July 15, 2021 — From the time of the Huns to around the 700s AD, European warriors of Frankland (modern Germany and France combined, roughly speaking), Anglo-Saxon England, the Nordic countries, and elsewhere typically wielded two-edged straight, flat “Spatha” swords.
The sword shown in the image was owned by a noble warrior of Germanic descent who lived at the dawn of the Viking Age. Its design is inspired by several Anglo-Saxon Spatha finds from the 600-700s as well as the iconic pommel of Viking Age swords.
But, what happens if a kingdom loses its swords and becomes overly civilized, too rich, and so wealthy it lets excessive pride and self-confidence run amok at the expense of common sense? Over time, its warrior class is weakened, and the ruling class is forced to rely on mercenaries to defend itself in times of turmoil. A dangerous strategy that in the long term almost always results in disaster.
“An empire without a hereditary warrior class is destined to fall.”
The lack of enough hereditary Roman soldiers is one of the reasons the empire fell in the west in 476 AD. Around 1000 years later, in the 1450s, Ottoman Turks conquered what was left of it, namely Byzantine Rome and Constantinople — Rome had once more relied on mercenaries, while the Turks had kept their warrior spirit intact since time immemorial.
Carthage was the capital city of the ancient Carthaginian civilization in what is now Tunisia in the Ancient Mediterranean. It was one of the richest cities of the classical world. The Romans destroyed Carthage in 146 BC, later founding and rebuilding a new city in its place. All remnants of Carthaginian civilization came under Roman rule by the first century AD.
Carthage was unable to defend itself as it had focused almost exclusively on trade, thus it had no warrior class of its own. Alas, Carthage had to rely almost solely on mercenaries — who were not particularly vested in the future of the city state’s nobility nor organized enough to take on the emerging Roman Empire.
Alas, an empire or a kingdom without a dedicated, native warrior class is destined to fall.