As time wore on and the Hundred Kingdoms prospered, this old fashioned feudal service was slowly abandoned. The sergeants were tied to their land and the growing military needs of the empire could no longer be met by men who could not travel or establish long term garrisons, because they needed to tend to their fields. Scutage, payment to one’s lord in lieu of military service, became a norm and professional soldiers who fought for coin quickly emerged to fill the void. The old, landed gentry sought to differentiate themselves from these new arrivals and coined the term men-at-arms.
Freed from the need to work and protect their land, men at arms were able to focus exclusively on their martial pursuits, allowing them to march on extended campaigns and travel in search of employment, ensuring that sufficient trained men were available to all commanders with the coin to spend in securing their services. While ranging from ragtag mercenary companies to the well trained and drilled household forces of the major noble houses, constant warfare weeds out the incompetent and duplicitous, making the men-at-arms the backbone of the Hundred Kingdoms war machine.