Re: Kalamazoo

On May 17, 3:33 pm, cemanuel <ceman...@xxxxxxxx> wrote:
On May 17, 12:50 pm, "Michael Kuettner" <Michael.Kuett...@xxxxxx>

I'm glad you had a good time at Kalamazoo ! But I'm still waiting
for you to point me to an abstract of Bachrach's "Early Carolingian
warfare" <nudge, nudge>...


Michael Kuettner

I dunno where there's an abstract of his book but I'll give you a
summary of a session of his I attended at K'zoo a few years back,
about when the book came out:

Session 409
Early Medieval Military History
Saturday, May 5 2001

Bernard Bachrach, University of Minnesota
"Medieval Military Demography: The Werner Thesis and his critics"

Thesis: Charlemagne and the Carolingians were capable of raising and
operating with very large military forces.

Bachrach's argument here is the same as in his recent book on
Carolingian Military Organization. He supports Karl Ferdinand Werner's
view that Charlemagne could and did raise 30-35,000 mounted, and over
100,000 total troops with regularity, and that they put into operation
15-20,000 mounted men with support troops - armies as large as 60,000
men. Bachrach's argument in support of this view is rather convincing.

The total population of the region controlled by the Carolingians was
around 20 million.

Sizeable part of which were not, most of the time, what you call
"loyal subjects".

This would factor to about 6 million men of
military age.
of this area included women and not just men).
So there certainly isn't a problem with not having the

"Men" in general are meaningless because most of them did not have any
military training.

His most compelling argument is this: The Carolingian Empire was
divided into over 600 counties. If each count provided 50 mounted men
to ride with him at the annual muster, that would provide the mounted
force of 30-35,000.

On the numerous ocassions, Paul was trying to convince me that Western
Europe could not support ANY horses (except those used by the
royalties). If I forced to choose between totally unconfirmed
Bachrach's estimates (with the spares, train, etc. at least 100K
horses) and well-documented Paul's theory of the knights riding their
varlets, I'd choose Paul any time.


Of course foot soldiers would accompany these for
reasons of support, service, etc. When you break it down into these
terms it seems fairly simple.

I'd say "simplistic". :-)

Argument is not very convincing:

(a) All these people (even _if_ the numbers are close to a reality)
had been spread over the huge space.

(b) Part of these forces had been in the border and/or unstable areas
and could not be moved without endangering imperial hold on these
lands or without risking invasion from abroad. Even from the loyal
areas, he would hardly be able to remove ALL garrisson troops for few

(c) Marching contingents from the Southern France to Saxony or Bavaria
was, of course, possible but it would take a lot of time and logistic
to assemble all these scaterred forces in some far away point and to
fed them along the road.

(d) Even if there were adequate depots on the imperial territory,
logistics needed to supply a field army of 60,000 _outside_ this
territory would be very 'interesting'.

(e) It is nice and well to talk about assembly of 600 counts (did ALL
of them at any time assembled with ALL their troops in the same
geographic point?) but an army 60K strong should have a little bit
more in the terms of organization to be effective field force.

(f)There were, obviously, the cases when campaign required forces from
more than one geographic area but, again, there is a big difference
between this statement and 'a total mobilization'.

Bachrach also discussed the counter-argument at some length. Timothy
Reuter does not disagree with either of the two above items.

Neither did Delbruck who, unlike Bachrach _was_ a (very prominent)
military historian. :-)

contention is that armies of over 2-3,000 men would have starved in
short order in the field.

This was routinely the case with the armies between 10 - 20K even in
the XVII century so an assumption is not a wrong one.

Of course, it should be remarked that the whole argument along these
lines makes sense only if you are talking about an army operating as a
single body and not as a set of the semi-independent widely spaced

Part of his argument is that since no large
cities exited in the Empire the administrative structure wasn't
capable of organizing such an effort.

It often could not do so even with the large cities in existence.
OTOH, numerous nomads managed to do so without having any cities
whatsoever. In other words, this argument is totally irrelevant.

Bachrach believes this to be faulty reasoning.

Of course, it is but it does not prove his point either. :-)

"If my opponent is wrong then I'm right" seems logical but what if an
answer is more complicated than binary (actually, for the last few
years even binary has a 3rd answer: I don't know :-))?

The Carolingians
maintained and utilized royal roads

The issue is not as much existence of the roads as their quality.
Unless they were Roman style or Macadam roads, travel by them should
be an adventure big part of the year and moving the big volumes of
cargo needed even for a small campaigning force even more so. At some
point, IIRC, Charlie even ordered to dig a big-scale channel but the
project failed.

Not to mention that all these royal roads would end in the point when
adventure starts: at the border.

and could (he believes) have
arranged for supply caches to be set up at various locations.

Taking into an account that the time and theater of the next war were
not totally predictable, these caches should be big enough to provide
supplies for tens thousands of troops (and tens thousands of horses)
on a very short notice. If we are to accept the schema of an
'universal mobilization' with the resulting hundreds of contingents
marching accross the empire, Bachrach starts looking as a
'true believer'.

Not to mention that all of the above have little to do with carrying
operations into the opponent's territory. To accomplish this step,
they would have to carry the caches from the depots near the relevant
borders to the acting army. _Part_ of the task was accomplished by
using the riverways and creating the secured depots inside the
conquered territory but another part would be arranging for the huge
baggage trains carrying cargo from these depots to the fighting army.
This was one of the worst nightmares of the logistics of XVIII with
the roads being considerably better and the areas of fighting more

OTOH, a rather small army of few thousands people could (a) do a lot
of damage and conquest and (b) live off the land even in XVII century
(not to mention 100YW and other medieval adventures).

Another issue is a need of an army 50 - 60K. IIRC, in most cases
Charlie's opponents were either not numerous enough or not organized
enough to raise an unified army of such a size. Relatively small but
well-trained force of a heavy cavalry supported by professional and
well armed infantry would do just fine against them.

while he didn't discuss this at length, there is supporting evidence
from accounts of battles. For example, at the siege of Barcelona
Charlemagne utilized two blocking armies in addition to his siege
force. It's hard to see how he could have done this with 3,000 men or

Actually, this would be very simple if any of these detachments was
few hundred strong (even during the 100YW couple hundreds knights were
a sizeable force).

OTOH, this "either huge or minuscule" argument is not does not feel
right. There is a huge interval between 2K and 60K so the whole line
of reasoning does not look very convincing. Surely, for some campaigns
army could be greater than couple thousands. This is far cry from
jumping from here to "in which case it always must be around 60K".

He also cited Verbruggen as stating that Charlemagne understood
and utilized the doctrine of overwhelming force when facing an enemy.

Well, perhaps Verbruggen had a personal interview with Charles to find
this out but for those not privy to his private thoughts, he does not
look very 'Napoleonic' in this specific area so we can either safely
disregard V's wise observation or to assume that, while understanding
importance of this doctrine (perhaps after V explained it to him), he
did not manage to implement it in practice. :-)

I found Bachrach's arguments persuasive. And while he didn't mention
this, it is apparent that Charlemagne was the strongest administrative
ruler in Western Europe

He most probably was but this does not automatically mean that he
should have huge field armies. :-)


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