Saturday, August 20, 2011

Landsknecht Origin & Occupation

Running through various avenues of research, I have run into a quandry.  For some inexplicable reason, I'm wanting to discover the origin of the Landsknecht.  Basically, were they peasants or noblemen, farmers or mercenaries, John Doe off the street or seasoned warriors?  How do you find out this kind of information?

At first, I ran into various opinions, which are summarized as follows:

  • One side would have that the men were originally poor farmers that were, for lack of a better term, servants to the obrists (colonels) above them and needed to 'follow the drum' in order to provide for their families and maintain their lands.  Basically, what I drew from this opinion is coercion.
  • Another would have that Maximillian recruited various mercenaries and 'bored young men looking for a fight' from the higher populated southern reaches of his kingdom, leaving the farmers to the north alone.

To my way of thinking, these are two rather conflicting ways of viewing the same people.  Which is correct?  Are they both correct, but in varying degrees?  I attempted to find Landsknecht roll of arms, since I've been given to understand occupations were recorded when the names of unit individuals were written down due to the Bestallungsbrief (patents or edicts).  This would be a great source of information to put this question to rest, but I have yet to find a source of these anywhere available online.

Also, I'm curious what the occupations of the Landsknecht were in general.  Were they mostly farmers?  mercenaries?  merchants?  no stated occupation?  From where did they come and how much effort was needed to train them in the art of warfare?  How many of them were affluent enough to have servants of their own?  Too many questions and not enough answers. :D


Alena said...

Have you seen the article: Mobility, Voluntary or Enforced? by Robert Scribner?

It is an academic article looking at the court records of an area of Germany and at the court cases that were brought against vagrants, or wanderers, many of them Landsknecht. It has a bunch of great stories about real Landsknecht. Very easy to read for an academic article. I can get a hold of a PDF if you are interested.

Khaentlahn said...

That would be absolutely fabulous! I am very interested and I can't wait to see it. If you would be so kind, email it to khaentlahn at yahoo. Thank you so much!