Unknown Composition: Army Lists without Armies

A place to talk about MESHWESH army lists
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David Kuijt
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Unknown Composition: Army Lists without Armies

Postby David Kuijt » Thu May 10, 2018 6:40 pm

Hi everyone,

One of the huge advantages we have with Meshwesh (online army lists) that other rules systems that rely on print army lists do NOT have is that we can be responsive to new research. In particular, there are a significant number of cultures where we know (more or less) all of the following:
  • That the culture existed, and approximately when and where
  • Topography, Enemies, and sometimes even possible Allies
  • Maneuver and Invasion ratings (or as much as we ever do -- sufficient to approximate them)
And yet we do NOT have an army list. These are not speculative army lists -- these are real army lists, for historical armies, where we do not have sufficient information to hazard an informed guess as to what made up their army. The research has not been done; the information does not exist as yet.

Five examples from as many cultures will show you what I mean: the Zhang-Zhung, Bulala, Tiwanaku and Wari, and the Genoese in Cyprus.

The Zhang-Zhung were predecessors to the Tibetan Empire. We know where they were (more or less); we know when they were (at least an end date, which is all we have for a bunch of armies); we know some opponents for them (Tibetans, for sure; possibly some Tarim Basin dudes and/or Mountain Indians). We have no translated descriptions of their armies, their battles, and no archaeology of their armament or weapons. So we have nothing on which to write an army list.

The Bulala were an African group (tribe? Movement? Army?) who displaced the King of Kanem to the other side of Lake Chad in the 14th or 15th century. We've got some (limited, but sufficient) information on the Kanem-Bornu armies, but nothing on the Bulala. No images, no descriptions, no battle descriptions, no archaeology. We know they defeated (and therefore fought) the Kanem; we know where they were, but nothing else.

The Tiwanaku and Wari (sometimes Huari) were one of two major civilizations in the Andes in the Middle Horizon period. We know both existed; we know they fought (or could have fought) each other; we know how big their civilizations were; we have ruins of their cities. We have no descriptions of anything (no writing); we have no images; we have no military archaeology. Both cultures collapsed (likely due to a series of long droughts in 1020 and 1050 that mark the end of the Middle Horizon period) before the Inca rose up in the same areas a century or more later.

The Genoese invaded Cyprus in the 14th/15th centuries and were a thorn in the side of the Venetians and the Cypriots for a century or more. We have some descriptions of sieges, a tiny bit about some troops (Hungarian Horsebow, IIRC) that were there for only a couple of years, a lot about politics, but nothing about what their army would look like. The typical Italian Condotta army of that period is clearly incorrect -- the Genoese never shipped over any major number of Elmeti (mounted knights). We know a bit (enough, but not a terrible amount) about the forces of the Cypriots and the Venetians they were largely allied with, but we know nothing about the Genoese forces in Cyprus.

There are another dozen or more army lists that fall in this "unknown composition" category. I've been working up North American army lists, and I probably have enough data (mostly from 17th/18th century) to be able to create army lists that aren't pure speculation (for one thing, military archaeology does exist, and some descriptions from early contact). There are certainly many Asian armies where we don't have good access to translations on current research and stuff.

The hope is that you readers can help us if you become aware of:
  • Any research that could inform the construction of reasonable army lists for any of these armies
  • Any armies that are not represented, that fall in this category of "Known army, but Unknown Composition"

Later on I'll make up a list of these armies and post it here, and then keep it updated.
DK

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David Kuijt
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Re: Unknown Composition: Army Lists without Armies

Postby David Kuijt » Fri May 11, 2018 3:57 pm

Tiwanaku Empire

  • Location: Central Andes
  • Dates: 300 -- 1150 AD
  • Notes: Predecessor to the Inca; collapsed due to drought and climate change in the century 1050-1150.
  • Contact with the Wanka (Huanca).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiwanaku_empire
DK

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David Kuijt
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Re: Unknown Composition: Army Lists without Armies

Postby David Kuijt » Fri May 11, 2018 4:37 pm

Huari (Wari) Empire

  • Location: Coastal Peru and Central Andes
  • Dates: 500 -- 1100 AD
  • Notes: Followed the Moche culture. Predecessor to the Chimu; collapsed due to drought and climate change and possible internal conflicts.
  • Contact with the Tiwanaku.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wari_Empire
DK

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David Kuijt
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Re: Unknown Composition: Army Lists without Armies

Postby David Kuijt » Fri May 11, 2018 4:50 pm

Zhangzhung Kingdoms

  • Location: Western Tibet and the Hindu Kush
  • Dates: 500 BC -- 677 AD
  • Likely interaction with adjacent states and tribes
  • Conquered by the nascent Tibetan Empire 625 AD; revolted briefly in 677 AD.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhangzhung
DK

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David Kuijt
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Re: Unknown Composition: Army Lists without Armies

Postby David Kuijt » Sat May 12, 2018 12:32 pm

Bulala (or Bilala)

Pastoralists from the Lake Fitri region; they moved to Lake Chad and came into contact with the Kanem empire, killing five of the six rulers of Kanem from 1376 to 1400 and eventually driving the King of Kanem to flee to the other side of Lake Chad and form the Kingdom of Bornu.

It seems that our information on the Bulala is based upon the writings of a 16th century scholar, Ibn Furtu. There is an English translation but it is out of print. If anyone wants an idea for giving me a birthday present, this would work great: https://www.amazon.com/Sudanic-Chronicle-Expeditions-1564-1576-According/dp/3515049266/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1526128121&sr=1-1

  • Location: East of Lake Chad in the Sahel
  • Dates: ?1350 AD to 1500 AD
  • We have data on what Kanem and Bornu had for armies, but nothing on the Bulala.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilala_people
DK

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David Kuijt
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Re: Unknown Composition: Army Lists without Armies

Postby David Kuijt » Sat May 12, 2018 12:46 pm

Great Zimbabwe, Mutapa, and the Shona people.

Great Zimbabwe was abandoned in the 15th century, either because of lack of resources (climate change?) or exhaustion of the gold fields, and the center of the kingdom shifted north to Mutapa. 1050 is the start date (approximately) for Great Zimbabwe, but it doesn't seem to become a powerful gold-trading kingdom until the establishment of its coastal trading city, Sofala, as an outpost of Swahili trading city Kilwa around 1300 AD.

  • Southern Central Africa
  • Dates: 1050 AD -- 1500+ AD
  • Notes: Empire founded on trade for gold.
  • No military contact with any army-sized culture (outside of possible civil wars) -- isolated. But super cool.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Zimbabwe
DK


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