"Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall shock them.
Nought shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true."
— William Shakespeare, The Life and Death of King John (Act v, Scene vii)
There is nothing so horrifying and spectacular as the sight of Billmen and Knights-Sergeants marching across a field with weapons drawn and armour winking in the sun. These men-at-arms have eschewed horses and instead fight on foot. Set out from head to tail in heavy armour, and equipped with a sword and shield, they are slower on the march albeit harder to kill, unlike other normal sword units. With these units, England can easily mow its way to bloody victory with its medium infantry and archers. Accompanied by Billmen and Longbowmen, the English Knights-Sergeants, if not facing guns, can easily be the very bane of most armies.
On their own, however, Knights-Sergeants are not very impressive. They may have the benefit of added armour, making them stronger in a scrap, but their low speed on foot means that they are less effective against archers, and they will certainly not be that powerful against heavy cavalry, although they can be expected to hold their ground better than normal Espadachines against medium cavalry.
Although horse-riding cavalry was often a vital part of mediaeval armies in Europe, the English preferred to have their knights dismounted and on foot. There were several reasons for this: it made them less of a target for archers (as opposed to the French who would charge English longbowmen head on with horrendous casualties), and also allowed them to stiffen the ranks of the infantry. This helped also to reduce the profile of a knight, making him less prominent and thus less likely of being spitted by armour-piercing crossbow bolts.
The rank of sergeant is one of the oldest ranks in the British civil system and military hierarchy. Although early on it referred to soldiers of lower birth but of higher rank than most peasant soldiery, by the reign of Richard I Lionheart, sergeants were considered one rank below knights, and were expected to be capable of a diverse number of combat roles — on foot or on mounted, in light skirmishing or as a heavy assault component such as knights. Sergeants also functioned as a sovereign's bodyguard (again, Richard I Lionheart had two dozen such men on campaign during the Third Crusade), much in the same way as the Danish housecarle or the Anglo-Saxon thegn. The role of organising and providing personal security has been carried on by the moden role of a sergeant-at-arms is often understood to mean someone who is to keep order at meetings, such as those of the British Parliament, and to organise for the security of those meetings under their oversight.
- Medium-to-heavy infantry, slower but better armoured than normal Espadachines, albeit weaker than the latter against ranged infantry.
- Although they have better armour than most sword units, Knights-Sergeants are more vulnerable on account of their lack of speed, making them vulnerable to enemy ranged infantry, particularly crossbows and arquebusiers.