During the 4th century, the Lands of the Selkie were a country much unlike the Free Lands of today (or the Lands of the Selkie in 1300, for that matter). In historic periodization, it falls into the Age of the High Kings.
It is suspected, that the popular saying of neither plow nor sword caring, if the hand leading them was strong or soft, originally came from that time.
Administration and Rulership
While huge chunks of the Lands, amongst them the Mór-Land and Robálai Island, were under his direct control or the Stewardship of his Liegemen, he also had several Kings beneath him, who ruled other parts of the Lands with their Liegemen.
Additionally, many of the towns and cities, amongst them for example Silverport, Fortham and Traverse, were more or less independent, but bound to the High King, who was responsible for their defense for a small bit of protection money. In return, the cities and towns were responsible for establishing and maintaining a road-network between the cities and towns.
In practical application
In practical application, it varied greatly in what the High King wanted to be done and who was asked to do it - the mightier ones amongst the Kings were very much capable of simply refusing the High King's commands, but they had to be prepared to very quickly get a visit from a Shadowmaiden, how quickly depended on the High King in question.
The mightier amongst the towns and cities had similar status, could do the same, but within certain limit - they knew, that their sole survival depended on the High King and the High King alone.
As an additional political force, there were the Elders of the Fifteen Tribes and the Clan Chiefs.
List of High Kings of the 4th century
- Cormac, of Louth Descent (ruled 279 - 301).
- Fiacha the Writer (ruled 302 - 310).
- Niall, of Westmeath Descent (ruled 310 - 338).
- Áed the Hunter (305-338, ruled from 321, allowed the foundation of the Orders in 325).
- Snechta the Singer (338 - 350).
- Slaine, of Cork Descent (350 - 361).
- Fiona the Architect (363 - 389).
- Fíachu, of Sligo Descent (389 - 409).
War and Peace
The High King's Muster
Every Liegeman of the High King had, in time of war and civil unrest (which happened surprisingly often), to provide him with troops in order to fight this ear/civil unrest,
Records show, that the High King's Muster more or less consistently consisted of around 100 "men of horse" (cavalry, most likely low-ranked landed nobility in one form or the other) and 400 "men of foot" (infantry, most likely part of Fort Stone's City Guard and Militia) for a total of around 500 men and their retinue.
The Infantry was organized in fifty groups of eight, the Tent Communities, who indeed shared a tent, a packing mule with the heavier parts of the equipment and two supply soldiers, lightly armed auxilliary troops, who sometimes possessed special skills as well. These supply soldiers made sure, that their corresponding Tent Community was well watered, the mule well fed and so on. The Tent Community fought together as well, making it an analogue of the modern squad. Eleven Tent Communities together with a Captain and a Signaller were the Company, of which the High King's Muster had four. The last six Tent Companies were a fifth company of light foot-skirmishers with their own Captain and Signaller.
The Cavalry on the other hand was organized in twenty groups of five, called a Rank: Two men-at-arms (not to be confused with the same soldiers of the same designation), two mounted archers and a light cavalry man, who doubled as a caretaker of the horses during the march. This formation, an early form of the later Lance, also had their own pack-horse and a reserve-horse per man to change to in case the main-horse got tired. In combat, the men-at-arms of all ranks were grouped together, as were all mounted archers and all light cavalry men, making them a force of fourty men-at-arms, fourty mounted archers and twenty light cavalry men. Usually, the High King himself led the men-at-arms.
The Kings' Musters
Much like with the High King, the King's had their own musters, which had to follow them - but if they followed the High King in times of war was up to them, or their own Liegemen, who sometimes often decided for their King.
Their Musters were far less stringently organized and only sometimes numbering above 100, but the records are mostly incomplete. From what is there, modern historians have concluded, that the Kings' Musters were usually rather dependent on their area of origin, but most utilized cavalry in one form or the other.
The Cities' Musters
The Towns' Musters
The OrdersThe 4th century was the time, when women first made their presence known directly on the battlefield. Before, they were mostly relegated to the rear of any army, into the train, tending to wounded, horses, soldiers and a few other things.
In the 4th century, in 325, however, the Cults saw it fit to establish their own small forces, the Orders, which soon found the approval of High King Áed the Hunter, under certain provisions.
The most important orders of the 4th century were the Swordmaidens of Carman Fea and the Arrowmaidens of Lodan Lir, both making quite an impression onto the enemy due to their light armour, an early form of the Geansai, and their abilities with both the sword and the bow respectively.
Weapons and ArmourMany of the weapons and armour of the time were predecessors of the weapons and armour used to this day, although some developments were altered or abandoned. One example for the latter would be scale armour, which was, gradually, replaced in the 4th century by lamellar and partially plate, which would really take off in the 10th century, developing slowly but surely into the familiar half-cuirasses.
Chainmail was developed in the 4th century as well, but it was very expensive and rarely used due to that. However, its effectiveness was undoubted.
Quilted armour also enjoyed popularity, especially amongst the Spiorad Ainmhithe and amongst the poor, as it was cheap and easily produced.