"Nostrum est Romanum Imperium", Gerbert of Reims
“Ours is the Roman Empire.” When he said these words to Otto III, Gerbert was perfectly aware that the Roman Empire in the west had fallen long before he was born. But he was equally convinced that the Eastern Frankish kings were the right Emperors of a restored Roman Empire.
The Latin titles of Augustus and Imperator Romanorum have been vigorously claimed, although with respect to the Eastern Emperor the “Romanorum” was sometimes omitted. In fact, the western thinking did not require the connection of the highest power (Imperator) with a certain people or place. This is why the Imperium itself also had no specification, it was simply the Imperium. The Eastern Frankish kings knew an Imperium Francorum as well as an Imperium Romanorum. Otto the Great is attested as Imperator Augustus Romanorum ac Francorum in 966. However, these were not interchangeable, but distinct.
In fact, the idea of the Roman Empire was threefold: 1) limited to Italy, 2) a super Empire encompassing other kingdoms, and 3) universal. All these notions could be meant when a contemporary western scholar or politician spoke of the Roman Empire.
For many contemporaries, Otto stood in line with the old Caesars and in time, the Eastern Frankish kings became increasingly enchanted with that. Otto III, grandson of Otto the Great and son of the Eastern Roman princess Theophanu, proclaimed the rebirth of the Roman Empire under his reign. His teacher Gerbert did everything to enforce that thought. Interestingly enough, Gerbert argued that Otto was also legitimized by being Homo genere Grecus. His “Greek” ancestry of course is his Eastern Roman mother. Otto ruled over the Roman Empire, including its old provinces:
Nostrum Nostrum est Romanum Imperium. Dant vires ferax frugum Italia, ferax militum Gallia et Germania, nec Scithae desunt nobis fortissima regna.
After Konrad II came to power, Imperium Romanum was a usual description of the Empire ruled. Later on western Frankish/French authors would even assert the eastern part was no longer Frankish, but Roman or, unsurprisingly, Saxon or German.
"Exhinc quidam post Francorum Regnum supputant Teutonicorum", Otto of Freising
Even without the Nomen Imperatoris separating the kings of Eastern and Western Francia, both parts drifted apart politically as well as culturally. Long since had both halves spoken different languages, for example. With the end of the Carolingian dynasty at the beginning of the 10th century another tie seems to have been lost.
The term Teutonicus was used in the 9th century already, Teutones appear in the 10th century. Originally it had been Theodiscus, but that was considered barbarian and discarded. This was the result of a fatal habit of medieval scholars: they took names from antiquity and gave them to people with similar sounding names. The Danes became Daci and the Swedes became Suevi, to name two examples.
However the term Teutones was probably mostly used by scholars (and, for other reasons, Italians), while many would have preferred their regional identities as Saxons, Bavarians or Frisians. To confuse matters furthermore, Saxon could also mean all of Eastern Francia, because it had Saxon rulers since 919.
It is hard to tell when people stopped regarding themselves as Franks. Otto of Freising famously dates the change from the Regnum Francorum to the Regnum Teutonicorum to Henry I, but this author was no contemporary. Also, the Rex Teutonicorum was never the official term used by the King. It was mostly used by his enemies to lower his status to that of a regional ruler.
Nonetheless, it is clear that the Frankish name was abandoned as constitutive Nomen of the Regnum sometime in the second half of the 10th century. In the timeframe of TGC the Kingdom is best described as not Frankish anymore, and not German yet.
YOU CAN FIND MANY MORE INFORMATIONS IN THE ORIGINAL PREVIEW AT TWC.
THE ARMY - Part 1 : General levies.
Drawn from the peasantry, these troopers have only the most basic equipment to fight in war. With their minimal training they could not handle much more anyway.
Only used to bolster the lines in times of dire need, one should not rely on them. Nevertheless, the hardships of a peasant’s life have prepared the men for the harsh life on campaign; moreover the possibility to loot and enrich themselves may have provided some incentive to fight.
The population of cities has learned the hard way that great wealth attracts enemies. More than once the citizens needed to fight them off on their own. Although the equipment is rather meager, the moral of the citizens is high, as they could lose everything if they lose the fight. Manning the walls, they are ready for anything hurled against them. They have repelled Viking raiders, Magyar marauders, and Slavic warbands, so they should not be underestimated.
These troops are tasked with the supervision of defensive structures, which is why we made them infantry, although the name implies horsemen. But since the term miles agrarius is (almost 100%) a contradiction in itself, this should not be taken too literary anyway. Also, they did not participate in offensive operations. Providing some semi-professional defense-capability in border areas, they appear under the Ottonian dynasty when the German lands are permanently raided by Vikings, Slavs, and Magyars. It seems with the military successes of the Ottonians and Salians, and their subsequent expansion (rather than being the object of expansion themselves), the Milites Agrarii may no longer needed in the long run.
THE ARMY - Part 2 : Selected levies.
Scouting is a vital part of the German military planning on strategic as well as on tactical level. Although naturally rather gathering information than actually fighting, the Exploratores are capable of defending themselves and keep the enemy at a distance. Of course they are seriously outgunned when confronted with massive archery for the short range of their javelins and they are easily dispersed by light horsemen. Still there is no reason to underestimate the scouts.
The Swabians, called Alamanni in classicizing Latin, had a formidable reputation as swordsmen early on. Although not as well known as their later descendents with their two-handed swords, the Swabian swords and the men wielding them were famed in the 11th century already. The swords had excellent quality and the men were exceedingly brave, in addition to being well trained. The round shields may seem old-fashioned, but they are suited for their swordsmanship better than kite-shields. However they sometimes display a somewhat overconfident demeanor, if not arrogance. They are not a particular heavily armoured infantry, but sport balanced equipment allowing them to fight prolonged battles.
The Swabians finest hour was the last stand in the Battle of Civitate. The Pope and his army were given 700 Swabian swordsmen. The Papal troops from Italy could not withstand their Norman adversaries and fled the field. The Swabians attacked nonetheless, alone. As they had previously taunted the Normans they were given no mercy and all of them fell.
The Bavarian levies have somewhat deficient equipment, lacking heavy armour. Moreover they are rather undisciplined. But they are also ferocious fighters who do not fear any enemy and as such they are a welcome addition to any army. Living the in the borderland of Bavaria, they frequently are called to defend their homes and have a lot of experience in doing so. But they are also spearheading Ducal invasions of the eastern lands. Their greatest contribution to military history was the Battle of Lechfeld, when they cut off the Magyar routes of retreat. Setting up ambushes with makeshift ramparts, blocking roads and forts, few of the invaders survived.
Bohemia is one of the borderlands of the Empire, but it is also a most important part of it. Its defense is therefore a vital affair and the local nobles live up to the task. The Bohemian infantry they sent enjoys a good reputation as a professional, well trained and well armed corps, even sporting the most up to date Norman-style equipment. Thus they have the modern kite-shields; yet they also trust in eastern developments like their helmets and scale armour. These heavy spearmen can serve as anchor for every army and become the bane of enemy cavalry. Their excellent defensive capabilities are often needed in Bohemia itself, which is why one does not often see them on campaign with the Emperor.
In the 11th century, an old weapon came to new fame: the crossbow. Known from antiquity, the crossbow has some undeniable advantages over the bow. It is very easy to use effectively and its bolts can penetrate any armour. As it is also a cheap weapon, untrained peasants can be converted into a deadly force with relatively little effort. No surprise, the nobility tried to outlaw this weapon and prevent its proliferation, but failed. The German armies make no exception in their slow acceptance of the crossbow. In Saxony, the King’s own Duchy and home, these weapons show up first, as Saxony is often the home of military innovation in Germany.
The men from Franconia don the proud name of the Franks and besides being good spearmen, they also use a battle axe. The axe is a simple, relatively cheap but effective weapon giving the Franks an edge when they cannot use their spears, or when they want to surprise the enemy. They too, are more often concerned with the defense of their homes against the predations of the Western Frankish forces. Due to their proximity to France their equipment is of a more western style. The oval shield was still popular in Western Europe, can be seen on the tapestry on Bayeux still, for example. Mail shirts become available later on, when the borders become more secure and Franconia prospers.
Legend has it that Charlemagne was so impressed by the performance of a Frisian warrior that he granted freedom to the Frisian, meaning they would have no lord but the Roman Emperor. What is far more likely according to modern historians is that the Frisians were exempted from military service in order to fight off northern raiders. At the same time, feudal structures never established in Frisia while a strong class of independent farmers and merchants had considerable influence. Consequently they were free common men defending their own land and property - not exactly a frequent sight in medieval Europe.
Local nobles would often try to control them, but in the end, the Frisians never backed down. In fact, they killed (at least) two counts and the king had to be ok with it. He needed the Frisians to defend the northern shores.
They served the Emperor in many battles, but also enjoyed being mercenaries. Frisians were in the army of Alfred the Great, they defended Rome against the Muslims in 854, and from the 11th century on, they could be found on battle field from Spain to Palestine.
The Free Frisians are experts in defending. Their arrows can hit any enemy from a distance and their swords allow them to hold their ground, unlike most other archers.
THE ARMY - Part 3 : Nobles & Professionals.
There is little use for light cavalry in the Ottonian military thinking, but still it existed in small numbers. Characterized by their main protection, the large shield, they scout the terrain, harass the enemy, and support the heavy cavalry. Of course, they are also well suited for pursuit of fleeing enemies. However they should not engage any hostile formation directly and avoid combat with pretty much everyone who would fight back.
The main strike force of the German army is the Loricatus, the heavily armed horseman. Being the retainers of greater nobles, or Ministeriales (royal servants), most if not all of their life is devoted to warfare, thus they are excellently trained. Their equipment is state of the art, and follows Norman patterns for heavy cavalry. Mail hauberks, iron helmets, and the new kite shield protect them well, but leave enough mobility to attack and disengage at will. They also adopt the charge with the couched lance. This is the prototype of a knight.
The lower nobles fight as Loricati, heavily armed horsemen. They are not only the lords (Domini) of their subjects, but also their defenders (Defensores) for the new Christian ethics demand it. Indeed they will defend their territory and their subjects, but they are not as eagerly willing to campaign in faraway lands as other Loricati since their interests are home. Protected well enough, but still very mobile, they provide a versatile cavalry whose prime quality is the shock attack. However, some of their equipment would be best described as old-fashioned such as the round shields.
These household Loricati are the Emperors own and best horsemen. They answer to him and him alone. Picked for loyalty and skill they enforce the will of the King without question and they are very good at it, ever noble, valiant and true to their oath. Few can rival their offensive powers with the lance and they are master swordsmen. They have vanquished foes on the shores of the icy northern Seas as well as in the burning sun of southern Italy, possessing considerable experience in fighting many different armies. Being in Italy more often than other German troops they learned of other military traditions and equipment. Consequently they don scale armour vests after Eastern Roman fashion, however this is more the result of the Renovatio Imperii which the German Emperors like since this type of armour looks more ancient.
It is not only in accordance to Roman traditions to have a foreign guard unit, it is very sensible. As the guardsmen are not involved in internal politics and have no political interests of their own, they are not as eager as the nobles to plot against the King. All their social relations are dependent from the King, so it is their interest to keep him alive and fulfill his orders. These ‘Barbarian’ foreigners frighten domestic enemies at home, especially as some of them are still pagans. But their fighting capabilities are another good reason to employ these men. A heavy infantry unit with great skills in wielding axes and swords is exactly what the German military itself does not have to offer. The Legio Slavica is therefore a most valuable asset. Ironically, the first Slavic soldiers in German service appears in 982, just six years before the Eastern Roman Emperor Basil II would employ the Varangians and set up a similar guard unit.
The council of the king is composed of his most trusted lieutenants, high nobles and courtiers who often grew up together with the King. They are more than a guard, they are the king's fellows, his shadows and his fiercest champions. As such, they are bound to the king for life and death. Thus this band of brothers will fight to the very last to defend him, and they can fight well. For all their life they are in danger, exposed to battles, assassins, and harsh environments when on campaign. Being alert means staying alive. The King could not wish for better protectors of his life.