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Grievous

Orlanthi Weaponthanes vs Housecarls

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Okay, this isn't an astronauts vs. cavemen thread as you may have hoped, but one about definitions. I've been struggling to make sense of what we should be calling the elite warriors of the Orlanthi clans - and what to make of them when they are called this or that.

So, we have the term weaponthanes, which is basically a warrior-leader supported by the clan (or tribe, as it may be). However, sometimes (as in the Coming Storm) we see housecarls used instead. Is the intention here that there is a distinction between these two terms, or are they intended to be largely interchangeable? In looking for a distinction, perhaps you can have weaponthanes who do not live with the chief/king, instead occupying some other strategic piece of territory (which certainly makes sense), who would be differentiated from housecarls, who are specifically the weaponthanes who guard the chief/king.

Also, a weaponthane has his Four Storms, but they are really not considered to be thanes themselves (I assume). However, I would also assume that they are likely to be supported by the largesse of the weaponthane in question (so, in that sense, their difference to thanes is actually somewhat minor, making them more like "minor thanes"). If we go by the distinction I outline above (ie. housecarls being the weaponthanes of the chief's bodyguard), are their Storms considered to be housecarls as well - if not, what exactly are they then? One might contemplate a situation where the housecarls wouldn't even have Storms at all, as one might not want to incentivize bodyguards to develop followings of their own, but not sure about that.

Another way to think about housecarls is to, well, look at the words. It says they are "carls", so one might consider these to be warrior retainers not benefitting from a thane's rank... which is an entirely different line of thinking all together.

Looking for a simple set of answers here, guys.┬á­čśů

Edited by Grievous

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My understanding so far is, that housecarls are weaponthanes, which are explicitly assigned to be part of the personal guard of a clan or tribe chief. Therefore I would go with your first interpretation:

23 minutes ago, Grievous said:

...
So, we have the term weaponthanes, which is basically a warrior-leader supported by the clan (or tribe, as it may be). However, sometimes (as in the Coming Storm) we see housecarls used instead. Is the intention here that there is a distinction between these two terms, or are they intended to be largely interchangeable? In looking for a distinction, perhaps you can have weaponthanes who do not live with the chief/king, instead occupying some other strategic piece of territory (which certainly makes sense), who would be differentiated from housecarls, who are specifically the weaponthanes who guard the chief/king.

...

 

Edited by Oracle
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FWIW, I'd define housecarl using its most basic meaning: "house freeman," a free man (or woman) who's part of the personal retinue/household of a noble. So that could include his or her personal scribe, healer, rainmaker, as well as the tribal champion, personal bodyguards, a hunter or two, a few full-time troubleshooters, etc.

Meanwhile, a weaponthane is a skilled, high-ranking warrior. Essentially a professional soldier. They might live with the noble; they might not. 

So while some weaponthanes are also housecarls, not all housecarls are weaponthanes.

YGMV

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1 hour ago, Grievous said:

Looking for a simple set of answers here, guys.┬á­čśů

Both are 'retainers' but there's a distinction of status. A housecarl and their household is generally supported by one hide of between 80 and 120 acres; a weaponthane and their household is generally supported by five hides of land, approximately two square kilometers or six hundred acres, mostly farmed by cottars.

This difference in wealth, equates to their experience, capability, and equipment - a weaponthane is roughly a 'company commander', equivalent to, say, a Lunar 'centurion', tough, experienced, professional, whilst the housecarl is an experienced/well-equipped fighter, equivalent to a Lunar 'double-pay' soldier but not a professional. The tribal or clan leader's weaponthanes and housecarls form the nucleus of their army or war party, but the weaponthanes will be the champions and 'officers', whilst housecarls are the 'NCOs' - though in an Orlanthi shieldwall, as the best equipped, they'll both be in the front ranks, with the carls etc. behind them.

Edited by M Helsdon
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Hmmm.... I'm more inclined to think in this fashion...

Weaponthane is landed, Housecarl is an unlanded household retainer.

Though, I will admit to not having paid much attention to how this is used in Gloranthan sources.

SDLeary

Edited by SDLeary

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2 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Yep, these sound good to me, I would call it officer, non-commisioned officer and the enlisted and the drafted;press-ganged. Noble, Yeoman, Serf, rabble..?

You don't need any kind of further delineation, because the socio-economic breakdown is good enough. Carls and cottars are the common soldiers with varying degrees of equipment quality based on what they can afford, and thralls aren't usually allowed to have weapons or fight for obvious reasons. There isn't a "draft" or any kind of impressment/press-ganging, because being a part of a clan or tribe as a free adult man means being willing to fight its battles if the need arises.

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If you notice, we have downplayed the terms "weapons-thane" or "housecarl" in RQG. Instead we have substituted "noble" and "bodyguard" (in fact, I am not sure whether "housecarl" ever appears in the book. Nobles in Orlanthi society include the martial aristocracy called "thanes", which evolved out of the priesthood in the Second Age. During this time, it was discovered that an armed militia of farmers and herders could be overcome by a smaller band of elite troops. Chieftains use companions to fulfill this martial role among the community instead of the priests. Land and herds are assigned to support these petty nobles - in exchange, they report to the local ruler and are expected to protect their community.

Important people also maintain bodyguards as part of their personal retinue. A high status bodyguard might also be a thane, with lands and herds of their own. Or the bodyguard might just be a type of mercenary who serves for pay. 

 

 

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Also we have replaced "carl" with "free" (a literal translation of the term btw) and "cottar" with "tenant" (I was going to use "half-free" but reconsidered it).

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2 hours ago, Leingod said:

You don't need any kind of further delineation, because the socio-economic breakdown is good enough. Carls and cottars are the common soldiers with varying degrees of equipment quality based on what they can afford, and thralls aren't usually allowed to have weapons or fight for obvious reasons. There isn't a "draft" or any kind of impressment/press-ganging, because being a part of a clan or tribe as a free adult man means being willing to fight its battles if the need arises.

Kinda tomato, tahmato, but I suppose I could have saved having to defend myself by saying:

"in other worlds than Glorantha one could" call it (an) officer, non-commisioned officer and the enlisted and the drafted;press-ganged*. Noble, Yeoman, Serf, rabble..?

* (thrall, trollkin, Tusk-Rider Merc)

In any case, apologies for the lack of clarity. My bad.

Cheers

Edited by Bill the barbarian
por spelin agin

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7 hours ago, Jeff said:

Also we have replaced "carl" with "free" (a literal translation of the term btw) and "cottar" with "tenant" (I was going to use "half-free" but reconsidered it).

This seems a bit medieval-y too me. Does this mean that when the Clan hands out parcels of land (because only the Clan as an organized entity can "own" land), it goes "and then this guy will have to rent land from that other guy" (possibly because he doesn't have enough horses or cows to organize his own plow team). Or what is the process here?

Edited by Sir_Godspeed

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11 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

This seems a bit medieval-y too me. Does this mean that when the Clan hands out parcels of land (because only the Clan as an organized entity can "own" land), it goes "and then this guy will have to rent land from that other guy" (possibly because he doesn't have enough horses or cows to organize his own plow team). Or what is the process here?

I guess kind of, but I don't see it really in the order or way you present it above. Once you have a plow team and the necessary skills, you can ask for land to work on. In a case where all land was redistributed, it would simply be distributed to the people who have plow teams/skills and the rest would simply realize that they'd have to rent land from one of those guys to get by (or find another profession) - and I guess the freemen won't really mind having some extra folks on their lands either, so it's not really a bad thing, it's just how it is.

I do personally like the term half-free here, but I guess it is a bit odd/rough for Orlanthi, hmm.

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If you want to go really Bronze Age... 8-)

Mycenaean

Saxon

Wanax

King

Lawagetas

Thane

Heqetai

Housecarl

Quasileus

Sheriff

Doeros, doera

Cottars/serfs

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The clan or tribe assigns land to a thane. The thane and their family might farm it directly, or they might rent it out to half-free sharecroppers who give half the crop (what most adventurers do). The same system that has likely existed in much of the world for thousands of years. When the thane dies, usually a member of his family is able to prove their worthiness to continue carrying out the thane's duties (which generally is what the community prefers), but the community could allocate that to a new family (uncommon but it does happen). 

When someone dies in an Orlanthi clan, the land doesn't usually get redistributed - their family pushes to have the land kept within that kinship group. Assuming the kinship group is reasonably well-regarded by their peers, and reasonably competent, that is precisely what usually happens. But sometimes, the community decides to upset the apple cart and reallocated the land. Certain offices have customary land associated with it - so in Apple Lane there are a bunch of orchards that are allocated to support the Thane.

Jeff

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1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

If you want to go really Bronze Age... 8-)

Mycenaean

Saxon

Wanax

King

Lawagetas

Thane

Heqetai

Housecarl

Quasileus

Sheriff

Doeros, doera

Cottars/serfs

And of course there's the other names mentioned for the classes in the guide, Horse Men, Cattle Men, and Sheep Men.

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7 minutes ago, Tindalos said:

And of course there's the other names mentioned for the classes in the guide, Horse Men, Cattle Men, and Sheep Men.

I don't have my sources to hand, but these can be derived for Mykenaean Greek also. Similarly one could come up with terms from other cultures, with a decent dictionary! There is no need to be limited to a Teutonic background­čśÄ

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Something along the lines of

Horse man.  I-GO-A-DA-RA, or Igowadara

Cattle man GO-U-A-DA-RA or Gouwadara

Sheep man PO-A-DA-RA or Powadara

as a rough guess.  Possibly better rendered as Igowandaras, Gowandaras and Powandaras, but I am far from sure....

Edited by Ali the Helering
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While the Anglo-Saxon terms aren't exactly correct, don't fall head over heels to promote another rather naval culture's titles for a land-locked population.

The Mycenean and Cretan cultures were possible only through sea trade. Taking that away (the advent of the Sea Peoples) collapsed those civilizations badly. The marginal bronze using cultures away from the trade centers survived mostly intact, even though their access to bronze was limited or cut off - they didn't have that much of the metal in the first place and were used to making do with local material.

The core Orlanthi culture is that of land-locked, self-organized cattle and grain farmers with sheep herding on the fringes of cultivated land. Those living in more mountainous regions practice transhumance with their herds of cattle, too, basically splitting the clan during the summer into the upland herders and the farming stay-at-homes. Sheep herding gets even more extreme.

Calling the cottars "sheep men" is misleading - sheep herding doesn't take that much manpower, and most of the cottars are indeed field hands and/or maintain cottage industries.  "Single cow households" might be the better term. (Although, looking at the herd sizes in Montaillou, the Cathar village thouroughly investigated and documented by an inquisitor, suggests quite a bit of the poor, unmarried (aka undesirable) male population spending their time away from the village with rather small herds. No idea how they produced enough food for themselves, let alone made a business out of shepherding.)

But then, hardly any property among the Orlanthi is personal, including most personal gear and wardrobe. Exploring such a state of property assignments through roleplaying is a no-go area, however, as your average player doesn't want to play kibbuzim communards.

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44 minutes ago, Joerg said:

While the Anglo-Saxon terms aren't exactly correct, don't fall head over heels to promote another rather naval culture's titles for a land-locked population.

The Mycenean and Cretan cultures were possible only through sea trade. Taking that away (the advent of the Sea Peoples) collapsed those civilizations badly. The marginal bronze using cultures away from the trade centers survived mostly intact, even though their access to bronze was limited or cut off - they didn't have that much of the metal in the first place and were used to making do with local material.

The core Orlanthi culture is that of land-locked, self-organized cattle and grain farmers with sheep herding on the fringes of cultivated land. Those living in more mountainous regions practice transhumance with their herds of cattle, too, basically splitting the clan during the summer into the upland herders and the farming stay-at-homes. Sheep herding gets even more extreme.

Calling the cottars "sheep men" is misleading - sheep herding doesn't take that much manpower, and most of the cottars are indeed field hands and/or maintain cottage industries.  "Single cow households" might be the better term. (Although, looking at the herd sizes in Montaillou, the Cathar village thouroughly investigated and documented by an inquisitor, suggests quite a bit of the poor, unmarried (aka undesirable) male population spending their time away from the village with rather small herds. No idea how they produced enough food for themselves, let alone made a business out of shepherding.)

But then, hardly any property among the Orlanthi is personal, including most personal gear and wardrobe. Exploring such a state of property assignments through roleplaying is a no-go area, however, as your average player doesn't want to play kibbuzim communards.

The Anglo-Saxon culture evolved from a sea-going culture and was profoundly influenced by others, the Scandinavians and their Norman descendants in particular!  The terminology of any culture is limited in applicability, and any one selected will be of restricted use.  These terms are simply RW alternatives, neither more nor less accurate/useful.

Perhaps Phrygian, for a cold plateau with Mediterranean influences, as a not entirely dissimilar environment to DP?

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I suppose something of alpine or Swat Valley origin could work, but this is all getting a bit academic.

I personally like the Anglo-Saxon terms, because they seem to approximate things reasonably well (despite noted misgivings), it feels "familiar", as opposed to Graceo-Roman terms or terms from even further afield (although there is of course a Germanic/Nothern European-American bias in this), and it also, in a sense, implies to some degree the scale of these societies (ie. clan size and tribe size). Can it feel out of place when combined with Mycenaean acropolises? Yeah, sure, but honestly some of the bizarreness can serve as a useful "teachable moment" for introducing people to Glorantha, imho. "Yeah, he's called a huscarl. Yes, I know he's wearing lamellar and a bronze sword with a leaf shape, and his helmet is made up of Aurochs bones. Welcome to Glorantha."

I would also argue that using Germanic terms is fairly aesthetically suitable for the continued insistence on using the term "barbarians" for the Orlanthi (a far more contentious choice, one would have thought).

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1 minute ago, Ali the Helering said:

The Anglo-Saxon culture evolved from a sea-going culture and was profoundly influenced by others, the Scandinavians and their Norman descendants in particular!  The terminology of any culture is limited in applicability, and any one selected will be of restricted use.  These terms are simply RW alternatives, neither more nor less accurate/useful.

Perhaps Phrygian, for a cold plateau with Mediterranean influences, as a not entirely dissimilar environment to DP?

My favourite still is the Hallstatt culture and the subsequent Graecised La Tene period oppida in the Danubian valley which was more or less bought in by the Romans as Noricum, and whatever was destroyed by the Romans in Pannonia. The Gallic society is pretty similar to that of the Orlanthi, way more so than the Old Irish that the Anglophone countries associate with the term Celt much like they associate Aegaean and perhaps Mesopotamian culture with Bronze Age due to ethnic (and to some extent cultural) preconceptions.

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If you want to avoid using real world cultural terms altogether, you could use Orlanth subcults to distinguish the various social classes, or just simpler terms entirely:

cottar - Barntaring - fieldman

housecarl - Rigsdaling? Elmaling? - steadman

weaponthane - Starkvaling - shieldman

 

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

While the Anglo-Saxon terms aren't exactly correct, don't fall head over heels to promote another rather naval culture's titles for a land-locked population.

There was a smiley face indicating the post was tongue-in-cheek.

However, it also served to illustrate that virtually all European societies prior to modern times tended to very roughly the same social levels and distinctions. This is also true to a degree on a wider level, and can probably be projected onto most Indo-European cultures reliant on farming.

2 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Mycenean and Cretan cultures were possible only through sea trade. Taking that away (the advent of the Sea Peoples) collapsed those civilizations badly. The marginal bronze using cultures away from the trade centers survived mostly intact, even though their access to bronze was limited or cut off - they didn't have that much of the metal in the first place and were used to making do with local material.

Astonishingly, there's still considerable debate regarding the causes of the Bronze Age Collapse, and there are compelling arguments that some Mycenaeans were among the Sea Peoples. The reality is: we will never know.

Edited by M Helsdon

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6 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

If you want to go really Bronze Age... 8-)

´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐´╗┐

Mycenaean

Saxon

Wanax

King

Lawagetas

Thane

Heqetai

Housecarl

Quasileus

Sheriff

Doeros, doera

Cottars/serfs

Nice! Style and substance [gr.].

Ooo, ahhhh,  tables...

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