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A warrior is a person specializing in combat or warfare, especially within the context of a tribal or clan-based warrior culture society that recognizes a separate warrior class or caste.

Combat purposeful violent conflict, typically refers to armed conflict or melee

Combat is a purposeful violent conflict meant to weaken, establish dominance over, or kill the opposition, or to drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed.

War Organised and prolonged violent conflict between states

War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.

A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. Clans, in indigenous societies, tend to be exogamous, meaning that their members cannot marry one another. Clans preceded more centralized forms of community organization and government, and exist in every country. Members may identify with a coat of arms or other symbol to show they are an independent clan. The kinship-based bonds may also have a symbolic ancestor, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a symbol of the clan's unity. When this "ancestor" is non-human, it is referred to as a totem, which is frequently an animal.



Warriors seem to have been present in the earliest pre-state societies. Along with hunting, war was considered to be a definitive male activity. No matter the pretext for combat, it seemed to have been a rite of passage for a boy to become a man. Warriors took upon costumes and equipment that seemed to have a symbolic significance; combat itself would be preceded by ritual or sacrifice. Men of fighting age often lived apart in order to encourage bonding, and would ritualise combat in order to demonstrate individual prowess among one another. [1] Most of the basic weapons used by warriors appeared before the rise of most hierarchical systems. Bows and arrows, clubs, spears, and other edged weapons were in widespread use. However with the new findings of metallurgy, the aforementioned weapons had grown in effectiveness. [2]

When the first hierarchical systems evolved 5000 years ago, the gap between the rulers and the ruled had increased. Making war to extend the outreach of their territories, rulers often forced men from lower orders of society into the military role. This had been the first use of professional soldiers —a distinct difference from the warrior communities. [3]

The warrior ethic in many societies later became the preserve of the ruling class. Egyptian pharaohs would depict themselves in war chariots, shooting at enemies, or smashing others with clubs. Fighting was considered a prestigious activity, but only when associated with status and power. European mounted knights would often feel contempt for the foot soldiers recruited from lower classes. In Mesoamerican societies of pre-Columbian America, the elite aristocratic soldiers remained separated from the lower classes of stone-throwers. [4]

In contrast to the belief of the caste and clan based warrior who saw war as a place to attain valor and glory, warfare was a practical matter that could change the course of history. History always showed that men of lower orders who, provided that they were practically organized and equipped, almost always outfought warrior elites through an individualistic and humble approach to war. This was the approach of the Roman legions who had only the incentive of promotion, as well as a strict level of discipline. When Europe's standing armies of the 17th and 18th centuries developed, discipline was at the core of their training. Officers had the role of transforming men that they viewed as lower class to become reliable fighting men. [4]

Inspired by the Ancient Greek ideals of the 'citizen soldier', many European societies during the Renaissance began to incorporate conscription and raise armies from the general populace. A change in attitude was noted as well, as officers were told to treat their soldiers with moderation and respect. For example, men who fought in the American Civil War often elected their own officers. With the mobilization of citizens in the armies sometimes reaching the millions, societies often made efforts in order to maintain or revive the warrior spirit. This trend continues to the modern day. [5] Due to the heroic connotations of the term "warrior", this metaphor is especially popular in publications advocating or recruiting for a country's military. [6]

Women as warriors

While the warrior class in tribal societies is typically all-male, there are some exceptions on record where women (typically unmarried, young women) formed part of the warrior class, particularly in pre-modern Japan.[ citation needed ]

A purported group of fighting women is the legendary Amazons, recorded in Classical Greek mythology. Similarly, the Valkyries are depicted in Norse mythology, particularly the Icelandic Etta. During the Viking Age a type of female warrior was the skjaldmær, or shieldmaiden. Hard historical evidence of non-mythological female warrior classes have been harder to come by, but some studies have been done (e.g. Birka warrior). However, groups of female warriors typically belong in folkelore and mythology, rather than in reality where there were only exceptional cases of women engaging directly in combat roles.

A 2017 study led by Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson produced DNA results confirming the remains excavated in Birka, Sweden, were a female warrior. [7] However, prominent historian and viking specialists, such as Judith Jesch, have disputed the findings, calling their thinking "sloppy" and citing issues of academic validity, including referential errors, a lack of involvement from linguistics experts, and no physical evidence that the skeleton in question actually engaged in any battle. [8] Meanwhile, archaeologist Anna Kjellström, who worked with Hedenstierna-Jonson on the initial study, voiced her own doubts claiming it was clear the "material and the contextual information given... did not match the data". [9]

Many women not only fought on the field[ citation needed ] but led entire hosts of men within Pictish, Brythonic, and Irish tribes in Pre-Christian culture. Boudicca of the Iceni is a famous example of a female leader of warriors, who rebelled against Roman rule in Britain. Tomoe Gozen is celebrated in Japanese history as a woman samurai General in the 12th Century. Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase of the Hundred Years' War. These women survive in few historical testimonies like those of the Byzantine Empire.

Warrior communities

See also

Related Research Articles

Germanic peoples A group of northern European tribes in Roman times

The Germanic peoples were an ethnolinguistic group of Northern European origin identified by Roman-era authors as distinct from neighbouring Celtic peoples, and identified in modern scholarship as speakers, at least for the most part, of early Germanic languages.

Samurai Military nobility of pre-industrial Japan

Samurai (侍) were the military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan.

Vikings Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates

Vikings were Norse seafarers, mainly speaking the Old Norse language, who during the late 8th to late 11th centuries, raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of Europe, and explored westwards to Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. The term is also commonly extended in modern English and other vernaculars to the inhabitants of Norse home communities during what has become known as the Viking Age. This period of Nordic military, mercantile and demographic expansion constitutes an important element in the early medieval history of Scandinavia, Estonia, the British Isles, France, Kievan Rus' and Sicily.

<i>Bushido</i> Moral code of the samurai

Bushidō is a Japanese collective term for the many codes of honour and ideals that dictated the samurai way of life, loosely analogous to the indigenous European concept of chivalry.

The naginata is one of several varieties of traditionally made Japanese blades (nihonto) in the form of a pole weapon. Naginata were originally used by the samurai class of feudal Japan, as well as by ashigaru and sōhei. The naginata is the iconic weapon of the onna-bugeisha-archetype, a type of female warrior belonging to the Japanese nobility.

<i>Hagakure</i> book by Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Hagakure, or Hagakure Kikigaki (葉隠聞書), is a practical and spiritual guide for a warrior, drawn from a collection of commentaries by the clerk Yamamoto Tsunetomo, former retainer to Nabeshima Mitsushige, the third ruler of what is now Saga Prefecture in Japan. Tashiro Tsuramoto compiled these commentaries from his conversations with Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716; however, it was not published until many years afterwards. Written during a time when there was no officially sanctioned samurai fighting, the book grapples with the dilemma of maintaining a warrior class in the absence of war and reflects the author's nostalgia for a world that had disappeared before he was born. Hagakure was largely forgotten for two centuries after its composition, but it came to be viewed as the definitive guide of the samurai during the Pacific War. Hagakure is also known as The Book of the Samurai, Analects of Nabeshima or Hagakure Analects.

Shield-maiden woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior in Scandinavian folklore and mythology

A shield-maiden, in Scandinavian folklore and mythology was a female warrior. They are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks and in Gesta Danorum. Shield-maidens also appear in stories of other Germanic peoples: Goths, Cimbri, and Marcomanni. The mythical valkyries may have been based on the shield-maidens.

Knowledge about military technology of the Viking Age is based on relatively sparse archaeological finds, pictorial representation, and to some extent on the accounts in the Norse sagas and laws recorded in the 14th century.

Thorkell the Tall Jomsviking

Thorkell the Tall, also known as Thorkell the High in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, was a prominent member of the Jomsviking order and a notable lord. He was a son of the Scanian chieftain Strut-Harald, and a brother of Jarl Sigvaldi. Thorkell was the chief commander of the Jomvikings and the legendary stronghold, Jomsborg, on the Island of Wollin. He is also credited as having received the young Cnut the Great into his care and taken Cnut on raids. In the Encomium Emmae, a document aimed at the movers and shakers of the Anglo-Scandinavian court in the early 1040's, describes Thorkell as a great war leader and warrior.

Findabair or Finnabair was a daughter of Ailill and Queen Medb of Connacht in Irish mythology. The meaning of the name is "white phantom". The Dindsenchas also mention a Findabair who is the daughter of Lugaid Laigde.

Yamaga Sokō was a Japanese philosopher and strategist under the Tokugawa shogunate. As a scholar he applied the Confucian idea of the "superior man" to the samurai class of Japan. This became an important part of the samurai way of life and code of conduct.

Endemic warfare

Endemic warfare is a state of continual or frequent warfare, such as is found in some tribal societies.

Horses in warfare History and description of the use of equines in warfare by humans

The first use of horses in warfare occurred over 5,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of horses ridden in warfare dates from Eurasia between 4000 and 3000 BC. A Sumerian illustration of warfare from 2500 BC depicts some type of equine pulling wagons. By 1600 BC, improved harness and chariot designs made chariot warfare common throughout the Ancient Near East, and the earliest written training manual for war horses was a guide for training chariot horses written about 1350 BC. As formal cavalry tactics replaced the chariot, so did new training methods, and by 360 BC, the Greek cavalry officer Xenophon had written an extensive treatise on horsemanship. The effectiveness of horses in battle was also revolutionized by improvements in technology, including the invention of the saddle, the stirrup, and later, the horse collar.

A variety of roles were played by women in post-classical warfare. James Illston says "the field of medieval gender studies is a growing one, and nowhere is this expansion more evident than the recent increase in studies which address the roles of medieval women in times of war....this change in research has been invaluable". He provides a 20-page bibliography of dozens of recent scholarly books and articles, most of them connected to the crusades.

Active warfare throughout history has mainly been a matter for men, but women have also played a role, often a leading one. While women rulers conducting warfare was common, women who participated in active warfare were rare. The following list of prominent women in war and their exploits from about 1500 AD up to about 1700 AD.

Stephen Richard Turnbull is a specialist in Japanese religious history.

<i>Kura</i> (saddle) Japanese traditional saddle

Kura (鞍), is the generic name for the Japanese saddle. The word "kura" is most commonly associated with the saddle used by the samurai class of feudal Japan which was developed from Chinese saddles. Over time the Japanese added elements of their own until the Japanese saddle became an identifiable style, also known as the samurai saddle.

Tim Cook (historian) Canadian military historian and author

Tim Cook is a Canadian military historian and author. Cook is an historian at the Canadian War Museum and the author of several books about the military history of Canada during World War I. Having written extensively about World War I, Cook's focus shifted to Canada's involvement in World War II with the 2014 publication of the first volume in a two-volume series chronicling Canada's role in that war.

Bóndi was the Norse core of society, formed by farmers and craftsmen in the Scandinavian Viking Age, and constituted a widespread middle class. They were free men and enjoyed rights such as the use of weapons and the privilege to join the Thing as farm owners landlords.

Birka female Viking warrior

The Birka female Viking warrior was a woman buried with the accoutrements of an elite professional Viking warrior in a 10th century chamber-grave in Birka, Sweden. Thought to be a male warrior since the grave's excavation in 1889, the remains have been proved to be female by both osteological analysis and a DNA study in 2017. The study concludes the artifacts buried with the woman are evidence she was a high-ranking professional warrior. That conclusion has been disputed as premature by some archaeologists and historians who say the artifacts are not evidence that women were warriors in patriarchal Viking culture. This controversy has contributed to the debate about the gender roles performed by women in Viking society.


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