View Full Version : A matter of Rank...?
January 10th, 2002, 05:27 PM
So, I've been confused by the hierarchy within two societies/organizations.
1) Royal systems. Obviously a King or Emperor sits at the top, but the whole Barron, Duke, etc gets very fuzzy. What would the propper order be in the typical Mid-aged English setting?
2) Military systems. All I know for sure is a Private is typicaly at the bottom. After that, as I climb higher and higher I have no idea where titles go in the pecking order. Is a General above/below a Commander? What is the order, and perhaps a little information on duties, according to the standard U.S. system?
Thanks a bunch... The reason I bring it up, I'm working on a story and for the first time I personaly am dealing with characters in a military setting. As I create these characters I want to be sure the title is appropriate for their duty. I just tossed in the King thing because I've been wondering for some time now.
January 10th, 2002, 09:07 PM
King/Queen (in Med England thought Queen was a lower title than the King. But when a queen married, her husband was named Pince Consort, not King)
Duke/chess (also Count/ess I think is in this same rank)
Baronet (rarely used in fantasy)
2) Try using your own titles. I hate Eriksons "marines". *duh*
Anyway. In very general lines:
Stratarch (mmm... I hope this word exists in English; it means Army-Leader, Stratos (=army) + archo (=command, lead) )
Commanders (use any name of your own making)
January 10th, 2002, 09:09 PM
Well, Lifino, i can't comment on the military ranks, but i can show you the english peerage system
this is from top to bottom:
Top: king of course, or queen
then it really goes into knighthood and stuff, which is sort of military.
but i hope that helped.
January 11th, 2002, 07:41 AM
In the U.S., there are separate rankings for officers and enlisted folks. For officers, it is further divded between naval services (Navy, Coast Guard) and the others (Army, Marines, Air Force).
In the naval services, from top to bottom, it is:
Admiral of the Fleet
Rear Admiral, upper half
Rear Admiral, lower half (at other times, this has been referred to as Commodore)
Lieutenant, Junior Grade
In the ground forces, it is:
General of the Army
Using the navy as an example, an Admiral of the Fleet would be responsbile for a major area of operations (e.g., the Pacific in World War II); an Admiral or Vice Admiral for a fleet; a Rear Admiral for a portion of a fleet (say, a squadron of battleships). A Captain would, of course, command a ship, usually a large one. Commanders and Lieutenant Commanders can also command smaller ships, or serve as Executive Officers (second in command) on larger ships. When they command ships, they are referred to as "Captain" by the crew, regardless of their actual rank. And by custom, Lieutenant Commanders, when being verbally addressed, are called just "Commander So-and-So."
That should get you started! Let me know if you need more.
January 11th, 2002, 08:06 AM
There are basically few "set" rules for hierarchy in Europe, as the nooble ranks were different in each area...for example, a Count in France was a minor noble title that could actually be "Purchased."
In England (pre Norman Conquest), there was a King, with 8 or so Earls who chose him, followed by any number of Thanes. Thanes varied in wealth and power from scarecely above peasant to near-Earls. Also in this mix were Church officials who enjoyed a slightly different rank based on wealth and land ownership. Thanes were colelcted into small groups called "Shires" with a "Shire Reeve" as the nominal over-seer althoug he only truly oversaw the Thanes periodicall.(from "Shire-Reeve" comes "Sheriff," by the way).
Thanes' prestige and rank was determined from the person they answered to...for example, a Thane could hold a small plot of land in the name of another Thane, and hence he was not a very high-ranking individual. However, a Thane who owned land directly answerable to the king himself would be VERY influential.
More important than the specific titles and their ranks, you should research the duties of the feudal system. By swearing fealty to a King, what did a Duke gain? What obligations were placed upon him, and what obligations were placed upon the king for his end of the deal?
How many days per year could the vassal be forced to serve in the army? How many knights was that vassal required to provide in such a situation? How much pay was that knight GUARANTEED to get in return if the King required him to serve longer (the reason large standing armies were rare...the cost, and hence the basis for the feudal system)?
In armies, modern ranks were established in the professional armies of Napoleonic and Victorian Europe. So a Feudal army would have far less actual structure. IN a feudal army, each noble brought his force to batte under his own banners to serve in the large Royal army. Likely, that noble was the commander of his own troops. Likewise, his own vassals usually commanded the companies brought from their own lands, etc. The professional army with Rnaks such as general, colonel, etc. DID NOT exist in feudal Europe as they do today. Noble rank equalled status in the army. Remember, one of hte main purposes of the feudal system was to spread the cost of defense among the many nobles so that a STANDING army wouldn't be necessary. So professional ranks should not exist in great numbers in the feudal, medieval setting. If a country has the resources to fund a large, professional, standing army, it likely wouldn't have a heirarchical, feudal system anyway unless it was more like Napoleonic Europe, where the feudal system was replaced by noble ranks without nearly as much true meaning.
History is plagued with the story of the struggle for power between rulers and their "vassals." The idea that a King is always all-powerful was rarely the case in Europe. More times than not, a ruler was forced to borrow, beg, and really struggle to get his way against the nobles who were supposedly his inferiors.
Politics, it seems, is NOT a modern invention.
January 11th, 2002, 06:15 PM
As a trained historian, my advice on this, Lifino, would be: research. Get yourself a general book on the period you are interested in (eg. the Dark Ages), and then grow more specific - move on to books about nobility in general, then onto specific royal lines or historical figures. Likewise, I'm sure there are many books published on the military and its structures. Try your local library first, and for more detailed information go to the library of your closest university. You probably won't be able to borrow, but you should be able to sit, read, and take notes!
Asking us here on the board is one way, but reading for yourself throws a new light on any information you dig up. Since you are wanting to write a story on these areas, you may be impressed by all sorts of little details in the published materials that we here wouldn't think of mentioning or may not know...
January 12th, 2002, 04:41 AM
Hey, thanks for all the feed back!! That was great.
Valada, actualy I'm planning a trip to the library tomorow. Plus after I started this thread I realised I had a book on the racks dealing with Knighthood, and the lifestyle, I've been looking through that. I hate the writing style, but it deals some with a few of the issues I'm looking at.
I agree research, and understanding are the only way to be convincing, but for my purposes all I realy need for now is a title. The story is far from 'serious'. It's just something to kill a little time at night, mostly for personal entertainment. But the subject of government structure for this setting is something that I think will be fun to learn about!
If it turns out that later on this story becomes something more than an educational experience, then I'll go back through and make sure the titles all make sense...
For now it looks like the actual politicing, rather than the positions, will be of primary importance. This effort has been somewhat inspired by my fascination and dedication to The West Wing, the T.V. Series. The presidential atmosphere in that show is something that I haven't seen applied to Fantasy of this time period(my favorite genre)... My plans for this story are less of dealing with moving through the system and so-called upward-mobility, rather it's a look at a short period of time and the character interactions needed to accomplish a goal within the legal systems. I'm hoping that with a little practice I might even be able to reproduce the West Wing conversation pace.
HAhaha, now as I read back through this post, I realise I should also take some notes on a typical legal system of the time... But I think I'm basing mine more on a modern system, perhaps a variation on a Parlimentary system... Now I'm just thinking out loud.
Thanks again, all
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