Author Topic: War Reparations in Medieval Times  (Read 1861 times)

Ender

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War Reparations in Medieval Times
« Topic Start: June 06, 2013, 10:17:01 PM »
There has been a lot of back and forth on FEI concerning war reparations after the current war is over. All of this talk of owing one group or another had me curious how war reparations worked in the time period Battlemaster is meant to represent.

I did a quick Wikipedia search and I saw mention of Rome demanding absurd payments as a form of tribute for defeating Carthage and mention of something similar in the Punic Wars. Based on my own knowledge of history and basic common sense, it's obviously not unheard of for the victor to demand spoils of some sort from their vanquished foe, but I was wondering if there are any specific examples of how that would have been decided, worked out, etc. among medieval entities. Was it part of written treaties or something that was just expected?

Can any of our local medieval experts shed light on the specifics?

Foxglove

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Re: War Reparations in Medieval Times
« Reply #1: June 10, 2013, 05:47:31 AM »
More ransoms and territorial concessions than war reparations as we'd understand them.

See the Peace of Thorn of 1411.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_of_Thorn_(1411)

Scarlett

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Re: War Reparations in Medieval Times
« Reply #2: June 11, 2013, 06:36:00 PM »
One thing to keep in mind is that medieval peace treaties were very articulate, very flowery, and very worthless. The number of times one realm promised 'everlasting peace and friendship' or something to that effect is such that you'd think there was no other kind of peace to be had.

Another thing is that, unlike Rome and Carthage, many medieval entities were not functionally 'countries' in the sense that they felt somehow obligated to international agreements.  You also didn't see a heck of a lot of 'four Kingdoms fighting four other Kingdoms' in the middle ages, maybe with the exception of Spain where you had smaller Kingdoms like Navarre and Aragon.

One reason for the proliferation of 'claims' in the middle ages is that a lot of land that changed hands did not do so as the result of some formal treaty - it did so because somebody with a bigger axe moved in and parked there.

You might try to humble your opponent in peace talks, but the very fact that you're having peace talks means that both sides presumably would like to be done fighting. You could demand huge payments but unless you were willing to go right back to war if they didn't materialize, making demands like that just opens you up to being in the awkward position of 'previous winner who can't even enforce a tribute payment.' Relinquishing claims and getting land were more permanent.

The Hundred Years' War did not even end with a treaty. It ended with the Battle of Castillon as the last significant action in the conflict, but the war technically continued for another 20 years even though not much else happened. BM is a difficult analogue here because medieval 'realms' were largely culture-based rather than nation-based -- you would not dream, for example, of 'destroying the realm of France' because even if you killed off every last person in the King's army, all the nobility there were still French and 'France' would just reoccur under whomever the next King was. You had to have nobles willing to go and settle in a foreign place, and outside of the First Crusade and William the Conquerer, that was tough to do.

In the FEI you could take your Zonasan noble and march up to Coralynth and outside of an initial round of poking and prodding, you could assimilate pretty quickly. There is not much 'culture' to speak of in BM.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2013, 06:37:37 PM by Scarlett »

Ender

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Re: War Reparations in Medieval Times
« Reply #3: June 12, 2013, 12:12:03 AM »
More ransoms and territorial concessions than war reparations as we'd understand them.

See the Peace of Thorn of 1411.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_of_Thorn_(1411)

That's more or less what I'd expect to see from that time as I understand it. Thanks for sharing, I'd not read about this particular conflict before.

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Everything Scarlett said

That is an excellent point. The idea of someone trying to absolutely obliterate a medieval kingdom seems like it would be near impossible to do unless it was so small that something close to genocide could wipe it out. More culture in Battlemaster would be interesting, but most of it derives from the realm's identity so spreading it doesn't seem to quite work. Religion as culture does spread across borders, though.

On a lighter note, the treaties from Galiard tend to seem very flowery with articulate promises of everlasting peace and friendship (particularly that last one with Kindara). I enjoy them, so I'm glad to see there is some factual base to how they are written.

Scarlett

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Re: War Reparations in Medieval Times
« Reply #4: June 12, 2013, 07:36:43 PM »
Treaties were really between people rather than realms up until the idea of 'country' took hold in the early Renaissance. You see some of the same things in BM when rulers change and the new ruler doesn't care about previous agreements. Some people go 'well yeah duh why should the ruler care' while others insist that the treaty was on behalf of the realm (which it was) but so much of medieval politics was personal that both sides are right. FEI is a perfect example of this. 'Relations' between Zonasa and their neighbors haven't changed all that much: it's not like some huge group in Zonasa always hated Kindara and Cathay just as there's certainly no group in Cathay that hates Zonasa any more than there ever was. But you change the guy in charge and all of a sudden you have a completely opposite picture of what you had days before that.

Or imagine what would happen if Morgan or Jenred unpaused right now. Entropy. It would be glorious. Not necessarily beneficial to any of my characters, but glorious all the same.

One other element you did have in medieval politics that we don't really have in BM is the role of the Pope. If you really wanted justification for your war, you got the Pope behind it (as William the Conquerer did when he invaded England). Or if you were losing, you got the Pope in your corner to sue for peace. Pissing on a treaty with the Papal seal was a lot harder, at least depending on which Pope you had in office at the time. BM religion is still in its awkward adolescent stage as BM doesn't have the population to support both a First and Second Estate even when it does have big religions like SA - it has to marry the two and it's pretty tough to be a priest in a realm with multiple religions where the ruler ain't on your side.

Scarlett

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Re: War Reparations in Medieval Times
« Reply #5: June 12, 2013, 07:43:57 PM »
The idea of someone trying to absolutely obliterate a medieval kingdom seems like it would be near impossible to do unless it was so small that something close to genocide could wipe it out

Not so much genocide but cultural assimilation. Wales is a pretty good example, as are Burgundy and Flanders. But with the exception of Burgundy in the Dark Ages, these were never really big sovereign Kingdoms even though they'd definitely count as BM-style realms. A map of medieval Western Europe  transferred to BM would probably have:

- The County of Toulouse, allied to
- The Kingdom of France, at peace with
- The Duchy of Brittany
- The Kingdom of England, federated with
- The Duchy of Normandy, federated with
- The Duchy of the Aquitaine
- The Kingdom of Scotland
- The Kingdom of Wales
- Ireland (rogue or largely unmanageable)
- The Duchy of Burgundy
- The County of Flanders

The Counts of Toulouse or Flanders were likely to be far more wealthy than the Duke of Brittany or the King of Wales, even if they might technically be vassals of someone else. But the whole idea of a 'realm' is tough to impose on some of these entities because a realm was pretty much whomever happened to get along with whomever else and could claim some cultural or spiritual bond.

Ender

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Re: War Reparations in Medieval Times
« Reply #6: June 12, 2013, 08:38:19 PM »
So, given that the Count of Toulouse could be wealthier and, potentially, more influential due to his wealth than the King of Whales, would the Count of Toulouse have any reason to treat the King of Whales as a higher authority should they happen to meet?

Obviously in BM a count meeting a King would typically be treated as a lesser meeting a superior, unless the Count in question was brave enough or was meeting an enemy, but a rigid title hierarchy wouldn't exist, I'd think, in a fluid political world.

Scarlett

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Re: War Reparations in Medieval Times
« Reply #7: June 12, 2013, 10:55:50 PM »
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So, given that the Count of Toulouse could be wealthier and, potentially, more influential due to his wealth than the King of Whales

A better example would be the King of France and the Count of Toulouse. The Count of Toulouse (notably Raymond of Toulouse during the first Crusade) was one of the most powerful and wealthy lords around. He was a vassal of the King of France but during a time when vassals were highly autonomous (as opposed to vassals of England post-William the Conquerer).

Socially, the Count of Toulouse would treat the King of France as a higher authority even though the Count of Toulouse had in most every respect more power at his individual disposal - but he was not a King and he would rapidly lose that power if he went around pissing all over medieval hierarchy. Typically lords in Toulouse's position would expect greater influence and courtesy, and they'd get it. They wouldn't go around pissing off Kings because they'd attract too much attention and it'd be possible if not easy for the King to roust up a dozen or so lesser lords who wanted a piece of Toulouse and humble the Count in the King's name.

If he met a different King to which he didn't owe fealty, like Wales, he's treating with a foreigner so the amount of respect he shows is dependent upon what he's after. There weren't that many international parties. The Welsh, like the Bretons in Brittany, were (and remain) a proud and fierce people, but not a wealthy people. The Welsh were not, for the most part, going to get on boats and go to Toulouse. The Bretons were fantastic at defending Brittany (the only Roman province never to fall to barbarians, hence the name Romano-British) but considerably less fantastic at leaving Brittany and subjugating much of anything. Doesn't help that Brittany is kind of crap as far as money and economic strength were concerned.

That's a roundabout answer to your question and also contingent upon which part of the Middle Ages you looked at. In the 11th and 12th century, any King with half a brain is going to tread carefully around his magnates whether their title is 'Baron' or 'Duke.' By the late 14th and 15th centuries, Kings had centralized power to a much higher degree - a necessary step in the transition toward the Renaissance - so anybody even breathing incorrectly in the presence of royalty could expect to be ostracized.

BM can't model this very well because you can't have a vassal of the same rank. The Counts of Toulouse and Flanders had Count-level vassals (or what we'd approximate as Count-level vassals) and while this was technically awkward, it suited everyone involved just fine: the vassal counts got protection from a powerful lord to whom they did not have grovel too much while the superior count got to fly under the radar because hey, he's just a Count!

Ender

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Re: War Reparations in Medieval Times
« Reply #8: June 12, 2013, 11:11:30 PM »
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That's a roundabout answer to your question and also contingent upon which part of the Middle Ages you looked at.

It certainly answered it and satisfied my curiosity. I'm always more than happy to get more than just the answer I was hoping for or expecting when it comes to this kind of subject. So, thank you!