• Medieval technology and warfare.
  • There's a war between two sides of a continent.
  • Said Continent has a large mountain range crossing the whole land.
  • At the north, there's and opening to this mountain range, large enough for lakes and some small villages to occur (not inhabited anymore, due to war)
  • The passing is some kind of valley, natural space between the mountains.
  • Small groups of people can cross the mountains through other ways, but the death risk and scarcity prevents a large army from doing so.
  • Crossing the passage to the other side unseen is impossible for any army, the area is heavily patrolled.
  • Both forces are similar in strength.
  • The war is ongoing for a long time, let's say around 60-80 years.


Is it plausible to have an ever growing economy around the military camps? Nearby villages providing food and supplies and living a relatively ordinary life there even near the borders? There's an constant risk of death and pillage and rape for anyone that stays near the single battle front. Would that make people want to stay as far as possible or the needs of the military would be more important?

P.S.:I can add more details if requested, but I tried not to make this too broad.

  • $\begingroup$ Am I reading this clearly, you're asking if camps around the battle front would gain economic progress? Is the war actually on going? Is it everyday war or just like post korean war? $\endgroup$
    – Mr.J
    Oct 3 '18 at 2:55
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    $\begingroup$ The Stormlight Archive by Sanderson has this exact thing (single front battle zone for six years, near middle ages tech, and almost villages - likely to become so - springing up everywhere near the front) - might be worth a look if you haven't read them. $\endgroup$
    – LinkBerest
    Oct 3 '18 at 3:09
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that is the question. The war is ongoing, but not on a daily basis as we would see in a front in WW 1. Months of peace followed by outbursts of battles, some falsely made truces to reorganize the stocks and personnel necessary. Some small raids occurring on front line villages, but no major progress made from both sides on those 60-80 years. $\endgroup$
    – Faed
    Oct 3 '18 at 3:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JGreenwell, will look into that! Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Faed
    Oct 3 '18 at 3:14
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    $\begingroup$ The Hundred Years' War seems immediately relevant, or The Thirty Years' War. Armies do not pay for services, they do what is euphemistically referred to as "living of the land", that is, they steal. $\endgroup$
    – StephenG
    Oct 3 '18 at 3:36

Not only is this plausible, it's inevitable

The thing about wars is that they cost money to wage. There will always be people who will want to profit from this situation.

  1. At the beginning of the war, there will be a lot of caravans to supply the army, but this is going to be among the most expensive ways to supply them.
  2. Industrious people will see the opportunity to set up shop to supply the military. That military will be incentivised to protect those shops, farms, blacksmith's, brothels, etc. because that is how they get their day to day needs met.
  3. Initially it won't be anything like a normal village but as it grows over decades, this will become more than a village, but a town with rudimentary fortifications and a strong city watch (probably partnered with the military).
  4. As decades pass this place will be among the largest cities in the kingdom.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Seems quite right what you said. To further this topic, do you think those cities would go into poverty if the war ceased completely? Is their wealth directly linked to the war? $\endgroup$
    – Faed
    Oct 4 '18 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ In the short term a lot of people will suffer from the lack of war spending (if you're one of the 35 blacksmiths in town). However, resourceful people usually find a way. The soldiers they were feeding when the war stopped haven't disappeared, there should be other markets for the food. Also, the town would be on a potentially busy trade route after the war ends. Unless there is something unfavorable about the city's location, it would end up no more poverty stricken than any other city in the country (after a period of adjustment). $\endgroup$
    – Mathaddict
    Oct 4 '18 at 14:05

Yes, there must be a growing economy somewhere nearby, but it would be simple mass production.

Soldiers stationed at a stable battlefront need tons of provisions. That's one reason why in medieval times armies were disbanded after the end of the war or wandered further around to find new victims to plunder.

There have to be a lot of farms around with fields and husbandry to grow enough food for the soldiers. There have to be craftsmen around to produce cloth for uniforms, weapons and ammunitions and whatever you need for your daily life. There would definitely be a bunch of brothels around.

But all these farmers and workers want to avoid being attacked themselves, so they put up their homes as far away as possible, but within range of the barracks and camps. The best distance is what you can barely cover in one day with a loaded wagon drawn by one horse.

To sum it up:

  • You have the mountain pass as center point of interest.

  • A little ways behind that is a semi-circle of millitary barracks and camps. They include workshops for weapon smiths.

  • Inside the barracks or right beside them are small inns with stables for merchants and farmers bringing provisions.

  • You would find brothels in close proximity to the barracks.

  • In a wide semi-circle around the barracks you have farms and small villages with workshops.

  • A spiderweb of merchants roads would spread out from there to deliver more provisions and materials that cannot be harvested in that area (like metals)


Only if it is a professional and no mercenary army.

As already mentioned in the comments in the Hundred Years War and especially in the Thirty Year War the armies plundered and pillaged everything in their way. Especially in the latter war the civil casaulties where horrific as Central Europe lost nearly a third of its population.

Especially bad were the marauding mercenaries as they had no fix income and no discipline. The imperial troops where a less harsh as they had at least some pay and sometimes the generals tried to recompensate the farmers for their losses.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in the Middle Ages there were only small contingents of standing armies. Most troops were recruited or conscribed in the case of war. So maybe the king of your medieval country has some kind of conscription system where a part of your population is used for the army whilst another part can tend to their home and fields and after a time some soldiers were released from their service and in change new recruits come from the villages. This would also reduce the risk of looting as nobody wants to raze their own village.

If a proper military discipline is maintained the scenario would likely be like Elmy's answer already pictured.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I see, so I need a professional military for that, not depending on commoners force. Also a lot of discipline not to torn the country apart by its own army. Thank you $\endgroup$
    – Faed
    Oct 4 '18 at 3:00

If the war continues...

Wars cost money. Soldiers need to be paid and people who get paid spend money. The two nations will be taxing the populous to support the armies at the border. Money will be flowing north along with provisions and equipment. The money will lead entrepreneurs to found various support systems for the off duty soldiers, brothels, taverns, etc. It would be the classic boom town except instead of drilling for oil, they drill for blood.

The people making money off of the soldiers will have their own needs, leading towards more general production of clothing and other less venal luxuries.

Of course any army of size deployed forward, will need a long and impressive tail, so shipping and support for the shipping will be a major economic component. Cartwrights, farriers, teamsters will all abound. There may be some secondary development as the returning carts, won't want to deadhead and will look for something to ship back south even if the profit is only marginal.

The city supporting the army will grow off of taxes as long the war progresses.

A real world example is the small cities that build up around US overseas military bases.



Economic growth has lots of variables. Trade, commerce, population growth, technological advancement. These can be seen by the opposing kingdom, which CAN attack you whenever they want.

For example, you're inventing a car, then a catapult is fired and the munition fell right on top of your car, along with the drawings you have done. Or the person with the answer on how to cure common cold suddenly got shot a an arrow during a night raid.

Progress will be particularly slow and small compared to a kingdom in peace. A warring kingdom will focus its treasury on weapons, armors, food and cloth. While a peaceful kingdom can focus on other things, specially things that can increase its treasury, leaving the army an asset but not a priority.


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