Renaissance of the Huscarls of Darkwood
Written by Baron Erich der Helmschmied, and presented to the Barony at White Shield, March 5, 2005
The Huscarls have meant many things to people, depending on their experiences. Either as Huscarls themselves, as supporters, as detractors, as those who have faced us across the field or included us in their number as comrades in arms, depended upon us to hold their line, their gate, their flank, as they led us, or chased us.
We have been a boon, a scourge, a family, a party, a home. We count amongst our alumni all manner of Counts and Viscounts, Knights, and Pelicans. Warriors who have flown the Black and White, cover the Knowne World. Tales of our deeds are recounted in song and verse, some of them even unadulterated. Beginning with Sebastian’s personal guard, to the massed shock troops of our venerable Wilhelm. We have made our presence known. In the time of the cowboy, the Huscarl was part of a warband, a unit. Supported by the deadly rain of our lights, we moved together and with combined might, repelled or crushed as we were called upon to do. We were led by a Warrior whose experience transcended the game we play. Friendships have begun as well as ended over the honour of supporting our Barony and each other in times of war and sometimes just getting to the war. We have been supported by a long list of marshals, water bearers, ciurgeons and all those who are needed to make war. Our significant others have suffered the hardships of our losses and celebrated the glories of our deeds and honours, many without recognition or reward. Without our people we are nothing, Huscarls extend out to the edge. We have brought in those with promise and those just enthusiasm and gave them succor and purpose. Huscarls are Darwood, Darkwood is Huscarls.
Which brings us to today.
I have felt the need not to merely continue as before. I know the greatness that precedes, and a pale impersonation does it no justice. I know that while some will always pine for the glories that were, the status quo, I know also there are those wishing for their opportunity to advance, to lead, to write the saga. I know that Darkwood has felt a void these past two years, some have gone away and there are new fighters looking to belong as well as fight for their homeland.
The Huscarls will begin again in a new structure. With much consultation from former Huscarls and those wishing to be, I have developed the following;
As I am of the Holy Roman Empire (German) the rank and structure will reflect this.
The regiment will no doubt still be referred to as the Huscarls, but officially you will be part of the Darkwood Fahnlien. We are a landed unit and as such will follow the King or Prince when on their field.
You as a fighter or supporter will be given sold, paid in the coin of the Barony. These coins will have worth as they will be the only tender in a yearly auction. (thank you, Duke Fabian) so you can amass as many as you can through deed or coercion. As a fighter you will be paid in a specific coin in recognition of your service on the field.
I will recognize household, group, canton, etc. that wishes to form a unit to support one another as I wish to encourage the esprit de corps, but there will be no unit captains and you will not be required to allow anyone to join simply because they fall in your geographical area. I will encourage you to fly your unit colors on the field in the context of the Huscarls as a whole.
There will be only three long term offices and two ranks within the new Huscarls.
Obrist (colonel) who will be the overall leader and guide and will determine along with the Baron and the Provost who among the assembled troops will lead the fahnlien for the day as the Gemeinweibel (common sergeant). This position is long term and at the discretion of the Baron.
Provost , who will look after the organization of the fahnlien as it concerns war practices, and fighter bonding, be the first to settle disputes and recognize those deserving of reward. Will consult the Baron and the Obrist in matters concerning the fahnlien. This position is long term and at the discretion of the Baron.
Pfenningmeister (penny master), who will procure coin and pay the fighters at the rate determined by your rank. Either at the event itself or in court at a later event. This position is long term and at the discretion of the Baron.
Dopplesoldner (“double pay” soldier) This rank is bestowed upon those who have long proven to be dependable and leaders. These are the fighters who will be asked first to lead our troops for the day as the Gemeinweibel. This position is long term and at the discretion of the Baron. The offices of Obrist, Provost, and Pfenningmeister will be held by Dopplesoldners.
These define the top rank of the fahnlien.
The common fighter, be they heavy or light will be a Huscarl. Huscarls may be called upon to lead our troops for the day as our Gemeinweibel, and in doing so will be paid as a Dopplesoldner for the day.
The pay rank also includes those who support the art of war in the roles of Marshal, Water bearer or Ciurgeon. These positions can be Huscarls but that is not required to be paid. As long as service has been rendered to the cause of the war.
The most common complaint I heard about the former Huscarl structure was that the hierarchy was entrenched and the opportunity for advancement or to lead was not offered. I heard discord over having to follow the same people, not getting the opportunity to try new things.
Now you will have that chance, while many wish to lead for the day, few want to be a part of the long term organization of a unit. As such those who wish to lead will be given total rein over our troops on the field as the Gemienweibel that day or a portion if you wish to pass the responsibility on early. This extends to interacting with those leading the armies for the day, determining who goes where and with what, and determining whose actions deserve recognition. If accolades are to be given for our actions on the field that day they will be given to you. We have been known as a shield wall unit, but if you think we will be better suited as a pike unit that day it will be at your discretion. You can seek the counsel of anyone and choose to disregard it. We will rise or fall as a unit with you as the Gemienweibel for that day. But no matter what we will still gather around the fire and tell the truth as we see it.
The requirements to become a Huscarl are going to be slightly different as well. Gone are the days of getting your favor and never being seen on the field again. To get into the fahnlien you must first petition the Baron and have a Huscarl sponsor as well. The Baron will then counsel the existing Huscarls. This petition will typically not be accepted until after having fought at least two wars with the Huscarls. This second requirement extends to new fighters, former Huscarls will have their previous duty considered as fulfilling the second requirement.
The next requirement will be to possess your own war kit. This will include a war door for heavies that extends at least from your chin to your knee, painted in Huscarl livery of a white field with a black chief, upon the white field an oak of black. In the corner of the chief opposite your heart a pair of red armourer’s hammers crossed, in the corner of the chief over your heart, your choice; your unit device, your device, the favor of the one who inspires you. Heavies will also be required to have a “shield wall” weapon, preferably an axe or mace to help you hook while on the wall. Next requirement for heavies is a pole weapon of some sort, a pike, halberd, etc. Archers or siege engineers will have to have weapons of their own as well. While there will be some loaner tabards, heavy or archer, you will be required by your next war after becoming a Huscarl to procure a garment in Huscarl livery similar to that described for the war door. This does not have to be a tabard, though a tabard is acceptable. The black chief must come down to below your breast and the oak must be prominent. The garment must also come down to at least above the knee. These can be tunics, cloaks, capes, waffenrocks, etc. My wish is that this garment is something you would wear off the field as well, so choose something that suits your persona if you can.
The requirement to remain a Huscarl will be to support the fahnlien in a capacity, other than emotional, at least one war a year. This could be as a fighter, as a marshal or water bearer or helping with set up or tear down of an event. This is a very lax requirement and should be seen as a minimum. If you attend wars and do not support the fahnlien you will be considered to have dissolved your relation. If you are not heard from for over a year you will be considered to have dissolved your relation. Life happens and if you wish to take a hiatus, let the Baron know. If a Huscarl is deemed unfit by his peers the Baron will take this under advisement and may dissolve the relationship.
Some traditions will remain, others will be replaced.
This will evolve.
The best parts of being a Huscarl, the camaraderie, the sense of purpose, the honour, valour and strength on the field, the revelry, will remain. I look forward to writing new sagas for Darkwood and the Huscarls.
Cheers, Erich der Helmschmied