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The status of slingers in traditional societies (Read 6465 times)
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The status of slingers in traditional societies
Oct 11th, 2007 at 2:01pm
 
We generally assume that slingers, like the sheppard communities from which they were traditionally drawn, were of comparatively low status.  This may well be true when they are compared with high-ranking members of the clergy or nobility.  But sheppards may be underrated.  it has been pointed out by several anthropologists and historians that by the standards their times, sheppards were highly skilled professionals.  They were one of the few branches of society that might actually get paid with money rather than barter.  They also tended to be young, mobile, and predominantly male.  The closest modern analog would be software engineers -- i.e. nerds.  Slings, as we know, have also long been underrated.  Throughout much of mankind's history, they were the predominant missile weapon, and the closest ancient analog to a gun.

So there you have it.  A new perspective on the status of slingers in traditional societies.  Sheppards with slings = Nerds with guns?  King David as an ancient combination of Bill Gates and Clint Eastwood?  The mind boggles... Smiley
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« Last Edit: Oct 11th, 2007 at 6:54pm by DesertPilot »  
 
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #1 - Oct 12th, 2007 at 9:21am
 
This was a very interesting read. What were your sources? Thanks. Cheesy
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“So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him…….”1 Samuel 17:50-KJV
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #2 - Oct 12th, 2007 at 11:26am
 
Go ahead sheep, make my day! Angry
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #3 - Oct 13th, 2007 at 10:12am
 
[quote]We generally assume that slingers, like the sheppard communities from which they were traditionally drawn, were of comparatively low status[/quote]

Umm I think you are speaking mainly for yourself there. I would imagine that most of us (and I may well be equally guilty here) would assume that a professional slinger in an army would be accorded the same sort of status as a latter day bowman. The equivalent of a modern day weapons specialist perhaps.
On top of which some of the communities that furnished large numbers of slingers were not shepherds - the balearic island slingers were frequently from fishing communities and as often came from families that had traditions as slinger mercenaries. Somewhat like the swiss mercenary tradition. Assuming that the majority of professional slingers were shepherds (who was looking after the sheep) is probably not entirely accurate.

After all the number of the enemy you could bring down with ranged fire would improve the odds of the hand to hand fighting tremendously so one would think that a slinger would have had pretty decent status among their fellow soldiers.

[quote]They were one of the few branches of society that might actually get paid with money rather than barter.  They also tended to be young, mobile, and predominantly male.  The closest modern analog would be software engineers[/quote]
Surely again, soldiers are a much better modern analogue, or plumbers or europaen migrant workers - most of the software engineers I know no longer travel round to jobs but conduct more and more business remotely - for which a better ancient analogue would have been a merchant or static trader.

According a slinger soldeirs status makes a lot more sense.
A soldiers status in general society is something that has not changed down the years and kipling (as usual) says it best:-

[center]Tommy
By Rudyard Kipling, 1892[/center]

[i]I went into a public- 'ouse to get a pint o' beer,

The publican 'e up an sez, "We serve no red-coats here."

The girls behind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,

I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy go away";

But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play-

The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,

O it's "Thank you Mr Atkins," when the band begins to play.



I went into a theatre as sober as could be,

They gave a drunk civilian roo, but 'adn't none for me;

They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,

But when it comes to fighting', Lord! They'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy wait outside";

But it's "Special train for Atkins," when the trooper's on the tide-

The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,

O it's "Special train for Atkins," when the trooper's on the tide.



Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep

Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;

An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit

Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy 'ow's yer soul?"

But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll-

The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,

O it's " Thin red line of 'eroes," when the drums begin to roll.



We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,

But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;

An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,

Why single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy fall be'ind,"

But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind-

There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,

O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.



You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:

We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.

Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face

The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck 'im out, the brute!"

But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;

An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;

An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!



Note:

It was the Duke of Wellington who coined the popular nickname Thomas (or Tommy) Atkins, for the ordinary soldier. In 1843, whilst Commander-in-Chief, he was asked to come up with a 'typical' soldier's name. Thinking back to his first campaign in the Low Countries in the 1790s he remembered a badly wounded, but stoical, soldier he had encountered - Thomas Atkins.[/i]
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #4 - Oct 13th, 2007 at 10:22pm
 
Nice post C.A. Thanks
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #5 - Oct 17th, 2007 at 10:16am
 
In the Roman Army, the slinger was in the 5th, or lowest level. Often, they were used as disposable troops.
  Many times, prisoners were given the chance to join the Roman Army, but could only be a slinger, which was a great insult to them.
  Ironically, the Romaans paid more status ( and money) to the mercenary slinger than they did to their own.
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #6 - Oct 17th, 2007 at 12:59pm
 
Hey, that type out-sourcing sounds familiar. Huh
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“So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him…….”1 Samuel 17:50-KJV
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #7 - Oct 17th, 2007 at 1:27pm
 
it's not ironic, since it's regarding the level of skill of their own slingers, and the mercenary ones.
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #8 - Oct 18th, 2007 at 4:42pm
 
CA,

the bow men where specialists but that doesn't decide about social status in medieval times. The French cities offered their longbow specialists several times to the king in order to strengthen the French forces. The nobility didn't accept these offers because it would have impaired its own social status as the only defenders of France. The bitter outcome of this decision are the battles of Crecy and Azincourt. We consider warfare to be a matter of utilitarian practise. That may be true today (?) but during most time of history even specialized and highly skilled soldiers where bound to the rules of strict social classification.

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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #9 - Oct 18th, 2007 at 6:41pm
 
funda_iucunda wrote on Oct 18th, 2007 at 4:42pm:
We consider warfare to be a matter of utilitarian practise. That may be true today (?) but during most time of history even specialized and highly skilled soldiers where bound to the rules of strict social classification.

funda iucunda


fixed Cheesy
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #10 - Oct 18th, 2007 at 8:09pm
 
Which groups were the mercenaries?
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“So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him…….”1 Samuel 17:50-KJV
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #11 - Oct 19th, 2007 at 1:40am
 
One reference on the status of shepherds in southern France in the early 14th century -- and many other things besides -- is 'Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error', by Emmanuel LeRoy Ladurie.  He used records compiled by the Inquisition during the Albigensian Crusade to reconstruct a snapshot of life at the time.  I may have exaggerated his conclusions slightly, but it's an interesting book, and one of the few glimpses we have into the life of average people during that time period.

In response to C_A's comment, I must confess out that I was only thinking about civilians or raw recruits.  Once a slinger became part of the regular military, an entirely different set of rules would apply.  I imagine that the status of specialist missile troops depended on their effectiveness in the combat systems of the time, rising and falling with changes in armor, tactics, training, and organization.  Cultures that got it wrong -- like the French, sticking their crossbowmen in the back of the bus during the battles of the Hundred Years War -- could look forward to a certain amount of disappointment and frustration.

Of course, the French won in the end, even though they lost almost every battle.  One of those things that keeps military historians... and their psychotherapists... in business...



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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #12 - Nov 5th, 2007 at 10:49am
 
Cereus, the Balearics were the most famous mercenary slingers, but in truth, there were many more. The Greeks had Thessalayan  and Lorican mercenary slingers. 
  During King Stephan's war in the 1200's, there is recorded him attacking castles with slingers hired from " a land far away." (probably Balearics)
  Anyone you hired from somewhere else could be considered mercenary.
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #13 - Nov 6th, 2007 at 12:46am
 
slingbadger wrote on Nov 5th, 2007 at 10:49am:
The Greeks had Thessalayan  and Lorican mercenary slingers.

Don't forget the island of Rhodes.  Rhodes was famous for its slingers.  I believe they're even mentioned by Xenophon.  And surely that must be where the phrase, "Hit the Rhodes, Jack!" came from...
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Re: The status of slingers in traditional societie
Reply #14 - Nov 6th, 2007 at 1:15pm
 
DesertPilot wrote on Nov 6th, 2007 at 12:46am:
slingbadger wrote on Nov 5th, 2007 at 10:49am:
The Greeks had Thessalayan  and Lorican mercenary slingers.

Don't forget the island of Rhodes.  Rhodes was famous for its slingers.  I believe they're even mentioned by Xenophon.  And surely that must be where the phrase, "Hit the Rhodes, Jack!" came from...

OOOOOH,,you're going to Hell for that one!
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The greatest of all the accomplishments of 20th cent. science has been the discovery of human ignorance  The main difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has it's limits.-Einstein   I'm getting psychic as I get older. Or is that psychotic?
 
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