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Why would my empire be a military power?

Discussion in 'Research' started by DragonOfTheAerie, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. Dragons probably will be involved, actually...:p
  2. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

    I would of never of guessed that. Lol.
  3. Holoman

    Holoman Troubadour

    One thought. If your fantasy world has cheap, readily available or an over abundance of food so they don't really need to farm, then maintaining a standing army is suddenly a lot easier because you don't miss all those people not being in the workforce.
  4. Ragnar

    Ragnar Dreamer

    Definitely! Every oppressive regime seeks to disarm its population. An armed citizenry is like a dagger at the throat of a tyrant. This process could be good material for storytelling. That and the whole underground resistance make for good stories (IMO).
  5. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I would be careful not to confuse modern notions of oppression with pre-modern ones.

    With pre-modern societies, the ruler violates the social contract when he (it was nearly always a he) revokes "traditional" rights. The nobility were the most sensitive to this, ready to take affront at the slightest hint of any new burden or neglect of a customary privilege. They were quick to give the name tyrant to any ruler who laid on a new tax, raised an old one, told them they could no longer hunt in a particular forest, made them go to war too often, or not often enough, interfered with their local quarrels, and so on.

    Townspeople yelped "tyrant!" mostly when their collective privileges were threatened--the right of the town to exploit its local countryside, for example. Even peasants would rise up when some new levy was laid upon them, though it usually took a sequence of such rather than just one.

    You will note that none of this has the least bit to do with being armed. Peasants were always armed, for they always had flails and rakes and clubs. Nobles were always armed because that was their privilege and profession. Even townsmen were armed, because they served in the town's militia. In any case, disarming a populace would have been quite impossible. Kings lacked the manpower to do anything on that scale. They couldn't even collect their own taxes.

    Modern oppression is a different animal altogether.
    Reaver likes this.
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    @DragonOfTheAerie, I came across something you might use with your rebels. You should pardon the history; it's a professional tic.

    Modern-day Estonia and Latvia were once a region called Livonia. It was pagan for a long time, into the 13thc, and was converted by the usual combination of missionaries and merchants, plus a military order called the Swordbrothers. Once the various tribes were converted, they naturally held on to their traditional beliefs and practices for a long time. The Christian priests tried to suppress or re-educate as they could. Things like polygamy or burning the dead were pretty easy to spot, but other beliefs were more readily concealed.

    One technique in particular I found intriguing: song. The natives, especially the women, preserved pre-Christian beliefs in songs which they sang in their native tongue. This included group singing, involving the whole village or even a whole tribe, as special events. Which the Germanic Christians for the most part did not know. I thought this could be a really neat touch. I plan to use it myself, somewhere. And, just cuz it's interesting, song--and especially group singing--persisted right down to modern times. You could look up "Singing Revolution" and find a number of dramatic and extraordinary moments.

    There you go. FWIW.
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  7. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    North Korea maybe? The KPA is one of the largest paramilitary organizations in the world, a sizeable portion of the population belongs to the military, the country follows a "military first" policy and the country hasn't been directly involved in a war since the sixties.

    This policy was established in the 90's following the collapse of the USSR (NK's biggest ally) and various domestic crises. Fearing an uprising, the government used this military-focus as a means of consolidating power within the country. In a way, this militarism is a means of keeping the current government in power and safe against potential internal enemies such as a coup or a revolution.
    The money issue is resolved by 1. the state has near total control of the economy and 2. the upper class supports the state as a means of securing their social and economic status.
  8. Laurence

    Laurence Inkling

    Perhaps the leader is rich and paranoid?
  9. I guess my dilemma is more along the lines of "why would an empire that has supposedly been at peace for 1,000 years due to lack of opposition still have weapons and people who know how to use them, which could be in a rebellion."

    So, I don't need an army necessarily. Just, some sort of reason to train people in the use of weapons and keep alive their knowledge and use in a somewhat organized fashion. Police/law enforcement, perhaps? What would the empire do if a rebellion arose?

    There has to be something in between "no weapons or warriors or knowledge of fighting anywhere" and having a permanent standing army. Secret police, a royal guard, something like that. I don't have much knowledge of how empires typically work; I've never tried to run a *real* one...
  10. I feel like this discussion has been stretched out unnecessarily due to my inability to clarify my question. Sorry about that.
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I think you were clear enough in the OP. We folks here just have a tendency to wander. Sparkly!

    I still have to say you aren't going to find historical precedent for an empire without an army. Kindgoms and smaller states, sure. What they had was a warrior aristocracy, who could keep themselves amused with tournaments and hunting when no war was in the offing, but an army was formed only ad hoc. Even then, though, there needed to be a war every so often, to justify their title.

    The best I can come up with is ritualized violence. So, the Empire has no real enemies and there has not been an actual war in many generations. Long enough that the very concept seems to belong to a different world. I'm going to assume you have an aristocracy of some sort, and that these had once upon a time been warriors.

    They keep their arms as a symbol of status. Hunting would still be a viable option, as would tournaments. But you could escalate the tournaments if you wished, into mock battles, all hemmed in by strict rules and traditions. The making of noble weapons (magically enhanced?) would itself be a high-brow craft. You could extend this to include magicians, who would nerf their spells for the occasion but which could still look spectacular.

    Underneath this you could put policing. Definitely not a noble occupation, but definitely a profession with its own traditions, weapons and discipline. This, too, could be highly formalized. The night patrols in medieval Venice had their own uniforms, badges, and signature weapons. It's no accident it's called a nightstick. These trained personnel could be mobilized in a crisis, though they might prove a bit unruly, not being accustomed to obeying nobles nor working together on the battlefield.

    There could be stubs of city militia. Traditionally those who served in the militia also had duties such as fire control. I could see cities still having their own version of a tournament, even if it had devolved down to the level of sport. You could still have significant numbers of young men who knew how to handle a bow, throw a spear, chuck a rock, run, lift, etc. They would have to learn how to be soldiers, of course.

    Finally, out in the countryside, you absolutely have potential soldiers. They have farm implements as weapons, actually are better at working together than are city folk, and would very likely have their own village-versus-village competitions. Remember that it's called a tug-of-*war*.

    Afterly--which ought to be a word, designating what comes after when someone says 'finally'--I know you said the Empire is huge, but if there are other political entities elsewhere, even on another continent, you could have mercenaries. It would be a small group, but they would have the advantage of being the only people around who have actual combat experience.

  12. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    1) The leaders want protection for themselves. Those with great power or advantage over others are always afraid they will lose it.
    2) They may know of other regions of their world which they have yet to explore. They may be concerned about who or what may live there
    3) There may be wild animals or mythical creatures that routinely pose threats to the population.
    4) Factions within the empire that seek to overthrow those in power.
    5) The need to keep people employed, maintain policing and prisons.
  13. Netardapope

    Netardapope Sage

    Well, I don't know if I'm late for this, but I think you could go the Roman route of using the military for civil projects. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I recall that Romans often used the army to construct roads, aquifers, forts, and all kinds of other structures. So you could have your armies assisting in the development of local communities.

    Furthermore, if your empire is highly decentralized, you could have infighting between ambitious politicians that are in control of their own private armies. This could lead to military coups, corrupt officials, and civil wars.

    One final thing you should look into is having the military watch over client states. In rome, much of the Empire was made up of client kingdoms that paid tribute to the empire from the borders. You could make it so that maybe a legion is stationed in these realms to watch over the activities of the monarch and the local army?

    Don't know if this helps, but I'm glad to have dropped by.

    Sent from my SM-G386T using Tapatalk
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