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>>INFORMATION ON NIGELTRANTER BOOKS<<
 

BLACK DOUGLAS

©Nigel Tranter
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 1968,
ISBN 340 04398 9 The action of this book is set Circa 1649 to Circa 1456

The text of this synopsis is taken from the bookjacket.

It was almost inevitable that, in the 15th century, the new Scots royal House of Stewart would have come to conclusions with the great and puissant House of Douglas. When the subject is mightier and more princely than his monarch, however loyal, trouble looms. Young Will Douglas, 8th Earl, greatest and most illustrious of his famous line, was born to almost unbelievable power, influence - and trouble. With a boy-king on an uneasy throne, and scoundrels ruling Scotland, the death of Will's curious father pitchforked him into destiny. An unwilling paladin, he was nevertheless cast in the heroic mould, a quiertly decisive young man of action, with a conscience, in an age when might was very much right, and the end justified the means.

Foremost noble of Scotland, and military commander of the realm while still in his teens, Will Douglas fought his strange and lonely battle. For though the Black Douglas could call on thousands of men at the merest crook of his finger, and moreover had five brothers close at his back, he was a lonely man. And when he wed the greatest heiress and most famed beauty of the land, the Fair Maid of Galloway, his loneliness was hardly lessened.

His struggle was complicated by the demands of vengeance. His cousin, the 6th Earl, had been decoyed and shamefully murdered in the presence of the young monarch, by no less than Crichton, Chancellor, or Prime Minister, and Livingstone, the King's Guardian. Douglas, for centuries, had been a name to tremble at, in Scotland and well down into England. Douglas blood and the Douglas name cried out to be avenged, and in a day when the sword ruled. Yet Will was not a vengeful man. Moreover, his ancestors, generation after generation, had served Scotland - and Scotland was badly in need of serving.

Read here, in Nigel Tranter's exciting and zestful novel, how the Black Douglas compounded conscience and vengeance with loyalty and love. Read how it all ended in one of the great mysteries of Scotland's story - why James the Second made fantastic history by turning personal assassin at Stirling in 1452.

This is the stuff of high drama.

Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye
Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye,
The Black Douglas shall not get ye.

 THE STEPS TO THE EMPTY THRONE

©Nigel Tranter
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 1969,
ISBN 340 10706 5
The action of this book is set Circa 1296 to Circa 1305

The text of this synopsis is taken from the bookjacket.

Robert the Bruce, both Norman lord and Celtic earl, is one of the great heroic figures of all time. But he was not always a hero - as he was not always a king. He grew towards both under the shadow of a still greater hero - William Wallace - in that terrible forcing-ground of heroism and treachery alike, the Wars of Independence which, from 1296 to 1314, hammered Scotland into the very dust until only the enduring idea of freedom remained in her.

Edward Longshanks, King of England, was the Hammer of the Scots, a great man gone wrong, a magnificent soldier flawed by consuming hatred and lust for power.

These two fought out their desperate, appalling duel, with Scotland as prize - should any of Scotland survive.

Not only these. To John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, head of the most powerful house in Scotland and nephew of the deposed and discredited King John Baliol, Bruce was as spark to tinder. Their friction blazed to flame that shocking day when blood soaked the high altar at Dumfries, and a new Bruce was born.

But this tremendous story is not all blood and fire. Elizabeth de Burgh saw to that. Humour and laughter are here too, colour and beauty, faith and love.

This enormous and ambitious theme of Bruce the hero king is no light challenge for a writer. Nigel Tranter has waited through nearly thirty years of novel-writing to tackle it. In this, the first of a trilogy, he ends that long apprenticeship and takes up the challenge.

 THE PATH OF THE HERO KING

©Nigel Tranter
Published by Hodder and Stoughton,1970 ,
ISBN 0 340 12738 4
The action of this book is set Circa 1306 to Circa 1314

The text of this synopsis is taken from the bookjacket.

A harried fugitive, guilt-ridden, excommunicated, Robert the Bruce, King of Scots in name and nothing more, faced a future that all but he - and perhaps Elizabeth de Burgh, his wife - accepted as devoid of hope; his kingdom occupied by a powerful and ruthless iinvader; his army defeated; a large proportion of his supporters dead or prisoners; much of his people against him; and the rest so cowed and war-sick as no longer to care.

Only a man of transcendent courage would have continued the struggle, or seen it as worth continuing. But Bruce, whatever his many failings, was courageous above all, with a driving love of freedom that gave him no rest. He was not a patriot as Wallace had been a patriot - that was a new conception in mediaeval Scotland - but he had a great love for his own oppressed people and a recognition of their rights, as well as his own.

Hounded from his land, he sought refuge in the Hebrides, then a semi-independent principality. Half-Celtic hiimself, he found his roots and renewal of strength, spiritual and military, amongst that strange, outlandish remnant of his people. From the Highlands and the Isles he launched himself back against the overwhelming might of his enemies, in as forlorn a hope as any history has to record.

In the process he lost everything but his life - wife, daughter, brothers, sisters, friends, health. But never his resolution and a kind of faith. For one day, he vowed to himself, he would compound for his sins and excommunication by leading a Crusade to drive the Infidel from the holy places. To do this he must first win his kingdom, whatever the odds.

In this the second of Nigel Tranter's powerful trilogy of novels, Robert the Bruce blazes the path of the hero king, in blood and violence and determination, in cunning and ruthlessness, yet strangely, a preoccupation with mercy and chivalry, all the way from the ill-starred open-boat landing on the Ayrshire coast by night, from a spider-hung Galloway cave and near despair, to Bannockburn itself, where he faced the hundred-thousand-strong mightiest army in the world, and won.

 ROBERT THE BRUCE
The Price of the King's Peace

©Nigel Tranter
Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 1971 ,
ISBN 0 340 12572 1
The action of this book is set Circa 1314 to Circa 1329

The text of this synopsis is taken from the bookjacket.

Bannockburn was far from the end for Robert Bruce and Scotland; not even the beginning of the end - only the end of the beginning. There remained fourteen years of struggle, savagery, heroism and treachery before the English could be brought to sit at a peace table with their proclaimed rebels, and so to acknowledge Bruce as sovereign King.

In these years of stress and fulfilment, Bruce's character burgeoned to its splendid flowering. The hero-king, moulded by sorrow, remorse and in grievous sickness, equally with triumph, became the foremost prince of Christendom - despite continuing Papal excommunication.

That the fighting now was done mainly deep in England, over the sea in Ireland and in the hearts of men - his own not the least - was none the less taxing for a sick man with the seeds of grim fate in his body, and the sin of murder on his conscience. But Elizabeth de Burgh was at his side again, after the long years of imprisonment, and a great love sustained them both.

Love, indeed, is the key to Robert the Bruce - his passionate love for his land and his people, for his friends, his forgiveness for his enemies, and the love he engendered in others; for surely never did a king arouse such love and devotion in those around him, in his lieutenants, as did he - even though, in the famous Declaration of Independence, at Arbroath in 1320, the same devoted comrades swore that they would put even their Lord Robert from them were he to fail in his adherence to the burning concept of freedom.

Freedom, then, with love - here is the theme and trumpet-call of this, the final volume of Nigel Tranter's triumphant trilogy about Robert The Bruce.

 

HELP ON MEIEVAL TOTAL WAR AND VIKING INVASION WARRIORS

Abyssinian Guard
Abyssinians have been guarding Egyptian rules for centuries. They are used on the battlefield as disciplined axemen, able to carve a path through enemies. Their lack of armour is a weakness, but their superb discipline is some compensation. They are best used to attack peasants, militia and spearmen.

Alan Mercenary Cavalry
The Alans are excellent steppe horsemen - almost as if they are born in the saddle! The Byzantines see them as the best light cavalry mercenaries available. They can be used to skirmish, ambush and act as a swift covering force for the flanks of heavier cavalry.

Almohad Urban Militia
As Islamic Spain comes under pressure, its cities look to their own defence, and create urban militias. These men have plenty of opportunities for battle and are much more competent and aggressive than the usual run of militiamen. Well armed and trained, they are qualitatively almost a standing army, rather than a last ditch defence.

Almughavars
These lightly armoured Catalan mercenaries ply their trade all round the Mediterranean. They are shock troops armed with javelins that give them a fearsome missile attack to open gaps for a subsequent charge with their spears. Few others can match their professional determination and ferocity.

Arbalester
The arbalest is a heavy crossbow that can fire a bolt which will go through most armoured targets. It has a very slow rate of fire, and needs a small windlass to pull back the string. Properly protected by other troops, arbalesters can be deadly.

Archers
Archery is a survival skill: it helps put food on the table, assuming that the archer isn’t hanged as a poacher! Using the same skill in battle can bring down an armoured man, although short bows are not quite as efficient as true war bows.

Armenian Heavy Cavalry
Even in Roman times Armenian cavalrymen were often given a position of honour in an army. The Byzantines and others still know that they are disciplined, aggressive and capable. Armed with lances, their initial charge is powerful, and they are steady and reliable when compared to feudal cavalry.

Arquebusier
The arquebus or matchlock is a relatively sophisticated firearm. It is easy to use, can be aimed with some accuracy and rarely explodes, killing the user! Arquebusiers can fire volleys at an enemy, damaging morale as well as frail flesh, but they cannot fire at all in wet weather.

BallistaCrew
The ballista design goes back to the ancient Greeks. A ballista can fire a spear-like bolt or stone missile hundreds of metres with killing force. Although crossbow-like, a ballista uses twisted bundles of animal sinew for its power and, like a spring, these give the weapon a great range.

Bedouin Camel Gun
Most early gunpowder weapons are rather cumbersome, so the Bedouin use a jezzail (a very small cannon!) fixed to a camel saddle. The camel must be still as the gun is fired, but the flexibility of being able to dash into a firing position, fire and then retreat to reload is a shock to many enemies!

Bedouin Camel Warriors
The Bedouin are hardy warriors but sometimes a little undisciplined when fighting in a group. Their shock value against troops unused to camels is considerable particularly when charging home, but they are vulnerable to spearmen in the same way as other cavalry. Horses usually hate the smell of camels.

Berber Camel
The Berbers are hardy desert warriors, and at their best when used as light cavalry archers to disrupt enemies. They are capable in hand-to-hand combat against similar light cavalry, and their camels are an advantage as many horses are unwilling to go too close because of the smell!

Billmen
The billhook was a farming tool: an axe-and-hook with a long handle. After it had evolved into a weapon, it could hack, stab or drag a man to his death. English Billmen are well trained in fighting against armoured and mounted soldiers, pulling knights or men-at-arms to their deaths!

Bombard Crew
Early gunpowder weapon, bombards are made of wrought iron hoops, and mounted on immobile stands. They are primarily siege weapons. Bombards fire stone balls that shatter on impact rather than piercing the target. Although prone to explosions, bombards easily unnerve enemies not used to gunpowder!

Boyar
Boyars are the landed, social elite in Russia. They are trained to fight as a heavy cavalry bodyguard. Heavy mail and a combination of sword and bow make them powerful, but when these are combined with rigorous practice for war, they are a very effective force indeed!

Bulgarian Brigands
The independent peoples in the Balkans have always been difficult for outsiders to rule. The Bulgar Brigands are organised - and tough - enough to be mercenaries. They are tactically flexible fighters, well able to use both bows and swords but may lack moral fibre in a crisis.

Byzantine Cavalry
The Byzantines have a state army as well as mercenaries. These cavalry are the disciplined, armoured successors to the Roman legions, armed with bows and swords. While not as fleet as steppe mercenaries, they can be relied on to give a good account of themselves in any battle.

Byzantine Infantry
The Byzantine Empire's military tradition dates back to Roman times, and its armies have always included professional soldiers. These men-at-arms have mail armour, large shields and swords and can be relied on to fight skilfully against most enemies. They are probably among the best heavy infantry in Eastern Europe.

Catapult Crew
The basic design of the catapult goes back to the Romans. The throwing arm is driven by twisted ropes or sinews, and can hurl missiles quite a long way. The small wheels help to absorb the shock of firing. Although easy to operate and quite powerful, the catapult will be outclassed by guns.

Chivalric Foot Knights
Chivalric Knights are a high point in the arms race between armour and killing weaponry. They wear superb plate armour and carry poleaxes - weapons intended to punch through any armour! They are an elite, trained from infancy in the art of war, and like any elite can be impetuous.

Chivalric Knights
Chivalric Knights represent a considerable improvement in arms and armour. They and their horses are well protected by plate mail and barding, their lances give them an advantage in the charge, and they are trained to fight from childhood. They are a true elite, but can be impetuous in battle!

Chivalric Man At Arms
Not all the very heavy infantry are noble. Most are professionals or gentry who make do with old or second hand armour. These swordsmen are good in both attack and defence, and often form the backbone of a battle line. Heavily armoured as they are, they can be slow moving.

Chivalric Sergeants
These heavy spearmen include professional soldiers and those hoping to be noticed and raised to the nobility. Their equipment may be a little old-fashioned or second hand, but it is always well cared for and their individual skill at arms is very good indeed, but they can be undisciplined.

Crossbows
Anyone can use a crossbow and a few weeks practice will make anyone a master of it (archers have to be trained for years). Once trained as a crossbowman, even the humblest peasant can kill the mightiest king. This weapon is often seen as 'unfair' - by the mighty.

Culverin Crew
Culverins are long barrelled guns on light carriages. The slim barrel gives a good range, and allows the use of less gunpowder per shot, making firing them safer. Culverins can fire balls up to 45kg, but most generals prefer light pieces, as these are easier to transport to a battlefield.

Cuman Mercenary Cavalry
The Byzantine Empire looks to various steppe peoples for its mercenary cavalry. The Cumans are expert horse archers, and fight well in the horse archers' traditional way: bombarding an enemy with arrows while staying out of reach. They are vulnerable in melee or if trapped by spear armed troops, something a wise commander avoids.

Demi cannon Crew
Demi-cannons are small siege weapons. 'Small' is a relative term, as demi-cannons are often very heavy! Thanks to the need to mount the weapons on sturdy carriages, demi-cannons aren't moved once in place. A demi-cannon might fire shot that weighs up to 30kg and can do substantial damage.

Demi culverin Crew
As the name suggests, demi-culverins are half the size of long-barrelled culverins. They have small bores, and usually fire a ball that weighs 3-4kg. They are usually well made and not too expensive, making them useful all-round weapons. Given that they are small, they can be emplaced easily.

Desert Archers
All desert peoples need superior skills and hardiness to survive, let alone prosper. As light archers they are generally superlative and their compound bows are excellent weapons. It is their role to pepper enemy troops with arrows and stay out of reach, for they do not fight well in melee.

Early Royal Ghulam Knights
Ghulam - the word means slave - cavalry are the best available to the Sultan and form his bodyguard. In heavy mail and armed with lances, they are at least as good as other cavalry. The Sultan (and every Prince) leads Ghulams. Additional units can be trained at high cost.

Early Royal Knights
Royal Knights are an elite royal household guard. The combination of mail, armoured horses and lances makes them formidable enough, but their dedication in serving their King makes them fearsome indeed! The King and royal Princes command small groups of these Knights. Raising extra Royal Knights is possible, but costly.

Feudal Foot Knights
Feudal Knights begin their training in infancy, and are a military elite who rule by the sword, and hold land in return for their service. In combat, they favour lances that give them an advantage when charging opponents. Their mail coats and shields provide good protection against lesser troops.

FeudalKnights
Feudal Knights hold land in return for military service. Trained from infancy to be warriors, they hold political and military power in their mailed fists. They are adept at charging down opponents with their lances, and they are honourable and brave to the point of recklessness!

Feudal Man At Arms
Those seeking social position are often hardened warriors - war can bring wealth and social status. Because they are not rich yet, feudal men-at-arms wear second-hand mail looted from the dead, or that is just old fashioned. They carry broadswords and shields, making them equally good in attack or defence.

Feudal Sergeants
Feudal society is a hierarchy, and each rung of the ladder is expected to serve those above. Feudal Sergeants are a class below knights (but above landless peasants) and are often professional soldiers. Many lords will send these spearmen into battle as reliable medium infantry.

Futuwwa
Armoured by faith, brave to the point of death, Futuwwa warriors are fanatical in battle, particularly against unbelievers. They are armed with bows and swords making them very useful all-round soldiers, but rashness can be their undoing, as they may suffer heavy casualties during one of their typically brave attacks.

Gallowglass
In some ways Ireland is a relic of earlier times - Gallowglasses are Celtic warriors. Armed with axes, they are loyal to a clan chieftain, swift and fierce in battle, and have an almost berserker-like rage. They also are reputed to take the heads of slain enemies as trophies.

Gendarmes
Gendarmes are high-quality militia cavalry, raised in the growing towns. They often have superb equipment and, unlike most part-time soldiers, are rather disciplined. The Gendarmes lack the dashing bravery and valour of real knights. Wealthy French provinces can excel at producing Gendarmes, thanks to their growing regional pride.

Genoese Sailors
Genoese sailors make very effective units of light archers away from their ships, acting as more than just hastily levied infantry. They are fast moving and lightly armoured, but not equipped to fight hand-to-hand except as a last resort.

Ghazi Infantry
Ghazi are fanatical warriors who think nothing of facing tremendous odds. Wild and brave, they can be difficult to restrain. In an attack, they can smash into an enemy force, as their maces do terrible damage. On defence they can rashly counterattack and therefore weaken a strong position.

Ghulam Cavalry
Ghulam Cavalry are useful heavy attacking units for any desert general. With mail armour and light lances, they can charge into an attack, and can fight well against other cavalry, but need to take care when engaging spearmen. Against missile troops, their best option is a swift attack.

Golden Horde Heavy Cavalry
These warriors have the traditional role of all 'nobility': the breaking of lesser troops through shock impact. All superb horsemen, these cavalrymen are heavily armed with spears and well protected by plentiful armour and shields. They are best in attacking infantry and in riding down units about to break.

Golden Horde Horse Archers
Horse Archers are primarily used to harass and ambush enemies, and are ideally suited to the battlefield hit-and-run tactics favoured by the Mongols. Their superior speed gives them the ability to mass swiftly, attack, withdraw and then repeat, as often as needed - and all without fighting in a melee!

Golden Horde Warriors
Away from their precious horses, the Golden Horde are formidable and highly disciplined warriors, expert in the use of their powerful compound bows and swords. They are not suitable for assaults against heavy infantry, being better at breaking formations with arrow fire, then moving in to crush already beaten men!

Gothic Foot Knights
While it may look cumbersome, gothic armour is a cunning system of smooth surfaces, all devised to deflect attacks away from the wearer. Armed with poleaxes, these knights are easily capable of smashing their way into most defensive formations. Their desire for personal glory can make them impetuous.

Gothic Knights
Protected by superb armour, Gothic Knights fear little, although archers and pikemen still have to be treated with respect. Complete with heavily armoured horses, these are fearsome warriors. With the Gothic Knights, personal armour reaches a peak of practicality and beauty, and their heavy cavalry tactics have been perfected.

Gothic Sergeants
Despite their old-fashioned plate armour, Gothic Sergeants are a mainstay of any army. Their spears allow them to stand in any battle line. They are well motivated, due to an emerging professionalism, and without the impetuous desire for personal glory and fanatical bravery that can make noblemen troublesome.

Halbardiers
The halberd is a terrible weapon. In the hands of a skilled man a blow from one can fell a horse or cleave a man’s head. It is a perfect weapon for assault troops, who have to break enemy formations and into fortifications. Halberdiers are armoured in plate mail.

HandGun
Handguns are not accurate - or safe - and are useless in damp weather. But it is relatively easy to train troops to use them. Even though they are short range, slow missile troops Handgunners are useful, if only because of the frightening noise and smoke they produce!

Hashishin
The Hashasin are a sect originally from Persia, and they are masters of stealth, deception and murder. On a battlefield, they can hide in almost any terrain, and are ideal for ambushing enemy generals. When committed to action they can strike at their victims with both sword and bow.

Highland Clans man
Clansmen are the last tribal warriors in Western Europe, raised by a chieftain from his extended family. While exceptionally brave by nature, they can also be stiff-necked and impetuous. Coming from lands where life is hard, these light infantry are usually not well armed and can rarely afford much armour.

High Royal Ghulam Knights
Ghulam - the word means slave - cavalry are the best available to the Sultan and form his bodyguard. In heavy mail and armed with lances, they are at least as good as other cavalry. The Sultan (and every Prince) leads Ghulams. Additional units can be trained at high cost.

High Royal Knights
Royal Knights are an elite royal household guard. The combination of platemail, barded horses and lances makes them formidable enough, but their dedication in serving their King makes them fearsome indeed! The King and royal Princes command small groups of these Knights. Raising extra Royal Knights is possible, but costly.

Hobilar
Hobilars ride small 'hobby' horses and are useful as scouts and pursuit troops. They come into their own when an enemy must be driven from the field or captured for later ransom. They are not heavily armed or armoured and can't put up much of a fight against nobility.

Horse Archers
Many eastern European peoples use horse archers, and their fighting style requires that they must be masterful horsemen and bowmen. They pepper enemies with arrows while staying tantalisingly out of reach as they are vulnerable in hand-to-hand fighting - something a wise commander remembers!

Hospitaller Foot Knights
The Knights Hospitaller have adapted to changing fashions in warfare. Rather than traditional fighting from horseback, they now take the field as armoured infantry elite, well able to cut their way into enemy formations. Tactical flexibility, combined with their traditional discipline and courage, still makes them formidable.

House carle
Almost eclipsed by newer feudal fighting men, the Vikings are approaching the twilight of their glorious history. They are extremely tough, handpicked warriors whose tactical strength lies in the 'shield wall', a formation that presents a solid front to the enemy. Vikings are only truly vulnerable if they break formation.

Italian Light Infantry
The Italians have spent many years fighting enemies such as Norman, French and Imperial armies and each other. As a result, their medium infantry are rather better than the average, and equipped with quilted armour, spears and shields. They may lack the 'edge' of hardened professionals, but they are reliable.

Janissary Bows
Yeni Cheri' - the 'New Soldiers' - are a new Turkish system for national and royal (not feudal) armies. Disciplined, drilled and professional, Janissary Archers are intended to break up and weaken enemy formations so that the other soldiers of the Janissary corps can move in for the kill.

Janissary Heavy Infantry
Janissaries are the capable, disciplined elite of Turkish armies with a fearsome reputation. These heavy shock troops are supposed to batter a way through enemy armies so that others can pour through the gap. They are heavily armoured, and armed with polearms that give them an advantage in close combat.

Janissary Infantry
{"The Janissaries are raised from provincial children taken into the Sultan’s service, and trained to do nothing but fight and obey. Janissaries do not fight for personal honour; they fight to win. These soldiers are armed with bows and swords, making them a tactically flexible and powerful unit."}

Kataphraktoi
The fearsome, disciplined Kataphraktoi trace their origins to Roman times. Both man and horse are so massively armoured that they are almost unstoppable shock troops. This power comes at a price – the Kataphraktoi are slow and expensive compared to other cavalry - but this is little comfort to their enemies!

Kern
The Irish keep to the Celtic way of warfare. Constant skirmishing between Irish warlords and English invaders gives even the peasants a warlike attitude. They fight as kerns - light, harassing javelinmen - rather than as untrained farm labourers, and bring their particularly bloody-minded savagery to the battlefield.

Khwarazmian Cavalry
Unusually for Islamic cavalry, both Khwarazmian cavalrymen and their horses are heavily armoured. This makes them very effective when charging lighter opponents, but means they are far from nimble! As shock troops, they are the equals of western knights but with more discipline - some would say more common sense!

Knights Hospitaller
The Knights of St. John were established to protect pilgrims and a hospital in the Holy Land, and they are a powerful fighting order. The Hospitallers are superb heavy knights, armed with lances and able to charge in devastating fashion on the battlefield. In battle they are completely reliable.

Knights Santiago
Originally guards for Christian pilgrims in Spain, the Knights of Santiago are a fighting order organised along semi-monastic lines. They are reliable, excellent heavy cavalry, able to break many enemies when they charge, and are without the impetuous folly often shown by secular western knights.

Knights Templar
The Knights Templar are a warrior elite, more fearsome than many other knights in Christendom. On the battlefield, they may be the finest cavalry trained in Europe, able to charge home against tremendous odds and still triumph! But while they are brave, some express doubts about their religious purity...

Lancers
Lancers are very heavy cavalry, used to charge into and break the enemy. Their plate armour is cunningly designed so that extra pieces can be added. The shock value of their charge should not be underestimated, but against spearmen they should attack the flank or rear for best effect.

Late Royal Ghulam Knights
Ghulam - the word means slave - cavalry are the best available to the Sultan and form his bodyguard. In plate armour and armed with lances, they are better than many other cavalry. The Sultan (and every Prince) leads Ghulams. Additional units can be trained at high cost.

Late Royal Knights
Royal Knights are an elite royal household guard. The combination of full plate armour and lances makes them formidable enough, but their dedication in serving their King makes them fearsome indeed! The King and royal Princes command small groups of these Knights. Raising extra Royal Knights is possible, but costly.

Lithuanian Cavalry
These light cavalry are drawn from Lithuania's minor nobility, and wear light mail and carry lances and bows. They are excellent horsemen, but also have the ability to dismount before battle and fight as foot archers. Although they are noblemen, they are no match for knights.

Longbows
English and Welsh longbowmen are the finest archers in Europe, able to well create a storm of arrows against targets 300m away. Even knights are vulnerable thanks to the armour-piercing bodkin arrowheads they use. Longbowmen are often best when the enemy is forced to attack and then shot down!

Mamluk Cavalry
The Mamluks are warrior slaves with superb military skills. Their cavalry are well armed and armoured, highly disciplined and particularly good against armoured opponents, thanks to the axes they wield. These medium cavalry can be used for many tasks on the battlefield, and can give heavier cavalry a nasty surprise!

Mamluk Handgun
Islamic science has allowed the Mamluks to produce better gunpowder than other peoples, and their handguns are also skilfully made. Their handgunners have greater discipline than their Christian counterparts, although they must still deal with the hangun's slow rate of fire and low accuracy.

Mamluk Horse Archers
The Mamluks are a slave warrior elite. Almost without exception, their troops are highly disciplined, motivated and organised. Their Horse Archers are both good shots and skilled horsemen, able to destroy slower opponents. They can fight hand-to-hand in their own defence, but should not be recklessly committed to such fights.

Mangonel Crew
The basic idea of a mangonel, or small catapult, goes back to Classical times. The throwing arm, driven by twisted ropes or sinews, hurls small missiles quite a long way. The frame isn't wheeled and once in place a mangonel doesn’t move. Mangonels are outclassed by gunpowder weaponry.

Militia Sergeants
Militia formations are supplied by the people of growing towns, drawn from amongst the apprentices. Armed with fearsome polearms, they can do significant damage to enemies, but their training is not always of the highest. They can do well against lesser troops, but will quail before more professional soldiery.

Mortar Crew
Mortars are short-barrelled guns that throw shots on a high trajectory over fortifications to plunge down on enemies. Firing mortars can be quite complex, as the angle of fire, amount of gunpowder and even the wind all affect accuracy. They can be used to terrible effect in sieges.

Mounted Crossbows
Armed with slightly smaller crossbows than their infantry equivalents, Mounted Crossbowmen are one response by western armies to eastern mounted archers. But while they have killing power, crossbows also have a slow rate of fire, so these crossbowmen need to use their cavalry mobility to stay out of trouble.

Mounted Sergeants
These cavalry are more lightly equipped compared to Knights, but they are fast and their heavy lances can be devastating when charging opponents. They are best used to charge home (to an enemy flank or rear, preferably) to cause maximum casualties. Their speed can help them disengage and evade pursuit.

Murabitin Infantry
The tough Murabitin are recruited from the desolate Almohad provinces along the North African coast. Armed with javelins, they are good for harassing enemy formations and can cause a surprising number of casualties. Their other arms are only sufficient for self-defence, so they are best used as skirmishers.

Muslim Peasants
Life for peasants is never easy. They are the lowest, tied to the land or living in hovels in the growing cities. When war breaks out peasants are sometimes forced into the army and then expected to fight. Peasants may see little reason to remain loyal when treated this way.

Muwahid Foot
These spearmen in the service of the Almohads are lightly equipped to stand in a line of battle. They are hardy, desert men and carry only large shields for protection, but they are also swift and possibly (over) confident. Like all spearmen, they have an advantage when fighting against cavalry.

Naptha Throwers
Naptha is a fiery mixture of chemicals that is very difficult to put out. Contained in grenades (ceramic pots), it can be thrown so that it bursts open on contact. Naptha is dangerous, and it is possible for the thrower to set fire to himself rather than a target!

Negro Spearmen
Nubian spearmen is a slightly misleading title. These men come from all over Africa, having made their way north and ended up in the Sultan’s military service. They carry the same kind of equipment as other spearmen, but they are often a little more disciplined and able.

Nizari
The Nizaris are members of a sect who have been inspired by Faith to make war. They are armed with swords and bows, making them a flexible force for any Islamic general. Their fanaticism can sometimes make them impetuous in an attack, when they will ignore the odds against them.

Order Foot soldiers
Not everyone has the social rank to become a Knight in a fighting order. Instead, these lesser men are taken on to fight in support of the Knights. Often, they do very well, as they are motivated by the prospect of salvation and are well armoured and equipped with spears.

Ottoman Infantry
Well armed and armoured, Ottoman infantry are tough enough to be in the vanguard of any Turkish army. They are well equipped with bows and axes (which give them an advantage against armoured enemies), and well trained and disciplined. Usually, they can be relied on to defeat most infantry.

Ottoman Sipahi
Turkish Sipahi differ from many European troops in one important respect – discipline. They are professionals who can be relied on to obey orders. Deployed correctly, the only units the Sipahi need fear are spearmen or pikemen. Their equipment is fully the equal of any other heavy cavalry.

Pavise Arbalester
The arbalest is a heavy crossbow that can fire a bolt which will go through most armoured targets. It has a very slow rate of fire, as it needs a windlass to pull back the string between shots! While reloading, a Pavise Arbalester hides behind his large man-sized shield.

Pavise Crossbows
Anyone can master a crossbow in a few weeks - but it is not a perfect weapon. It has a slow rate of fire, and during reloading a crossbowman is vulnerable unless he has a pavise, or large shield, to shelter behind. The Italians are famous for their crossbowmen.

Peasants
Life is never easy for peasants, the bottom rung of a very long social ladder. When war comes, the levy takes them away from home and their crops. They are given few weapons, just expected to fight and die for their betters. Peasants are therefore cheap but unreliable units.

Pikemen
Pikes are very long spears. This length means that pikemen need proper training before they can act as a unit. Unlike other troops, the first four ranks of pikemen can fight against an enemy, presenting a wall of gleaming spear points to any foolish enough to charge them.

Polish Retainer
These minor Polish nobility are good medium cavalry, with both mail armour for protection and heavy lances to provide a real punch when charging enemies. While good attackers, they are not equals of Knights and will have trouble holding their ground when committed against such powerful foes.

Pronoiai Allagion
Even the coffers of Byzantium are not bottomless, so the mercenary Pronoiai Allagion are paid in land instead of money. These men are the Byzantine equivalent of heavy knights: part soldiers, part local rulers. With mail armour, lances, and horse barding, they are as good as many western knights.

Religious Fanatics
Simple, uneducated people are often willing to follow a charismatic leader who promises them Heaven. Existence for many is a hell of backbreaking work and grinding poverty. Fighting and dying with unquestioning, righteous faith is a chance of everlasting life in Paradise! And so religious fanatics are inspired...

Saharan Cavalry
In a desert, beneath the merciless sun, speed is better protection than armour that would roast its wearer! Saharan Cavalry are fast 'skirmishers' used to protect an army's flanks, keep archers away, and chase down enemies. Even armed their swords and shields, they are not suited to prolonged melees.

Saracen Infantry
Like many Saracens, these medium spearmen are well disciplined when compared to 'Frankish' or crusader opponents. Their spears give them an advantage when fighting cavalry, and they are lightly armoured so that they can move swiftly beneath the desert sun. They can also hold their own against comparable infantry.

Serpentine Crew
A serpentine is a light cannon with a very long barrel - the name comes from its snake-like proportions - that fires a 1 kg ball. A serpentine is light, transportable and quite accurate. It has a good range and a single shot can kill more than one man.

Siege cannon Crew
Siege cannons are status symbols and a king wants these in his arsenal. Over time gunsmiths become more skilled and gunpowder also improves in quality. Gunnery is a science rather than a matter of luck. Big guns become practical: they won’t explode and kill the crew rather than the enemy!

Sipahi of the Porte
The Sipahi of the Porte are the elite Turkish royal bodyguard. Their combination of mail, armoured horses, sword and bow make them formidable enough, but their vigorous training makes them fearsome indeed! The Sultan and royal Princes all command small Sipahi units. Raising extra Sipahi of the Porte is expensive.

Spanish Jinetes
Once Moorish soldiery, Jinetes are lightly armoured cavalry, both fast and manoeuvrable. They often manage to surprise enemies, as instead of using lances they hurl javelins before closing to fight hand-to-hand with swords. This double ability makes them handy warriors and a fine addition to any Spanish army.

Spearmen
Spearmen are useful in almost any army, particularly against cavalry and unlike other troop types the first two ranks can fight thanks to their spears. They aren't likely to stand for long against professional men-at-arms, but they can give cavalry a nasty shock as long as they hold formation.

Swiss Armoured Pikemen
Swiss Pikemen are very effective against cavalry. The first four ranks of any pike unit can fight, and horses will not charge into a wall of pike points. Swiss Pikemen are highly regarded, thanks to their professionalism, but their solid formations can make them an easy target for missile fire.

Swiss Halberdiers
Swiss Halberdiers are extremely well trained and disciplined - a product of the Swiss obsession with defending themselves. Although lightly armoured, their halberds are very effective against most enemies. Unlike spears that are good for holding cavalry at bay, halberds inflict heavy casualties even against heavily armoured opponents.

Swiss Pikemen
Using a pike - which may be anything up to 4m long - takes training, and Swiss pikemen are the best in Europe. They are superb against cavalry: no horse will charge against a wall of pike points, with four ranks of pikemen all capable of fighting at once.

Teutonic Knights
The Teutonic Knights are an order of German warriors, committed to fighting against infidels and pagans alike. They are easily the equals in combat of the other Orders of Knighthood, if not quite so disciplined. This 'lack' of discipline is of no comfort to those facing the Teutonic Knights!

Teutonic Sergeants
The fighting Orders are socially exclusive, not taking men from the lower ranks of society into the Order itself. The Teutonic Sergeants are socially inferior men trained as heavy cavalry, but without the dash and valour of true knights. In battle, they are almost as effective as the Order's Knights.

Trebizond Archers
Compound bows give these soldiers an advantage thanks to their range, accuracy and penetrative power. Trebizond Archers are well trained and disciplined, and can act, at a pinch, as a light infantry. Although they can fight, it would be a foolish commander who used them to attack unbroken enemies.

Trebuchet Crew
The trebuchet is a huge weapon - so big that it is usually built on the battlefield! The throwing arm uses a counterweight to hurl missiles tremendous distances. This can be anything from heavy boulders to fire pots, or diseased animals, prisoners, captured spies, or corpses to demoralize the enemy!

Turcoman Foot
The Turcomans, from Turkmenistan and North-eastern Persia, are adept in desert warfare. They are primarily archers, but can fight as light infantry if they need to do so. They are best used to weaken an enemy for others to attack. Their combat abilities are best reserved for self defence.

Turcoman Horse
These fast, light cavalry are ideally suited to desert warfare: lightly armoured with bows and swords. They can harass and weaken units with missile fire and then press home attacks. Against 'Frankish' crusaders, they have little trouble in staying out of range while wearing down the enemy.

Turcopole
After fighting Saracen cavalry, the Crusaders realised that knights were not suited to war in the Holy Land. To counter the nimble Saracens, the Westerners recruited local mercenaries. These Turcopoles are lightly armoured and carry both bows and spears, making them a flexible unit type in combat.

Urban Militia
As cities and trade grow, so does the need for local defence. Some towns and cities can provide a locally raised force, recruited from among apprentices and journeymen. While they only have limited training, their polearms give them an advantage against armoured troops, and they are more disciplined than peasantry.

Varangian Guard
The Varangian Guard are part of the Imperial Household, a force of mercenary bodyguards. They have a history of being tough, loyal and resourceful men from the North. Over the centuries, their ranks have included Vikings (and a Viking King!), Saxons and Englishmen. Now, they are sometimes a ceremonial unit.

Woodsman
Hardy woodsmen, superior to peasant levies, populate the vast forests of Eastern Europe. With their axes they can do terrible damage, even to 'better' troops and their light armour gives them some protection. They are still peasants, of course, and can run like any other peasantry!


Baggala
The baggala has the same basic design as a dhow but carries a catapult. This can be used to throw pots of Greek fire (an incendiary mixture of chemicals) at enemy ships. Pirates also use the baggala, but with rock missiles as they lack access to Greek fire.

Barque
The barque is a small, single-masted sailing vessel suitable only for short voyages across shallow waters, but it is cheap and easy to build. Away from land, a heavy swell could sink a barque. The crew is few in number and unlikely to mount a very effective boarding action.

Boom
The boom is a dhow-like warship. It carries a small cannon as armament to bombard targets and has sufficient crew to allow boarding attacks as well. It is strong enough to meet galleys on better-than-equal terms and handy enough under sail to attack from most quarters.

Caravel
The caravel is an oceangoing ship, capable of surviving some storms. Originally used in the Mediterranean, it is now used elsewhere. It is capable - rather than exceptional - in a fight as it has small catapults to bombard enemy ships, but it is not handy in light winds.

Carrack
The Carrack is a sleek, refined derivative of the Cog, able to withstand rough seas and carry a substantial tonnage. It also carries cannons, culverins and demi-culverins, a contingent of soldiers and a large crew. A Carrack can generally be relied on to defeat any other ship.

Cog
The Cog has come about thanks to shipwrights' experiments and gradual improvements in shipbuilding and rigging. A Cog is a sturdy vessel with a deep draft so it can carry a large crew and troops. With demi-cannons as well, it is a handy all-rounder in combat.

Dhow
The dhow is a small trading and military ship found throughout the Arab world. It is fast and manoeuvrable, able to use light winds to enter any fight and also stay out of reach of more powerful enemies. Dhows carry no weapons; their crews attack by grappling and boarding.

Dromon
The dromon is a small galley, with both a sail and oars. It is used as a scout and for coastal work, thanks to its shallow draught. It isn't a battleship, but in calm weather a dromon can out-manoeuvre and out-fight smaller ships and still have the speed to escape!

Firegalley
The fire galley is an improvement on the galley of old, equipped with a catapult to rain Greek fire upon an enemy. This, plus soldiers and a ram, make the fire galley a potent ship. Greek fire is a fearsome concoction that burns when wet - the perfect naval weapon!

Galley
As a type, the galley is tried, tested and ancient. With oars and sail, it is suited to Mediterranean waters. The crew is mostly rowers with a small fighting contingent of archers and soldiers. A Galley has grappling irons and a ram to break an enemy's hull and oars.

Gungalley
Cannons are the main armament of a gun galley, although it still has a ram and troops who can board enemy vessels. It is a formidable ship by any standards, with both sails and oars. It does have blind spots and is not very handy in a close fight.

Longboat
The 'Viking' longboat appears to be a simple vessel, but actually is the end of many generations of careful improvement. It is capable of long ocean voyages, can be easily beached and can carry large cargoes, but as a fighting vessel it is only suitable for boarding attacks.

Wargalley
A War Galley is a large vessel equipped with several powerful catapults each capable of throwing Greek fire pots - on the basis that if one catapult is good, then more must be better! Although it also has a ram, it is relatively unwieldy under oars or sail.


Assassin
An Assassin kills people. When dropped onto another character, the Assassin will try to kill that character. His chance of success depends on his own skills and the importance of the target.

Bishop
A Catholic Bishop improves the faith of the Christian flock in his current province. He will only affect Catholic followers, not Orthodox Christians as well.

Cardinal
A Cardinal is a powerful figure in the Catholic Church hierarchy, and his mere presence does much to boost the faith of Catholics.

Emissary
An emissary is a noble- or high-born man trained in diplomacy and sent to deal with rival monarchs and other nobility. An Emissary acts as the eyes and ears of his master in his current location.

Grand Inquisitor
It is the Grand Inquisitor's calling to root out heresy and dissent wherever he finds it among the Catholic faithful. His presence in a province vastly reduces heresy and will usually cow any rebellious population, as he inspires dread - if not outright terror!

Inquisitor
It is an Inquisitor's calling to root out heresy and dissent in the Catholic flock. His presence in a province reduces heresy and can cow the whole population, thanks to his harsh reputation.

Mullah
An Alim is a learned, scholastic figure in the Islamic faith, and his presence in a province does much to boost the faith of Muslims.

Orthodox Bishop
An Orthodox Bishop improves the faith of any Orthodox Christian flock in his current province. An Orthodox Bishop will only affect his followers, not Catholics as well.

Priest
A Priest improves the faith of all Orthodox Christians in his current province just by his presence. Followers of other religions, including Catholics, receive no benefits from the Priest's presence.

Princess
A Princess is an asset to her family, acting as an Emissary of sorts. She can be married to a General to encourage his loyalty, or she can be married into another royal family to cement an alliance. Her new royal husband may then have a claim to her father's lands.

Spy
A spy discovers information about your rivals. A spy sees everything about the province and any armies where he is standing. A spy can also be used to find out about a character's hidden vices, and can plant evidence of treachery. He can also cause discontent in rivals' provinces.

Ulama
An Imam is a hugely learned man, one who has spent his life in studying the Islamic faith. His presence in a province does much to inspire faith among Muslims.

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