"Many coins, many cares."
— Iranian saying
Civilian unit capable of creating Wealth via travelling from city to city.
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Although peasants and the stuff they produce are the core of your domain, of what good are wares if nobody wants them, or they are located too far to be of use to parties of interest? here is where tradesmen come into play. Armed with logbooks and a sturdy mount, tradesmen journey from city to city once they obtain their trading licences from a market (which you generously supply yourself), and move about, distributing wares between home and allied parties alike, while generating tax revenues for you (which you can then spend to your heart's content). Trade is a valuable means for factions with no access to any inherent cultural capability such as the Norse and the Hungarians, or enhanced returns from trading, such as the Byzantines and the Sicilians, and thus you should always guard them wisely.
Tradesmen, however, have problems: the first are raiders. A raider can easily kill a tradesman and steal his goods. In large numbers, a general loss of tradesmen will also affect your economy. Secondly, tradesmen are vulnerable to another threat — spies. Spies are most effective when deployed against tradesmen — they can easily turn tradesmen into informants, granting the enemy a most intimate knowledge of your cities.
Thus, protect your tradesmen if possible, but do not overdo things — establish outposts near strategic trade routes, manned by mercenaries. Cheaper Dark Age mercenaries are usually enough to stop spies cold in their tracks, they (the spies, not the mercenaries) are discovered. Raiders could be dealt with by researching Republic in the Castle Age, which then upgrades the Tradesman into the Armed Caravan. Even so, Armed Caravans are armed with only a self bow for protection and so can't be expected to last for long in the field.
- The Invisible Hand — Build your own merchants and caravans to improve trade while taking apart your opponents' own to dirsupt trade and line your pockets with your cavalry archers. Accompany them with a duke patriot unit to protect them from attrition and gather resources from whatever units you destroy.
- Build outposts to protect your trade routes. Outposts detect hidden units and can train mercenaries to dispose of them.
- "Molon labe' "—Armed caravans and merchants, available to certain factions that have researched Legalism, can be used offensively as area denial weapons: any enemy merchant that unpacks near one of your merchants won't stay or live for long.
Depending on what factions you play as, Peasants can have five different appearances:
- Peasants Ita cameo.jpg
South European peasants.
- Peasants A cameo.jpg
- Peasants M cameo.jpg
- Peasants Mus cameo.jpg
Views of the Middle Ages in France, England and North America are often highly prejudicial (such as the word "mediaeval" in English, which can sometimes also bear perjorative contonations), without taking into account the vibrant transcontinental trade network which spanned the whole Old World, from North Africa all the way to the Yellow Sea via the Silk Road, or the maritime commerce in the Indian Ocean, the South China Sea and the Mediterranean. Merchants (usually Arabs) would move across the world, gathering gold, ivory and slaves in Africa, and spices and silk in Asia which then would be transmitted back to trading ports, such as Byzantium and Venice. Trade networks also spanned Northern Europe, with Vikings in Scandinavia travelling south through Russia to trade the produce of their homelands in Byzantium. Later on, the wool trade would flourish in the northwest, centred around Flanders and encompassing England and Germany.
Wise rulers realised the value of trade in the form of tax revenue and the provision of valuable commodities, such as iron ore from Scandinavia or African gold, and would seek to control and police trade. Most notable of all were the attempts by the Mongol khans, who set up a highly sophisticated administrative and communication structures throughout the lands they conquered, comprising a series of relay stations providing fresh mounts, fodder and logistical support for merchants and couriers. However, not everything which came out of intercontinental trade was always benign — gunpowder, originally invented by the Chinese, soon found its way into the West, where it was used by Muslim and Christian alike to inflict death and suffering not only upon their enemies but even on the tribal societies of Africa and America. Yet, the scale of devastation caused would pale in comparison with the Black Death. Thought to have emerged first in the Mongol Steppes, the Black Death soon spread to China and Asia, before reaching Europe in the late 14th century. Over ten million are estimated to have perished by 1400, at the plague's greatest height in Europe and although it eventually dissipated, its effects would change Europe forever, eventually bringing the Mediaeval Era to a close.