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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Sat 19 May, 2007 12:25 am    Post subject: Old swords         Reply with quote

Typology of swords is something of a holy grale. I would like to give an example why not to be tóó preoccupied about it.

In a furusiyya manual written in 1348 a general sword description with explanation is given. One of the types is classified as 'before the age of the life of the profet'. Mohammed died in 632 and even if we take this in a broad sense we are still talking about cénturies old swords being around to be used.

Peter
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Sat 19 May, 2007 12:39 am    Post subject: The lighter side         Reply with quote

Both in motorracing and horseriding weight is just about the most important single issue.

Seen from the ríding point the mounted warrier needs to use only the lightest equipment possible. It is confusing that the termimology 'heavy cavalry' upsets this concept by association.

The more I read and try to apply this the more I am convinced that the mental picture of the archetypical heavy knight is nót representative of even that warrior outside of a 'ritualised' context.
What I mean is that in 'discussions' about arms and armoury the functional arguments have a serious ritualistic
perspective.
As far as functionality is concerned lightness and speed are the key arguments for mounted warriors.

Peter
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 19 May, 2007 7:29 am    Post subject: Re: The lighter side         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Both in motorracing and horseriding weight is just about the most important single issue.

Seen from the ríding point the mounted warrier needs to use only the lightest equipment possible. It is confusing that the termimology 'heavy cavalry' upsets this concept by association.

The more I read and try to apply this the more I am convinced that the mental picture of the archetypical heavy knight is nót representative of even that warrior outside of a 'ritualised' context.
What I mean is that in 'discussions' about arms and armoury the functional arguments have a serious ritualistic
perspective.
As far as functionality is concerned lightness and speed are the key arguments for mounted warriors.

Peter


Peter,

I'm not exactly sure how this post relates to your first one. That having been said, it really depends upon how you define "light" and "heavy". It's a semantic debate as much as anything. If you consider a full suit of mail, a heater shield, a lance and a sword to be "light", for example, there's not that much that you can classify as heavy, save perhaps for suits of full plate worn on horseback as per some of the fencing books.

I'm not sure why "lightness" would necessarily be a key factor for mounted troops. Speed is, but by nature, mounted troops can move more quickly than infantry. So I'm afraid I don't see where you're coming from on this one. Is this idea just from your own thoughts and speculations, or is it based upon some sort of period evidence, or what?
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Sat 19 May, 2007 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, the first has nothing to do with the second, I just pressed the wrong buttons... Laughing Out Loud

As for the second about lightness, that is both personal experience with horseriding as a general priciple ánd I am experiencing it about using arms from the saddle too.
Light and compact are the most easily handled and give the most room for horsemanship. It in particular 'struck' me when hobbying about with bamboo lances in comparison with heavier ash ones.
As for a source I have a VERY good quote about it in the furusiyya manual I was given a copy of. I will try to add the quote later.

There are twó angles to mounted warfare
1. the strategic need for a specific tactic
2. horsemanship itself
My remarks about lightness adress the latter and I fully understand that compromises may be needed to use cavalry to greater effect in specific situations. So although I realise that 'best' may ask for other measures I do feel however that the optimal use of the specific qualities of a mounted warrior is to be found in lightness.

The celt-iberians moving into nw-africa portray the basic 'problem' nicely. The imazighen light cavalry was a terrific problem and vitually untouchable but the heavier outfitted celt-iberians could not be stopped by them and so rode into the unfortified villages where they were no match for the inhabitants.
The imazighen warriors were by far the 'better' cavalry yet the celt-iberians won the batlle(s).

Personally I consider the imazighen-numidian cavalry to have been the ultimate horsemen and the mamluks the optimum mounted warriors.
It would have been very hard to near impossible for mamluk riders to stop heavily armed and armoured crusaders. One such a knight in the desert encountered by a single mamluk however would have been like a tortoise attacked by a leopard.

It is like riding bitless. This gives quite marked advantages, more so than disadvantages, but is does have its limits. When the limits apply, it simply is no option.
Same thing shooing the horses.
Optimal is not always best.
Thát is what I am trying to convey.

I guess the roman army evolved the best use of cavalry history has ever seen, making use of the strongs of their auxiliaries. They kept the numidian (imazighen) cavalry in their lightest form right untill the end too Wink

Peter
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 19 May, 2007 11:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Honestly, I don't think we can make such broad generalizations. They may be valid for you as an individual horseman, but different people trained for different purposes in different traditions will certainly disagree--and their arguments will be every bit as valid as yours.

Not to mention that what is best for an individual horseman might not be the best choice for the whole unit. For example, Napoleonic armies were frequently ordered to change into full parade gear just before engaging in a great battle because the morale effect of their appearance--both in improving their own confidence and undermining the enemy's--totally outweigh the inconvenience that any individual rider might feel from the greater weight and encumbrance of the parade uniform. This was proved by accounts of enemies being terrorized by the magnificent parade-gear appearance of the Napoleonic cuirassiers, with one eyewitness even going so far as to mention the Frenchmen's impeccable white gloves!

We can also look at it from another angle. If we follow your line of reasoning, then the medieval men-at-arms shoudl have discarded the bulky crests on their helmets and the colorful caparisons on their horses--but the fact is that they didn't. The morale impact of their plumed, caparisoned appearance was (rightly) judged to be more important than their additional weight and bulk.

Of course, it still has nothing to do with your original post on the classification of swords, to which I see no reason to object.
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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PostPosted: Sun 20 May, 2007 1:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well Lafayette, you are not stating anything that disaccords with what I write.
The medieval knight very well knew the added weight was a hindrance and a handicap = contary to the essence of cavalry. Nevertheless the díd use it because it gave other advantages at thát time in theír situation.
Also knights gave up on most of the bulk/weight as soon as fashion, ritual, weapons, warfare evolved.

Napoleon used massed cavalry p.e. Masses of light cavalry yet he did not bother with horsemanship nor swordmanship. A mass of cavalry was his answer to the firepower of infantry.

This off course ALL is a generalisation. I make the comment to keep the perspective. It's the same thing, the perspective, that led Caprilli to devellop his riding style. If you read his motivations, he captions the lightness and speed quite correctly too.
The account of an excersize the visiting russion cavalry officer in the boek of which Dario gave the e-link is illustrative. That is cavalry in its essence.

Peter
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 20 May, 2007 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Well Lafayette, you are not stating anything that disaccords with what I write.
The medieval knight very well knew the added weight was a hindrance and a handicap = contary to the essence of cavalry. Nevertheless the díd use it because it gave other advantages at thát time in theír situation.
Also knights gave up on most of the bulk/weight as soon as fashion, ritual, weapons, warfare evolved.



Peter,

I'd be careful with this generalization. For instance, the progression with knights suggests that their armour became heavier, or at least, remained as heavy, as they made the transition from mail to plate. Knights giving up their weight was more of a consequence of firearms than anything else. I realize that you acknowledge that this change occurred when weapons and warfare evolved, but I think you might be misleading yourself in thinking that lightness and lack of weight was the order of the day for the best cavalry.

I'm not saying that weight was not a consideration. Nor am I claiming that it would necessarily be a bad thing for a knight to discard some weight. What I am saying is that your examples given earlier in the thread are fairly specific to a certain culture and geographic area, and do not necessarily apply to the other regions of "greater" Europe (i.e., Europe plus parts of Russia, the Middle East, North Africa).
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
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Posts: 598

PostPosted: Mon 21 May, 2007 2:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
, but I think you might be misleading yourself in thinking that lightness and lack of weight was the order of the day for the best cavalry.

...and that is why I differentiate between 'best' and 'optimum'. The best for the day WILL have deviated from optimum for the mounted warrior.
The point I am trying to make is that when researching it will prove informative to look at the why if there is a deviation.

Peter
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 21 May, 2007 3:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Assuming that there is such a thing as "the" optimum configuration of equipment for a mounted warrior--which is something I disagree with. A horseman meant to be a long-range raider would have a different "optimum" from one tasked to be a battlefield skirmisher--if there is any such "optimum" at all--and neither would define their "optimal" gear by the same parameters as a mounted warrior tasked with being the primary shock force of the army. Not to mention that the same horseman might take up different roles at different times, such as a 15th-century man-at-arms who would have worn full harness on a battlefield but a great deal less than that on a chevauchee.

So I do disagree with your assessment that the lightest possible configuration is "best" for the horseman. In my opinion at least, the various configurations of equipment adopted by different kinds of cavalry throughout history do not represent a deviation from any norm, only attempts to arrive at the best configuration to fulfill their particular roles.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 21 May, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have been watching this thread for a while and am wondering what is being asserted to be different in terms of equipment for heavy cavalry versus light cavalry.

I'd like to defend the original theme of the post (as best as I can interpret it) in stating that not all mounted units were utilized for heavy cavalry tactics even in popular eras such as 1200 to 1400. Some such as the Black Prince during the hundred years war actually cavalary pretty surgically (feint retreat, specific geographical situations, etc.).

I suspect the "heavy" part of "heavy cavalry" was primarily in the specially bred horses (draft crosses.) These were slower than available coursers and fast hunters at the era of 1200 through 1400, but still agile. Modern examples such as Thoroughshires make impressive eventing horses. There was a compromise between speed versus momentum. The basic tactic for keeping a shock charge together involved trotting slowly (15 mph) and accelerating as the line approached the opposing group. This does not favor maximum speed, but agility would still have been prized by a knowledgeable horseman.

The actual armour characterized as real combat (not parade or joust) seems to be roughly similar to most other armour (maybe higher percentage of 3/4 coverage versus 1/2, few extra pieces...) This assumes that some of the surviving harnesses constructed specifically for kings or princes, which appear to be very heavy, are exceptions. It seems like we are arguing about 45 lbs weight for one application versus 60 lbs for another.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Rod Walker




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PostPosted: Mon 21 May, 2007 5:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:


I suspect the "heavy" part of "heavy cavalry" was primarily in the specially bred horses (draft crosses.) These were slower than available coursers and fast hunters at the era of 1200 through 1400, but still agile. Modern examples such as Thoroughshires make impressive eventing horses. .


Please, lets not start the whole fallacy of Draughts or Draught crosses as warhorses thing again.

Cheers

Rod
Jouster
www.jousting.com.au

"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 21 May, 2007 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rod Walker wrote:
[
Please, lets not start the whole fallacy of Draughts or Draught crosses as warhorses thing again.


Agreed Rod.

The concept I am attempting to explore is that there may not have been that great of a difference in things we classify differently, maybe only 15-20% weight or some other performance statistic. Weight differences might be interpreted as even smaller if one counted total weight of horse, rider, and all equipment from the hoof up. If one starts trying to greatly change mass of the classic double edged longsword, it is difficult to double or half the weight without greatly compromising some aspect of it (speed, momentum in parry or strike, ability to wield in some settings, etc.) It is convenient to classify different era designs as "heavier", "longer", etc but a limited range of weight, agility and reach as required to fight in diverse settings can be said to have practical boundaries which a large percentage of equipment conformed to over many centuries (combat armour 35 to 60 lbs, swords 2 to 3 lbs, etc.)

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Rod Walker




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PostPosted: Mon 21 May, 2007 6:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed.

I think it is part of our 'modern' way of thinking that we want to classify everything into little tiny boxes. I have found that the more research I do the more I realise that we can't do this as it pertains to historical reality.

We may want to call a sallet a sallet, a longsword a longsword or pigeonhole cavalry into light or heavy but the truth is that whilst we may want to have it all neat and tidy and suit our prejuduces or point of view, there are no hard and fast rules and our ancestors would have called them completely different things,,,,,, or the same,,,,,,,, sometimes in the same manuscript.

Sallet could refer to a lot of different helms, some of which look nothing like what we would recognise as a sallet.

Even though Peter says light cavalry is the be all and end all, it's not, in some cases it may be. Just as in some instances heavy cavalry (whatever that may actually be) is the be all and end all, and in some cases it is not.

What is the be all and end all is whatever works in the given situation.

Cheers

Rod
Jouster
www.jousting.com.au

"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 21 May, 2007 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I'd like to defend the original theme of the post (as best as I can interpret it) in stating that not all mounted units were utilized for heavy cavalry tactics even in popular eras such as 1200 to 1400. Some such as the Black Prince during the hundred years war actually cavalary pretty surgically (feint retreat, specific geographical situations, etc.).


Nobody is disputing that medieval European men-at-arms frequently rode light on scouting and raiding duties, and the custom was by no means limited to the English. But we should also note that they didn't ride in the lightest configuration--that is, unarmored--but wore partial armor instead. So Peter's theory still falls down on this account.
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Tue 22 May, 2007 3:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rod Walker wrote:
Even though Peter says light cavalry is the be all and end all,.


Is this a deliberate misinterpretation?! I have repeatedly written something quíte different! Please reread and rethink a bit if you realy percieve that this is what I wrote because I realy, honestly do not understand how you can reach this conclusion.

Assuming I have not communicated clearly enough, I will re-explain.

The mounted warrior comes in as many, even more, forms as there are cultures over the millennia.
On the one end of light 'versus' heavy lies skirmishing and on the other extreme shock-tactics.

The mamluk furusiyya manual Münyetü'l-Guzat mentions pe. 'Know that they say 'A horseman carrying a short sword against his opponents has many virtues' A horseman must carry a good and light weapon, that being whatever he is able to carry and can use. Otherwise he never benifits from it. In other words, it is of no use to him. So it is with the sword.' The manual explains the same thing concerning the use of the spear, the bow, the whole tactics even though the mamluks did use 'heavies' too when situations dictated this.

As an active horseman hobbying with various 'weapons' I happen to agree with the 'horseman model'.
A valuable pointer is that 'furusiyya' is most accurately translated by 'horsemanship' and not 'chivalry' or 'knigthood' or such.
My point of view is that although the most effective role/tactic will without doubt differ on conditions, the 'vehicle' itself is most efficient in a 'light' role, the most extreme being the unbridled (in all senses) numidians.

For those missing the crux, please picture an armoured knight with 3 lbs. mace, a broadsword and a lance so heavy he is just able to hold it and then picture an indian with spear, bow&arrow, tomahawk. Forget about what their role in battle was or can be. Who is the most flexible hórseman, most able to use the qualities of the vehicle?
Now I do NOT weigh good, better, best of ány form of cavalry as history provides a wide range of cavalry examples tailoured to specific roles.
What I do write is that the most efficient (do not confuse this with 'effective') horseman is a 'light' horseman and that the deviation of the 'horseman model' provides information.

Now, if you happen to think otherwise, so be it but please do not misquote me. If I as a mounted warrior were to battle an infantry formation or to storm a fortification I would want to be a 'heavy' but if given the choice as a horseman I would not and think of something else....

Peter
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 22 May, 2007 5:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey folks,
Let's keep from getting grouchy with each other. Thanks!

Happy

ChadA

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Rod Walker




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PostPosted: Tue 22 May, 2007 8:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Rod Walker wrote:
Even though Peter says light cavalry is the be all and end all,.


Is this a deliberate misinterpretation?! I have repeatedly written something quíte different! Please reread and rethink a bit if you realy percieve that this is what I wrote because I realy, honestly do not understand how you can reach this conclusion.


If I misunderstood you then I apologise.

Quote:
For those missing the crux, please picture an armoured knight with 3 lbs. mace, a broadsword and a lance so heavy he is just able to hold it


But this bit I must strongly disagree with. If this is what you think an armoured knight was using then you have it completely wrong.

I have spent pretty much the last 12 years recreating various aspects of historical cavalry, from Norman Miles all the way through to 16thC knights. I have done 17thC Royalist cavalry from the ECW and just lately Napoleonic Hussars, I have done late Roman horse archer, fired blackpowder and modern guns from horseback in test and recreated battle situations. I have jousted, fought in mounted melees, fought mounted against infantry, charged blocks of pikes, blocks of shields etc, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what cavalry can and cannot do, from a practical point of view as well as an historical. I am still learning though, always will be.

I have tried to follow your posts but I guess I just have no idea what it is you are saying or trying to do.

Cheers

Rod
Jouster
www.jousting.com.au

"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Tue 22 May, 2007 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rod Walker wrote:
But this bit I must strongly disagree with. If this is what you think an armoured knight was using then you have it completely wrong.


Well, the wording about the lance was taken from Duarte's 1438 book.
I can look up a quote if you like. Since he was writing about what he did I accept him as the first hand expert.

You will undoubtedly have seen, probably handled, period arms and armour in musea. Although not nearly as heavy as popularly portrayed by popular literature is was by no means líght and did limit freedom of movement of both rider and horse.

It may have been unimportant during battle ánd I did not measure battle gear but.... I have measured stress levels using a registering heartrate meter on horses using different riding gear. I accounted for a 'learning' curve and measured under as identical conditions as possible on a norm route.
I found that any form of perceived restriction increased the stress level. This proved to be só critical that the most trained horse showed a difference when a simple and well adjusted breast strap was used or not.

My conclusion was to eliminate as much of the real or percieved 'loads' as possible.
I have personally have no doubt that this is applicable to cavalry.

As to the 'message' ...
Quote:
What I do write is that the most efficient (do not confuse this with 'effective') horseman is a 'light' horseman and that the deviation of the 'horseman model' provides information.


I am sure that during history quite a few cavarlymen were very good horsemen. They must have been aware of this so must have had reasons to deviate.

It may be a good subject to write a book about. The reasons for the appearantly illogical 'heavy cavalry'. One important reason will have been lack of time (as armies cost money p.e. or that the fighting seasons were limited) just as this often was the reason for appearantly 'stupid' direct attacks. Others were convention and ritual.
As I earlier mentioned I think the earliest settled way of life may have been a reason too. How do you protect unfortified villages against raiding nomads better than with a mobile wall?! If you read Zarathustra's describtion of evil it reads like a profile of the raiding nomads Laughing Out Loud
You get the gist? Whý give up anything of the primairy advantage of a mounted warrior?!

Peter
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Tue 22 May, 2007 4:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not have a copy and have not read it, but believe Duarte was a jouster as well as a combat knight. The handbook title is translated something like Jousting and Knightly Combat. It may not be appropriate for judging equipment intended for campaign warfare.

I have not been able to locate really good sources and museum specimens on lances of war versus lances of peace (joust lances), but some of the authors (respected and numerous in a large stack I have been reading over the last year) characterize them as very different beasts. The one that is so heavy it has to be carried upright and allowed to fall down as you approach the target was one description of a joust lance (an english manuscript if I remember it right...there is an internet scan of a diagram from the manuscript illustrating the tactic of letting a lance too heavy to hold horizontally fall as the jousters close.) I think judging this type of implement as representative of "typical" of that used for war is much like claiming everyone rode horses that made Clydesdales look diminuitive.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Wed 23 May, 2007 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I do not have a copy and have not read it, but believe Duarte was a jouster as well as a combat knight.
....
I think judging this type of implement as representative of "typical" of that used for war is much like claiming everyone rode horses that made Clydesdales look diminuitive.


I do have the book and as it is my all time favourite on horse-riding (although and because it exclusively addresses the rider) I have read it over a dozen times and have it at my bedside. Just like Duarte himslef suggests I read. Ponder, reread = study, his words.
This book may be poorly edited and -published, may include some translation errors, its conents is a gem.

Duarte was a warring King like almost everybody in his tome and yes kept up his skills in tournament and hunting, even by having a wooden horse for gymnastic use in every home.

Obviously a tounament lance was a specific tool yet Duarte most definitely méans heavy lance for war too as he even explains the value of kynetic energy even if not by that name Wink

Peter
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