I am continuing to read the Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World AD 500 – AD 1500 as fast as I can. I swear, I will post a review soon. In the mean time, there was an item that caught my interest and thought it worth mentioning. A battle standard carried before the armies of the French kings, the “Oriflamme.”
I found this nice image of it on Wikipedia, with a free license.
Wikipedia is very useful, but it is only as good as its contributors. I found the entry lacking on this interesting banner. Here is the link , but basically it says it was the banner of the French kings and the banner of the “Abbey of St. Denis .” It left out a key use of this banner.
Besides being a cool battle standard, the book mentioned above implied that is was a signal that this was a different kind of battle. This standard signified God demanded victory against a heretical foe. Fascinating that you can have two kinds of battle. The regular kind for money, land and power and the sacred kind for the glory of your deity. Supposedly it inspired troops beneath it to strive harder for victory. At the very least, it sent a signal to the enemy you mean business.
Remember the time period, 500 to 1500 AD. Religion held far more sway than it does now, at least in western nations. The pope ruled Italy and regularly played politics with all of the great European powers. Having God on your side meant something.
Not sure the gaming tie-in for this, but I thought it was interesting. Although, having a special flag that means, “we are not just going to fight you, we are going to fight you because God told us to” might have some game applications. There was a pirate flag that indicated “no quarter” at sea. Perhaps a banner could do something similiar on land. An army flying it will not take prisoners, only heads. Better still, have the flag represent some foul necromantic cult that will harvest the souls of the losing side, unless they surrender.
I am not sure if the religious aspect and combat usage is accurate. Wikipedia does not mention it, but that is questionable source. I am going to do some further research on this, but I am having difficulty finding reliable information on the net. I may have to resort to other dead-tree references. In the mean time, I will stick with my source referenced above.
FYI, you may see “Oriflamme” anglicized to “Oriflame.” Do not put that into a search engine, all you will get is lots of links to a cosmetic company.
Trask, the Last Tyromancer