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Mr. Mud
2009-10-06, 08:23 AM
Roman cavalry were used exactly the same way as every other cavalry; it is something of a modern myth that has arisen around the Romans that their cavalry was poor quality or only used for skirmishing. Much has to do with the assumption that because ancient cavalry lacked stirrups they could not be used to deliver a "shock" charge, the belief being that a "pole vault" would be the result. In the last few decades this has been shown to completely wrong, and our ideas about ancient cavalry have been utterly reformed (along with our view of the "stirrup revolution"), largely through investigation of ancient cavalry saddles.

This.

While stirrups probably greatly enhanced the "shock" factor, and probably the overall effectiveness of mounted warfare, Roman cavalry was used just as all others were.... if not more effectively.

Dervag
2009-10-06, 10:28 AM
The usefulness of a weapons depends on the age it was used.

During medieval times, knights were heavily armored, so no light sword could hurt them effectively. You had to beat that tin can until your hands were hurting you and he still was standing. Thats why there were so many prisoners at that time as well. People just didnt die. They got exhausted and fell over from the blows, not from severe wounds.Heavy armor (in the sense of "steel plates") wasn't introduced until very late in the medieval period, long after the practice of taking enemy knights prisoner was in place.


Combat became fast and bloody. So obviously you didnt want to be the 2 handed sword wielding guy, who could make 1 attack in 6 seconds.People who are actually any good with large two-handed swords can attack much more frequently than that... you don't just swing the thing back and forth like a giant club. For that matter, you don't use it to chop through armor, either; that's what polearms and blunt weapons are for.


The fact is, that throughout history, swords kept getting bigger and bigger.

From the Shortsword to the Spatha, to the Longsword, to the Zweihander.But it wasn't really a linear evolution. Whenever you had large polearm formations (be they ancient Greek phalanxes or Renaissance pike blocks), you saw short swords reappearing to arm them with. Whenever you didn't have large polearm formations, you saw people going straight to the 'large one handed' sword types*, rather than messing around with stuff in the eighteen-inch range.

*I'm not good enough with the terminology to use the strictly proper names.


An off-topic aside, why in the world are you using Roman numerals?!

On-topic: I question how useful cavalry was in the 19th century. Mounted infantry (dragoons) were fairly common, England maintained a 'House Guard' of heavy cavalry, and several national armies did maintain regiments of light cavalry and lancers. But were they useful as cavalry or simply as transportation for infantry? If they were useful, in what battles were they decisive?

Lord Cardigan's charge at the Battle of Balaclava shows how field artillery made cavalry charges obsolete. Many cavalry 'battles' of the century seemed to be irregular warfare such as that used by the Boers....Not exactly. The real trick to 19th century cavalry warfare was that you didn't try to break formed infantry or dug-in, deployed artillery by a frontal attack. But then, nobody particularly bright had been trying to do that for the past several hundred years, so that wasn't a new development. The situation got more extreme than in previous wars; you lost more men charging deployed 19th century artillery than you would a hundred years ago. But it was at least as much a change in degree as in kind.

The cavalry still could fight from horseback, and it was often convenient and wise to do so in situations where tactical mobility mattered and you weren't attacking a prepared, heavily armed opponent. At this point, infantry still needed to deploy before they could repel a cavalry attack reliably.

The tipping point at which cavalry became useful only as mounted infantry came starting in the late 19th century (breech-loading long range rifles), and was just about past by 1900.


Early in the 19th century, cavalry charges could still shatter units of infantry which had not managed to form square. To some extent the threat of a cavalry charge was also effective, as infantry in square were very vulnerable to artillery fire.

For a good example of their use, see Eylau (http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/c_eylau.html).

While I can't think of any decisive uses of cavalry later in the century, it should be noted that even in early WWII, the Polish cavalry managed some successful cavalry charges (http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/classroom/cinema/rzepinski.html).As another example, we have the charge of the Australian Light Horse at Beersheba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Beersheba#The_charge_of_the_4th_Light_Ho rse_Brigade) during World War One. This was fought in the Middle East, where the troops and firepower were more spread out, so the cavalry didn't have to deal with as much concentrated firepower as they would have faced on the Western or Eastern fronts.


On cavalry, it's still used today, for mobility in areas where vehicles cannot go. Special ops stuff, mostly. Heck, horses played a huge role in ww2 still. At the invasion of poland, half the german artillery was still horse drawn. Everyone gives credit to the tanks, and while yes, they were awesome, a huge amount of stuff required to support them ran the old fashioned way.There's a difference between horse-drawn supply wagons and horse-drawn guns on the one hand, and cavalry on the other. Mounted infantry lie somewhere in between the two extremes.

fusilier
2009-10-06, 04:33 PM
One more thing: it's an oft-repeated myth that gunpowder caused the 'disappearance' of armor, or at least the disappearance of suits of plate armor. There's no basis for this in fact.

The emergence of 'personal' firearms actually coincided with the height of plate armor, overlapping by at least a couple of centuries. Armor could be, and was, made with gun-shot in mind; and better armors were proofed against it. If you're going to be shot by a heavy, low-velocity 80-caliber musket ball, wouldn't you rather be wearing a heavy cuirass than nothing at all?

Not necessarily. Muskets are not quite as low velocity as people tend to think they are. The ball was soft lead and it was usually pretty easy to slow it down. Unfortunately this sometimes meant that the ball had enough power to puncture the front armor and travel through the body, but then lacked the power to puncture the back armor. This meant that it bounced back into the body!!

"Bullet-proof" armor was usually tested by shooting a pistol at it at around 20 paces. This would leave a dent on the breast-plate indicating that it had been proofed. However, even the large horse pistols of the day could not compare to a musket in terms of penetration, and 20 paces is somewhat long range for a pistol. That's not to say that such armor was useless against bullets, but it's main value was still in hand-to-hand combat. Well into the 1600s you could still find the occasional swordsman in three-quarters plate.

I think that during the 17th century the usefulness of marching everywhere with "heavy" armor declined, as more and more battles were decided by musketry and not the pike. Cavalry continued to wear armor (at least sometimes) because they were still expected to mix it up in hand-to-hand with the saber or lance.

Armor never really died out completely. Horsemen continued to wear armor even as late as 1914. Siege armor was available during the 19th century. World War One saw the resurgence of armor for specialized purposes (German sentries, and sometimes machine gunners, Italian pioneers, and of course helmets). Flak armor in WW2, and I think the early versions of modern ballistics armor start showing up during the Korean war. However, it was not nearly as widespread as it is today.

Oslecamo
2009-10-06, 05:43 PM
One more thing: it's an oft-repeated myth that gunpowder caused the 'disappearance' of armor, or at least the disappearance of suits of plate armor. There's no basis for this in fact.

There is actually.



The emergence of 'personal' firearms actually coincided with the height of plate armor, overlapping by at least a couple of centuries. Armor could be, and was, made with gun-shot in mind; and better armors were proofed against it. If you're going to be shot by a heavy, low-velocity 80-caliber musket ball, wouldn't you rather be wearing a heavy cuirass than nothing at all?

It worked for some time. But as the gunpowder weapons became better and better, the armors needed to be heavier to have the tickness to resist the bullets, and soon it simply became too heavy for anyone to be able to wear it.

That's when strategists started to position soldiers in lines. No use giving them armor since they would be pierced anyway, but at least try to make that as few of them get shot by the heavy canons wich could easily butcher concentrated masses of infantry.



What actually happened was the rise of professionally-trained, classically inspired infantry formations. For much of the European medieval period, heavy cavalry (the armored knight or man-at-arms) could rout infantry, not because no one had heard of pikes, but because no one could field units of polearm infantry that had drilled to march and fight in close order, protecting themselves. The Scots famously used pikes against English cavalry; and then, not quite so famously, got butchered by English archers, because when they did so they were stuck in a fixed line. So, as a well-armored, well-trained professional knight, you had good reason to be confident in your ability to destroy infantry with a massed charge, butchering the peasant rabble before you. It was the heavy cavalry on the other side that posed a threat. [Or, if you were fighting in the East, the light, archer cavalry. But that's a different discussion.]

This was just due to the big losses of knowledge. The romans created a fearsome disciplined infantry army wich hardly had any cavarly yet could crush bigger disorganized mobs. And they wore armor.



What eventually happened was the rise of prosperous, mercantile cities, with a wealthy burgeoisie who didn't see themselves as 'property' of noblemen. And the re-discovery of Classical texts on subjects like warfare. And the boom in population, and the subsequent available supply of disposable young men. And a whole lot of other social factors. But the end result is, you begin to see formations of professional halberd or pike-soldiers, often intermingled with crossbowmen, who could maneuver as a unit. They could hold their ground against heavy cavalry charges, and could inflict losses in return, either by dismounting the knights or (more likely) by crossbow-fire at close range.

And guess what? That infantry used armors also. Untill canons started to become a common sight in the battlefield. No armor will save your ass when a cannon ball comes screaming at your face with enough strenght to rip it off whitout even slowing down. And the mens behind you.



That's what killed the fully-armored knight. More precisely, that's what killed heavy cavalry as an offensive force against heavy infantry. Heavy cavalry was relegated to using pistols or carbines to fire at infantry from a distance--usually ineffectually--or to attack other cavalry, or light infantry. And noblemen, facing the prospect of being skewered by filthy peasants instead of being honorably captured and ransomed by other noblemen, began to find better things to do than lead cavalry charges. So by the 17th century, you have cavalry who have given up on using steel armor except for helmet, cuirass, and maybe gauntlets; and who used pistols and sabers instead of the couched lance.
Still, it was an effective tactic all the way to WWI. Because the massed infantry necessary to repel a cavarly charge is useless against cannons wich can easily kill several humans standing near to each other.

The comanders needed to keep their infantry in lighter formations, wich could be broken by cavarly charges if you knew what you were doing. In the napoleonic wars cavarly charges were an essential part of every major batle.

What finally killed cavarly was rapid fire weapons like the machine gun, wich allowed a small amounts of soldiers to spray an area with bullets. This way they're not specially vulnerable to artilery, yet can kill the cavarly fast enough, and the cavarly can't really take cover in the terrain like normal infantry.

Also takns. The polish still had a big cavarly force by the time of WWII, wich was butchered by the german tanks.

fusilier
2009-10-06, 06:23 PM
That's when strategists started to position soldiers in lines. No use giving them armor since they would be pierced anyway, but at least try to make that as few of them get shot by the heavy canons wich could easily butcher concentrated masses of infantry.


I'm a little bit confused by what you are saying. Pikes were being put into formations (although usually columns not lines), long before armor died out. So there had already been a return to fighting in formation. Musketeers started to deploy in lines when they started using the volley system of fire. Prior to that, they tended to deploy in deeper formations, where they could rotate to keep up a constant rate of fire. Obviously, deeper/denser formations had a greater disadvantage when faced with artillery. Nevertheless, Napoleon was able to revive columns during his time (at least briefly).



This was just due to the big losses of knowledge. The romans created a fearsome disciplined infantry army wich hardly had any cavarly yet could crush bigger disorganized mobs. And they wore armor.


Well, it's not just the loss of knowledge. The fact of the matter is that the Roman soldiers themselves were looking like mobs of barbarians by the end of the empire. The Anarchy pretty much destroyed the discipline of the Roman army. The infrastructure to support well disciplined and trained armies had disappeared - the knowledge was "lost" because it could no longer be applied. The point about armor is a good one. Simply having a well disciplined army, doesn't mean you abandon armor.

Generally speaking, throughout history, well disciplined infantry that had it's act together had little to fear from cavalry. It's when their formations were already disrupted that you wanted to throw cavalry against them. Successful cavalry charges usually followed a successful infantry charge, that dispersed the opponent's formation. Then the cavalry could ride in and sweep up the fleeing survivors. Infantry that stood its ground (even in small groups), could be annoying to cavalry.



Also takns. The polish still had a big cavarly force by the time of WWII, wich was butchered by the german tanks.

There was an Italian cavalry charge during WW2 that captured a Russian artillery battery. Those were rare. Machine guns also made old-fashioned infantry charges practically suicidal too. As the nations involved in WWI figured out the hard way.

MickJay
2009-10-06, 07:10 PM
Also takns. The polish still had a big cavarly force by the time of WWII, wich was butchered by the german tanks.

Oh let's not perpetuate those myths, nobody was charging tanks with cavalry, by the time of WW2, Polish army used horses for transporting some of the light artillery, scouting and moving troops quickly (these "cavalrymen" usually fought dismounted). The few skirmishes where someone actually fought on horseback occured during sudden developments and/or ambushes (the results varied, but were generally good). There was a particularly successful engagement during which a detachment of dismounted cavalry held off an armored division roughly ten times their strength for almost a day, inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans, then safely retreated.

Diamondeye
2009-10-06, 07:19 PM
Also takns. The polish still had a big cavarly force by the time of WWII, wich was butchered by the german tanks.

This isn't exactly true. There was only one instance of Polish cavlary being engaged by armored vehicles; at Krojanty hidden German armor fired on Polish cavalry after it had charged at German infantry.

Polish cavalry also was not unequipped to fight tanks; it used the "UR" antitank rifle and Bofors 37mm antitank gun towed by horses. While inadequte, they are far better than sabres or lances.

For the most part however, polish cavalry acted as a reconaissance force and mounted infantry; charges against even enemy infantry were rare.

It should also be noted that the German and Soviet armies also still had large horse-drawn or -mounted components in 1939.

The myth of Polish cavalry being butchered by German tanks is a relic of Nazi propaganda that has somehow survived in popular conciousness. Like the assertion that the Polish Air Force was mostly destroyed on the ground, it was a product of Hitler's propaganda machine based on a minor element of truth (the Polish did lose a few recon aircraft on the ground.)

Edmund
2009-10-06, 11:46 PM
I have many opinions to express today!


Roman cavalry were used exactly the same way as every other cavalry; it is something of a modern myth that has arisen around the Romans that their cavalry was poor quality or only used for skirmishing. Much has to do with the assumption that because ancient cavalry lacked stirrups they could not be used to deliver a "shock" charge, the belief being that a "pole vault" would be the result. In the last few decades this has been shown to completely wrong, and our ideas about ancient cavalry have been utterly reformed (along with our view of the "stirrup revolution"), largely through investigation of ancient cavalry saddles.

Well now wait a minute. From resources which I've read (and I'll name for you when I can manage a trip to the library!) the indigenous Roman cavalry was, like Southern Greek cavalry, notoriously bad. Maybe there was something wrong with the horses, or there weren't the social or environmental factors in place for the creation of effective cavalry, but until the Romans acquired auxiliary cavalry they were largely better off on foot, especially if facing someone as competent on horseback as the Numidians or Thessalians. It's also worth mentioning that although stirrups, high-backed saddles, horse shoes, and any other things that Medieval kit had which the Roman did not, did not create 'revolutions' in themselves, they weren't there just for decoration. :smallsmile: It might, of course, have been revolutionary in the same way that guns were, in that you can arm someone, with a horse in this case, with a lower level of training but still reaching a baseline of adequate lethality.



What actually happened was the rise of professionally-trained, classically inspired infantry formations. For much of the European medieval period, heavy cavalry (the armored knight or man-at-arms) could rout infantry, not because no one had heard of pikes, but because no one could field units of polearm infantry that had drilled to march and fight in close order, protecting themselves. The Scots famously used pikes against English cavalry; and then, not quite so famously, got butchered by English archers, because when they did so they were stuck in a fixed line. So, as a well-armored, well-trained professional knight, you had good reason to be confident in your ability to destroy infantry with a massed charge, butchering the peasant rabble before you. It was the heavy cavalry on the other side that posed a threat. [Or, if you were fighting in the East, the light, archer cavalry. But that's a different discussion.]

What eventually happened was the rise of prosperous, mercantile cities, with a wealthy burgeoisie who didn't see themselves as 'property' of noblemen. And the re-discovery of Classical texts on subjects like warfare. And the boom in population, and the subsequent available supply of disposable young men. And a whole lot of other social factors. But the end result is, you begin to see formations of professional halberd or pike-soldiers, often intermingled with crossbowmen, who could maneuver as a unit. They could hold their ground against heavy cavalry charges, and could inflict losses in return, either by dismounting the knights or (more likely) by crossbow-fire at close range.


I disagree with aspects of your post, but there are a few things here in particular that no-one has elucidated upon, though I will obviously repeat some things to get to those points.

Good, tight infantry formations can be seen consistently from the early 11th century onwards, though not before due most likely to a dearth of sources! Famous examples can be found at Hastings with the Saxons, Bremule with the Normans (dismounted knights in this case), Jaffa and Arsuf in Richard's forces, and in Byzantium with the much-beloved Varangian Guard. It is thus obviously not the case that fighting on foot suddenly became a good idea, but that there was a much larger issue going on. First of all, the centralization of power and wealth in the hands of kings, and the burgeoning concepts of royal infallibility (not terribly applicable prior to the 14th century!) gave the capability for unprecedented planning and organisational capabilities and allowed for such things as national armies and the large-scale training of longbow men seen in England. The Black Death also created a huge gap in the ownership of territory which was by and large not filled by the landowning peasantry, but rather by the surviving nobles and the royalty! You thus end up with a gap in those with sufficient wealth to own a horse and live comfortably while devoting themselves solely to a martial lifestyle, the milites. The population gap, on the other hand, was of course filled in by the third estate, a point where we agree. Your point about cities (though it's worth noting that serfdom was rare until the late middle ages) is also well taken. I do not think, however, that gunpowder should be pushed out of the picture, since although what you are saying so far certainly killed the knight as a rank of nobility, it did not kill the heavily armoured cavalryman as a tool. Only gunpowder would prove adequate for that task.

One other point: Classical texts of war were fairly consistently used throughout the Middle Ages. El Cid used them, and read them to his men, as did fighters in Lombardy in the first half of the 11th century, and the Anglo-Norman and Angevin kings of England certainly made war in the style advocated by Vegetius, even if they did not necessarily read him (though the highly literate Henry I almost definitely did).

There is also one other last worth mentioning. Talking about battles is all well and good, but one should always remember that the fearsome conjoined twins, Siege and Ravaging, were far and away the dominant paragons of medieval warfare, from Charlemagne to Ivan IV. To put it poetically, everyone remembers Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, but no-one forgets that France won the war.

Moving on,


There is actually.


It worked for some time. But as the gunpowder weapons became better and better, the armors needed to be heavier to have the tickness to resist the bullets, and soon it simply became too heavy for anyone to be able to wear it.

That's when strategists started to position soldiers in lines. No use giving them armor since they would be pierced anyway, but at least try to make that as few of them get shot by the heavy canons wich could easily butcher concentrated masses of infantry.


I largely agreed with you to this point.



This was just due to the big losses of knowledge. The romans created a fearsome disciplined infantry army wich hardly had any cavarly yet could crush bigger disorganized mobs. And they wore armor.


The Romans often had fairly substantial cavalry support in their auxilia, the huge part of the army that everyone forgets because it doesn't have enough cool points (CPs). Of course, the Post-Marian legions were really more of a glorified police force than an army. They excelled in siege against a few centres of power, and in pitched battle (sometimes, lol Carrhae) but failed miserably in Germany, where the lighter, javelin-armed infantry were unwilling to fight on the Romans' terms, and instead, for a good while, waged a very effective hit-and-run style war. It was not until Germanicus goaded Arminius' army into attacking his forces head on that Arminius was defeated, and even then inner Germania was never pacified, and thus never defeated. The Romans were unwilling to devote enough troops to wiping out the Germans, especially since moving that many troops into the reason would almost certainly have caused an empire-wide revolt. The Spanish, the Syrians, the Gauls, and most notably the Pannonians were rather upset with them around this time.



a) Reconnaissance (not terribly glamorous, but extremely important.)


Since when has Reconnaissance not been glamorous? Look at this badass. :smallwink:

http://i80.photobucket.com/albums/j171/EdmundIronside/ltcolrapp001.jpg

Fhaolan
2009-10-07, 12:58 AM
IWell now wait a minute. From resources which I've read (and I'll name for you when I can manage a trip to the library!) the indigenous Roman cavalry was, like Southern Greek cavalry, notoriously bad. Maybe there was something wrong with the horses, or there weren't the social or environmental factors in place for the creation of effective cavalry, but until the Romans acquired auxiliary cavalry they were largely better off on foot, especially if facing someone as competent on horseback as the Numidians or Thessalians.

I was under the impression that it was mostly social, with the training for both horse and rider seriously lacking. Even the auxilaries from the Celtic regions, who were reasonably serious horse-people, couldn't really budge the Roman mindset until the 3rd and 4th century when the high-mobility Huns basically stepped (pun intented) on the Eastern Roman Empire.

EDIT: Okay, my wife (who's the horse historian in the house) just turned around and hit me for the pun. Ah well. I suffer for my art. :smallsmile:

Norsesmithy
2009-10-07, 01:03 AM
While there is something to be said for the improvement of guns making "bullet proof" armor less and less practical, I think that the primary reason why firearms made armor obsolete was an economic one.

As gun powder made it cheaper and easier to turn a conscripted peasant into an effective soldier, and land is concentrated in a smaller and richer nobility/national government, the size of the army that could raised increases dramatically.

And armor worth a damn is expensive and time consuming to manufacture.

So armor became a poor investment, militarily.

fusilier
2009-10-07, 04:05 AM
While there is something to be said for the improvement of guns making "bullet proof" armor less and less practical, I think that the primary reason why firearms made armor obsolete was an economic one.

As gun powder made it cheaper and easier to turn a conscripted peasant into an effective soldier, and land is concentrated in a smaller and richer nobility/national government, the size of the army that could raised increases dramatically.

And armor worth a damn is expensive and time consuming to manufacture.

So armor became a poor investment, militarily.

Agreed. Armor, even something as simple as a breast-plate, needs to have some degree of fitting/sizing. Helmet/breast plate combination survived for cavalry (for the elite forces, in relatively small numbers), and until the end of the pike, circa 1700. Also, what did armies spend most of their time doing? Marching!! Battles were rare. Asking peasants to lug around heavy armor that they never use was a bit much. Even during the age of Pike and Shot, pikemen were known to cut a couple of feet off their pikes to make them lighter -- a potentially disastrous practice, if battle did occur, and the enemy pikemen hadn't taken the same economy. We know that they did this, because there are regulations forbidding it, often with severe penalties.

Nevertheless, there does seem to be a correlation between armor, and whether or not the troops were expected to get into hand-to-hand combat. Pikemen continued to wear armor for decades after musketeers had abandoned it completely (leather buff-coats were still popular in the mid-17th century, but gone by the end of the century). Siege armor seems to be the only armor that survived that was designed specifically for troops not expected to be in hand-to-hand combat.

Matthew
2009-10-07, 05:47 AM
I have many opinions to express today!

:smallbiggrin:



Well now wait a minute. From resources which I've read (and I'll name for you when I can manage a trip to the library!) the indigenous Roman cavalry was, like Southern Greek cavalry, notoriously bad. Maybe there was something wrong with the horses, or there weren't the social or environmental factors in place for the creation of effective cavalry, but until the Romans acquired auxiliary cavalry they were largely better off on foot, especially if facing someone as competent on horseback as the Numidians or Thessalians. It's also worth mentioning that although stirrups, high-backed saddles, horse shoes, and any other things that Medieval kit had which the Roman did not, did not create 'revolutions' in themselves, they weren't there just for decoration. :smallsmile: It might, of course, have been revolutionary in the same way that guns were, in that you can arm someone, with a horse in this case, with a lower level of training but still reaching a baseline of adequate lethality.

Nah, Roman Republican cavalry was perfectly good. In your average Polybian legion of the second century BC you would have 2,800 Roman Heavy Foot, 1,200 Roman Light Foot, 300 Cavalry, 4,000 Italian Foot and 900 Italian Cavalry. By the late republic and early empire they had reorganised the legion so that it was comprised of something like 5,000+ Heavy Foot and 120(ish) Cavalry, allied and auxiliary cohorts supplying the cavalry (usually led by Romans).

Polybius puts the biggest defeat against Hannibal (Cannae, maybe?) down to the numbers of cavalry, and not the quality.

The stirrup was certainly an improvement, in that it allowed the rider to stand and deliver attacks with weapons, or more importantly to deliver the couched lance attack, which was the big change. Nonetheless, it was slowly adopted and a refinement, rather than a revolution.



Good, tight infantry formations can be seen consistently from the early 11th century onwards, though not before due most likely to a dearth of sources! Famous examples can be found at Hastings with the Saxons, Bremule with the Normans (dismounted knights in this case), Jaffa and Arsuf in Richard's forces, and in Byzantium with the much-beloved Varangian Guard. It is thus obviously not the case that fighting on foot suddenly became a good idea, but that there was a much larger issue going on. First of all, the centralization of power and wealth in the hands of kings, and the burgeoning concepts of royal infallibility (not terribly applicable prior to the 14th century!) gave the capability for unprecedented planning and organisational capabilities and allowed for such things as national armies and the large-scale training of longbow men seen in England. The Black Death also created a huge gap in the ownership of territory which was by and large not filled by the landowning peasantry, but rather by the surviving nobles and the royalty! You thus end up with a gap in those with sufficient wealth to own a horse and live comfortably while devoting themselves solely to a martial lifestyle, the milites. The population gap, on the other hand, was of course filled in by the third estate, a point where we agree. Your point about cities (though it's worth noting that serfdom was rare until the late middle ages) is also well taken. I do not think, however, that gunpowder should be pushed out of the picture, since although what you are saying so far certainly killed the knight as a rank of nobility, it did not kill the heavily armoured cavalryman as a tool. Only gunpowder would prove adequate for that task.

One other point: Classical texts of war were fairly consistently used throughout the Middle Ages. El Cid used them, and read them to his men, as did fighters in Lombardy in the first half of the 11th century, and the Anglo-Norman and Angevin kings of England certainly made war in the style advocated by Vegetius, even if they did not necessarily read him (though the highly literate Henry I almost definitely did).

There is also one other last worth mentioning. Talking about battles is all well and good, but one should always remember that the fearsome conjoined twins, Siege and Ravaging, were far and away the dominant paragons of medieval warfare, from Charlemagne to Ivan IV. To put it poetically, everyone remembers Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt, but no-one forgets that France won the war.

Yes.



The Romans often had fairly substantial cavalry support in their auxilia, the huge part of the army that everyone forgets because it doesn't have enough cool points (CPs). Of course, the Post-Marian legions were really more of a glorified police force than an army. They excelled in siege against a few centres of power, and in pitched battle (sometimes, lol Carrhae) but failed miserably in Germany, where the lighter, javelin-armed infantry were unwilling to fight on the Romans' terms, and instead, for a good while, waged a very effective hit-and-run style war. It was not until Germanicus goaded Arminius' army into attacking his forces head on that Arminius was defeated, and even then inner Germania was never pacified, and thus never defeated. The Romans were unwilling to devote enough troops to wiping out the Germans, especially since moving that many troops into the region would almost certainly have caused an empire-wide revolt. The Spanish, the Syrians, the Gauls, and most notably the Pannonians were rather upset with them around this time.

Another issue occasionally touched on for the conquest of Germany was the cost versus value aspect. If it was not worth the resources required to secure a conquest, then better to build a wall and trade. It is interesting that an army supposedly developed for dealing with rough terrain, failed so dramatically in Germany.



I was under the impression that it was mostly social, with the training for both horse and rider seriously lacking. Even the auxiliaries from the Celtic regions, who were reasonably serious horse-people, couldn't really budge the Roman mindset until the 3rd and 4th century when the high-mobility Huns basically stepped (pun intented) on the Eastern Roman Empire.

EDIT: Okay, my wife (who's the horse historian in the house) just turned around and hit me for the pun. Ah well. I suffer for my art. :smallsmile:
Heh, heh. Well, it is hard to say for sure, because levels of expertise differed over the empire. By the 4th century Roman cavalry tactics were supposedly well developed and infantry tactics mostly neglected (according to the not always reliable Vegetius). During the reign of Constantine there were military reforms to divide the army into "garrison" and "field" units, with the field units being deployed from the centre to areas of trouble as rapid reaction forces. These were supposedly well furnished with cavalry. Much earlier than that Scipio, Caesar and Pompey seem to have all valued cavalry (Caesar apparently mounting an entire legion, possibly for mobility), but there had always been a heavy emphasis on foot troops as the mainstay of the army.

On the other hand, the Adrianople (AD 378) is no longer regarded as the watershed infantry/cavalry moment it once was.

Diamondeye
2009-10-07, 06:55 AM
Part of the armor problem at the time was also the protection-to-weight ratio. Armor that would protect against firearms needed to be thicker, and thicker steel gets heavy very fast. It was much easier to put more power behind a shot that to wear ever-heavier armor, even if it was feasible from a cost standpoint in the first place.

That's why bulletproof armor has made a resurgence recently. Materials such as Kevlar and various ceramics etc. that go into ESAPI and other modern armors that can stop rifle fire are much much stronger than steel armors against that sort of force, but still only weigh, for the complete equipment set, about as much as a knight would expect to wear and carry.

The same effect is seen in armored vehicles and ships: as armor-piercing weapons developed from the high-velocity guns of WWII to the HEAT/chaped charge warhead and long-rod penetrator (SABOT) rounds, RHA steel was no longer effective; it had to be too thick and heavy. Modern tanks use composite armors that are much more effective per unit thickness. Ships simply abandoned armor in favor of SAM and gun defenses; missiles can be shot down, and if they do hit their shaped-charge warheads and leftover rocket/jet fuel render WWII-style steel armor pretty useless. Composite armor for ships would be prohibitively expensive and heavy, requiring far larger power plants and fuel supplies, so most ships are left unarmored.

Edmund
2009-10-07, 11:32 AM
Nah, Roman Republican cavalry was perfectly good. In your average Polybian legion of the second century BC you would have 2,800 Roman Heavy Foot, 1,200 Roman Light Foot, 300 Cavalry, 4,000 Italian Foot and 900 Italian Cavalry. By the late republic and early empire they had reorganised the legion so that it was comprised of something like 5,000+ Heavy Foot and 120(ish) Cavalry, allied and auxiliary cohorts supplying the cavalry (usually led by Romans).

Polybius puts the biggest defeat against Hannibal (Cannae, maybe?) down to the numbers of cavalry, and not the quality.


This may be perfectly correct, but I'm slightly skeptical of straight-up believing Polybius on this issue, since he was related to Scipio Africanus through his patron. In my mind he suffers from the same problem as Thucydides. His history looks so good, and is so good, that mistakes become tough to spot, especially without anyone of equal quality to contradict him, something that bothers me about using him as a source.


The stirrup was certainly an improvement, in that it allowed the rider to stand and deliver attacks with weapons, or more importantly to deliver the couched lance attack, which was the big change. Nonetheless, it was slowly adopted and a refinement, rather than a revolution.

From my understanding what was even more helpful than the stirrup for the couched lance was the high-backed saddle, which basically welded the rider in place when the actual impact came.



Another issue occasionally touched on for the conquest of Germany was the cost versus value aspect. If it was not worth the resources required to secure a conquest, then better to build a wall and trade. It is interesting that an army supposedly developed for dealing with rough terrain, failed so dramatically in Germany.


Haha, right. Of course, the army was developed for dealing with rough Mediterranean terrain. The wet, thick forests of Germania, and the javelins that fly through them, provided a new set of challenges.


While there is something to be said for the improvement of guns making "bullet proof" armor less and less practical, I think that the primary reason why firearms made armor obsolete was an economic one.

As gun powder made it cheaper and easier to turn a conscripted peasant into an effective soldier, and land is concentrated in a smaller and richer nobility/national government, the size of the army that could raised increases dramatically.

And armor worth a damn is expensive and time consuming to manufacture.

So armor became a poor investment, militarily.

This is in mostly true, but it is worth remembering that there would always be those who could afford armor for themselves. The fact is that armor would be so utterly abandoned by its few remaining users, as it was in the 19th century, shows it no longer served to protect the wearer.

Matthew
2009-10-07, 12:00 PM
This may be perfectly correct, but I'm slightly skeptical of straight-up believing Polybius on this issue, since he was related to Scipio Africanus through his patron. In my mind he suffers from the same problem as Thucydides. His history looks so good, and is so good, that mistakes become tough to spot, especially without anyone of equal quality to contradict him, something that bothers me about using him as a source.

Absolutely, and this is a problem with all sources. Livy is pretty much your best bet outside of Polybius, but he is writing a long time afterwards. At any rate, the Romans never despised cavalry, and their most wealthy citizens made up their cavalry arm, but Italy offers only slightly better terrain for cavalry than Greece, so the emphasis is typically on infantry actions. On the other hand, one of the themes of that set-piece in Polybius is that Scipio reformed the Roman cavalry as a direct response to the lessons learned at that battle. It would perhaps have been in his interest to claim that the Roman cavalry were inferior both in quality and quantity.



From my understanding what was even more helpful than the stirrup for the couched lance was the high-backed saddle, which basically welded the rider in place when the actual impact came.

Hmmn. I think you may need to look into the work that has recently been done on the Roman cavalry saddle, if you are unfamiliar with it. The bottom line is that this is exactly the purpose the Roman saddle served. Peter Connolly is the man behind this advancement in our understanding. Been a while since I was acquainted with this stuff, but you may find some useful reading here: The Roman Cavalry (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XJDcYpgd8VoC&pg=PA74&lpg=PA74&dq) (1992), and more recently here: The Cavalry of the Roman Republic (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=lZxZ8KHzRFAC) (2002) or Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DP2EHwdMnq4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=warhorse#v=onepage&q=&f=false) (2006).



Haha, right. Of course, the army was developed for dealing with rough Mediterranean terrain. The wet, thick forests of Germania, and the javelins that fly through them, provided a new set of challenges.

Indeed; perhaps adherence to an unsuitable military doctrine, and thus failure of leadership, was the cause of defeat at a tactical level, but it seems on the whole that the Germans responded to Roman military techniques in a very effective way.

Dervag
2009-10-07, 06:08 PM
This is in mostly true, but it is worth remembering that there would always be those who could afford armor for themselves. The fact is that armor would be so utterly abandoned by its few remaining users, as it was in the 19th century, shows it no longer served to protect the wearer.Not quite; it shows that it was no longer effective enough at preserving life for soldiers to make a conscious decision to keep wearing it. Look at soldiers during the World War era who had to be threatened with punishment to get them to wear a helmet and you'll see how this can happen.

Here's an example taken from Hard Tack and Coffee, a book written in 1888 about the Civil War by John Billings, a Civil War veteran. Note that the general tone of the work is light and humorous...:
_______

"There was another invention that must have been sufficiently popular to have paid the manufacturer a fair rate on his investment, and that was the steel-armor enterprise. There were a good many men who were anxious to be heroes, but they were particular. They preferred to be live heroes. They were willing to go to war and fight as never man fought before, if they could only be insured against bodily harm. They were not willing to assume all the risks which an enlistment involved, without securing something in the shape of a drawback.

"Well, the iron tailors saw and appreciated the situation and sufferings of this class of men, and came to the rescue with a vest of steel armor, worth, as I remember it, about a dozen dollars, and greaves. The latter, I think, did not find so ready a market as the vests, which were comparatively common.

"These iron-clad warriors admitted that when panoplied for the fight their sensations were much as if they were dressed up in an old-fashioned air-tight stove; still, with all the discomforts of this casing, they felt a little safer with it on than off in battle, and they reasoned that it was the right and duty of every man to adopt all honorable measures to assure his safety in the line of duty.

"This seemed solid reasoning, surely; but, in spite of it all, a large number of these vests never saw Rebeldom. Their owners were subjected to such a storm of ridicule that they could not bear up under it. It was a stale yet common joke to remind them that in actions these vests must be worn behind. Then, too, the ownership of one of them was taken as evidence of faint-heartedness. Of this the owner was often reminded; so that when it came to the packing of the knapsack for departure, the vest, taking as it did considerable space, and adding no small weight to his already too heavy burden, was in many cases left behind. The officers, whose opportunity to take baggage along was greater, clung to them the longest; but I think that they were quite generally abandoned with the first important reduction made in the luggage."

(end of quote)
_______

Now, some of this armor was fairly effective; I've heard accounts of pieces with several bullet dents in them where stuff failed to penetrate.* But it didn't matter, because your typical soldier (or, for that matter, officer) wouldn't keep lugging the thing around for months before his first battle.

*Can't find any images online; the American Civil War armor hits are swamped by English Civil War armor hits for any Google search I can come up with...

Thane of Fife
2009-10-07, 06:19 PM
Now, some of this armor was fairly effective; I've heard accounts of pieces with several bullet dents in them where stuff failed to penetrate.* But it didn't matter, because your typical soldier (or, for that matter, officer) wouldn't keep lugging the thing around for months before his first battle.

*Can't find any images online; the American Civil War armor hits are swamped by English Civil War armor hits for any Google search I can come up with...

Like this?

http://webprojects.prm.ox.ac.uk/arms-and-armour/600/1884.31.12.jpg

Mike_G
2009-10-07, 06:27 PM
Later still, in Vietnam and even in Somalia, American troops often tried to leave their heavy body armor behind. Since this was forbidden, and easy to notice, many would just remove the heavy plates from their body armor, sometimes replacing it with cardboard to retain the boxy look without the weight.

Or the protection.

It's not easy to get soldiers to wear uncomfortable gear. Even the stuff that works is heavy all the time and useful once in a great while, so it will always be a struggle.

Edmund
2009-10-07, 09:43 PM
Hmmn. I think you may need to look into the work that has recently been done on the Roman cavalry saddle, if you are unfamiliar with it. The bottom line is that this is exactly the purpose the Roman saddle served. Peter Connolly is the man behind this advancement in our understanding. Been a while since I was acquainted with this stuff, but you may find some useful reading here: The Roman Cavalry (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XJDcYpgd8VoC&pg=PA74&lpg=PA74&dq) (1992), and more recently here: The Cavalry of the Roman Republic (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=lZxZ8KHzRFAC) (2002) or Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DP2EHwdMnq4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=warhorse#v=onepage&q=&f=false) (2006).


Ah, cool. Cheers for this.



Indeed; perhaps adherence to an unsuitable military doctrine, and thus failure of leadership, was the cause of defeat at a tactical level, but it seems on the whole that the Germans responded to Roman military techniques in a very effective way.

Well, from my research on the Varian disaster it seems to have been a failure in Rome from Augustus all the way down, and a success in Germania concentrated entirely in the body of Arminius [editor's note: <---- Mad hyperbole, but Arminius was a lot more competent than the Romans give him credit]. It basically is a combination of gross misunderstanding of the situation of Germania in Rome itself (they treated it as a conquered, pacified territory), Varus' inadequacy as a leader (which is relatively minor) and Arminius' own superb leadership and tactical qualities, including the fact that he had spent much time in the Roman army, and even been made a Roman citizen in the years before he destroyed the legions. The actual tactics he used during the attack, as far as we can tell, (no written sources survive but the archaelogical evidence in the Kalkriese tells a fairly good story) show a pretty good understanding of what disadvantages the Roman army had.

Dervag
2009-10-08, 03:15 PM
Like this? (image)Yes; that's the ONLY image I found, and it doesn't have the dents I was talking about. I could swear I've seen a dented one, but I don't think I could ever find it again.

Galloglaich
2009-10-08, 04:02 PM
Hi,

My name is Jean Henri Chandler. I am a total newby to this forum, I found it because somebody told me that my book was mentioned here. I'm not sure of the forum rules so I won't mention it by name but I'm the same guy who wrote the "history / mythology" thread on Enworld, I have a rules system for fast and realistic combat in OGL and just did another one on historical weapons.

I love the conversation going on in this thread, I don't seen this many well informed RPG (?) gamers discussing real world arms very often. I do have a few opinions on some of the subjects under discussion but again, not certain of the etiquette here so I wasn't sure if I should just jump right in.

I also wanted to know if it's ok for me to chime in on the discussion and what the policy is here on mentioning your own commercial products in a thread like this, I don't intend to wallow in crass commercialism but I was going to offer comp copies of my weapons PDF to some people here if that is ok.


G.

fusilier
2009-10-08, 04:33 PM
To the best of my knowledge there is no need to introduce yourself to participate in discussions. Just chime in and see who listens to what you have to say. That's what I do anyway. :-)

As for mentioning commercial products, I do not know and would wait for a moderator to answer that question. I have to admit, that I am generally impressed by the level of discussion on these forums.

Norsesmithy
2009-10-08, 04:46 PM
I don't think that the Giant allows commercial pitches in the forums, but I'd PM a mod if you want a concrete answer.

The other problem is that this thread is not for rules discussions. If you wanted to pick a couple of expert contributors from this thread and ask them to go over your stuff in PM, nothing is stopping you, but if you want to have an open discussion of your rule sets, there are other places more appropriate.

Fhaolan
2009-10-08, 04:58 PM
Heya Jean,

Jumping in is good, as far as I know. Promoting your own book... according to forum rules you shouldn't do that as you could profit monitarily from it, but we'd need a moderator to say so for sure. This thread and it's predecessors has a few special dispensations so we can discuss historical figures and have a very... flexible and wandering topic, both of which are also against the rules normally. It's *possible* you can get special dispensation because this book is on-topic, but without a mod saying so, it's probably better to err on the side of caution.

Matthew
2009-10-08, 05:03 PM
Welcome to the playground and the real world weapons and armour thread, Jean! There are no special qualifications required for chiming into this thread as far as I know, though we are supposed to cite sources when answering questions (we can be pretty lazy about doing that, it is really only necessary when there is a lot of disagreement or something controversial is being presented as fact, but we should...).

Norsesmithy is right about commercial products, I think, the Giant doesn't allow "advertising" per se, but discussions of existing products (and reviews) are certainly permitted in the role-playing games forum. This thread is mainly about the "real" function of weapons and armour, rather than the process of translating such ideas into game rules, but there is nothing to stop someone starting a parallel thread about doing exactly that.

Galloglaich
2009-10-08, 05:04 PM
No problem, like I said I just wanted to give away a couple of comp copies.

I'm actually more interested in real historical weapons and martial arts than rules anyway, I have my own forum for discussing those.

Anyway like I said my name is Jean, I am a HEMA (Martial Arts) practitioner, weapon collector and avid historian and military historian. I'm deeply interested in all things related to pre-industrial combat in particular.

As far as the various interesting little debates threading through here, some comments.

On gunpowder vs. armor: I think the musket did have a lot to do with it, but cannon much more so. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so...

http://www.wtj.com/articles/napart/cuirass.jpg

That is a bullet proof cuirass pierced by a cannon. Armor could be made fairly effective againt firearms, in fact European plate armor as we usually think of it developed after firearms had already been introduced to Europe. but it's impossible to make armor proof against a cannon ball.

I agree though the hegemony of European knights was ended by the re-emergence of effective infantry well before the decline of armor, but that infantry used not just pikes but halberds and high energy missiles as well including very heavy crossbows and eventually arquebuses (guns) and cannon. In fact the integration of these weapons systems was pionnered by infantry in places like Switzerland and Bohemia.

On the term longsword:. I use the term longsword to refer to those hand and a half swords because it was used in period (unlike many other modern terms like 'Claymore' or 'sidesword'.) But the truth is in period as often as not every double-edged sword was called just a 'sword' (or an epee, a mec, a svard, a spada, espadon etc. etc.) In making up game rules you have to pick arbitrary terms to differentiate different types by function (and there is a big differencine in how you use a two foot, three foot or four foot sword) but there are no definitive historical terms for the most part.

On sword wieghts and balance Other posters in this thread (sorry a little confused by everyones names yet) have pointed out I think correctly that almost all swords used in combat were actually relatively light compared to the stats you usually see in RPGs and Computer Games. A single handed or hand-and-a-half sword was very rarely more than 4 pounds, the average was more like 3, I have handled antique long swords nearly 4 feet long which were barely over two pounds. It depends a lot on the type and what it was specifically designed for.

But three other things to consider about using a sword. 1) If you are talking about a sword made in Europe between roughly the 8th and 18th Centuries AD, they usually have a pommel which balances the weapon fairly close to the cross, which changes how it handles. 2) European swords usually (though not always) have two edges, and the martial arts systems used in period took advantage of that to cut true-edge to false-edge, which made the weapons effectively faster, and finally 3) unlike a bullet, causing injuries with a sword is not a matter of mass and kinetic energy, technique is at least as important. You can set up a plastic water bottle and try to cut it with a machete to see what I mean. If your edge alignment and form are good, you can cut it cleanly leaving the bottom half still standing - if your form is off you can hit it as hard as you want it will just go flying away with nothing more than a dent.

well lots more to add but thats plenty for my second post!

G.

fusilier
2009-10-08, 06:25 PM
Cool info,
A few comments/questions:

Firearms
What about the musket, as opposed to the arquebus? Wasn't the musket developed as a response to the heavier armor being used? This resulted in so-called "bullet-proof" armor being made heavier and reduced to just a breastplate helmet combo? Also, most of these armors usually weren't proofed at very close ranges. So in hand-to-hand combat a pistol would still be likely to punch through them?

Also, the armor (with the cannonball hole) looks kinda Napoleonic to me (I don't know, please correct me if I'm wrong). The fact that heavy cavalry continued to wear armor up until WW1, indicates to me that armor was still provided for those soldiers who were expected to be primarily engaged in hand-to-hand combat (with swords/lances). I'm not basing this on any written authority, just an observation. Other than siege armor (which survived at least into the middle of the 19th century), heavy cavalry armor is the only kind that survived essentially into modern times.

There's also the question of how many soldiers were felled by cannonballs as compared to musket/rifle shots in a battle. So I'm a bit doubtful that the use of cannon was what really spelled the end of the use of armor. For that matter, I doubt most modern ballistics armor would protect any better than that armor did from a direct hit from 105mm gun, but that doesn't stop modern soldiers from wearing it (ok, so most damage done by modern artillery is done by shell fragments, but still the likelihood of being hit by bullet vs. cannon ball should be considered).

Swords
People get too hung up on terms. Most of them are modern, and arbitrarily applied by collectors. I reenact circa 1600, and I always cringe when I hear one of the members say something like "this is actually an Italian Morion, not a Spanish Morion" -- I want to say, the only thing we can agree on is that it's a "combed morion" and just about everybody in Europe wore them! Most soldiers probably just called it a "helmet" or maybe "morion." The same thing happens with swords. Almost anything with a long-ish straight blade gets called a "rapier." I would be more inclined to call some of them a "cut-and-thrust" sword, but I'm more than content just to call it a "sword".

As for weight, modern steels are heavier than pre-industrial iron. A lot of RPG's seem to overestimate the weight of weapons even when compared to modern replicas, nevermind originals.

Raum
2009-10-08, 07:00 PM
As for weight, modern steels are heavier than pre-industrial iron.Differences in alloys cause some variances but similar alloys will have minuscule differences in mass. The issue with pre-industrial weapons-grade steel was lack of consistency. Steels would have varying amounts of carbon and trace elements depending on where the ore was mined and how it was refined.

It's interesting how different cultures overcame the problem - everything from pattern welding to folding the steel in on itself.

Galloglaich
2009-10-08, 08:41 PM
Cool info,
A few comments/questions:

Firearms
What about the musket, as opposed to the arquebus? (snip) So in hand-to-hand combat a pistol would still be likely to punch through them?

Not necessarily no, obviously depending on the angle of a hit etc., a heavy tempered steel breastplate or helmet was pretty effective against a pistol, even at pretty close range. Think of modern military "steel pot" helmets, they could even stop rifle bullets at long range. The problem is that you can't put armor that heavy all over your entire body, or (especially) all over your horse. Depending on the specific period, you also can't afford to equip thousands of troops with tempered steel armor (munitions grade iron armor was much more common). The major factor was that a heavy cavalryman isn't worth much with a dead horse, in fact during Renaissance battles fully armored (cap-a-pied) cavalry were considered "light" cavalry if their horse was not armored.

As for muskets vs. arquebuses etc., it wasn't so much the effectiveness of the individual firearm that made the difference, although muskets were definitely more accurate penetrated better and had longer range, the really important factor was how the gunners were organized. This evolved gradually from 15th Century pike warfare, every year the formations had more and more better organized gunners and fewer halberds and eventually fewer and fewer pikes, until you actually had gunners shooting fast and efficiently enough that they could hold their own on the open field against cavalry without pikes.

We tend to dismiss early 'handgonnes' etc. but even the very early firearms packed quite a punch, check out these videos to get an idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbnVrhm2AqE&feature=PlayList&p=0501965AF54A6328&index=8&playnext=2&playnext_from=PL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5O3Mvl3Ozo&feature=PlayList&p=0501965AF54A6328&index=9&playnext=3&playnext_from=PL

In this video they are rather amazingly firing a real antique Czech 15th Century tri-barrel cannon, though they are using percussion caps which I don't think existed in the 15th Century. If you watch the whole video they fire real ammunition at a target eventually.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNXkUA0KFNY&feature=fvw

And here is a gunner firing an arquebus, you can get an idea how powerful it is

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeZvMgeITYs&feature=PlayList&p=FC687E6BC2DBFD80&index=3



Also, the armor (with the cannonball hole) looks kinda Napoleonic to me (I don't know, please correct me if I'm wrong). (snip) heavy cavalry armor is the only kind that survived essentially into modern times.

Yes it's Napoleonic. Heavy cavalry armor did protect against shot (though not 100%) but it was a moot point because the horse wasn't armored, your entire body wasn't armored both horse and rider were vulnerable to cannonfire.



There's also the question of how many soldiers were felled by cannonballs as compared to musket/rifle shots in a battle. So I'm a bit doubtful that the use of cannon was what really spelled the end of the use of armor. For that matter, I doubt most modern ballistics armor would protect any better than that armor did from a direct hit from 105mm gun, but that doesn't stop modern soldiers from wearing it (ok, so most damage done by modern artillery is done by shell fragments, but still the likelihood of being hit by bullet vs. cannon ball should be considered).

Yes, but the difference is modern infantry do not make massed shock attacks with hand weapons - they used armored vehicles with rifled cannon for that now and it's all on a rather larger scale.

In the Medieval period the armored knight or heavy cavalryman was the ultimate in shock warfare, but to do the job they had to concentrate in a mass to punch through enemy formations. This was thwarted initially by halberds and pikes, but only on the right type of ground. Gradually the pike squares moved out into the open field as they gained in skill, confidence, and the numbers of very high powered crossbows, handgonnes, and later arquebus and cannons.

One of the first examples of truly effective infantry in the open field were the Czech Hussites. They invented these war-wagons which they used with all kinds of improvised firearms and protected with flails wielded by peasant men (and women) - but the main weapons were small cannon and hook-guns which could be used to break up cavalry charges or infantry concentrations.

http://www.allempires.com/article/files/images/Hussite%20Hand%20Cannoneers%20and%20Swordsmen_1.jp g

The Hussite wagon laagers could go where they pleased on the battlefields, and the combined European armies of five successive crusades failed to defeat them.

Bottom line, that is all a long way of saying cannons helped immensely to break up the concentrations of medieval warriors which were needed to achieve the decisive shock victories. You can kind of imagine what happens to a tight formation of knights (and their horses) when they are fired upon by a couple of cannon balls.

But that isn't to say heavy cavalry was doomed by the first cannonade, heavy cavalry continued to adopt and adjust for another couple of centuries and still remained pretty "medieval", and still effective against both pikes and cannon, just not as completely dominant as during the early Middle Ages. As someone pointed out upthread the Polish winged Hussars are a very good example of this, they used their lances and swords as well as firearms.



Swords
People get too hung up on terms. Most of them are modern, and arbitrarily applied by collectors. (snip)

Agreed!



As for weight, modern steels are heavier than pre-industrial iron. A lot of RPG's seem to overestimate the weight of weapons even when compared to modern replicas, nevermind originals.

Well stainless steel is heavier than most pre-industrial ferrous metals used for armor and weapons, but it's worth pointing out that from the Renaissance on out steel and even tempered steel were used in armor and this allowed much thinner, lighter, and stronger armor to be used. Some Gothic harness weighed as little as 30 lbs.

G.

Fhaolan
2009-10-08, 08:43 PM
It's interesting how different cultures overcame the problem - everything from pattern welding to folding the steel in on itself.

Gotta be careful with that one. Currently the term 'pattern welding' is being used in materials engineering as an umbrella term that encompases a range of techniques that includes what you are referring as pattern welding, as well as folding, and several others. This is to differentiate it from 'crucible steels' with similar mechanical properties such as Wootz and Bulat steels.

As far as I can tell from the industry periodicals, the thought is that the term pattern welding is sufficiently vague that it can stand in for a range of techniques rather than just one. :smallsmile:

EleventhHour
2009-10-08, 08:46 PM
Since armoured calvary is on topic right now...

Could horses still jump with a knight riding them?
If so, what about when they have barding? (...might be the wrong term. Horse-armour.)

Fhaolan
2009-10-08, 09:42 PM
Since armoured calvary is on topic right now...

Could horses still jump with a knight riding them?
If so, what about when they have barding? (...might be the wrong term. Horse-armour.)

Yes. :)

Ah, gotta type more... okay, fine.

Using a on-the-larger-side Arab-cross as a representative of an appropriately-sized courser in the early medieval period, the problem I had was in getting the stupid thing to *not* jump while I had period-appropriate equipment on (Churburg breast-and-back) because I was, and continue to be, a mediocre rider at best and tended to go flying out of the saddle on landing. The saddle seemed to hold me in on takeoff because of a tall cantle (the rear bit of the saddle), but the pommel (the front bit of the saddle) wasn't anywhere near as tall, so *woosh* out I went.

Better riders than I, my wife for example, have ridden other horses in full later-period plate, with boiled leater/splinted steel barding, and have jumped and done 'airs above the ground', with the horse lifting completely off the ground and striking out with their rear hooves at whoever was behind them... Not necessarily *intentionally*, mind you, but that's irrelevant for this discussion. :smallsmile:

This barding wasn't the full plate or the full maille barding that you might be thinking off, but you'd be amazed at exactly how much mass a horse can carry and jump with. The only time I've seen the long maille barding actually worn by a horse, the horse was unused to it, and seemed very confused by it as it kept hitting her legs at weird times. So it's hard for me to say whether it was 'jumpable' or not.

Dervag
2009-10-09, 12:01 AM
Remember, even in full armor, the rider weighs only a small fraction of the horse's weight. And the armor itself is only a fraction of that. Spirited horses that will readily jump with a rider on them would surely be able to jump with an armored rider on them, I'd think.

Fhaolan
2009-10-09, 12:35 AM
Oh, and another note: Modern horsepeople have rules about how much mass a horse can carry relative to it's own mass. Usually it's about 15-20% of the horse's own weight in tack and rider. So a 1,000 lb horse can, by this rule, carry 200lbs of rider and tack in a hard, competitive event.

However, this rule of thumb is specific to the modern 'pleasure rider' breeds like the Standardbred, Saddlebred, etc. There are more complex rules to be more accurate, and different breeds have different ratios. Quarterhorses, Icelandic ponies, and Arabs can easily care more weight per pound, the heavier breeds like Friesians, and the big boys like Belgians, Percherons and whatnot simply blow this ratio out of the water.

fusilier
2009-10-09, 04:30 AM
Not necessarily no, obviously depending on the angle of a hit etc., a heavy tempered steel breastplate or helmet was pretty effective against a pistol, even at pretty close range.

In the American Civil War, cavalry were told not to fire their pistol, unless the barrel was touching their opponent's chest (I'm not saying that's what actually happened, but that was the theory). I've seen 16th/17th century illustrations showing that same tactic being used against an armored foe. I'm not arguing that armor didn't have some effectiveness against firearms, just that I feel the effectiveness is often overstated.





As for muskets vs. arquebuses etc., it wasn't so much the effectiveness of the individual firearm that made the difference, although muskets were definitely more accurate penetrated better and had longer range, the really important factor was how the gunners were organized. This evolved gradually from 15th Century pike warfare, every year the formations had more and more better organized gunners and fewer halberds and eventually fewer and fewer pikes, until you actually had gunners shooting fast and efficiently enough that they could hold their own on the open field against cavalry without pikes.

I would agree with this generally. Although local situations could effect the preferred ratio of shot to pike.



Yes it's Napoleonic. Heavy cavalry armor did protect against shot (though not 100%) but it was a moot point because the horse wasn't armored, your entire body wasn't armored both horse and rider were vulnerable to cannonfire.

So, do we agree that horses are also susceptible to musket/rifle fire? Getting back to my thesis: Wouldn't the fact that cavalry wore armor (and their horses didn't), indicate that the primary purpose of that armor was for hand-to-hand fighting with sabers and lances? By, let's say, the end of the 17th century. Also, pikemen were more likely to wear armor than musketeers.

As for cannons being the deciding factor that spelled the end for personal armor, I'm still don't think the claim is well backed up. Armor was on it's way out when field artillery was still pretty lousy. In most battles, as late as the English Civil War, the field artillery generally fired only one shot, essentially signaling the beginning of the battle. This was not universally true, and there were increasing numbers of small field pieces being hauled with the infantry regiments, to add firepower.

By the time infantry had switched to linear tactics, the way artillery broke up infantry charges was with cannister shot (sometimes called "common case", or just "case"). However this means your right back to a roughly musket ball sized projectile, that had ideally bounced off the ground once, before hitting it's target (bouncing cannister shot gives it a better spread, according to the artillerists).



Well stainless steel is heavier than most pre-industrial ferrous metals used for armor and weapons, but it's worth pointing out that from the Renaissance on out steel and even tempered steel were used in armor and this allowed much thinner, lighter, and stronger armor to be used. Some Gothic harness weighed as little as 30 lbs.

Ok, so this is where I'm a little confused, and might be a bit out of my depth. My understanding is that more carbon makes the steel denser and therefore heavier. Too much carbon will result in pig iron, though, which is too brittle. My, (very crude understanding), is that modern steels can be made to a higher carbon content than pre-industrial steels (I'm not talking about stainless steel). So if a replica weapon is made to the same, volumetric proportions, out of modern steel, it will weigh more than the original. This won't be enough to verify the exaggerated claims of RPG books, but it will be noticeable. I've heard that replica American Civil War muskets are heavier when compared to originals.

fusilier
2009-10-09, 04:59 AM
Ok, concerning armor, I just realized something about my argument.

If the purpose of wearing armor in combat, was merely for hand-to-hand, why didn't armor revert to lighter but more complete designs? Why did they keep the armor roughly strong enough that it could stop a musket ball?

This does seem to be something of a dilemma. It appears that armor was kept the longest for troops who were expected to be in hand-to-hand combat. But at the same time the armor was kept at a high-enough standard that it had a chance of stopping the odd musket ball.

There seem to be two other factors that have been mentioned to help explain it. 1. Is the increasing use of field artillery. I still find this argument weak, and suspect that the vast majority of injuries were still caused by musket/rifle fire (as the ratio of such weapons vs. pikes or lances increased). 2. That expecting "peasant" soldiers to lug around heavy armor that they rarely used was asking too much of the peasants, and increasingly too expensive to provide. Therefore the armor was reserved for those elite troops, who were still expected to fight primarily in close-combat? While the primary use of armor would be in hand-to-hand, if there was a chance that it could resist bullets so that the soldier wearing it could get into hand-to-hand, why not use proofed armor?

Diamondeye
2009-10-09, 07:10 AM
In the American Civil War, cavalry were told not to fire their pistol, unless the barrel was touching their opponent's chest (I'm not saying that's what actually happened, but that was the theory). I've seen 16th/17th century illustrations showing that same tactic being used against an armored foe. I'm not arguing that armor didn't have some effectiveness against firearms, just that I feel the effectiveness is often overstated.

If that command were given, it was probably an exaggeration by the commander, who was basically saying "don't fire unless you're sure you'll get a hit." There were no speedloaders in the Civil War and you wouldn't want your men wasting pistol rounds by firing too far away to reliably hit.

Thiel
2009-10-09, 07:47 AM
If the purpose of wearing armor in combat, was merely for hand-to-hand, why didn't armor revert to lighter but more complete designs? Why did they keep the armor roughly strong enough that it could stop a musket ball?

Price would be my guess.
Helmets and breastplates can be manufactured in fairly large numbers since they can be made in "standard" sizes, unlike more complicated armours with articulated joints that has to be fitted to the individual soldier.

Raum
2009-10-09, 08:08 AM
Gotta be careful with that one. Currently the term 'pattern welding' is being used in materials engineering as an umbrella term that encompases a range of techniques that includes what you are referring as pattern welding, as well as folding, and several others. This is to differentiate it from 'crucible steels' with similar mechanical properties such as Wootz and Bulat steels.

As far as I can tell from the industry periodicals, the thought is that the term pattern welding is sufficiently vague that it can stand in for a range of techniques rather than just one. :smallsmile:Interesting, what are the specific techniques of twisting bars together vs hammering flat and folding multiple times called?


Ok, so this is where I'm a little confused, and might be a bit out of my depth. My understanding is that more carbon makes the steel denser and therefore heavier. Here are some statistics for steel density (http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2004/KarenSutherland.shtml). The listed carbon steels vary from 7.84 - 7.86 g/cm^3. The specific alloys seem to matter more, they vary from 7.50 - 8.05 g/cm^3.

Galloglaich
2009-10-09, 09:17 AM
In the American Civil War, cavalry were told not to fire their pistol, unless the barrel was touching their opponent's chest (snip) I'm not arguing that armor didn't have some effectiveness against firearms, just that I feel the effectiveness is often overstated.

If you don't shoot until your pistol barrel is touching your opponents chest, you are well within lance, saber, mace or sword range aren't you? ;)



So, do we agree that horses are also susceptible to musket/rifle fire? Getting back to my thesis: Wouldn't the fact that cavalry wore armor (and their horses didn't), indicate that the primary purpose of that armor was for hand-to-hand fighting with sabers and lances? By, let's say, the end of the 17th century. Also, pikemen were more likely to wear armor than musketeers.

Well this depended a lot on the period, as I pointed out 'heavy cavalry' in the Renaissance into the Baroque / Enlightenment periods usually had armored horses. Not just in Europe either this was also true of Ottoman cavalry for example.

Armor was both for hand to hand combat and for firearms, but in later eras if you were protecting yourself only for hand-to-hand combat cavalry usualy wore just a gorget or a collar and a helmet, and sometimes something like a buff coat or other light armor, and maybe gauntlets. A cuirass was usually dual purpose.



As for cannons being the deciding factor that spelled the end for personal armor, I'm still don't think the claim is well backed up. Armor was on it's way out when field artillery was still pretty lousy. In most battles, as late as the English Civil War, the field artillery generally fired only one shot, essentially signaling the beginning of the battle. This was not universally true, and there were increasing numbers of small field pieces being hauled with the infantry regiments, to add firepower.

I believe you are thinking of large siege weapons. Artillery played key roles in battles going back to the 15th Century, as I mentioned before in the Hussite wars during the ealry 1400,s or for example the first major defeat of the Swiss Reislauffer in two hundred years at the battle of Marignano in 1515 which was largely due to the efficacy of French cannon.

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

I reccommend reading detailed accounts of actual battles. The Hussite Crusades are a classic example of cannons (often quite small cannons) being used to break up concentrated cavalry attacks to excellent effect. It's not accident that both the words "Howitzer" (Houfnice) and "Pistol" (Pistala) come from the 14th Centuy Czechs, based on inventions designed to kill knights. Read the Osprey book on these battles or if you are up for a heavier but much more in depth read on early warfare, I reccomend Hans Delbruck.

http://www.amazon.com/Hussite-Wars-1419-36-Men-at-Arms/dp/1841766658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255096929&sr=1-1-spell

http://www.amazon.com/Medieval-Warfare-History-Art-War/dp/0803265859/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255096904&sr=8-3



By the time infantry had switched to linear tactics, the way artillery broke up infantry charges was with cannister shot ...

No actually what you have is really like a giant shotgun, but cannister shot wasn't invented until Gustavus Adolphus in the 17th Century so it's a bit late for the context of most fantasy RPGs (not that it isn't a fascinating period) and definitely at the point when the decline of armored cavalry and armor in general was well on the way, certainly accelerated by this invention.



Ok, so this is where I'm a little confused, and might be a bit out of my depth. My understanding is that more carbon makes the steel denser and therefore heavier.

Stainless steel is heavier (and more brittle) due to the amount of Chromium, no the amount of carbon which is very low in any case. The amount of carbon in steel ranges from 0.2% to 2.1%

They had high carbon steel in the Renaissance, in fact Indian wootz steel was ultra high carbon (up to 2.5%) much higher than any steel they can make today.

The fact is, by the Renaissance steel was available that was very good for making swords, modern steel is good for making things like I-beams, cars, certain tools, and rebar. The best ancient swords are of a quality that modern sword makers can not yet emulate. In fact the best and most expensive replicas are often 5-10% heavier than the originals precisely because they cannot be made with modern materials and / or don't know enough of the old techniques for forging, heat-treating etc. to make them as strong for the same mass.

http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/johnsson/sword-museum-brescia.htm

And yet, the close they manage to match the antique weapons the better they perform. An excellent example of this is Albion Armorers "Brescia Spadona". Despite being a pointy 'thrusting sword' it out-cuts almost every other sword they make against all mediums. The reason is master Swordsmith and historian Peter Johnsonn went to Italy and measured the original milimeter by milimeter so that their replica could be as close as possible.

http://www.albion-swords.com/images/swords/johnsson/brescia01.jpg

Here is the original

http://www.myarmoury.com/images/reviews/alb_brescia1_s.jpg

But as nice as they are Albion makes their swords in a C in C mill by stock reduction from a pre-heat treated steel bar. The only smith I know who made swords that could even come close to comparing to the best of the ancient weapons was Paul Champagne, and he smelted his own iron out of iron ore he panned from a river.

And no, the weights in RPG books are ridiculous. Try picking up a 9 pound maul sometime, and try to imagine fighting with it against somebody who had say, a sharp broomstick.

G.

Galloglaich
2009-10-09, 09:38 AM
Ok, so this is where I'm a little confused, and might be a bit out of my depth. My understanding is that more carbon makes the steel denser and therefore heavier. Too much carbon will result in pig iron, though, which is too brittle.

You are confusing pig iron, which is an intermediate material created in Blast Furnaces, with cast iron. Steel exists in the very narrow range from around 0.2% carbon to about 2.1% which is very high. Anything above that is cast iron, normally far too brittle to be used for swords, anything below really 0.5% is effectively wrought iron, which is too malleable or ductile to make a sword, because it won't hold a good edge or even retain it's shape if it's beaten against something hard.

Blast furnaces incidentally existed in Europe from the Middle Ages, as early as the 12th Century.

Early forms of pattern welding consisted of making a knife or sword with cast iron edges which could made very sharp, and wrought iron center which was very soft, the combination made a weapon still flexible but potentially very sharp. This could also be achived by case-hardening, by adding carbon to the surface of wrought iron.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case_hardening#History

Later pattern-welded weapons used a kind of lattice of high and low carbon steel in the center, and usually retained the high carbon steel edges.

Pattern welding largely dissapeared in Europe by the 11th century, as much higher quantities of high quality (relatively pure) iron became available, largely due to a sort of mini-technical revolution that took place in the Middle Ages with the invention of the overshot water wheel (which increased horsepower of water mills by a factor of ten) and the windmill, both technologies which were spread far and wide by the Cistercian monks as well as the various types of automated machines which were designed to work from them, automated bellows and trip-hammers, the Catalan Forge and the Barcelona Hammer etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_wheel#Overshot_wheel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cistercian#Commercial_enterprise_and_technological _diffusion

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/99033/Catalan-forge

The mass production of iron in Europe which resulted had a lot to do with the gradual increase of military power of European armies. By the Renaissance, to give an idea of how industrially powerful they had become, the City of Milan was able to re-arm and armor over 15,000 troops who had been defeated and paroled in a battle, in a matter of weeks.

G.

Rion
2009-10-09, 10:05 AM
In the American Civil War, cavalry were told not to fire their pistol, unless the barrel was touching their opponent's chest (I'm not saying that's what actually happened, but that was the theory). I've seen 16th/17th century illustrations showing that same tactic being used against an armored foe. I'm not arguing that armor didn't have some effectiveness against firearms, just that I feel the effectiveness is often overstated.
I'm not going to touch the rest of the post (Since I don't know enough/haven't read enough books to either question or agree with you), but this one I'm going to talk about. I've bought "The Real Fighting Stuff" by Tobias Capwell, and in it he mentions how the commander of a cuirassier unit, Sir Arthur Haselrigge, was shot twice at point-blank range at the Battle of Roundway Down. One of the shots was even fired while the pistol's muzzle touched his helmet, but both bullets simply bounced off and Sir Arthur fought of his attacker with his sword.

Matthew
2009-10-09, 10:38 AM
Let us be careful when discussing the role of "heavy horsemen", as we are starting to concentrate on their effectiveness in full on pitched battles, which was a fairly unusual event. Given that the typical function of mounted knights and serjeants was skirmishes and raids, the war horse (typically 14-15 hands up until at least the fourteenth century) has an obvious advantage in that capacity.

Also, it is worth bearing in mind that the heavily armoured man-at-arms and fully barded war horse appeared at exactly the time when it was becoming increasingly common to fight dismounted as foot. Good on-line academic articles on the subject can be found here:

The Development of Battle Tactics in the Hundred Years War (http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/bennett2.htm)
Richard I and the Science of Warfare (http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/gillingham.htm)
War and Chivalry in the History of William the Marshall (http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/gillingham.htm)
William the Bastard at War (http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/gillingham.htm)

Fhaolan
2009-10-09, 11:03 AM
Interesting, what are the specific techniques of twisting bars together vs hammering flat and folding multiple times called?


Funnily enough, it appears they've gone simple with these, as most of these techniques were combined when making any one blade. Twisting, stacking, edge welding, centering, and folding are the terms for the primary techniques in use right now. Not very poetic, I know, but these are engineers we're dealing with. :smallwink:

For those curious as to what Raum and I are talking about, 'Pattern Welding' means taking multiple pieces of steel, usually of different or inconsistant grades, and using what at first glance looks like simple, but extremely tedious, blacksmithing techniques melding them together into one piece. In reality there's a lot of detailed complications in doing this stuff that takes a lot of skill. If you don't know what you're doing the blade will delaminate, or just shatter on quenching.

One technique is to take long bars of metal and twisting them together, then hammering the resulting piece flat (twisting).

Another technique is to stack relatively thin flats of metal together, then hot welding them by simple hammering (stacking, or lamination in other circles).

Folding, is where you take the stacked (or twisted, for that matter) bar, and fold it over and over again, hammering it flat each time.

Edge welding is a more specific technique where you hammer weld a very hard piece of steel all the way around the edge of the blade.

Centering is the exact opposite of edge welding, where you take a soft piece of steel or iron and fold the blade steel over it, so that the end result has the soft piece in the center down the length of the blade.

Nearly everyone who did pattern welding used all of these techniques to some extent, but Northern Europe favoured twisting and edge welding while the Far East tended towards taking stacking, folding, and centering to more extreme levels. And all of this was mainly to fix the problems with bad steel. Once good steel became available in these areas (usually from the Middle East, Spain, or later on some areas of Russia), the use of pattern welding decreased or became primarily decorative (as it is very pretty).

Due to the disuse of these techniques over the years (as well as disuse of swordsmithing techniques in general) many of the details around these techniques have been lost, and only some have been rediscovered through experimentation. Despite what a lot of people would tell you, even the modern Japanese swordsmiths are still trying to rediscover some of the really important details. What I described *seems* simple, but details about the exact temperature each individual piece needs to be at, what flux materials (cleaning agents that promote better welds), how much folding/twisting each peice can take, when to combine the various techniques and when to *not* do that, all of that takes a lot of skill and knowledge that in many cases we just don't have access to anymore.

Oslecamo
2009-10-09, 11:43 AM
It's not easy to get soldiers to wear uncomfortable gear. Even the stuff that works is heavy all the time and useful once in a great while, so it will always be a struggle.

Indeed. Altough as firearms developed armors could be made ticker to resist the bullets, said armors became more and more uncomfortable and heavy. Specially when the soldier is already burdened carrying an heavy firearm, the respective ammo and the actual survival stuff like food, water and medicine.

Nowadays we have kevlar, wich is considerably lighter but even it isn't light enough to make a viable armor that fully covers your body. Also no sane army charges in concentrated groups unless they're inside metal boxes.

Galloglaich
2009-10-09, 11:46 AM
Funnily enough, it appears they've gone simple with these, as most of these techniques were combined when making any one blade. Twisting, stacking, edge welding, centering, and folding are the terms for the primary techniques in use right now. Not very poetic, I know, but these are engineers we're dealing with. :smallwink:
.

Well put, I'd agree with all that with the caveat that early pattern welding was done largely to create something like modern homogeneous steel out of poor quality Iron, since steel as such wasn't really available ... most early pattern welded swords (some going back to the 8th Century BC in La Tene context) were essentially wrought iron cores with cast iron edges.

The twisting and folding techniques to create a high / low carbon steel lattice down the center of the blade peaked in Europe during the Migration Era, around the 6th - 7th Centuries, primarily by Germanic and Scandinavian tribes. This was described by many period eyewitneses, such as the Roman Senator Cassiodorus: "The central part of their blades, cunningly hollowed out, appears to be grained with tiny snakes, and here such varied shadows play that you would believe the shining metal to be interwoven with many colours. " but you couldn't see the actual pattern unless it had been etched with mild Acid as is commonly done today with pattern welded replicas, or when the metal was rapidly changing temperature such as when you thrust it in the snow and then warmed it with your breath. The Norse called the pattern 'The Wyrm" or the "Serpent in the steel".

In South Asia you had Cruscible steels like Wootz which essentially amounted to a new type of iron-carbon compound with a built-in pattern welded structure. Cakes or billets of wootz were traded all over and used by the Vikings, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Persians and the Arabs and even (much later) eventually Western Europe proper. They did modern destructive tests on wootz steel blades and found carbon nano-wires and nano-tubes in them. The metalurgy of the ancients is indeed something we haven't caught up to yet, particularly South Asian metalurgy. The heat treatment and forging techniques for making swords are a seperate though related technology that also is slowly being rediscovered.

G.

Tam_OConnor
2009-10-09, 01:13 PM
Greetings, scholars of steel.

Fighting question: in what manner would one use a sax/seax? A friend of mine recently picked one up, and asked me for advice. So I turn to you. Blade length is about 18 inches (~45cm), with no guard to speak of. My only thought so far has been to treat it as an axe, much I would with a kukri. But... I don't have any axe training (rapier, spear and staff only). Advice? Manuals?

Matthew
2009-10-09, 01:28 PM
Are you sure it is a seax (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seax) and not a sica (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sica)?

Akal Saris
2009-10-09, 01:41 PM
Hey everyone!

I just felt like sharing some good news: I just got 'A GLOSSARY of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor' on loan from my library (well, from some library a city over anyhow). If I remember right, it's 1 of the primary sources that Gygax listed for 1E weapons, so it's pretty well related to D&D weaponry. Pg. 296 has the 'Holy Water Sprinkle or Morningstar', for example, a 'shafted weapon with an enlarged head of wood or iron studded with spikes.'

It's also this big, musty brown-covered tome about the size and weight of a large dictionary, so it's pretty cool just looking at it. It's essentially just a huge, huge list of historical weapons and armor (and weapon-makers, and common designs or phrases), along with black and white photos.

So yeah, that's all really - let me know if you're curious what the book has to say about any weapons or armor and I'll look it up for you!

Matthew
2009-10-09, 01:53 PM
A nice bit of history to be sure, it was reprinted as recently as 1999, but I imagine the content is the same: 'A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armour' (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=J5PgapzD6FoC&dq=%22A+GLOSSARY+of+the+Construction,+Decoration,+ and+Use+of+Arms+and+Armor%22&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=HTEwrDwNCA&sig=WY1ltqWJDyHo9UDuA0jk2NcOwjQ&hl=en&ei=QYfPSvbLONGy4QaI_OiiAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2#v=onepage&q=&f=false)

Galloglaich
2009-10-09, 02:15 PM
Greetings, scholars of steel.

Fighting question: in what manner would one use a sax/seax? A friend of mine recently picked one up, and asked me for advice. So I turn to you. Blade length is about 18 inches (~45cm), with no guard to speak of. My only thought so far has been to treat it as an axe, much I would with a kukri. But... I don't have any axe training (rapier, spear and staff only). Advice? Manuals?

Wow ....long post eaten mysteriously :smallmad:. Must be forum gods way of saying don't be so long winded.

http://www.myarmoury.com/images/features/pic_seax02_s.gif

My take on it, I think it's the Iron Age equivalent of the Bowie Knife of the American Frontier. The best source for how to use one in a fight are probably Medieval / Renaissance martial arts manuals on the messer and dussack.

Good article on Seax here:

http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_seax.html

Grettirs Saga, great Norse story which features a hero with a Seax he got from a wight-haunted tomb

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

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/019280152X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_2?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0802061656&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0RP69W4C8W9C2EQYJTHC

A Seax historically could be as short as a pocket knife or as long as an arming sword, in fact many of the hundreds of swords found by archeologists from Viking and Vendel era contexts in Scandinavia are single edged and are probably actually "long saxes", particulalry in Norway.

For the longer weapons I think the Medieval bauernweher and hauswehr, and their Renaissance cousins the Grosse Messer ("big knife") and the Dussack are probably your best bet to research since there are many martial arts manuals which deal with them extensively.

Some of the Fechtbuchs Masters who covered Messer / Dussack include Joachim Meyer

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

http://www.st-max.org/FechtWeb/Images/Mdussack/F.jpg

Albrecht Durer who is known as one of the great artists of the German Renaissance, was also a fencer and a member of the Marx Bruder, and wrote a martial arts manual mainly dealing with messers

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

http://www.albion-swords.com/images/april1/2006/messer6.jpg

Hans Tallhoffer

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

http://www.middleages.hu/pic/6hm.gif

(gotta love the ultraviolence in the Fechtbuchen)


And most importantly Johannes Lecküchner who some people think was actually a pen name for master Lichtenauer himself

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Leck%C3%BCchner

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bd/Cgm_582_92r.jpg/240px-Cgm_582_92r.jpg
Some HEMA videos with good interpretations of these manuals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38sVdx7nzhQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWISsk0cy74&feature=related


If you preferred something other than a European source the Filipino and Malaysian Martial Arts (Arnis, Kali, Escrima, Silat) are also very very good with short cutting blades.

G.

HenryHankovitch
2009-10-09, 02:29 PM
Hey everyone!

So yeah, that's all really - let me know if you're curious what the book has to say about any weapons or armor and I'll look it up for you!

Does it have a glaive-glaive-glaive-guisarme-glaive?

Galloglaich
2009-10-09, 03:09 PM
Does it have a glaive-glaive-glaive-guisarme-glaive?

Come on man Bohemian Ear spoon FTW!


G.

Thane of Fife
2009-10-09, 04:11 PM
Come on man Bohemian Ear spoon FTW!


G.

I've actually got a copy of that book at home somewhere - it focuses more on the esoteric weapons than the common ones - I think it more likely to have the Bohemian Ear Spoon than just a normal glaive.

My personal favorites are the Throwing Knives. Some of those things are nasty looking.

Galloglaich
2009-10-09, 04:17 PM
I just wrote my own weapon encyclopedia and I have to say, the polearms gave me a bit of a headache, the class which includes the ear-spoon in particular was left rather broad and somewhat generic, because frankly I'm a bit stymied by what the functional differences precisely are between all these very similar types. To this day the article Gary Gygax wrote in the 1985 Unearthed Arcana is probably the most definitive overview of polearms, though he really didn't differentiate them very much based on function.

The more I learn about pre-industrial weapons in general though the more fascinating I find them. Throwing knives are cool, have you seen some of those crazy African ones?

My favorite are still probably mostly swords but I've grown fond of spears, daggers, messers, and axes as well in recent years. Even recently overcame my loathing for guns in a Medieval context and I'm starting to warm up to hand culverins and arquebuses etc., and I really like those hard core Renaissance era Arbalest crossbows. I wish somebody would make and test shoot a few of those...

G.

Matthew
2009-10-09, 04:54 PM
I recall someone saying that there was an error in the labelling of some pole-arms in the Dragon/Unearthed Arcana article Gygax penned, but I do not remember what it was off hand. I recently noted that he added several additional such weapons I had never heard of in his more recent World Builder, the "saber-axe" and "spear-guisarme" being the primary examples that spring to mind. The Bohemian Ear Spoon remained categorised as a type of Ranseur.

fusilier
2009-10-09, 04:58 PM
If that command were given, it was probably an exaggeration by the commander, who was basically saying "don't fire unless you're sure you'll get a hit." There were no speedloaders in the Civil War and you wouldn't want your men wasting pistol rounds by firing too far away to reliably hit.

It wasn't a command, it was a tactic. But basically you are right. If you're in the middle of a cavalry melee, they wanted you to be sure that you were not going to waste that shot. The old pistols weren't terribly accurate anyway, on the back of a jostling horse, with people swinging sabers at each other, you can imagine how difficult it must of been.

@Rion
Awesome story. That guy had well made armor. Another thing to consider is the effectiveness of powders at the time. By the 1500s they had "corned" powder, but if I recall correctly the ratio of components is not considered ideal. I'm sure there were consistency issues too.



No actually what you have is really like a giant shotgun, but cannister shot wasn't invented until Gustavus Adolphus in the 17th Century so it's a bit late for the context of most fantasy RPGs (not that it isn't a fascinating period) and definitely at the point when the decline of armored cavalry and armor in general was well on the way, certainly accelerated by this invention.

First we're not limited to discussing Fantasy RPGs here, so all time periods are open.

I know what cannister is (another variant would be grapeshot). So yes it is like a giant shotgun shooting roughly musket balls. I think we might be focusing are different eras.



I believe you are thinking of large siege weapons. Artillery played key roles in battles going back to the 15th Century, as I mentioned before in the Hussite wars during the ealry 1400,s or for example the first major defeat of the Swiss Reislauffer in two hundred years at the battle of Marignano in 1515 which was largely due to the efficacy of French cannon.

No, I'm not thinking of siege artillery, although they would use big guns in field battles. The small cannons you mention seem to not have lasted very long, but others started showing up again in the 1600s. Machiavelli is criticized very heavily for his failure to predict the development of field artillery (In his Art of War). He describes artillery as being used in the same I way described (one salvo by each side at the beginning of the battle). I think this criticism is unfair. Most battles of the Thirty Years War, artillery generally seemed to play a small role, pretty much being used exactly as he described a hundred years earlier. Although, by that time smaller more mobile guns were being introduced (or should I say reintroduced) onto the battlefield, being used a lot like the later regimental cannons, to boost an infantry regiment's firepower.

Did light field artillery get abandoned during the 1500s, only to reemerge in the 1600s? If so, was it abandoned because there were more and more personal firearms being employed, providing sufficient firepower? And then it reemerged as tactics changed and new methods were adopted.

Artillery could have a huge psychological effect, especially if a well placed shot passed through a dense pike square or column. But by the late 1500s, and early 1600s, my impression (from a rather cursory study) is that few battles were decided by artillery. What I would call linear tactics don't start appearing until around this time (volley fire for instance), and even then the formations were still pretty deep.

Pikemen in the early 1500s could still be seen wearing nearly full armor, and so could cavalry in the Thirty Years War. Harquebusiers and musketeers desiring more mobility, usually wore less armor than the pikemen, and cavalry forces.

As for what spelled the end of the armored mounted knight: I don't think firearms were necessary. I do think they were necessary to end the use of armor (it just became too impractical). Cavalry has always had trouble with well organized and disciplined infantry. Charging mobs and rabbles, cavalry has a huge advantage. The tactical mobility of cavalry, also meant that they could quickly turn a flank, and then exploit an infantry formation. But generally speaking that threat could be countered by other cavalry. A direct cavalry charge on well formed infantry was a huge gamble.

So I think the credit should go to the Swiss pikemen! ;-)

Steel
Thank you everybody for straightening me out on the issue of steel (and yes I was thinking of cast iron). Metals like steel are pretty fascinating in that simply knowing what something is (even at molecular level), doesn't mean it can be recreated. The process by which it is formed is all important.

Matthew
2009-10-09, 05:09 PM
A direct cavalry charge on well formed infantry was a huge gamble.

Indeed; one of my favourite twelfth century anecdotes illustrates the risks nicely, Tancred Prince of Antioch's knights failed against the citizen militia infantry of Muslim Shaizar (cited from an article by Matthew Bennett in Medieval Knighthood V):



On that same day [in 1110], a number of footsoldiers came out of Shaizar. The Franks charged them, without disturbing their formation. Thereupon Tancred became angry and said, 'You are my knights and each of you receives pay equivalent to the pay of a hundred Muslims. You have these sergeants [by which he meant the infantry] in front of you, and you are not capable of moving them!' They answered, 'We fear only for our horses; otherwise we would have crushed and pierced such enemies with our lances.' Tancred answered, 'The horses belong to me; I will replace anyone's horse that gets killed'. They then made several charges against the men of Shaizar, and lost seventy horses, , but could not move the enemy from the position they had taken up.'

Autobiography of Ousama, ed. and trans. G. R. Potter, Londo 1929, 89.

Nice little preview here from Cambridge Illustrated Atlas of Warfare: The Middle Ages (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Sf8UIynR0koC&pg=PA156&lpg=PA156&dq#v=onepage&q=&f=false). A pertinent quote: "Hastings and the crusade did not teach western generals the value of infantry - they were already aware of it, which is why they took infantry with them."

Stephen_E
2009-10-09, 10:01 PM
Using a on-the-larger-side Arab-cross as a representative of an appropriately-sized courser in the early medieval period, the problem I had was in getting the stupid thing to *not* jump while I had period-appropriate equipment on (Churburg breast-and-back) because I was, and continue to be, a mediocre rider at best and tended to go flying out of the saddle on landing. The saddle seemed to hold me in on takeoff because of a tall cantle (the rear bit of the saddle), but the pommel (the front bit of the saddle) wasn't anywhere near as tall, so *woosh* out I went.


Why was the horse stupid?
It didn't suffer from jumping at the wrong time and it got a laugh from watching you hit the ground.

Sounds like a smart horse to me. Evil maybe, but smart. :-)

Stephen E

Tam_OConnor
2009-10-10, 11:18 AM
Thank you for the sources.

To clarify, Matthew: yes, a seax, not a sica. I used the example of a kukri because all my other sword training is thrusting, not hacking.

Matthew
2009-10-10, 11:37 AM
To clarify, Matthew: yes, a seax, not a sica. I used the example of a kukri because all my other sword training is thrusting, not hacking.

Right you are; I see.

Diamondeye
2009-10-10, 03:49 PM
It wasn't a command, it was a tactic. But basically you are right. If you're in the middle of a cavalry melee, they wanted you to be sure that you were not going to waste that shot. The old pistols weren't terribly accurate anyway, on the back of a jostling horse, with people swinging sabers at each other, you can imagine how difficult it must of been.

That's not a tactic. That's a fire control measure that the commander would specify.

A tactic is "(DOD) The employment and ordered arrangement of forces in relation to each other. See also procedures; techniques."


http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jel/doddict/data/t/7485.html

Rasilak
2009-10-11, 11:06 AM
I used the example of a kukri because all my other sword training is thrusting, not hacking.Note that there is a *huge* difference between cutting and hacking. The seaxes (is this the correct plural?) I've seen tend to have pretty light blades, so you should use them like a sabre (or a katana for that matter - Musashi for example strongly advises against hacking techniques with them), whereas a kukri is pretty much the optimal hacking weapon (as are machetes, for which most of the blade techniques in Escrima are designed).

Galloglaich
2009-10-11, 11:05 PM
No, I'm not thinking of siege artillery, although they would use big guns in field battles. The small cannons you mention seem to not have lasted very long,

No that is not true small cannon were around continuously from the first firearms to the last. Not everyone knew how to use them. There were numerous names for different types. In fact the line between individual firearm (pistol, arquebus, musket etc.) and cannons was rather blurred and remained so through the Middle Ages into the Renaissance. The history of the culverin is a pretty interesting example.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culverin
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/26/HandBombardWesternEurope1390-1400.jpg/800px-HandBombardWesternEurope1390-1400.jpg
Weapons like this 14th Century hand-culverin were very effective at breaking up cavalry charges and infantry concentrations - if you knew how to use them.


Most battles of the Thirty Years War, artillery generally seemed to play a small role,

Again, I disagree. The 30 years war was when Gustavus Adolphus introduced grapeshot which vastly enhanced the power of cannon, and in building light artillery carriages which could deploy quickly to protect his pike formations. In fact his stunning success was largely attributed to these specific innovations.

From the wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustavus_Adolphus#Legacy_as_a_general


Among other innovations, he installed an early form of combined arms in his formations, where the cavalry could attack from the safety of an infantry line reinforced by cannon, and retire again within to regroup after their foray.


Did light field artillery get abandoned during the 1500s, only to reemerge in the 1600s?

No I don't think it did actually. It may have disappeared from certain general historical accounts to "re-emerge" in others...

You nailed the point here:


Charging mobs and rabbles, cavalry has a huge advantage. (snip). But generally speaking that threat could be countered by other cavalry. A direct cavalry charge on well formed infantry was a huge gamble.

So I think the credit should go to the Swiss pikemen! ;-)

...yes, in a sense, though not just to the Swiss. And not for inventing the halberd, which they did, but for using the halberd, the pike, the heavy arbalest (crossbow) and later small cannon and early firearms, as well as rocks, grenades, bastard swords, baselards and morning stars in an effective combined arms system.

The credit for "checking" the excellent European Heavy cavalry of the early Middle Ages in fact was the re-emergence of very good European infantry, adapted to heavy cavalry tactics with new technical innovations and good training. These were mostly militia and rebels like the Swiss, the Czech Hussites, the Flemish at Golden Spurs, the Scots at Bannock Burn etc. In every case, it was not just a matter of having the weapons, but of really knowing how to use them. This is true whether you are using pikes, armored warhorses, light or heavy cannons, longbows, arquebuses, or wagonbergs.

The Germans tried to emulate the Hussites wagenbergs and failed. Many people tried to emulate the Welsh / English Longbows and failed... Everyone tried to emulate the Swiss and precious few even came close. The problem is it's not just the weapon you need but the culture that went with it. The German Landsknechts who got the closest to matching the Swiss were consciously organized by Emperor Maximillian to emulate the Swiss "warrior democracy" social structure and create military units with their own courts and laws etc. (That is why they dressed so crazy, they were immune to sumptuary laws). Only then did the 'magic' begin to happen.

Using cannon effectively was just as tricky. And when cannons, which are not particularly glamorous, were used effectively, we sometimes miss it in the pop-history we get in school. For example everyone knows about the English Longbow victories at Crecy, Poitiers, and Agincourt. Precious few people are aware that the French actually won the 100 years war primarily by their mastery of cannons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_Years%27_War#French_victory:_1429.E2.80.93 1453

But the bottom line is, cannons completely defeated armor. It didn't mean armor was instantly obsolete, but if there were cannons deployed, your armor would not make you safe from them whether you were some rabble with no protection other than his shirt, or some Lord with a tempered steel masterpiece harness which cost more than some medium sized towns. You had to avoid the cannon if you wanted to live. And they became more and more common every year. This made warfare far less fun for the Aristocracy and I believe contributed to the gradual decline of both heavy cavalry and armor, along with the attitude of the new hard core infantry (I think it is significant for example, that the Swiss took no prisoners regardless of their rank.)

The problem is there really wasn't any armor anyone made for any price which could stand up to cannon, whereas on the other hand, armor was very effective, far more so than we usually think based on the cliches of RPGs, sci fi - / fantasy films and tv shows, and video games - against things like arrows, javelins, crossbow bolts and even bullets, as well as swords, axes, spears and daggers. As some other people pointed out upthread here, armor worked, that's why people wore it, but cannon really is the first weapon which began to change that, centuries before muskets became powerful enough to do so. I'll get into that a little more in another post though.



Metals like steel are pretty fascinating in that simply knowing what something is (even at molecular level), doesn't mean it can be recreated. The process by which it is formed is all important.

That is an interesting truth isn't it? Steel is much more than what elements it is composed of chemically. We are learning much the same lessons today with other materials like carbon fiber.

G.

Adlan
2009-10-12, 01:36 AM
That is an interesting truth isn't it? Steel is much more than what elements it is composed of chemically. We are learning much the same lessons today with other materials like carbon fiber.


I'm currently doing my 2nd year in a Masters of Chemistry Degree, The tempering of polymers is fascinating area, and I'd bet on composite materials made of known elements being the major breakthroughs in chemistry. Tempering, annealing, I got major browniee points for being able to explain them in a lecture, Old terminology, new technology.

Galloglaich
2009-10-12, 09:40 PM
I'm currently doing my 2nd year in a Masters of Chemistry Degree, The tempering of polymers is fascinating area, and I'd bet on composite materials made of known elements being the major breakthroughs in chemistry. Tempering, annealing, I got major browniee points for being able to explain them in a lecture, Old terminology, new technology.

Yes, that is fascinating. While doing research for this book I recently learned that similar processes were actually used during the Bronze Age with Bronze Swords in China and in the Halstadt culture in Europe. They used to use different alloys for different parts of the swords similar to pattern welding techniques, and actually did some kind of tempering. These are the kinds of 'hidden' technologies which we don't focus on as much in our modern industrial / bottom line mentality, but I think we can learn a lot from the incredible artisainship of our ancestors.

G.

Adlan
2009-10-13, 12:38 PM
An important thing people forget, or overlook, is that just because their technology wasn't as advanced as ours, didn't mean they were dumber than us, the technology and sofistication of what they did have, is phenomenal.

Going back earlier than bronze, into a hobby of mine, the flint work of days gone by is beyond what people today can do. The skill and uasge of substandard materials to produce items we find difficult with prime stuff, and the use of prime materials to produce brilliant stuff with great skill (buriens are amazing to me).

Galloglaich
2009-10-13, 02:49 PM
An important thing people forget, or overlook, is that just because their technology wasn't as advanced as ours, didn't mean they were dumber than us, the technology and sofistication of what they did have, is phenomenal.

Agreed 100%, you can definitely see this very clearly in the Renaissance, as well as in a number of other periods and places around the world.



Going back earlier than bronze, into a hobby of mine, the flint work of days gone by is beyond what people today can do. The skill and uasge of substandard materials to produce items we find difficult with prime stuff, and the use of prime materials to produce brilliant stuff with great skill (buriens are amazing to me).

Have you seen some of the stone daggers they made in Denmark during the Bronze Age? They didn't have any local sources for copper or tin so they were carving these incredible stone daggers to emulate the copper daggers being used at the time, these are some of my favorite stone weapons, the artistry is incredible.

http://lithiccastinglab.com/images/danishdagggroupsegmentsmall.jpg

http://lithiccastinglab.com/gallery-pages/2002septemberdanishdaggerpage1.htm

G

fusilier
2009-10-13, 05:12 PM
But the bottom line is, cannons completely defeated armor. It didn't mean armor was instantly obsolete, but if there were cannons deployed, your armor would not make you safe from them whether you were some rabble with no protection other than his shirt, or some Lord with a tempered steel masterpiece harness which cost more than some medium sized towns. You had to avoid the cannon if you wanted to live.

Ok, I see what you are saying. Basically there was no personal defense against cannon. So the increasing use of artillery on the battlefield meant armor could no longer confer a virtual guarantee of safety. I would argue that heavy muskets of the mid 1500s lent themselves to this as well. Although armor could adapt, it never seemed to be as effective (furthermore, as you hinted at, the distinction between a heavy musket, or hand-gonne, and a light cannon can be somewhat blurred in the early gunpowder period). As for the noblemen being involved less in combat, wasn't this beginning to happen already? Weren't armies being made up increasingly of "peasants"? Or did the two go hand-in-hand (i.e. increase use of gunpowder weapons, and a rise in peasant armies). If field artillery had a significant impact on the end of the armored knight, I would put it as just one factor among many.

According to the wikipedia article Gustavus Adolphus is seen as innovator when it comes to light field artillery, so the use of light artillery prior to him must have been viewed as lacking in some way (to the point that some claim that he introduced light field artillery). In fact the wikipedia article on artillery claims:
"With the rise of musketry in the 16th century, cannon were largely (though not entirely) displaced from the battlefield—the cannon were too slow and cumbersome to be used and too easily lost to a rapid enemy advance."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artillery

I believe that as harquebuses and muskets (and calivers) became more common, field armies had sufficient firepower without cannons. At least for the tactics of the time! As tactics developed, and field artillery developed, it was again employed in increasing numbers.

I know that there had been defeats of armored knights by infantry before the Swiss appeared, but my understanding is that the Swiss popularized organized infantry as the main fighting force. And yes, it wasn't simply the weapon being reintroduced, it was the appropriate tactics to use it.

fusilier
2009-10-13, 05:19 PM
An important thing people forget, or overlook, is that just because their technology wasn't as advanced as ours, didn't mean they were dumber than us, the technology and sofistication of what they did have, is phenomenal.

Going back earlier than bronze, into a hobby of mine, the flint work of days gone by is beyond what people today can do. The skill and uasge of substandard materials to produce items we find difficult with prime stuff, and the use of prime materials to produce brilliant stuff with great skill (buriens are amazing to me).

I've met some people who can do pretty neat flint/stone knapping (they helped me make some musket flints). It's a cool art, but clearly requires a lot of practice. Meso-american cultures preferred the use of obsidian for weaponry, even though they seem to have had rudimentary bronze working. Also obsidian scalpels are sometimes used today, for delicate incisions where they want to reduce the amount of scarring as much as possible.

Hurlbut
2009-10-13, 05:33 PM
Also obsidian scalpels are sometimes used today, for delicate incisions where they want to reduce the amount of scarring as much as possible.That's because when it's properly honed, the cutting edge can be extremely thin and sharp.

Matthew
2009-10-13, 05:54 PM
I know that there had been defeats of armoured knights by infantry before the Swiss appeared, but my understanding is that the Swiss popularized organized infantry as the main fighting force. And yes, it wasn't simply the weapon being reintroduced, it was the appropriate tactics to use it.

That is basically the stance inherited from Oman and others; medieval military history is currently undergoing a fairly heavy revision that is groping towards the idea that scale and visibility are what makes it appear as though:

Infantry Dominates c. 1,000 BC → 378 AD Battle of Adrianople → Cavalry Dominates → 1350(ish) Infantry Dominates → Early 20th Century

It is basically an overly simplistic model in a long retreat. The western heavy cavalry of the medieval period was no less dependent on combined arms tactics as any other, but it was a very good quality heavy cavalry that the professional warriors aspired to be like.

Norsesmithy
2009-10-13, 08:27 PM
Ok, I see what you are saying. Basically there was no personal defense against cannon. So the increasing use of artillery on the battlefield meant armor could no longer confer a virtual guarantee of safety. I would argue that heavy muskets of the mid 1500s lent themselves to this as well. Although armor could adapt, it never seemed to be as effective (furthermore, as you hinted at, the distinction between a heavy musket, or hand-gonne, and a light cannon can be somewhat blurred in the early gunpowder period). As for the noblemen being involved less in combat, wasn't this beginning to happen already? Weren't armies being made up increasingly of "peasants"? Or did the two go hand-in-hand (i.e. increase use of gunpowder weapons, and a rise in peasant armies). If field artillery had a significant impact on the end of the armored knight, I would put it as just one factor among many.

According to the wikipedia article Gustavus Adolphus is seen as innovator when it comes to light field artillery, so the use of light artillery prior to him must have been viewed as lacking in some way (to the point that some claim that he introduced light field artillery). In fact the wikipedia article on artillery claims:
"With the rise of musketry in the 16th century, cannon were largely (though not entirely) displaced from the battlefield—the cannon were too slow and cumbersome to be used and too easily lost to a rapid enemy advance."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artillery
Well after the post fight payday of a couple of victorious battles, even a common soldier in the late middle ages and renaissance period could afford a harness, if maybe a piecemeal and ill fitting one.

So while you can generally count on every nobleman to buy a really nice set of armor, almost all your veteran soldiers are going to be wearing serviceable armor in most armies of the time, even if its maybe only a half harness.

As far as what Gustavus did with field artillery, I don't know for certain that it was an original invention of his, but none of his foes were doing what he was until after facing him.

Gustavus eliminated the largest and most powerful class of cannon (48 lbers) from his TOE, and made up the difference with a larger number of the smallest guns (8 lbers or there abouts) and his wagon handlers were trained soldiers instead of locally impressed contractors. This made Gustavus's artillery faster to deploy, faster firing, more accurate, faster to pack up, and easier to keep with the army than the artillery of Tilly or Wallenstien. Further, he cross trained his cavalry on cannon use and had a very efficient and effective artillery commander under him.

At Breitenfield, Gustavus's cavalrymen captured Tilly's own batteries and turned them on the Catholic Tercios. The idea that the mostly Noble cavalrymen knew how to use cannon in an effective manner was a pretty new one.

Galloglaich
2009-10-13, 08:27 PM
I kind of agree with everybody :) a lot of well informed people here actually.

Yes Matthew I agree it does tend to get heavily oversimplified, and this has been understood going a ways back, Hans Delbruck has a very good overview of Medieval Warfare back in the 1920s in which he debunks the idea that there was no good infantry in Medieval Europe or that Combined Arms didn't exist - but he does point out that there was a sort of a revolution of infantry tactics which did start with the Swiss among others, in the early 14th Century. Delbruck is still a very good read and holds up, some of his numbers (total numbers of combattants) are disputed now but everything else holds up quite well I believe.

That said there was a period between roughly the 11th - 14th Century where European heavy cavalry became effectively (though not utterly) dominant, there were a lot of reasons for this. Religious, political, technological, organizational, economic and topographical. In this period you saw a lot of what used to be free tribesmen in rural areas disarmed and made into peasants. This was a repeat of what happened in Saxon Britain before Alfred the Great when Carls were turned into Churls - a process Alfred began to reverse in order to help the country fight off the Vikings.

This was part of the Latifundia process which went back to the Romans, founded in Roman law which mandated that farmers could be 'chained' to their land (to prevent mobs from growing in the city and the over-taxed, impoverished countryside from becoming depopulated). It didn't happen everywhere however, and these were the zones where a good "martial culture" remained.

In the later 13th / early 14th Century we do see three key battles which symbolized the high water mark of the power of the armed aristocracy and the heavy cavalry: Courtrai / Golden Spurs in Flanders in 1302, Bannock Burn in Scotland in 1314, and Morgarten in what was to become the Swiss Confederacy in 1315.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bannockburn
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Golden_Spurs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Morgarten

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/Godendag.jpg
http://www.liebaart.org/figuren/goedendr.jpg

In all three cases new weapons were "invented" or put to effective use for the first time, the Godendag, the Schiltron, and the Halberd respectively. In all three cases the terrain was favorable to defense, and in all three cases the locals were not malnourished serfs but free commoners who had retained their martial traditions from centuries (really aeons) before, and had never been properly subjugated. These places were the nexus of the infantry dominated armies which gradually rose to prominence in the Renaissance.

But that said, as Walter pointed out, there was professional infantry, artillery, and light and heavy cavalry before these key battles, and after them as well - for centuries. No army could really fight effectively without all three branches plus other types like sappers, couriers, scouts etc.

So to answer fusilier, it wasn't so much peasants, as free commoners who began to dominate. The best infantry were often militia comprised of effectively middle class people from cities and towns, your artisan and professional classes, as well as some relatively prosperous peasants, but pure peasant / serf armies didn't usually do well (such as the ill fated Jackerie and the German Peasant Uprising which were both ruthlessly crushed.)

And yes I also agree heavy muskets made the battlefield dangerous for everyone and diminished the value of armor, no doubt about it. Cannon was by no means the only reason, I think you got the point i was trying to make about it. I just think it tends to be overlooked.

G.

Mike_G
2009-10-13, 09:31 PM
Just wondering, does anyone know if, or under what circumstances common infantrymen in the middle ages could share in the ransom of captured knights?

I know that ransoming noble captives was common, but most of what I've read on the subject deals with one noble ransoming another. Could a longbowman, pikeman or halberdier make his fortune that way? Or did the noble commander of an army give a share to his footmen, or did they just profit by loot.

It seems that allowing them to share in the ransom would keep more noble prisoners alive.

Matthew
2009-10-13, 09:38 PM
Right, but even those views of a infantry revolution are now under significant question, and the case is being increasingly pushed for professional and wide spread infantry use long before the fourteenth century. I do not have the time to go into it right now, but the most interesting change in our understanding has been the role of battles. They just were not very common, much more normal was the raid and the siege, and at a siege heavy cavalry has a very limited role to play.

The classic battle supposed to have shown the dominance of cavalry over infantry is Hastings, ushering in a new age, but in fact the Normans relied on a combined arms force where the striking power was with the cavalry, but that was always how heavy cavalry was employed. Throughout the eleventh and twelfth centuries we see the Anglo-Normans fighting significant battles on foot, and this is not really any great surprise, given the sorts of troops evident in the Assize of Arms.

On the continent, similar troop proportions are likely. For instance, the crusade army proposed in 1201 by treaty with the Venetians, according to Villhardouin, consisted of 4,500 horses, 4,500 knights, 9,000 squires and 20,000 foot serjeants. Presumably these forces were intended to function along similar lines as those ten years previously, which is to say heavy cavalry covered by combinations of spear and crossbow armed infantry. Of course, they didn't manage to raise that many troops, due to unforeseen setbacks, and we all know how that eventually turned out.



Just wondering, does anyone know if, or under what circumstances common infantrymen in the middle ages could share in the ransom of captured knights?

I know that ransoming noble captives was common, but most of what I've read on the subject deals with one noble ransoming another. Could a longbowman, pikeman or halberdier make his fortune that way? Or did the noble commander of an army give a share to his footmen, or did they just profit by loot.

It seems that allowing them to share in the ransom would keep more noble prisoners alive.

The way that armies were recruited, it is likely that money from ransoms filtered down through a retinue, and high ranking captives taken by lower ranking soldiers would be yielded up to the officers over them. The rules that the medieval canonists tended to make all booty taken the property of the prince on whose authority the war was waged, which he then dispersed amongst the army. In practice, though, I doubt this was the case.

Galloglaich
2009-10-13, 10:36 PM
Just wondering, does anyone know if, or under what circumstances common infantrymen in the middle ages could share in the ransom of captured knights?

I know that ransoming noble captives was common, but most of what I've read on the subject deals with one noble ransoming another. Could a longbowman, pikeman or halberdier make his fortune that way? Or did the noble commander of an army give a share to his footmen, or did they just profit by loot.

It seems that allowing them to share in the ransom would keep more noble prisoners alive.

I know that the British specifically allowed their longbow archers to ransom French knights, they knocked them out with tent-stake mallets rather famously and became country squires back in Wales or England as a result in many cases. Some great fortunes were made this way in fact.

With the Swiss, it was a politcal / cultural thing. They resented that commoners were not ransomed, so they did not ransom anyone as a policy, (it also was a means to spread terror of the Swiss infantry which it did.) There was a distinct Class element with the Swiss, they kept Charles the Bold's Golden Bathtub and the pointy aristocrat shoes of his knights who ran away displayed for centuries after the Burgundian campaign.

I know that during the Italian Wars it was a more nationalistic thing. Italian Condotierri would ransom or even parole fellow Italians on several famous occasions, but would kill Spanish and French troops because Spanish and French troops killed any Italian prisoners who could not themselves afford a ransom, and because the Spanish and French troops committed many atrocities, putting civilians to the sword etc.. As a result French troops were slaughtered more than once when trying to retreat from Italian Campaigns.

I believe there was a similar situation between the Dutch and the Spanish, and during the religious war. During the 30 years war half the male population of Germany was put to the sword, the 'Chivalric' notion of ransom took a back seat to ethic / religious hatred.

In other places and times though infantry did ransom captives, I know many Landsknechts also became rich from this.

G.

Galloglaich
2009-10-13, 10:37 PM
Right, but even those views of a infantry revolution are now under significant question, and the case is being increasingly pushed for professional and wide spread infantry use long before the fourteenth century. I do not have the time to go into it right now, but the most interesting change in our understanding has been the role of battles. They just were not very common, much more normal was the raid and the siege, and at a siege heavy cavalry has a very limited role to play.

The classic battle supposed to have shown the dominance of cavalry over infantry is Hastings, ushering in a new age, but in fact the Normans relied on a combined arms force where the striking power was with the cavalry, but that was always how heavy cavalry was employed. Throughout the eleventh and twelfth centuries we see the Anglo-Normans fighting significant battles on foot, and this is not really any great surprise, given the sorts of troops evident in the Assize of Arms.

On the continent, similar troop proportions are likely. For instance, the crusade army proposed in 1201 by treaty with the Venetians, according to Villhardouin, consisted of 4,500 horses, 4,500 knights, 9,000 squires and 20,000 foot serjeants. Presumably these forces were intended to function along similar lines as those ten years previously, which is to say heavy cavalry covered by combinations of spear and crossbow armed infantry. Of course, they didn't manage to raise that many troops, due to unforeseen setbacks, and we all know how that eventually turned out.

No I agree with you, and so does Delbruck, but there was a period of relative dominance of heavy cavalry, by no means the cliche of Cavalry wiping out anything else that stood in it's way. I probably didn't express myself very well.

G.

fusilier
2009-10-14, 01:06 AM
So to answer fusilier, it wasn't so much peasants, as free commoners who began to dominate. The best infantry were often militia comprised of effectively middle class people from cities and towns, your artisan and professional classes, as well as some relatively prosperous peasants, but pure peasant / serf armies didn't usually do well (such as the ill fated Jackerie and the German Peasant Uprising which were both ruthlessly crushed.)

And yes I also agree heavy muskets made the battlefield dangerous for everyone and diminished the value of armor, no doubt about it. Cannon was by no means the only reason, I think you got the point i was trying to make about it. I just think it tends to be overlooked.

That's why I put "peasants" in quotes. ;-) I knew it wasn't quite the right term. A vague memory of one of my high school textbooks, claims that the Battle of Legnano was the first time European knights were defeated by infantry. That infantry would have been militia from a city-state and not serfs. I can't confirm the veracity of that claim though.

There's definitely some really good discussion here. I would agree with you that early field artillery is probably overlooked in most histories. The standard interpretation seems to be that early gunpowder weapons were little more than novelties that scared horses.

My impression is that infantry always had a role to play, and while heavy cavalry may have been more important during the middle ages, it probably couldn't survive on it's own. Besides, horses are expensive. Infantry is a lot cheaper.

@Norsesmithy
This is getting far off topic, but the French Army of the 2nd Empire used contractors as teamsters for their supply trains as a cost savings measure. It worked well for most of their conflicts, as it provided a cheap way to quickly expand the force in war time. However, the system broke down during the Franco-Prussian War: civilian contractors wouldn't get close enough to the front lines to be useful, or would sometimes flee with the supplies. So using trained soldiers as wagon handlers was a definitely a good idea.

Sometimes I wonder if Gustavus's reforms are a bit overplayed though. His successors don't seem to have been able to follow up on his successes . . . and his successes were hard won. I don't mean to diminish his contributions in basically establishing modern military structures, but it seems like, effectively, it didn't make a huge difference on the battlefield. The Spanish tercio is often stated as being badly out-dated, but it evolved quite a bit. Here's a good website on the Spanish Tercio (probably with a pro-tercio bias): http://www.geocities.com/ao1617/TercioUK.html

Joran
2009-10-14, 01:08 AM
Weren't armies being made up increasingly of "peasants"? Or did the two go hand-in-hand (i.e. increase use of gunpowder weapons, and a rise in peasant armies). If field artillery had a significant impact on the end of the armored knight, I would put it as just one factor among many.

Well, Geoffrey Parker argues more about sieges and trace italienne leading to large build-ups of troops (along with other factors). Large siege cannons demolished citadels and castles that used to be impenetrable, which lead to the design of the trace italienne, a much larger fortification. These larger fortifications ended up requiring more men to man, but also more men to besiege, thus heralding larger army sizes.

Parker's article (http://books.google.com/books?id=TOaO-_WBcNMC&pg=PA37&lpg=PA37&dq=Military+Revolution,+1560-1660+-+A+Myth%3F+Geoffrey+Parker&source=bl&ots=G4T5SQzVQ-&sig=z44yX3tm_4fJgvl2Bef_8Y6xyfo&hl=en&ei=GGrVSqSCJY7RlAeQl6mdCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CA0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Military%20Revolution%2C%201560-1660%20-%20A%20Myth%3F%20Geoffrey%20Parker&f=false)

Norsesmithy
2009-10-14, 02:51 AM
@Norsesmithy
This is getting far off topic, but the French Army of the 2nd Empire used contractors as teamsters for their supply trains as a cost savings measure. It worked well for most of their conflicts, as it provided a cheap way to quickly expand the force in war time. However, the system broke down during the Franco-Prussian War: civilian contractors wouldn't get close enough to the front lines to be useful, or would sometimes flee with the supplies. So using trained soldiers as wagon handlers was a definitely a good idea.

Sometimes I wonder if Gustavus's reforms are a bit overplayed though. His successors don't seem to have been able to follow up on his successes . . . and his successes were hard won. I don't mean to diminish his contributions in basically establishing modern military structures, but it seems like, effectively, it didn't make a huge difference on the battlefield. The Spanish tercio is often stated as being badly out-dated, but it evolved quite a bit. Here's a good website on the Spanish Tercio (probably with a pro-tercio bias): http://www.geocities.com/ao1617/TercioUK.html

I wasn't just talking about supply wagons, Wallenstien's and Tilly's field artillery was delivered, emplaced, and adjusted by locally impressed contractors, not soldiers. All the gun crew did was tell the contractors how to adjust the carriage (to aim the gun), and carry out the loading and firing of the gun. This made their artillery forces much slower to react and less efficient.

As far as whether or not we can call Gustavus's successes solely products of his own genius as a commander or part and parcel of the system he set up, I think that the idea that Horn, Torstenson, and Oxenstierna weren't very successful in their own right after the tragedy of Lützen is silly. Sure they didn't obliterate the Catholic League, but the resource differences between the Catholic League and Sweden plus the Lutheran German provinces pretty much ensured that the Protestants were merely fighting for their survival.

Despite that, the only major reversal the Swedes suffered in that period was Nördlingen.

Stephen_E
2009-10-14, 04:11 AM
The problem isn't that Gustavus's reforms didn't make a massive difference, but that once he was dead there was no one able to co-ordinate the Swedish army.

edited for typo

Galloglaich
2009-10-14, 08:37 AM
Agreed, and that is the difference between a Monarchy like 17th Century Sweden or a Dictatorship like the French Empire under Napoleon on the one hand and a more decentralized militia system like the Swiss Confederacy, the Kieven Rus, the various Urban militias of the Medieval City - States in Germany, Eastern Europe, Italy, and the Low Countries, (and their numerous Leagues like the Hanseatic League, Swabian League tc.), the Czech Hussites, the Catalan Almagovars, even the early Medieval Feudal system or the Migration Era tribal federations like the Vikings, the Franks etc.

The more de-centralized cultures have their military culture grown from the bottom up which is more difficult (and much slower) to establish, the Monarchies, Centralized Republics etc. have it imposed from the top-down which can happen almost overnight but is much more difficult to maintain in the long run- being dependent on the personality of one leader in many cases.

G.

HenryHankovitch
2009-10-14, 11:33 AM
In the later 13th / early 14th Century we do see three key battles which symbolized the high water mark of the power of the armed aristocracy and the heavy cavalry: Courtrai / Golden Spurs in Flanders in 1302, Bannock Burn in Scotland in 1314, and Morgarten in what was to become the Swiss Confederacy in 1315.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bannockburn
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Golden_Spurs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Morgarten

In all three cases new weapons were "invented" or put to effective use for the first time, the Godendag, the Schiltron, and the Halberd respectively. In all three cases the terrain was favorable to defense, and in all three cases the locals were not malnourished serfs but free commoners who had retained their martial traditions from centuries (really aeons) before, and had never been properly subjugated. These places were the nexus of the infantry dominated armies which gradually rose to prominence in the Renaissance.

But that said, as Walter pointed out, there was professional infantry, artillery, and light and heavy cavalry before these key battles, and after them as well - for centuries. No army could really fight effectively without all three branches plus other types like sappers, couriers, scouts etc.


The takeaway point, though, is that even though heavy infantry in various forms existed during the medieval period, whether it was in the form of dismounted knights, or armed commoners, it wasn't drilled and disciplined in the way that the "ancients" would have recognized, or the professional polearm companies of the late medieval and Renaissance period. It could not advance, it could not maneuver, and it had essentially no system of distributed command. It could only stand and receive charges; and while it could advanced into a disorganized or fleeing enemy, it basically lost all cohesion as it did so.

That's what we really mean when we say that heavy cavalry dominated. The preferred assault arm was almost always the heavily armored, mounted knight. Not necessarily for good reasons; it was as much based on culture, ignorance and prejudice as it could be said to be based on tactics. But the true medieval infantry, unlike the Romans, unlike the later pike-and-shot formations, could not advance in formation. It was not articulated--it couldn't turn to face a flanking threat, or maneuver to a weak point in the line of battle. It was generally incapable of being an offensive arm unless it was faced with a greatly inferior or disorganized enemy.

And it's noteworthy that the famous medieval defeats of cavalry by infantry generally happened because the commanders of the period were fixated on the cavalry charge above all else. These defeats generally happen when the cavalry attacked at the wrong place and the wrong time instead of declining battle, or maneuvering to a more favorable position of attack. In these battles, almost every factor is stacked against the cavalry, and yet they still obligingly attack, having their formation broken by terrain and obstacles.

Compare this with, say, the role of cavalry in the Napoleonic period. It more closely echoes the classical role of cavalry, even heavy cavalry: on offense, it attacked other cavalry, and attempted to attack the flanks or rear of enemy formations, rather than frontal assaults. The "heavy infantry" of the period (which is a misnomer, because by now we only really have one type of infantry, with attributes of both light and heavy) was effective both on defense and offense; it was the primary offensive arm.

Dervag
2009-10-18, 01:47 AM
Nitpick: there were at least some specialized infantry in the Napoleonic era that were definitely light. However, the overwhelming majority of infantry were, as you say, generic "medium" infantry who did a heavy infantry job.

MickJay
2009-10-18, 05:29 AM
Term "light" or "heavy" infantry often refers to the function, not the actual equipment used ("type" of troops). In different time periods, it would often be difficult to distinguish between light or heavy infantry judging only from their equipment. Still, Napoleonic period armies usually had some lightly equipped troops, wearing greenish-gray uniforms, whose main purpose was to move in advance of main forces, providing screening and preventing ambushes. They usually had superior rifles and were well trained sharpshooters and skirmishers.

Matthew
2009-10-18, 10:20 AM
The takeaway point, though, is that even though heavy infantry in various forms existed during the medieval period, whether it was in the form of dismounted knights, or armed commoners, it wasn't drilled and disciplined in the way that the "ancients" would have recognized, or the professional polearm companies of the late medieval and Renaissance period. It could not advance, it could not maneuver, and it had essentially no system of distributed command. It could only stand and receive charges; and while it could advanced into a disorganized or fleeing enemy, it basically lost all cohesion as it did so.

That's what we really mean when we say that heavy cavalry dominated. The preferred assault arm was almost always the heavily armored, mounted knight. Not necessarily for good reasons; it was as much based on culture, ignorance and prejudice as it could be said to be based on tactics. But the true medieval infantry, unlike the Romans, unlike the later pike-and-shot formations, could not advance in formation. It was not articulated--it couldn't turn to face a flanking threat, or maneuver to a weak point in the line of battle. It was generally incapable of being an offensive arm unless it was faced with a greatly inferior or disorganized enemy.

And it's noteworthy that the famous medieval defeats of cavalry by infantry generally happened because the commanders of the period were fixated on the cavalry charge above all else. These defeats generally happen when the cavalry attacked at the wrong place and the wrong time instead of declining battle, or maneuvering to a more favorable position of attack. In these battles, almost every factor is stacked against the cavalry, and yet they still obligingly attack, having their formation broken by terrain and obstacles.

Compare this with, say, the role of cavalry in the Napoleonic period. It more closely echoes the classical role of cavalry, even heavy cavalry: on offense, it attacked other cavalry, and attempted to attack the flanks or rear of enemy formations, rather than frontal assaults. The "heavy infantry" of the period (which is a misnomer, because by now we only really have one type of infantry, with attributes of both light and heavy) was effective both on defense and offense; it was the primary offensive arm.

Is it? I do not think so. When we have examples of highly organised infantry formations, such as those used during the third crusade, it seems folly to claim that there was a serious lack of disciplined and drilled infantry available to early medieval commanders. Certainly, heavy cavalry defeats are frequently the result of leading them against heavy foot at the wrong time, but that simply shows the difficulty of cracking an infantry formation. It is easy in retrospect to say that an attack should not have taken place, not so simple when on the ground and it is time to make the decision.

That is not to say that the heavy cavalry were not the dominant arm, it certainly was, and when we talk about "heavy cavalry dominance" on the battlefield we can talk about tactical dominance. The difference between early and late medieval infantry on the battlefield seems to be an increasing tendency to use them offensively, whereas before they had served mainly in a defensive capacity. On the other hand, the great "infantry victories" of the later period tended to be defensive victories.

Diamondeye
2009-10-18, 01:18 PM
Term "light" or "heavy" infantry often refers to the function, not the actual equipment used ("type" of troops). In different time periods, it would often be difficult to distinguish between light or heavy infantry judging only from their equipment. Still, Napoleonic period armies usually had some lightly equipped troops, wearing greenish-gray uniforms, whose main purpose was to move in advance of main forces, providing screening and preventing ambushes. They usually had superior rifles and were well trained sharpshooters and skirmishers.

In modern times, there are still light, medium, and heavy infantry, although except for "light" different terms are used. "Light" infantry", which can also refer to airborne or air assault (helicopter) infantry, since those airmobile types ususally have similar MTOEs, means infantry that moves primarily by foot during combat (disregarding the air transportation to the battlefield) and is well-suited for restricted terrain and other scenarios where armored vehicles would be a liability.

"Motorized infantry" typically refers to infantry that moves to combat by means of light, wheeled vehicles, but which fights primarily dismounted; its transport vehicles are not major weapon system carriers in their own right. Such units may be accompanoied by tanks (such as in a Soviet BTR/tank combination) or may simply be infantry with unarmored or lightly armored wheeled transport.

This is confused somewhat by the presence of units like U.S. Stryker Brigades, which are motorized infantry, but include Stryker vehicles which carry ATGMs, mortars, 105mm cannon, and a number of other weapon systems, making them essentially a hybrid of motorized and mechanized infantry

Mechanized infantry is infantry mounted in tracked, armored vehicles, APCs up until the early 70s and, since the introduction of the Soviet BMP-1, Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), such as the M2 Bradley, the rest of the BMP series, and a number of others. An IFV carries one or more major weapon systems such as ATGMs, cannon, machine guns, SAMs in some cases, and carries part or all of an infantry squad as well. IFVs are usually reasonably heavily armored as well, although not as heavily as tanks, and cannot expect to survive hits from a tanks main gun or an ATGM.

Mechanized infantry is customarily task organized with armor (tank) units based on the mission. Since reconfiguring to a modular force, the U.S. has reorganized its maneuver Heavy Brigade Combat Teams to include 2 Combined Arms Battalions, each of which includes 2 mechanized infantry and 2 tank companies. The battalion S3, as part of the orders process, will task organize platoons from the companies to come up with companies of varying mixes of tank and mecanized infantry. (Each company has 3 platoons of 4 vehicles, plus the commander and XO, for a total of 14 armored vehicles per company) For example, while conducting an attack, the main effort might be a tnak company of 3 tank platoons with a mechanized infantry platoon added, and 2 other companies might be task organized to 2 mech infantry and 1 tank platoon to provide support by fire, while the last company might retain only 2 mech platoons to act as a reserve. When a company is pure tank or infantry it is called a company; when task organized it is called a Comapny Team or just a Team. Soviet-style organizations task organize differently.

This is further complicated by the presence of what are known as Cavalry units, which are mechanized and armor units intended more for recon and screenng. The main difference is in unit organization, and the fact that while such units often use vehicles very similar to mechanized infantry, and often use tanks, they customarily have far fewer dismounts, and these are usually scouts rather than infantry soldiers.

Reinboom
2009-10-18, 08:10 PM
A real world armor question, ahoy! :smalltongue:
I realize that various types and pieces of armor were worn with each other for mixed effect.
I'm interested in which armor could be, sensibly, worn for benefit amongst other 'types' of armor in a real world setting. Specifically, using D&D (3.5) armor types, and ignoring when they were actually made.
For example, would scale be worn over chainmail for a real benefit?
Anything on this similar topic would be of help.

darkzucchini
2009-10-18, 11:49 PM
A real world armor question, ahoy! :smalltongue:
I realize that various types and pieces of armor were worn with each other for mixed effect.
I'm interested in which armor could be, sensibly, worn for benefit amongst other 'types' of armor in a real world setting. Specifically, using D&D (3.5) armor types, and ignoring when they were actually made.
For example, would scale be worn over chainmail for a real benefit?
Anything on this similar topic would be of help.

In terms of practicality, scalemail can be seen as a bridge between platemail and chainmail. The way that scalemail is linked together makes it more resistant to bashing blows than chainmail but also leads to more rigidity, meaning that, in order to move your limbs, you are going to need weak joints like in platemail. So, while it may make sense to wear chainmail under scale, it doesn't strike me as very useful to wear scale under plate. In the cases heavier armors (chainmail and up), you are generally going to want to padding or leather or both underneath so you don't experience horrible chaffing (just wear a chain shirt without padding, which I've done, becomes a real pain after running around for a couple of hours).

Anyway, I'm not an expert on these matters but I hope that answered your question.

MickJay
2009-10-19, 06:23 AM
Chain would be sometimes worn under plate (especially the kind that covered only part of the body), but usually it would have been some form of padded jacket (which can be made in a way that would make it a half-decent armour in its own right), to prevent bruises and scratches. Typically, wearing two different types of heavier armour would be too impractical, for reasons like excessive encumbrance or limited mobility. That, and a warrior who could afford two sets of armour would probably simply consider getting one, but of higher quality, instead of putting on both of them.

Galloglaich
2009-10-19, 09:07 AM
Yeah I agree with MickJay here. Mail armor (what people call "Chain Mail") is actually much better armor protection than most people realize, far better than scale armor or it's various real world cousins, Arabic / Persian "jazeraint" and various forms of lamellar. There are a lot of common misconceptions about armor in general and mail in particular, the main one being that armor worked. I wrote a kind of "blog" about it here (http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/242110-history-mythology-art-rpgs-4.html#post4532407)

which address some of these common DnDisms.

So I think wearing scale over mail would be unusual.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_OqwHvgSsyaE/R1ie5hRkMXI/AAAAAAAAAAY/YO4JPy7rSlg/s400/e014a.jpg

That said there are cases where mail and lamellar were worn together, notably by the Byzantine "Cataphract" or "Clibinari" heavy cavalry, their klibanion armor was basically mail, a quilted coat, and a lamellar vest. It was reportedly very effective, there was one anecdote I remember during the 1st Crusade when a Byzantine prince was knocked half off, then back on his saddle by two successive lance strikes from a Frankish knight but survived uninjured.

Also textile armor made of 10 or more layers of linen or silk could be very effective. Typically it was made in "under armor" and "stand alone" versions, either could be somewhat effective armor in it's own right, but the "stand alone" version could stop arrows etc. These were known by various names: gambesons, jupons, arming coats, pourpoint etc.

http://www.forest.gen.nz/Medieval/articles/garments/Charles_blois/pourpoint.jpg

here is another one, image is a little large for embedding in the post:

http://www.mallet-argent.com/images/pourpoint%20back.jpg

Mail was sometimes worn under plate armor but in later eras armor was lightened and it was more common to wear a padded coat with some mail added at key points where the armor had gaps, such as in the under-arms etc., like this guy (http://www.greydragon.org/trips/Warwick&Kenilworth/warwick065.jpg)

This coincided with the fact that later plate armor, such as German Gothic plate, often only covered the front half of your body, the top of your legs or arms etc. ... all to save weight and reduce bulk. Some complete armor panoplies were as light as 30 - 35 lbs, which is less than the protective gear of a modern soldier.

As for ad-ons early armor usually consisted of torso protection and a helmet, much like armor today. Common ad ons to that would include a light or heavy padded coat per above, bracers or vambraces, greaves (less common - for some reason perhaps mobility leg protection, perhaps due to the physics of where you get hit in a fight, seems to be the last thing added on) mail coif (sort of a hood) to protect the head, neck, and shoulders, a visor, bevor or face mask to enhance your helmet, and a gorget (something like an iron collar which protects the neck and collar bones.)

G.

Matthew
2009-10-19, 09:40 AM
I have seen illustrations and examples of what appears to be scale worn over mail, but it is not always easy to discern between scale and "true" lamellar, the modern distinction being the presence and absence of a foundation layer onto which the scales (or whatever) are fixed, for example:

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/Plle200/Arms%20and%20Armour/Photographs/L25.jpg

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/Plle200/Arms%20and%20Armour/Illustrations/BodyArmour2.jpg

Not a huge deal different to wearing a coat of plates over mail, I suppose. As noted above, though, once you have access to full harness there is little point in that sort of layered armour. Most of the examples I have seen tend to be eastern in origin, outside of the "transitional plate" period in the west.

Fhaolan
2009-10-19, 12:12 PM
You're more likely to get Lorica Plumata, where the scales are joined to each other by maille rings, and perhaps having regular maille sleeves and skirts attached, than put full scale armour overtop of maille. Being someone who has made, and worn this kind of armour I can tell you that effective scale armour is heavier than people tend to think and the Lorica Plumata variation is *much* heavier. Having a full hauberk of maille and a full suit of scale on top of it would render the wearer almost immobile. My Roman Lorica Plumata with maille sleeves, skirting, and other bits weighs almost as much as my 15th century Italian white harness.

There were also splint armours using much the same method (larger splints of metal joined by maille) in the early Ottoman Empire.

HenryHankovitch
2009-10-19, 02:14 PM
Term "light" or "heavy" infantry often refers to the function, not the actual equipment used ("type" of troops). In different time periods, it would often be difficult to distinguish between light or heavy infantry judging only from their equipment.Before the advent of the bayonetted musket, light and heavy infantry were usually quite different in terms of equipment and tactics.

The classical division was between armored infantry that fought in formation with melee weapons (the heavy infantry), and light infantry that fought as skirmishers with missile weapons. You have a similar division between heavy cavalry and light cavalry. There's always some spillover in terms of role and equipment--Roman legions throwing javelins before attacking, etc--but the division between the two was usually quite stark. Hoplites versus peltasts, et al.

In medieval Europe, the distinction tends to blur just because infantry tactics and training had degenerated to such a degree that most infantry is just "blobs of men," often underequipped and undertrained. The major division is between melee infantry--housecarls, shield walls, dismounted knights, peasants with pointy sticks--and missile infantry, with bows or crossbows. The division between heavy and light cavalry is far more pronounced, especially in the Crusades when you have Frankish-style heavy cavalry trying to fight Eastern style light cavalry.

The way to look at it is, if the unit is intended to fight in shock action--closing to melee with its opponents--it's generally heavy infantry/cavalry, and is equipped accordingly. Units which depend on mobility to avoid melee combat are light infantry/cavalry, and favor light armor and missile weapons: bows, javelins, slings.

From the 19th century on, all infantry is espected to fight at range with missile weapons--firearms--and so the division disappears. The appearance of mechanized infantry and armored vehicles creates its own new set of considerations, but it doesn't really map to the old light/heavy infantry/cavalry matrix.


Still, Napoleonic period armies usually had some lightly equipped troops, wearing greenish-gray uniforms, whose main purpose was to move in advance of main forces, providing screening and preventing ambushes. They usually had superior rifles and were well trained sharpshooters and skirmishers.Riflemen were extremely rare before the middle of the 19th century. Skirmishers were generally drawn from the rest of the infantry, and simply deployed forward in loose formation.

Matthew
2009-10-19, 06:02 PM
Before the advent of the bayonetted musket, light and heavy infantry were usually quite different in terms of equipment and tactics.

The classical division was between armoured infantry that fought in formation with melee weapons (the heavy infantry), and light infantry that fought as skirmishers with missile weapons. You have a similar division between heavy cavalry and light cavalry. There's always some spillover in terms of role and equipment--Roman legions throwing javelins before attacking, etc--but the division between the two was usually quite stark. Hoplites versus peltasts, et al.

The way to look at it is, if the unit is intended to fight in shock action--closing to melee with its opponents--it's generally heavy infantry/cavalry, and is equipped accordingly. Units which depend on mobility to avoid melee combat are light infantry/cavalry, and favor light armor and missile weapons: bows, javelins, slings.

Have to be careful here. As you note at the end, it is really function that defines classification; the equipment necessary for fulfilling that function may vary and may not be available. The heavy infantry of the Polybian legion was not particularly well armoured and apparently fought as light infantry against the Macedonian phalanx, keeping to difficult terrain and fighting in open order, but an even lighter class of fighters usually fulfilled the preliminary skirmishing role.

As with horse, relative to one another, light foot is lightly armed and heavy foot is heavily armed, but method of fighting is the primary distinguishing feature, and that is not necessarily clear cut (which has led to the modern appellations "medium foot" and "medium cavalry). A Swiss pike phalanx is heavy foot regardless of how much armour it has available.



In medieval Europe, the distinction tends to blur just because infantry tactics and training had degenerated to such a degree that most infantry is just "blobs of men," often underequipped and undertrained. The major division is between melee infantry--housecarls, shield walls, dismounted knights, peasants with pointy sticks--and missile infantry, with bows or crossbows. The division between heavy and light cavalry is far more pronounced, especially in the Crusades when you have Frankish-style heavy cavalry trying to fight Eastern style light cavalry.

Whilst a general levy might result in the calling up on an undisciplined and untrained mass of men, such as that called by John of England in 1213, or Henry I in 1101 (many of whom had to be instructed in the use of their weapons), the sorts of militia extant in the Assize of Arms and the equipment they were expected to have suggests a rather decent infantry arm, which is apparently related to the fyrd and select fyrd. Outside of England, German foot seems to have been relatively good, William of Tyre commenting that Conrad fought on foot at Aleppo, as was the German custom, and the crusades saw extensive use of foot soldiers, noticeably in the military orders.

Although the knights would have the best equipment and foot soldiers were rarely used as the main offensive force, they would have been close ordered heavy foot arrayed in depth fighting in conjunction with missile troops, resistant to enemy horse so long as they kept cohesion and were able to repel attempts to break them up. "Blobs of men" would not be a fair description, but defensively arrayed might. Shock troops they were not, but then neither was the Macedonian pike phalanx; the ability to "shock" is not the defining characteristic of heavy foot.

MickJay
2009-10-19, 06:36 PM
@Henry: light and heavy, equipment and tactics: tactics, definitely, because that's precisely what the distinction was primarily about. Equipment was designed for the function, and thus there often were overlaps, such as light infantry having lighter/fewer equipment. Yet both Roman unarmored javelin throwers, who carried only a shield and a few missiles, and a spearman, armoured like "heavy" legionnaire and bearing a heavy shield would be called "light infantry", because that was the function they were fulfilling.

Skirmishers were typically drawn from the rest of the infantry, but they were often picked (or volunteered) for reasons that made them less suitable for "standard" service, and they did operate in a completely different manner from the rest of the regiment; whether it was a rifle or musket, they were often issued weapons with greater range and accuracy than rest of the troops. Still, it was their function as "light infantry" that actually made them "light".

Fax Celestis
2009-10-28, 05:02 PM
Question: Most shields I've seen have the grips oriented like this:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v216/FaxCelestis/gripshoriz.jpg

...but is there any historical precedent of grips oriented this way?:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v216/FaxCelestis/gripsvert.jpg

Matthew
2009-10-28, 06:04 PM
The Roman scutum apparently had a grip orientated like that, and I have seen at least one manuscript with a similar orientation, though in both cases it is only one grip. This book cover depicts an image from the Bayeux Tapestry:

http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/img/covers/1595.jpg

and this one a late fourteenth or fifteenth century manuscript:

http://www.continuumbooks.com/images/BookImages/9780826472694_Thumb.jpg

(the footman at the bottom of the image).

Fhaolan
2009-10-28, 06:13 PM
Yep. Some teardrop kite-style shields actually had a fairly complex array of straps (called Enarmes in this specific case), which allowed you to change grips from side-to-side, to diagonal, to fist-up, and earlier ones might even still have a metal boss with grip as well. Of course you had to take a moment and futz with it to get it gripped properly, but hey, it gives you options.

The best online article I was able to find on the topic is http://www.angelfire.com/wy/svenskildbiter/armsandarmour/enarmes.html

It's one of those things that people tend not to pay much attention to, so there's not much online for it. :smallsmile:

Fax Celestis
2009-10-28, 08:16 PM
Well, the main reason I ask is if you orient the grips vertically, that kite has a nice point on it you could use for stabbinating. I figure if I'm going to make a bladed shield for d20r I might as well see if there's a real one first I could base it off of.

Galloglaich
2009-10-29, 08:46 AM
It's worth remembering that historically, most shields especially during the heydey of shields, were actually center-grip where you have one hand in a boss, not the type you strap on your arm. This is true of the Roman Scutum as well as many others, the Viking type shield etc.

One of the few exceptions in antiquity was the Greek aspis type which was specifically designed for use in formations (the grip being on the far right making the shield much more effective when used in a line with allies on either side)

In the late medieval period as armor improved personal shields declined in use somewhat, though they were still popular for sappers and skirmishers, and of course jousting, and sometimes heavy cavalry. Archers and gunners frequently used pavises, infantry and civilians used center grip bucklers (your 'swash and buckle' men were ruffians who carried bucklers and swords around bad neighborhoods). By the renaissance the "Rotella" was making a comeback and some of these were of the strap on the arm type.

G

fusilier
2009-10-29, 09:33 AM
If my memory serves me, in the first episode of Cadfael (set circa 1135), Hugh Beringar fights a trial by combat using a fairly small tear-drop shaped shield oriented as described. I would say that it has a Norman look to it, but I'm uncertain of the historical accuracy.

-EDIT-
The hand was towards the pointed end, I think.

valadil
2009-10-29, 03:36 PM
So I've been re-reading the old GaRRWoAQ threads (I'm halfway through IV and I've read all the rest). For some odd reason this makes me want to try to get some hands on experience with historical melee fighting. Can those of you with actual experience help me figure out what sort of group to try and join up with? I'll list the options I've considered before and why they haven't appealed to me.

I've recently been invited to NPC for a boffing group. I think this is because I'm big and noisy. I tried to get into boffing before and was turned off by some of the rules, specifically those about hitting lightly. I'm perfectly happy to play with boffer weapons, but holding back takes the fun out of it for me.

ARMA is not available near me. I think they might be more hardcore than what I'm capable of anyway.

SCA is appealing. Well, the heavy list party anyway. I have no interest in researching a persona. Investing in armor scared me off though. I don't want to have to buy/build armor without at least trying to fight a couple times first. I went to a couple fighter practices hoping to borrow armor, but had no luck finding anything in my size. If this is the best option I could probably find other fighter practices until I meet more big and tall fighters with armor to lend.

Are there any other good options that I haven't thought of yet? I'd consider a martial art if it focused on weapons.

fusilier
2009-10-29, 04:06 PM
So I've been re-reading the old GaRRWoAQ threads (I'm halfway through IV and I've read all the rest). For some odd reason this makes me want to try to get some hands on experience with historical melee fighting. Can those of you with actual experience help me figure out what sort of group to try and join up with? I'll list the options I've considered before and why they haven't appealed to me.

I've recently been invited to NPC for a boffing group. I think this is because I'm big and noisy. I tried to get into boffing before and was turned off by some of the rules, specifically those about hitting lightly. I'm perfectly happy to play with boffer weapons, but holding back takes the fun out of it for me.

ARMA is not available near me. I think they might be more hardcore than what I'm capable of anyway.

SCA is appealing. Well, the heavy list party anyway. I have no interest in researching a persona. Investing in armor scared me off though. I don't want to have to buy/build armor without at least trying to fight a couple times first. I went to a couple fighter practices hoping to borrow armor, but had no luck finding anything in my size. If this is the best option I could probably find other fighter practices until I meet more big and tall fighters with armor to lend.

Are there any other good options that I haven't thought of yet? I'd consider a martial art if it focused on weapons.

It looks like you considered almost everything. There are historical reenactors, like myself, but we tend to be more interested in history than beating the crap out of each other (usually). Sounds like SCA is what you want. There are probably cheaper options when it comes to armor. Decades ago, they used oil drums to make helmets! :-) Also some of the groups may have loaner gear to help you get started. I've only had occasional contact with the SCA, so hopefully someone else can provide more info.

I have a friend who teaches Japanese sword martial arts (Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu). As I understand it, those schools are pretty common in the US.

Shademan
2009-10-29, 04:15 PM
what a bunch of weakling boffers! Find a more hardcore group.
And then search the area for reenacters. full metal combat! great fun!
(you will eventually have to buy some equipment and accept ALOT of bruises)

valadil
2009-10-29, 09:56 PM
Sounds like SCA is what you want. There are probably cheaper options when it comes to armor. ... Also some of the groups may have loaner gear to help you get started. I've only had occasional contact with the SCA, so hopefully someone else can provide more info.


The groups I saw had loaner gear, just not for my size. This was back in college, where for some odd reason your average male was between 5'5" and 5'9". I'm 6'4". Their loaner gear wasn't an option. But if it turns out that SCA is my best bet for combat I don't mind checking out a few other groups.


what a bunch of weakling boffers! Find a more hardcore group.
And then search the area for reenacters. full metal combat! great fun!
(you will eventually have to buy some equipment and accept ALOT of bruises)

The problem (as I saw it) with those boffing groups is that they wanted it to be open to any age. You can't hit a 10 year old at full strength. But if you're used to swinging as hard as you can you'll eventually smack a kid and have to deal with upset parents. Maybe I should look for 18+ boffer groups.

I would love to buy equipment eventually. But not without trying it for cheap first. Armor is too much of an investment for a hobby I may not like.

Galloglaich
2009-10-30, 08:52 AM
The groups I saw had loaner gear, just not for my size. This was back in college, where for some odd reason your average male was between 5'5" and 5'9". I'm 6'4". Their loaner gear wasn't an option. But if it turns out that SCA is my best bet for combat I don't mind checking out a few other groups.

I am biased here, so take this with a grain of salt.

I don't think you are looking for SCA or LARP, re-enactors or Boffer groups if you want to learn how to really fight with hand weapons, and why learn an Asian martial art if you are interested in European type swords? There are now well understood European Martial Arts systems which have been reconstructed from Medieval fencing manuals.

SCA is great for really, REALLY big battles (like pennsic) but they require a lot of equipment and have a ton of rules, and at the risk of offending some people here, what they do is not Medieval combat it's a modern combat sport with no real historical links (and a lot of rules). Re-enacting is cool if you want to learn how people dressed and equipped themeselves in ancient times, but again, you won't learn actual weapon based martial arts systems.

My advice is join a HEMA group. You won't need much gear, other than a fencing mask and some gloves, and a weapon simulator like a shinai or a nylon longsword. There are very few rules when you are fighting. And you will be learning a real, proven martial arts system directly connected to the warriors of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Learn to do techniques like these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYwdE3f5fFQ&feature=fvw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3DhjFUOG6Y&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38sVdx7nzhQ&feature=related

and have fun sparring like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xAehoV7e_U&feature=PlayList&p=725069FDF4978132
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPkX_oF3pZE&feature=PlayList&p=725069FDF4978132
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5k2prZUwLs

A lot of people confuse ARMA with HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) or WMA (Western Martial Arts). ARMA is just one large HEMA / WMA group in the US, not as large as they used to be due to some recent splits. According to this website (http://www.hroarr.com/survey/worldwide/practitioners/) which recently did a worldwide survey, there are at least 41 HEMA groups in the US now, including two new HEMA federations which link together lots of smaller groups.

http://www.hroarr.com/survey/worldwide/practitioners/

One is HEMA Alliance (HEMAA) which can be found on this forum:

http://pendant.forumotion.net/

And the other is called WMA Coalition (WMAC)

http://www.wmacoalition.com/

I know the guys from both groups and they are first rate people.

I just attended the first HEMAA conference in Talahassee Florida and had a great time fencing with about 30 people from throughout the Southeast. I know they are doing one other event on the East Coast near Washington DC and another in South Florida in November, just in the next couple of months.

I'd reccomend going on one of the two websites above and finding a HEMA group near your area.

I also highly reccomend renting the film "Reclaiming the Blade" to get a real good idea of the difference between SCA, Collegiate style fencing, re-enactors, and HEMA.

G.

EDIT: this is some footage from my club in New Orleans:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6GVzelVi2A

Mike_G
2009-10-31, 02:18 PM
The groups I saw had loaner gear, just not for my size. This was back in college, where for some odd reason your average male was between 5'5" and 5'9". I'm 6'4". Their loaner gear wasn't an option. But if it turns out that SCA is my best bet for combat I don't mind checking out a few other groups.



The problem (as I saw it) with those boffing groups is that they wanted it to be open to any age. You can't hit a 10 year old at full strength. But if you're used to swinging as hard as you can you'll eventually smack a kid and have to deal with upset parents. Maybe I should look for 18+ boffer groups.

I would love to buy equipment eventually. But not without trying it for cheap first. Armor is too much of an investment for a hobby I may not like.


Where are you located? That's going to be a big factor.

You can find SCA lots of places, and sport fencing at nearly any college town. Organizations like HEMA, ARMA, etc will teach a more realistic, authentic style of combat, but they're not as widespread.

While fencing is a sport, not a martial art per se, it's a lot of fun. The same has been said of the SCA. If you have a Body Mass Index over 40, a high tolerance for politics, and more money than sense, the SCA is the way to go.

I wrote a rant about the relationship between the two groups here. Don't click if candid language offends you. http://para-cynic.livejournal.com/18247.html

If you can't find an ARMA etc group, I'd advise trying either fencing or SCA. It's fun, you gte to hit people and dress up and quote Princess Bride a lot.

If you can get more, by all means, look for it.

valadil
2009-11-02, 12:01 PM
Where are you located? That's going to be a big factor.

You can find SCA lots of places, and sport fencing at nearly any college town. Organizations like HEMA, ARMA, etc will teach a more realistic, authentic style of combat, but they're not as widespread.

Boston. In retrospect I should have mentioned that.



While fencing is a sport, not a martial art per se, it's a lot of fun.

Did some fencing in college. I enjoyed it, but I'd like to learn a little more about different types of weapons. I'd like to actually try out sword/shield vs two hander for instance. I also don't have the body type for fencing...


The same has been said of the SCA. If you have a Body Mass Index over 40, a high tolerance for politics, and more money than sense, the SCA is the way to go.

... but not that body type. Seriously, I've been called obese my whole life and I don't know if I ever got that big. I also don't like politics or wasting money.




I wrote a rant about the relationship between the two groups here. Don't click if candid language offends you. http://para-cynic.livejournal.com/18247.html


That was a quality piece of rant. I didn't find it offensive in the least.


I am biased here, so take this with a grain of salt.

My advice is join a HEMA group. You won't need much gear, other than a fencing mask and some gloves, and a weapon simulator like a shinai or a nylon longsword. There are very few rules when you are fighting. And you will be learning a real, proven martial arts system directly connected to the warriors of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. Learn to do techniques like these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYwdE3f5fFQ&feature=fvw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3DhjFUOG6Y&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kj4Ng6DBfrg&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38sVdx7nzhQ&feature=related

and have fun sparring like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xAehoV7e_U&feature=PlayList&p=725069FDF4978132
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPkX_oF3pZE&feature=PlayList&p=725069FDF4978132
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5k2prZUwLs


Never heard of HEMA before but it looks awesome.

Brainfart
2009-11-03, 10:10 AM
Is there any documented or implied use of mounted use of polearms (not including lances and spears) in Europe? I know the Chinese used glaives on horseback, but I can't find any references to European horsemen using such weapons.

I'm unable to get my hands on copies or images of most of the treatises, so that's pretty much out of the question. I'd thought to check Le Jeu de la Hache, but my French is practically nonexistent and I can't get my hands on images of it anyway.

While searching, I did come across references to a 'Warbrand' polearm/sword thing in the Maciejowski Bible. The problem is that calling it a polearm might be really stretching the term, since it looks a lot like a scaled-up kitchen knife. :smallbiggrin:

Galloglaich
2009-11-03, 10:10 AM
I'm pretty sure there are HEMA groups in the Boston area, I'll look into it and get back to you.

Meanwhile, a bit more about HEMA, where it comes from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_European_Martial_Arts
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_school_of_fencing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_school_of_fencing

G.

Matthew
2009-11-03, 11:06 AM
While searching, I did come across references to a 'Warbrand' polearm/sword thing in the Maciejowski Bible. The problem is that calling it a polearm might be really stretching the term, since it looks a lot like a scaled-up kitchen knife. :smallbiggrin:

Well, then you get into the whole "what is a pole-arm?" question and we are slap bang back into the minefield of weapon nomenclature. The weapon in question is basically a short hafted glaive (and to illustrate the hazards of weapon nomenclature, it is probably worth mentioning that "glaive" in medieval French could be used to mean "sword", typically in poetry, or "spear"), but note the frequent depictions of long handled battle axes being wielded two handed from horseback in the same source material. That said, if we have to fall back on "near pole-arms" then there probably is no real evidence for "true pole-arms" wielded from horseback.

Fhaolan
2009-11-03, 02:46 PM
Is there any documented or implied use of mounted use of polearms (not including lances and spears) in Europe? I know the Chinese used glaives on horseback, but I can't find any references to European horsemen using such weapons.

I'm unable to get my hands on copies or images of most of the treatises, so that's pretty much out of the question. I'd thought to check Le Jeu de la Hache, but my French is practically nonexistent and I can't get my hands on images of it anyway.

While searching, I did come across references to a 'Warbrand' polearm/sword thing in the Maciejowski Bible. The problem is that calling it a polearm might be really stretching the term, since it looks a lot like a scaled-up kitchen knife. :smallbiggrin:

Not as such. The use of glaives on horseback seems to be limited to China, Japan, etc. Not sure exactly why though.

Mind you, as Michael says you can fall into the weapon terminology trap on this one. For example, are spetums and ranseurs really and truely polearms, or are they really fancy spears with party tricks?

And the Maciejowski bible is a scary place to get weapon information from. It's chock-full of WTF stuff that nobody's found physical versions of, and illustrations of weapons being used in ways nobody else does. You get the feeling the original illustrators were a little enthusiastic about their work and not quite as connected to reality as you might wish. :smallsmile:

fusilier
2009-11-03, 04:13 PM
Re-enacting is cool if you want to learn how people dressed and equipped themeselves in ancient times, but again, you won't learn actual weapon based martial arts systems.

I don't know which reenactment groups you've seen, but my circa 1600 Spanish Colonial group absolutely teaches actual weapon based martial arts systems! Admittedly, it is only one piece of reenacting, but we consider it to be an important one. Although our group doesn't meet often enough for us to become terribly proficient with sword drill, we learn the basics and can provide them for demonstration purposes. Our pike drill is a little better, but we lack enough members to actually stage a battle. Currently we only have one musketeer, but he is more than capable of showing off the vagrancies of a matchlock musket. ;-)

That said, if you want to spar with people then you need to look for something like ARMA or HEMA. Any good reenactment group should have someone who can teach you the basics, but they won't necessarily have the equipment for sparring. I have read about English Civil War reenactors recreating pike combat, but as in the SCA rules had to be invented for taking casualties.

I suspect there will be a lot of cross-over too. You can probably find people at an SCA event who belong to one of the ARMA groups and vice-versa.

Galloglaich
2009-11-04, 02:28 PM
I don't know which reenactment groups you've seen, but my circa 1600 Spanish Colonial group absolutely teaches actual weapon based martial arts systems! Admittedly, it is only one piece of reenacting, but we consider it to be an important one. Although our group doesn't meet often enough for us to become terribly proficient with sword drill, we learn the basics and can provide them for demonstration purposes.

What is the source of your individual weapon training? Are you studying a particular master or period fencing manual?


Our pike drill is a little better, but we lack enough members to actually stage a battle. Currently we only have one musketeer, but he is more than capable of showing off the vagrancies of a matchlock musket. ;-)

Pike drill is part of group combat, something re-enactors can do very well, this isn't really martial arts per se though, it's more like military simulation. I personally enjoy seeing re-enactor groups do pike drill and love the old black podwer firearms etc. My only point is that learning about individual fencing or fighting is a little different from learning about dressing and marching and drilling like ancient soldiers. Most HEMA people I know have no interest in dressing up in period kit and most re-enactors I know have little interest in martial arts. But there are exceptoins.



That said, if you want to spar with people then you need to look for something like ARMA or HEMA. Any good reenactment group should have someone who can teach you the basics, but they won't necessarily have the equipment for sparring. I have read about English Civil War reenactors recreating pike combat, but as in the SCA rules had to be invented for taking casualties.

Nothing wrong with group combat and drill like I said, it's just not usually very integrated with actual martial arts for a variety of reasons, perhaps the main one is due to the danger of doing realistic sparring with period kit (i.e. without fencing masks or protective gloves) though some groups do a pretty good job. I've seen some Viking re-enactor groups who do quite convincing looking live steel combat which doesn't look choreographed, though I have no idea what it's based on. But they are still playing it safe to a large extent.


I suspect there will be a lot of cross-over too. You can probably find people at an SCA event who belong to one of the ARMA groups and vice-versa.

Keep in mind ARMA is just one of many HEMA groups... ;) It's kind of like you guys keep saying "Chevrolet" instead of "Car"

There is a little crossover between HEMA / WMA and re-enactors, but not very much, not anywhere near as much as you might think considering how similar their interests seem to be on a superficial level.

I know SCA has been experimenting a little with some I.33 (a sword and buckler manual) to try to adapt some real stuff into their heavy combat, but I think that is a little problematic due to all their rules, politics, equipment requirements etc. The SCA rapier people were actually involved in the early revival of HEMA and some of them are seriously studying ancient masters, but they are a tiny subset of the SCA.

There are also many of the more hard core type of re-enactor groups in Europe, like The Company of St. George, who do at least some real HEMA training, usually based on Talhoffer. But that isn't usually the real focus of re-enacting like I said originally and not usualy practiced seriously. Learning to do European martial arts is every bit as demanding as learning to do karate or muy thai, it takes a lot of time and effort to really get anywhere with it, (as does re-enacting), which perhaps makes the two activities compete for peoples limited time and budgets and therefore kind of cancel each other out... I also think perhaps also each usually appeals to a slightly different mindset. More so here in the US than in Europe.

G.

Galloglaich
2009-11-04, 02:34 PM
I wrote a rant about the relationship between the two groups here. Don't click if candid language offends you. http://para-cynic.livejournal.com/18247.html


That is an hilarious rant. :smallbiggrin:

G.

fusilier
2009-11-04, 04:03 PM
What is the source of your individual weapon training? Are you studying a particular master or period fencing manual?

I would have to check with the Cabo to find out the particular manual, but I think he mentioned that it was a late 15th century Spanish manual that he had discovered. I would say that it's for cut-and-thrust swords, and not rapiers -- although fundamentals are all we ever get to (seven strikes and seven parries). It should be remembered that we typically portray militia, so our focus on are military forms, and that rapiers weren't really considered appropriate martial weapons (although opinion was divided). I've always wanted to get some more instruction from our Cabo, but real-life tends to get in the way.

I'm in charge of the Pike Drill and we use De Gheyn's manual combined with some information compiled into a manuscript for local reenactors around 1990; which includes some tactics and Spanish commands, gleaned from a variety of sources. Yes, mass formations aren't what most people consider "martial arts," although something like pikes probably starts to blur the line a little.

I'll be the first to tell you that we're not perfect, because a lot of information is simply lost or missing, but we try. As for reenacting, this time period is kind of a black hole, so it's hard to find appropriate replica clothing and equipment.

Thane of Fife
2009-11-04, 08:35 PM
I was recently looking up a weapon called a 'Sang Kauw.' I am, however, unable to find any actual pictures or videos of one, only written references (though I've found a number of those). I believe that the idea of the weapon is sort of a double-sided spear with some sort of guard near the center - you can see a description and sketch here (http://www.shaolin-society.co.uk/weapons/fire.php) (it's near the bottom right in the picture). Anyway, my question is, is this actually a real weapon?

I feel like there might have been a photograph in George Cameron Stone's book, but I can't quite recall for sure. Anybody have any evidence one way or the other?

Fhaolan
2009-11-05, 01:30 AM
I was recently looking up a weapon called a 'Sang Kauw.' I am, however, unable to find any actual pictures or videos of one, only written references (though I've found a number of those). I believe that the idea of the weapon is sort of a double-sided spear with some sort of guard near the center - you can see a description and sketch here (http://www.shaolin-society.co.uk/weapons/fire.php) (it's near the bottom right in the picture). Anyway, my question is, is this actually a real weapon?

I feel like there might have been a photograph in George Cameron Stone's book, but I can't quite recall for sure. Anybody have any evidence one way or the other?

Due to the unfortunate necessity to 'romanize' Chinese characters names like that tend to be wrong, and once it's wrong in an RPG book every follow-on RPG will copy that same mistake (because they all canabalize each other rather than attempt original research which is usually too expensive to justify). Given that RPG stuff is very popular on the web, looking it up on a web with an incorrect name will just return a bunch of RPG sites, unfortunately. :)

The double-headed Chinese spear is normally called Shuang Tou Qiang. (Shaung is 'double', Tou is 'head', and Qiang is 'spear'. Pretty literal.) However, the double-headed spears I've seen don't really match the illustration as they don't have the crescent blade in the center. I have seen a similar crescent blade, however, on the Chinese halberd, also known as a Ji, but the crescent blade is at one end near the spear point rather than in the middle. There are double Ji's (Shaung Ji), with two crescent blades and two spear points. Put a hook on the long end of the regular Ji, and you have the original form of the Shaung Ji Gou, which eventually became the martial-arts hook sword now called Shaunggou (and likely where the Sang Kauw name got confused from). So it's not really that big of a jump to have just one crescent blade centered on the pole with spear points at either end. It's probably called something like Shaung Ji Qiang, but just as likely is called Bob, given how weapon naming works. :)

Mr White
2009-11-06, 06:48 AM
I'm still playing an interactive history (see a few pages back) about Europe and North-Africa right after Waterloo.

The year is somewhere between 1815 and 1820 (I can't access that forum right now). What were the known coastal (naval?) fortification at that time? I'm asking this specifically with harbours in mind as well as the straight of Gibraltar.

Thanks in advance

Thane of Fife
2009-11-06, 10:32 AM
Thank you, Fhaolan, that's a big help.


The year is somewhere between 1815 and 1820 (I can't access that forum right now). What were the known coastal (naval?) fortification at that time? I'm asking this specifically with harbours in mind as well as the straight of Gibraltar.

Are you looking for general defenses, which could be used anywhere, or defenses of specific harbors?

In general, batteries of guns either on shore or on gunboats would have been used.

Storm Bringer
2009-11-06, 12:20 PM
defenses were based on cannons, naturally enough.

Martello towers (http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martello_tower) were a coastal defense built in england during the Nepoleonic wars, and often found covering small british harbours in the Empire as well as england proper, but most costal forts were built along vauban line i.e. as star forts. Fort George (http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_George,_Highland), near inverness, was a example of a large scale fort built to cover the entrance to Loch Ness and the Great Glen. It's rather grand to protect most harbours, but is an okay example.

to protect your average small fishing harbour, you'd be looking at something like one or two small forts with a dozen or so heavy (32pndr) cannon, sited to cover the main channel, and built to withstand heavy cannon-fire form the sea and a infantry assault form the landward side, and manned by local milita.

how big is the harbour we are talking about?

Matthew
2009-11-06, 01:51 PM
ChunkerLubber54? :smallbiggrin:

Mr White
2009-11-07, 12:23 PM
I'm talking about Caïro itself (I play as the wãli of Egypt) or more ideally the Nyle delta itself without hampering the trade to much.

The Ottoman empire (of which I'm a part of) has just launched an attack on Malta and is planning on taking Gibraltar with the help of the French. I'm expecting dire repercussions of which I may be on the receiving end of.

Storm Bringer
2009-11-08, 10:10 AM
Cairo proper would be fairly safe form a naval attack, mainly due to it being so far downstream.however, invading Egypt form the sea would involve attacks into the Nile Delta, which is a bad place to try and defend with forts. your defense would likey be based on shallow draft gunboats, fighting the heavier ships by staying in the shallows and sniping form outside their arcs.

actual amphibious assault on a major city would be exceedingly hard. your big ships can't get to close to shore based guns (because the latter is effectively invulnerable to anything other than a direct hit on the gun. you can churn up the ground around it, but it won't effect the gunners. plus, shore guns can use Hot Shot, which is an absolute ship-killer). trying to land troops on a beach covered by cannon is a exercise in suicide. you'd make Omaha beach look like a picnic. so any seaborne attack is going to land on a out of the way beach.

the trick then is to separate the army form it's seaborne supply lines. check out Napoleon's invasion of Egypt for a historical, near-period version of what might happen.

Mike_G
2009-11-08, 10:17 AM
I'm talking about Caïro itself (I play as the wãli of Egypt) or more ideally the Nyle delta itself without hampering the trade to much.

The Ottoman empire (of which I'm a part of) has just launched an attack on Malta and is planning on taking Gibraltar with the help of the French. I'm expecting dire repercussions of which I may be on the receiving end of.


The Battle of the Nile was fought just off the coast of Egypt. Admittedly a bit early, in 1798, but worth checking out.

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

The article does discuss forts protecting the bay.

Mr White
2009-11-08, 12:19 PM
Thanks for the info given so far. I actually read that wiki article on the battle of the Nile a few weeks ago when I was brushing up on sailing tactics. I better check it out again with a more emphasis on the existing defenses as well as Napoleons campaign in Egypt.

Would it be possible for the Brits to cut Caïro off from the sea by obstructing the sailing lanes on the Nile(delta) by delibaratly sinking ships? Or is this plan inviable?
I'm trying to find alternative ways off attacks or assaults so that I can protect myself from to as best as possible.

Storm Bringer
2009-11-08, 03:03 PM
blockade of the Egyptian coast is possible, though would require a very large british effort, mostly lighter elements (fifth rate or below), running standing patrols over the main shipping channels, and a few sweeps along the coast to catch anything trying to land at other sites. they'd likey be a few heavier ships kicking about, just in case, but it really depends on how much of the flak form the matla/Gibraltar ops lands on you, rather than your nominal overlords. how deep in this plot are you? if the main effort came form instanbul, then that would likey be wear the fallout lands.

Mr White
2009-11-09, 06:42 AM
I have never attacked the Brits openly but that hasn't stopped them before to make me the subject of an attack of opportunity.
Secondly Britains economy is in dire need of cotton (both America and I refuse to trade with GB ATM). GB might see the attack from the Ottomans as the perfect excuse to forcefully get there hands on some cotton.

So far the most cost/effective method I could find to defend my harbours and as much trade as possible would be the fortification (in depth) of at least 1 lane from the first harbour on the Nile up to the med.
I don't believe the Brits will actualy invade they're much to busy in the war with America but they can spare at least some of there navy (which would no doubt be stronger than mine).

Storm Bringer
2009-11-09, 02:34 PM
I have never attacked the Brits openly but that hasn't stopped them before to make me the subject of an attack of opportunity.
Secondly Britains economy is in dire need of cotton (both America and I refuse to trade with GB ATM). GB might see the attack from the Ottomans as the perfect excuse to forcefully get there hands on some cotton.

So far the most cost/effective method I could find to defend my harbours and as much trade as possible would be the fortification (in depth) of at least 1 lane from the first harbour on the Nile up to the med.
I don't believe the Brits will actualy invade they're much to busy in the war with America but they can spare at least some of there navy (which would no doubt be stronger than mine).

understatment of the century.

the Royal navy in 1820 is argubly the premier blue sea navy, without any peer in full on warfare. the yanks gave them a good try with thier heavy firgates, but they can;t match the british 74s in a slogging match.

for sheer cost effectivness, the best way to defend the nile would be gunboats in the delta, with a larger fort futher downstream as a backstop. the gunboats could make life hazardous for anything smaller than a line of battleship, and they could be deployed to hotspots with a few covering other exits, making better use of the same number of cannon and men. without deploying a major ground force, they can't break into the intreior or even threaten the coastal ports like alexandria. an navy only force could land marines (every rated ship has been a platoon and a companys worth of marines, though platoons as a formation level don't exist yet) for raids, but they'd lack the cannon and training for set piece battles, so would be a annoyance rather than a major threat. their bigger threat is in taking merchant shipping as prizes, which will leave you without cash flow as the exports are either on thier way to birtain as spoils of war or sat rotting on the docks.


if all else fails, surrender and negoicate in bad faith. it's what the ottomans did all the time.:smallbiggrin:

HenryHankovitch
2009-11-09, 07:46 PM
So here's one for you guys:

In James Clavell's Tai-Pan, he makes repeated reference to the "fighting iron," a melee weapon similar to a flail or chained whip:


Struan picked up the fighting iron and swung it aimlessly. it was a linked iron whip, a deadly weapon at close range--three foot-long iron shafts linked together, and at the very end a barbed iron ball. The short, iron haft fitted neatly into the hand and a protective leather thong slipped over the wrist.

The book is set in the 1840s, in what would become Hong Kong, and the weapons are depicted being used by European and Asian sailors. A similar weapon shows up in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, where Yevgeny the Raskolnik shows up with something similar attached to his wrist:


For [his arm] had been severed below the elbow and replaced with a three-part flail, segments made of some sort of dark, heavy-looking wood, bound and capped with iron, and joined one to the next by short segments of chain.

Now, Stephenson I can entirely believe would make something like this up--or use a poorly-researched idea he picked up somewhere else--simply because it seemed cool. But Clavell seems good enough about historical detail that I wouldn't think he would make something like this up out of whole cloth. Especially as often as he mentions them; his characters are carrying them around all the time, and a couple of them fight a duel with those "fighting irons."

The internet, it seems, has no information on this weapon aside from Tai-pan references, though some guy on the intarwebs (http://pyracy.com/index.php?showtopic=10809) claims to have seen something similar in a fencing manual.

So what do you guys think? Complete fabrication? A sort of misunderstood/misapplied version of a Chinese chain whip or "morning star" flail? Or an actual historical weapon that nobody mentions because only dirty, low-class sailors ever fought with it?

Fhaolan
2009-11-09, 08:02 PM
So what do you guys think? Complete fabrication? A sort of misunderstood/misapplied version of a Chinese chain whip or "morning star" flail? Or an actual historical weapon that nobody mentions because only dirty, low-class sailors ever fought with it?

Stephenson's version is likely just an extension of the Chinese three-part-staff, but Clavell's version is... odd. I've never heard of the nunchaku or the three-part-staff ever being made of iron bars rather than wood, and I've not seen a european flail with segmented foot-long bars.

Not to say that it didn't exist, just that I've not run into anything that I would recognize with that description. And with the idea that this is a common sailor's weapon... I'm just not sure.

If it did exist, it would be very heavy, unless the 'iron bars' were relatively thin.

Raum
2009-11-09, 08:07 PM
There were enough flail variations that what you describe isn't unlikely, but I'm not aware of specific evidence. Perhaps someone else has relevant links.

However, the second issue of attaching a flail in place of a severed forearm is unlikely. Flail weapons typically rely on rotation speed to cause damage. That will be difficult to acquire without a wrist...

MickJay
2009-11-10, 05:37 AM
This reminds me a bit of a weapon that some members of the French Assembly decided to carry during the disturbances of the late 1840's. Tocqueville describes it as a lead ball attached to a leather strap, which was in turn tied to the wrist. It was small enough to remain completely hidden in the sleeve and was thought to be (by its owners, at least) a fairly dangerous weapon.

Mr White
2009-11-10, 06:37 AM
the Royal navy in 1820 is argubly the premier blue sea navy, without any peer in full on warfare.

I'm well aware of that fact. The fact is however that the Navy is so scattered at the moment (due to a wars on multyple fronts) that they'll hopefully have trouble really using there prowess to the fullest.


for sheer cost effectivness, the best way to defend the nile would be gunboats in the delta, with a larger fort futher downstream as a backstop. the gunboats could make life hazardous for anything smaller than a line of battleship ...

How would obstacles in the water work? There are plenty of places in the world that use guides for merchant ships to reach the harbour. I've also read about blockin ports by sinking ships at strategic places. It could even work wonderful with gunboats at those chokepoints in the Nile.


their bigger threat is in taking merchant shipping as prizes, which will leave you without cash flow as the exports are either on thier way to birtain as spoils of war or sat rotting on the docks.

The Brits can destroy my trade in the Med, there's nothing I can do against that. So I want to focus on presurving my facilities and my resources in Egypt.


if all else fails, surrender and negoicate in bad faith. it's what the ottomans did all the time.:smallbiggrin:

I've been doing nothing else since the beginning of this IH.

fusilier
2009-11-10, 06:39 PM
In an emergency you can sink old merchant vessels in the river to prevent an enemy fleet from getting too close. This was successful during the Siege of Sevastopol. Gunboats and shore batteries can then be placed to harry any attempts to clear the obstacles. If you wanted to create general obstacles, then sinking old ships, or placing underwater barriers at various places along the river could be used to snag unsuspecting warships. However, experienced pilots would be necessary for any large ship (war or merchant) navigating the river, and they can be bribed by an enemy. Completely blocking the river with barriers can only be a temporary solution, as it will cut off all communication along the river.

Ports like Alexandria would be defended by traditional fortresses -- which should require investment by land forces to fall. If you are being blockaded, then think about creative solutions like fire-ships to try and cause some havoc. I would also suggest looking into primitive submarines (although the first submarine to actually sink a warship was the Hunley, Fulton designed several submarines during the Napoleonic Wars). These solutions aren't guaranteed to work, but are low cost with a potentially high pay-off, especially if you manage to sink a British ship-of-the-line.

Also consider doing some counter raiding yourself. Small xebecs and the like can be used to go after light merchant ships, and can then be put into minor ports along the coast. Again, authorizing privateers is cheap, and while they may not make any major difference by plundering small cargo vessels - historically the British public seemed to have no patience for that kind of stuff.

The point is to get the British to agree to peace on more congenial terms -- try to make an ancillary war against Egypt just too much of a nuisance.

Finally seek alliances with powerful continental nations. An alliance with France might make the British think twice before going to war with Egypt -- on the other hand France might cause some wars that Egypt isn't prepared for.

Dervag
2009-11-11, 03:06 AM
Also consider doing some counter raiding yourself. Small xebecs and the like can be used to go after light merchant ships, and can then be put into minor ports along the coast. Again, authorizing privateers is cheap, and while they may not make any major difference by plundering small cargo vessels - historically the British public seemed to have no patience for that kind of stuff.

The point is to get the British to agree to peace on more congenial terms -- try to make an ancillary war against Egypt just too much of a nuisance.Worked for the Barbary corsair states...

Storm Bringer
2009-11-11, 12:38 PM
I'm well aware of that fact. The fact is however that the Navy is so scattered at the moment (due to a wars on multyple fronts) that they'll hopefully have trouble really using there prowess to the fullest.
hopefully.



How would obstacles in the water work? There are plenty of places in the world that use guides for merchant ships to reach the harbour. I've also read about blockin ports by sinking ships at strategic places. It could even work wonderful with gunboats at those chokepoints in the Nile.
it would be fine as a 'back-up' plan, but the thing is you don't want the Nile to be closed to all shipping, just the royal navy. it'd be a perfectly sensible idea to have a few hulks sat 'on standby', ready to be sited and scuttled if needed, but i wouldn't sink them until you really have to.

a simple thing you can do to make it much harder for a hostile to navigate the delta is to remove (or re-locate) all the channel marking buoys that would be lining the safe routes and have pilots guide everything in. that would mean either they find and bribe a couple to lead them in or they have to plumb the depths and inch foreward, either of which is full of problems.



The Brits can destroy my trade in the Med, there's nothing I can do against that. So I want to focus on preserving my facilities and my resources in Egypt.

well, with the forts on the coast and gunboats in the delta, I'd say they'd need to invest major elements to do more than raid. if thier busy all over the world in bush wars, then they'd likey lack the hulls and men for much more.



I've been doing nothing else since the beginning of this IH.[/QUOTE]

Mr White
2009-11-12, 06:32 AM
The point is to get the British to agree to peace on more congenial terms -- try to make an ancillary war against Egypt just too much of a nuisance.

Finally seek alliances with powerful continental nations. An alliance with France might make the British think twice before going to war with Egypt -- on the other hand France might cause some wars that Egypt isn't prepared for.

The problem IS the alliance with France. The Ottoman Empire (of which I'm part of) has allied itself with France and together they have taken it upon themselves to get rid of any British influence in the Med. There was very little I could do about it.

I've also pointed out long ago that we (Franco-Ottoman alliance) should take some easy targets quickly and sue for peace from there. This will probably not happen.
The only thing left is to make the Brits fight at multiple fronts. At least now they listen to me.

Also about scuttling ships in the Nile. The plan was all along to still keep a lane or 2 open for merchant ships.

fusilier
2009-11-12, 04:03 PM
Also about scuttling ships in the Nile. The plan was all along to still keep a lane or 2 open for merchant ships.

Keeping a lane or 2 open for merchant ships, means you have a lane or two open for warships. Be prepared to close it completely when threatened.

It sounds like your allies want to fight a war of attrition with Great Britain . . . which would be fine for World War One, but not really a Napoleonic way of fighting. I think your basic strategy under those conditions is correct. Try to prevent the British from taking your core facilities. I would just add as much nuisance raiding on British commerce as is practical.

I agree with your original plan. Find some base/position that the British occupy, and take it. Then your side would have some bargaining power. You don't even have to keep that base, you can trade it back for something else. That's how Britain got Florida from Spain during the seven years war -- they conquered Havana!

Out of curiosity. What is the British influence in the Mediterranean in your game? Historically, other than Gibraltar, I think they controlled Malta.

Autolykos
2009-11-13, 08:59 AM
Historically, other than Gibraltar, I think they controlled Malta.Are you sure this is a good idea? Gibraltar and Malta are pretty much ideal fortresses, and even if you manage to take them, your army there is going out of supply the moment the British *really* want you off there, since you don't have any kind of navy worth this name.
If you are going for sea battles at all, you should try really unconventional stuff, like this (http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=6779&IBLOCK_ID=35). Well, not exactly, but swarming the glorious Royal Navy with lots of small vessels (ideally with only one person on them) near the shore, with lots of flammable stuff on them, and doing Kamikaze-missions (but jumping off before colliding and swimming back) could at least scare them away from your shores. That means less raiding and makes a blockade much more difficult.
If you want to grab land (if only to sue for peace), go to the south or east. Trading posts in eastern Africa and India are probably much easier to take than Gibraltar or Malta, a lot easier to hold, and the British probably can't afford to send as much ships there as they could in the Mediterranean. Plus, every ship they send there is one less that can block the Nile delta. And the British public is much less likely to support a costly and useless war at the other end of the world, than against someone who's practically knocking at their door in Gibraltar.

Reinboom
2009-11-14, 02:25 AM
Thank you to those who responded to my last question.

New question time!
Is there a version of diGrassi's "His True Arte of Defense" that has been rewritten or translated properly? The 1590s attempt at translating into English is not only archaic but has noticeable translation errors (even respecting the age at which it was done)?
-edit-
I found a version I can read.

As an extension:
I'm currently researching rapier and dagger. Are there any good texts, or, description of the various actions involved, at all experience levels?

gabado
2009-11-15, 02:06 AM
i know this might sound strange, and it is a little out of place, but could give me the d20 past stats for the Panzer tank (implemented by Nazi infantry), and the panzerchek (please excuse me for any misspellings)

thanks

Dervag
2009-11-15, 03:08 AM
If you are going for sea battles at all, you should try really unconventional stuff, like this (http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=6779&IBLOCK_ID=35).Ah, the Millenium Challenge exercise, in which the guy commanding the opposing force managed to sink a large chunk of the US carrier group.

I've heard some questionable things about that exercise. For instance, that van Riper's opposition team was claiming to launch antiship missiles off of boats that didn't weigh much more than the missiles did... which is impossible.


If you want to grab land (if only to sue for peace), go to the south or east. Trading posts in eastern Africa and India are probably much easier to take than Gibraltar or Malta, a lot easier to hold, and the British probably can't afford to send as much ships there as they could in the Mediterranean. Plus, every ship they send there is one less that can block the Nile delta. And the British public is much less likely to support a costly and useless war at the other end of the world, than against someone who's practically knocking at their door in Gibraltar.Yes, but you're operating out of Egypt's Red Sea ports in that case. And the kindest thing that can be said about those is that by and large, no one's ever heard of them- probably for good reason.


i know this might sound strange, and it is a little out of place, but could give me the d20 past stats for the Panzer tank (implemented by Nazi infantry), and the panzerchek (please excuse me for any misspellings)

thanksTwo problems with that:
1)This thread does not talk about game stats, only about the weapons themselves.
2)I believe there's a general forum policy against posting copies of published material, and I'm pretty sure the material you're talking about has been published.

Mr White
2009-11-15, 01:13 PM
Are you sure this is a good idea? Gibraltar and Malta are pretty much ideal fortresses, and even if you manage to take them, your army there is going out of supply the moment the British *really* want you off there, since you don't have any kind of navy worth this name.

An Ottoman/french offensive already conquered Malta. Keeping it will be something else. There's also already an offensive on its way to assault Gibraltar from Spain (mainly French but Ottoman empire may land some troops to). The only other British presence in the med, Algiers, is also about to fall due to an uprising instigated by me.
The real problem is that I've absolutly no control over what France and the Ottomans will do. They ignore everything I say. I feel that they're far to optimistic about this campaign and don't take the reaction of other European nations under consideration.
On the other hand this may be a great opportunity to become independant.


If you are going for sea battles at all, you should try really unconventional stuff, like this (http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php?ARTICLE_ID=6779&IBLOCK_ID=35). Well, not exactly, but swarming the glorious Royal Navy with lots of small vessels (ideally with only one person on them) near the shore, with lots of flammable stuff on them, and doing Kamikaze-missions (but jumping off before colliding and swimming back) could at least scare them away from your shores. That means less raiding and makes a blockade much more difficult.

I've already thought about such tactics. Unfortunatly it would only work once (that's even iffy) before the Brits would change tactics. It's a desperate move, so best kept for when I'm desperate.


I agree with your original plan. Find some base/position that the British occupy, and take it. Then your side would have some bargaining power.

We have Malta and Algiers will fall within the next weeks. Unfortunatly, I know the person playing GB well enough that he won't outright bargain for them when he can just take them back when he focusses some part of the RN on the Med. The british populace must force him first.

Fhaolan
2009-11-15, 01:30 PM
I'm currently researching rapier and dagger. Are there any good texts, or, description of the various actions involved, at all experience levels?

ARMA is always a good place to go, if you've already got some knowledge and are looking for details. I'm not sure about any beginner-level texts though.

One of the texts there I found that goes into rapier and dagger belongs to Joseph Swetnam
http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/swetnam.htm

Autolykos
2009-11-17, 07:54 AM
Ah, the Millenium Challenge exercise, in which the guy commanding the opposing force managed to sink a large chunk of the US carrier group.

I've heard some questionable things about that exercise. For instance, that van Riper's opposition team was claiming to launch antiship missiles off of boats that didn't weigh much more than the missiles did... which is impossible.Didn't hear that story, but since we're not using anti-ship missiles anyway, it should not be a problem.


Yes, but you're operating out of Egypt's Red Sea ports in that case. And the kindest thing that can be said about those is that by and large, no one's ever heard of them- probably for good reason.
Five minutes of Wikipedia found this one, neatly placed at the end of the channel (which, sadly, might not be usable right now); and I assume if there's one there might be more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suez
(But I don't know how much ships you have in there)
EDIT: Of course there are more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_seaports#Red_Sea

@Specter: The correct spelling is Panzerschreck (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzerschreck). Perhaps this could help your google-fu.

Thiel
2009-11-17, 10:53 AM
An Ottoman/french offensive already conquered Malta. Keeping it will be something else. There's also already an offensive on its way to assault Gibraltar from Spain (mainly French but Ottoman empire may land some troops to).

No, no no no no. Unless you have the naval strength to blockade Gibraltar entirely, taking it is the next best thing to impossible. Attaking over land forces you to advance across open ground against large stone fortifications filled with cannons and flanked by honest to god underground batteries dug into the Rock of Gibraltar itself.

On the amfibious front, the walls are build all the way down to the water, meaning that there's no place to land. The only palce you could land is in one of the coves on the eastern side of the rock, but the only path across the rock is a small goat track. Good for spies and maybe a suicide squad, but not so good for moving troops.

fusilier
2009-11-17, 03:24 PM
Gibraltar - if this could be taken it would be serious defeat for the British. Exactly how any of that works out in game terms is unclear to me. At any rate, a well timed expedition might just take it. If the British are distracted elsewhere, and confident in Gibraltar's defenses, they may just leave too small of a garrison. Historically, while Gibraltar is often portrayed as an impenetrable fortress, it has been conquered before.

What exactly do your allies expect to get out of all this? After all, war is a means to a political end. I know you mentioned decreasing British presence in the Mediterranean, but do they have any specific goals in mind? I'm just curious.

RandomLunatic
2009-11-19, 01:22 AM
Here is one for the automatic weapon buffs in the audience.

For the American M2 .50-caliber machine gun, I need the weight of the bullet. Not the cartridge, I just want the weight of the projectile that actually hits the target.

I also would like the weight of the projectiles used by the German MG 151/15 cannon.

I also want to know if, historically, an automatic weapon in .70-caliber (~18 mm) range existed, and if so, how much its shell weighed.

Thanks!

Dervag
2009-11-19, 03:12 AM
Didn't hear that story, but since we're not using anti-ship missiles anyway, it should not be a problem.No, what I mean is that the exercise misrepresented what the small boats van Riper was commanding could accomplish against larger ships.

In the "defense of Egypt" problem, that boils down to a question of whether small, cheap gunboats are a match for warships at reasonable odds. They might be, I don't know.


Five minutes of Wikipedia found this one, neatly placed at the end of the channel (which, sadly, might not be usable right now); and I assume if there's one there might be more:Oh, the Red Sea ports exist. It's just that they're mostly not very large and not very well developed, so you're going to be hard pressed to construct significant warships in them. And warships on the Mediterranean coast cannot be transferred to the Red Sea except by shipping around Africa, either...

Mr White
2009-11-19, 06:51 AM
Gibraltar - if this could be taken it would be serious defeat for the British. Exactly how any of that works out in game terms is unclear to me. At any rate, a well timed expedition might just take it. If the British are distracted elsewhere, and confident in Gibraltar's defenses, they may just leave too small of a garrison. Historically, while Gibraltar is often portrayed as an impenetrable fortress, it has been conquered before.

Taking Gibraltar should be the blow that will get us a favourable peace agreement. I'm, however, not all that optimistic about the success of the mission. If it fails there is absolutly no chance of ashort term peace agreement unless it would be very unfavourable to us.


What exactly do your allies expect to get out of all this? After all, war is a means to a political end. I know you mentioned decreasing British presence in the Mediterranean, but do they have any specific goals in mind? I'm just curious.

I have been asking myself that same question. For all I know they saw a weakened GB and decided that this was the time to get some payback (GB has been very arrogant and triggerhappy so far). I can understand France wanting to seriously deminish the influence of its nemisis but the Ottomans were just reacting against some propaganda and a few sunken merchant ships. The Ottomans won't even be getting new territory or more resources out of this (unles you count Algiers which I would have secretly liberated anyway).

Deadmeat.GW
2009-11-19, 11:32 AM
No, what I mean is that the exercise misrepresented what the small boats van Riper was commanding could accomplish against larger ships.

In the "defense of Egypt" problem, that boils down to a question of whether small, cheap gunboats are a match for warships at reasonable odds. They might be, I don't know.


Actually, the size of the missile versus the boat can work, the Brits did exactly that with some of their MTB's during the second war.
A motorboat with two full sized torpedo launchers on the deck and 4 torpedoes is not exactly something that looks balanced.
The 4 torpedoes and their launchers are about 2/3 the weight of the whole boat..

Later on they changed this for single shot tubes to increase the speed of the MTB's in question to make them more effective.

Norsesmithy
2009-11-19, 11:47 AM
Here is one for the automatic weapon buffs in the audience.

For the American M2 .50-caliber machine gun, I need the weight of the bullet. Not the cartridge, I just want the weight of the projectile that actually hits the target.

I also would like the weight of the projectiles used by the German MG 151/15 cannon.

I also want to know if, historically, an automatic weapon in .70-caliber (~18 mm) range existed, and if so, how much its shell weighed.

Thanks!
The WWII lead core rounds weigh 45.7 grams each.
API is 40.3.
Newer lead core can weigh up to 50 grams, SLAP weighs 23 grams, Raufoos weighs 47 grams.

For the MG151/15,
AP-T weighs 72 g
AP(WC) weighs 52 g
HE weighs 57 g. HE filler: 2.8 g

As far as an 18 MM autocannon, I don't know if such an animal ever existed. I think that it probably jumped right from 15mm to 20mm.

Mike_G
2009-11-21, 11:00 AM
New evidence found about Agincourt.

This should finally settle the numbers debate.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/02/agincourt_recount/

Talakeal
2009-11-23, 05:12 AM
Two quick questions about sword fighting:

1: Is holding your sword by the blade with your off hand to steady a parry a good idea without wearing an armored gauntlet? I would think it would be an easy way to mangle your hand, but I have seen people do it before in recreations.

2: How often do sword fighters strike each other with the pommel of their weapon?

Storm Bringer
2009-11-23, 06:57 AM
Two quick questions about sword fighting:

1: Is holding your sword by the blade with your off hand to steady a parry a good idea without wearing an armored gauntlet? I would think it would be an easy way to mangle your hand, but I have seen people do it before in recreations.

2: How often do sword fighters strike each other with the pommel of their weapon?

most swords are not sharp along all thier edge, and many (particuarly the longer ones) had areas designed to being held at some point on the blade, so holding a sword with and bare hand was workable

can't comment on how common attacks with the pommel were, though. they were part of the standard 'moveset' taught in the manuals, so thier were well-known.

Mike_G
2009-11-23, 11:28 AM
Two quick questions about sword fighting:

1: Is holding your sword by the blade with your off hand to steady a parry a good idea without wearing an armored gauntlet? I would think it would be an easy way to mangle your hand, but I have seen people do it before in recreations.

2: How often do sword fighters strike each other with the pommel of their weapon?

A lot depends on the sword in question.

Most swords long enough to consider this move with were not sharp down to the hilt, and "sharp" is relative. A blade can be sharp enough to cut you with a forceful swing, but not too sharp to hold. As Storm Bringer says, some swords had an unsharpened section of blade intended for gripping.

As far as striking with the pommel, I feel pretty sure it was a "plan B" move. The ideal would be to strike with the point or with the edge near the center of percussion, which would be somewhere along the third closest to the point, depending on the actual form of the blade. Hitting with the pommel is only practical when your enemy is too close to effectively employ the more dangerous end of the weapon.

That said, combat is messy, chaotic, and often calls for Plan B.

Swordguy
2009-11-23, 04:11 PM
Two quick questions about sword fighting:

1: Is holding your sword by the blade with your off hand to steady a parry a good idea without wearing an armored gauntlet? I would think it would be an easy way to mangle your hand, but I have seen people do it before in recreations.

As long as you hold the blade tightly, you can move it around without injuring yourself. The damage will come from you sliding your hand up or down the blade - so when you hold the sword, it needs to stay in one place, and if you need to move your hand, remove your hand from the blade entirely, then re-grip it in another place.

If you're old enough to know that this is probably a bad idea, you can try it at home with a kitchen knife. Grab it tightly by the blade and hold it upside down. Swing it around. Put it back on the shelf. You'll note your hand is not cut. That's because a sharp edge won't cut you without motion relative to your palm. since both are moving in the same direction and rate of speed...no cut. If you're exceptionally stupid, you can prove this by generating perpendicular motion between the knife and you hand by loosening your grip slightly and pulling the knife out of your hand. Then go to the hospital. In fact, if you actually do this, you may want to call them ahead of time, just so they have time to prepare for your arrival. :smalltongue:


2: How often do sword fighters strike each other with the pommel of their weapon?

It depends on the circumstances of the fight - namely, if the fighters are armored or not. The "Murder stroke", where the armored fighter grasps the blade of the weapon and clubs his opponent with the quillons or pommel is well-documented, and necessary. You cannot simply cut through armor. You can smash through it with enough precussive force in a small area (which is why maces and axes were popular, and what the murder stroke duplicates), but cutting through it with a blade is nigh-on impossible in combat conditions.

(As a source, I cite posts # 37, 38, and 39 in this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109514&highlight=swordguy&page=2). Under perfect cutting conditions, a helm is cut through to a depth of approximately an inch.)

Because this is so difficult, swordfights between armored opponents tended to come down to striking at gaps or weak spots in armor (fight around the armor, not through it), or moved into close grappling techniques. Certainly, smacking the other guy with the blade of a weapon upside the head has its place in wearing him out concussing him, or just getting lucky...but a murder stroke is going to be even MORE effective, since the cutting power of the blade isn't going to come into play when you're hitting metal.

Unarmored combatants, mind you, will pommel each other less. Since one hit will generally equal death/dismemberment, opponents tend to stay much further out of distance, reducing the need for pommeling attacks. And the blade works just fine, thank you, in this situation. Why have to close with the other guy and risk getting bisected just so you can stun him with a pommel to the face when you can stay three feet further back, safely out of his immediate reach, and use the blade of your weapon?

Matthew
2009-11-23, 04:39 PM
(As a source, I cite posts # 37, 38, and 39 in this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109514&highlight=swordguy&page=2). Under perfect cutting conditions, a helm is cut through to a depth of approximately an inch.)

Oh, I missed that series of posts originally. Good stuff, enjoyed reading it. Weapons that Made Britain did a good cut/chop (I prefer chop for describing that sort of blow) experiment against an iron helmet. Bit further into it than I would have expected, for sure.

Swordguy
2009-11-23, 06:27 PM
Oh, I missed that series of posts originally. Good stuff, enjoyed reading it. Weapons that Made Britain did a good cut/chop (I prefer chop for describing that sort of blow) experiment against an iron helmet. Bit further into it than I would have expected, for sure.

I think remember that - about 3 inches in, wasn't it? Iron will give an inferior degree of protection against steel, obviously, but I think the point stands. Glad to know you enjoyed it.

Matthew
2009-11-23, 06:44 PM
Depth? Nah, though you would think it might from Maciejowski Bible. :smallbiggrin:

Might have been a steel helmet actually... [one quick Google later], here is the clip for your viewing entertainment: Sword versus Helmet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h0e0NSwYNg).

Wow! I was just checking to see if I spelled Maciejowski correctly and I happened upon this link to an old MyArmoury post More Short Hafted Glaives and Stuff (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=927). Very cool images!

http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/Plle200/Arms%20and%20Armour/Romance%20of%20Alexander/romp05.jpg
http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/Plle200/Arms%20and%20Armour/Romance%20of%20Alexander/romp10.jpg http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/Plle200/Arms%20and%20Armour/Romance%20of%20Alexander/romp09.jpg
http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/Plle200/Arms%20and%20Armour/Romance%20of%20Alexander/romp08.jpg
http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/Plle200/Arms%20and%20Armour/Romance%20of%20Alexander/romp07.jpg
http://i73.photobucket.com/albums/i226/Plle200/Arms%20and%20Armour/Romance%20of%20Alexander/romp06.jpg

Zovc
2009-11-23, 08:06 PM
What weapon would you expect to function similar to a [3.5] spiked chain?

I'm hoping for a reasonable dual weapon, but something one-handed works, too.

The weapon should be capable of striking someone roughly 10 feet away, and easily at a regular distance as well (without a 'vulnerable' transition between the two), and should be usable for trips and disarms.

If you're not familiar with dungeons and dragons 3.5, here (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/equipment/weapons.htm#weaponDescriptions) is a link to the weapons table, so that you can compare stats (if you would like).

Most weapons are not usable for trip or disarm checks, the spiked chain is. Weapons that have hooks or other implements that make disarming or tripping usually provide a bonus to tripping and disarming.

The weapon I generally envision is essentially two kamas joined together by a (roughly) 12-foot chain, although I wouldn't expect it to do similar damage to a longsword.

Book Wyrm
2009-11-23, 10:37 PM
@Zovc: Two kamas on the end of a long chain would be an extreme deadly weapon to the wielder.

As to what would work similar to the Spiked Chain and actually exists, I'd go with the Kusarigama.

Its a single kama with a long chain attached. The chain was used to attack at a distance (reach in DnD terms) and entangle opponents weapons (disarm in DnD terms). The kama end was used in close combat after the chain attack and to trip opponents.

Allows reach and regular distance combat at the same time, but only the chain has reach and only the kama part can be used close range. Definitely an exotic weapon by all definitions of the word.

Other real world weapons that are similar to the spiked chain are the meteor hammer and the nine sectioned whip. I think the WotC writers combined these two weapons when designing the spiked chain which is why it makes no sense.

Swordguy
2009-11-24, 02:09 PM
Depth? Nah, though you would think it might from Maciejowski Bible. :smallbiggrin:

Might have been a steel helmet actually... [one quick Google later], here is the clip for your viewing entertainment: Sword versus Helmet (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h0e0NSwYNg)

Oh wow - I hadn't seen that. Not at all what I thought it was. Cool stuff! And nice to see video evidence of my suppositions. One-handed sword bits in but gets stopped by a helm, sword in two hands penetrates about an inch. That's right in line with my maths. Sweet.

Nice images too.

Vitruviansquid
2009-11-25, 03:48 AM
Not sure if this question has been asked before, but...

What are the weapons a Mesoamerican (like an Aztec) might have used during the time period of the Conquistadors? Are there any sources of information on their warrior societies that go beyond just saying "there were eagle warriors, there were jaguar warriors, and there were other ones?" What would the roles of each weapon be?

Storm Bringer
2009-11-25, 04:14 AM
wiki to the rescue (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec_warfare#Equipment).

that's a pretty basic list of the names of their kit, with a few words to discribe them. the aztecs didn't have very good metalworking skills, so they used obsidian as the cutting edge. this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl)is a club like weapon they used somewhat like a sword

Vitruviansquid
2009-11-25, 04:19 AM
I... feel like such an idiot for not finding that before :\

fusilier
2009-11-25, 06:46 PM
There are a couple of Osprey Publishing books about the Aztecs that provide more info.

In addition to the Jaguar and Eagle Knights there were other orders, but it's not clear what their roles were (I rarely see any agreement about what it took be awarded a Jaguar suit among sources). I have seen illustrations of Coyote suits as well as some other weird looking ones.

Exactly what their roles were is unknown (or at the least there is little agreement). A soldier could be awarded a Jaguar suit after capturing a certain number of enemies (5?). There was also a suit with a conical hat, which I think was awarded after only one or two captures. Eagle knights may have been elite/body guards, but there's little consensus. There were also priest warriors who had their own orders.

Finally, the meso-americans did have bronze axes and knives, etc. Their access to obsidian was just so good that they rarely bothered using metal weapons.

I'm just going off of memory here. Osprey's Aztec Warrior book isn't bad. If you can find a copy of GURPS Aztecs (out of print), that's actually pretty good too. There are other sources out there though.

valadil
2009-12-03, 12:21 PM
Whee, finally got through the other versions of this thread (except the one that wasn't archived).

Couple questions. I don't think either one was asked before, but I'm not doublechecking.

What exactly do you get out of looking at Talhoffer plates? I can get a sense of what weapons were used but the stances all look awkward to me. I realize that they're designed to remind you of a combat form you once learned, as opposed to teaching you the form from scratch. I just haven't been able to glean any useful information off of them. It would be amazing if someone could post a link to one or two and guide me through the information I should be seeing.

The morte strike seems awkward to me. I've gathered that the blade of a sword isn't that sharp (especially the ricasso) and against an armored foe you need something with concussion force. What I don't get is how you would switch to this kind of grip. Was it just for one strike, or did you continue holding the sword that way after switching? I feel like if I tried to go from a standard grip to a morte strike capable one, I'd be cut down while switching. If I tried to do it quickly, I'd gut myself. I haven't actually tried this one yet (mainly because I read this thread at work and I don't bring my swords there, but also due to an aforementioned fear of gutting myself) so I'm just looking for some hints on how to make it work. The best I've been able to come up with is that you'd switch to this grip while evaluating your foe - ie you see that he's wearing plate, your sword probably won't cut through it, so you switch up your grip, cursing yourself for leaving your mace and lucerne hammer at home. Then the fight happens.

Also, I'm interested in writing a homebrew RPG. Where possible I'd like to be accurate. I've gotten a ton of information here and would like to apply it to the game (at the moment I'm wondering if it's a good idea to have different stats for each weapon depending on where you are with respect to your opponent's reach). I realize this is not the thread for game mechanics so I'm wondering if you guys also post in the homebrew forums with the same enthusiasm and ability to cite your sources as you do here.

Hades
2009-12-03, 12:36 PM
Just a quick basic reply about switching to the half-sword grip for the murder stroke: in blossfechten (unarmored fighting) it is relatively quick and safe to switch to half-swording from the bind (basically, when your sword is in contact with your opponents sword-like many of the plays you see in Talhoffer where their swords are crossed in front of them), depending, of course, on your own and your opponents position in said bind. This would mostly happen when you are too close to perform some of the other actions/strikes from the bind, and when you didn't want to wrestle instead. It is also trivially easy to switch to a half-sword grip from the various Ochs and Pflug guards and derivations thereof.

As for armored combat, you would likely be half-swording from the word go, or using a more appropriate weapon. If your opponent is armored and you are not, the correct action is: run away.

Galloglaich
2009-12-04, 09:49 AM
What exactly do you get out of looking at Talhoffer plates? I can get a sense of what weapons were used but the stances all look awkward to me. I realize that they're designed to remind you of a combat form you once learned, as opposed to teaching you the form from scratch. I just haven't been able to glean any useful information off of them. It would be amazing if someone could post a link to one or two and guide me through the information I should be seeing.

Don't feel bad, Talhoffer is one of the most notoriously tricky to interpret if you don't already know the Lichtenauer system at least somewhat. Talhoffer has some of the most widely accessable and most clearly rendered drawings of the earlier masters, and he was very prolific writing several books, one of which was releasd in an inexpensive print edition very early on in the 'HEMA revival'. A lot of re-enactor groups you meet with a tentative interest in HEMA say they are 'studying Talhoffer', which usually means they look at the plates with bewilderment as you have. Talhoffer is intentionally cryptic, he doesn't explain much. To understand him, study an overview of HEMA or directly read Ringeck, Dobringer, Leukunker, and also later masters such as Joachim Meyer and Paulus Hector Mair. They are the key to the system. Ringeck spells the whole thing out in (written) detail, 16th Century guys like Joachim Meyer go into much more detail combined with technically precise wood-cuts and drawings.

That said there are many Talhoffer interpretations online, for example these messer plays from MEMAG are very clearly spelled out in this vid. Their interpretation isn't perfect but I've done these disarms in sparring they work very well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWISsk0cy74&feature=related



The morte strike seems awkward to me. I've gathered that the blade of a sword isn't that sharp (especially the ricasso) and against an armored foe you need something with concussion force.

That is I think something of a Ren-Faire myth. Very generally speaking, swords were sharp, sharper than you think. It's just counterintuive but true that you can grab a sharp sword without hurting yourself if you know what you are doing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E4aSlLyBTo



What I don't get is how you would switch to this kind of grip. Was it just for one strike, or did you continue holding the sword that way after switching?

It's again, kind of counter-intuitive but it can definitely be done, as Hades said from the bind (which I've done many times in sparring), but also at onset. Like Hades said, half-swording in general and Mortschlag in particular are techniques seen much more frequently in Harnichfechten (fighting in full plate armor) but they do also show up in Blossfechten (fighting unarmored or in light armor)

Good example of transitioning to halfsword from the bind
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6Pnw-9A8qQ&feature=fvw

Some videos of Talhoffer mortschlag plays:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFTKfw1dum0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGA-Q0hlZxw&NR=1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4W9B_Ybmro&feature=related

There is also a bunch of good halfswording stuff in Reclaiming the Blade if you haven't seen that, the Wallers do a great segment on Mortschlag in particular where you can see what the transition would look like in a real fight.


Also, I'm interested in writing a homebrew RPG. Where possible I'd like to be accurate. I've gotten a ton of information here and would like to apply it to the game (at the moment I'm wondering if it's a good idea to have different stats for each weapon depending on where you are with respect to your opponent's reach). I realize this is not the thread for game mechanics so I'm wondering if you guys also post in the homebrew forums with the same enthusiasm and ability to cite your sources as you do here.

I have done something like this commercially, I asked repeatedly on this thread if I can discuss it (or put a link in my sig), and gotten no answer, but if you PM me I have some commercially available resources which are directly applicable to your question.

G.

Matthew
2009-12-04, 12:39 PM
I have done something like this commercially, I asked repeatedly on this thread if I can discuss it (or put a link in my sig), and gotten no answer, but if you PM me I have some commercially available resources which are directly applicable to your question.

I seem to recall that I pointed you towards the moderators, few of which visit this thread on a regular basis. If you want to know if you can discuss it on GitP or put a link in your signature, you are best served by asking Roland or the Giant for an answer. It is unlikely that it can be discussed in this thread, because the rules established for it preclude discussion of RPG mechanics for the most part.

fusilier
2009-12-05, 02:50 AM
That is I think something of a Ren-Faire myth. Very generally speaking, swords were sharp, sharper than you think. It's just counterintuive but true that you can grab a sharp sword without hurting yourself if you know what you are doing.

Where does that myth come from? I've heard similar claims about later cavalry sabers being "blunt", but I've heard that historically they sharpened them. Although, sticking them in metal scabbards may have dulled them more quickly (at least that's what I was told).

Swordguy
2009-12-05, 05:52 AM
Where does that myth come from? I've heard similar claims about later cavalry sabers being "blunt", but I've heard that historically they sharpened them. Although, sticking them in metal scabbards may have dulled them more quickly (at least that's what I was told).

I'd say it arises from a couple places. First, I'd posit it comes (like most other medieval weapon myths) from "educated" Victorian museum curators who were all about crapping on anything not "modern" to make themselves seem better/higher on the evolutionary scale. Kind of a "look how stupid they were they didn't even make their swords sharp". Or even passing off 600 year old swords (unsurprisingly dulled by the passage of time) as "sharp as the day they were made".

Second, I know it's been reinforced by Japanophiles who compare European weapons unfavorably to the katana - which is a superb cutting implement in its own right. "Oh, those swords aren't sharp at all compared to my 440 stainless samurai sword!"

Finally, I'd posit that Ren Faire types don't help their own cause by selling deliberately blunted-down stage weapons and advertising them as "real swords". Starfire Swords used to do this, for example.

BizzaroStormy
2009-12-05, 06:05 AM
Second, I know it's been reinforced by Japanophiles who compare European weapons unfavorably to the katana - which is a superb cutting implement in its own right. "Oh, those swords aren't sharp at all compared to my 440 stainless samurai sword!"

Finally, I'd posit that Ren Faire types don't help their own cause by selling deliberately blunted-down stage weapons and advertising them as "real swords". Starfire Swords used to do this, for example.

I fit into both of these groups although I really only focus on the combat portion of the "Ren Faire types".

First off, the stainless steel katana is a wallhanger at best, not even good for cutting through jello. 60% of katanas today are stamped out of sheet metal, given a false edge, and have a brushed on hamon.

As for a side-by-side comparison of a katana to bastard sword for example, it really depends on your question. Frankly, as far as the European weapons are concerned, the spear and axe were the true workhorses of the battlefield.

Seeing a sword in the hands of someone other than a knight or other wealthy combatant was very uncommon. It comes down to cost. A blacksmith could turn out spearheads and axeheads much faster and cheaper than he could make swords. The same goes for metal armor vs. leather or no armor.

The japanese used spears as well, but when it came to close-quarters or combat with loose or no formation, the katana and naginata we're preferable.

Regarding the dulled-down "real swords" Its mainly for safety and legal reasons. In some places, you arent allowed to sell sharp swords like that without a liscense. Another reason is that groups like the one I'm in will actually fight with them, and the insurance companies dont really like people fighting with real weapons. I purchased a sword like this once and when I questioned the seller about the dullness of the blade; what he told me was this. "I'm not allowed to sell shape stuff without a liscense but you could get a good edge on that by running it under a grinder."

Swordguy
2009-12-05, 07:31 AM
"Oh, those swords aren't sharp at all compared to my 440 stainless samurai sword!"

Sorry, that was supposed to be biting sarcasm. Those sort of people who claim that sort of thing annoy the piss out of me. Forgot that sarcasm doesn't transfer well over a TCP/IP connection.

I'm not condemning the Rennies, by the way. They aren't bad for doing that (I direct onstage fights for a living; I know all about dull swords being necessary for stage use), but it's also foolish to ignore their inadvertent contribution to the "European swords are dull" myth.

Fhaolan
2009-12-05, 11:35 AM
Add in that to the average person 'sharp' is a binary value. Sharp/Dull. If you say a sword is sharp, they think you mean like a razor blade or a kitchen fillet knife (which are also two different levels of sharpness). Anything less than that is dull and dull means it might as well be a club.

I ran into this problem a lot when I was a kid. I grew up in Ontario, where ice skating is reasonably popular during the winter. A lot of people, when they were told to 'sharpen' their skate blades, took grindstones to them and tried to make them single-edge razors... which failed *horribly* as ice skates. (Ice skates blades actually have two edges, with a groove between them. They're like mini-hydrofoils if you want to think of them that way.)

Galloglaich
2009-12-05, 12:35 PM
As for a side-by-side comparison of a katana to bastard sword for example, it really depends on your question. Frankly, as far as the European weapons are concerned, the spear and axe were the true workhorses of the battlefield.

That is no different than anywhere else in the world. Swords were sidearms, including in Japan.

As for comparing European with Japanese swords, that is kind of opening a huge can of worms, but I will say this, we now know that European swords were at least as good. There were many more different types of European swords, but if you are comparing a bastard sword specifically, they were plenty sharp. For example this one.

http://www.myarmoury.com/images/reviews/alb_brescia1_s.jpg

http://www.myarmoury.com/review_alb_brescia.html

Was the basis of a replica that Albion Armorers made. It was arguably the most accurate replica they ever did, they sent the famous Swedish swordsmith Peter Johnsson who did inch by inch measurements to make their replica. Not surprisingly (to me anyway) this replica out-cuts every other replica they or anybody else made that I know of. The interesting thing is, for all their considerable skill, they were not quite able to match the quality of the original weapon which is actually a few ounces lighter.

Quality (i.e. accurate) European replicas which have emerged in the last few years have debunked many myths related to sharpness. One example was cutting tatami, something which used to be believed that only a Katana or a Tachi could do efficiently. I've even seen this myth repeated as recently as a couple of years ago on a National Geographic TV show.

There was a period for a few years where people were putting tons of videos like this on Youtube to debunk that myth

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vleC5-tvx4&feature=PlayList&p=B26F9FF079B4D693&index=0



Seeing a sword in the hands of someone other than a knight or other wealthy combatant was very uncommon. It comes down to cost. A blacksmith could turn out spearheads and axeheads much faster and cheaper than he could make swords. The same goes for metal armor vs. leather or no armor.

I'm sorry but those are also Ren Faire / RPG myths. Swords were quite rare during the very early Medieval or "Dark Ages", but by the 11th Century they were being mass-produced. By the end of the Viking Age tens of thousands of common soldiers were armed with swords, so were almost the entire armies of the 1st Crusade.

Also, there is almost zero evidence of leather armor being used in Europe. 'Poor mans' armor varied by the period and region but was most commonly quilted / padded type. Which is more effective than RPG's tend to lead us to think.



The japanese used spears as well, but when it came to close-quarters or combat with loose or no formation, the katana and naginata we're preferable.

Naginata are essentially spears. No real difference from the European glaive family, and used the same way on both sides of the world. Just like swords ;).

G.

Norsesmithy
2009-12-05, 11:37 PM
Where does that myth come from? I've heard similar claims about later cavalry sabers being "blunt", but I've heard that historically they sharpened them. Although, sticking them in metal scabbards may have dulled them more quickly (at least that's what I was told).

The origins of the myth, re Western Medieval and Renaissance blades, was well covered by Messrs Swordguy, Fhaolan, and Galloglaich, but as far as 19th century cavalry swords go, most were indeed issued with no more edge than a butterknife.

They were still dangerous weapons in that state, but the understanding was that the trooper would put his own edge on his own sword, to his preferences.

Galloglaich
2009-12-06, 02:00 AM
The origins of the myth, re Western Medieval and Renaissance blades, was well covered by Messrs Swordguy, Fhaolan, and Galloglaich, but as far as 19th century cavalry swords go, most were indeed issued with no more edge than a butterknife.

They were still dangerous weapons in that state, but the understanding was that the trooper would put his own edge on his own sword, to his preferences.

With the tradeoff being that a sharper sword would cut better but be more likely to break ... such as when used to parry. These being industrially mass-produced 'munitions grade' swords something to think about.

And I think this is typical of the origin of a lot of these myths. To understand the Baroque / Enlightenment period, the Renaissance, the Middle Ages, the Migration / Dark Age, etc., we tend to look at the 19th Century and project backward. This is a grave error.

G.

Zen Master
2009-12-06, 08:15 AM
I kinda view this thread as 'real-world weapons and armor - and actual science stuff' ... mainly because I don't know where else to post this.

I was wondering about ... implosion. Lets say a space the size and shape of a human body was suddenly empty. Air would rush in and all that - but how much force would that have?

Anyone know that?

Naturally, this is really a question about teleportation. But while teleportation is far from real-world, the physics of air pressure must be known to someone :)

Telok
2009-12-06, 09:35 AM
Anyone know that?

...the physics of air pressure must be known to someone :)

Google is your friend.

"Volume of a human body" turned up pages of results.
"Surface area of a human body" will help too.
Then take the air pressure and... Ah, you can figure out the rest.

It won't come to much more than someone saying "Bamf!" loudly and a mild gust of wind.

fusilier
2009-12-07, 01:59 AM
Also, there is almost zero evidence of leather armor being used in Europe. 'Poor mans' armor varied by the period and region but was most commonly quilted / padded type. Which is more effective than RPG's tend to lead us to think.

Another question: when was leather armor (re)introduced into Europe? Perhaps the Renaissance? Certainly by the time that I portray (ca. 1600) it seems fairly prevalent, and things like buff coats are starting to appear.

I would agree that quilted armor is much overlooked/underrated. The Spanish readily adopted it in the Americas (apparently based off meso-american examples), as it was generally sufficient to deal with most indigenous weaponry, easier to maintain, and not as heavy as steel.

Fhaolan
2009-12-07, 10:42 AM
Another question: when was leather armor (re)introduced into Europe? Perhaps the Renaissance? Certainly by the time that I portray (ca. 1600) it seems fairly prevalent, and things like buff coats are starting to appear.

I would agree that quilted armor is much overlooked/underrated. The Spanish readily adopted it in the Americas (apparently based off meso-american examples), as it was generally sufficient to deal with most indigenous weaponry, easier to maintain, and not as heavy as steel.

The buff coat is more like D&D padded/quilted armour than it is like the D&D leather armour. In the exact same way heavy leather jackets, like those used by old-time pilots, biker's, etc., would count as padded/quilted armour.

D&D leather armour is supposedly a very specific type of hardened leather armour, sometimes called Cuirbouille. Hardening leather can be done via several different methods, with varying levels of effectiveness. While it did occur as individual peices of armour as well as other functional items, it was rarely used for full-body stand-alone armour as depicted in D&D.

fusilier
2009-12-08, 06:01 PM
The buff coat is more like D&D padded/quilted armour than it is like the D&D leather armour. In the exact same way heavy leather jackets, like those used by old-time pilots, biker's, etc., would count as padded/quilted armour.

D&D leather armour is supposedly a very specific type of hardened leather armour, sometimes called Cuirbouille. Hardening leather can be done via several different methods, with varying levels of effectiveness. While it did occur as individual peices of armour as well as other functional items, it was rarely used for full-body stand-alone armour as depicted in D&D.

Ah. I've seen what you are talking about, admittedly very little of it though. I think I've seen an Italian morion made out of such leather. If that's what D&D calls leather armor, then it must have been very rare. I've also seen leather shields that must have been similar. They were popular in Spanish America, but are believed to have their roots in North Africa (it's called an "adarga" I think).

Galloglaich
2009-12-09, 08:19 AM
The buff coat is more like D&D padded/quilted armour than it is like the D&D leather armour. In the exact same way heavy leather jackets, like those used by old-time pilots, biker's, etc., would count as padded/quilted armour.

D&D leather armour is supposedly a very specific type of hardened leather armour, sometimes called Cuirbouille. Hardening leather can be done via several different methods, with varying levels of effectiveness. While it did occur as individual peices of armour as well as other functional items, it was rarely used for full-body stand-alone armour as depicted in D&D.

Yeah, what he said. There is very little evidence of cuir bouille actually being used as armor in Europe, but there is some. This leg, shoulder and arm armor

http://c2.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/28/l_99f38bab31f541edb17fee682caeb719.jpg

.... is from Italy around the 16th Century. There is some debate if it was actual battlefield armor or just used for tournaments.

The padded armor the Conquistadors used was not, at least originally, of Native American origin. They showed up in the region wearing that type of armor, it was common in Western Europe dating back to at least the 11th Century, we can see it in Byzantine art back to the 4th or 5th Century AD, and the ancient Greeks used linen armor of a slightly different type called a linothorax.

This type of armor which could be called a gambeson or jupon or aketon, was
http://c2.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/6/l_83c4108d1d9a45698cd1024997fd9f39.jpg

There were two basic versions, relatively thin (5-10 layers of linen with or without some padding) for wearing under mail or plate armor, and thicker (15-30 layers) intended for use as stand alone armor, like the guy in the painting above.

There is more evidence of leather armor being used in Central and East Asia. The Mongols apparently used cuir boulli lamellar, sometimes reinforced with horn.

http://home-4.worldonline.nl/~t543201/web-mongol/mongol-images-photos/mongol-armour2.jpg

The Japanese and Koreans used laquered leather lamellar.

The problem with leather and cuir boullli is that in modern tests it doesn't hold up very well as armor, far worse than the padded type, and considerably worse than iron lamellar, let alone plate or mail armor. Unlike in DnD and nearly every other RPG combat system, leather thick and / or hard enough to provide any significant protection is also extremely bulky. (One advantage of cuir boulli though is it floats!) The lamellar construction makes it effectively stronger and also more flexible. Leather was also expensive in period, particularly in the West. (the Mongols being cattle herders had more)

The Indians made some armor out of elephant and rhino hide.

G.

Matthew
2009-12-09, 08:31 AM
The Indians made some armor out of elephant and rhino hide.

There is also some crocodile hide armour on display in the British Museum (or there was about ten years ago), but I doubt it dates from anywhere near medieval, and was probably more decorative than effective.

Still, it is interesting to note that (apparently) many Viking-type reenactors insist on the historicity and defensive value of leather scale or lamellar type armour. Almost as prevalent as the tendency for television shows to equip their Romans with leather faux lorica segmentata. Even HBO's Rome, with its mail clad legionaries opts to armour the cavalry in leather "musculata". Without getting into the whole musculata debate, it is still surprising, but repetition is the means of myth building.

Galloglaich
2009-12-09, 09:40 AM
There is also some crocodile hide armour on display in the British Museum (or there was about ten years ago), but I doubt it dates from anywhere near medieval, and was probably more decorative than effective.

Still, it is interesting to note that (apparently) many Viking-type reenactors insist on the historicity and defensive value of leather scale or lamellar type armour. Almost as prevalent as the tendency for television shows to equip their Romans with leather faux lorica segmentata. Even HBO's Rome, with its mail clad legionaries opts to armour the cavalry in leather "musculata". Without getting into the whole musculata debate, it is still surprising, but repetition is the means of myth building.

Yeah I agree with you. The lamellar armor among the Vikings is a big debate in the Historical community. There is some evidence they did have lamellar armor, some iron lames (individual pieces) have been found at Birka and I think one or two other Viking sites. But it is unlikely it was very common. The only direct evidence of anything like leather armor among the Vikings is a hotly debated reference to some "Reindeer hide" armor in one of the Sagas, which I suspect was probably more like padded armor (due to similarity with some padded armor used in the Hebrides during the early medieval period, which had tarred deer hide as an outer layer for rain protection). I argued as Devils-advocate that given the widely travelled nature of the Vikings through Central Asia etc., they probably would have picked up lamellar and probably even scale armor, both of which were common there. But the idea of entire armies of Vikings wearing it, let alone of leather, seems very far fetched. I guess re-enactors have their own realities they have to deal with, nobody wants to fight without armor and not everybody can afford mail...

The leather armor with the Romans is even more problematic. This was apparently started in the 30's during the original heydey of sword and sandals films, as a more cost effective solution for the prop department. I loved HBO's Rome series (which reminds me I need to buy the DvDs) but the fighting warfare scenes were a little off... and I was shocked to see that leather armor trope re-introduced. Sigh. If it was perfect I would have been even more depressed when the series ended I guess....

G.

Galloglaich
2009-12-09, 10:04 AM
I've also seen leather shields that must have been similar. They were popular in Spanish America, but are believed to have their roots in North Africa (it's called an "adarga" I think).

Leather and cow-hide shields were common in Europe and Africa going back to antiquity. The minoans had giant figure 8 shaped cow-hide shields as early as 1600 BC, you see leather targe shields in Scotland considerably later than 1600 AD.

Shields generally speaking tended to be very light, especially in their heydey.

A typical Viking shield for example was around 3/8" thick, of fairly light (but strong and fibrous) wood like linden or poplar, usually the only metal part was the boss. They were relatively disposable, typically three would be used for a duel for example. Roman Scutum were not much thicker, only the Greek Aspis was a formidable metal shield anything like the type you see in DnD, and that was designed for a very specific type of formation fighting.

I've never seen any historical evidence for the thick, picnic bench type shields you see in the SCA let laone the iron manhole covers you see in almost all fantasy art.

From the decline of the Greek Hoplite until around the 15th Century AD metal shields were all but unheard of. By then shields had become far less common on the battlefield, they were stilll almost universal going into the 12th Century but by the 13th had substantially faded away as better armor and more higher energy missile weapons (longbows, primitive firearms, and very heavy crossbows) began to appear, though still used by some cavalry and sappers, skirmishers and etc., while archers begin to use the pavise which is more of a portable wall which stood on it's own than a shield This is when you start to see all the two-handed weapons. For a while shields got smaller and harder, the iron buckler replaced the big roundshield or kite. The buckler became common for personal protection, and popular with thugs ... your 'swash and buckler' men complained about in Medieval English legal documents.

But then shields made a comeback in the Renaissance as armor started to gradually decline. The Spanish finally cracked the 200 year invincibility of the Swiss pike squares using lightly armored "rotella men" who carried small iron shields (rotella) and swords. There are some techniques for using these weapons in some of the 16th Century fencing manuals. This from Marozzo for example:

http://bankesideacademie.org/images/italia1.gif

G.

Fhaolan
2009-12-09, 10:47 AM
I argued as Devils-advocate that given the widely travelled nature of the Vikings through Central Asia etc., they probably would have picked up lamellar and probably even scale armor, both of which were common there.

It depends a lot on what is being defined as 'Viking'. The Tagma ton Varangion, or Varangian Guard, who were employed by Basil II of the Byzantine Empire, picked up a lot of fancy equipment in Constantinople. Mostly splint-style arm and leg guards but I swear I've saw a tapestry once with the a guard leader-type in some kind of fine scale when the others in the picture were in maille.... although now that I think on it, I may have been assuming that one was a leader-type when it may just be an indication that that individual *wasn't* Varangian... Shoot. Now I'll have to try to remember where I saw that tapestry...

Shademan
2009-12-09, 12:11 PM
when people say viking they usually mean 'Norse'. since a viking was a man going on a viking, a journey of trade and raid and generally road(or rather Sea) trippin around

Swordguy
2009-12-09, 12:46 PM
As long as we're on armor, I'd like to cross-post this over from Homebrew. No, I don't care about the "rules" part - I'd just like a once-over on the fluff part justifying each major armor choice. It was all off the top of my head, so I'd like a double-check that I didn't say anything stupid, especially since I'm being too lazy to cite sources.

Well, stupider than usual, at any rate.

Anyway, here's the post. The whole idea behind this is somebody wanting more "realistic" armor terminology and classifications. These are all the types I can think of where there's actually some evidence of their existence (which is why you aren't seeing Ring or Banded Mail in there).

............................................

What the hey, I've been meaning to do this for a LONG time...Naturally, this assumes you aren't using Armor as DR. It OUGHT to provide both AC (how well armor deflects blows away from you) and DR (how well it absorbs the blow it doesn't deflect)...but people think that's too powerful for some reason. I shrug and point at Time Stop, but what can ya do?

(There is an argument that Medium Armor, as a category, shouldn't exist. Not one that's founded in game mechanics, mind you. The Medium Armor category seems to be delimited only by a narrow band of AC values and, most importantly, by the speed decrease the category brings. Heck, their total AC potential (AC bonus + Max Dex) is lower, on average, than any other group.)


Frankly, I'd simply delete the medium armor category entirely. The table would end up looking a whole lot like this:

Light Armor

Soft Leather+1 AC, Max Dex +8, ACP 0, Speed 30/20

Padded Jack +3 AC, Max Dex +7, ACP -1, Speed 30/20

Hide +3 AC, Max Dex +6, ACP -3, Speed 30/20

Hardened Leather +2 AC, Max Dex +7, ACP 0, Speed 30/20

Mail Shirt +5 AC, Max Dex +5, ACP -1, Speed 30/20

Scale and leather +4 AC, Max Dex +6, ACP -1, Speed 30/20

Brigandine +5 AC, Max Dex +4, ACP -1, Speed 30/20

Breastplate +6 AC, Max Dex +5, ACP -2, Speed 30/20


Heavy Armor

Lamellar +5 AC, Max Dex +5, ACP -3, Speed 20/15

Mail Hauberk w/leggings +6 AC, Max Dex +3, ACP -5, Speed 20/15

Plate & Mail +8 AC, Max Dex +2, ACP -4, Speed 20/15

Splint Plate +7 AC, Max Dex +3, ACP -3, Speed 20/15

Full Plate +10 AC, Max Dex +3, ACP -3, Speed 20/15


*Leather Armor: Unhardened saddle leather used as armor. Very rare as its own defense, soft leather was mainly used as a supplement to other, effective armors. "Fantasy" armors get made out of this a lot, because it's so easy (read: cheap) to work with. http://www.ljplus.ru/img/b/o/bob_basset/Chest-armor-1.jpg

*Padded Jack: Also called gambeson, aketon. 15-30 layers of quilted linen worn as its own defense, has a tendency to clump up at the joints. Has the advantage of being quite cheap and easy to make. Take an additional -2 ACP if wetted (such as being swum in, dropping in a lake, or more than 10 minutes of heavy rain). If not dried out within 12 hours, irrepairable rot will set in, losing 1 point of AC per week until useless. http://i45.photobucket.com/albums/f74/HRG2006/Pikemen.jpg

*Hide: Layers of heavy animal hide, much thicker and/or more resilient than common saddle leather normally used for armor. http://www.europewithasmile.com/gallery_2001/london_5_31/images/Crocodile-Armor.jpg

*Hardened Leather: Wax or water-hardened leather. Very rare to find full suits; these mainly serve as supplementary joint protection combined with other armor types. http://www.armorvenue.com/armorvenueimage.php?f=greek-leather-muscle-armor&s=275

*Mail Shirt: Riveted (NOT butted together) flattened metal rings by the thousands. The most common armor for well over a thousand years. http://www.angelfire.com/mb2/battle_hastings_1066/share/meinmail.jpg

*Scale and Leather: Small fish scale-like pieces of metal sewn to a heavy linen or leather backing. Common for Byzantines, not so for any other Western civilizations. Arms and legs were generally protected by soft or hard leather, depending on the wealth of the wearer. http://therionarms.com/armor/armor5.jpg

*Brigandine: A compromise between mail and more advanced large plate armors, brigandine consists of moderately-sized thin metal plates sandwiched between layers of thin soft leather, often faced with rich material. In practice, blows tend to slip off the plates and bury themselves in the gaps, and the plate hinders movement just enough that both large-plate armors and mail are superior. Limbs are covered with whatever is available, usually leather, and practically never mail, as there is no good way to attach the mail to the brigandine. http://www.eskimo.com/~cwn/photos/brig_craig1_1.jpg

*Breastplate: The central component in Full Plate armor worn independently, usually over a padded jack and with little leg protection at all. This armor has the benefit of protecting the vitals well while scarcely hindering movement or weighing down the wearer at all. Was very rarely worn until the very late Middle Ages, and this fashion was truly popularized by the Spanish. http://redfizz.com/rf/usrimg12345%5C8330.jpg

*Lamellar: Dozens of small plates laced directly together with no backing, this armor has the advantage of being easy to make and repair, but tends to be heavy for its coverage and makes it impossible to bend forward at the waist, limiting movement and reaction speed. Relatively rare in Western Europe, this is more of a Russian/Central Asian/East Asian-themed armor. This included most forms of Japanese armor. Most lamellar wearers were horsemen, and for good reason. http://meltingpot.fortunecity.com/lithuania/414/arm/carmor_1.jpg

*Mail Hauberk w/Leggings: A full-body armor including long-sleeve mail arms (and often mittens) and full mail "pants" with foot covers. Very heavy and hot, largely due to the padded garment necessary to wear beneath the armor. In addition, the mail tends to bunch up at the joints, badly limiting movement. http://z.about.com/d/atheism/1/0/q/I/GermanCrusader-l.jpg

*Plate & Mail: A mail hauberk with plate reinforcements attached over top of the mail. Lighter and more protective than a Mail Hauberk w/Leggings, this was a transition to the clearly superior Full Plate. This can come in one of two styles, Eastern (with several smaller plates attached to the mail via rings) or Western (larger plates strapped over the mail hauberk). Some late-period Japanese armor falls under this category as well, though they used a 6-in-1 mail weave rather than the commonly known 4-in-1.
Easternhttp://webprojects.prm.ox.ac.uk/arms-and-armour/600/1940.8.2.jpg
Western http://www.silvermane.com/acatalog/CI-AB0072.jpg

*Splint Plate: Another type of transitional armor, this seems to have been exceedingly rare (rare enough that "splint plate" isn't the proper term, since there isn't a proper term at all). Essentially, it takes the plate bits from Western Plate & Mail and trades the mail for brigandine arm and leg protection. Easier and lighter to move in than Plate & Mail, it is slightly less protective, mainly due to the gaps left on the insides of joints that would otherwise be mail-covered. http://static.fastcommerce.com/content/ff80808117344aab011752895ad45036/IMG_7423.JPG

*Full Plate: The culmination of the armorer's art, full plate is made almost entirely of linked plates of metal laced to a tight-fitting arming doublet underneath. Very little mail is used at all - only under the armpits and in a small skirt around the groin. This armor is surprisingly light, and, as long as it is fitted to the wearer, quite easy to move in (if not fitted to the wearer, add an additional -2 ACP). It mainly came in two styles, the minimalistic Milanese style, and the decorative Gothic style. Both offer effectively identical protection.
Milanese http://www.glasgowmuseums.com/assets/slideShows/E.1939.65.e_01.jpg
Gothic http://www.talismancoins.com/catalog/Suit_of_Gothic_Plate_Armor.jpg

Matthew
2009-12-09, 01:53 PM
...only the Greek Aspis was a formidable metal shield anything like the type you see in DnD, and that was designed for a very specific type of formation fighting.

As I understand it, the Greek Aspis was not an entirely metal shield, but constructed of wood and faced with bronze: Matthew Amt's Greek Hoplon Construction Page (http://www.larp.com/hoplite/hoplon.html) and Chris B's Aspis (http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=22725).

In the near east, though, round metal cavalry shields lined with leather seem to have been possibly quite common in the medieval period. The history of the western metal buckler has always been somewhat elusive to me, but they are geerally thought to have been in use from at least the thirteenth century, though I am unclear if they were typically entirely metal.

Swordguy
2009-12-09, 01:57 PM
In the near east, though, round metal cavalry shields lined with leather seem to have been possibly quite common in the medieval period. The history of the western metal buckler has always been somewhat elusive to me, but they are geerally thought to have been in use from at least the thirteenth century, though I am unclear if they were typically entirely metal.

The MS I.33 ones sure look fully metal to me. The side-on drawing show them with a curve that would be exceedingly annoying to reproduce in wood. Plates 1 & 2 are pretty blatant in this regard.

Maybe wooden handles, but I don't think that counts.

Matthew
2009-12-09, 02:05 PM
The MS I.33 ones sure look fully metal to me. The side-on drawing show them with a curve that would be exceedingly annoying to reproduce in wood. Plates 1 & 2 are pretty blatant in this regard.

Maybe wooden handles, but I don't think that counts.

It has been a while since I studied Ancient Greek history, but I would be reluctant to doubt Matthew Amt's expertise on the subject. The guys at RomanArmyTalk really know their stuff, but it is certainly possible they are wrong. That said, an all bronze aspis sounds to me as though it would either be impossibly heavy or uselessly thin.

[edit] Oh, right, the bucklers. Duh. My head is elsewhere this evening... yeah, they look metal, but then appearances, deception, and all that. :smallbiggrin:

fusilier
2009-12-09, 05:12 PM
The padded armor the Conquistadors used was not, at least originally, of Native American origin. They showed up in the region wearing that type of armor, it was common in Western Europe dating back to at least the 11th Century, we can see it in Byzantine art back to the 4th or 5th Century AD, and the ancient Greeks used linen armor of a slightly different type called a linothorax.

Yes, I didn't mean to imply that they had no padded armor themselves when they arrived. The Spanish did, however, adopt essentially indigenous padded cotton armor once they were established in Mexico, probably for simple reasons of logistics, and there already being a production base.

fusilier
2009-12-09, 06:51 PM
So, I don't know much about leather armor or modern tests of it, but I would like to put forward some thoughts I had, some things I've heard and maybe get some feed-back.

While this is a bit later, the Soldados de Cuera were mounted troops on the frontiers of New Spain that wore long heavy leather coats. These were flexible but made out of as many as seven layers of leather. They were generally considered arrow-proof, although I've also heard that they (or perhaps similar leather armor) might not stop an arrow completely, but would take enough energy out of it that the arrow would only penetrate maybe an inch into the flesh. I've also seen padded and quilted leather armor dating from earlier periods -- and I've worn replica of it.

The Comanches would make leather shields out of many layers of leather, stuffed with all sorts of things (settlers were often amazed that Comanches wanted to trade for books, and paper), and were reported to be very strong and even able to stop a spent musket ball. I don't believe "spent" is a technical term, but I think it usually refers to a musket ball that was fired at long range, or has ricocheted and therefore "spent" some of it's energy.

Hardening leather, I imagine would help prevent a sword from gaining purchase and make it more likely to deflect the blow. Not all sword strikes will be perpendicular to the surface, and I would think that a hard surface would be more likely to turn the blow than a soft one that is easily cut into.

Karoht
2009-12-09, 07:15 PM
So, I don't know much about leather armor or modern tests of it, but I would like to put forward some thoughts I had, some things I've heard and maybe get some feed-back. Search youtube, you'll find all kinds of weapon tests of medieval weapon x VS medieval armor y.



Hardening leather, I imagine would help prevent a sword from gaining purchase and make it more likely to deflect the blow. Not all sword strikes will be perpendicular to the surface, and I would think that a hard surface would be more likely to turn the blow than a soft one that is easily cut into.As someone who has crafted and worn this form of armor, hardening the leather (either by water boil or wax boil) works pretty much as you describe. Some cultures would further augment this effect by coating their leather armor in grease before combat. I can't say if greasing the armor really made any major differences as I never greased my armor, but someone obviously did to try it and even wear it into battle.
Also, don't forget that the semi-supple nature of leather can interfere with the cutting surface of the blade, as the armor bends and flexes away from the blow. Leather also has a nasty habit of catching a blade too, in my experience.

Leather + chain is a lightweight combo, covers you remarkably well, and it's cheap.

Galloglaich
2009-12-09, 08:51 PM
As I understand it, the Greek Aspis was not an entirely metal shield, but constructed of wood and faced with bronze: Matthew Amt's Greek Hoplon Construction Page (http://www.larp.com/hoplite/hoplon.html) and Chris B's Aspis (http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=22725).

In the near east, though, round metal cavalry shields lined with leather seem to have been possibly quite common in the medieval period. The history of the western metal buckler has always been somewhat elusive to me, but they are geerally thought to have been in use from at least the thirteenth century, though I am unclear if they were typically entirely metal.

I wouldn't tend to disagree much with Matthew Amt either, I've corresponded with him before he really knows his stuff. Yes the Aspis was of composite construction, a bronze face and rim over a wooden body. It was still probably the heaviest shield in use anywhere in the world for nearly 1500 years.

The I.33 bucklers (not 'shields' per say, though there is overlap) have been interpreted as either all iron like this (http://www.windrosearmoury.com/zc/images/sword_images/I33-18HV.jpg) or iron / wood composite construction, essentially a large iron boss with a wooden or leather rim like this (http://revival.us/ProductImages/armour/buckler-front-web.gif).

I suspect all-iron but like I said, those are bucklers. Shields got smaller and harder. You do also see some larger iron shields particularly the various types of rotella in the Renaissance.

G.

Galloglaich
2009-12-09, 08:53 PM
Yes, I didn't mean to imply that they had no padded armor themselves when they arrived. The Spanish did, however, adopt essentially indigenous padded cotton armor once they were established in Mexico, probably for simple reasons of logistics, and there already being a production base.

I think they did adopt the local fabrics, and that is a good point.

G

Galloglaich
2009-12-09, 08:58 PM
armor stuff

I'd say that looks pretty good. You left out the various iron / textile composite armors like Brigandine, coat of plates, jack of plates etc., and also the various mail / plate / lamellar rcomposite armors such as were worn from Eastern Europe to Central Asia and the Middle East. Russian Baktherets, Byzantine Klibanion etc. There are also a few more types of plate armor, you have your various munitions grade partial armors (half harness, three quarters harness) as well as fancier field armors for cavalry or ground combat.

And this is (forbidden?) rules talk here but I think you get into trouble if you don't differentiate armor coverage from armor DR. That's what I did in my book anyway.

G.

fusilier
2009-12-09, 11:40 PM
And this is (forbidden?) rules talk here but I think you get into trouble if you don't differentiate armor coverage from armor DR. That's what I did in my book anyway.

G.

I'm not terribly sure what you mean, but GURPS has armor that only protects specific areas. 3rd edition also gave armor PD and DR (Passive Defense and Damage Reduction). Passive Defense gave a little bonus to an active defense, and I always interpreted it as representing the ability of the armor to deflect/turn blows. Some people didn't like it though, and felt that those qualities should be rolled into the DR. Like any abstract system it isn't perfect but I feel it provides a little more fidelity. I guess this may be out of the scope of this forum topic?

Anyway,
Meso-american cotton armor, looks very similar to European quilted armor. I'm not sure exactly how similar it was (there are surviving examples), but I believe the Spanish simply adopted it, as there were plenty of people around who knew how to make it. Of course, it didn't totally displace European armor, but when getting resupplied from Europe might take years local alternatives would have to be used.

Fhaolan
2009-12-10, 01:44 AM
While this is a bit later, the Soldados de Cuera were mounted troops on the frontiers of New Spain that wore long heavy leather coats. These were flexible but made out of as many as seven layers of leather. They were generally considered arrow-proof, although I've also heard that they (or perhaps similar leather armor) might not stop an arrow completely, but would take enough energy out of it that the arrow would only penetrate maybe an inch into the flesh. I've also seen padded and quilted leather armor dating from earlier periods -- and I've worn replica of it.

The Comanches would make leather shields out of many layers of leather, stuffed with all sorts of things (settlers were often amazed that Comanches wanted to trade for books, and paper), and were reported to be very strong and even able to stop a spent musket ball. I don't believe "spent" is a technical term, but I think it usually refers to a musket ball that was fired at long range, or has ricocheted and therefore "spent" some of it's energy.


Part of the problem here is that D&D doesn't deal very well with 'degrees', so people get caught up in it's rather rigid terminology. Padded and quilted armour varies from the buff coat or jack all the way up to the multi-layered leather you describe above. If I was forced to use D&D stats for this stuff, I would probably stick the multi-layered leather into the 'Hide' category. But then, I would probably want to rejigger the armour rules anyway into something more like what Swordguy posted.



Hardening leather, I imagine would help prevent a sword from gaining purchase and make it more likely to deflect the blow. Not all sword strikes will be perpendicular to the surface, and I would think that a hard surface would be more likely to turn the blow than a soft one that is easily cut into.

I've boiled leather in water, and soaked it in hot oil (not boiling, because you end up with a shrivelled mess if you do), as well as saturating leather with different types of wax. It has a drawback. It can deteriorate in the right conditions.

Wax-treated leather softens in the heat (speed of which depends on the wax used). So in the middle of the summer I've actually seen beeswax-hardened armour... melt. It's actually kind of amusing.

Boiled leather (both water and hot oil versions), hold up a lot better to straight heat, but the salts in sweat and blood can cause it to get brittle. Unhardened leather is *very* prone to this as well, which is why glove manufactures make good deal of money off of reenactors. :smallsmile:

Oh, and on a similar note, when you're oiling your armour, don't use WD40. WD40 is sold along side of oil, but it's not precisely an oil. Part of the point of WD40 is that it encapsulates water to remove it from metal surfaces. It does the same thing to leather, causing it to go dry and brittle even faster than what simple sweat and blood does. I've spent far too much time replacing straps on other people's armour at shows because they weren't aware of that.

fusilier
2009-12-10, 04:11 AM
Oh, and on a similar note, when you're oiling your armour, don't use WD40. WD40 is sold along side of oil, but it's not precisely an oil. Part of the point of WD40 is that it encapsulates water to remove it from metal surfaces. It does the same thing to leather, causing it to go dry and brittle even faster than what simple sweat and blood does. I've spent far too much time replacing straps on other people's armour at shows because they weren't aware of that.

Hahahaha. WD-40 ends up getting used a lot more than it should. That reminds me I need to oil my boots after the last reenactment and apply some more shoe polish (they're still too light in color). I guess leather is so rarely used by people these days that many just don't know how to care for it.

Matthew
2009-12-10, 07:30 AM
I wouldn't tend to disagree much with Matthew Amt either, I've corresponded with him before he really knows his stuff. Yes the Aspis was of composite construction, a bronze face and rim over a wooden body. It was still probably the heaviest shield in use anywhere in the world for nearly 1500 years.

Maybe, but I am starting to lose track of what you are referring specifically to here with regards to "D&D shields". As I recall there are three types - "small", "large" (later renamed "light" and "heavy" for 3.5) and "tower". The large and small versions can be made primarily of wood or primarily (perhaps entirely) of metal. We can pretty safely say that the large metal 15 lb. D&D shield is unlikely to have a historical analogue (though Beowulf famously uses one to fight the dragon, so within the realms of conventional fantasy), and the tower shield, which is described as being nearly as tall as the character and 45 lbs, appears to be some sort of overly heavy pavise like object.

However, it seems to me that 10 lbs is a fairly reasonable estimate for a large wooden viking shield, Roman scutum or Greek aspis, though the latter two could certainly be much heavier (and in some periods conventionally much heavier). When D&D is talking about "steel shields", though, I am pretty sure it is not talking about metal faced wooden shields, so I think that pretty much leaves us with the wooden versions, with small metal shields being possibly admissable, such as the dhal, which could apparently get as large as three feet or so in diameter (possibly display pieces, though).

With an abstracted game like D&D I would have to say I am pretty comfortable with the large/small 10 lbs/5 lbs split.



The I.33 bucklers (not 'shields' per say, though there is overlap) have been interpreted as either all iron like this (http://www.windrosearmoury.com/zc/images/sword_images/I33-18HV.jpg) or iron / wood composite construction, essentially a large iron boss with a wooden or leather rim like this (http://revival.us/ProductImages/armour/buckler-front-web.gif).

I suspect all-iron but like I said, those are bucklers. Shields got smaller and harder. You do also see some larger iron shields particularly the various types of rotella in the Renaissance.

Well, let us be wary of weapon and armour nomenclature; I am reluctant to draw a hard line between "buckler" and "shield", and uncertain what definition you are subscribing to here. In general, I would be inclined to say that most small shields/bucklers were primarily of wooden construction, but some would have been all metal.

Galloglaich
2009-12-11, 07:38 AM
I'm not terribly sure what you mean, but GURPS has armor that only protects specific areas. 3rd edition also gave armor PD and DR (Passive Defense and Damage Reduction). Passive Defense gave a little bonus to an active defense, and I always interpreted it as representing the ability of the armor to deflect/turn blows. Some people didn't like it though, and felt that those qualities should be rolled into the DR. Like any abstract system it isn't perfect but I feel it provides a little more fidelity. I guess this may be out of the scope of this forum topic?

Yes it is off topic to this threads rules from what I gather. So I'll leave off discussion of rules in my system. Lets suffice it to say, I think you can cope with armor one of two ways, you can go through the armor (brute force) or you can go around the armor (precision). So for example, in the case of a steel cuirass, better normally to go around it, it will be very hard to pierce, in the case of a leather coat or a light Gambeson, better to punch through it (preferably with a thrust) since it covers a lot of area but isn't too hard to pierce.



Anyway,
Meso-american cotton armor, looks very similar to European quilted armor. I'm not sure exactly how similar it was (there are surviving examples), but I believe the Spanish simply adopted it, as there were plenty of people around who knew how to make it. Of course, it didn't totally displace European armor, but when getting resupplied from Europe might take years local alternatives would have to be used.

Indeed.

G.

Galloglaich
2009-12-11, 07:46 AM
Maybe, but I am starting to lose track of what you are referring specifically to here with regards to "D&D shields".

I'm referring mostly to RPG art like this:

http://www.wow-europe.com/shared/wow-com/images/info/story/concept/paladin.jpg

..where the shields (and the armor) usually seem to be about an inch thick.



Well, let us be wary of weapon and armour nomenclature; I am reluctant to draw a hard line between "buckler" and "shield", and uncertain what definition you are subscribing to here.

I'm basing my terminology on the Historical European Martial Arts world, which is admittedly as arbitrary as any other but based on historical sources. Certainly there is always overlap, but to me if you have ever fenced with a shield vs. a buckler you know the difference.


In general, I would be inclined to say that most small shields/bucklers were primarily of wooden construction, but some would have been all metal.

I'd say it would be more accurate that most shields Historically were made of leather, wicker or hide, with a light wooden frame. Some shields such as the Roman Scutum and the Germanic roundshield were made of light wood with a metal boss, and a few (mainly the Greek Aspis) were composites of metal and fairly heavy wood.

Some small shields and bucklers from the Medieval period on out were made of iron. A few were made of steel. The Turks actually had some bullet-proof steel shields.

G.

Matthew
2009-12-11, 09:16 AM
I'm referring mostly to RPG art like this:

..where the shields (and the armor) usually seem to be about an inch thick.

I see, that is a bit different, I think. When I think "D&D shield" I just think of the statistics in a long line of editions, though I suppose a case might be made for the odd shaped shield that featured in the initial 3.0 art:

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/images/tordek_color.jpg

http://dreamworlds.ru/uploads/posts/2008-09/1221846115_regdar.jpg



I'm basing my terminology on the Historical European Martial Arts world, which is admittedly as arbitrary as any other but based on historical sources. Certainly there is always overlap, but to me if you have ever fenced with a shield vs. a buckler you know the difference.

I suspect that varies by organisation; could you describe your definition for sake of clarity?



I'd say it would be more accurate that most shields Historically were made of leather, wicker or hide, with a light wooden frame. Some shields such as the Roman Scutum and the Germanic roundshield were made of light wood with a metal boss, and a few (mainly the Greek Aspis) were composites of metal and fairly heavy wood.

Some small shields and bucklers from the Medieval period on out were made of iron. A few were made of steel.

Frame built shields are an interesting subject, no idea how pervasive they really were, though. I would not expect to see much of them in the Medieval West, but I understand they were relatively common amongst light armed troops in the Near East, Africa and Ancient Europe.



The Turks actually had some bullet-proof steel shields.

I can believe that; sounds like a possibility for the D&D large steel shield, though I suspect such an item would be heavier than 15 lbs...

Lupy
2009-12-12, 09:07 PM
Can I ask a sword question of those of you who own them?

I'm in the market for a sub $300 Norman styled sword (30ish inch blade, wider guard than a Viking spatha). I really like the Valiant Armoury model, but I'd like to know if it's a good brand.

This is the sword. (http://www.valiantarmourystore.com/catalog/txt_54-080.html)

Galloglaich
2009-12-13, 02:21 AM
I don't know that particular sword but you can't beat these guys for info on lower cost sword replicas, they do brutal evaluations, cutting 2 x 4s and trash cans etc.

http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/

I found where they rated some of the valiant armories ones here:

http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/medieval-swords.html#valiant-medieval

Hope that helps,

G.

Swordguy
2009-12-13, 08:51 AM
Can I ask a sword question of those of you who own them?

I'm in the market for a sub $300 Norman styled sword (30ish inch blade, wider guard than a Viking spatha). I really like the Valiant Armoury model, but I'd like to know if it's a good brand.

This is the sword. (http://www.valiantarmourystore.com/catalog/txt_54-080.html)


No experience personally with that line...but I'm going to have some soon. They're partnered up with Gus Trim (of Angus Trim swords - some of the best), and I can't imagine him allowing sub-par weapons to be produced with his name attached.

Additionally, those are effectively rave reviews from SBG (thanks, Galloglaich!) on the weapons they DID review. With the understanding that any hand-forged weapons are going to have variances, I'd say go for it. That's a nifty little arming sword and a good start or addition to a collection.

Lupy
2009-12-13, 05:46 PM
Thank you much. I'll check out the review site before I make any purchases.

Karoht
2009-12-14, 05:12 PM
Can I ask a sword question of those of you who own them?

I'm in the market for a sub $300 Norman styled sword (30ish inch blade, wider guard than a Viking spatha). I really like the Valiant Armoury model, but I'd like to know if it's a good brand.

This is the sword. (http://www.valiantarmourystore.com/catalog/txt_54-080.html)

The Paul Chen Practical Norman is dirt cheap (less than $200), and while I will remind you that you get what you pay for, I will tell you that anything Paul Chen is tough and will last. I STILL use my Gen 1 Paul Chen Practical Knightly, from 5 years ago. And for the first 3 years, I didn't exactly take good care of it. ...and I blocked edge on edge most of the time. It's still in one piece, in no danger of breaking any time soon. My Paul Chen Practical Norman which I bought about 2 years ago, is still in great condition. I'm a fan of the weighting on it, though I'm going to shorten mine for a more authentic length. However, the Paul Chen stuff seems to be getting thinner and thinner blades lately. Still, great weapon.
www.darkagecreations.com
check it out there, or on the Cas-Iberia page.

Oh, and seconded on the Angus Trim stuff. They make amazing gear.

Fhaolan
2009-12-14, 06:13 PM
Can I ask a sword question of those of you who own them?

I'm in the market for a sub $300 Norman styled sword (30ish inch blade, wider guard than a Viking spatha). I really like the Valiant Armoury model, but I'd like to know if it's a good brand.

This is the sword. (http://www.valiantarmourystore.com/catalog/txt_54-080.html)

I don't know the specific sword, but I do have a little experience with some older Valiant swords. It really depends on what you are intending to do with it.

If you're wanting a beater for going out and doing live steel stage combat, it's pretty good but may not be quite robust enough depending on the particular group you're in. Some groups are considerably rougher on the equipment than others in order to match audience expectations and those groups really do need the 'crowbar' swords that get mocked in some circles.

If you're wanting a low cost sword that is somewhat historically accurate for HACA/ARMA sparring, you could do worse. Swords in this price range tend to feel tip-heavy and a tad unwieldy when compared to high-end blades because they usually do not have a good distal taper. On average, historical swords get thinner all the way along the blade as you approach the tip. These inexpensive reproductions usually don't. The old Valiants I've seen didn't have much distal taper at all, but they may have improved them since that point.

Galloglaich
2009-12-15, 01:18 AM
if you are doing HEMA (Haca is defunct and ARMA is just one of literally over 500 HEMA organizations worldwide now) I'd recommend the Paul chen practical hand-and-a-half sword for drill (only), this is the one a lot of people use you can't beat it for $100, it's made extra bendy with multiple fullers, thin but with a rounded point and rebated edges. It's a good sturdy drilling sword for partner drills.

http://kultofathena.com/product~item~PC2106.htm

for real sparring the high end is the Albion Maestro line ... I have sparred with them they are fantastic but they cost $500,

http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/albion/maestro/sword-practice-meyer.htm

... the low cost alternative is there is a new nylon sword which is going to be coming out early next year for $65. Made in the UK and distributed by MRL. Here is a sneak peak.

http://img24.imageshack.us/img24/3647/waster1.jpghttp://img706.imageshack.us/img706/3475/waster2.jpg

http://img684.imageshack.us/img684/9561/waster3.jpg

Hanwei is also supposed to be coming out with a new generation of their federswords but they are already a month overdue.

For sharps to test-cut wtih, if you want something somewhat realistic I think your best bet are one of the newer designs from MRL / Windlass. I have their 15th Century Longsword is one of the few sub-$200 range swords that I bought that I've ever kept. You can find plenty of good deals though on that Sword Buyers Guide website, they say good things about Gen II these days as well though I've never handled one.


I'm real glad to see so many people around here hip to the reality of swords, medieval combat, historical fencing etc., there seems to be a paradigm shift going on among gamers. This is a good sign methinks. It's good for me, no doubt about that.

G.

Swordguy
2009-12-15, 09:07 AM
I'm real glad to see so many people around here hip to the reality of swords, medieval combat, historical fencing etc., there seems to be a paradigm shift going on among gamers. This is a good sign methinks. It's good for me, no doubt about that.

G.


Er...I hate to say it, but I think the paradigm shift to which you refer is overrated. This is a reference thread where people curious about RW Weapons/Armor come to get answers from people who have high levels of knowledge about such things - there's perhaps 2 dozen regular posters in here who consistently demonstrate what I'd consider an "expert" level of knowledge (welcome to the club!). That's out of several thousand playgrounders.

Don't get me wrong - it's nice to know that people are concerned at all about the way stuff worked(s), but if you venture into any of the gaming-related threads in here or homebrew, you'll tend to find a vast contempt for how stuff really works. People don't seem to want - as a rule - reality represented in their games, just the Rule of Cool. Heck, check out this post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7468467#post7468467); in a homebrew thread devoted explicitly to wanting more "accurate" armor, somebody still drops in to say that it's pointless since people can do magic anyway. :smallyuk:

I used to get upset about stuff like that. I told people so. Then I got a bunch of warnings and infractions, and so now I just sit back out of gaming-related discussions and dispense factual information when a topic interests me.

Mike_G
2009-12-15, 04:02 PM
I used to get upset about stuff like that. I told people so. Then I got a bunch of warnings and infractions, and so now I just sit back out of gaming-related discussions and dispense factual information when a topic interests me.

What were you thinking, messing up perfectly good internet theory with your real world knowledge?

Swordguy
2009-12-15, 04:50 PM
What were you thinking, messing up perfectly good internet theory with your real world knowledge?

Curse my idealism. I can't believe I thought people would be willing to accept they were wrong and be willing to learn new things when confronted with facts. How silly I was... :smalltongue:

Karoht
2009-12-15, 05:34 PM
I used to be a huge fan of Windlass and MRL, and it was a great company until Hank Reinhardt passed away. I had the privilage of receiving training from that man, he was awesome. I was not impressed by John Clemmens(however you spell his name) comments after he passed on.

They used to be great, now I'm somewhat leary of MRL goods until I see and handle them myself.

As such, I'm in the market for either a scimitar, a shamshir, or cutlass. I've seen and handled just about all the MRL lines for any of the above, I'm not super impressed, but perhaps I received poor representations.

Any suggestions on where one could find any of the above?

My issues with the scimitars I find, is that the weight seems high. shipping weight being 3-4 pounds, not what I'm expecting from such a weapon, unless I'm missing something about scimitars. I have yet to find a shamshir or anything close, and MRL/Windlass cutlasses... lets just say I saw one fellow go through three of them. In one performance. For reals. First one broke the hilt off, second one got a nasty chip almost half an inch deep in the first swing, the third one the blade broke in two places. This against the lightest and gentlest fighter I know, armed with a wood and leather shield and a paul chen practical knightly (Mark 2). The knightly had no damage to speak of.

Thoughts?

Galloglaich
2009-12-15, 11:31 PM
I used to be a huge fan of Windlass and MRL, and it was a great company until Hank Reinhardt passed away. I had the privilage of receiving training from that man, he was awesome. I was not impressed by John Clemmens(however you spell his name) comments after he passed on.

Agreed, it's hardly the first time Clements has made an ass of himself, I've seen him do it in person. Be glad you had the honor of meeting Hank, I wish I had met him instead of the little snaggletooth ;) Hank was a 1st class guy.



They used to be great, now I'm somewhat leary of MRL goods until I see and handle them myself.

MRL has some crap in their inventory, but their newer weapons have been much better. It's probably something on a case by case basis but I'm not alone in noticing this, I've seen a lot of comments and informal reviews of some of their newer offerings on Myarmoury, which is a much stricter review site than SBG. You can see their reviews here:

http://www.myarmoury.com/reviews.html



As such, I'm in the market for either a scimitar, a shamshir, or cutlass. I've seen and handled just about all the MRL lines for any of the above, I'm not super impressed, but perhaps I received poor representations.
Any suggestions on where one could find any of the above?

I don't know sabers of any kind very well, I know Cold Steel makes a Shamshir but I haven't been very impressed with their stuff (their grossmesser was utter crap, for example). But I posted a query on Schola Gladiatoria forum where I know many people are into those kinds of blades, I think Matt Easton has a collection of something like 20 antiques.

Somebody should chime in here in a day or two:

http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=14257

You can also try Kult of Athena, if you see any nice sabers there you can look 'em up on Sword Buyers Guide, probably steer you in the right direction.

Or you can try Ebay, you never know what you will find... antiques usually run around $1500 but sometimes you can find bargains especially on contemporary weapons... always a bit of a roll of the dice but so are replicas.... and with antiques the luck can go both ways. I know a guy who recently bought a Schiavona for $2000 on Ebay which turned out to be from the early 17th Century and worth about $30,000.

Here is a Tulwar for $400 which looks like it could be real, seller has 100% feedback

http://cgi.ebay.com/Indian-Tulwar-Shamshir-sword-dagger-knife-no-khanda_W0QQitemZ180443686193QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_ DefaultDomain_0?hash=item2a03482531

Here is another

http://cgi.ebay.com/Antique-Indo-Persian-Tulwar-Sabre-18th-Century-wootz_W0QQitemZ180434653075QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_D efaultDomain_0?hash=item2a02be4f93

Here is one for $300, looks like it's real though not antique.

http://cgi.ebay.com/37-old-rusted-tulwar-sword-mughal-collectible_W0QQitemZ380188187058QQcmdZViewItemQQp tZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item5884fb59b2


My issues with the scimitars I find, is that the weight seems high. shipping weight being 3-4 pounds, not what I'm expecting from such a weapon, unless I'm missing something about scimitars.

If that is the weight of the actual blade, yeah I agree that is way too much, I would guess more around the ballpark of 2-3 pounds, and it should be balanced well so that it doesn't feel heavy in your hand.

G.

EDIT: I followed one of the Ebay links to an auction site, this Tulwar is $175

http://www.swordsantiqueweapons.com/s094_full.html

Fhaolan
2009-12-16, 12:35 AM
As such, I'm in the market for either a scimitar, a shamshir, or cutlass. I've seen and handled just about all the MRL lines for any of the above, I'm not super impressed, but perhaps I received poor representations.

Any suggestions on where one could find any of the above?


I always feel safe recommending Therion Arms for getting weapons: http://therionarms.com/reenact/sharp_swords_western.shtml

There's a few of those kinds of blades on that page, and a few more spread all over the site. Make sure you check out the Ethnographic pages as well, as he gets ahold of some interesting pieces on occasion.

I recommend Therion Arms because the fellow runnning the place (Hal Siegel), is always willing to chat about the weapon before selling it to you to make sure it will suit your purpose. If you're wanting a beater for example, he won't talk up a delicate wallhanger. I've bought a few items off of him and haven't been disappointed yet.

Shademan
2009-12-16, 05:55 PM
well not a arms and armour question per se...
but how would a second crusade arab merchant be dressed?

fusilier
2009-12-17, 04:49 PM
well not a arms and armour question per se...
but how would a second crusade arab merchant be dressed?

This might help, but unfortunately it skips the period in question:
http://www.siue.edu/COSTUMES/history.html

It's a historical costume manifest from the late 1800s(I think). It does have arab costume, but from the 4th - 6th century, and then ethnic dress from the late 19th century.

The other option would be to look for images of specific known merchants, or explorers. Unfortunately I only know of Ibn Battuta, although he was a Moroccan he may have worn Arab dress (I honestly don't know).

Wish I could be of more help.

Good luck!

Haruspex_Pariah
2009-12-19, 01:06 PM
Is it possible to design a gun that can be disguised as a broom?
It'd fire a small bullet, since broom shafts aren't so thick. The barrel would be wood, so people don't get suspicious.
It wouldn't have to last long, a one-shot weapon disposed after firing.
Triggering mechanism in the broom handle. Assassin janitor or something.

Mike_G
2009-12-19, 01:23 PM
Is it possible to design a gun that can be disguised as a broom?
It'd fire a small bullet, since broom shafts aren't so thick. The barrel would be wood, so people don't get suspicious.
It wouldn't have to last long, a one-shot weapon disposed after firing.
Triggering mechanism in the broom handle. Assassin janitor or something.


A steel barrel inside the wooden handle would work. I don't know hwo well a hollow wooden rifle barrel would hold up to the pressure of the round going off.

Other than that, sure, all you really need for a simple, one shot gun is a firing pin, trigger, and barrel.

Haruspex_Pariah
2009-12-19, 01:35 PM
A steel barrel inside the wooden handle would work. I don't know hwo well a hollow wooden rifle barrel would hold up to the pressure of the round going off.

Other than that, sure, all you really need for a simple, one shot gun is a firing pin, trigger, and barrel.

Roughly how far would a broom-sized gun be able to shoot? Could you fit a rifle cartridge in there? I'm not so familiar with bullet sizes and effective ranges.

Norsesmithy
2009-12-19, 01:59 PM
You could easily be able to fit a broom handle with a cartridge/barrel combination that would have th ballistic potential to be dangerous out past a thousand meters, but it'd be awful hard for an assassin to be very consistently able to score hits, with any single shot weapon lacking a sight, past about 25 meters.

Haruspex_Pariah
2009-12-19, 02:23 PM
You could easily be able to fit a broom handle with a cartridge/barrel combination that would have th ballistic potential to be dangerous out past a thousand meters, but it'd be awful hard for an assassin to be very consistently able to score hits, with any single shot weapon lacking a sight, past about 25 meters.

If it was reloadable, it would be more accurate? :smallconfused:

Mike_G
2009-12-19, 02:32 PM
Roughly how far would a broom-sized gun be able to shoot? Could you fit a rifle cartridge in there? I'm not so familiar with bullet sizes and effective ranges.

Quick Ammo for Dummies post.

If you look up bullet calibres, the number is the diameter of the bullet, in inches if it's "caliber" like a .22 caliber is .22 inches in diameter, or in millimeters, if it's expressed as such (9mm bullets are 9mm in diameter).

The length varies between types of rounds, and not all rounds tell you this. Some do, as in 7.62x39, which is 7.62 mm in diameter and 39 mm in length. Longer rounds have more propellant, and thus throw a projectile faster and further, but have more recoil. The general rule is that pistol rounds are shirt, and have a low velocity and short range, rilfe rounds are long, have high velocity and great range, and many assault rifles use an "intermediate round" like the AK-47's 7.62 x 39, which has less range than a true rifle, but less recoil, so it's better for automatic fire at close range.

Barrel length also effects range and accuracy, longer is better for both, but shorter is easier to manipulate in close quarters.

The idea of a gun disguised as a broom wouldn't need a very long range, since the point of disguise is to get close. You can usually get within a thousand yards of a person without much trouble, and could use a plain old sniper rifle. As a janitor, you should be able to get in the same room as the target.


If it was reloadable, it would be more accurate? :smallconfused:

No.

But you'd have the option for a second try if you missed.

The accuracy issue with the broom is the lack of shoulder stock and sight. It's hard to be consistent without a good stock, and hard to aim without a sight. I don't see how you could disguise these features on a broom.

But, if you are sweeping the hallway as the Generalissimo walks past, it' no great challenge to point the broom at him and nail him in the back of the head at a range of five yards after he passes. You're not gonna score any hits form the Dallas Book Depository window with the thing.

Fhaolan
2009-12-19, 03:33 PM
http://www.dself.dsl.pipex.com/MUSEUM/COMMS/cutlery/cutlery.htm

http://www.littlegun.be/curios%20et%20antiquites/a%20cravache%20pistolet%20gb.htm

http://www.littlegun.be/curios%20et%20antiquites/a%20pistolet%20fouet%20gb.htm

Never underestimate what some crazy person is willing to stick a gun into.

fusilier
2009-12-19, 06:46 PM
You could easily be able to fit a broom handle with a cartridge/barrel combination that would have th ballistic potential to be dangerous out past a thousand meters, but it'd be awful hard for an assassin to be very consistently able to score hits, with any single shot weapon lacking a sight, past about 25 meters.

Recoil would be difficult to control. Aiming wouldn't be too hard, if the barrel is long. Many muskets lacked rear sights, and early ones often lacked front sights, you simply sight down the length of the barrel - or broomstick in this case. But without a proper grip or anything to hold the gun in a such way that you could sight down the barrel and control the recoil, it's probably best to use it point-blank. I really can't imagine why you would want to disguise a weapon, and then try to use it at long range.

fusilier
2009-12-19, 07:08 PM
Concerning ammo. Modern rifle cartridges are usually necked, and pistol cartridges have straight sides. Sometimes rifle cartridges can be tapered, like the 8mm Lebel - being larger at the base than it is at the shoulder. So the 8x50mm Lebel, might have a greater charge than the Austrian 8x50mm round. And a gun chambered for one, won't necessarily take the other. Then there's bullet shape, material composition, etc. Oh, and the US and Europe measure caliber differently, so a 6.5mm European round, would measure as a 6.8mm round in the US. Some nations also had a tendency to round a little bit, like the German Mauser: 8mm, 7.9mm, and 7.92mm are all used to describe it.

Mike_G
2009-12-19, 07:40 PM
Concerning ammo. Modern rifle cartridges are usually necked, and pistol cartridges have straight sides. Sometimes rifle cartridges can be tapered, like the 8mm Lebel - being larger at the base than it is at the shoulder. So the 8x50mm Lebel, might have a greater charge than the Austrian 8x50mm round. And a gun chambered for one, won't necessarily take the other. Then there's bullet shape, material composition, etc. Oh, and the US and Europe measure caliber differently, so a 6.5mm European round, would measure as a 6.8mm round in the US. Some nations also had a tendency to round a little bit, like the German Mauser: 8mm, 7.9mm, and 7.92mm are all used to describe it.

Pretty much why I condensed it to where I did.

Raum
2009-12-19, 09:27 PM
Is it possible to design a gun that can be disguised as a broom? It's possible, Google 'zip gun' for some ideas. However, it will be inaccurate, probably useless after a single shot, and very short range (probably not much beyond touch range). You can increase your number of shots before failure by using a steel barrel and increase accuracy by using a rifled barrel of the appropriate diameter. You can make it easier to aim by making it easier to hold and sight. But it's pretty much going to look like a gun at this point.

A rifle cartridge would likely split a wooden barrel - fairly catastrophically. It simply builds up too much pressure for the wood to hold.

Galloglaich
2009-12-20, 01:38 AM
If you could put a detachable sight on it then it would be more accurate.

erikun
2009-12-20, 02:20 AM
This may be a random question, but is there a weapon actually named a "shortbow"? Wikipedia just loops back to the general Bow article with their shortbow links.

I see a description of longbows, and the recurve bow is generally described as shorter. Are shortbows mainly recurve bows and/or early longbows, or is there a point to a simple, short bow?

Dervag
2009-12-20, 04:25 AM
In real life, some bows just aren't very big. There are good reasons for this: heavier bows can be hard to draw, and you don't always need your arrow driven hard enough to go through an oak plank. Remember that bows aren't like guns; your muscles are doing all the work of storing energy in the bow to launch the arrow. If you don't feel like doing the extra work, you should get a lighter bow.

Thing is, those bows aren't generally called "shortbows" by people who actually use them. They're just bows. I take a bow to go rabbit hunting, it's probably a lot weaker than the bow of an English longbowman or a Mongol horse archer, because I'm hunting rabbits at close range and not armed men at long range. But I don't call it my "shortbow." It's just a bow.

"Shortbow" is probably just a D&D abstraction, sort of like "longsword;" it serves to distinguish between different weapons that have different mechanical effects.

Norsesmithy
2009-12-20, 12:10 PM
Not in terms of scoring a first shot hit, but bullets are cheap, and the ability to fire more than one round at a time allows you to try again much sooner.

Fhaolan
2009-12-20, 12:24 PM
This may be a random question, but is there a weapon actually named a "shortbow"? Wikipedia just loops back to the general Bow article with their shortbow links.

I see a description of longbows, and the recurve bow is generally described as shorter. Are shortbows mainly recurve bows and/or early longbows, or is there a point to a simple, short bow?

Nah, no shortbow. The problem here is that 'longbow' doesn't usually mean in RL what D&D says it means. It's a term for a kind of bow that has a D-shaped cross section. This differentates it from the 'flatbow', which has a flat cross-section. While flatbows can be made as long as longbows, it's usually not worth it because flatbows tend to weigh more (I have to avoid the term 'heavier', because in archery that means something else) because it takes more wood to achieve the same strength as a D-shaped longbow. Because of this D-shaped bows were able to be made longer (and stronger) than flatbows and still be operable, and they became known as 'longbows'. English and Welsh longbows took that to an extreme. Both longbows and flatbows are usually 'selfbows' meaning that they're made of a single piece of wood, which differentiates them from composite bows which are made of laminating different woods, sinews, horn, bone, etc. And then bows are usually described as 'Straight', 'Reflex', 'Deflex', 'Decurve', and 'Recurve', depending on how the limbs of the bow curve when unstrung. You then get terms describing how the bow is normally used, 'seigebow' for extremely heavy bows used to get heavy arrows over tall walls, and 'horsebow' vs. 'footbow' for whether the bow is to be used on horseback, or on foot (which sometimes gets confused because the term footbow is also used for an extremely powerful seigebow where the archer lies on his back with the bow limbs against his feet, pulling with both hands as if he's the body of a large crossbow.) So it's entirely possible to have a 4' Recurve Long Self Seigebow and a 6' Straight Flat Composite Horsebow... although both would be considered very strange and working against themselves most of the time.

The writers of D&D originally saw the mess of technical terminology around bows and latched onto the term 'longbow', creating 'shortbow' to be the opposite.

In the same way that historically there isn't a 'shortsword'. There *is* a 'small sword', but that's quite different from what D&D people call a shortsword. What is called a shortsword in D&D is usually just called 'sword' in whatever the RL local language/dialect is.

fusilier
2009-12-21, 02:39 AM
I always thought the terms longbow and short bow were just relativistic terms to describe the length of the bow. With short bows generally being preferred on horseback (barring that weird Japanese longbow). I think I've seen such references in history books, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. As for swords -- historically there's no such thing as a "Flamberge Zweihander," it was called a "Flammard Doppelhander" (or something like that, I'm sure someone on this forum can correct me). A lot of sword classifications are modern and rather arbitrary. I've always considered anything like a Roman gladius to be a shortsword, but I can see how such a label could have arisen in modern times.

Out of curiosity, does "heavier" when talking about bows refer to the force required to draw the bow? Or, another way of saying it, the amount of force the bow generates when it is drawn?

Crow
2009-12-21, 02:16 PM
Somebody posted a link to a maker of quality scandinavian-style axes in one of the older Real-World-Weapon-Armor threads, and now that I am in the market, I was wondering if someone could re-post that link? I can't find it.

Thanks in advance!

Karoht
2009-12-21, 04:11 PM
In regards to the broomstick gun post.
A friend of mine found a cane that had the head of a dragon for a handle. It was ceramic, and easy to drill through, and he ended up making an improvised, short range flamethrower out of it. It had a small tank built into the walking stick portion of the cane (with a panel of wood that popped out to reinsert another cartridge of fuel), and a small button on the top of the head. Fuel was WD-40, in a cartridge about the size of a small CO2 canister.
One could easily have filled it with mace or pepper spray just as easily, and the ignition system had something to do with a bbq sparking mechanism, which could easily be removed.

Even spraying pepper spray, if the idea is to have guards posing as not-guards, pepper spray is more realistic if the campaign is modern. It would have a possibly longer range than the gun, possibly shorter, and the fumes still act as area denial if need be.

If the idea is to have assassins posing as non-assassins, the ole poison-dart-blowgun-in-the-pen trick works wonders, or the poison-injector-in-the-pen trick works equally well for a melee option, and is arguably more likely to succeed. Remember, guns are noisy, even something small would still likely garner unwanted attention, where the blowgun is just about as silent as one can get with a ranged weapon. Poisons are also easy to acquire, and are as common as household cleansers. I hear draino is particularly leathal if it makes it into your bloodstream, and none too easily traced.

Just saying.

Fhaolan
2009-12-21, 04:20 PM
I've always considered anything like a Roman gladius to be a shortsword, but I can see how such a label could have arisen in modern times.

Yup. That's actually a perfect example: Gladius/gallius is just latin for 'sword'. The Romans did have other kinds of swords, but they usually derived from swords from other cultures and they retained the names they had there. The spatha, for example, is from the Greek spathe which is... wait for it... 'sword'.


Out of curiosity, does "heavier" when talking about bows refer to the force required to draw the bow? Or, another way of saying it, the amount of force the bow generates when it is drawn?

In archery circles, 'heavier' and 'lighter' refers to the power of the bow, and it usually also refers to the draw strength of the bow. It gets a bit confusing because the various curve shapes change the ratio between the amount of strength needed to pull the bow, and the force the bow imparts to the arrow. The pulley systems of compound bows take the same principles and extrapolate them to more extreme levels. To achieve the same things with non-compound bow would involve the bow staves curling in both directions enough to pass through themselves multiple times like some kind of insane Klein bottle.

Matthew
2009-12-21, 04:30 PM
Somebody posted a link to a maker of quality scandinavian-style axes in one of the older Real-World-Weapon-Armor threads, and now that I am in the market, I was wondering if someone could re-post that link? I can't find it.

Thanks in advance!

Was it this sort of thing: Mammen Axe (http://www.myarmoury.com/review_casi_mammen.html)?



Yup. That's actually a perfect example: Gladius/gallius is just Latin for 'sword'. The Romans did have other kinds of swords, but they usually derived from swords from other cultures and they retained the names they had there. The spatha, for example, is from the Greek spathe which is... wait for it... 'sword'.

Indeed, though by a weird quirk of fate the Romans are one of the few to actually have an equivalent to "short sword" in their nomenclature with the "semi-spatha" of Vegetius' time (though exactly what it was is only guesswork). The "galdius" encompassed both the spatha and semi-spatha in his writings, from what I recall.

However, Japanese also has the distinction of dividing it's swords and bows into "short" and "long":

koyari (小槍) = short spear
ōyari (大槍) = long spear

hankyū (半弓) = half bow
kokyū/shokyū(?) (小弓) = short bow
daikyū (大弓) = long bow

tantō (短刀) = dagger (general)
shōtō (小刀) = short sword (general, includes kodachi, wakizashi, etcetera)
daitō (大刀) = long sword (general, includes tachi, katana, etcetera)

Whilst these are authentic terms, I have no idea as to how old they are or if they are modern inventions in Japanese. :smallbiggrin:

Crow
2009-12-21, 04:32 PM
Was it this sort of thing: Mammen Axe (http://www.myarmoury.com/review_casi_mammen.html)?

Nope, that wasn't it. The axes the sold didn't have inlay, and looked rather "functional" I guess would be the word. I think they made modern working axes as well.

Spamotron
2009-12-21, 05:23 PM
Speaking of Bows I had an idea for a character in a Gurps Infinite Worlds campaign. A Welsh Longbowman who ends up joining ISWAT.

If you were to make a custom modern equivalent to the longbow for someone who can do a 100lbs.-ish pull how would you go about it? At first I thought about using a modern pulley assist but I vaguely recall some talk about such a thing being fine for sport shooting but the mechanism being too finicky and unreliable to trust your life to it in a combat situation.

Also what is the upper limit for pull multiplication using modern materials?

Norsesmithy
2009-12-22, 02:26 AM
Nope, that wasn't it. The axes the sold didn't have inlay, and looked rather "functional" I guess would be the word. I think they made modern working axes as well.

http://www.gransfors.us/axes.html

Starts a 100 bucks for a hatchet, but their working and historical axes are second to none in terms of being heirloom quality tools.

Very sturdy, and half the weight of anything you'll find at a hardware store (and it isn't like they suffer in utility or splitting power for being lighter, at least when I got to use someone else's).

I've been wanting, and telling myself I don't need, one of their mid sized utility axes for canoe camping for three years now. I'll probably buy one once I've purchased a couple more guns.

Crow
2009-12-22, 03:29 AM
That was them! Thanks man!