|Cattle Raiders Gather|
|1-15||No band gathers|
|16-18||Young men go raiding (2d6 RV)|
|19||Married men go raiding (2d6+6 RV)|
|20||King goes raiding (3d6+6 RV)|
|Critical||Herders sleep; +10 to Stealing roll|
|Success||Herders unaware; +0 to Stealing roll|
|Failure||Herders alert; -5 to Stealing roll|
|Fumble||Herders ambush; skirmish w/o stealing|
|1-2||Skirmish, fumble, ambushed|
The raiders each gain 2 points of Status per animal stolen. The Raider Chief gains 10 points of Status per animal. As the cattle are presented, an Oratory roll is made by the Raider Chief; if it succeeds, a further 25 Status is gained by the Chief. If it criticals, 50 Status are gained. If it is fumbled, the Raider Chief's Status gain is halved. (It may be halved twice.) A failed Oratory roll has no effect.
Thus, the chief and raider chief gets 1/10 of the animals, and the other raiders share 2/5 of the animals. If the Raider Chief and the king are the same, the king may on a Generous roll distribute the King's share to the raiders. In this case, the share is split half-and-half between Raider Chief (i.e., the king!) and the other raiders.
If there are more raiders than animals, they are traded at the market when this is possible, or some other compensation is made.
Some examples of sizes of cattle herds in the British Isles from the Iron and Dark Ages (sources given in square brackets ).
A few notes: Herds of cattle were generally maintained with many cows per bull; an old handbook (Waring 1880) gives a ratio of 30-40 cows per bull. I am particularly interested in early Irish history and society. One subject about which I am not clear is how cattle raids were actually conducted. The tales tell of raiders swooping through enemy land on chariots. I, however, find it hard to believe that a force of men could efficiently slip into a foreign túath, round up cattle, and then drive off the herd, all the while bouncing atop chariots. For what they are worth, two separate sets of engravings from the 1500's depict Irish raiders carrying out cattle raids on foot (in one, the leader is horsed). These suggest that raids by foot were feasible, with the leaders probably being mounted. I have not researched herd sizes in the medieval period all that much. Those interested might find books by Frances and Joseph Gies helpful. For the ambitious, I recommend checking out primary literature, such as The Domesday Book. Sources for the above examples: Barker, Graeme. 1985. Prehistoric farming in Europe. Cambridge University Press; Cambridge. Wacher, John. 1978. Roman Britain. Dent and Sons; London. 1986 reprinting. Waring, George E. 1880. The farmers' and mechanics' manual. Treat and Company; New York. Revised edition. Mac Neill nicely summarizes the Uraicecht Becc in: Mac Neill, Eoin. 1921. Celtic Ireland. Academy Press; Dublin. 1981 reprinting. Alternatively, one may wish to read the translation of the Uraicecht Becc in the journal article: Mac Neill, Eoin. 1923. Ancient Irish law: the Law of Status or Franchise. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 36 C: 265-316. Additionally, Irish law and society are discussed in the following books: Kelly, Fergus. 1988. A guide to early Irish law. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies; Dublin. Patterson, Nerys T. 1991. Cattle-lords and clansmen: kinship and rank in early Ireland. Garland Publishing; New York.
- An Iron Age village at Glastonbury in Somerset (inhabited from c. 150 to 50 BC) is thought to have contained 7 extended families at its height, and a total of 20-30 head of cattle for the village (i.e. roughly 3-4 cattle per extended family). [Barker 1985, pp. 220-221]
- A large Romano-British villa at Bignor (near Chichester in Sussex) is thought to have held 100 cattle. [Wacher 1978, p. 127]
- Several Old Irish law-texts prescribe exact relationships between an individual's status and the size of his herd. Although these herd sizes are idealized, designed to reflect social rank, they provide a useful guide as to what were regarded reasonable figures. One such text, the Uraicecht Becc ("small primer"), dates from roughly 800 AD and categorizes the various grades of freemen within an Irish túath ("tribe" or "petty kingdom"). Each túath was headed by a rí (generally translated as "king"), and corresponded in size to a later feudal barony. Each rí was expected to own a total of 60 cows (20 cows at each of three residences). Below the rí were the various grades of aire ("freeman", "lord"). These men gained political and economic status through cattle loans to other members of the túath, and owned herds of 12 to 30 cows. Below the aire were the smaller herder-farmers, variously called bóaire ("cow-freeman", "strong farmer", "yeoman farmer"), ócaire ("young/junior freeman"), and other terms, with herds ranging from 6 to 24 cows. [Taken primarily from Mac Neill 1921, p. 96-113] So, from these examples, one could posit that herd sizes per household range from less than 10 head of cattle for small farmers up to 100 for barons or petty kings. In a feudal setting, one should let counts, earls, dukes, high kings, etc. have more.
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