Cataphracts were soldiers first witnessed in history in Scythia, Messagetae or commonly referred to in early antiquity as the nomadic peoples that would be the pillars of how the steppe tribes, kingdoms and empires would stream toward what they would call tradition. Clad in heavy armor, both soldier and horse alike, given the longest reaching heaviest weapons to swing and thrust with, their charges would break battles before they’ve even begun; their thundering gallops echoing on the wind carried in the steppe would earn them a place in history to be used even to late medieval period.
Housecarls were the personal bodyguards of tribe leaders, warlords, jarls and kings. Hailing from Scandinavia, these soldiers resembled what would later be known as knights. Clad in the best armor and weapons coin could offer, these people offered the discipline and experience the Vikings could muster. Wielding a two handed Dane axe, brandishing an ornate round shield and finely engraved hand-axe, mystified with the look of the eagle shaped helmet, the most colorful clothes and leather tucked under the shining mail or lamellar armor, would be a sight to behold on the battlefield or halls they were sworn to protect.
The Knights Templar was a holy order of knights dedicated to defending Christendom. These people were the common men of Europe inspired by faith, knights that served kings, mercenaries driven by coin, that would become most recognized in history for their participation of driving out the Muslim invaders from Europe and reclaiming the Holy Land. They were given everything they had in life to acquire coin allowing them to clad themselves in the best armor and wield the finely forged weapons. They were called upon by the Pope to defend Christendom, so these knights would break the back of the failing and warring amongst each other caliphs, shahs and sultans, thus earning the greatest price they were after – the holy city of Jerusalem.
Mamluks were slaves converted to Islam and forced upon to serve as soldiers for the Caliphs and Sultans of the Middle East. Trained as knights they would be taught the code of furusiyya that dictated honor, courage and generosity, they became a powerful military caste with relative ease. Rivaling the Knights Templar, both would be found equal on the battlefield, fighting for their faith and beliefs, displaying the utmost nobility that rivaled the high-born themselves, they would usher in what each side would view as the paragon of their faith.
Longbowmen were the best archers Europe had seen in history. Hailing from England, these men are recorded to be the most muscular and tall soldiers on the battlefields. Their legendary bows that were not recurved, but rather resembled the letter D when deployed. Called the machine-guns of the middle age, the whistling of their arrows as they pierced the air and fell upon their foes would become the nightmare of kings as they lost their army before they could reach them. Because of the strain on the muscles and fingers, these men were retired very early in their careers as the demand of the longbow was without mercy to wield.
Highlanders came from the petty kingdoms of Scotland. During their turmoil with each other and facing off the invasion of the English. These soldiers were equipped with a long two-handed broadsword, clad in mail armor and were deployed on the battlefield with the intention to break the long pikes the English would use to stop a charge. Their ferocity rivaled that of their Viking cousins. They would pave the way for their place in the late medieval warfare Europe had witnessed, and into the Renaissance era inspire certain usage of specific soldiers deployed on the battlefields.