The entire Khangates of the Mongolian empire recruited soldiers and resources of conquered states. Of course these soldiers at most times were recruited against their will. Is it the threat of the slaughter of kindred that essentially forces these soldiers into the ruling army? Taking into account, the language barrier, different religious affiliations and obvious cultural differences, will cohesiveness of such an army be possible? If so, how exactly is it done? Kublai Khan's army experienced this problem, with the Chinese and Korean armies amalgamated into his. Perhaps this was the reason for his inability to conquer Japan (other factors too contributed).

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    $\begingroup$ What sort of organization or historical period did you have in mind? A medieval army raised by a king is going to have a very different solution to this problem than a modern one backed by a nation-state. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Nov 10 '19 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ Ancient ( drawing influences from the Persian, Holy Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman empires etc) $\endgroup$ – user70311 Nov 10 '19 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ "Of course these soldiers at most times were recruited against their will": citation strongly needed. I don't even understand why you would think that the soldiers were somehow morally opposed to fight for the Great Khan; why would they? Why on Earth would a medieval soldier even care what was the name of the emperor or what language the emperor spoke? You may be projecting modern ideology (nation-states, etc.) into the ancient and medieval world. This is incorrect; the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Nov 10 '19 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps...completely noted! $\endgroup$ – user70311 Nov 10 '19 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ There wasn't much nationalism around before about the 18th century. Soldiers didn't really care much about those things. Religious affiliations also didn't mean much. Language barriers... for what? You didn't have much communication ability in an army in the first place; most armies only had one or two signals to work with. It's not like they had radios. Cultural differences? Keep in mind people in an army are subdivided into groups. The Germans will be in the German "contingents", the Indians in the Indian (and each further subdivided according to what those people care about, besides money). $\endgroup$ – Luaan Nov 11 '19 at 8:42

In historical practice this varied widely. It really depends on so much going on in the world at that time, what the societies look like, how big the armies are, etc. Here are just two examples of how this could work in your story:

To face a larger threat

Philip II of Macedon had quire remarkable victory at the Battle of Chaeronea, which wiped out most of the fighting forces of Thebes and Athens. He had basically conquered the main fighting force of the Greek city states, and had he marched through Greece, he undoubtedly would have wiped through the country. However, Philip didn't go to Greece to conquer it - he wanted Greece on his side so (a) he didn't have to worry about them while fighting Persia, and (b) he could use their forces to fight Persia. After this decisive battle, the League of Corinth was set up, effectively unifying all Greece (sans Sparta) under Philip as a hegemony (which, from a military perspective, basically made them a puppet state of Macedon). All the remaining fighting forces of Greece were essentially recruited into the Macedonian army, under Philip's authority. The advantage to the soldiers was:

  • They won't die fighting Macedon, which would have been the near-guaranteed outcome
  • Their home city-states can maintain some sense of independence from Macedon (their own taxes, laws, etc) instead of being subjugated entirely.
  • By helping Philip fight Persia, they can might be able to liberate captured city-states from Persia and help re-instate trade routes
  • Prevent Persia from conquering Macedon, as Persia was clearly set on conquering everyone and Philip was at least nice enough to give them some independence. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, I guess.
  • Gain victory and glory by fighting the great evil that is Persia

To gain wealth or social status

Most ancient societies had some type of cast system. Even if it was not strictly defined, movement from rich to poor was difficult if not impossible. The Romans had a weird system where the wealthy were encouraged to be "patrons" (coming from "pater" which means "father") - a type of social father, so to speak - by being generous and giving to the arts, to the poor, etc. But land was held and owned by the wealthy alone.

All resource comes from the land. Food, mining, wood, etc. A Roman citizen with little or no land would have no way to gain land by any economic means. It happened, but so very rarely. Land is precious. Land is wealth. Roman soldiers were often promised their base wages (most numbers put this around 225 denarii a year, but it fluctuated), but on successful conquest or retirement they were also promised land - and with that land a lump some of money (as a "veteran benefit" - usually for soldiers were were around 25/30 years). This would give the soldier - and their families - the only realistic path forward out of their social class, and to gain wealth.

Now, Rome only allowed Roman citizens to join the army (they even had to pay for their own military gear!), but there were times (eg, Julius Caesar in Gaul) where their army was not big enough. As Julius was stomping around Gaul, invading, conquering, killing, pillaging, there were a few times where he did recruit Gauls to help him fight. A noticeable example was with Vercingetorix, where Caesar used some Gallic troops, promising them a portion of spoils, or land, or whatever to (a) get them to stop annoying him, and (b) put down Vercingetorix. Granted, Caesar often put these troops in vulnerable positions to kill them off, or cheated them on the payout.

But think from the perspective of the Gallic troops: they're already conquered, and provoking Caesar means he just kills them all. They've lost a lot of land and resources fighting him, and now they lost the war. If they recruit in and fight for Caesar, then they can move from poor to rich. If they don't, Caesar will eventually take Gaul anyway. Why not help him and get your only chance and moving up in the world?

  • $\begingroup$ Of course, forgive me for the complete ancient history novice I am 😓 $\endgroup$ – user70311 Nov 10 '19 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ @ChagatNahn nothing to forgive! There is no point to a question and answer site if nobody has questions ;) $\endgroup$ – cegfault Nov 10 '19 at 20:04

From the perspective of an individual soldier in an ancient army, there's really no difference before and after the amalgamation. Regiments will continue to be raised primarily from one part of the empire: say, three from Alicevania, two from Bobtopia, one from Evopolis. If you're a Bobtopian slinger, you serve in a regiment that is almost if not entirely Bobtopian in origin. There may be a few Alicevanians in the general's coterie, but that's none of your business, and it's not something you'll have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. On the battlefield, your officers tell you where to maneuver and who to attack, and (usually) that's the end of it. There's no incoherence on account of cultural, language, religious, or other difference because you're kept separate from each other.

Of course, ancient armies tended to be rather draconian and armies in general don't love deserters, but there's no special threat needed to compel you to fight. You fight for the same reason that you always did: because the king or whoever tells you to. The king might be doing so at the behest of another king, or indeed an emperor, but that's not your concern. Your concern is to finish your time and go home with a big bag full of plunder (or a tax exemption, or citizenship for your family, or some other reward). The idea of nationalism and the inalienable sovereignty of the state being important to the common people is far in the future.

As for the people whose business this is, well, they have their own reasons for capitulating. Presumably they were either uninterested in fighting the empire or were defeated, and that situation hasn't changed. They will have to cooperate with their new rulers, and there are some logistical hurdles there (languages being an obvious example) - but this is on the scale of a few dozen people. These issues can be sorted out.

Note that although this will minimize the impact of differences between parts of your empire, it won't do anything about animosity between them. The British Empire, for instance, had occasional issues when deploying regiments side by side that came from historically opposing groups - like Scots and Irishmen, or Scots and English, or Scots and other Scots. Commanders would have to consider the temperaments of the individual units and how they were likely to interact when deciding on an order of battle.

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    $\begingroup$ Ah, if I'm in understanding, you are implying that a separation of these amalgamated armies would offer some sort of order? $\endgroup$ – user70311 Nov 10 '19 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ @ChagatNahn Essentially, yes. Even if your troops are all from the same place, you don't normally keep them in one big mass - there are different regiments in different parts of the empire, different wings and formations in the same battle, etc. These forces are cooperating and coordinating on the command level, but they don't need to cooperate on the level of individual soldiers. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Nov 10 '19 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, perfectly understood. Much thanks! $\endgroup$ – user70311 Nov 10 '19 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ TL;DR: Scots don't get along with other people. $\endgroup$ – Gloweye Nov 11 '19 at 9:12
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    $\begingroup$ Alicevania? Bobtopia? If ever there is a job opening for naming the new Martian colonies, I hope that you will apply. $\endgroup$ – DrMcCleod Nov 11 '19 at 10:13

Is it the threat of the slaughter of kindred that essentially forces these soldiers into the ruling army?

That's a possible reason, but the overriding one is that they are soldiers, no work, no pay, they'll starve to death.

So either they just work for a new employer who has been proven to be successful and might make them wealthy, or they run away and grub around in the dirt trying to make a living in constant danger of being killed.

Of course these soldiers at most times were recruited against their will.

Quite often these soldiers were recruited against their will by their own leaders as well, the lower ranks anyway.

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    $\begingroup$ Of course. Resentment can't feed the stomach. Much thanks! $\endgroup$ – user70311 Nov 10 '19 at 12:02
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    $\begingroup$ @ChagatNahn It should be noted that at the time of Genghis Khan, armies fought for spoils. Basically joining an army is a business venture where you risk life instead of money in search of profit. Yes, for individual soldiers desertion are punished but not for their lords/owners/commanders who really decides weather his army should join or leave. Genghis' greatest ability is bringing tribal lords/leaders together - that's what it means to "raise" an ancient army $\endgroup$ – slebetman Nov 11 '19 at 5:06

The soliders might not have any concept of nation, or who the boss of the boss of the boss of the village headman is. Look at European history -- often the court of the king spoke a different language than the peasantry.

There is religion, and there is a social order, and the potential soldiers are at the bottom of the order and people on top tell them what to do.

The development of a nation (and of a flag larger numbers of people would fight and die for) came much later.

  • $\begingroup$ How was it then that the Holy Roman Empire amassed such a massive force and it did? Although the exaggeration of events and numbers of soldiers in an army in ancient times was not uncommon. $\endgroup$ – user70311 Nov 10 '19 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure this answer is entirely accurate. Slaves and second-class citizens were forbidden by law from joining the Roman army, for example. There's a record somewhere of two soldiers being flogged and kicked out for lying about being Roman citizens. This means that soldiers are NOT at the bottom of the order - not in Rome, at least. In Greece we know that many landowners ended up fighting as soldiers, and in Sparta all adult men were required to participate in the military. Maybe some countries used those at the bottom, but clearly not everyone. $\endgroup$ – cegfault Nov 10 '19 at 13:03
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    $\begingroup$ @ChagatNahn: The Holy Roman Empire never ever ever amassed a massive force; it was actually notoriously weak, "not at all holy, nothing to do with Rome, and not really an empire". You may be confusing the HRE (sort of the medieval and early modern precursor of the European Union) with the Roman Empire (an ancient and medieval actual for-real empire). The two have nothing in common, except that very occasionally the HRE pretended that Rome and northern Italy were part of it (they were not). $\endgroup$ – AlexP Nov 10 '19 at 14:17
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the clarity! I just recently started venturing into ancient history. $\endgroup$ – user70311 Nov 10 '19 at 16:40

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