Monday 29 October 2012

Religion and the Empire - the Cleric Army

The Church
Since its establishment, the Catholic Church became a powerful institution, owning lands, levying taxes and laws. As its power and wealth grew, the Church was able to influence the Kings and rulers throughout Europe. Within the Empire, elected Emperors would need to be anointed by the Pope to ensure their authority remained a valid one, without this validation, the head of the Empire remained a King. 

Despite her dominance, the hereditary rights by the Catholic Church were being questioned by learned individuals, claiming corruption and excesses. The Lollards, led by John Wycliffe, gained an ear in England, parts of Scotland, certainly in places across the Channel as the term entered the Middle Dutch language at this time.

Lacking a standardized training for parish priests, beliefs arose which would seem heretical by Rome. Peter Waldo of Southern Germany criticized the wealthy and powerful clerics during the 12th and 13th century and Jan Hus would re-echo that theme wishing to reduce the clergy’s authority in matters secular and ecclesiastical. 

The movement, although short lived was followed by a more alarming upheaval within the Church, the establishment of a second Pope. The Great Schism from 1378 to 1417 saw Pope Urban IV held papal court in Rome, while the French elected Pope Clement VII ruled from Avignon, essentially dividing a Christian Europe in half. 

The Clerical Army
The Church was not reluctant to take up arms for the defense of their domains or press home the use of force to resolve a political crisis. The Bishopric of Trento, which plays in our campaign was one such example of keeping the Italian city states from the south at bay, and the Dukedom of Tirol in the north as well. For the good cause, there were always recruits willing to re-align their faith by assisting the Church, but for the most part, the Church “persuaded” the nobles within their domain to do their duty. In cities where the Guild system ruled, the Church exerted influence among Guild representatives. More than not, the Church appealed to their sense of commercial gain by nudging the opposition out and gaining lucrative contracts.

From the DBM army list, a Clerical force could muster most; men-at-arms, spear, crossbow from the cities, mercenaries and Heerban or Militia.. There is some discussion of what arms the Heerban used; spear, glave or club, but on the whole, the quality of the Heerban declined. By mid-15th century these would be horde.

As a matter of course, our list would have Hd as in medieval times, peasants were obligated to work on Church lands for free. This duty would extend the Church’s need for a labour force during a campaign. Add to this, a plentiful number of priests scattered about the army. Based with the Commander’s element are an array of banners, both religious and City.  

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