12. Looting Was Your Pay
Today, career soldiers receive a salary, along with benefits that include college and training. The benefits often extend to their wives and children, especially if they were ever called to active duty or saw battle. Looting or in any way taking advantage of a population that they battle against is strictly prohibited and can be prosecuted as a war crime. However, things were different during the Middle Ages. There was no salary for soldiers. If they won, they got to loot the enemy as pay for their services. If they lost, well, they usually died.
Soldiers who fought on the winning side and managed to survive the battle pillaged the fallen for things like their weaponry, armor, and especially gold and anything of value. Sometimes, they looted the surrounding town or village, both for supplies and food as well as for booty after a well-fought battle. There was no Geneva Convention to prevent them from finding a high-ranking person, even a king, and holding him for ransom. Later on in the Middle Ages, a bit of order prevailed as military leaders distributed the booty equally among the soldiers as their pay for services in battle.