If you draft a peasant, take away his wage, and given him a sword and a skullcap instead, you end up with a swordsman. Swordsmen are quite average basic infantry, with only one redeeming feature. They are dirt cheap. A mere 20 metal will equip a swordsman, and as a result these are the favored early game units for knights. The get modest damage and armor upgrades, and can hold their own against most other basic infantry. As the battle progresses, the men become less useful than the swords, and these units can be used to produce dancing swords from their dead corpses.