Scots and raised the royal banner to regain Scottish freedom. Needless to say, Edward I (Longshanks) was not pleased at losing a kingdom he had lately conquered. To put down what he considered nothing more than a rebellion he appointed Aymer de Valence, Earl of Northumberland and his cousin, as "special lieutenant" for Scotland with orders to put down the rebellion.

Northumberland was certainly what we would consider a general but his office was in fact called lieutenant. You just can't draw some parallel between our military ranks and the ones used in medieval armies. Often what we call our ranks didn't even exist and when they did they rarely meant the same thing. The only one that I think even comes close is that of sergeant.

Medieval armies just flat out didn't work the way ours do.

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Originally posted by JRScotia JRScotia wrote:

A prince still may be a sovereign in a principality such as Monaco. Before Wales was conquered, I believe the Prince of Wales was also a sovereign. 
Well the question was about the middle ages, which is why I mentioned sovereign princes. It was also about England and France, so I left out various central and eastern European possibilities for other possible princes and sovereigns who weren't kings.
As I pointed out, in the middle ages terms like 'sergeant' and 'captain' weren't ranks, but appointments: jobs that people were assigned to temporarily. A captain in one groups didn't necessarily outrank a sergeant in another. In fact the sergeant at arms of a major court could well have authority over a captain (in the name of the court he served).
 
(I think the reason you don't see 'sergeant-at-arms' as a military designation is because everyone in a military group is 'at arms'. The 'sergeant-at-arms' of a court or a council was specifically the 'sergeant' who was armed, whereas other court sergeants would be clerks and other functionaries.)
 
A term that is even more varied  than 'sergeant' of course is 'constable' which could vary from one of the great offices of state to Shakespeare's lowly Dogberry.


Edited by JRScotia - 18-May-2009 at 19:37
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Styrbiorn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-May-2009 at 08:40
Originally posted by Brainsucker Brainsucker wrote:

wow, thanks for the explanation. Further question : Is there any title below Baron?

Can you explain the structure of military organization of the Medieval Europe? I know that every Baron, Earl, Marquis, Duke, and King has their own troops. What I'm confused is that in those troops, there should be a more detail Military Organization that they follow.


Just for clarification, they are discussing England, and to an extent France. Most of Medieval Europe was different, there were certainly no common rank ladder. Each nation had their own systems.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JRScotia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-May-2009 at 20:31
*cough hack* I'm not discussing England because I rarely do except to say bad words about it. However, any country which had an influence from the Norman-French, and they DID get around, ended up with at least some similarities.

However, you're right that there were differences. Heck there wasn't uniformity WITHIN the same kingdom, much less outside it.

Edited by JRScotia - 19-May-2009 at 20:35
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21-May-2009 at 16:30
Originally posted by Brainsucker Brainsucker wrote:

wow, thanks for the explanation. Further question : Is there any title below Baron?
 
In England, as a title of nobility no. In modern England there is the baronet, a title only created by James I, but baronets never sat in the House of Lords (but were eligible for election to the Commons) and are only referred to as Sir John Doe, not Lord Doe, though their title is hereditary.
 
Knights are and were technically commoners, though referred to as Sir Whatever (unless they had a higher title as well).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Brainsucker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 06:37
Thank you very much. This discussion is surely very helpful for me.
 
More question if you don't mind
 
1. Did the title limit the areal of land that the Lords govern??? If, it limits the land, then if they have more land than their title supposely to have, they will automaticaly promoted?
 
2. Can you tell me how the Medieval England divide their teritories? (Province / Prefecture / Counties / Village / Cities / something else?)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JRScotia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 16:17
Originally posted by Brainsucker Brainsucker wrote:

Thank you very much. This discussion is surely very helpful for me.
 
More question if you don't mind
 
1. Did the title limit the areal of land that the Lords govern??? If, it limits the land, then if they have more land than their title supposely to have, they will automaticaly promoted?
 
2. Can you tell me how the Medieval England divide their teritories? (Province / Prefecture / Counties / Village / Cities / something else?)


Counties were normally associated with Earldoms in England and to a lesser degree in Scotland. (Carrick for instance in the case of Scotland--but Earldoms were a bit different in Scotland) I have no clue in France. 

I can't answer for England but I can tell you in Scotland a baron could at times control an immense amount of land area. No, there wasn't necessarily a relationship. For example the Lord of Douglas (they later became Earls of course) after about 1308 controlled an large portion of Southern Scotland because he had a large number of titles and grants such as a grant of Ettrick Forest. Becoming a powerful baron didn't make you an Earl. :)  

Now having a strong sword arm might make you a powerful baron but that's a different issue.

Again it depends on where you're talking about for the names and divisions. There were Provinces (and Prefectures but I'm not sure those were medieval) in France. There were counties, villages and cities in England and Scotland. And of course Wales was and is a principality. England and Scotland were kingdoms.

You are looking for a neater kind of stairstep system than ever existed in the areas of medieval Europe that I've studied.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wulfstan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-May-2009 at 19:18
The situation could be quite complex. Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince, in 1360 governed many areas. He was the Prince of Wales, having control of large areas in North Wales; as Duke of Aquitaine he rules extensive lands in France. He was also Duke of Corwall and Earl of Chester. All of these lands were in effect ruled as a single realm, and he exercised in this huge domain palatine powers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JRScotia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2009 at 00:57
Ha. Wulfstan and I may actually agree at least in part on something. Unheard of.

It's a good point that nobles with higher rank often--in fact generally--had titles of lower rank as well. An important noble would probably have at least several titles of the same rank.

It was complex, and it varied somewhat from kingdom to kingdom but was frequently Norman overlaid on another. I wouldn't say they were ruled as a single realm though because nobles had to accommodate varying rules and laws in different holdings, (Aquitaine being different from Wales for instance) as well as differing oaths from differing vassals.  Trying to force them all into a single mold would have been simply too difficult and hardly practical.

Originally posted by Wulfstan Wulfstan wrote:

The situation could be quite complex. Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince, in 1360 governed many areas. He was the Prince of Wales, having control of large areas in North Wales; as Duke of Aquitaine he rules extensive lands in France. He was also Duke of Corwall and Earl of Chester. All of these lands were in effect ruled as a single realm, and he exercised in this huge domain palatine powers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wulfstan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-May-2009 at 07:32
In financial matters the prince`s varied domains were actually governed as a single lordship. The Prince of Wales levied taxes in his English and Welsh lands to finance his lavish lifestyle as Duke of Aquitaine. His actual expenditure, including the wages of his military retinue, amounted to £10.000 a year, a huge sum in medieval times.
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