PRIMITIVE/ANCIENT EUROPEAN WARRIORS

 

.

PRIMITIVE/ANCIENT EUROPEAN WARRIORS

The C14 Old French word “Warrior” (one who wages war) means an experienced fighting soldier. For those who make war, better things do not exist for them–for this is where they show the “primitive” masculinities of courage, strength, and virility. Each battle is an opportunity to reclaim and prize these. Primitive European warriors’ battles were initially oriented to overcoming their human nature Scarcity needs. Eventually, they expanded to embrace their concept of happenings in those Unseen Realms influencing their existence–concepts manifesting in a mainly religious to a mainly violence range. Varied subdivisions were involved in local battles or in ‘shamanism’ (those thought to have visions and to perform healing) or in hierarchical organizations. But common to each form, regardless of its nature, was the ‘Charismatic’ (Greek, favor or grace) leader—spotlighting powers demonstrated to be an irresistible self-interest force in human affairs. One form was “Religious Warriors” who engaged in sacrifices as the root of their religious rituals. Overtime, Sacrifice was a collective celebration that ritually undermined the prohibition or taboo on murder, especially of relatives and kinfolk. However, in the big picture, sacrifice as a collective ritual, obscured the origins of religious practices by resorting to actual murder and physical violence.

Another form, “Battle Warriors,” turned their individuality completely over to the leadership and lived by the code: “I will always place my mission first; I will never accept defeat; I will never quit; I will never leave a fallen comrade” (Samet, Armed Forces & Society, 2005). Honor, the first of their two obsessive concerns, was deemed inseparable from external measures and spoils. For example, there was no grander or nobler prospect for exhibiting an “honorific trophy” than to carry home the bloody armor stripped from an enemy’s back. Yet, generating an even greater share of honor was being able to display enemies’ heads. Failure to obtain, or retain, such treasures following battle brought with it a corresponding shame. A second obsession was with each fellow fallen soldier thereby becoming the momentary object of a new frenzy from the rest of the Troops. Fellow warriors would strip off his armor before starting to drag the corpse back into their lines. Often this was done at the expense of losing sight of both tactical and larger strategic aims, thereby allowing the enemy to regroup and charge again. Primitive/Ancient codes of loyalty and honor manifested themselves nowhere more clearly than in a steadfast determination to protect the body from the enemy, even at the loss of ones own life. Homer put this into words by indicating the corpse acquires a value independent of its armor–becoming a tactical objective on the battlefield—the vehicle through which one retains nobility. The imperative to retrieve a fallen comrade’s body from the field regardless of tactical cost also suggested the preeminence of the dead over the living.

Warriors of the Classical period somewhat altered these patterns. While fighting for countless reasons, they continued to emphasize primitive warfare’s centrality of the dead body by taking honor in its possession and returning home with it. This satisfied many things for fellow warriors to see and admire: loyalty, fear, vengeance, and honor. By contrast, whereas the body is real, the principles behind humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping, and pursuing terror seemed far more elusive. Nevertheless, there was an expansion of their actions in two parts. One is that rather than being a mere reflection of the customary practice regarding retrieval and identification of battlefield dead, the return of corpses in itself was tantamount to an acknowledgment of victory, defeat, or stalemate. Another was that they fought most frequently and most desperately to preserve the honor of the living. In Biblical times, a central OT Icon Image for the nature and activity of the Jewish God is that of being the divine warrior (Exod. 15:3; Isa. 42:13; Psalm 24:8). Although this “man of war” image did not conform to European Christianity’s dogma about God as love, there has been the ever presence of a fusion in Christianity of violence and the sacred in institutional forms. Examples are plentiful in history—e.g. the C11-C13 AD Crusades; the C13-C19 Inquisition (gaining confessions through torture for unjust trials); and Middle Ages Feudalism, where religion provided an institutional check on interpersonal violence by integrating the warrior into society.  jabaileymd.com