Mount & Blade 2

Dating Bannerlord

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I often see people describe Bannerlord as being set in the early Dark Ages, but I've been thinking about it and the time periods represented are very broad. However, despite the historical influences being spread quite liberally, I think you can nail it down to a pretty narrow period.

The Imperial political situation screams Crisis of the Third Century to me, but that could be unintentional, or the Byzantine Dark Age (7-8th centuries). If you consider Vlandia (Francia proxy), the loss of the original capital Baravenos (Rome proxy, Pravend in game) and the current state of Pravend (below average population city), that implies a late 5th century Rome at the earliest, but likely a late 8th to early 9th century Rome after the city of Rome was permanently lost but before the Macedonian Dynasty and Golden Age. Militarily, the biggest cues are the Bucellarii, Palatine Guard and Crossbowmen, and the noble line is always important.

  • Bucellarii was a term that came into use at the beginning of the 5th century and Belisarius was famous for being the first to train his Bucellarii to carry both bow and lance (which Bannerlord's don't) in the early 6th century.
  • The Scholae Palatinae originally replaced the cavalry arm of the Praetorian Guard in the early 4th century and existed until the late 11th century. However, they were always cavalry, so the name of this unit in game doesn't make a lot of sense for an elite heavy archer.
  • Crossbowmen are a major part of the Imperial troop tree, implying they are a major part of the military. While there is evidence that Romans used the crossbow as early as 136AD (from horseback no less), the evidence is very thin until the 12th century, suggesting that is was a novelty weapon earlier. In the early 12th century, Anna Komnene describes a crossbow, but claims it is unknown to the Greeks (which is absurd and undermines her credibility as a military expert, but does suggest they were rare enough that a casual commentator might make such a claim). Even after this period, there isn't a lot of evidence that the Byzantines ever used the crossbow in mass (which implies any crossbowmen likely would've been Western mercenaries), so this unit is a bit of a head-scratcher generally, but does suggest late Medieval timing.
  • In the noble line, Cataphracts were used by the Romans for a long time (almost 1500 years), so that doesn't really narrow things down. However, the Vigla Recruit is interesting. The Vigla were established in the late 8th century and lasted until the late 11th century, being particularly prominent in the 9-10th centuries. They were also a cavalry unit, so it makes sense the recruit turns into cavalry immediately.
Read:  Fiefs are distributed unfairly (Bannerlord)

Ignoring the crossbowmen, which seem to be an outlier, the noble line ties to the late 8th century, the Bucellarii are the wrong name (especially being Latin), but the Byzantines were using armoured mounted archers in this period, and the Palatine Guard are also a contemporary name (and the Byzantines were using heavy archers at this time). I think Vigla is the biggest hint being the newest tagmata in the late 8th century, but predating the Hikanatoi founded in 810. That implies a 791-810 start date.

Cross referencing against the borders of the Byzantine Empire in 800, there was:

  1. Narrow contact with Francia – Vlandia
  2. Small border with Beneventum (Lombards) – Battania?
  3. Meaningful border with Southern Slavs (primarily Serbs) – Sturgia
  4. Meaningful border with Turkic peoples (Bulgaria, Khazars), some across the Black Sea – Khuzait
  5. Meaningful border with the Abbasid Caliphate, some across the Eastern Mediterranean – Aserai

Therefore, I think the game is aiming for a roughly 800 AD time period, even if it might pull from a much wider range of times for inspiration. Thoughts?

Source: reddit.com

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