(This part is pretty hand-wavy, and only exists to provide context for a fun thought-experiment/fictional story. Feel free to skip to next paragraph) In 1943, the Soviet Union has developed what they believe to be a teleportation device. They can only fit one rifle squad within this device, so they hand-pick an elite squad of volunteers, equip them with loads of ammunition, and test it by attempting to send the volunteers from Moscow to the front. Unbeknownst to them, they had accidentally created a time travel device, that sent the soldiers back in time to 1066 England, the beginning of the reign of William the Conqueror. The device is destroyed in this first use, but the Russians are delivered safely to Medieval England. Being good strong Russian soldiers, they waste little time bemoaning their situation (once they realize what has happened, which will likely take some time to piece together. Like a lot of time) and quickly decide that if life gives you lemons, you might as well set yourselves up as the new rulers of England right? This is a time of political upheaval in England to begin with, and there were already some uprisings against the new king as it was.

The question, then, is as follows. Can a single Russian rifle squad use their massive advantage in military technology to outweigh their equally massive disadvantage in numbers, and set themselves up as rulers? All of their weaponry is in good working order, and they are the cream of the crop of the 1943 Russian military. They have extra ammunition, basically as much as they could carry, but have no hope of ever resupplying. They will likely be seen as gods or wizards by many, because of their firepower. Also, it should be possible for them to recruit help, at least at some level, given William's relative unpopularity.

The Soviet Rifle Squad is made up of eleven men, armed according to the attached graphic. enter image description here Clearly they have an incredible advantage in any direct fighting with even numbers, and great mobility as compared to any army large enough to fight them. However, they must seek to avoid large scale conflicts that would take all of their ammo to win, because a rifle without bullets is an expensive club. I am looking for political and military strategies they can use to successfully topple William, and set themselves up as rulers.

Note: for the purposes of this question, please ignore some of the more obvious problems here, such as language differences, and the issue of diseases being brought back by the Russians and wiping out the continent. Valid concerns, but for this thought experiment I am primarily focused on what military/political strategies the Russians could use, as well as what the best course would be for William to retain his throne. If I have made assumptions or incorrect statements regarding either the Russian element or Medieval element, or if there is extra info that would be helpful, please use the comments and I will edit as soon as I can. This idea of a small modern force seeking to conquer a medieval country has been kicking around in my head for a while now, and I am very curious to hear from some people with more expertise/knowledge than I.

Edit: Some "Answers" so far have surrounded the fact that there is a massive numerical disadvantage. This is obvious. If there is in fact no way to overcome this, that's a valid opinion, but what would be the best way to try? I'm fine with them getting a little way and ending in failure, this is actually probably better so as not to disrupt the historical timeline, but what strategy might they attempt?

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented May 28, 2020 at 2:47
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    $\begingroup$ Why on earth was this excellent question closed??? $\endgroup$
    – Frank
    Commented May 28, 2020 at 5:52

11 Answers 11


I'll offer an alternative to the majority of 'NO' answers:

Upon arrival, these 11 men would be the most accomplished military force on the planet, with weapons and combat experience garnered from a war the likes of which the medieval world could hardly imagine. Of course, they are seriously outnumbered. The population of England at the time (according to the Domesday book) was reportedly ~1.5 million. Of course not all of them were soldiers, in fact, at maximum lords could extract 20% of their peasant workforce as primitive troops before famine may become a significant threat due to the lack of farmers. So the Russians could expect to face 300,000 peasants at max before the country began to collapse due to the shortages in labour forces. Also bare in mind around 1066 the king's military was already stretched fighting the Normans, and the King wasn't exactly popular, and I doubt could get even 20% of the population to fight.

The Russians could cause immediate destruction, devastating the feudal system of the time. By starting fires, and killing high-ranking officials, they could terrify local populations, and gain support through tyranny -- something Russians from 1943 were well-versed in. This would involve conserving the use of their weapons, only employing them in front of crowds to exercise authority. High-ranking officials who refuted them would be murdered with alarming speed. By the time news had spread to the king (which travelled at the speed of a horse) the Russians could have exploited the feudal 'pyramid of command', replacing local lords high up the pyramid, and holding reign over a large area of land and peasant population. By forcing lords below them to obey, immense power could be gained very quickly.

Many have mentioned the language barrier, although I'd point out 'Old English' was divided into numerous dialects at the time, due to the significantly less globalised world. There was no centralised 'English language', making language barriers very common, and not as destructive to politics as some may suggest. It is also fairly common to quickly adopt a native language if surrounded by it -- exchange students use this principle to learn foreign languages at a high speed and quality.

The majority of the medieval population was superstitious, and religion was mandatory. If the Russians could frame themselves as prophets, I believe they could manipulate a sizeable proportion of the population by preaching Communism (which I believe would look extremely attractive to a medieval peasant population) instead of Christianity.

If the King could somehow withdraw his forces away from the Normans to face against the Russians, they would have already began assembling their own medieval forces. Production of primitive firearms were still not yet viable due to the poor machining techniques of the time, but cannons may have been possible due to their simplicity, should the Russians know the recipe for gunpowder.

By the time the King's army finally arrived, word of the Russians would have spread to the surrounding parishes and counties. The King may experience resistance in his own population, and defectors within his army. If the King failed to attack early, his army may well disintegrate entirely. Any attempts to siege the Russians would fail due to the vast area of land they control. The King would be trapped between the Normans and the Russians.

If 11 men had prepared to invade modern England, they would've brought a lot of ammunition and demolition equipment. If the King attacked, a single machine gun set-up in a defensive position (e.g: castle) could flatten hundreds of men before the King's archers were even within range. The King's army most likely, upon being so heavily damaged before even engaging the Russian's army, would collapse and flee (many disloyal medieval forces collapsed under far lighter threats, such as cavalry charges, etc. What about machine guns?) If the King turned up himself, expect him to be sniped.

Over the course of many years, the rest of England would be slowly seized from the Normans or the king, through political subversion or direct force. The New Russia would outperform the rest of England in almost every aspect - medicine, agriculture, literacy, manufacturing, and rapidly accelerate towards the Enlightenment era many hundreds of years before its actual occurrence. Of course, the Russian soldiers may not known much about crop rotation, manufacture of penicillin or gunpowder weapons, but simply instructing people to not do this would go a long way, and you'd be surprised by how much general knowledge we today deem primitive and commonplace would be of immense use to a medieval society.

  • $\begingroup$ Well thought out answer, but you don't need to bold every point you make. It's visually jarring, and the people who browse this website aren't the kinds of people who skim textbooks and only look at the bold and italics - we'll read your entire post all the way through, no bolding required. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ Very good answer, thank you. $\endgroup$
    – LoganP98
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 15:47

As a wily local Baron, I'm skilled in intrigue and deception. As a skilled Feudal warrior myself, I recognize the difference between offensive and defensive weapons and tactics, the proper uses of different weapons, and defenses against those weapons.

I'll quickly recognize that these are not gods carrying magic wands. Those are men carrying weapons, powerfully capable, but understandable.

I'll easily separate those men from their weapons...likely by using the nearest brothel. There are only 11 of them; they must sleep sometime.

Once the group is separated from their weapons, then they are just young men. I'll simply torture one of those soldiers until he shows me how the weapons work. Then some quick knife work and toss the whole squad into a shallow grave.

Those secret weapons will, with a bit of intrigue to keep their use secret, guarantee ME the throne!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, but then by extension, how do they guarantee you (the baron) the throne? $\endgroup$
    – ammut
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ It's that whole "skilled in intrigue" thing. Powerful weapons that nobody else can possess could be used as a political bargaining chip in many, many ways. Maybe I'll marry myself a princess and poison a few of her brothers. Maybe I'll worm my cronies into the army and stage a coup. Maybe I'll curry favor at court with a false rebellion that I put down. Maybe I'll extort funds and power with the threat of assassination. So many possibilities to grab wealth and power from this opportunity. The weapons, used properly, have great value in all these intrigues.. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, assassination seems like a key potential. Open battlefields are one thing... but taking out a prominent opponent in the middle of London from several hundred yards with a single shot and minimal signs of where it came from? That'll do. $\endgroup$
    – ceejayoz
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ @ceejayoz Considering the era, it's likely to be taken to be a thunderbolt from God, opening up a number of other avenues for intrigue. $\endgroup$
    – Graham
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 22:15

It depends on Leadership, Ability to Learn, Cunning and Political Acumen

So obviously modern era weaponry (even with limited ammunition) will give you a tactical advantage over any one you meet on an individual level.

The primary 'purpose' of your weapons in this context is however mainly that you can force someone to listen to you or take notice of you. That's all.

In the time they take notice of you, you need to convince them:

  • You are worthy of their attention
  • You are good leadership material for them
  • You understand their needs now and in the future
  • You persuade them their future is better if you are their leader, than their current king

This will be difficult because of the following challenges which would need to be overcome:

  • You need to keep your group together. Leadership needs to be really strong. All you need is for one of your team to disagree or splinter off to form a rival faction, or have a mental breakdown, and all is lost.
  • You need to learn their language quickly, and be deft at sensing their customs. You need a leader that is educated and capable of learning on the fly.
  • You need to have a leader that is persuasive, somehow adept at political cunning and acumen, that can persuade disgruntled Lords, Barons and other leadership figures that you can further their own cause by joining you. You need willing local support that will selfishly follow you (or 'use' you to further their own ambitions).

Historically, many monarchial structures have been overthrown by a lot less, and even by foreign forces and individuals, however the important thing to remember is they need to have local support because they are seen as politically expedient. Weapons alone will not win a political game, only political cunning in a supporting political environment can.

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    $\begingroup$ This is the sort of answer I was looking for, makes a lot of sense and doesn't just dismiss the problem out of hand. Thank you, this may be the one I choose. $\endgroup$
    – LoganP98
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 5:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good answer. Similar to a squad with grav belts and disintegrator pistols showing up today. Whether or not they can tip the balance in a battle, a smart person will at least listen to what they say and recognise that their knowledge may be more valuable than their equipment. $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2020 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ The small problem is that this answer does not take into account the given date. It is war-time. In 1066 the French-speaking Normas were already at war with the local Old-English-speaking Anglo-Saxon nobility; the conquest did not end until 1070-1071. They were at high alert and high readiness, and would not take lightly the emergence of a new faction. The beleaguered Guards Rifles squad in literally taking on an army for Vikings with a very thin veneer of civilization on them. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP People are very unpredictable in these situations - especially in times of conflict where people are more likely to look out for their own survival. This could be the opportunity that never historically presented itself to them - for instance a cunning leader could give the impression he has allies already, and that in war time no one should rely on any pre-existing alliances to come to their aid. War time is when both the best and the worst in human nature reveals themselves, both trust and mistrust, capability and incompetence, knowledge and ignorance, all exist together at this time. $\endgroup$
    – flox
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 8:27
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    $\begingroup$ @flox: So a bunch of Russian-speaking infantry soldiers, who have an extremely distorted idea of how feudalism works ($\leftarrow$ Historical and Dialectical Materialism was never into nuances, or into explaining why people put up with the various modes of production), will give the impression that they are powerful lords and insinuate themselves into the closely knit Norman feudal hierarchy? Those people who have literally no family in a time when ties of blood were of paramount importance? Those people who have no idea who the major players are? Who know nada about the military of the day? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 8:33

Failure to plan is planning to fail

This is eleven Russians with awful, terrible weapons. They lose any fight very fast. Seven of the weapons are Mosin-Nagats (M1981/30), a bolt-action rifle with a five-round clip, and I'm going to assume that these are Soviet mass-produced Mosin Nagats to boot, very rough and shoddy weapons. Still could function perfectly fine, but perfectly fine is, again, a five-round clip of a bolt action rifle. The two Tokarovs (SVT-40) are slightly better - it's not bolt-action and it can hold ten rounds. The PPSh is a lot more impressive, as it the DT, but they both suffer from problems when it comes to accuracy, not to mention that their rate of fire now works against them - both weapon chew through bullets.

A force to be reckoned with against a peasant mob, sure. Even against militia, they'll be useful. However, they lack the ability to perform any kind of meaningful siege, not to mention that on an open battlefield, due to their lack of armor, they're susceptible to massed arrow fire, and they don't have the means to stop them. If they get lucky and manage to find something defensible, they can hold ground, but they can be easily starved out should it come to that.

The most viable option is for the company to form a defensive position at the first town they find and hoard the food there in preparation for a siege. At that point, they have a base to defend, and they can prove their worth. Hypothetically, this would give them a negotiating position which they could then leverage to be signed on as a mercenary force. However, that's not the case because they can't communicate due to the language barrier. Not to mention that, given this is 1066, guns don't exist and neither do cannons, so they'll be labeled as magicians of some kind. (The fact that they'll look different from everyone else, given that they're Russian from 1943 won't help.) And, again, given the year 1066, the locals are always up for a good witch hunt.

The Russian aren't likely to know English, and even if they do, the version of 1066 is vastly different from the modern equivalent. A broken modern English would be detrimental because all that will do is lead to miscommunication. It's possible that a translator who knew 1066 Russian would be able to communicate with them, but there's no reasonable assumption that a translator who could do that would be nearby, given that Russia wasn't a player in European politics at that time.

Ultimately, a lack of preparation and resources on the Russian's part cannot be overcome by applying clever stratagems. The most likely outcome is the majority of the Russian being killed after valiantly attempting a last stand and the last few getting tortured to death by eager Europeans desperate for information on how to create their weapons, and the Russians being unable to respond.

  • $\begingroup$ Fair answer, thank you. The language concern is valid, though as I said in the question, not really a problem for the thought experiment. Without the language issue, could they use their weapons to kill a few people in power, take their armies, and move forward from there? Also wondering if their witch/wizard status could be used in their favor. $\endgroup$
    – LoganP98
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 4:44
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @LoganP98 No. You can't kill a general and then instantly gain command of his armies, not without paying off or coercing the rest of them, both of which are impossible given the language barrier, and would be incredibly difficult even without it. Same goes for 'witch/wizard' status - the only advantage they'd get is that it'd be good for scaring illiterate peasants. (Actually, come to think of it, they might get mistaken for demons.) $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ You can't kill a general and then instantly gain command of his armies you may need not to, just the fact the enemy is in disarray and uncoordinated may be enough to live another day and try something new in the context of the gained security. $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2020 at 6:30
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    $\begingroup$ There were no witch hunts in the 11th century... Witch hunts are an Early Modern phenomenon, not a medieval phenomenon. And it was the French-speaking Normans who had the upper hand in the war raging over England at that time... A knowledge of Old English would have been only mildly useful. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 7:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your take on the world's history is interesting. Kievan Rus at the time was probably one of the most powerful and advanced states in Europe. Anne of Kiev is the queen of France, the daughter of King Harold himself would marry a Kievan prince in 8 years. Don't know what else you need to be a player in European politics. $\endgroup$
    – vvotan
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 11:09

I'd say that their biggest problems is knowing the language and people and the political situation..etc.

But I'd go with something like this: First the goal is to recreate certain modern tech if possible. Medicine, electricity...etc. But the most important one is ammunition actually. As war never changes, you need ammo. So if you can fix that then you can actually have a solid start. I think they were drafted anyway so might as well have an electrical engineer and surgeon...etc

But how to take over the country? I can see 3 possible ways.

  1. Playing the political game as people do. Claims, royalty...etc
  2. Setting themselves as demi gods or angels or something like that. Which is not a fantastic ideas as people are not stupid enough to just believe that because they have a loud tube that can kill people it means they are god.
  3. Change the rules. They are Soviets, right? Start a new revolution and using Marxist propaganda they can preach of a new utopia. I'll focus on that.

Each path is unique but I think they will lead to the basics of how to rise to power and use it. They start small. Align themselves with a lord or town. Then they help people there using superior military arms and tactics. Like they just try to be a group of mercs and if they kill enough people a lord or a town might hire them.

The goal at first is to have a homebase and have loyal followers. Using the Marxist ideas might not be such a bad idea as the masses might be into that more.

Now for the fighting, either to defend their land or attack that earl that wants to retake his city, they have to relay on themselves being shock troopers and fight accordingly.

I'd say they use something like a testudo and fire from behind the protection of the shields. That way they won't even have to be in any risk. They can also construct something like an armored car. Just metal and wood on a wheeled frame, they actually existed, and they can fire from that safety.

But again their greatest ally is actual traditional military tactics. Discipline, maneuvers, superior officers...etc.

This is actually an important point as we know that that level of professionalism is not something too common back in the day. So if they can produce actual competent officers then even a 1 to 1 battle will end in their favor as their officers are much quicker on their feet.

Again here is a good place to start creating early cannons and early firearms. The above inventions would radically change their armament and guarantee their superiority. And again they actually know how to use firearms and cannons, even early ones.

So no more having trouble with coordination between cavalry, artillery, and infantry. No more not understanding how weather conditions gunpowder or that you aim for the center of mass. And especially training the men to actually shoot and kill, none of that shot above the enemies crap.

So just inventing a competent army with WWII theory would change the world.

The first city is of course the hardest. But after that it's simply a matter of organization.

Copy the Soviet formula. Create the party, have a crap ton of spies to the point of having 1 in every 3 people being one, control the entire state, fund massive public projects, control the food and the farms...etc. This is not about supporting the USSR, Marx, or Stalin. I'm merely talking about history and what is logical for a group of USSR soldiers to do.

Anyway as I was saying trying to create a whole new regime is not that hard if you actually have a group of people with enough skill and intelligence to start it.

Appeal to people with popular ideas and images. Hire the disgruntled and utilize those landless and powerless. Creating a core of fanatic believers is, again, tough at first. But we all know that a single German political with a good enough oratory skill plunged the entire continent into absolute chaos.

Also as the question too broad I'm trying to answer it in broad manners.

The actual tactics and political maneuvering has to be based on the context

  • $\begingroup$ If you think the question is too broad vote to close it instead of answering it. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 4:47


First, that squad and the mission. The clever thing to send would be saboteurs, not a regular rifle squad. Instead of rifles and a LMG, pistols and lots and lots of timed incendiaries. Or perhaps German uniforms and regulation sidearms. By then the Soviets had plenty of samples.

Next, the skillset. The Soviets would know that they're sending people of a kamikaze mission. The soldiers might also know, and agree anyway, as long as there was a marginal chance of survival. Frontline infantry didn't have a long life expectancy, either.

There might be someone from the NKVD in the team, perhaps even someone with covert ops experience in Berlin. But no really skilled political manipulator, either. They would not send a skilled mechanic or engineer because those people are needed for other jobs.

The best chance would be if the Soviets thought they had an one-way time travel machine, and selected/trained/equipped a squad to visit Ivan the Terrible or Peter the Great to "take over" and "uplift" Russia. A few reliable (in communist eyes) political operators, physicians, engineers, and their bodyguards, with a cargo of textbooks and plans. The malfunction would be in distance (time).

The team as described would be

  • unable to set up ammunition production, once their initial stocks are used up,
  • unable to speak the local language,
  • unable to turn advanced scientific and technical knowledge into benefits on the ground.

You know that Penicillin comes from moulds, right? Do you know how to produce it? Black powder is saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. Do you know how to turn a centerfire rifle into a flintlock?


How to suspend disbelief

There is a saying in various games/speculative fiction, "primitive does not mean stupid." But assume that several of the time travelers are very well versed in Marxist-Leninist theory, and actually have a better understanding of the fundamental economic conditions in 11th century England than the local Englishmen. So they introduce the economic aspects of early industrialization, from division of labour instead of individual master artisans to double-entry bookkeeping. They understand things like inflation, interest, depreciation of assets, etc.

The squad contains a riverboat mechanic and a machinist. Together you technobabble that they come up with a viable steam engine, which helps a former coal miner to seriously overturn mining.

  • $\begingroup$ The problems with Soviet context have been addressed with an edit. As far as the rest of the context, handwaving is fine, more looking for actual strategy possibilities. $\endgroup$
    – LoganP98
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ Why exactly they would be "unable to speak"? There are examples of stranded people learning languages of completely different language family from scratch, so why Russians couldn't learn another Indo-European language, especially if they had any modern German or English experience? $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2020 at 17:12

Francisco Pizarro conquered Peru with a few men, primitive firearms, no supply line, against a native army of 100 thousand warriors and without knowing language, culture or geography.

So, it can be done if you are brave and cunning enough.

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    $\begingroup$ Pizzaro didn't conquer Peru while fighting with a hundred of his men against hundreds of thousands. He had his own hundred thousand native allies, who decided they would rather live under Spanish rule than become human sacrifices in the rituals of their enemies. There is no other way even a much more modern squad to conquer anything, even if they had a hundred times the supplies: 11 men cannot be everywhere at once. The only thing they can do is to ally themselves with a local power, and help decide a battle which would otherwise be almost evenly matched. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ Don't forget smallpox. $\endgroup$
    – Neal
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Neal : smallpox alone wouldn't allow a hundred men to conquer (and administer) a whole empire. But making an alliance with those people who hate your target more than they hate you, does. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ Nope, not alone. However smallpox can kick off a civil war that gives you allies in the first place, and also decimate the armies that oppose you. $\endgroup$
    – Neal
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 18:51

There are a number of problems facing the squad (ignoring disease and language barriers)- namely lack of manpower, lack of historical, political and geographic understanding, lack of money and distrust from locals.

The first problem is going to be that they are massively outnumbered, and without any support units providing reconnaissance and intelligence, it is going to be fairly easy for an enemy force to surprise the squad. Given their limited ammo supply and the fact that WW2 weapons were not that accurate, they probably aren't going to want to open fire beyond 400m. A galloping horse can travel at around 25m/s, meaning that they would have around 15 seconds to break the charge before they get overrun if attacked by cavalry. Given that there is only one machine gun in the squad (and the DP-27 was generally issued with a 47 round drum) and they don't have enough men to create a dense 360 degree protection, a determined cavalry charge by a few hundred horsemen from multiple directions will split their fire enough that it will most likely succeed and wipe them out. Pure force, therefore, is not going to cut it.

It is going to take savvy and political knowledge to be successful, and there is no guarantee that the squad will have any. Most of your squad will likely not have any knowledge of 1066 England, however given that this is a hand picked unit, it's not beyond the question that some of them may have higher education- history and politics degrees will probably be the most useful. However, they still will lack any connections or knowledge of the local area they find themselves in.

The local population is probably going to be distrustful of strange men with strange accents, weapons and uniforms, so recruiting locals is going to be difficult- especially as the average peasant probably just wants to keep their head down and feed their family.

One possible approach is that they present themselves to a lord and offer to work in their service. Under the right circumstances, they are going to have a massive advantage over their enemies (especially if supported by period troops to protect their flanks), so any lord trying to carve out their territory, deal with local insurrections or topple the king would happily take them in to their service. If a talented sniper is sent back as part of the squad, they alone would be a huge asset to lords as assassins.

This would give them a foot in the door to build connections, and develop their own strength and loyal troops. After winning over the trust of enough knights and noblemen, they could launch a coup and seize control or try and earn a castle and lordship through service.

Extending their control beyond a single region is going to be difficult, however, as with only 10 men they cannot project force far enough by themselves and will rely on local forces to do that. They will inevitably be seen as 'upjumped common soldiers', not noblemen, so they cannot guarantee any loyalty or fealty from local nobles once they leave the area- you would probably need a Russian squad in every castle to control it and the surrounding area in anything other than name.

Arguably, their best chance to win complete control of the country is to ride on the waves of a rebellion against William the Conqueror, using their own weapons and skills sparingly in decisive battles, and rely more on the local forces they have built up. Should the rebellion succeed, they could take advantage of the instability to eliminate their opponents and claim the throne for themselves.

However, this is a long shot at best, with the most likely 'good scenario' being that they establish themselves as minor Lords with small areas of lands and influence.


Their reception would depend on their exact location and time of the year. The situation in some remote rural location would be very different from that in a large town, but either way one big problem would be time.

Whatever demonstration of power was made might well have to be repeated as news would not be telegraphed far and wide very quickly and would get garbled. Things would tend to happen very slowly by modern standards as there are few roads and limited long distance travel. They have to walk everywhere until they can find enough horses and some or most of them probably don’t know how to ride a horse.

In 1066 the local population would not be an uneducated equivalent of twentieth century people. They would have a very different outlook and environment. 1066 was before the enlightenment and people would not be open to manipulation in the same way that people might be today, yet would be open to manipulation in ways that people aren’t open to today. But the Russians would be unlikely to know how to deal with people for their best advantage.

The Russians would more likely be seen as demons than magicians under such circumstances and generate fear amongst the people. Knowledge of history and theology would probably be as useful as the guns.

It would be very difficult to engage with people due to massive practical difficulties in language, culture and religion. For example Old English and Norman French would be totally unrecognisable to modern English and French ears let alone Russian ears.

Another problem when they did start dealing with people in authority would be the necessity to deal with them at close quarters where dangers might lurk behind every corner or curtain and all food and drink would be suspect. At longer range arrows and stones might arrive from unexpected directions at any time.

Eventually their ammunition would become exhausted or their weapons would get damaged or accidents would lead to injury infection and death, or they would go mad.


Snipers at the Battle of Hastings

enter image description here

In Jan 1066 King Edward the Confessor dies childless. A powerful earl, Harold Godwinson, claims that Edward appointed him to be king of England on his deathbed. Maybe Edward did. Maybe he didn't.

Nevertheless the King of Norway decides to invade. He's supported in intelligence and favor-building by Harold's own brother Tostig.

In September 1066, the King of Norway's forces (about 10,000 soldiers) land in England. Harold puts together a mob of about 3,000 peasants and maybe another 1,500 recruits. In the battles of Fulford the Norwegian King kills almost all of the hastily-recruited English militia, but a few days later at Samford Bridge, a significantly strengthened (10,000 footmen + 2,000 cavalry) English army routes the King of Norway, killing most (8,000) of the assembled invasion force.

Two weeks later William or Normandy crosses the English Channel with between 3,000 and 12,000 troops. Half of these are footmen, a quarter longbowmen (but don't be impressed, during the fighting the were injured by slingshots and thrown rocks from the other side), and a quarter armored cavalry (but again don't be impressed because the armor was ridiculously flimsy and they were taken down by axes).

Harold Godwinson, calling himself the King of England, puts together another militia of anywhere between 3,000 and 12,000 troops (somewhere between 6,000 and 24,000 total combatants). William is harassing Harold's peasants and disrupting commerce, so Harold rushes out to meet him.

In a full day of fighting, about 10,000 soldiers are put into their graves. Harold is killed by "an arrow" during the fighting. William's cavalry and archers are hacked to bits by slingshots, spears and axes. After a night-time English rally fails to finish William off, the exhausted English vanish into the wilderness, allowing William's force to take the throne.

неуместны во времени

enter image description here With a published range of 547 yards for the M1891, the Soviet rifle squad could pick any target at the Battle of Hastings at a stand-off range from the combat. Assuming a member of the squad knew about this battle, the squad leader could have chosen to take out both William and Harold from the marshes.

There are no contemporary images of William, but likely both leaders were taking a very active role in keeping their dispirited fighters fighting, and might have been easy to pick out.

After all the butchery was done, you had a few thousand English and a few thousand out-of-place Normans who were probably all eager to go home. A full can (47 rounds) or an extended can (63 rounds) from the DP machine gun could put any re-organizing resistance into the dirt. The DP has a published effective range of 874 yards, so your rifle squad doesn't even need to expose themselves to harm to take out any troops that aren't going home.

However, you may not even need to do that. The key persons on both sides are dead, and the armies have nothing to do. And who is really going to think some weirdos standing in the marsh had anything to do with the kings' deaths? The Soviet rifle squad could just walk away.

The March to London / Stalin's Solution to Dukes

Most government was by duke. And most duchal household's security was a few knights among the family, and the ability to rally their peasants.

Stalin recognized a similar rallying power of wealthy farmers in Russia. Recognizing it as a threat to the revolution, he sent men with guns into their homes to kill them.

The next step for your rifle squad would be to, before word could spread, travel to the nearest duchal households. A peasant would kick in the doors, and drawn out the knight(s). Although people were familiar with gunpowder, bulletproof knightly armor would not exist for another three centuries. A rifleman would take out the knight(s) and any other defenders at range.

The element of surprise keeps the dukes from having time to rally their citizens to defend the house.

The dukes would need to be replaced with loyal men the Soviet squad had picked out of whatever local followers they'd gathered.

With a few days work, you could manufacture supportive nobles in the territories from Hastings to London.


After becoming King, your group may have a problem. The Pope is influential, and was supportive of William. However, the nobles were no sticklers for royal blood : William himself was an illegitimate child. How well the rifle squad held on to power would depend greatly on how they managed the political climate of the times.


This essentially the premise of 1632 / Ring of Fire, just in a difference in scale. Whereas the 1632 series had thousands, these people do not. They'd last maybe a week or so before succumbing to disease or locals.

As was pointed out, ammunition is not infinite, nor are primers. This is the modern Achilles heel of all firearms. Since they don't have any mercury fulminate or knowledge of manufacturing alternative 'green' primers (Chlorates), their guns are just unwieldy clubs once they inevitably run out of ammunition.

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    $\begingroup$ Grantville had thousands of people, with a broad spectrum of backgrounds and knowledge, had a power station, had mechanical shops with modern machine tools, had lots of scrap steel, had plenty of ammunition, a reasonable amount of gold, and had the undeserved good luck to make friends immediately with a multilingual, highly educated and highly intelligent local and with a regiment of Scots mercenaries. Not comparable. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 18:11
  • $\begingroup$ Sure it is- it means they were successful. A single squad? A minor blip and wiped out... $\endgroup$
    – J.Hirsch
    Commented May 28, 2020 at 1:17

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