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Troop to Population Ratio

Discussion in 'World Building' started by L M Rush, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. L M Rush

    L M Rush Scribe

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    Hey guys,

    was wondering if I could get some advice. In Destin'th, my world, it's split essentially into 5 continents, 3 which feature in the near future of my book/s. There are 3 countries to each continent, all pretty rich and evenly split with resources. No real deserts/rainforests in the 3 continents which are featured and I plan on there being no more than a million people per continent.

    So 300,000-333,000 per country. 5 states/cities per country. Approximately. So 60k-65k per state/city. I'm thinking a 2-5% ratio of the population are military/mercenaries. What I think my question is: What ratio do you think will fit a rather peaceful world, confident of keeping reign of it's population? No real war/famine had hit for centuries. 2%? 5%? Discuss
     
  2. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

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    Is there a class division in these countries? Typically (in the real world) it's the poor that make up the majority of the military forces and has been that way for centuries.

    How well are military forces in your world compensated for putting themselves in harms way? Are they drafted? Conscripted?

    In the U.S. the total armed forces (which is all voluntary) is roughly 2,400,000 out of 320,000,000 people ( a little over 1%).
     
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  3. L M Rush

    L M Rush Scribe

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    Hey Reaver.

    It's going to be interesting, because I have two simultaneous situations which will effect the 9 nations I'm focusing on. Magic will be introduced to a limited set of characters (and therefore nations). This changes the status quo(?), which is then not evened out but further interrupted by the introduction of slavery, which bulks out cannon fodder in the armies.

    I think I'm going to go o.t.t and have it at 2-4% depending on the nation, purely because it's been a good one hundred plus years, relatively peaceful. No plagues wiping out generations, so armies are all bulked up and properly assigned. I will even have it mentioned as an unnecessary expense, proving not to be later on when magic/slaves get introduced.
     
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  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    In most places and for most times, there was no such thing as a standing army. The citizens were liable for military service. If a war happened, they were called upon, usually supplying their own arms. They fought, then they went back to the farm. Invoking another thread here, I would say that having fifteen separate states, all with their own standing armies, would be "unrealistic".

    But if you want some numbers, take a look at the Roman Empire. At its height it was fifty million or more. Let's use the round number. The imperial army was never more than half a million. The civilian-to-soldier ratio I leave as an exercise for the student. :)

    You can run the same analysis for Imperial Japan or Imperial China. You'll find the percentages are similarly very small.
     
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  5. L M Rush

    L M Rush Scribe

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    So, 2%-4% is higher than the average, seeing as the Imperial army was never more than 1%. Brilliant, the average here seems to be 1%, so in my world it's clearly more designed for war :p. It's good because I want situations where people argue the cost of so many troops, but then have to shut up as slavery & magic get introduced and turns out quite convenient for me that I can have an Army with 5,000 people dying, without it being the end of that countries involvement for the entire story.
     
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Skip.knox hits the main points right on the head. Standing armies are a very rare occurance in history, and were only common in certain periods.

    However the proportion can be all over the map depending on how your economy runs, ideas of citizenship etc. Lots of flexibility to work with. Consider the Spartans for instance.
     
  7. Nagash

    Nagash Sage

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    Sparta is a good example of an autocratic society, where basically every male citizen must do an extended military service and protect the city when war arises.

    In North Korea, the military personnel represents 48% of the active population (not sure what that means over there, but hey...). Sure, it's not a... common repartition, but it basically proves that it can be any number you want provided you give an explanation of how your society works considering half its citizens are warmongering.

    In my WIP, I have a very autocratic society, where every one must serve in the army at least 4 months per year. The rest of the time they can work in whatever branch they may chose, and thus, support the national economy.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
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  8. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    So much of it is also driven by economics.

    In Sparta the soldiers are supported by a large slave population who do the more productive work.

    One of the big questions has to be how expensive are your troops? If might take say 50 workers or more to support a knight and a couple of war horses, while if you rely on self-armed militia, things can be really cheap.
     
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  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Some other tidbits you may find useful.

    Records suggest that the work of between fifteen and thirty peasant families is required to support one knight's family (and correspondingly more for a baron holding court in a castle).

    Read more: THE MANORIAL SYSTEM

    By the 14th century, there were about 1,000 knights, owning land worth on average ₤40 per annum.
    Medieval English society

    And here's a more general discussion, aimed at gamers
    Medieval Demographics - Knights, Nobility, Soldiers [Archive] - Giant in the Playground Forums


    I love the phrasing in the first source--"records suggest". It sounds better than "people say" or "rumor has it" or "down at the bar I heard", but it comes to about the same thing. Anyway, between the three sources you may get at least some ballpark parameters.
     
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  10. L M Rush

    L M Rush Scribe

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    Hey thanks guys, really appreciate it. Always thought it was an interesting little part of stories. My world does have elite classes like Knights, but the general enlisted men will literally be 14 year old boys up to 40 who have been enlisted in a fairly wealthy society to protect the borders from equally wealthy countries who would get greedy if it wasn't for the war race (Plus theres cannon's in only one country, which is the main reason these countries feel the need to bulk up, despite the relative peace).
     
  11. L M Rush

    L M Rush Scribe

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    Very cool twist on the idea.
     
  12. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    2-4% of the populace in military service is very, very high. Something you'd find only if the society was militarized to start with, or planning a military adventure.

    More realistic scenario: A few thousand knights or equivalent, aristocratic, trained in arms.

    For each knight, a sergeant or three and a few dozen professional soldiers. Situation you describe, mostly charged with putting down bandits or petty border disputes.

    Below them, a militia, strictly part time, training a few days each month. Rest of the time they're tradesmen or farmers or whatever.

    Time of crisis the professional soldiers - especially the sergeants - step in and drill the militia into semi-professional companies, acting as officers and backbone. Best militiamen get to become pro's.


    Getting called up happens if a border dispute becomes hot, or if there is a peasant rebellion of some sort (a depressingly common situation in feudal societies - lots of unhappy folks at the bottom).

    To justify the numbers you want, I'd suggest a fairly recent, really major peasant uprising, one that *really* spooked those at the top of the heap (as in lots of dead top ranked nobles). Fearing a second revolt, and unwilling to institute true reforms, they opted to keep the militia in full time service at hellish expense rather than letting its members go back to civilian status.

    If the revolt was big enough to cross national borders, that could account for two or three countries having armies at the specified levels.

    Additional note: Going to be a lot of spy's and heavy handed inquisitors running around, searching for escaped or potential rebels. Repeated rumors that some of the top peasant rebel leaders escaped should be rampant.
     
  13. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    The other way you can increase the ratio of military to civilians is to change technology so the military is either cheaper, or the support industries more efficient.

    So if metalworking or armoring becomes cheaper than it is easier to support an armoured knight. If you change the system from one of personal squiring, to schools, where one veteran knight and a couple of sergeants are training 50 new potential knights, that makes it cheaper as well.

    Throw in some crops, or agricultural techniques that are more efficient (remember the switch from the two field to three field system), or a plant that reduces illness or increases production of livestock and voila...you can have a culture that is able to support a larger military.
     
  14. L M Rush

    L M Rush Scribe

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    The way I figure it, theres a huge ass army with cannons. The 9 countries that surround the army have no cannons, no magic or slaves at the moment. So they literally need huge armies to deter the eventual invasion from the huge ass army with cannons. The thinking is, the country who has the fewest troops will be the one who loses their land first to the huge ass army with cannons.

    The Emperor who has the huge ass army with cannons is smart, and has been biding his time. He knows the armies can't be sustained that long. Its intentional that the armies are so bulked out. This world has Knights and such, but not to the degree that one Knight is worth 20 men kinda thing.
     
  15. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    Cannons are a fascinating piece of technology to consider for the battlefield. Traditionally the two great factors in a battle are "fire and movement" and canons are quite good at one, but very poor at the other. Lots of great stuff to play with in your story there.
     
  16. Honestly, I think the populations are a bit on the small side. When you say three countries to a continent, which I'm presuming is going to be roughly Europe sized (quite a small continent, relatively speaking), and each country has 300k people in it? Less than a million in total.

    That's VERY small, for a continent of relatively hospitable habitation, especially if these are people with a tech level of around cannon manufacturing (here I'm thinking as in the classical napoleon era type of cannon, which requires big foundries of a relatively high, regulated quality to operate, similar gunpowder manufacturing capabilities, and relatively advanced supply and logistics).

    Europe pre-black death had a pop of anywhere up to 150 million. During the industrial revolution that skyrocketed. And if you want big armies, several % of the pop or more and to be able to keep them feed and supplied, you're going to need to have some sort of agricultural revolution having taken places, providing enough food and freeing up enough people for factory work and army duty.

    In my own world, the main culture I focus on, the Isle Born, keep standing armies. This stems from a long raiding tradition and isn't central - each Fang-Thane supports his own, significantly smaller force that are all combined in times of war under the countries Lord. For the biggest county, Ilaerin, this comprises about 48,000 people out of a pop of 1.2 mil. This is possible, I feel, because I have mixed gender armies, and much like the Roman army, the Fang-Thanes use their soldiers in public service roles, such as building roads and bridges and helping with the harvest.

    Hope this helps - but great premise, you can write some real interesting battles with armies tied to defensive positions with their canon and more flexible armies - maybe the other countries start to fight in looser formation and use more ranged weapons - longbows, crossbows, even slings to engage the enemy without being exposed to heavy shot or canister fire??
     
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