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Strategy by the Brothers von Manstein, Parts I-VII

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Strategy by the Brothers von Manstein is a war manual and rulebook written by the Hanso-Waldenian noble brothers, Adolf and Harald von Manstein (Naumarian: Adolf van Manstein; Harald van Manstein). Both Adolf and Harald lived during the Schismatic Wars of the 30s ES and 40s ES, and though being members of the minor Hanso-Waldenian nobility, remained Canonists or retained ties with the Canonist nations of the south. The guide itself was composed between the years 51-55 ES (1498-1502 ES), a few years following the collapse of the Vanderfell monarchy and the creation of the Orenian puppet-state, the Duchy of Haense.


(OOC: Full credit to @thesmellypocket who wrote this, posting it here for easier access. Link to their original thread below:



















“In the excellent years of 1498-1502, it was my noble brother, Harald, who wrote a book on the use of strategy in warfare. Let this publication and completion after his demise be so devis’d as a tribute to his name, and so we may honor the late Harald whose lose still bears over over us the most terrible grief.” - Adolf Von Manstein.





or, Raising an Army


I.In the art of war, the matter of, to say with no exaggeration of any kind, the most import is levying a force large enough to carry out your campaigns.


II.And so the forces of the realm may be divided into these categories: Sergeants, Knights and Squires, Levied Peasantry, Bugher Watches or Militias; Specialized Mercenaries.


III.Knights and squires are usually the most elite of these forces, for they act as heavy infantry and cavalry. Therefore their levying is of vast import, and the highest priority.


IV.When levying knights to your cause, it is not uncommon for a sovereign king to offer financial incentives to gentry to take up arms. These may come under movable property of any sort, be it minas, cattle, or otherwise. It must be said this may be financially straining, so it is good for a sovereign, be he in a time where his knights and squires are needed badly, to offer riches in the form of the possessions in his house. In the practical art of war, where the profit of the sovereign is of importance, we must see this as a last resort.


V.For it is well known it can be not very prestigious. If a king gives his household personal goods such as gold objects, jewelry and weapons, riding horses and destriers, rival princes, dukes, kings and caliphs will see your realm as poor, and you as weak, for you are giving the honoured goods of your family.


VI.The use of giving enemy riches, which would usually go the sovereign, to knights and squires as a financial reward and incentive is much less of a poor course, however. For you have taken it from the enemy, at no cost to the prestige of your own house.


VII.There, it may be summarized as this: Financial incentives (and punishments) must be observed to get the best service, and these are preferably done from minas and loot, rather than your own possessions. For though the knights have an obligation to fight for you, they will do so best with incentive.


VIII.A final note is that horses are the most expensive part of a knight’s equipment, and they are prone to disease, death on the battlefield and other losses. Therefore, to the men who have more horses, there must be more pay. It must be said that those who are use riding horses such as  palfreys on the march, and then ride destriers and coursers into battle. To these people it must be said, that they have gone out of their way to have more horses, and must be given more wealth. It is also frequent to repay or replace lost horses.


IX.Sergeants are another important force on the battlefield. It is these spearmen and light horsemen who have ensured Oren’s victories for the last few decades. Any who comes under this category is a man who is not gentry or noble, a mere common man, but one who is a professional soldier, always at the call in the manner of a retinue. For example, most of the Order of Saint Amyas’ footmen count as sergeants.


X.The sustenance of sergeants is of some, but not of great cost. They only expect low wages, and in some cases can afford their own equipment. Many of them are craftsmen themselves, able to repair and maintain their own spears, kettle helms, shields and arming swords without interruption.


XI.Their training is well too, but can they match the wealth and training of a knight? Nay, but they may be relied upon well to hold the line well. Is it little wonder their use is so common in the realm?


XII.It may be necessary for the nobility of the realm to pay for the arming and training of these troops, as it has become something of a convention. That is what is expected, and the expectancy to pay for one’s own equipment will be greeted with hostility. The wise commander and lord sees his own sergeants equipped with his own wealth, which will be greeted with elation.


XIII.It is rare to get good sergeants out of a feudal obligation, as is common with levies and knights. Instead, one must ensure the critical task of sending out recruiting parties often and gaining the affection of the people so that they may volunteer.


XIV.These two aforementioned groups form most of the best men besides from mercenaries, and throughout the course of our history the proportion of knights to sergeants has changed. In modern times, it is often 1 knight for every 24 sergeants.


XV.It is much quicker and easier to raise sergeants, for they are ready and may be called upon. It does well to have a large force of these fellows in case a desperate situation ensues, or to dispute a man of his land without expecting actual fighting.


XVI.The city militias and watches are to be rarely called onto the field, mostly used to garrison the various cities of the realm. However, if they are levied, it may be customary to offer rudimentary pay, even of a low sort.


XVII.These men are the quickest to call upon in a levy, for they already have basic training and arms, and merely require calling into arms. It may be said that they can be used to merely boost the number of soldiers on the field, used in a siege, or to act as auxiliaries of sorts to their more well-equipped and trained counterparts. Many are equipped with crossbows, which are quite simple to use, and used to attack the enemy with missiles.


XVIII.It must be said that though the Codes of Saint Edmond (Chivalry) prohibit a mean sacking of cities, the militiamen and sergeants must have their regards. You must forage from the enemy, and loot from civilians. These men are not knights, and are not bound by this code. This will be ample payment, and there is little need for additional incentive, should you use them in the field.


XIV.Levymen form the bulk of your missile troops and garrisons. Levies must buy their own equipment, and usually are unarmored and untrained. This is why they are only useful for missile troops. Again, these men need no additional incentive but that which they forage during war, if you put them in the field.


XV.Mercenaries allow a sovereign or a marshal to gain troops that are specialized, such as horse archers, light cavalry, missile troops such as crossbowmen, as well as high quality infantry. These men require payment to such a degree that they will be a heavy financial burden on the realm. They will be covered in greater detail in the next part.


“O, wealth of burghers! Your money of Petrus is most needed in times of war, and you are surely richer than those of the country, yet you feel you pay enough? Nay, damndest burghers, you mock poor fellows thus!”-Harald Von Manstein, 1499.





or, Mercenaries and Their Uses


I.There are two times when the use of mercenaries may be considered good or necessary.


One: When your own subjects are disloyal or unwilling to fight, or dislike the marshal. You must ensure that your men will not defect or run, for they care not for loyalty when the man who they are loyal to is unpopular.


Two: When your realm is approaching a war that is critical or important. Mercenaries are a true financial burden on the realm, for they expect pay at a specific time, and a specific amount and their sustenance is very costly. If you do not pay them, they will desert. They also require huge financial incentives, so do not use mercenaries in wars which are small and minor, or which your standard army can win without.


II.The general who makes but few calculations on whether his troops are of good enough quality and quantity to defeat the enemy will waste his wealth away, or watch his troops die. It is well to form a council before a war with all the great men of the realm, to discover if mercenaries are necessary.


III.Therefore we can see mercenaries can be used badly or well. Sometimes, if the marshal is inexperienced, the mercenaries must be left to their own commands. For he is not versed in their specialty, merely in standard warfare. Saint Theodosius’ blessings, horsemen of Adria! For he is the man of heralds and messengers and horses and all good and honest horsemen, and you will fight with valor. But be damned to your pay, for you cost your realm too much!





or, the Acquisition of Ships


I.The cheapest and quickest way of acquiring ships is requisitioning merchant vessels. If you do not wish for the merchant class to hate you, you may buy them, but then it will be cheaper to build your own war galleys. Therefore, if you are using merchant ships, take them by force. Then they are are cheap, can be modified and are excellent for transporting troops.


II.The second cheapest way of acquiring ships is to take them from the enemy or cause them to defect. This may be done by seizing enemy ports,or in naval engagements. This can be done from previous wars, and you should never attempt to sink the enemy for their ships will prove later. Rather, board them and kill them, or compel them to surrender using heavy missile fire. Then, you can use the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength.


III.Of course, the third cheapest way is to build your own ships. This takes time and wealth, but you may use the latest naval technology and have specialized galleys and other vessels.


IV.And the final course which is completely inadvisable in any way is to hire mercenary fleets. Because ships are of such high sustenance, you will find yourself not only paying for the expensive cost of mercenaries but for their ships. They will expect monstrous pay, to the point where your fleet will cost hundreds of ounces of silver each month, until, after a few years, one third of your income will be dissipated. And sometimes, they will be less effective than your own ships too.





or, Siege Warfare and Its Importance


I.Sieges are what win wars, not battles. To meet the enemy of the field you win nothing but the enemy’s shame and reduction of troops, whereas during a siege you may slowly depart him from his kingdom. If done well, this can be done with minimal loses. If done badly, sieges are the most costly part of warfare.


II.Therefore, the value of siege engineers is immense. An army without them is no army at all, but a useless rabble, of no use at all. Therefore, a commander must make an effort to get a numerous amount of the best siege engineers, or he will fall into inability.


III.Merely throwing your heavy infantry at a castle with little prior preparation is most inadvisable, for in your impatience, you will cause the enemy troops to reduce your forces, with no progress made. In sieges, you must be patient.


IV.Stone-throwing artillery is most valuable during a siege. Some siege engineers will require some prior preparation before the campaign for this, but the true masters can construct artillery in the field.  Sometimes, you need not storm a breach. Merely create one, to make the enemy seem more vulnerable, and inch him closer to surrendering. Remember, in a siege, you must be patient.


V.In addition, it is advisable to set up barracades and pavises and fortifications in your own siege camp, so that your crossbowmen may whittle down the enemy’s numbers, and so that you may fight the enemy with ease should he decide to sally forth.


VI.Siege towers are also very worrying to the enemy,but take time and skill to construct. If you are a good, patient commander, you may burn them.


VII.In no artillery can be constructed, mines are the next best option. If your mines are discovered, dig more. You must have patience. The enemy will set up countermines, and you must retreat from your current mines and block them to prevent any trouble stirring.


VIII.Or alternatively, you may not do this so the enemy will think you are coming from there, and then dig somewhere else. They will deploy troops in case you attack from the other mines. If the enemy sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.


IX.Remember this above all: The worst possible course of action is an unprepared attack. You will lose many of your men, you MUST be patient.


X.And so you need not even take the castle, merely compel him to surrender. This is the best possible course, for you will lose little men. The captured soldiers should be treated with kindness and kept, and then rulers will respect your benevolence and justice, as well as your own men and the enemy.  


XI.If the enemy surrenders, do not sack the castle or city. If he does not, and you have to take it by force, you are at liberty to plunder. Preferably, the citizens will be spared of death, but there will always be many deaths regardless. You can not stop soldiers, for many are blackguards and curs.


XII.However, plundering will make your men adore you, for you have given them wealth. You must not do it if the enemy surrenders because you will get a reputation for cruelty and being dishonourable. Rival princes and nobles will dislike you, and then your realm is nothing. The same goes for ordering a deliberate massacre of enemies. You must not do this, but if the enemy refuses to surrender, you must sack. There will be deaths then, but you will not be held responsible. If your troops are truly disciplined and do not kill anyone during a sacking, you are a truly brilliant commander and you are favoured by Saint Thomas. Your troops will then be commended and their praises sung, and you will be famed and your troops morale will be high.


XIII.If you fail to take the castle, return to your own realm. The skillful soldier need not raise a second levy. Instead, you must merely hold your own castles, and wait for your troops to recover. Then, you may try again. If your losses are terrible, then do raise a second levy, but this will be regretful.





or, Logistics and Maneuvering


I.An army is said to march on its stomach. While the men who fight in an army are often hardy men, they are carnivores. They must have ample food. It is said in one day, the soldier will consume 1 flagon of wine or 2 of ale, 2 pounds of bread, 1 pound of cheese and a pound of meat.


II.Knights will consume noticeably more, and in addition the cavalry of the army will need to feed their horses, of which they can have many.


III.Therefore, a wise general does not merely forage, nor takes pre-prepared supplies. He does both. To forage from the enemy will damage his people’s morale, for they will see their sovereign as weak.


IV.But in case the enemy takes a policy of scorched earth, it is always advisable for your troops to be well-supplied, regardless of foraging.


V.In a brief manner, bring supplies with you, but make a point of replenishing your supplies with ones foraged from the enemy.


VI.For the quick moving of your army in the field you must ensure that the cavalry have both riding and fighting horses, and have spare ones to replace fallen horses. You cannot dither, especially with a cavalry force, with the replacement of horses. You must acquire them, and do well by them.


VII.To the infantry, the baggage train of wagons which is often imagined is of complete falsehood. Nay, what is carried must be done so on their backs or in donkeys. This will ensure a fast-moving army. For though having a baggage train of heavy goods may be advantageous to your supplies, it will be very slow.


VIII.And for the entertainment of expensive guests, this will increase prices. You must only entertain guests if they will improve morale, or are willing to travel in the manner of a common soldier, or at the best, a knight. They will simply slow you down if otherwise with special requirements and niceties.





or, In Battle!


I.In battle, commanders divide their forces into four acies. It is preferable to dismount some knights, in order to form 3 acies of foot and 1 of horse. The acie of horse must be kept in reserve and used only when the enemy is near breaking; cavalry is useless in sustained warfare, and are useful only at the tipping point of battle, defeating the enemy in a single charge or retreating. Not stopping to fight, but to charge, and retreat, charge again, retreat, at the critical moment.


II.For this you must ensure the cavalry are firmly grouped together when they do charge. Therefore, give always your most trusted commander command of the cavalry, or you should take it.


III.The infantry are usually deployed in a defensive formation, but advance into an offensive formation as the battle progresses. With an army strong in heavy infantry you must ensure the flanks are strong so that you may surround the enemy, relying on the cavalry to do the finishing blow.


IV.With an army of missile troops, you must deploy stakes and wait. If you are trapped, they will fight to the death and show great valour. You must stand your ground, and incite your enemy’s anger to cause him to charge. This is a tactic that works even outnumbered, especially with terrain that prevents enemy flanking. You must group the few men-at-arms you have on the flanks. You must have a large reserve.  


V.A force of mostly cavalry must break the enemy with the initial charge, and if they cannot, they must retreat. If they cannot retreat, they should not charge in the first place, but dismount and fight as infantry.


VI.The same goes if the enemy's’ cavalry greatly outnumbers your own. Your own cavalry must dismount and aid your infantry. Otherwise they will be made useless.


VII.In the case of a rout, if you wish to rally your men, do it on high ground. If the enemy routs, do not use mounted knights to pursue them, but light cavalry.


VIII.If you fight horse archers, if they advance, as if they mean to attack, do not advance. They are merely baiting you and will destroy your infantry with missiles. Withdraw, and wait for another battle where you may take them by surprise.


IX.If the enemy is of infantry and you cavalry, you must feign disorder or rouse him to anger to cause him to want to attack you. Then the enemy will scatter his formation, prey to your cavalry in loose formation.


X.And remember this above all: the mark of a good commander is to know when to withdraw, and dare to do it. If you think battle may be offered under better conditions, or you do not wish to fight at all, withdraw!

XI.Remember the biggest enemy of a cavalry man is missiles at close range in unfavorable weather, for the horses will be made slow by mud and vulnerable. If there are many missile troops in such conditions, do not charge headlong. If he is in such a position where outmaneuvering is impossible, then do not charge at all, but withdraw and take him another day.





or, Horses: Dangers, Types, and Sustenance


I.Horses may be divided into three categories: War horses, riding horses and saddle horses.


II.Under war horses fall horses such as destriers, who are bred for us in battle.


III.Under riding horses fall horses bred to be used to travel or hunt with great speed. These include rouncies, cobs  


IV.Saddle horses are poorer horses which yeomen can afford.


V.A good knight will have at least 1 warhorse and a riding horse, and will see to their sustenance. Many will have more, and those that do would require such a baggage train for feed that the army would be slowed massively. It would be wise to sustain an army of largely cavalry with foraging.


VI.Now your light cavalry are poorer, and often you must buy their horses, or they can only afford one. it is good for them to buy rouncies or cobs. These horses are for general purposes and are essentially the compromise of riding and warhorses.


VII.With saddle horses a commander should not trouble himself with, but allow the yeomen and other classes of people of your army to buy for themselves.


VIII.Therefore, it is so advis’d that those armies who wish to travel merely on their baggage train and not commit to foraging of any sort, to take as few horses as possible. This may be done by having dismounted knights and sergeants, and if you require cavalry taking a small amount.


IX.And it shall be noted that those who do are in territories where the enemy is implementing a scorched earth policy or you are in an infertile or destitute region, the same aforementioned rule applies. Take but few horses and cavalry as possible without severely crippling your forces.

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Having obtained a copy of the text during his travels in lands of the valah, Khaine – a particularly warlike son of Malin, takes time to study its pages, advice and warnings. After reading it thoroughly and contemplating its messages, he bites his lip in deep thought.


“A useful, but somewhat outdated and very primitive valah-like perspective of warfare. Perhaps I shall take up the Annilir‘s pen once more and update it. I would nevertheless have liked to meet the man responsible for this writing, we could have shared much enjoyable talk of strategy and tactics.”


The Csarathaire then went to his desk and placed ‘Strategy’ beside an empty piece of parchment, and began writing his own.

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Posted (edited)

((On an OOC note, it’s really surprising to see this again! I had almost forgotten it. Thank you.


Adolf von Manstein smiles from beyond the grave to see his work re-printed.

Edited by thesmellypocket

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Saint Kristoff grimaces as the works of a known iconoclast are published!

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