The Military of the Day
Most of the plotters were involved in the military one way or the other and the plot involved significant military activity.  It is then of interest to learn about the military of the period. We have provided it for you below!
Introduction Social Background
Drilling Band Structure
Organization Officers
Training-Provisions Tactics
Soldiers Bibliography
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In the beginning there was the feudal levy which produced individuals and groups to defend
the country. Later this was replaced by what was known as the militia system.  The state wanted
a reliable regular army for defense.  The militia was composed of able-bodied men between 16 and 60 years of age. The militia was sub-divided into three levels:

The Trained Bands were formed in 1573. Each shire or region had its own local band. The bands were created for the defense of the locality. The intent was that unless there was an extreme emergency the bandsmen would serve only locally. Service outside of their local area was resisted. Due to their  high  level of training and equipment they were not sent abroad.  Barwick thought that it would be better to have 15,000 trained and equipped than 40,000 untrained.
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Social Background
The social status of Bandsmen was largely determined by location. Originally gentlemen, farmers, upper class yoeman and laborers served. In the countryside numbers were made up with servants and those in the poorer classes while in prosperous urban centers London householders took part with ranks filled in with prosperous independent craftsmen and tradesmen. The use of the bands to defend against civil disturbances encouraged their formation from the ranks of those who were prominent in established society. Band members in london could choose to serve either as pike or shot.
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Drilling in the Band was often a popular hobby. Many drilled in their spare time. Drill was conducted by  one company once a week. Individuals took turns at being  officials of the Band.  Organizations  such  as the Artillery Company  attracted its  members by being  an organization of prestige. Some  of these organizations would meet in the daily the summer for an hour. Those  meeting in the early morning would drill quietly so as not to disturb the neighbors.

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Band Structure

Shot: Musketeers  and Calivermen- generally equipped with shot (there were bowmen in the country bands) .

Melee Weapons-Pike,targeteers

Short Weapons-halberdiers, billmen

The concept was to develop a force which contained representatives from all groups. No one group could stand alone. Today this strategy is called a "combined arms approach".

Types of weapons varied between rural and urban or well funded groups. The longbow and bill hook were going out of style being replaced by the pike and shot but these weapons were still used by the bands of the countryside and those who were not funded at the high levels found in the cities.

Strategists of the time recommended 1/3-2/3 pikes, 1/4-3/10  muskets and 1/5-1/4 calivers with short weapons and targeteers making up the rest.   In London for example from 1578 on trained 2,000 shot and 1,000 pike. Their companies contained 150 men. In Elizabethan London the bands were composed only of  2/3 musket and 1/3 pike. Some records indicate that targeteers and halberdiers also took part if only for ceremony.

Other experts suggested that the relationship of shot to pike in larger armies be different. In larger armies the number of shot was recommended to be about 1/5 while in smaller it was suggested that it be 1/3. Despite the recommendations some battles were fought with shot alone. In any case it was the force of the pike which was most significant in most battles.
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Organizational Units

Regiments: From 1572 regiments were formed of 10 companies. This varied from the theoretical in the field.  Regiments were both administrative and tactical units. Regiments were not important for the bands which were smaller groups and were not used in larger military actions. In 1588 the London Bands were put into regiments. It became permanent only in 1616.

The Company: Primary unit  of organization. Administered itself. Companies: raised units, issued equipment, commanders were responsible for pay and fines. The company did not work on its own outside of garrisons, sieges and training.
The size of units was largely theoretical Ideally they would range from 100-200.  In the Netherlands in 1585 a regular army company was made up of only 80. Trained Bands probably consisted of about the same theoretical and practical strengths. Full strength was probably rarity attained. Companies could be joined together in the field. Generally groupings of common weapons were formed. A grouping of shot from other companies was called a troop. A grouping of pike was called a maniple.

Specialists within the Company: Captain, Lieutenant, Ensign, 2 Sergeants, 5 Corporals, 2 Drummers, a surgeon, a fife and clerk. Occasionally Gentlemen-volunteers would take part. For each 100 men the unit would have 10-20 pioneer troops who functioned as engineers. They were provided with bows, bills a steel helmet or old armor.

Squadrons:  5  Squadrons per company. These were lead by a Corporal. One weapon type per squadron- pike or shot for example. The basic administrative unit.

Disiners:  Two disineers per Squadron. The  Lancepassado would preside.

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There were generally several social groups in the regular army: Commissioned officers, non-commissioned officers and private soldiers. Commissioned officers were generally gentlemen.
Commoners would never progress beyond the rank of seregeant. No matter who a gentleman was or how skilled he was given a commissioned position.  In London the bands were made up almost exclusively by commoners. Officers however, would be men of higher classes. In 1588 however none of the 40 or so companies in the city had captains who were gentlemen.  In 3-4  of the  companies outside of the city were listed  as being "esquires". In 1600 only 1 out of the 25 city companies had an esquire as commander. In the countryside officers were more likely to be made up of the local gentry.

Captain: Responsible for the company. Most  duties administrative. Pay, Equipment, Discipline. Training, siege and garrison duty. In the field the commander of the regiment would be responsible for many companies.
The captain should be experienced in all the lower positions and in the use of the weapons of the unit. In the trained bands he could rise from the ranks in the regular army he could not. Other characteristics- fear of God, virtue, wisdom, policy, valor, carefulness, vigilance. Morale and discipline were important areas of specialization. Leading and inspiring were major concerns. The captain should stay with his men.  His place was in front of his troops. A good  speaker. His badge of office was the Partisan.


Same responsibilities a Captain. Serves in absence of Captain. Should be experienced with good character. the Lieutenant would do the less important tasks for the Captain. He would arbitrate and judge minor disputes. He would screen major offenses prior to passing them on to higher authority. He would manage equipment, set and check the watch. Responsibilities of quality control and the baggage train, care of sick and wounded and maintenance of the chain of command were his. In the field he would serve opposite the Captain. His badge of office was a leading staff.

Assumed command  in absence of the above. Responsible for the flag. Should be honorable. He would command targeteers or halberdiers and always a drummer. His position would be in the middle of the company-a rallying point. In marching and in assaulting forts he would be in the front. He must be well dressed, and an example to the  rest. He was always armed and armored. He reviewed the watch. The flag or ensign itself was 6foot by 6 foot 1/3 inch and generally made of silk. Company design was unique. A red cross of St. George (the national symbol) was popular. Different colors of waves or checks were used in London. A person commanding an entire army would  have his own  ensign.who carried  the national  flag which was the red  St. George  cross on  a white field occasionally with Tudor roses  in  the corners.

Two  Sergeants per \company.  They worked company wide without specific weapon of responsibility. The  Sergeant  sorted men  by  type and conducted drill. Positioning and  characteristics of each  man were to be well  known. Writing was important.  They kept track  of equipment  and  personnel. Maintenance order was a  primary  responsibility. Sergeants were  well  armored for self  defense. Sergeants would  be in the  trouble spots.  The  badge of office was the  halberd.
Five  per company.  They commanded the squadron which  carried a specific weapon  type.
Corporals stayed with the squadron trained them and  looked  after  the cleaning and  maintenance and provision of equipment. At times he would  be  assisted by an  officer  known as a Lanspassado. He reported to the Sergeant  or  Lieutenant.
Two drummers  per company.  One  stayed with the ensign one with the troops. Musicians gave signals for: Call, March, Charge, Retreat, and Alarm.  Well dressed. They performed in ceremony and official functions. Fifes were hired personally by the Captain in the regular army.  The fife was a long flute and not the  short fife. Musicians were  adults.

Recommended one per company Regiments would also have a doctor. A medic in today's terminology. They wore a baldric. No official function. Probably were restricted to the baggage train.

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The most prestigious arm was the pike. Strongest men and best persons. The most expensive troop was the armored pike. It  was  more fashionable to be a pike man than musketeer if you were a gentleman. Defended against horse. Of two types armored and bare. Armored pike were expensive and therefore rarer than ideally theorized. Unarmored pike was known as "Picche Freeche", "Light Pike" or "Bare Pike". Generally armor was limited to a steel helmet. Armored pikemen wore more armor- helmet breast and backplate or corslet and tassets. Sometimes a gorget or pauldron vambrance and gauntlets were added. Helmet of choice was the combed Spanish Morion. Burgonets were  also used. A peascod bellied breastplate would be ideal to deflect points and protect against bullets from far ranges.  Prices for corslets ranged from 33 s to 47s -armor was expensive and was used by those who could afford it.  Pikes were 8 feet with half pike being 12 feet in length and were made of ash wood. The heads were of two types: broad leaf against Unarmored soldiers and a spike of triangualr cross-section used against armor.  The head was attached with yard long steel cheeks. At the time  of armada  pikes were purchased for 3s 8d each. The pikeman should also have a sword and dagger.  A broadsword (hanger) or short sword was used. The hilt was a cross hilt. Short swords useful for close combat were also recommended. Rapiers should not be used. but were found in illustrations of the period. As with everything else quality varied with ability to pay for it. Sometimes a pistol or two were carried by pikemen but these were costly and were probably were not common.
Carried bullet proof round shield called a target. Targeteers were generally pikemen and equipped as such. most useful for sieges. Numbers of targeteers were small. Targeteer would carry a sword with optional pistols or grenades.

A job for the physically fit. The pikemen were far more important. Muskets had a large bores .75. It was large. The musketeer carried: a musket, bandoleer with 12 wooden flasks with individual charges, bullet bag, priming flask, and slow match a yard long lit at both ends. He would need but not carry bullet making and gun care equipment. Muskets could be purchased at 26s. each. Musketeers would not skirmish and had not armor. Steel skull caps called secrets were worn under hats. The hat was one with a broad brim and feather. They were equipped with a sword. The musket was employed against armor. Accuracy was good to 200 paces. That is you could hit
someone in a company but no specific person... John Smith suggested a musketeer should be able to hit a 7 inch square trencher at 10-12 yards. For practical purposes 50 yards would be the suggested deployment.

Lightest firelock troops aka Harquebusiers. Popular with the Bands. It was useful for hunting and poaching! More of these than of musket. Smaller bore than musket .5 inch and lighter not requiring a rest. The term comes from caliber. It had a standard bore size but said to be too small for use against heavy armor. They were easier to use and could fire  more frequently with more bullets per pound of  lead. Bandoliers were not used- a flask was substituted. Touchhole bore, powder, bullets, mould, priming iron,  match,  rammer, worm, sword and dagger made up the equipment. Cost for a caliver was 26s. 6d. They were more mobile and thus used for skirmishing away from the main army. Some armor was used- steel helmet and a jack or brigantine. A spanish morion was used. Calivermen were required to fire while arching every 80 yards.

Billmen and Halberdiers
The lowliest arms.  Halberd and bill hook or black bill. Bills were more common in poorer areas- not used in London.  Pioneer troops used them for defense. Halberds had more class. Sometimes halberds were used by Sergeants as badges of office, for show and combat. It was a melee weapon. Ensigns and critical ground were guarded by it. The short armed troops supported targeteers and were used to guard wagons or shot or in special settings.

Archers were valued for their rapid rate of fire. However, a lot more training was required than for shot. It was also harder to maintain. They were effective against the lighter armor. Bowmen were armored lighter than calivers but similarly. They were used in the country but not in London.
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Training and Provisioning
There were two kinds of musters- Special and General. The special was more common and consisted of an informal and private review of a company or smaller units. These were called monthly,weekly or daily for training and to assess the quality of the force. General musters included all units and were not often called. Once every 2 years would do. A good time for these were holidays selected so they would not disrupt daily life in general.  The second week in July was popular as it came after haymaking but before harvest. In 1585 a muster for the Queen had 4-5000 troops and lasted 6-8 days.
Musters began at 8-9 A.m.. There was an inspection and if things were not right soldiers were fined 10 days imprisonment or 40s. There were thorough inspections. Soldiers had to keep all their equipment with them at all times. There were many activities including individual drill, simulated battles and firing of blank shot. Musters often occurred only twice a year. Sometimes in fashionable circles drill occurred more often.
In small towns Constables maintained armor and within parishes armour would be kept along with registered privately owned arms within the church.Households would commonly have unregistered arms and armor. If these were discovered fines cold be exacted. In the 17th century the bands of London purchased their own equipment. They could choose service as pike or shot.
Civilian clothing was worn instead of uniforms. Sometimes coats worn over civilian clothing were issued.
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Pike and shot were grouped in formations called "Battles". Pikes were placed in the center with shot on the flanks. Rank and file formation was utilized. The most experienced and well equipped would be placed on the outside. Corner positions were given to the best leaders such as corporals. They would lead in orientation.
The block of pikemen was the foundation for any formation. The battle contained a square block of pike with double frontage being twice as wide as deep. This was known as a square of ground. A square of men was made into an actual square and was used against the horse. Sometimes a ring formation was used for defense. The battle was modified as needed in the field. Sometimes the light shot and short weapons would move ahead spread apart for skirmishing. Corporals would lead them to soften up the enemy formation. The skirmishers could retreat into the battle if there was trouble.
The pikemen in the battle was to cover and area 3feet side to side and 7 feet front to back. Pikes would target the breasts of horses which were not so well armored. The ensign in the center would be defended with short weapons. Enemy formations were attacked by the push of pikes rather than by cut and thrust. On the march targeters be followed by musketeers , calivers then pike. Short weapons would go to the center of the pikes. Other shot would be behind.
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Barwick, Humfry, A  Breefe Discourse, Concerning the force and Effects of all Manual Weapons of Fire ? 1594.

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Image Source= Lant, Thomas, Sequitur Celebritas...1587 (engraving)