We pretty much know how the process goes with being enlisted in the army: prove your citizenship, pass the ASVAB test, meet the requirements, take the oath of enlistment, and the next thing you know, you’re deployed some thousand miles away from home. But, of course, things were different decades ago. This is how the medieval times handle military recruitment.

Your Family Could Tag Along

The Four Leaders of the First Crusade (1095). (Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

If you think you have separation anxiety and feel like you’re not ready to be deployed away from your family just yet, then you’d envy the soldiers of medieval times. They could bring their family along. Depending on the battle they were engaged in, they could bring along their wives, mothers, children, and even other members of the family. This practice was usually done during the Crusades when tens of thousands marched from Western Europe to Jerusalem. German Historian, Ekkehard rewrote the particulars of his history relating to the First Crusade,

Others confessed that they had been induced to pledge themselves by some misfortune. A great part of them started forth with wife and child and laden with their entire household equipment.

Of course, bringing them along was not without risks, as what happened after was that they encountered a group of Turks who mercilessly killed everyone who couldn’t fight: the clerics, monks, older women, and even the babies.

Formal Training? We Don’t Do That Here.

The military of today is pretty big in training. For example, the Army Basic Combat Training (BCT) lasts about ten weeks; the longest was the Marine Corps, which is approximately 13 weeks.

Formal training did not exist until the early Middle Ages. So, those troops gathered for a battle and participated in drills and exercises, but they primarily relied on their existing skills before joining the army. For instance, hunters were usually already skilled with horsemanship and using weapons.