The Reisläufer were a formidable group of mercenary soldiers who rose to prominence during the 15th and 16th centuries in Central Europe. They were renowned for their ferocity and effectiveness in battle and were sought after by various rulers and military commanders. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of Reisläufer troops and how they were used in battles.
The Reisläufer were primarily Swiss mercenaries who were recruited from the cantons of Switzerland. The name "Reisläufer" comes from the German word "Reise," which means "campaign" or "expedition," and "Läufer," which means "runner" or "messenger." The Reisläufer were known for their mobility and their ability to quickly respond to changing battlefield situations.
One of the defining characteristics of the Reisläufer was their use of the pike. The pike was a long, spear-like weapon that was typically 16 to 18 feet in length. The Reisläufer would form tight formations called "pike squares" or "schiltrons" that were made up of rows of soldiers armed with pikes. These formations were incredibly effective at repelling cavalry charges and could hold their ground against even the heaviest of cavalry charges.
In addition to the pike, the Reisläufer were also skilled with the halberd, a weapon that combined a long polearm with an axe-like blade and a hook. The halberd was particularly effective against armored opponents, as the hook could be used to pull an opponent off his horse or to pull an opponent's armor off.
The Reisläufer were also known for their proficiency with firearms. They were particularly skilled with the arquebus, a type of musket that was commonly used in the 16th century. The Reisläufer were able to quickly reload and fire their arquebuses, allowing them to provide covering fire for their pike formations.
One of the key tactics employed by the Reisläufer was the use of terrain. They would often choose battlefield locations that gave them an advantage, such as narrow passes or steep hillsides. They would also construct obstacles, such as ditches or pits, to impede the progress of cavalry charges.
The Reisläufer were also skilled at ambushes and surprise attacks. They would often hide in wooded areas or behind hills and launch surprise attacks on unsuspecting opponents. This tactic was particularly effective against larger armies, as the Reisläufer were able to strike quickly and then withdraw before the enemy could respond.
The Reisläufer were typically organized into companies, which were led by a captain. These companies were typically made up of around 100 to 200 soldiers. The captains were often experienced soldiers who had risen through the ranks and had earned the respect of their men.
One of the unique features of the Reisläufer was their system of pay. Unlike other mercenaries, who were paid a fixed salary, the Reisläufer were paid based on their performance. The captain would receive a lump sum of money from the employer, and then distribute the money among his men based on their performance in battle. This system encouraged the soldiers to perform well, as they knew that their pay was directly tied to their success on the battlefield.
The Reisläufer were used in a variety of ways on the battlefield. One of their primary roles was to form a defensive line to protect other troops. Their pike formations were particularly effective at repelling cavalry charges and could hold their ground against even the heaviest of attacks. The Reisläufer were also used as shock troops. They would be deployed to break through enemy lines.