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View Full Version : Got a Real-World Weapon or Armor Question? Mk. VI



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Galloglaich
2010-09-02, 08:46 AM
There are manuals which include material for five foot blades, mostly 16th Century; Marrozo has some, Paulus Hector Mair has some very large blades, the Spanish and Portuguese Montanto stuff is all basically in that size category, with the added advantage that it teaches you how to fight against multiple opponents and on ship-board and in alleys etc. But it's not very accessible for a neophyte.

The techniques aren't that different from the (four foot) longsword. The reason I'd suggest studying longsword instead of "greatsword" is that the former is more widely understood now and there are a lot of good resources, numerous books, instructoinal DvDs, hundreds of videos on Youtube, sparing footage, tournament footage, etc. Essentially longsword is the same, there are a couple of different guards but all the same mastercuts and basic timing and footwork principles, the same kind of bind work and tricks, disarms etc.

Zweihander is a little different but that is even harder, most of what little is available hasn't even been translated into English yet. If you can read middle-high German or can read Latin it might be easier. But I don't think the Zweihander is that similar to the Scottish Greatsword actually.

For something like Migration-Era or Iron Age "long" sword (spatha) techniques, we really don't know, the closest you can probably get is the I.33 which is sword and buckler. I know a guy wrote a book on Viking techniques based primarily on I.33 and Talhoffer (which is 15th Century German) and some analysis of the Icelandic sagas. It's basically guesswork but being based on Talhoffer is at least somewhat Martially sound. A lot of re-enactors are doing this kind of thing now.

http://www.amazon.com/Viking-Weapons-Combat-Techniques-William/dp/1594160767

Here is a website with basically the same information.

http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manufacturing/text/viking_sword_technique.htm

You could do something similar based on the Irish myth cycle, Ulster cycle or the Fenian Cycle which do include some tantalizing references to fencing training, but that would be a major project indeed. Equivalent to a PhD.

If you worked at it seriously you could probably figure out the basic longsword guards and footwork for either Italian or German fencing tradition in about a month, sufficient to not look like a complete idiot when you are showing off to your friends, and enough to give you an edge in a fight with a complete newby. To get to the point where you could hold your own in sparring will take you three or four months training with a group or at least one partner. To be able to get through the first round of a tournament probably at least a year. But by then you'd be able to win that spontaneous pool-cue fight in the bar next time ... and zombies would be no problem.


G.

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-02, 10:23 AM
Wow, information overload.

I have heard that Celtic longswords were used in a manner in which the user kept swinging it around his own body while attacking to maintain momentum. The low/medium/high targets where legs, torso and head respectively.... although that's probably universal. Swings were often made on diagonals, and vertical cuts were (similar to the Vikings) aiming for the area between the neck and the shoulder. Due to similar size and place of origin, I suspect that the original claymore techniques evolved from Celtic longsword techniques. One thing that's getting me right now is 'who developed these techniques first?' I know that the Lowlander Claymore was in service anywhere from 50-100 years before the Zweihänder was in service....although people may have had longswords in general long before that. Did the Britons develop them, and teach them to the Germans and Italians, or vice versa? Or did everyone develop their own techniques independently?

My only 2 sources on the actual claymore itself is the William Wallace episode of Deadliest Warrior (not the most academic source) and this video. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgTWliojUjc&feature=related) The one move which really caught my eye on Deadliest Warrior was the backguard (seen at 0:26 in the youtube video), which the demonstrator said can be used to attack any part of the opponent.

Spiryt
2010-09-02, 10:44 AM
Celts didn't have longswords or any other swords held two handed, so claymore techniques couldn't evolve that way, even if they could despite more than 1000 years of years passed.

Techniques of fighting with claymore were most certainly similar to the medieval longsword, taking often different size, length, etc. into consideration, of course, but since swords were obviously diverse in general, it was only normal.

Stereotypical two handed claymores were in use when two handed swords generally disappeared almost everywhere else, so they can be somehow treated as the pretty end to the fabulous story.

Definitely were NOT been used in Wallace times, Deadliest Warrrriur is just being Deadliest Warrriur.

Psyx
2010-09-02, 11:02 AM
I have heard that Celtic longswords were used in a manner in which the user kept swinging it around his own body while attacking to maintain momentum.


We simply don't really know. There's anecdotal evidence in some surviving myths and tales, but it's very non-technical. There's not much in the way of surviving armour to see what was protected. We can grasp the essentials of how weapons were used based on their design, and we can see more on how they were used based on human remains. But beyond that and prior to I33, we essentially have nothing. And that covers thousands of years of history.

Swinging a weapon around though is a great way to knacker yourself out though. It's not really viable in open battle for any period of time. And while a weapon is being swung around excessively, it's not really stopping you being stabbed in the gut.

Autolykos
2010-09-02, 11:53 AM
Swinging a weapon around though is a great way to knacker yourself out though. It's not really viable in open battle for any period of time. And while a weapon is being swung around excessively, it's not really stopping you being stabbed in the gut.Exactly. I'd also add that a 3-foot long sword (or any other practical weapon for that matter) is not so heavy that you'd need to constantly maintain your momentum. If you can't get the weapon to "working speed" with a single move, you shouldn't use it at all.
EDIT: I could imagine something like this when charging the enemy while in battle. It's not very effective, but it looks really wild - and might rout less-disciplined enemies even before contact.

Spiryt
2010-09-02, 12:04 PM
and might rout less-disciplined enemies even before contact.

Eh, if your opponent is opponent that would rout because of seeing you swinging your weapon around like lunatic, he would also rout from any scary thing, and thus he's not opponent at all.

Seriously, there are thousands more intimidating things around than such guy.

Galloglaich
2010-09-02, 01:29 PM
Wow, information overload.

I have heard that Celtic longswords were used in a manner in which the user kept swinging it around his own body while attacking to maintain momentum. The low/medium/high targets where legs, torso and head respectively.... although that's probably universal. Swings were often made on diagonals, and vertical cuts were (similar to the Vikings) aiming for the area between the neck and the shoulder. Due to similar size and place of origin, I suspect that the original claymore techniques evolved from Celtic longsword techniques. One thing that's getting me right now is 'who developed these techniques first?' I know that the Lowlander Claymore was in service anywhere from 50-100 years before the Zweihänder was in service....although people may have had longswords in general long before that. Did the Britons develop them, and teach them to the Germans and Italians, or vice versa? Or did everyone develop their own techniques independently?

My only 2 sources on the actual claymore itself is the William Wallace episode of Deadliest Warrior (not the most academic source) and this video. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgTWliojUjc&feature=related) The one move which really caught my eye on Deadliest Warrior was the backguard (seen at 0:26 in the youtube video), which the demonstrator said can be used to attack any part of the opponent.

You might just be better off joining a LARP group actually.

G.

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-02, 01:32 PM
Celts didn't have longswords or any other swords held two handed, so claymore techniques couldn't evolve that way, even if they could despite more than 1000 years of years passed.

Techniques of fighting with claymore were most certainly similar to the medieval longsword, taking often different size, length, etc. into consideration, of course, but since swords were obviously diverse in general, it was only normal.

Stereotypical two handed claymores were in use when two handed swords generally disappeared almost everywhere else, so they can be somehow treated as the pretty end to the fabulous story.

Definitely were NOT been used in Wallace times, Deadliest Warrrriur is just being Deadliest Warrriur.

Ah....you are mistaken.

The Highlander Claymore (which was used on the show, Deadliest Warrrriur just being Deadliest Warrriur) has been in employ circa 1500 to 1700. William Wallace, however, was a Lowlander. Thus he would've used a Lowlander Claymore, which have been employed circa the 1200s.

Now, you may have heard of the Wallace Sword.....it is not William Wallace's sword. Unless he chose to wield a claymore without a fuller for some reason (fullers were typical for the age, unless they were processional swords), it's probably a sword created around 1505 as a (slightly inaccurate) replica of his original sword. However, that does mean that if William Wallace did use a claymore, then the handle should be comparable to modern Lowlanders. I present from top to bottom/left to right, depending on how these stack, a Highlander, a Lowlander, and the Wallace Sword:
http://www.by-the-sword.com/acatalog/images/setclayb.jpghttp://www.wargod.co.nz/SH2065_1.jpghttp://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y59/mactom/Wallace7.jpg

Case closed.

Spiryt
2010-09-02, 01:54 PM
There are many doubts if any longswords were in use around 1200 at all, so Lowlander style two handers with ring guards and similar stuff are really out of question.

Wallace could certainly have large XIIa XIIIa, maybe XV or XVIa Oakeshott type longsword, but not claymore or Lowland two hander.

The image you provided as "Lowlander" seems to be Hanwei mass produced sword, which as they admit themselves is loosely based on 16th century sword - link (http://www.hanweishop.com/proddetail.php?prod=SH2065)

Generally, the earliest period when we can talk about "typical" Scottish swords with unique style is last quarter of the 15th century.

Galloglaich
2010-09-02, 01:57 PM
Well Markus, if you already knew all the answers, I kind of wonder why you are asking questions? Perhaps you are having a joke..

Like I said upthread, the blades on most of the actual real historical swords classified as claymores (claidheamh-mor which just means two 'big sword' in Gaelic... which most lowlanders didn't even speak... and was used to refer both to the big two handed weapons of the 16th century and the single handed basket hilts of the 17th-18th Century) turn out to have been made in Germany. Most of the rest are from Italy, Flanders, Spain, and other places in Continental Europe. There wasn't a lot of sword production going on in Scotland in the Middle Ages.

Longswords or greatswords of 'hand and a half' length date from possibly as early as the 11th Century but were not common until the 13th. Swords with four foot blades were extremely rare until the 15th. Six foot zweihanders didn't appear until the 16th.

The rest of your concepts of how to use them are far enough removed from reality that I can only assume you would prefer to indulge in your own fantasies, hence the suggestion to join a LARP group where none of your theories will be challenged.

G.

Spiryt
2010-09-02, 02:02 PM
Longswords or greatswords of 'hand and a half' length date from as early as the 11th Century but were not common until the 13th. Swords with four foot blades were extremely rare until the 15th. Six foot zweihanders didn't appear until the 16th.

Actually as far as I heard, four feet blade XIIa or XIII a weren't so unheard of, though certainly they had not much to do with later two handers, obviously, - no ricassos, ring guards, etc.

Although many of them could be bearing stuff, of course. I would love to see more examples of them, because that's interesting topic, and doesn't seem to be easily researchable.

Avilan the Grey
2010-09-02, 02:11 PM
And incidentally, fun fact, many Scottish soldiers fought as mercenaries in Germany and also in Italy in the Medieval and Renaissance periods, that is in fact where they got most of the blades for the "Claymores" which have survived.

G.

Well we have a number of Swedish Noble families that are of Scottish roots after all the wars we were involved in, like the Hamiltons.

Galloglaich
2010-09-02, 02:22 PM
Actually as far as I heard, four feet blade XIIa or XIII a weren't so unheard of, though certainly they had not much to do with later two handers, obviously, - no ricassos, ring guards, etc.

Although many of them could be bearing stuff, of course. I would love to see more examples of them, because that's interesting topic, and doesn't seem to be easily researchable.

There are some big ones in the typology, quite a few XIIa with blades around 36" I think one or two on the Myarmoury article are up around 42 or 43 inches, like this one

http://www.myarmoury.com/images/features/pic_spotxii13_s.gif

but 48" (four feet) is pretty rare as far as I've seen until you get to the type XX in the 15th Century. I think mainly because the bloomery forges they were using earlier weren't big enough it was hard to make tempered blades that long. But there may be more out there in Eastern Europe or Central Europe which aren't widely known in English speaking realms of the internet.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-09-02, 02:30 PM
Well we have a number of Swedish Noble families that are of Scottish roots after all the wars we were involved in, like the Hamiltons.

The Scotts got around. Quite a few of the evidently ended up in Poland as well.

G

Autolykos
2010-09-02, 03:48 PM
Eh, if your opponent is opponent that would rout because of seeing you swinging your weapon around like lunatic, he would also rout from any scary thing, and thus he's not opponent at all.

Seriously, there are thousands more intimidating things around than such guy.Well, yeah, if you're in a bright, open field and run at your enemies like that, you sure look like a lunatic. But when combined with other things (like darkness, unfamiliar terrain, an ambush, hordes of guys with painted faces running screaming at you from all sides and the general confusion of a battle) it might at least add somewhat to the impression. And since the Celts weren't disciplined enough to be scary by that alone, they might as well try to look as wild as possible. At least it wouldn't be as counterproductive as swinging your sword around like a complete nutjob in melee.
I assume the source for this is Roman (they were pretty much the only ones in contact with the Celts of whom we still have lots of written history). So it's also possible that they just wrote it for propaganda purposes (like "look at those barbarians - we need to bring them our culture" or "our brave legions face these wild guys every day - they are the best").

Galloglaich
2010-09-02, 04:42 PM
What makes you think the Celts were undisciplined?

The Greeks, the Etruscans, the Persians, and the Carthaginians were among some of the other literate cultures who encountered the La Tene culture tribes people associated with the Celts, in Spain, in North Africa, in Anatolia, in Illyria, as well as in Gaul. We also have Irish literature from the 5th Century AD.

G.

Karoht
2010-09-02, 05:23 PM
Meh, just want to practice in public and look totally badass doing it, as well as be prepared for the zombie apocolypse.:smallbiggrin:

As one who teaches swordfighting...
And with all due respect...
I do foresee you hurting yourself or someone else.

You really do want to learn on a smaller weapon first. Something the size of a Gladius, or slightly larger, and then work your way up. Even start with a wooden waster, before you go out and buy a potentially expensive sword, particularly one of the quality to actually practice and or fight with.
Conversely, the other way to go about this is learn how to use a quarterstaff (6 feet) first, then practice 2 handed sword forms with a quarterstaff, and then work on 2 handed sword techniques.

And lastly, swinging around a sword in public trying to look 'totally badass' is a great way to have the cops show up and spoil your fun. I speak from repeated and comical experience. You really do want to learn with a more official group.



========
No really, I do speak from repeated and comical experience. I know all the cops in my neighborhood on a first name basis as a result. They typically play pranks on the rookie cops by sending him down to bust us. They call ahead so we play along. It's great fun. Especially fun because we're all trained to take hits and make them look real too. So the rookie comes and puts one of us in an arm bar and starts to cuff him. And thats when the non-rookie cop comes up and says, "no no no son, you got it all wrong, you're doing that the hard way, it's like this" and then pulls out the baton and clubs someone in the gut with a phantom hit, and then proceeds to cuff us. Good times.

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-02, 06:27 PM
There are many doubts if any longswords were in use around 1200 at all, so Lowlander style two handers with ring guards and similar stuff are really out of question.

Wallace could certainly have large XIIa XIIIa, maybe XV or XVIa Oakeshott type longsword, but not claymore or Lowland two hander.

The image you provided as "Lowlander" seems to be Hanwei mass produced sword, which as they admit themselves is loosely based on 16th century sword - link (http://www.hanweishop.com/proddetail.php?prod=SH2065)

Generally, the earliest period when we can talk about "typical" Scottish swords with unique style is last quarter of the 15th century.


There are some big ones in the typology, quite a few XIIa with blades around 36" I think one or two on the Myarmoury article are up around 42 or 43 inches, like this one

http://www.myarmoury.com/images/features/pic_spotxii13_s.gif

but 48" (four feet) is pretty rare as far as I've seen until you get to the type XX in the 15th Century. I think mainly because the bloomery forges they were using earlier weren't big enough it was hard to make tempered blades that long. But there may be more out there in Eastern Europe or Central Europe which aren't widely known in English speaking realms of the internet.

G.

Hmm...this is quite an interesting can of worms I've opened here.

I'm going to end this painlessly: William Wallace's sword was large enough to be a claymore. If it did not have the typology to be a claymore, the sources from the 1500's said it was a claymore in reference to its size, and not its typology.

Geez, I might just have to enter a field where I could get to the bottom of this mystery when I graduate in 4 years.....Materials Engineering with a Minor in Archeology, FTW!


As one who teaches swordfighting...
And with all due respect...
I do foresee you hurting yourself or someone else.

You really do want to learn on a smaller weapon first. Something the size of a Gladius, or slightly larger, and then work your way up. Even start with a wooden waster, before you go out and buy a potentially expensive sword, particularly one of the quality to actually practice and or fight with.
Conversely, the other way to go about this is learn how to use a quarterstaff (6 feet) first, then practice 2 handed sword forms with a quarterstaff, and then work on 2 handed sword techniques.

And lastly, swinging around a sword in public trying to look 'totally badass' is a great way to have the cops show up and spoil your fun. I speak from repeated and comical experience. You really do want to learn with a more official group.



========
No really, I do speak from repeated and comical experience. I know all the cops in my neighborhood on a first name basis as a result. They typically play pranks on the rookie cops by sending him down to bust us. They call ahead so we play along. It's great fun. Especially fun because we're all trained to take hits and make them look real too. So the rookie comes and puts one of us in an arm bar and starts to cuff him. And thats when the non-rookie cop comes up and says, "no no no son, you got it all wrong, you're doing that the hard way, it's like this" and then pulls out the baton and clubs someone in the gut with a phantom hit, and then proceeds to cuff us. Good times.

Alright, fair enough. I'll learn to walk before I try running.

Karoht
2010-09-02, 08:12 PM
Alright, fair enough. I'll learn to walk before I try running.

Thank you for accepting that in the exact vein it was intended in.

On the suggestion of joining up with a LARP/Boffer group:
They aren't all bad. They won't teach you technique typically, and they'll probably teach you some bad habits as well. But you'll get through the 'developing the muscle stamina and dexterity' growth phase just the same.
Personally, I'd join a LARP/Boffer group before you join a serious instructional/reinactment group. Reason? LARP/Boffer is pretty cheap, if you don't like it you can walk away easily or just change your involvement. Real sword lessons, unless you find a really great group, can be expensive for sword, instruction, and protective gear. Sword alone will probably run you $300, minimum protection standards can be anywhere from $150-$3000 depending on the group and the time period.

Seeing as I don't want to spam the board, if you are looking for a decent sword or other related supplies, PM me. Especially if you're from western canada.

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-02, 09:28 PM
Nah, I'm from ON. Same country though, for those who are stateside.

BTW, can someone explain Oakshot typology to me? I've researched it before, but I've never been able to understand it. I was just thinking about the claymore thing again, and if Wallace did wield a Claymore, it may very well have been the first ever. Imagine that! Though if he did wield the first claymore, that might've gone down in history.....but anyways, I'll be talking out of my ass if I don't figure out this Oakshot stuff.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-02, 09:59 PM
On the subject of not starting with Longsword, I would ask what would be good to start with? Grosse Messer? Rapier? Dagger?

Mike_G
2010-09-02, 10:16 PM
On the subject of not starting with Longsword, I would ask what would be good to start with? Grosse Messer? Rapier? Dagger?

Rapier fighting is probably cheapest in terms of equipment, and easy to find groups. Regulation fencing masks and jackets, and competition Epee blades will work, and they're less expensive and easier to get than reproduction swords and armor. Plus, they are designed and rated for competition, so you don't run the risk of buying a wall hanger that won't stand up to abuse.

Olympic style fencing classes are easy to find, and while it's a sport, not a martial art, it does give you a grounding, and teaches good form and speed. A good sport fencer who subsequently learns rapier style combat will quickly pick up the differences, and his speed and point control will put him ahead of a guy who never competed in foil. Plus, any group of fencers has some people who want to do period rapier, and know a guy who knows a guy in the SCA or some reenactment group.

This is the easiest "gateway drug" for the modern swordfighting enthusiast. Then, if you like it, you can drop tons of cash and spare time on accurate weapons and armor and lessons and travel to find a more authentic group and learn HEMA stuff.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-02, 10:27 PM
Rapier fighting is probably cheapest in terms of equipment, and easy to find groups. Regulation fencing masks and jackets, and competition Epee blades will work, and they're less expensive and easier to get than reproduction swords and armor. Plus, they are designed and rated for competition, so you don't run the risk of buying a wall hanger that won't stand up to abuse.

Olympic style fencing classes are easy to find, and while it's a sport, not a martial art, it does give you a grounding, and teaches good form and speed. A good sport fencer who subsequently learns rapier style combat will quickly pick up the differences, and his speed and point control will put him ahead of a guy who never competed in foil. Plus, any group of fencers has some people who want to do period rapier, and know a guy who knows a guy in the SCA or some reenactment group.

This is the easiest "gateway drug" for the modern swordfighting enthusiast. Then, if you like it, you can drop tons of cash and spare time on accurate weapons and armor and lessons and travel to find a more authentic group and learn HEMA stuff.

I'm already an escrimateur, as it so happens, fencing epee and foil. Lucky me I guess. I would like to know where to start with HEMA though...

Autolykos
2010-09-03, 02:24 AM
What makes you think the Celts were undisciplined?Uh, Roman propaganda, probably. :smallredface:
I know they had quite a culture (what with the druids and everything), even at the times of Caesar, but I somehow expected them to be small divided tribes, and not quite on the Roman level of architecture and literature. And of course pretty much everyone looks undisciplined next to Romans (or was that also mainly propaganda?). Also they might have learned something between 50 BC and 500 AD...

Spiryt
2010-09-03, 03:50 AM
BTW, can someone explain Oakshot typology to me? I've researched it before, but I've never been able to understand it.


Oakeshott typology is the way to divide existing medieval blades based on their general shape, dimensions, properties.

It generally can be applied to the swords from ~ 1000 - 1500 period.

It's very popular, and while ancient people didn't really care about any divisions like that so much, it still allows to categorize sword based on their overall function pretty neatly.

Link (http://www.albion-swords.com/articles/oakeshott-typology.htm)

He is quick, neat presentation.

Here some description (http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/oakeshott_typology.html)



I was just thinking about the claymore thing again, and if Wallace did wield a Claymore, it may very well have been the first ever. Imagine that! Though if he did wield the first claymore, that might've gone down in history.....but anyways, I'll be talking out of my ass if I don't figure out this Oakshot stuff.

To best of my knowledge "claymore" is more modern english version of gaelic word that was used to describe traditional scottish swords. Baskethills like that (http://www.arscives.com/vevans/images/2.3-Scottish-Basket-Hilt.jpg) actually, not two handed swords.

Later, it began to be also used to describe two handed (claidheamh da laimh), mostly cut oriented swords with characteristic guard - sloping towards blade, with characteristic quatrefoil ending.

And it's pretty much it - here (http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/nextgen/sword-scottish-chieftain-xiia.htm) is page about reproduction of early two handed claymore, with nice explanation of what they were - pretty classic XIIIa blades mounted in characteristic fashion.

So while Wallace could theoretically have longsword, looking like that, he could have claymore. But since all signs on heaven and earth indicate that such style developed much later, he most certainly would just longsword like many other longswords in 14th century.

Karoht
2010-09-03, 10:18 AM
I highly recommend anything from the Paul Chen Practical line as your starter sword, be it one handed or not. Their weighting and design are typical of many other swords used in the martial art, and will survive years of rebated combat if you take care it. Price point is decent too.

Galloglaich
2010-09-03, 11:41 AM
Uh, Roman propaganda, probably. :smallredface:
I know they had quite a culture (what with the druids and everything), even at the times of Caesar, but I somehow expected them to be small divided tribes, and not quite on the Roman level of architecture and literature. And of course pretty much everyone looks undisciplined next to Romans (or was that also mainly propaganda?). Also they might have learned something between 50 BC and 500 AD...

Personally I'm a little suspicious of the Celts or any other tribal group being something like "Capital One Barbarians".

We tend to think of this

http://images1.cliqueclack.com/tv/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/capital-one-barbarians-425x246.png

instead of the reality which was probably closer to this
http://www.tattooarchive.com/history_images/kelts_wm.jpg

The historical record does not indicate quite the crude roaring beast most people seem to think of these days.

http://celts.etrusia.co.uk/images/la_tene_cup.jpg
http://www.sheshen-eceni.co.uk/images/bronze%20mirror%20celtic%20bm1.jpg
http://www.musee-suisse.ch/ci/sammlung/die_sammlungen/e/col_6427_h.jpg
http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:Ac2DvuH1PgZcgM:http://www.vicus.org.uk/images/helmets/lot17.jpg

Lets keep in mind, these were the people from whom the Romans acquired the technology of their legions: mail amor, their "coolus" and "imperial-gallic" helmets, their scutum shield, their pilum javelin, their gladius hispaniensis sword.

Saying they weren't as good at literature or architecture is not the same thing as battlefield discipline. The Celts did actually sack Rome in the 4th Century BC after all. I reccomend Julius Caesars war-diaries as an interesting read if you want to get an idea of the military strategies and tactics of the Gauls (even from a Roman propaganda perspective). Pay particular attention to the Nervii (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nervii). But a lot of peoples go by the label "Celt", over most of Europe from the Ukraine to Spain and the British Isles, from Denmark to Italy, and across something like a 1500 year time period if you include both the Hallstadt and La Tene cultures.

In Spain, an interesting military character from a tribe sometimes associated with Celts is Viriathus the Lusitani. Both he and his sometime ally the 'CeltIberian' City of Numantia are quite interesting from a military / historical perspective.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viriathus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numantia

G.

Spiryt
2010-09-03, 12:07 PM
Uh, Roman propaganda, probably. :smallredface:
I know they had quite a culture (what with the druids and everything), even at the times of Caesar, but I somehow expected them to be small divided tribes, and not quite on the Roman level of architecture and literature. And of course pretty much everyone looks undisciplined next to Romans (or was that also mainly propaganda?). Also they might have learned something between 50 BC and 500 AD...

I find such linear comparison pretty strange usually... :smalltongue:

They were fascinating culture, haven't reached Roman level of literature, because they didn't have almost any literature at all, in general.

They weren't culture of written world, just like many of other ones in past times.

We treat such things like literature as "natural" because they're obvious too us, especially us nerds in Internet, :smalltongue: but that doesn't mean they were always treated like very important stuff.

As far as discipline goes, some could be disciplined, some not, it all depends on chieftain, and particular band of fighters.

Generally, in times of Ceasar, Celts were pretty " fading" military culture a bit "softened up" by living in relative peace, at least compared to their very war like past.

While there certainly were many terryfing warriors still among them, as army they generally couldn't compare to well organized, tactically etc proficient legions of Ceasar.

Galloglaich
2010-09-03, 03:39 PM
From the time of the Senones conquest of Rome in 394 BC, and the defeats of Roman armies by the Cimbri in 113 bC, the Gauls (as a subset of "celts") were softened up by 350 years of Wine, slave trade, and Roman political manipulation (establishing Monarchies) before Caesar was able to conquer them.

I think it's pretty clear now that the biggest tactical advantage the ROmans had over Gallic armies was actually armor.

G.

Spiryt
2010-09-03, 03:43 PM
Well, those of warrior class probably had respectable mails, helmets, and maybe even more stuff, but not enough, not enough of them... Yoda says. :smallwink:

Galloglaich
2010-09-03, 04:45 PM
Well, those of warrior class probably had respectable mails, helmets, and maybe even more stuff, but not enough, not enough of them... Yoda says. :smallwink:

Yes they didn't have the slave labor the Romans had in lieux of the sort of water and wind-powered automation you see in the middle ages. From what I've read though a lot had helmets and almost all of them had shields, very few had mail, maybe 1% at some of the big battles in Caesars time (by obviously very rough estimates or guesses), and these would be distributed on the bases of personal prestige not for example put into the front ranks. I think actually the large size of some of their armies worked againt them too as the less experienced and more poorly equipped warriors were the first to panic (and they all had to be fed).

But when Hannibal invaded Italy he used mostly Gallic troops, and had money to buy many of them armor (which was also systematically stripped from dead Roman soldiers) and he did very well with them. As did the Romans when they put armor on them in Auxillae or Legions like Romes infamous fifth legion.

About whom i found a very amusing article once.

http://www.drunkard.com/issues/55/55-blood-and-wine.html

If you think about two armies, showering each other with darts, javelins, stones etc. all day before finally closing to a hand to hand fight, as was normally the case in the Iron Age, the side with armor has a huge advantage in "staying power" as Caesar used to put it.

G.

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-04, 02:27 PM
Oakeshott typology is the way to divide existing medieval blades based on their general shape, dimensions, properties.

It generally can be applied to the swords from ~ 1000 - 1500 period.

It's very popular, and while ancient people didn't really care about any divisions like that so much, it still allows to categorize sword based on their overall function pretty neatly.

Link (http://www.albion-swords.com/articles/oakeshott-typology.htm)

He is quick, neat presentation.

Here some description (http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/oakeshott_typology.html)



To best of my knowledge "claymore" is more modern english version of gaelic word that was used to describe traditional scottish swords. Baskethills like that (http://www.arscives.com/vevans/images/2.3-Scottish-Basket-Hilt.jpg) actually, not two handed swords.

Later, it began to be also used to describe two handed (claidheamh da laimh), mostly cut oriented swords with characteristic guard - sloping towards blade, with characteristic quatrefoil ending.

And it's pretty much it - here (http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/nextgen/sword-scottish-chieftain-xiia.htm) is page about reproduction of early two handed claymore, with nice explanation of what they were - pretty classic XIIIa blades mounted in characteristic fashion.

So while Wallace could theoretically have longsword, looking like that, he could have claymore. But since all signs on heaven and earth indicate that such style developed much later, he most certainly would just longsword like many other longswords in 14th century.

Funny you say that, since one of the (very helpful) links you gave me told me that both the XIIa and XIIIa models (the only 2 models that a claymore could be) were in use during much of the High Medieval period, 13th and 14th c and the middle of the 13th c to the latter half of the 14th c respectively. Wallace was born in 1272 or 1273, his official military actions started in 1297, his unofficial ones are rumored to start in 1291, and he was executed in 1305. That puts his lifetime smack dab in the middle of the era of XIIa and the early part of the era of XIIIa.

Now, since the quatrefoil handles are only found on Highlander Claymores (and Wallace would've used a Lowlander), we've reached a point where we can't go any further in this debate. Unless there are some specific features other than blade and handle sizes (ratio, or perhaps something else) that separate longswords and claymores the you can tell me about, or you can disprove me by explaining where the blade designs started and how quickly they spread to the different parts of Europe, I think we should probably stop this here. Until we get a little more evidence, anyways. :smalltongue:

@G

As a man with mostly Celtic ancestors, I'm not going to lie: 'Barbarians' is a fitting description. Sure, we had our own culture, with our own religion and holy men, our own styles of clothing, agriculture, etc. We also developed good iron swords and chainmail before anyone else, for 2 reasons: 1. Because we were smart and 2. Necessity. See, when there wasn't enough resources to go around, we'd all get up and engage each other in tribal warfare. We were dedicated head hunters; we'd hang severed head we collected from our chariots (which unlike other civilzations, we used as personnel carriers) and take them home, preserve them, and bring them out at festivals because we thought it would give us magical powers. Let me say it again: we thought taking a human head, preserving it and keeping it around the house gave us MAGICAL POWERS. The Romans were pompous, arrogant and sometimes hypocritical, but they were right in calling Celts barbarians.

Galloglaich
2010-09-05, 12:23 AM
Now, since the quatrefoil handles are only found on Highlander Claymores (and Wallace would've used a Lowlander), we've reached a point where we can't go any further in this debate. Unless there are some specific features other than blade and handle sizes (ratio, or perhaps something else) that separate longswords and claymores the you can tell me about, or you can disprove me by explaining where the blade designs started and how quickly they spread to the different parts of Europe, I think we should probably stop this here. Until we get a little more evidence, anyways. :smalltongue:

I don't think any of this is as mysterious as you seem to be making it, but I'm afraid I'm missing whatever point you are actually getting at here, maybe you can spell it out? Wwe actually know a lot about Medieval and Renaissance swords now days. As I and others have already pointed out in this thread, most Scottish "claymores", lowland or highland, were forged in Germany and given hilts and pommels in Scotland.

The sword purported to be William Wallaces sword that is at Stirling is very likely not his sword at all. All we know about it (from some surviving records) is that it was rehilted in 1505. There are no records of that sword ever belonging to William Wallace. From the weight of the blade it was probably a bearing sword from the 15th Century.

Wallace himself probably wielded an Oakeshott type XIIa or XIIIa



@G

As a man with mostly Celtic ancestors (snip) See, when there wasn't enough resources to go around, we'd all get up

You'll have to forgive me, but believing you have "celtic" ancestry doesn't really equate with speaking about them in the first person plural. It would be a bit like me saying "we indentured servants think slavery is a good thing" or "we bubonic plague victims prefer lower taxes" I don't think you know anything more about "Celts" than anyone else in the forum, and I don't think you are inside their heads ancestry notwithstanding.


chariots (which unlike other civilzations, we used as personnel carriers)
Outside of the British Isles, that ended in the Bronze Age.



and take them home, preserve them, and bring them out at festivals because we thought it would give us magical powers. Let me say it again: we thought taking a human head, preserving it and keeping it around the house gave us MAGICAL POWERS. The Romans were pompous, arrogant and sometimes hypocritical, but they were right in calling Celts barbarians.

The Romans thought their Emperors were Gods. Let me say it again. They thought Caligula, Nero and Tiberius were Gods. And anyone who said they weren't was painfully executed. They also thought they were descended from two men who were weaned on wolves milk, and made slaves fight to the death as public entertainment. None of which made them particularly unusual as a people by the standards of their day.

This is kind of a cartoonish image you are painting, of swords, of fencing techniques, of Romans and "Celts", all fine for an RPG context... but this thread as I understand it is for real answers based on historical evidence, so I hope I'm not out of line in being a little blunt. You appear to have a lot of misconceptions.

G.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-05, 02:03 AM
The Romans thought their Emperors were Gods. Let me say it again. They thought Caligula, Nero and Tiberius were Gods. And anyone who said they weren't was painfully executed. They also thought they were descended from two men who were weaned on wolves milk, and made slaves fight to the death as public entertainment. None of which made them particularly unusual as a people by the standards of their day.

G.

Not to be pedantic (or perhaps to be pedantic) but they believe they were the descendants of one of two men who were weaned on wolves milk, two Gods, and a Hero of the Trojan War (admittedly from the Trojan side).

Anyhow, back on topic, I was playing through Assassin's Creed II recently, and I was wondering about their classification of the Cinquedea as a knife type weapon. I've always thought they were short swords (and seen them classified as such), being suitable for daily wear by a gentleman. That said, I don't know much about them - why are they "Five Fingers" wide, what purpose does that serve? What sort of techniques would they be suitable for?

Thanks!

Spiryt
2010-09-05, 03:32 AM
I've seen someone posting Cinquedea in dimensions of two handed sword once, IFAIR.

Definitely, they're hard to be described as "knives", although some of them probably were pretty small.

Also, it seems that they weren't popular anywhere outside of Italy, and were mainly fashion thing - multi fullered blade was matter of look.

They would be suitable for any techniques of short, broad bladed sword - so particularly short, vicious chops would be deadly.

And, of course, Assassins Creed is as much historically helpful as Diablo, so they might have put many things into it. :smallwink:

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-05, 12:32 PM
I don't think any of this is as mysterious as you seem to be making it, but I'm afraid I'm missing whatever point you are actually getting at here, maybe you can spell it out? We actually know a lot about Medieval and Renaissance swords now days. As I and others have already pointed out in this thread, most Scottish "claymores", lowland or highland, were forged in Germany and given hilts and pommels in Scotland.

The sword purported to be William Wallaces sword that is at Stirling is very likely not his sword at all. All we know about it (from some surviving records) is that it was rehilted in 1505. There are no records of that sword ever belonging to William Wallace. From the weight of the blade it was probably a bearing sword from the 15th Century.

Wallace himself probably wielded an Oakeshott type XIIa or XIIIa

No arguments here. He was definitely wielding one of those Oakshotts, and the Wallace Sword definitely isn't his. There is only debate on whether or not it is an accurate replica of his real sword.

Right now, the thing that's getting me is that I can't tell if there's a difference between an oversized longsword and a claymore aside from the handle. If there isn't, the debate is over. If there is....that's another headache.



You'll have to forgive me, but believing you have "celtic" ancestry doesn't really equate with speaking about them in the first person plural. It would be a bit like me saying "we indentured servants think slavery is a good thing" or "we bubonic plague victims prefer lower taxes" I don't think you know anything more about "Celts" than anyone else in the forum, and I don't think you are inside their heads ancestry notwithstanding.


Just showing that I'm not some Celt hater.:smallbiggrin:



The Romans thought their Emperors were Gods. Let me say it again. They thought Caligula, Nero and Tiberius were Gods. And anyone who said they weren't was painfully executed. They also thought they were descended from two men who were weaned on wolves milk, and made slaves fight to the death as public entertainment. None of which made them particularly unusual as a people by the standards of their day.

This is kind of a cartoonish image you are painting, of swords, of fencing techniques, of Romans and "Celts", all fine for an RPG context... but this thread as I understand it is for real answers based on historical evidence, so I hope I'm not out of line in being a little blunt. You appear to have a lot of misconceptions.

G.

.....so, Celts were average?

I'm not saying Romans weren't barbarians themselves to some extent (what with waging wars for profit and gladiatorial areas and all). Hell, most cultures had barbaric aspects. The Celts were nice enough fellows who would turn sword to plowshare in good times....but I think 'collecting a single piece of the human body from those you have slain, preserving it and keeping it around your place, sometimes bringing it out on your war chariot for intimidation because you think it gives you magic powers' combined with 'when resources run low, wage tribal warfare to gain more resources and curb the population' is enough for them to qualify as barbarians. If it doesn't, then could you please show me the new official standards on which we decide whether or not a group is 'barbarian'.

The one thing that I don't about the Romans: Sure, the Emperors were of divine bloodline according to the mythology, but why treat them as infallible, especially when each god of the pantheon had some small, human flaw?

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-05, 12:34 PM
Not to be pedantic (or perhaps to be pedantic) but they believe they were the descendants of one of two men who were weaned on wolves milk, two Gods, and a Hero of the Trojan War (admittedly from the Trojan side).

Anyhow, back on topic, I was playing through Assassin's Creed II recently, and I was wondering about their classification of the Cinquedea as a knife type weapon. I've always thought they were short swords (and seen them classified as such), being suitable for daily wear by a gentleman. That said, I don't know much about them - why are they "Five Fingers" wide, what purpose does that serve? What sort of techniques would they be suitable for?

Thanks!

On a related note, what's the difference between a big knife and a dagger? I've suspected that it's that a knife is only sharp on one side, but I'm not sure.

Matthew
2010-09-05, 03:05 PM
A good time to define "barbarian", perhaps? :smallbiggrin:

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-05, 03:12 PM
The one thing that I don't about the Romans: Sure, the Emperors were of divine bloodline according to the mythology, but why treat them as infallible, especially when each god of the pantheon had some small, human flaw?

Or, more frequently, multiple, huge, human flaws exacerbated by the powers they wield. In my freshman year at Uni, during one of my classes on the Illiad, one of my classmates decided to compare the Greek Pantheon to a bunch of "Huge, Superpowered Hens" what with all their infighting.


On a related note, what's the difference between a big knife and a dagger? I've suspected that it's that a knife is only sharp on one side, but I'm not sure.

According to Merriam Webster (since I've not got my OED handy) a Knife is: "a: A cutting instrument consisting of a sharp blade attached to a handle
b: A weapon resembling a knife"
A Dagger on the other hand is:
"A sharp pointed knife for stabbing."

So all Daggers are Knives, but not all Knives are Daggers, and a Dagger is a Knife meant primarily for stabbing. Disclaimer: this is from a general purpose dictionary, and may not agree with the technical academic descriptions.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-05, 03:16 PM
A good time to define "barbarian", perhaps? :smallbiggrin:

In a literal sense, a bearded person, coming from the Greek βἀρβαρος (Barbaros) meaning "bearded" (Caution: I'm away from my Middle Liddel and so this may not be entirely accurate).

Edit: oh, and sorry for the double post. If they can be merged then please merge them.

Spiryt
2010-09-05, 03:37 PM
I'm pretty sure it comes from ancient greek, and meant just someone who was "mumbling". Ergo - anyone who was not able to "speak" or speak greek in this case, of course.

Word like thousands of others, as people pretty much always were dividing themselves to those who they could talk with, and the rest.

This one just made quite a career.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-05, 03:44 PM
I'm pretty sure it comes from ancient greek, and meant just someone who was "mumbling". Ergo - anyone who was not able to "speak" or speak greek in this case, of course.

Word like thousands of others, as people pretty much always were dividing themselves to those who they could talk with, and the rest.

This one just made quite a career.

I thought that word was the word for Sparrow, which was used as a pejorative for those who could not speak Greek (Clytemnestra calls Cassandra this, because her 'Barbarian' (Trojan) speech sounds like the chirping of a sparrow). Who knows, I'll have to go get my LSJ and check.

crazedloon
2010-09-05, 04:15 PM
If I am not mistaken, and I may well be becuase it has been years since my Latin days, but barbarian is derived from a roman word used to describe any non roman citizen. It is the reason that the romans "considered" so many people barbarians. It is actually the latter interpretation of roman propaganda and holy roman empire propaganda which exaggerated the term to the brutish form you now think of as a barbarian.

Matthew
2010-09-05, 05:28 PM
You are all almost right about the etymology, though I was looking more for the modern meaning as being used in this thread (which is perhaps closer to "savage" or "uncivilised", from what I can tell)!

As far as I am aware, "barbarian" is originally descended from a Greek term for non-Greek, and supposedly derived from the comical "barbarbar" noise that they may have used to signify a foreign language. It was adopted by the Romans, who were a clean shaven lot, and so came to be associated with beards (hence the English "barber") in the sense of foreigner. An amusing read is the apostate Emperor Julian's criticism of the new Christian mores of the empire entitled "The Beard Haters (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/julian-mispogon.html)". Of course, this is just what I was told by my Latin teacher and have since seen repeated elsewhere (on the internet, mainly, so the veracity is based on faith).

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-05, 07:01 PM
Yes, according to my LSJ (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=ba/rbaros&la=greek) βαρβαρος means "Of Barbarous Speech" as their speech sounded like the 'baaing' of the sheep they so often tended.

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-05, 07:17 PM
Yes, according to my LSJ (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=ba/rbaros&la=greek) βαρβαρος means "Of Barbarous Speech" as their speech sounded like the 'baaing' of the sheep they so often tended.

......

Y'know, I've heard the 'beard' and 'barbarbar' etymologies, but the sheep is a new one. Anyhow, modern definition?

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-05, 08:39 PM
Well, the "Barbarbarbarbar" was the sheep sound. Now, for the modern version (courtesy Merriam Webster, with me still being in a place with no OED handy):
"Barbarian, n, A person lacking refinement, learning, artistic, or literary culture; also, adj., of or relating to a land, culture, or people alien and usually believed to be inferior to another land, culture, or people."

Hades
2010-09-05, 09:04 PM
OED:
Barbarian

A. Noun. (from French, first recorded use in English 1549).

1. etymologically, A foreigner, one whose language and customs differ from the speaker's.
2. Hist., a. One not a Greek. b. One living outside the pale of the Roman empire and its civilization, applied especially to the northern nations that overthrew them. c. One outside the pale of Christian civilization. d With the Italians of the Renaissance: One of a nation outside of Italy.
3. a. A rude, wild, uncivilized person. b.Sometimes distinguished from savage c.Applied by the Chinese contemptuously to foreigners.
4. An uncultured person, or one who has no sympathy with literary culture.
5. a. A native of Barbary. b.A Barbary horse.

B. Adjective.

1.Applied by nations, generally depreciatively, to foreigners; thus at various times and with various speakers or writers: non-Hellenic, non-Roman (most usual), non-Christian.
2. Uncivilized, rude, savage, barbarous.
3. Of or belonging to Barbary.

Galloglaich
2010-09-06, 12:39 AM
Cinquedeas came in both dagger sized and short sword sized forms. I've got both in my weapon book. Cesare Borgia had one for Boar hunting which was the size of a sword, I think a 33" blade.... it is still around I think it was in Oakeshotts Records of the Medieval Sword. A lot of your Oakeshott type XXI are actually Cinquedeas.

The purpose of the shape is for causing fatal wounds in a thrust, primarily. In that sense it's very similar to the Roman Pugio. A very broad double-edged knife something like a very sharp garden shovel. If it goes in you, it's not going to kill you later, it's going to split your organs, your throat, your major arteries, completely wide open. You'll be dead very quickly. That is the point. It's also the same shape as the Indian katar or punch-dagger which is an armor (mail) piercing weapon designed to kill very quickly.

Skinner daggers can be better for armor-piercing against steel plate, getting into the gaps between plates for example. The ice-pick like stiletto was equally popular to the Cinquedea in fact.

The term dagger specifically refers to a type of large (12" blades were common, 19" blades are not unheard of) double edged knife carried by the knightly class and professional soldiers in Europe during the Medieval period, starting around 1250 AD, and remaining in use until well into the Industrial Age.

But this type of war or military knife with a pointy blade and doubled-edges, is extremely ancient and goes back to the earliest weapons of the Bronze Age and even to neolithic weapons. It's a design that keeps coming back. The Celts had them, the Romans had them (as the Pugio) They were kind of re-invented for British commandos in WW II. In fact the Cinquedea is thought to be a Renaissance copy of an Iron Age design from Spain.

The various debates as to the value of a single edged vs. double edged blade can get rather involved and probably should be skipped here. But lets just say the double-edged, extra tough war-knife is a popular design in human history.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-09-06, 12:42 AM
You are all almost right about the etymology, though I was looking more for the modern meaning as being used in this thread (which is perhaps closer to "savage" or "uncivilised", from what I can tell)!

As far as I am aware, "barbarian" is originally descended from a Greek term for non-Greek, and supposedly derived from the comical "barbarbar" noise that they may have used to signify a foreign language. It was adopted by the Romans, who were a clean shaven lot, and so came to be associated with beards (hence the English "barber") in the sense of foreigner. An amusing read is the apostate Emperor Julian's criticism of the new Christian mores of the empire entitled "The Beard Haters (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/julian-mispogon.html)". Of course, this is just what I was told by my Latin teacher and have since seen repeated elsewhere (on the internet, mainly, so the veracity is based on faith).

Ah... Julian the Apostate, my favorite Roman Emperor... very amusing link.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-09-06, 12:51 AM
Not to be pedantic (or perhaps to be pedantic) but they believe they were the descendants of one of two men who were weaned on wolves milk, two Gods, and a Hero of the Trojan War (admittedly from the Trojan side).

You are absolutely right I stand corrected.



Anyhow, back on topic, I was playing through Assassin's Creed II recently, and I was wondering about their classification of the Cinquedea as a knife type weapon. I've always thought they were short swords (and seen them classified as such), being suitable for daily wear by a gentleman. That said, I don't know much about them - why are they "Five Fingers" wide, what purpose does that serve? What sort of techniques would they be suitable for?

Thanks!

I heard that game is set in Florence I really want to get it now, but I'd have to get a modern computer mine is more than 5 years old now :(

Is good?

G.

Galloglaich
2010-09-06, 12:56 AM
I'm not saying Romans weren't barbarians themselves to some extent (what with waging wars for profit and gladiatorial areas and all). Hell, most cultures had barbaric aspects. The Celts were nice enough fellows who would turn sword to plowshare in good times....but I think 'collecting a single piece of the human body from those you have slain, preserving it and keeping it around your place, sometimes bringing it out on your war chariot for intimidation because you think it gives you magic powers' combined with 'when resources run low, wage tribal warfare to gain more resources and curb the population' is enough for them to qualify as barbarians. If it doesn't, then could you please show me the new official standards on which we decide whether or not a group is 'barbarian'.

The Romans nailed their enemies up onto crosses and left them there to intimidate their own citizens and their foreign subjects until they rotted apart. Wealthy Roman ladies used to scrape the sweat from the backs of Gladiators and use it for perfume before watching them get torn apart by wild beasts in the arena.

I already told you war "Celtic" war Chariots went out in the Bronze Age. The Romans didn't exist as such in the Bronze Age, they were still a minor tribe vassal to the Etruscans at that point.

As for tribal warfare, the Roman Republic waged continual, permanent warfare, they were at war every year the Republic lasted, sometimes with themselves . They fought more than one civil war. The Empire fought so many civil wars I couldn't begin to recite them all.

So I really still don't grasp the precise standard you are using to say the "Celts" by which I guess you mean La Tene Culture tribes from various parts of Europe or the Gauls, or possibly the Celtiberians or the Gallatians in Turkey... or maybe all of them, were Barbarians but the Romans weren't.



The one thing that I don't about the Romans: Sure, the Emperors were of divine bloodline according to the mythology, but why treat them as infallible, especially when each god of the pantheon had some small, human flaw?

Because the Praetorian guard would kill (see crucify, above) anybody who said they weren't a God, so the Emperors could do whatever they liked. Like make their horse a Senator or marry their sister. You know... civilized stuff.

G.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-06, 01:01 AM
The beginning of the game is set in Florence, with stops in San Gimignano, Forli, Venice, and a brief sojourn to Rome. The game is quite pretty, with many famous pieces of art featured, along with the excellent architecture of the period. I would have to recommend you play it on console, because of the PC version's required connection to the web in order to play. That said, there are workarounds, so if you're willing to do some work you can play on PC without being connected to the internet.

Also, it features many historical events and personages, 'Il Magnifico' Lorenzo de Medici, Rodrigo Borgia, Niccolo Machiavelli, Caterina Sforza, and several others. All in all it made for a good playing experience, even with its alternate history. I would recommend at least reading the plot of the first, however, if not playing it, as otherwise the forces driving the plot and some of the details will be confusing.

But yeah, in all, it's quite good.

Fhaolan
2010-09-06, 01:07 AM
Outside of the British Isles, that ended in the Bronze Age.

The Celts had an interesting innovation to chariots. I'm in contact with an archeologist from the Univeristy of Wales, who has done extensive research on the chariots found in burial mounds.

Unlike Roman and other chariot-using peoples, the Celts appear to have built theirs with a suspension system, made of tightly-sprung rope. This allowed their chariots to navigate much rougher terrain. Heck, if you learn the trick to it, you can actually 'jump' the chariot over logs, according to this archologist.

Likely this is one of the primary reasons chariots stayed in use in the British Isles when everyone else abandoned them.

One of the other reasons is that Celtic-style British chariots found in the mounds tended to be built with fittings that appear to be for mounting benches and like, so they could be used as simple carts when not stripped for war use. Being multi-function probably extended their useful life.

Galloglaich
2010-09-06, 01:08 AM
Cool... now I guess I have to get a Console game system.

By the way, I hope y'all will forgive me for kind of playing devils advocate about the whole Barbarian question, my point is really that who was or wasn't a barbarian in our collective past is (I think) a serious question which bears serious consideration.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-09-06, 01:10 AM
The Celts had an interesting innovation to chariots. I'm in contact with an archeologist from the Univeristy of Wales, who has done extensive research on the chariots found in burial mounds.

Unlike Roman and other chariot-using peoples, the Celts appear to have built theirs with a suspension system, made of tightly-sprung rope. This allowed their chariots to navigate much rougher terrain. Heck, if you learn the trick to it, you can actually 'jump' the chariot over logs, according to this archologist.

Likely this is one of the primary reasons chariots stayed in use in the British Isles when everyone else abandoned them.

One of the other reasons is that Celtic-style British chariots found in the mounds tended to be built with fittings that appear to be for mounting benches and like, so they could be used as simple carts when not stripped for war use. Being multi-function probably extended their useful life.

I remember the Romans were quite impressed with them and mentioned the jumping, as well as guys running along the bars between the horses to throw javelins etc., but they didn't help too much at least not in the South. Did the Picts and Caledonians use Chariots?

G.

Fhaolan
2010-09-06, 01:17 AM
I remember the Romans were quite impressed with them and mentioned the jumping, as well as guys running along the bars between the horses to throw javelins etc., but they didn't help too much at least not in the South. Did the Picts and Caledonians use Chariots?

G.

Excellent question, and I don't know the answer. I'll see if my contact has any more info about the distribution of chariot finds across the isles.

I do know that if you read a lot of the Irish and Welsh epics, it appears that actually fighting from the chariot wasn't as common as you would think. From what I read, it was more a speciallized cart for getting warriors and equipment to a battlefield *fast* with a dedicated driver. Rather than relying on the warriors to get themselves there... mainly because in the epics it seems the warrirors would be too drunk to get to the battle on time. If they could find it in the first place. :smallbiggrin:

EDIT: Fastest reply I've ever gotten from this guy. Must have been a good question.

He said the burial mounds with chariots of this 'advanced' design has a fairly wide distribution, even in areas dominated by the Picts. He also said that the chariots, while being of this advanced design still couldn't compete with the maneuverability of regular cavalry in combat thanks to the four-pillar saddle that was common at that time (which supposedly was also a Celtic innovation). As such they did get relegated to being really just a transport for big-wigs who ranked high enough to have a chauffeur, a blinged-out ride and wanted to do morale-boosting show-off maneuvers for the troops.

fusilier
2010-09-06, 02:37 AM
Anybody who isn't Roman is a barbarian. ;-)

Ok, so it's not that simple. It's a loan word from Greek, which essentially meant "not greek." Even in ancient Greece it appears to have been used to refer to the Gaul. All the connotations seem to have developed very early on. At it's root, and the term was sometimes used much later than antiquity in this manner, it was how foreigners of one sort or another were defined. Much like some Victorian British might claim the wogs begin at Calais.

Rome's influence on European history and culture allowed them to define (however arbitrarily) who was a barbarian and who wasn't. There can probably be some sweeping generalizations made about barbarian tribes, but I don't really give the term much consideration (i.e I consider the term to be rather arbitrary).

Returning to the topic of swords: Any easily accessible primers on mid to late 16th century cut-and-thrust drills out there?

a_humble_lich
2010-09-06, 02:38 AM
I think the question of the definition of barbarian is important here. I see there are two relevant definitions here (ignoring the original greek meanings of βαρβαρος). First, we use the word to refer to people who are uncivilized, primitive etc. I think Galloglaich makes an excellent point that in comparison to us, that fits the Romans as much as the Celts.

I would argue to that there is a second definition of barbarian which is basically "non-Greek/Roman Iron Age Europeans" in particular the Celts and Germans. In many ways the word was coined to describe the Celts (OK I admit and the Persians, but the Greeks had early interactions with the κελτοι too). After several thousand years a lot of the view of "barbarians" is our romanticized version of the Celts and Germans.

Edit: fusilier basically said exactly what I was trying to. That will teach me to
press reply in a timely manner.

Psyx
2010-09-06, 05:21 AM
Let me say it again: we thought taking a human head, preserving it and keeping it around the house gave us MAGICAL POWERS. The Romans were pompous, arrogant and sometimes hypocritical, but they were right in calling Celts barbarians.

Umm...there really is no 'we'. I don't think any of us on the forum have any particular mileage in claiming any kind of direct ties with a culture that died out nearly 2000 years ago...

Everyone was superstitious. Romans and Celt alike performed sacrifices. Rome used to kill people for pure entertainment, remember.
Celtic law had provision for the care of elderly, children and the insane. They also seemed to have more respect for women. The Romans quite happily threw unwanted babies away. Celtic culture didn't write things down and didn't win against Rome. And so history remembers only what the Romans bothered recording. However, it clear from the archaeological finds that the Celts had plenty of skilled craftsmen and traded across the known world.


I'm away from my Middle Liddel and so this may not be entirely accurate)

It's -literally- 'people who speak like "babababa"', I believe. ie: Anyone who doesn't speak Greek.
Barbarian has always essentially meant 'people who aren't us', because people always see their own society as perfect and civil, and anyone else's as repugnant. Pure xenophobia.



"collecting a single piece of the human body from those you have slain, preserving it and keeping it around your place, sometimes bringing it out on your war chariot for intimidation because you think it gives you magic powers"

Not to dissimilar to saintly relics, really.

hamishspence
2010-09-06, 05:30 AM
In the Science of Discworld books, the essays between the story chapters go into some depth on "savage vs civilized" (especially in book 2)

and in general there's a strong theme of "it's the civilized people you want to be wary of".

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-06, 01:25 PM
I think the question of the definition of barbarian is important here. I see there are two relevant definitions here (ignoring the original greek meanings of βαρβαρος). First, we use the word to refer to people who are uncivilized, primitive etc. I think Galloglaich makes an excellent point that in comparison to us, that fits the Romans as much as the Celts.

I would argue to that there is a second definition of barbarian which is basically "non-Greek/Roman Iron Age Europeans" in particular the Celts and Germans. In many ways the word was coined to describe the Celts (OK I admit and the Persians, but the Greeks had early interactions with the κελτοι too). After several thousand years a lot of the view of "barbarians" is our romanticized version of the Celts and Germans.

Edit: fusilier basically said exactly what I was trying to. That will teach me to
press reply in a timely manner.

Alright, that is a good definition; let's stick to that.


Umm...there really is no 'we'. I don't think any of us on the forum have any particular mileage in claiming any kind of direct ties with a culture that died out nearly 2000 years ago...

Everyone was superstitious. Romans and Celt alike performed sacrifices. Rome used to kill people for pure entertainment, remember.
Celtic law had provision for the care of elderly, children and the insane. They also seemed to have more respect for women. The Romans quite happily threw unwanted babies away. Celtic culture didn't write things down and didn't win against Rome. And so history remembers only what the Romans bothered recording. However, it clear from the archaeological finds that the Celts had plenty of skilled craftsmen and traded across the known world.


Good points. I never knew they had care for the elderly. Perhaps in the big picture, the Romans would've been classified as barbarians if it were the Celts building the large cities and being the most advanced civilization in the known world.


Not to dissimilar to saintly relics, really.

I must've phrased it wrong. Saintly Relics is 'the Gods favored this person. Maybe if I keep a preserved piece of their body in my temple and keep alive the stories of their life and devotion to the Gods, the Gods will favor me as well.' Head hunting is similar, but it's magic because the head is the location of all magic in the human body.:smalltongue:


"it's the civilized people you want to be wary of".

Damn straight. I've been seeing a whole lot of this in the thread. Once they get civilized, they think they can get away with anything.....

Karoht
2010-09-06, 09:07 PM
I recall hearing somewhere that the Celts were the first people to have regulations regarding maternity leave, or something of that nature. Though I could be just as likely confusing this with the Picts.

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-06, 09:56 PM
^

Learning more and more stuff like this all the time on this thread.

Actually, we're getting off topic. Alright, let me make up a weapons question....

umm.....railguns?

Norsesmithy
2010-09-06, 10:08 PM
Biggest issue right now is rail erosion, that is to say where the conductive material of the rail is sublimed to plasma by the combination of massive current and the slight fitment gap of the armature.

Probably the best solution would be coming up with some odd metal alloy armature that had a predictable rate of expansion and a lower melting temp than the rails. Unfortunately, this would not be very efficient, due to the likely high resistance of alloys that might work, and each shot would produce a huge cloud of toxic metal vapor.

Harder solutions include high melting point high temp superconductors, probably not a very plausible solution.

Impractical solutions include extending the rails so that the armature and rails can achieve high velocities without the high current loads that cause the erosion.

What will probably happen is that we will have sequentially numbered armatures of slightly bigger and bigger dimensions to accommodate rail erosion, and a short service life for each "gun" in terms of shots, similar to the projectile sizing for the Schwerer Gustav.

Galloglaich
2010-09-07, 08:25 AM
Returning to the topic of swords: Any easily accessible primers on mid to late 16th century cut-and-thrust drills out there?

Easily accessible? Not really at this point. You might able to find some moderately difficult instructional DvDs. You'd need to narrow down to German (probably Joachim Meyer) or Italian (Bolognese, or possibly Marrozo).

G.

Maclav
2010-09-07, 11:09 AM
Along the same lines, hows about an English translation of Marozzo, 1536, Libro Tertio de Spada da Dev Mane, Cap 161 though 177?

fusilier
2010-09-07, 01:33 PM
Along the same lines, hows about an English translation of Marozzo, 1536, Libro Tertio de Spada da Dev Mane, Cap 161 though 177?

Ok, so following along those lines: are there any English translations of these manuals? I personally would lean toward the Italian manuals, but German is ok too.

Maclav
2010-09-07, 02:20 PM
Ok, so following along those lines: are there any English translations of these manuals? I personally would lean toward the Italian manuals, but German is ok too.

Marozzo, book 1 and 2: http://www.marozzo.org/marozzo-trans.pdf

Galloglaich
2010-09-07, 02:27 PM
Ok, so following along those lines: are there any English translations of these manuals? I personally would lean toward the Italian manuals, but German is ok too.

here is a complete scan of the original of Marozzos Opera Nova from 1568 (there are various editions)

http://mac9.ucc.nau.edu/manuscripts/marozzo.pdf

here are some partial translations

http://www.marozzo.org/marozzo-trans.pdf

This is dagger stuff but includes the images which is useful
http://www.marozzo.org/marozzo-presa.pdf

Some youtube videos... can't vouch for them because I don't know this instructor and don't know Marozzo very well... but this looks like some of the Marozzo sword and rotella stuff that we studied briefly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D71YmcR1f8c
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wYKYtoIM44&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBR0zVl7NLk&feature=related

This is sparring based on a compilation of 16th Century Bolognese masters including Marozzo.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbEhleSGfLk&feature=related

Hope that helps, Bolognese fencing is a challenging path but I suspect worth the effort.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-09-07, 04:29 PM
I asked a friend of mine who is a rapier guy (and has won several Rapier tournaments) and he recommended this website, which looks like a good resource:

http://www.salvatorfabris.com/SectionBolognese.shtml

G.

fusilier
2010-09-07, 09:50 PM
Wow, ask you shall receive! :-)

Thanks Galloglaich and Maclav, I have a plenty to study now.

Calintares
2010-09-07, 10:15 PM
Would it be possible in a traditional medieval setting to make something akin to Surgical masks or at least something that allows one to breathe, but would block out dust?

According to the wikipedia the concept was first thought up by Leonardo da Vinchi during the renesanse, but would it have been possible to make if anyone had thought of it before?

Psyx
2010-09-08, 04:08 AM
Desert dwellers have wrapped cloth around their faces for a few thousand years now.

And holding a handkerchief over the face doused in scent was a common way for the wealthy to avoid the stench of medieval urban areas.

Autolykos
2010-09-08, 07:55 AM
Would it be possible in a traditional medieval setting to make something akin to Surgical masks or at least something that allows one to breathe, but would block out dust?Soldiers in WWI soaked rags in water or urine to protect them against gas (with mixed success). That's about as low-tech as you can get, and if it even has a decent chance to protect you against chlorine or phosgene for some time, it should also help against bacteria. Also, what Psyx said.

Storm Bringer
2010-09-08, 08:27 AM
during the Black Death, doctors, who thought that the plague was airborune and transfered via 'Bad Air' (not unreasonable, and shows that they could understand the idea of bacterial/viral infection, even if they couldn't phrase in those terms or understand the mechanics. Unfortunatly, they were wrong in this case, it was transmitted via fleas.)

Plague doctors would wear a special suit, which included a mask with
a long, beak like nose (http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3359/3608580033_2e374ba096.jpg)stuffed with perfumes and such, which they though would help keep out the bad air. sound in concept, if you changed the salts to whatever they put in modern gas masks, then it would certianly help agianst gas attacks, though it would not be properly airtight.

edit:

Autolykos, the action of the urine masks was chemical, not physical. their is a chemcial in urine that reacted with chlorine to neutralise it, thus protecting the breather.

fusilier
2010-09-08, 10:25 AM
Plague masks were usually stuffed with straw (and probably other stuff). There are different forms of the plague, and if it infected the lungs it could be transmitted through coughing and sneezing (pneumonic plague, see: http://www.drugs.com/cg/plague.html ). I think exposure to open sores could also transmit the plague directly from person to person. As I recall pneumonic plague was the most deadly and quick acting. Victims "ate lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise."

Returning to the topic, if you simply want to filter dust, a fine cloth wrapped around the mouth and nose would probably work fairly well.

rojomoke
2010-09-08, 10:36 AM
<quibble>Thats pneumonic, not pneumatic.</quibble>

fusilier
2010-09-08, 10:46 AM
<quibble>Thats pneumonic, not pneumatic.</quibble>

Hahaha. I actually did write pneumatic! Hmm, maybe I need some caffeine. Thanks, I've corrected the original post. (Interestingly, the spell checker on this computer rejects the word pneumonic, but not pneumatic).

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-08, 12:31 PM
I don't want to think about the possible effects of pneumatic plague...:smallbiggrin:

If I could go back to a prior topic, what is it about Bolognese fencing that makes it so difficult? Are the techniques particularly demanding of strength, flexibility, or stamina?

Also, I'd like to thank all of you guys for posting videos of interpretations of Talhoffer et al. I tried one of those techniques in practice with my epée (Play Two - He cuts freely from the roof, he has displaced with turned hand and will step in front and wrench (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWISsk0cy74)), or a similar one, with less wrenching and more closing the distance and pressing the point into my opponent. Worked like a charm.

Xuc Xac
2010-09-08, 12:59 PM
Autolykos, the action of the urine masks was chemical, not physical. their is a chemcial in urine that reacted with chlorine to neutralise it, thus protecting the breather.

"Mustard gas" reacts with water to form sulfuric acid. Breathing through a wet rag will cause the gas to react with the water in the rag and probably burn your face. But that's better than letting it react with your wet, juicy lungs. If you burn your face, you'll get a nasty rash and maybe some scarring if it's a bad burn. If you burn your lungs, you'll drown in your own mucus.

fusilier
2010-09-08, 01:15 PM
"Mustard gas" reacts with water to form sulfuric acid. Breathing through a wet rag will cause the gas to react with the water in the rag and probably burn your face. But that's better than letting it react with your wet, juicy lungs. If you burn your face, you'll get a nasty rash and maybe some scarring if it's a bad burn. If you burn your lungs, you'll drown in your own mucus.

Yeah, but that's mustard gas. Even a wet rag was said to help against chlorine gas -- phosgene, on the other hand, needed more serious protection.

Galloglaich
2010-09-09, 08:38 AM
I don't want to think about the possible effects of pneumatic plague...:smallbiggrin:

If I could go back to a prior topic, what is it about Bolognese fencing that makes it so difficult? Are the techniques particularly demanding of strength, flexibility, or stamina?

It's not that it's demanding in that sense, it's just that it hasn't been as widely interpreted yet as say the Lichtenauer tradition stuff (like the Talhoffer you've been looking at). So there aren't quite as many videos and DvDs and books and etc.

You have to remember, until about 15 years ago, the number of people in the world who knew about ven the existence of any of these fencing manuals could fill a school bus. Today there are probably 20,000 active HEMA practitioners worldwide, but 90% of them are probably studying Lichtenauer tradition, I.33, or Fiore / Vadi, many of the later manuals have not been sussed out completely yet. For example they just found some Spanish and Portuguese manuals last year and nobody has really figured them out yet.

Also, Bolognese fencing is closer to rapier fencing and classical fencing and is a very precise, geometric oriented system. It's subtle and not as intuitive for some folks as the longsword, messer, dagger etc. By my experience the rapier people (and Bolognese fencing sort of falls into that side of the fence rather arbitrarily) aree somewhat of a different breed. But we all like to fight.



Also, I'd like to thank all of you guys for posting videos of interpretations of Talhoffer et al. I tried one of those techniques in practice with my epée (Play Two - He cuts freely from the roof, he has displaced with turned hand and will step in front and wrench (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWISsk0cy74)), or a similar one, with less wrenching and more closing the distance and pressing the point into my opponent. Worked like a charm.

Glad to hear that, yes, it's interesting isnt' it how well these old techniques work if you apply them correctly.

G.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-09, 12:40 PM
It's not that it's demanding in that sense, it's just that it hasn't been as widely interpreted yet as say the Lichtenauer tradition stuff (like the Talhoffer you've been looking at). So there aren't quite as many videos and DvDs and books and etc.

You have to remember, until about 15 years ago, the number of people in the world who knew about ven the existence of any of these fencing manuals could fill a school bus. Today there are probably 20,000 active HEMA practitioners worldwide, but 90% of them are probably studying Lichtenauer tradition, I.33, or Fiore / Vadi, many of the later manuals have not been sussed out completely yet. For example they just found some Spanish and Portuguese manuals last year and nobody has really figured them out yet.

Also, Bolognese fencing is closer to rapier fencing and classical fencing and is a very precise, geometric oriented system. It's subtle and not as intuitive for some folks as the longsword, messer, dagger etc. By my experience the rapier people (and Bolognese fencing sort of falls into that side of the fence rather arbitrarily) aree somewhat of a different breed. But we all like to fight.

I'll have to check out those links you posted on it then. That sounds like it could improve my epée technique, though it may not be the easiest place to start my study of HEMA.



Glad to hear that, yes, it's interesting isnt' it how well these old techniques work if you apply them correctly.

G.

Indeed it is interesting, especially that they can be so easily adapted to a different style of fencing.

Karoht
2010-09-09, 01:33 PM
My great-grandfather was exposed to (mustard?) gas when he fought in both world wars, though I forget which war in which he was exposed to it.
I met him on his deathbed. I was either 6 or 8 at the time. I think the official cause of death was lung cancer, but one could easily imagine the two were related. He had lung problems for years/decades. He was a cop in London between the wars, and he was a bricklayer in London after WWII if memory serves me correctly.

So yeah, not nice stuff that.

Storm Bringer
2010-09-09, 02:17 PM
it would be the first world war. while everyone in th second was scared that the other side would unleash some of the truly horiffic nerve agents made in the interwar period (today, there are gases that can kill in a single breath), everybody, hitler included, held back and refrained form using chemcial weaponry weaponry.

fusilier
2010-09-09, 03:08 PM
My great-grandfather was exposed to (mustard?) gas when he fought in both world wars, though I forget which war in which he was exposed to it.
I met him on his deathbed. I was either 6 or 8 at the time. I think the official cause of death was lung cancer, but one could easily imagine the two were related. He had lung problems for years/decades. He was a cop in London between the wars, and he was a bricklayer in London after WWII if memory serves me correctly.

So yeah, not nice stuff that.

Many who were gassed basically ended up with compromised lungs. I've heard of people who have been exposed to chlorine gas in laboratory accidents: they cannot smoke, and if they contract a chest cold it will last for months or even years! Mustard gas is known to have mutagenic effects, so even if a victim recovers it can cause problems years later.

Yeah, gas warfare is very very ugly. At one point I tried to stat out some WW1 gasses for GURPS, but gave up; there's a lot of conflicting information and I realized it wasn't worth roleplaying. I was amazed by the actions of many of the early British researchers -- almost all of whom died prematurely, as they were often exposed to gas accidentally, or even intentionally -- they would sometimes purposely inhale gas during an attack in an attempt to identify it! Also, tear gas was used a lot, but it's often overlooked, and I couldn't find clear information on how much was used and where.

Gas was used after WW1 (and even in WW2), but only against an enemy that couldn't retaliate.

MickJay
2010-09-09, 06:00 PM
One of the main issues with gas was its unreliability: the weather conditions need to be appropriate for its use to be effective, and if the enemy is prepared, then the gas becomes only an inconvenience, as it forces the soldiers to wear gas masks. Even the nastiest weapons are (still) being deployed, regardless of bans, if they're getting their task done and the collateral damage is acceptable (where both militarily criteria and public relations are concerned).

Autolykos
2010-09-10, 08:51 AM
it would be the first world war. while everyone in th second was scared that the other side would unleash some of the truly horiffic nerve agents made in the interwar period (today, there are gases that can kill in a single breath), everybody, hitler included, held back and refrained form using chemcial weaponry weaponry.Well, nearly everybody (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_war_crimes#Use_of_chemical_weapons)...

Yora
2010-09-10, 11:43 AM
Again, google has failed me, so I turn to a better fond of knowledge:

An off-topic discussion came up in another thread, regarding the use of bronze and iron weapons.
A common view seems to be, that the Bronze Age ended because they ran out of bronze, so they had to make do with iron that is less expensive and easier to get by. It was only then that iron working was advanced to a point that people could make weapons of steel that are superior to those made of bronze.

But how good is bronze for weapons and armor anyway? It's certainly much better than pure iron, or people would not have gone through the trouble of getting their hands on the very expensive bronze.

Bronze is just about 10% heavier than iron or steel. So unless steel can be worked much thinner (I don't know if it does?), weight would not be that much of a factor when you use spears or short swords. Through actual swordsmen might disagree.

Given the choice of both bronze and early types of steel (let's say 0 to 500 AD), would bronze still be competeable or clearly be outperformed by steel?

Norsesmithy
2010-09-10, 11:49 AM
I don't think they ran out so much as it cost something like a tenth as much of the price of a chunk of bronze for a similar chunk of iron.

Because Tin is hard to mine and only comes from a few places, whereas you can get Iron from burning peat.

And yes, the mature technology that was late bronze age bronze working did produce, for a while, a superior blade than the new technology that was early iron age iron working. But for the cost of a single bronze sword, you could outfit a large number of people with iron swords.

Galloglaich
2010-09-10, 02:03 PM
I don't think they ran out so much as it cost something like a tenth as much of the price of a chunk of bronze for a similar chunk of iron.

Because Tin is hard to mine and only comes from a few places, whereas you can get Iron from burning peat.

And yes, the mature technology that was late bronze age bronze working did produce, for a while, a superior blade than the new technology that was early iron age iron working. But for the cost of a single bronze sword, you could outfit a large number of people with iron swords.

What he said.

It was basically a matter of the availability of the ingredients; Iron ore could be got from many sources, panned from rivers, mined from rock, from bog plants, etc. Bronze required both copper and tin, which had been mined out in the regions where the Civilized cultures were that used Bronze, so it had to be got from very far away indeed. Eastern Mediterranean cultures were getting Tin from the British Isles and Western Spain. Some other 'Bronze' was actually a copper / arsenic alloy, other types were actually a type of Brass made with calamide which was the only source they had for zinc.

Late Bronze weapons got quite sophisticated. In China they were making Jian swords using different alloys with differential hardening and something like tempering techniques. These were generally far more sophisticated than early iron weapons, which are usually daggers or spear-heads instead of swwords. As you pointed out, most Bronze alloys (there were many and they had widely different properties) were about 10% heavier than iron, not quite as malleable generally, though they could be much harder than iron and were generally better than most early iron weapons. I say most because from the very first appearances of iron you did see some examples where steel was being made or (more commonly) pattern-welding and things like forge-welding and case-hardening.

The earliest steel I'm aware of was from the Haya Culture in Africa which seems to have been making some (very rare) steel artifacts as early as the 14th Century BC. Late Halstadt culture (Celtic or Illyrian) was producing pattern welded (partly or composite steel) artefacts by the 8th Century BC which were also very rare, then you see 'Norric steel" becomming pretty common in Illyria in the 3rd Century BC, and around the same time in Spain, and that is also when Crucible Steel appears in India.

Steel weapons were much better than Bronze for blades or for armor. Bronze continued to be used for mace heads into the Renaissance in some areas. But steel remained rare for a long time. Wootz ("Damascus") steel remained a hugely valuable trade commodity well into the Middle Ages. The European Barbarians (Franks and other Germanic tribes) started making steel in some signfiicant quantities again by the 8th or 9th Century AD, but it didn't really become cheap and widespread until the mini-industrial revolution of water and wind powered automation which took place from the 11th - 14th Century, mainly spread by the Cistercian monks. Not coincidentally, this corresponds to a rise in both iron armor and steel weapons, and later by the 15th Century, steel armor, all of which contributed to European military successes.

Steel is really the "miracle metal" of RPGs, it can be so many things and tempered and heat treated, is vastly stronger and more durable than any other metal (or really, any other substance until you get nano technology and carbon fiiber composites in the 20th / 21st Centuries)

G.

Joran
2010-09-10, 03:06 PM
Many who were gassed basically ended up with compromised lungs. I've heard of people who have been exposed to chlorine gas in laboratory accidents: they cannot smoke, and if they contract a chest cold it will last for months or even years! Mustard gas is known to have mutagenic effects, so even if a victim recovers it can cause problems years later.

Yeah, gas warfare is very very ugly.

Gas was used after WW1 (and even in WW2), but only against an enemy that couldn't retaliate.

I read that some of the most potent nerve agents only require a small amount to be touched or inhaled before lethal. It's pretty unnerving stuff (pun not intended).

As an aside, I always found the German chemist Fritz Haber to be a fascinating figure. He discovered how to fix nitrogen into fertilizers, so his discovery made large scale agriculture possible. The process also allowed explosives and gunpowder to be made without relying on natural sources of saltpeter, allowing Germany to stay in World War I. He also helped develop chemical weapons, including Chlorine gas.

His first wife committed suicide in opposition to his development of chemical weapons, as did his son after World War II. Despite all his accomplishments in the service of Germany, he eventually left because he was ostracized for being a Jew.

Storm Bringer
2010-09-10, 03:14 PM
Speaking as a british soldier who had his annual CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nucular, formerly called just NBC) training last week, their are some nerve agents out thier which, in ideal condictions, you can inhale a leathal doseage of in a single breath.


I dont know how fast you would be killed by that level of dosage, but if my training is anything to go by, the symptoms would be apprant within minutes.


the fun part is, the standard antidote for nerve agents, Aptrophine (sp?), is, in fact, posionous at the doesages required to counteract the nerve agents in time. one of the major parts of our training is recognising nerve agent posioning, and also recognising Aptrophine posioning.


It's just significantly less bad for you than the nerve gas.

Galloglaich
2010-09-10, 09:19 PM
yeah they scared the crap out of me with that stuff when I was in the army. I remember doing full scale decontamination drills in Germany, the doctor was in an airlock and we had to prepare the (fake) patients in Mopp IV gear. I still have nightmares about it once in a while.

G.

Kalaska'Agathas
2010-09-11, 12:53 AM
Gas weapons...nasty business that.



Anyhow, I was wondering about the continued usage of revolvers in competition, is that simply due to the rules having a division for the revolver holdouts, or is there some mechanical/practical advantage to the wheelgun over an automatic?

Norsesmithy
2010-09-11, 01:12 AM
Revolvers are scored in a different division, typically.

They compete against themselves, not against autoloaders.

Though to be fair, at the highest levels of competition, the differences are rather small, though they are consistent, and when used by persons of equal skill, the autoloader will win such a large portion of the time to be functionally equivalent to always.

Raum
2010-09-11, 01:20 AM
Anyhow, I was wondering about the continued usage of revolvers in competition, is that simply due to the rules having a division for the revolver holdouts, or is there some mechanical/practical advantage to the wheelgun over an automatic?A good revolver is more reliable than an automatic and can take more abuse. Mostly because it's simpler - fewer moving parts means fewer points of failure.

But that has little to do with competition. We humans can turn anything into a competition. And, for the most part, we don't need a reason beyond the competition itself.

Galloglaich
2010-09-11, 01:27 AM
Gas weapons...nasty business that.



Anyhow, I was wondering about the continued usage of revolvers in competition, is that simply due to the rules having a division for the revolver holdouts, or is there some mechanical/practical advantage to the wheelgun over an automatic?

Revolvers don't jam

G.

Norsesmithy
2010-09-11, 01:36 AM
A good revolver is more reliable than an automatic and can take more abuse. Mostly because it's simpler - fewer moving parts means fewer points of failure.

Mechanically, the mechanism of a double action revolver is more complex and more delicate than the mechanism of a semiautomatic pistol. It is much easier to kill a revolver than a selfloader. It is very easy to disrupt or damage the timing mechanisms on a revolver that advance the cylinder, and a small change can make your bullets start hitting the frame of the revolver instead of the forcing cone, with predictably negative results. Also many revolvers demand a specific brand of ammunition, and if fed the wrong stuff will suffer a primer extrusion that prevents the cylinder from being advanced until you smack it open with a mallet.

A autoloader might have trouble feeding if things aren't properly up to spec, or you are using it wrong, but you are far more likely to turn a gun into a fistload if you drop it, if your gun is a revolver.

Revolvers don't jam

G.They jam LESS, but when they do, you need tools to fix them, not immediate action drills.

Subotei
2010-09-11, 05:00 AM
One of the main issues with gas was its unreliability: the weather conditions need to be appropriate for its use to be effective, and if the enemy is prepared, then the gas becomes only an inconvenience, as it forces the soldiers to wear gas masks. Even the nastiest weapons are (still) being deployed, regardless of bans, if they're getting their task done and the collateral damage is acceptable (where both militarily criteria and public relations are concerned).

Against WW1 horsedrawn artillery a gas attack was not just an inconvenience - it could effectively immobilise the enemy's guns.

The British deployed gas in France in 1940, but it wasn't used and was brought home before the fall to prevent handing the Germans a propaganda victory if it was captured. Given the threadbare defences in England after Dunkirk, I have no doubt Churchill would've used it against a German invasion.

Xuc Xac
2010-09-11, 08:37 AM
Speaking as a british soldier who had his annual CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nucular, formerly called just NBC) training last week, their are some nerve agents out thier which, in ideal condictions, you can inhale a leathal doseage of in a single breath.


Ah, yes. That's some good training. Did they tell you that the nucular process all begins when the nulecule comes out of its nest?

Philistine
2010-09-11, 09:06 AM
The "threadbare defenses in England after Dunkirk" would have more than sufficed to wreck any attempted landing by Nazi Germany.

Probably the dirtiest little secret of the Battle of Britain is that the Germans never had the capability to mount a cross-Channel invasion; even if they'd driven the RAF out of the coastal bases, the fighters would simply have relocated north of London - far enough that they'd have been safe from Luftwaffe attack, but still close enough to interfere with any attempted amphibious assault. Or more likely, they'd have been close enough to interfere with the Luftwaffe's attempts to protect their invasion fleet from the Royal Navy, because the Kriegsmarine certainly didn't have the force to stand up to Home Fleet. Worse yet, even if the Germans had been able to get their landing force across unmolested, said force would have been all-infantry, with only the equipment and supplies they could carry on their backs. No chance of artillery or armor support, and no chance of reinforcement or even resupply for at least three days... Truly, there was no part of the Seelowe plan which was not disastrously bad.

Storm Bringer
2010-09-11, 09:23 AM
Ah, yes. That's some good training. Did they tell you that the nucular process all begins when the nulecule comes out of its nest?

i'm sorry, was thier a constructive comment in thier or a nikpick over spelling?

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-11, 09:47 AM
The "threadbare defenses in England after Dunkirk" would have more than sufficed to wreck any attempted landing by Nazi Germany.

Probably the dirtiest little secret of the Battle of Britain is that the Germans never had the capability to mount a cross-Channel invasion; even if they'd driven the RAF out of the coastal bases, the fighters would simply have relocated north of London - far enough that they'd have been safe from Luftwaffe attack, but still close enough to interfere with any attempted amphibious assault. Or more likely, they'd have been close enough to interfere with the Luftwaffe's attempts to protect their invasion fleet from the Royal Navy, because the Kriegsmarine certainly didn't have the force to stand up to Home Fleet. Worse yet, even if the Germans had been able to get their landing force across unmolested, said force would have been all-infantry, with only the equipment and supplies they could carry on their backs. No chance of artillery or armor support, and no chance of reinforcement or even resupply for at least three days... Truly, there was no part of the Seelowe plan which was not disastrously bad.

So once again, we all learn a lesson: Don't mess with Britain.

Philistine
2010-09-11, 12:26 PM
I'm not saying it could never be done by anyone ever, just that Germany had no hope of pulling it off at any time between 1939 and 1945. They'd have had to start working toward it years prior to the war - developing things like effective long-range fighters, assault landing craft capable of unloading heavy equipment across a beach, and a much more powerful surface navy, and then building these things in numbers sufficient to fight a long campaign.

Though of course nothing happens in a vacuum, and there's no telling what the British response to such developments in Germany would have been.

Norsesmithy
2010-09-11, 05:55 PM
Just like the Allied Landings consumed a huge amount of industrial capacity, any major landing action against any of the world powers of the time was an undertaking most nations just didn't have the industrial output to even attempt. That we managed to launch several is a testament to the vast industrial output differential the axis powers were up against.

If it weren't for the fact that the United States had more than 50% of the worlds industrial capacity at the time, landing attempts launched the by the Allies would have been folly as well.

I don't know that 3rd Reich Germany could have produced the amount and kinds of material needed, without utterly abandoning other important projects and not fighting on any other front.

Theodoric
2010-09-11, 06:46 PM
Among those interested in counterfactual history, Seelöwe as it was planned is basicly a joke. Even if the air battle would've been won, there's no way the Germans could transport their troops over the North Sea or the English Channel in Rhine-barges, set up a firm beachhead in England and establish supply lines over the Channel without the Royal Navy interfering.

Though, ofcourse, this is all hindsight and we shouldn't judge the British people of 1940 for assuming the worst.

Yora
2010-09-11, 07:20 PM
I don't know that 3rd Reich Germany could have produced the amount and kinds of material needed, without utterly abandoning other important projects and not fighting on any other front.
That's the real problem. they had so many things they wanted to do, all at the same time, that they eventually failed at all of them. Most projects wouldn't have been that much of a problem, if they hadn't have several campaigns and occupations running at the same time.
Though I really don't see how they could have hoped to get an invasion fleet by the royal navy.

Norsesmithy
2010-09-11, 07:37 PM
You don't have to beat the Royal Navy on the open ocean, you just have to keep the Channel free.

Lots of small torpedo and rocket craft, radar pickets, good airsupport, minefields, and submarines could probably pull it off, IF Germany had time to integrate captured economies, build up material, no Ostfront, etc.

It would still be hard, and it would require effective suppression of the RAF, and some (diplomatic) way to stop the flow of material from America, including lend lease destroyers.

RationalGoblin
2010-09-11, 11:28 PM
Quick question: What kind of warfare, equipment, and tactics did the 950s Kievan Rus use? I'm writing an alternate history story that veers off from real life a few years from those years.

Additionally, if anyone knows anything about Khazar tactics and equipment around the same period, that would be extra-helpful.

Thanks in advance.

Philistine
2010-09-11, 11:39 PM
Just like the Allied Landings consumed a huge amount of industrial capacity, any major landing action against any of the world powers of the time was an undertaking most nations just didn't have the industrial output to even attempt. That we managed to launch several is a testament to the vast industrial output differential the axis powers were up against.

If it weren't for the fact that the United States had more than 50% of the worlds industrial capacity at the time, landing attempts launched the by the Allies would have been folly as well.

I don't know that 3rd Reich Germany could have produced the amount and kinds of material needed, without utterly abandoning other important projects and not fighting on any other front.
All excellent points, and the last two taken together are especially interesting. To a much greater extent than any other belligerent power, the US was free to choose "all of the above" when faced with competing priorities - or at least to choose "this, then that" rather than "this instead of that." The US did a lot of things in a very short span of time, from providing a logistical lifeline to embattled Allies, to massively expanding and modernizing our own armed forces, to prosecuting - essentially - two separate wars on opposite sides of the globe, to undertaking staggeringly expensive research and engineering projects. When you look at everything that was achieved, it's really pretty amazing.


Though, ofcourse, this is all hindsight and we shouldn't judge the British people of 1940 for assuming the worst.
Very much this. In this context it's perhaps worth pointing out the fear of Japanese invasion on the US Pacific coast in the first 6 months or so after the Pearl Harbor attack - a fear with even less basis in fact than the British fears of a German invasion a year or so earlier. Germany had already accomplished enough "impossible" things by the fall of 1940 that it's easy to see why people were afraid they'd manage to pull it off just once more.

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-12, 08:31 AM
Then there's the whole matter of the enigma machine, which the Germans were using to send all their messages. The UK captured one, then assembled tech experts, chess masters, linguists, crossword fans and maybe a few others I can't remember. They built the first computer, and then proceeded to crack the enigma codes wide open. Once we captured schedules detailing the specific enigma codes on specific days, we actually started getting the messages before even the Fuhrer himself!

Not to mention Britain also had young soldiers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand backing them up, manning their long range aircraft and proving their mettle as tank drivers and infantrymen on the ground. Hitler never once comprehended exactly who he had started a fight with.

Storm Bringer
2010-09-12, 09:00 AM
Then there's the whole matter of the enigma machine, which the Germans were using to send all their messages. The UK captured one, then assembled tech experts, chess masters, linguists, crossword fans and maybe a few others I can't remember. They built the first computer, and then proceeded to crack the enigma codes wide open. Once we captured schedules detailing the specific enigma codes on specific days, we actually started getting the messages before even the Fuhrer himself!

Not to mention Britain also had young soldiers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand backing them up, manning their long range aircraft and proving their mettle as tank drivers and infantrymen on the ground. Hitler never once comprehended exactly who he had started a fight with.

the polish, for a start.

they broke the enigma before the war started. On a shoestring budget.

They were a major part of the british/american codebreaking effort, and were only stopped by the germans beefing up sercurity beyond what their budget could counter (they knew how to crack it, but the time and costs rendered it unviable until the computer allowed them to automate the sums.)

edit: this does not diminish the efforts of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, who effectivly 'broke' the enigma several times, due to changes in the enigma machine and operator practice (the latter was a major scource of leaks, as lazy operators would skip security mesures ("eg don't use the same key twice, don't use your girlfriends initials for a key setting", etc))

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-12, 09:20 AM
the polish, for a start.

they broke the enigma before the war started. On a shoestring budget.

They were a major part of the british/american codebreaking effort, and were only stopped by the germans beefing up sercurity beyond what their budget could counter (they knew how to crack it, but the time and costs rendered it unviable until the computer allowed them to automate the sums.)

edit: this does not diminish the efforts of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, who effectivly 'broke' the enigma several times, due to changes in the enigma machine and operator practice (the latter was a major scource of leaks, as lazy operators would skip security mesures ("eg don't use the same key twice, don't use your girlfriends initials for a key setting", etc))

Heh. I remember a show called 'Secrets of WWII'. They had an episode on the enigma crackers, and I distinctly remember them pointing out one specific case where one guy did that every time.

Storm Bringer
2010-09-12, 09:38 AM
that sort of lazy key selection was a major problem for the germans, as it allowed the crackers to shortcut the whole process.

The Birts would know, for example, that the 306th infantry division was currently in the line at, say, Caen (form reports form the Underground, other intercepts reports of unit patches seen at the front, etc). they might also know, for example, that a operator attached to the "306 XX HQ" callsign was a lazy swine who would encrypt his messages with his mothers maiden initials, "XYZ". they get a new message, which radio direction finding places at Caen. while one group of crackers starts the normal, 'blind' cracking attack, one bloke sits down with a copied or captired enigma, plugs in XYZ as the key, and sees if he gets a cohreant message out.

bingo! hes just saved hundreds of man hours of work, and got the message not more than a few hours after the intended recepitant.

MarkusWolfe
2010-09-12, 09:45 AM
One of the major things working against the Nazis is that many of Hitler's underlings were Chaotic Evil nutbags who used their power for the purpose of making others suffer, or to work towards their own ends. Heh, those crazy Nazis.

Thane of Fife
2010-09-12, 10:07 AM
Quick question: What kind of warfare, equipment, and tactics did the 950s Kievan Rus use? I'm writing an alternate history story that veers off from real life a few years from those years.

Additionally, if anyone knows anything about Khazar tactics and equipment around the same period, that would be extra-helpful.

Thanks in advance.

Ehm, I believe that the Kievan Rus armies were usually divided between local levies and the ruler's Druzhina, or personal retinue. There was probably a chance of mercenaries as well. I would suspect that whether they fought on horseback or on foot would depend where they were and what the local levy possessed. The Druzhina would presumably have been largely mounted, and better equipped than the levies.

As far as equipment goes, I would expect it to be viking-esque, in that the vikings did much of the civilizing of Russia.

You might consider looking through Google's preview of Osprey's Armies of Medival Russia: 750-1250 (http://books.google.com/books?id=FyfXPN4nhNQC&pg=PA15&dq=osprey+kievan&hl=en&ei=bOmMTJu6OIG78gas9vyPCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false), or picking up a copy if it looks interesting.

Also, I don't know if this is precisely the period you want, but here (http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=59239) are some illustrations of early medieval Russian soldiers.

Galloglaich
2010-09-12, 08:05 PM
Ehm, I believe that the Kievan Rus armies were usually divided between local levies and the ruler's Druzhina, or personal retinue. There was probably a chance of mercenaries as well. I would suspect that whether they fought on horseback or on foot would depend where they were and what the local levy possessed. The Druzhina would presumably have been largely mounted, and better equipped than the levies.

As far as equipment goes, I would expect it to be viking-esque, in that the vikings did much of the civilizing of Russia.

You might consider looking through Google's preview of Osprey's Armies of Medival Russia: 750-1250 (http://books.google.com/books?id=FyfXPN4nhNQC&pg=PA15&dq=osprey+kievan&hl=en&ei=bOmMTJu6OIG78gas9vyPCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false), or picking up a copy if it looks interesting.

Also, I don't know if this is precisely the period you want, but here (http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=59239) are some illustrations of early medieval Russian soldiers.

What he said...

To add to that a bit: there were the Druzhina who were heavy cavalry associated directly with a "Prince" (or more precisely, the Knyaz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knyaz) which is somewhat analagous to German Konig), they were armored and rode armored horses, and armed with both bows and lances as well as swords and later, sabers. Plus frequently maces, axes, lassos and god knows what else. They were some of the most heavily armed Medieval troops I ever heard of, basically because they had to contend with both Western European style heavy cavalry and eastern Steppe style cavalry archers.

http://velizariy.kiev.ua/about/pic/hero8l.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Druzhina

The Druzhina were closely analagous to the Germanic comitatus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comitatus_%28classical_meaning%29

Then you had the "Varjag" or "Varjazi" or "Varangians", this term could refer to a Varjag trading group which is kind of the Eastern Norse version of the early Hanse, or to Mercenary outfits. They were also heavily armed, usually on horseback or travelling on those river boats from town to town. But they usually fought on foot like regular Vikings, as heavy infantry.

This is a pretty good sketch of typical Varangian arms and armor in the 11th Century.
http://www.larsbrownworth.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Varangian_Guard.jpg

This is a good example of a 'Varjag' merchant in civilian attire, this is also how many Swedish Vikings dressed.
http://www.kostym.cz/Obrazky/8_Krejcovstvi/01_Catany/VIII_01_13B.jpg
The Varjag groups were directly related to the Viking war brotherhoods, in which each member would swear an oath of kinship creating an artificial kin-group or family ('brotherhood'), though the Varjag in Russia could include Norse as well as Finnish, Slavic, Baltic, Central-Asian and Western European members. One good point of comparison is the Jomsvikings which were the archetypical (and semi-legendary) Viking warrior-brotherhood.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jomsviking

Rus Varjag bands attacked Byzantine territory many times in the 8th-10th Century and then some of them were later hired by the Byzantines as the Varangian Guard. The Byzantines have records of Varjag bands going back to the 8th Century. One interesting detail is that they recorded women fighters among their ranks, noted among their dead after a defeat by the Byzantines in what is now Bulgaria. Ibn Fadlan also famously visited a Rus band which was probably a Varjag trading group, and complained about their washing out of the same bowl.

Then within each Princely territory you had the rural militia called the Voi, some of which in the 9th -10th Century were still real tough Slavic tribal militia; and well armed, well-trained urban militias in all of the fortified trading towns which were called 'veche (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veche)' (which is, rather confusingly, also the name for the urban political assembly* which was similar to the Norse 'Ting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thing_%28assembly%29)'). The militia leaders, called Tysatsky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tysyatsky) were elected by the veche, and were an important military figures in their own right, not just during the Rus but throughout the later Medieval Novgorod Republic.

In an echo of what was to happen later in Western Europe, the urban militias of the Rus towns (particularly Novgorod) were very strong and militarily important in the Rus Kaghanate, and contributed to the growing independence and then dominance of the trading cities like Kiev and Novgorod the Great, which became it's own Republic after the decline of the Kievan Rus (because Novgorod was never conquered by the Mongols, they retained the Veche and their own independent militia).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novgorod_Republic

I think the Osprey book is pretty good, I have it.

Here is another link on Rus weapons
http://www.inisfail.com/oldsage/ancients/the-rus.html

Here is a website of a French re-enactor group who dress up as Druzhina
http://www.1186-583.org/article.php3?id_article=19

If you want to get really deep into it, there are many good Primary sources for the Rus, the Russian Primary Chronicle, several of the Norse sagas, and numerous surviving Byzantine records are among the most accessible (quite a few having been translated into English).

Now as to the Khazars, that is something I don't know much about but I wish I did. I find them fascinating and enigmatic. The Khazar empire and their relationship to the Rus is like something right out of a Conan novel. I don't know of any really good sources though most of what I've read on them is from Wikipedia.

G.

Psyx
2010-09-13, 05:10 AM
The UK captured one

Poland were the first to capture a military one.

I seem to recall that civilian versions were available for purchase before the war, but it was the wiring system rather than the basic mechanical principles that was the crucial part.

No secure comms system is secure if you use the same one-time codes more than once. If you can keep to one-use discipline, one-time codes are as secure as you can get.



The US did a lot of things in a very short span of time

Like stopping the Bank of England from setting the value of the Pound itself, and by wrangling to get the place that set the world's exchange rates in Washington. By those two moves alone the US secured it's Top Dog position in the world after the war.



Quick question: What kind of warfare, equipment, and tactics did the 950s Kievan Rus use?

Awesome question. I have no idea, but am going to have fun reading the replies.



To a much greater extent than any other belligerent power, the US was free to choose "all of the above" when faced with competing priorities

Not as much as you may think, though. Even though the US had massive industrial resources, they were still pushed to near-limit. Just look at the HUGE resources that were piled into the Manhattan Project, for example.



I still have nightmares about it once in a while.

I didn't particularly enjoy being shut in a dingy hut in a noddy suit with a lung-full of tear-gas. That memory wakes me up about once a year, still.



is there some mechanical/practical advantage to the wheelgun over an automatic?

Other way around, I'd expect, although I'm not much of a pistol shooter and have never fired more than about half a dozen shots from a revolver in my life! Although revolvers have a reputation for reliability (which may be based on conservatism rather than facts), there's nothing to damp the recoil at all.
The infamous Desert Eagle even has a gas system instead of a blow-back mechanism which makes it even more recoil-friendly.



the fighters would simply have relocated north of London

If a decent job had been done by the Germans in the BoB, there wouldn't have been any fighters left.



It would still be hard, and it would require effective suppression of the RAF, and some (diplomatic) way to stop the flow of material from America, including lend lease destroyers.

U-Boats were doing a pretty good job. Great Britain was pretty much on it's knees and fighting punch drunk at the time.

Air Superiority could certainly need to have been be gained, and VERY nearly was. VERY nearly.
The Channel is hardly blue-water, so the Germans could rely partially on batteries on land and smaller craft to help against the RN. The RN wanted to retain its battleships as part of a Fleet In Being strategy, but would have tossed almost all of them into a fight for the channel... which may not have gone to well, looking at what was demonstrated to happen in the Pacific when you put capital ships up against dive-bombers.
The Germans had a marvellous ability to make the engineering impossible possible. They'd already attacked Belgium through a manner deemed as 'impossible' and defeated 'impregnable' defences. And GB had already 'impossibly' evacuated troops across the Channel at Dunkirk. The possibility of them getting troops to England could not be discounted. And they had the ability to make fairly organised parachute landings too, which would - if Kent had been the target for landings - nicely established a beach-head. Artillery could have been provided from Navy assets initially. As for armour... Kent isn't exactly tank country, so an armoured thrust was never really viable there. Anglia or the South of England are a lot more conducive to tank warfare, but I don't think that they were really viable targets due to lack of proper marine transportation.

fusilier
2010-09-13, 11:44 AM
Speaking as a british soldier who had his annual CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological Nucular, formerly called just NBC) training last week, their are some nerve agents out thier which, in ideal condictions, you can inhale a leathal doseage of in a single breath.

I don't know much about nerve gasses, but WW1 gasses all come down to concentration levels. Heavy enough concentrations and most gasses would be fatal. Some gasses like diphenylchloroarsine was just as fatal as phosgene or chlorine in the same concentrations, but weren't fielded in those concentrations. Diphenylchloroarsine is a very effective sternatator (sp? sneezing agent) in much much lower concentrations. The idea being that if you could quickly deliver the sternatator in low capacity high-explosive gas shells, then it would make it very uncomfortable to wear a gas mask, and the enemy would be more likely to be hit by the phosgene that was following it up. It may have also been able to penetrate the filters on many masks, although I'm not sure if it could penetrate the late war gauze style masks.

Reliability was a big issue. Weather conditions could make a significant impact, and are often given as the reason why heavy gas attacks were rare on the Italian front (although when used there they seem to have been effective). The first use of gas shells (against the russians in late 1914) failed as the temperatures were so low the gas simply froze. Diphenylchloroarsine may not have been as effective as supposed, because it required a pretty high temperature to vaporize. Finally, your own troops always risked exposure if gas was used in combat areas.

Subotei
2010-09-13, 06:08 PM
My earlier post - about Churchill using gas on the invasion beaches (all supposition on my part, but I reckon he would've sanctioned its use) - seems to have spun off a big Operation Sealion debate and whether it was a feasible plan. Some good points have been made - heres my view.

There was no certainty of the outcome of the Battle of Britain - poor tactical choices by the Germans (eg not concentrating on radar or fighter command bases, switching targets etc etc) might not have been made and the whole thing could've been much closer. Removing fighters north of London would've made the south coast and channel a german controlled zone.

The real strength of Fighter Command was the fact if could prevent the German planes attacking the Home Fleet if it was committed - not to attack the landing forces in any meaningful way. Given the poor performance of bomber command in the early part of the war I doubt the airforce woud've been much use offensively if a landing was made. Ships without air cover were useless (see Crete and any number of battles in the Pacific War). No air cover over the channel meant the Home fleet would've been decimated by the Luftwaffe, despite the shortcomings of the main German surface fleet. Thats not to mention the substantial land based artillery, e-boats, mines and subs that could also have been used - as has been mentioned in other posts.

Commiting the Home fleet, even under favorable conditions, would've been a gamble. This was the real weakness of the British position - to risk its use and have it destroyed would've ended British power.

The British defences on land were threadbare - a few partially equipped infantry divisions plus a few dozen tanks were pretty much all there was after Dunkirk. Massive efforts were made to bring this up to a decent level but at no time in 1940 were they a match for the german forces opposing them.

Whether Sealion would've worked is debatable - on the balance of probability it looks dicey in the extreme. However Hitler showed later in the war a willingness to accept massive casualties to achieve his aims, so were he willing to have a go I think it would've been a close call. Most likely a pyrrhic victory for Britain, with both side being mauled. I believe the reason it wasn't attempted was (a) his long term aim of turning East against Russia and (b) the fact that he wasn't able to inflict enough damage on fighter command to give the Luftwaffe a chance to crack the Home fleet.

holywhippet
2010-09-13, 07:18 PM
Something I've been wondering for a while. When people fire a machine gun straight up into the air (like at certain middle east weddings) it would seem to be a dangerous move since what goes up, must come down. I'm not sure about that though. Bullets are extremely fast when fired, but they don't have much mass so I was thinking they might not fall overly fast when come back down due to wind resistance.

Any ideas? Are bullets dangerous when in freefall?

Norsesmithy
2010-09-13, 07:53 PM
It depends. Bullets are fairly aerodynamic things, so if they are fired at a low enough angle that they remain stabilized, they will come down with lethal power, and in fact, there are a several deaths a year in the States because of such practices, never mind in places where it is more common.

But if bullets are fired at a steep enough angle that they tumble as they fall, they generally don't have the gumption to cause serious injury.

The threshold seems to be ~80 degrees from horizontal, BUT it varies based on bullet, barrel twist, and velocity.

crazedloon
2010-09-13, 08:14 PM
there is a rather good mythbusters episode based on this exact question :smallwink:

RationalGoblin
2010-09-13, 08:34 PM
What he said...

To add to that a bit....

*awesomeness*

Thank you very much! This will help my alternate history timeline/story a lot!

As for the Khazars, yeah, that's the group I'm focusing on, and yes, there's not a lot of info about them at all. Very enigmatic, and much of what people assume about them is based on half-truths and lies. (I.e., conspiracy theories abound about the Khazars).

Galloglaich
2010-09-13, 11:07 PM
Thank you very much! This will help my alternate history timeline/story a lot!

As for the Khazars, yeah, that's the group I'm focusing on, and yes, there's not a lot of info about them at all. Very enigmatic, and much of what people assume about them is based on half-truths and lies. (I.e., conspiracy theories abound about the Khazars).

Yeah I know there are some creepy anti-semitic theories about them because they converted to Judaism. I think all that is B.S. though needless to say. I believe there is some serious academic data about them out there but I've yet to find any really good and also relatively accessible sources, if you do let me know I'd really like to read more about the mysterious Kazhars.

G.

Galloglaich
2010-09-13, 11:09 PM
My earlier post - about Churchill using gas on the invasion beaches (all supposition on my part, but I reckon he would've sanctioned its use) - seems to have spun off a big Operation Sealion debate and whether it was a feasible plan. Some good points have been made - heres my view.

There was no certainty of the outcome of the Battle of Britain - poor tactical choices by the Germans (eg not concentrating on radar or fighter command bases, switching targets etc etc) might not have been made and the whole thing could've been much closer. Removing fighters north of London would've made the south coast and channel a german controlled zone.

The real strength of Fighter Command was the fact if could prevent the German planes attacking the Home Fleet if it was committed - not to attack the landing forces in any meaningful way. Given the poor performance of bomber command in the early part of the war I doubt the airforce woud've been much use offensively if a landing was made. Ships without air cover were useless (see Crete and any number of battles in the Pacific War). No air cover over the channel meant the Home fleet would've been decimated by the Luftwaffe, despite the shortcomings of the main German surface fleet. Thats not to mention the substantial land based artillery, e-boats, mines and subs that could also have been used - as has been mentioned in other posts.

Commiting the Home fleet, even under favorable conditions, would've been a gamble. This was the real weakness of the British position - to risk its use and have it destroyed would've ended British power.

The British defences on land were threadbare - a few partially equipped infantry divisions plus a few dozen tanks were pretty much all there was after Dunkirk. Massive efforts were made to bring this up to a decent level but at no time in 1940 were they a match for the german forces opposing them.

Whether Sealion would've worked is debatable - on the balance of probability it looks dicey in the extreme. However Hitler showed later in the war a willingness to accept massive casualties to achieve his aims, so were he willing to have a go I think it would've been a close call. Most likely a pyrrhic victory for Britain, with both side being mauled. I believe the reason it wasn't attempted was (a) his long term aim of turning East against Russia and (b) the fact that he wasn't able to inflict enough damage on fighter command to give the Luftwaffe a chance to crack the Home fleet.

+1 I agree completely with this analysis. The British fleet would have been vulnerable to Stukas and Ju-88s, (and U-boats) but it would have been a brutal slog and they might have been able to smash their way through and wipe out a German invasion fleet (of barges and etc.) before they were neutralized. I don't think it would have been impossible for the Germans to pull it off even with no RAF but very very risky. And the British are tough they would not have just rolled-over in their home turf, especially with the rest of Western Europe already conquered, they would know it was do or die.

G.

Joran
2010-09-13, 11:30 PM
there is a rather good mythbusters episode based on this exact question :smallwink:

It was the first ever myth to have all three outcomes: confirmed, busted, and plausible.

It was confirmed because there have been people killed or wounded by bullets fired into the air.

It was busted, because they found that if you fired a gun exactly 90 degrees into the air, the bullet would lose its spiral and tumble, making it not lethal.

It was plausible, because if a person fired the bullet at less than a 90 degree angle, it could still maintain its spin and ballistic trajectory and come in at lethal speeds.

Psyx
2010-09-14, 05:38 AM
Any ideas? Are bullets dangerous when in freefall?

People do it because people are stupid.
Yes: Bullets fired into the air can come down and kill people. And they do.
But people are still stupid.



Commiting the Home fleet, even under favorable conditions, would've been a gamble. This was the real weakness of the British position - to risk its use and have it destroyed would've ended British power.


That is essentially the Fleet In Being strategy: If you have a fleet and it's not been sunk, it's a threat. If you use it and it gets destroyed, then you hand dominance of the sea to your foes. It's better to always have a few battleships moored up in docks somewhere than to use them. It's why the RN and KM fleets spent much of the war twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the other fleet to sail.

The Channel is a woefully small place for a fleet action. The RN would have had to oppose the landings, but also would have needed to maintain assets to both threaten the beach-head (even an empty threat means the enemy must allocate assets to counter it) and to ensure that other landings could be opposed. I don't think the RN would have given it their all though for the reasons others have stated: Battleships don't do too well against dive bombers, and they needed to have something left.

But... it didn't happen, because Germany screwed up, and some very young men spent many of their waking hours flying aircraft and getting shot at 70 years ago. A fact that I'll be celebrating tomorrow, on BoB day.

fusilier
2010-09-14, 11:55 AM
Mechanically, the mechanism of a double action revolver is more complex and more delicate than the mechanism of a semiautomatic pistol. It is much easier to kill a revolver than a selfloader. It is very easy to disrupt or damage the timing mechanisms on a revolver that advance the cylinder, and a small change can make your bullets start hitting the frame of the revolver instead of the forcing cone, with predictably negative results. Also many revolvers demand a specific brand of ammunition, and if fed the wrong stuff will suffer a primer extrusion that prevents the cylinder from being advanced until you smack it open with a mallet.

A autoloader might have trouble feeding if things aren't properly up to spec, or you are using it wrong, but you are far more likely to turn a gun into a fistload if you drop it, if your gun is a revolver.
They jam LESS, but when they do, you need tools to fix them, not immediate action drills.

I'm a bit surprised by your statement that a double action revolver is mechanically more complex than an automatic pistol. I would think the opposite would be the case, with the various springs and sliding (or toggle) actions of an automatic pistol are necessary to chamber, fire and eject a round/casing.

Robustness and quality of the individual design and build will effect reliability, and I believe that most modern semi-auto pistols are made very well. But I suspect that there are some delicate semi-auto pistols out there that will not suffer abuse as well as some revolvers. I'll concede, however, that a revolvers moving parts are exposed, so a good whack may work directly on them.

fusilier
2010-09-14, 12:01 PM
People do it because people are stupid.
Yes: Bullets fired into the air can come down and kill people. And they do.
But people are still stupid.

I second this. Every couple of years someone is wounded or killed by a bullet in my city from New Years "celebrations".

Raum
2010-09-14, 04:43 PM
I'm a bit surprised by your statement that a double action revolver is mechanically more complex than an automatic pistol. I would think the opposite would be the case, with the various springs and sliding (or toggle) actions of an automatic pistol are necessary to chamber, fire and eject a round/casing.

Robustness and quality of the individual design and build will effect reliability, and I believe that most modern semi-auto pistols are made very well. But I suspect that there are some delicate semi-auto pistols out there that will not suffer abuse as well as some revolvers. I'll concede, however, that a revolvers moving parts are exposed, so a good whack may work directly on them.I suspect Norsesmithy and I were approaching the pistol's use from different perspectives. If you want a home defense weapon you can lock away and neglect until you need it, a revolver is probably your best bet. If you're using it in combat or just carrying it where it may take abuse, a semi-auto is probably better. I don't carry a weapon, it's purely for home defense. (And the zombie-apocalypse!) :)

The most succinct summary I've heard was
Revolvers tolerate neglect better than they tolerate abuse.

Semi-autos tolerate abuse better than they tolerate neglect. Specific failure types: Revolvers Jammed cylinder (don't drop it on its side)
Failed / fouled ejection either slowing reload or preventing cylinder closure if you force the reload Semi-automatics Failure to feed - the round catches when fed into the chamber
Failure to eject - the extractor fails to pull the round properlyIn general, the semi-auto failures occur far more often but the revolver failures are more serious (often requiring tools to correct). Which is more reliable really depends on how it is used. If you let the pistol sit in a lockbox for years between uses (a home defense weapon), the revolver is more reliable. Simple neglect isn't going to cause many problems. However, if you're running around knocking the pistol against things (think field use), the semi-auto will usually handle the abuse better.

Mike_G
2010-09-14, 05:08 PM
If you're going to leave it in a locked box for years, you should sell it and spend the money on something useful.

Even if it's never going to be carried around, just sued for home defense, you should be taking it to the range. Or else, the one time you need it, you and the gun will have so much rust built up, that it's more likely the intruder will take it away from you and pistol whip you than you will actually use it successfully.

It takes a thousand rounds to get good, and a hundred a year to stay good.

averagejoe
2010-09-14, 06:38 PM
The Mod They Call Me: This thread has exceeded the 50 page limit. There is now a new thread. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=9357777#post9357777)