I'm in the process of writing a low-fantasy novel (with slight elements of magic) in which invaders from the Beyond-Sea land in the southern portion of the main continent in which this story takes place. This is a medieval setting. Warriors and warfare range widely, from knights in full plate armor to men-at-arms in gambesons and chainmail.

The Kingdom in which they land is a grey area, laden with giant boulders, and constantly plagued by cloudy skies and torrential storms (think England). For this scenario, imagine the Crusades in reverse. Multitudes of horse archers, turbaned spearmen, and great grey elephants transported in giant ships, making a great expedition, landing on the shores of this grey place. They are attempting to conquer for cultural and religious reasons, as well as the problem of famine and overpopulation in their own lands. I was wondering, would such a 'crusade' be viable? What would be some of the difficulties the invading army might face? Is there any possibility of these invaders being welcomed as liberators, an invitation of sweeping change in a land of hierarchical Medieval society?

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    $\begingroup$ Parts of this are very much opinion based, primarily the last line (Do the reasons seem cliche). I would remove it. $\endgroup$ – James Nov 4 '15 at 19:50
  • $\begingroup$ How is this getting up-voted? OP makes 0 research effort, and ignored any historical basis for his low fantasy world could base itself on. $\endgroup$ – FiringSquadWitness Nov 5 '15 at 3:38

Sure. The Normans did much the same thing to the Anglo-Saxons in the 11th Century. The Battle of Hastings was won by the Normans despite being outnumbered about 10,000 to 7,000, and the victory is commonly attributed to Duke William's use of cavalry and archers, while King Harold's army had no cavalry (horses, though not unknown, are not native to Britain) and few archers, the force primarily assembled militia-style from the men of villages on the way.

The main difficulties would be logistics, which has been a problem throughout the ages. Hannibal Barca brought a force of war elephants to Europe via Gibraltar in the Second Punic War in the Third Century BC, but by the time he'd crossed the Alps into Italy he only had one left by some accounts, mainly due to the lack of edible foliage for a long part of the journey above the treeline of the mountains.

  • $\begingroup$ I oftentimes forget to look back to history for answers. Thank you! I'm planning on having the invaders transport these elephants in ships. Just how large would they need to be? Furthermore, since the chain of supply is limited due to transport by sea, sooner or later, no doubt the invaders will have to begin looting and pillaging just to sustain themselves. Could there be problems with that (especially with the invading forces themselves), if they wish to colonize in the future? $\endgroup$ – RedBadgeOfCourage Nov 4 '15 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ There are several artistic depictions of Hannibal crossing the Rhone; a quick Google search will show you a few. The basic idea is to build log barges with whatever timber is handy, of sufficient size to transport one or two elephants, and punt or row them across the body of water. The key is equal displacement to weight; the barge has to displace an equal mass of water as its own mass and that of its cargo. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Nov 4 '15 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ As far as supplying an army like this, in feudal times like these the peasants looked out for number one. If the local lord or knight had been defeated in a nearby battle, the remaining serfs would generally put their heads down and work for whomever came in to call the shots. Failure to do so generally got you a spear in the liver. The problems for the invaders come where there isn't anyone to bully for supplies and no natural foraging grounds (like above the treeline of the Alps) $\endgroup$ – KeithS Nov 25 '15 at 21:26

Well, the other bits have all been answered, so I'll answer the last sentence specifically:

If we're going with a society similar to actual late medieval society (given the plate armour) then it is likely that society will not be highly stratified. This was primarily a time of rich peasantry and a growing urbanite middle class; commoners could easily find themselves in high stations through trade or mercenary warfare. For example, John Hawkwood -- son of a tanner -- ended his life as an absurdly rich land-owner and martial of Florence. Assuming the invaders aren't full communists or something, it doesn't seem likely to me that they would be welcomed as liberators by anyone but greedy nobles eager to advance themselves by ingratiating themselves before this foreign conqueror.


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