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MILITIA (Fr. milice, Ger. Miliz, from...

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 449 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MILITIA (Fr. milice, Ger. Miliz, from Lat. miles, soldier, militia, military service), a term used generally for organized military forces which are not professional in character and not permanently embodied. All ancient armies, with the exception of the personal guards of their leaders, were militias or national levies, remaining under arms for the war or the campaign and returning to their ordinary occupations at the close of each military episode. Militias such as those of the Greek city-states and that of Rome were of course highly trained to the use of arms; so were the barbarian " nations in arms "; which overcame the professionalized Roman armies of the Empire; and although in the Eastern Empire these new fighting elements were absorbed into a fully organized regular arm, in the West the tribal militia system gradually developed into feudalism. The noble and the knight indeed spent the greater part of their lives in the field and devoted themselves from their youth to the cult of arms, but the feudal tenantry, who were bound to give forty days' war service and no more, and the burghers who, somewhat later in the history of civilization, formed the efficient garrisons of the walled towns were true militias. The English Yeomanry indeed almost ruled the battlefield. In the 15th century the introduction of firearms began to weigh down the balance in favour of the professional soldier. Artillery was always the arm of the specialist. The development of infantry, " fire-power," with the early arquebus and musket, called for the highest skill and steadiness in the individual soldier, and cavalry too adopted the new weapon in the form of long and expensive wheel-lock pistols. In the new military organization there was no place for the unprofessional soldier. The role of the unprofessional combatant, generally speaking, was that of an insurgent—harassing small detachments of the enemy, cutting off stragglers, and plundering convoys. Towards the end of the first civil war in England (1645) the country-folk banded themselves together to impose a peace on the two warring armies, but their menace was without effect, and they were easily disarmed by Fairfax and Cromwell, who did not even trouble to hold them as prisoners. The calling out of the arriere ban of Franche-Comte in 1675 displayed its ludicrous inefficiency, and thereafter in France, which set the fashion to
End of Article: MILITIA (Fr. milice, Ger. Miliz, from Lat. miles, soldier, militia, military service)
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