In Ancient and Middle Aged European Armies, what decided whether a soldier was at the front lines or just in the normal center-back? Was it a status symbol or honor to be in the front lines?

Please specify the country and age that this was in your answer. Anywhere where there were large scale battles.

I'm surprised about the little of information I can find on the subject and I'm quite curious what were the factors if there were any.

In essence I'm trying to figure out when you look at any kind of infantry regiment charging into battle who and what determined who was at the front of the lines.

  • 3
    You've added tags for when (although the middle-ages seems a little wide) but not where in the world.
    – Steve Bird
    Jun 24 '20 at 18:17
  • Apologies ill be a bit more specific
    – Azurry
    Jun 24 '20 at 18:20
  • 2
    Please narrow the scope - there are almost no questions that can be meaningfully answered between BCE & 11th century. The role of infantry changes significantly several times. The role of cavalry changes significantly when the stirrup is introduced. Trying to discuss these all in the same answer is like trying to discuss infantry pre and post gunpowder.
    – MCW
    Jun 24 '20 at 18:27
  • 2
    I don't agree with the duplicate status: even though the time period here is too wide, it doesn't stray into Napoleonic/musketry ages in any way. I suspect, however, @Azurry, you'll need to make this explicit in the post and to focus in on a specific country and timeframe as well.
    – gktscrk
    Jun 25 '20 at 4:56
  • 1
    I assume you're talking pre-firearms, and here the answer is pretty simple. Fighting hand-to-hand is mind-bogglingly exhausting. Even if your first line does not suffer any losses, it will become winded in basically no time at all, and will need to be replaced. We are talking minutes here, and not many of those either, and you will have to replace the first rank, or lose them altogether. Which means, being in the first rank wasn't THAT much of an issue, because you wouldn't be there for long... Lindybeige going on about this..
    – DevSolar
    Jun 25 '20 at 7:22