War was a constant visitor, especially in the medieval period. Throughout history people constantly fought over everything, but at the end of each battle there was a victor in most cases.
Have you ever wondered what happens after the battle is over? What did they do with the dead bodies, the equipment, the final act, etc.
Let’s start from ancient times, and as an example we shall use the Greek cities. Back then when the battle was over and all enemies cleared from the war zone the victorious army gathered the equipment and made personal trophies out of them. They stacked dead bodies on top of each other to form a mountain of death that shows to their future enemies that they mean business. A gruesome display none the less, but it worked. The sight you see at the end of a battle as a soldier is a frightening one indeed, given the fact you killed a man, a friend might have died, and that all you see is death in front of you, but what is important is that you just won the battle.
Raking Up The Death Toll
Wars were fought over different claims and each was different from the other. Each victory was different but in most cases the ones that are victorious end up loosing around 20% of it’s troops (Interesting number). Victory depended on a lot of things, such as: morale, troop power, technology, luck, etc. Many of the troops from the opposing army died when they were fleeing the battle field. This was when the defeated army ran away and were chased away by the the one that is victorious. In many cases half of the kills were achieved this way and this is what made the victors death tool percent look so small. Most of the time the defeated army looses a lot of it’s troops, but in some cases so did the victor. When both armies loose most of their troops, but yet someone wins it’s called a Pyrrhic victory.
How the Process Went
You just turned an age where you can serve your lord. He summons you to battle and you must join him. You are low equipped and you are used sometimes as a tactical dummy. Your banner is winning the battle and the enemy starts running. Firstly you start to chase as a natural command and you finish the rest of the enemy. But this is important as well, note that before you engage into battle you had some thoughts that you are about to risk your life for someone you don’t know and try to kill someone who you’ve never seen before, while your family is waiting for you to come home alive. Because of these reasons engagement in this conflict was very slow and this made battles last for hours.
After you kill of the running enemy, you would then occupy the territory. You would take their camp and their resources securing everything in the process. In the meantime part of the army secures the surroundings, other men were given tasks around the field. You were to find survivors from your army or your enemies. You could either kill them or make them prisoners depending on your position. After this, it was useful to scavenge equipment which was really useful. People could reuse the armor of their enemies and the weapons as well. People grabbed what they could find while priests were on the field praying to the dead.
Once this process ended and almost everything was secured a negotiation would take place. Here the terms would be negotiated of what is going to happen next, including what is going to happen to the dead. The dead could always be burned or buried, but in most cases they were given a chance to be buried by their own. Medicine wasn’t well developed and treatment wasn’t always successful and people often died from wound infections. If the dead bodies are not accounted for a disease might arise.
This pretty much concludes the end of each medieval battle.
- You Fight
- You Kill Off The Running Enemy
- You Scavenge The Battlefield
- You Negotiate
- You Take Care Of The Dead Bodies
But in other cases other steps were used instead.
Nicholson, Helen (2004), Medieval Warfare: Theory and Practice of War in Europe