Soldiers for Sale: Mercenaries from Ancient Times to Medieval Times

Soldiers for Sale: Mercenaries from Ancient Times to Medieval Times

Mercenaries are soldiers who are paid for their martial services from the pocket of their employer and from the spoils obtained in war. Most mercenaries once fought in professional armies before joining the motley ranks of private forces for hire. They have no allegiance to a nation unless that nation pays well and even that may be a temporary arrangement. Even though the terms of service are momentary, their unique skills allow nations the opportunity to procure from the soldiers of fortune what they already have, but may not have access to due to national issues at hand, such as overextending one’s troops and resources because of foreign wars or perhaps domestic issues have deterred the nation’s ability to function properly.

Areas of Habiru (Hapiru, Khabiri, Apiru) activity as reported in the Amarna letters corpus (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Areas of Habiru (Hapiru, Khabiri, Apiru) activity as reported in the Amarna letters corpus (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Apiru / Habiru: Wandering Outcasts

When the Amarna Letters were discovered, the world was introduced to a group of people whom the Egyptians called Apiru or, in Akkadian, Habiru. The Habiru were described as a group of Asians wandering about the Levant, much like the Hebrews. The Sumerians were the first to mention this group as the SA.GAZ as far back as 2500 BC. Hittite texts also refer to them as SA.GAZ.


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