Re: Bachrach vs Halsall - Early Medieval Warfare

On May 23, 12:07 pm, a...@xxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
On May 23, 11:47 am, cemanuel <ceman...@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

On May 23, 11:16 am, a...@xxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

On May 22, 8:48 pm, Paul J Gans <g...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

David Read <david2...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
<a...@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
On May 22, 10:47 am, "David Read" <david2...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
<a...@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message

On May 22, 7:09 am, "David Read" <david2...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

Welcome back and Pleeeeease stay! (I really missed discussions with

Thanks, Alex.

I'll see what I can do.
Well, you can try to convince Paul and Curt that a repeated usage of
'it seems so' and 'obviously' are not convincing arguments. Or that
Oman was not pathologically stupid. :-)
[running away as fast as possible]
Yeah, just when they though it was safe....

Don't be a bigger fool than you are.  There is no doubt
that there is argument over the organizational state of
the Frankish kingdom.  Further, opinions change with time.

In spite of your assertions to the contrary, I did not
embrace Bachrach's numbers or his ideas.

Of course. You said that while you personally can't say if these ideas
are right or wrong, absense of belief on _my_ side is definitely
wrong. :-)

 I stated that
I think that there is more evidence for larger Carolingian
armies than for the two or three thousand that Alex

Just for the record, I do not "favor" 2 - 3K (I just don't favor 60K
and so far I did not see any argument, besides "Bachrach said so",
convincing enough for me to start sharing this point of view).

Even The Evil One put 'standard' size to 5 - 6K of the
'warriors' (with the comment that most of the servants, etc. had been
armed and 'military inclined') with the top for a single field army of
approximately 10K. As usually, you are relying not on what was written
but on what somebody else said about what was written.

There are instances where after assembling Charlemagne sent three
armies off in different directions. Of course then you can argue about
what the RFA Annalist considered an army.

My argument has usually been with the "How would you feed that
number?" reply people seem to automatically throw out there as the
reason this couldn't happen.

You feed them by supplying them with food.

Or by requiring them to bring their own food.

Sure - though I suspect they were supposed to do some foraging once
they entered enemy territory to help make their supplies last. However
the fact that they were expected to bring so much food with them to
the assemblies is a pretty decent indicator that there were decent
roads (as are the requirements for road maintenance mentioned in

IF a medieval ruler was
organized enough and put provisions for this in place and IF he was a
strong enough ruler to enforce these provisions, then you can supply
them with food. IMO Charlemagne was both of those things - the only
ruler in W. Europe who was and with control over a large area over a
period of several centuries.

(a) Of course I can't boast that I read all contemporary documents on
the subject but what I read (under deremilitaria and elsewhere) mostly
supports schema under which people mostly had been coming with their
supplies or provided themselves at the expence of the locals.

Actually the Carolingian orders accompanying assemblies specifically
prohibit taking anything besides grass, firewood and water from any
land or settlements they passed through. At least the letters that
survive indicate that and one survives from 769 and another from 806
which say virtually the same thing with respect to that, to bringing
enough food for 3 months and to expect a campaign of six months. The
Boulogne Capitularies of 811 re-state these provisions. I expect that
someone could buy provisions along the way and meet these requirements
but the letters don't talk about that. The letters even detail
specifically what was to be considered the "border" for various
groups, depending on where they were going to be campaigning.

(b) While Charlie lived a rather long life, still his reign did not
last for centuries and big part of his reign had been spent on
conquering the territories you are talking about.

(c) The ruler being 'organized' is just a part of the whole equation.
To enforce this organization from top to bottom you need a strong and
well-developed multi-level administrative organization. IMO, Charlie
did not have anything close to the adequate tools in his disposals
even in the terms of the qualified beurocratists. And, even if he had
necessary apparatus on the top, locally a lot of power was in the
hands of the counts, nobles, bishops.

I'd recommend reading Hincmar of Rheims "On the Governance of the
Palace" except you'll need to read French or Latin - I don't believe
there's an English translation (I've looked). It's based on writings
of Adalard a contemporary of C., and his cousin. Based on what I've
read it goes into considerable detail regarding Carolingian
administration and duties. There are accounts of the assemblies
themselves which detail the decision-making process, who attended and
what kind of decisions they made, including upcoming campaigns.

Nobody has a source providing reliable
numbers - or anything close to reliable numbers - for Carolingian army
sizes except in two specific cases (Poitiers and the Siege of

Poitiers ahd been founght by Charlie's granddad under the seriously
different social conditions. The only thing I could find about
Barcelona is that Charlie divided his forces into 3 units. Perhaps I
was looking at the wrong place so the precise quote or link will be

For Barcelona I've seen a figure given that estimates it would have
taken 20,000-25,000 troops to conduct a siege as devastating as that
given in the accounts, based on the size of Barcelona's walls at the
time. There are no accounts from annalists that I know of.

The US has very different social conditions than we did a year ago so
that's a meaningless point other than re-emphasizing that you don't
think we should use Carlingian Military examples to discuss the
Carolingian Military unless it supports your point. Anyway, neither
Barcelona or Poitiers makes an argument for the size of a single army.
Barcelona took a while and troops likely arrived continuously. For
Poitiers, Martel was camped on his hill for over a week before the
Umayyad commander decided to attack and all the annals, including the
Mozarabic Chronicle mention that troops kept arriving. At the same
time, it's hard to see how you end up with 20,000 or 30,000 troops
when you started with 2,000-3,000.

But when the 'why armies must be small' argument seems to be, "They
couldn't feed them" then the counterargument becomes, "Yes they
could." Nobody gives us reliable numbers for army sizes.

Actually, argument in a favor of the reasonably small numbers (few
thousands) is much more complicated than simply 'they could not feed
themselves'. It took The Evil One dozens of pages to explain and
support his point of view and food was just one of the components.
Impracticality of the old tribal schema of mobilization in a framework
of a much bigger and more complex state (in which people subject to
this schema were a minority) is one of many other arguments.

And Bachrach spent several hundred pages explaining why it could
happen. Does that mean he wins?

Anyway, there are plenty of books discussing Carolingian organization
beside Bachrach. Rosamond McKitterick has a new one I picked up at
Kalamazoo. I haven't read it through yet but did flip through it. I
don't think she gets into a discussion of army size but she does give
a lot of information on Carolingian organization and government.

Curt Emanuel

Relevant Pages

  • Re: Bachrach vs Halsall - Early Medieval Warfare
    ... I think that there is more evidence for larger Carolingian ... them with food. ... It seems that you are missing my point: administration of a royal ... the mounted troops. ...
  • Re: Kalamazoo
    ... Carolingian Military Organization. ... Bachrach's argument in support of this view is rather convincing. ... logistics needed to supply a field army of 60,000 _outside_ this ... The issue is not as much existence of the roads as their quality. ...
  • Re: Kalamazoo
    ... Carolingian Military Organization. ... view that Charlemagne could and did raise 30-35,000 mounted, and over ... Bachrach's argument in support of this view is rather convincing. ... logistics needed to supply a field army of 60,000 _outside_ this ...