Friday, August 8, 2014

Mobilize the militia!

With war with Germania looming, Grand Duke Orzepovski has authorized the mobilization of the town militias and is personally conducting a tour to instill confidence in the towns people.

In carrying out the policy, the magnates of Litharus rely on their towns not simply as fortified points of defense. When necessary, towns mobilize their militias, and could be further utilized for the maintenance of permanent garrison battalions and concentration of local military groups made up of mercenary soldiers and servitude boyars.
Called out for exercise in the presence of the Grand Duke
Town militias existed as early as the beginning of the 16th century, when Litharusians defended their towns from invasion by the Crimean Tartars. Town inhabitants, most likely generically related to the town militias of Kievan Ruthenia, allied themselves with the lord’s feudal detachments.
Townsmen in their own clothing turn out
In practice, most militias were concentrated in larger, fortified towns and were utilized mainly for local defense. The existence of the town militia was of primary concern not only to the magnates, who strove to exploit all resources, including human ones, for the defense of their holdings, but also to the inhabitants of the towns themselves.
"But they come late, shoot poorly and are slow to reload...."
Working people were dependent on them for their safety since war affected them most of all. The conquest of a town by the enemy was accompanied by looting, rapes, murders, fires, epidemics and, not infrequently, considerable destruction to the town itself. Under conditions of feudal anarchy, frequent wars, and the decline of the central authority in the old Polish Republic, town militias represented a force able to defend the town and its possessions as well as the lives of its inhabitants. The town militias had no independent military significance; they carried on military operations only in defense of siege or raids.
Attempting to form up
Military service of the majority of the townspeople in a magnate's town was considered a local obligation to the lord of the town, and not to the state. The magnate defined the principles of the practical application of this duty, and the higher officials of his administration, or the garrison commanders, exercised a general control over the fulfillment of this duty. As a rule, the magnates, while making use of the town militia, relied on the wealthy merchant class as well as on the members of the town board and the guild elders. One should note that the magnates regarded both the town militia and the towns themselves as tools, a means to political power, and often exposed the towns and their militias to grievous losses.
Wearing traditional woad colors along with greens and browns
Excerpts taken with minor paraphrasing and thanks from:

The Militias of Magnate Towns in Belorussia and Lithuania in the 16th-18th centuries
by Anatol Hryckiewicz (Minsk, BSSR)
translated from Polish by Sigmund S. Birkenmayer and Eugenia J.Okoniewska
edited by Margot Topkins Tutun


  1. Great looking figures, the Grand Duke is fantastic!

  2. Thank you for an illuminating history and visual treat Michael.