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Shawn Shaw




Location: Boston, MA USA
Joined: 07 Jan 2006

Posts: 115

PostPosted: Sun 02 Dec, 2007 4:07 pm    Post subject: Crusade Impacts on Military Equipment and Tactics         Reply with quote

Hey Everyone-

I know I've been AWOL for a little while but I'm back now and, to kick things off, happen to have a research question (or 3) from my little brother. I've given him some hints so far but, unless I miss my guess, you guys will really have some info to add. Since this is a paper, citations are good, if you have them. Suggestions of books or other resources to check out are likewise appreciated. I have 3 prefab questions from him but if you think of anything related, by all means feel free to bring it up.

The Questions:
1)

"What, if any, functional difference is there between byzantine equipment, and western European equipment (specifically; England, and Southern France)"

2)

"What, if any, adaptations did the armies of the near east make as a result of the conflict with the west in the crusades specifically in the area of equipment and tactics."

3)

"What siege equipment or techniques did the near eastern armies use during the period of the crusades"

Thanks!
Shawn
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Shawn Shaw




Location: Boston, MA USA
Joined: 07 Jan 2006

Posts: 115

PostPosted: Tue 04 Dec, 2007 9:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm surprised nobody's had any thoughts on this...let me give it a bump with another question.


Did the eastern armies use a heavy cavalry? If so, when did they start, how was that cavalry armed, and was it developed in response to the Crusading armies' cavalry?

Thanks,
Shawn
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 04 Dec, 2007 9:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just to get things started and if I make a mistake it should even more motivate others to chime in. Wink Laughing Out Loud

The Byzantines are basically Eastern Roman Empire so some Roman military tradition would have been part of their military culture and organization.

Eastern nomads warfare would have had some influence at least on their light cavalry or foreign auxiliary troops ( mercenaries ).

Norseman would have given some western heavy infantry influence as well as some Norman mercenaries, or after the Norman conquest of England, displaces British knights.

The heavy cavalry could include armoured head to toe rider and armoured horses. The armament would be lance, sword and shield but I think an axe or a mace would also be standard equipment ( Based on an old Time Life series history book )
Even heavy cavalry might also carry a horse bow.

Equipment aside the Byzantine armies would be professional soldiers and well disciplined in the old Roman way at least much more so than the more individualistic Western European Knights who might charge without orders in the name of honour. Siege train and siege engineers as well as logistic supply trains would be of good quality.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Dec, 2007 7:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:

Norseman would have given some western heavy infantry influence as well as some Norman mercenaries, or after the Norman conquest of England, displaces British knights.


I am thinking the "Norsemen" were mostly Varangians. As you say about English knights leaving after the conquest; at least one of my texts mentions a significant percentage (something like 25% of former knights refusing allegiance to Normans) of Saxons feudal lords left England after the Norman conquest and joined the Varangians in the Byzantine struggle.

Byzantine emperor Nicetas Komenos was noted as being a fan and participant in Western style tournaments/ jousts, sometimes hosting demonstration exhibitions for guests at his own court. One of his tournament victories over Western crusade counterparts was at Antioch in 1153.

Its logical to expect that there must have been some overlap and cross-influence between Western and Eastern tactics and equipment. At the moment I am having a hard time thinking of an irrefutable specific equipment example though. The mace was characterized as an Eastern weapon early in the crusades. It did not really seem to get popularized in the West until the transition towards plate harness favored it though. One might argue that the recurve element of bow construction (prevalent in the Eastern forces) does seem to increase in Western artistic depictions of bows around this time. But Western cross bows and long bows seem to remain the Western preference.

There is a history channel / discovery channel special on the Normans. It devoted a fair portion of the program to their Byzantine era and gave the Byzantine empire a pretty western military characterization at the beginning of the crusades. With the displacement of the Normans, the television special gave me the impression that the former style of military organization (also architecture, equipment, etc.) was simply displaced.

At this point, I am not confident (completely undecided) that either side in the crusades widely adopted tactics or equipment from the other. For example, an excessive emphasis on heavy calvary might not be logistically practical for forces surviving in nomadic travel & desert conditions. I am curious to see what input others have!

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Mike Arledge




Location: Indianapolis, IN
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PostPosted: Wed 05 Dec, 2007 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't have too much to add because I am at work and need a few books to help answer, but Osprey has two fantastic books that might help and which can be bought for under $20 each online.

I would reccomend reading their large comilation on the Normans as well as their compilation on the Crusading armies.

By and large it seems that when the western norman/crusader armies adopted military dress/equipment/tactics they were really employed in the Holy Land/Near East to accomodate the warfare that the terrain/climate dictated. I see little evidence that the returning soldiers/commanders brought back significant changes to the Western Battlefields, where so much tradition/ritual was intact.

Also, your way of waging war was dictated by your terrain and enemy you faced. The fast moving horse cavalry of the near East does not seem to ever ibe utilized by the West in the grand scheme of things. But certainly you read of the Crusader kingdoms adapting their styles to combat their new opponents. But even then, this could often be in the form of indigenous mercenary troops being used in conjunction with Western Knights and footsoldiers.

I hope that helps and without being near some books, it is hopefully decently recounted.

Mike J Arledge

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Darryl Aoki





Joined: 12 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 05 Dec, 2007 8:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The later Roman army fielded heavy-armored lancers called cataphractoi, who were armored head-to-toe in mail, as well as another type of heavy cavalry called clibanarii; I think both of these unit types originated in the East (Byzantium/Constantinople). The cataphractoi were at least partially copied from Parthian heavy cavalry, if I recall correctly. I don't know whether the cataphractoi or clibanarii survived up to the Crusades, though.
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Mike Arledge




Location: Indianapolis, IN
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PostPosted: Wed 05 Dec, 2007 8:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Darryl Aoki wrote:
The later Roman army fielded heavy-armored lancers called cataphractoi, who were armored head-to-toe in mail, as well as another type of heavy cavalry called clibanarii; I think both of these unit types originated in the East (Byzantium/Constantinople). The cataphractoi were at least partially copied from Parthian heavy cavalry, if I recall correctly. I don't know whether the cataphractoi or clibanarii survived up to the Crusades, though.


By and large I would go with no, they did not. That is in part why the Western Heavy Cavalry was such a big part of the early success, there wasn't anything like it around. Light cavalry was the way to go in the East at the time of the Crusading period. Now, there were Heavy Cavalry in the East, but it was not a major force like the Knights of the West, they were more of an elite class unit. I think it would be safe to say a big factor in this is the cost of maintaining a horse that can carry that weight and be trained to be useful in battle. Also, shock tactics were not widely employed in the East where more warfare focused on light raids and mobility and major clashes were a bit more rare. The advent of the Turks late in the game would start to swing this around a bit. There is also the Mamluk forces, but that is again rather later in the game as they were used more in Africa until close to the 1300s as I understand
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamluks

Cheers!

Mike J Arledge

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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Fri 07 Dec, 2007 1:31 am    Post subject: Re: Crusade Impacts on Military Equipment and Tactics         Reply with quote

Shawn Shaw wrote:
"What, if any, functional difference is there between byzantine equipment, and western European equipment (specifically; England, and Southern France)"


Hmm...by the time of the Crusades, the Byzantines had already been employing large numbers of "Frankish" mercenaries from the West and the two had influenced each other significantly. For example, the kite shield so famous for its use by Western European cavalry originally began as a Byzantine infantry shield. If you want to know how the Byzantine soldiers would have looked like, check this site:

http://www.levantia.com.au/

It's still a good resource even though most of the warriors depicted/reconstructed there are from earlier times when the Byzantine army had not yet suffered from the catastrophic loss of their traditional Anatolian recruiting grounds.

Quote:
"What, if any, adaptations did the armies of the near east make as a result of the conflict with the west in the crusades specifically in the area of equipment and tactics."


I don't think there's much that the Middle Eastern warriors learned from their Crusader adversaries in terms of tactics, but I recall reading an interesting thesis that the Crusades had the profound strategic impact of motivating the Muslim powers in the Near and Middle East to cluster into larger and more centralized states. For the most part this led to the consolidation of the Ayyubid empire and its Mamluk successor, and it might also have had a lingering impact upon the imperial worldview of the Ottoman Turks who came to prominence near the end of the Crusading age.

Quote:
"What siege equipment or techniques did the near eastern armies use during the period of the crusades"


Very similar things to what their Western opponents used--for example, Paul Chevedden makes a very good case in this article: http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/chevedden.htm that both traction and counterweight trebuchets had become very well-known and widespread implements in both Europe and the Near East by the time the Crusades began, and that trebuchet builders and operators formed a significant part of any major European and Near/Middle Eastern army at that time. Other siege techniques like starvation, mining, escalade, and the use of other siege engines like the belfry (siege tower) was also very widespread among both cultures.

Quote:
Did the eastern armies use a heavy cavalry? If so, when did they start, how was that cavalry armed, and was it developed in response to the Crusading armies' cavalry


The answer to the first question in this sequence: yes. The answer to the last: no. The Muslim principalities of the Middle East already had a strong heavy cavalry tradition well before the Crusaders came along. This tradition stemmed partly from the survival of ancient Persian/Parthian heavy cavalry tactics in Iran and partly from the arrival of Turkic heavy cavalry traditions from the Eurasian steppe. Both traditions emphasized the use of armored men, often on armored horses, fighting primarily with bows but able (and frequently expected) to charge into hand-to-hand combat with lances, swords, or maces. The Turkish tradition in particular demanded that the heavy horseman carry both lance and bow and trained him in methods to get one weapon out of the way when he had to handle the other. The Persian tradition, on the other hand, was known for its use of shower shooting techniques against unarmored foes, though not against the Crusaders and the Byzantines because these two people were notorious for widespread use of armor among both their horse and foot. It was the synthesis of these two branches that produced the famous ghilman and Mamluk heavy cavalry. (These last two links are from my writing journal--use them as springboards for further research, not as authoritative sources on their own!)
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Fri 07 Dec, 2007 2:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Darryl Aoki wrote:
The later Roman army fielded heavy-armored lancers called cataphractoi, who were armored head-to-toe in mail, as well as another type of heavy cavalry called clibanarii; I think both of these unit types originated in the East (Byzantium/Constantinople). The cataphractoi were at least partially copied from Parthian heavy cavalry, if I recall correctly. I don't know whether the cataphractoi or clibanarii survived up to the Crusades, though.


Survived? Not as such. The Roman cataphracts came into use in the 3rd or 4th century A.D. or so and lasted only about a century after that. The early Byzantine armies of Justinian and Belisarius contained none, and neither did the later thematic and tagmatic armies. Curiously, the 10th-century armies of Emperors Nikephoros Phokas and Basil Bulgaroktonos had them, but these cataphracts were more likely revivals than survivals--and then they did not last long, being totally absent in muster rolls of the mid-11th century and later except for individual generals and emperors who wore cataphract-style armor (like what Alexios I did when jousting against a "Frankish" crusader).

If these Nikephorian cataphracts had survived a little longer, then they might have made soe difference to the tactical equation between the "Romans" and the "Franks;" but this extrapolation lies in the realm of pure speculation as we don't really have any solid, explicit account of a massed tactical encounter between Byzantine cataphracts and Western European heavy cavalry.


Mike Arledge wrote:
That is in part why the Western Heavy Cavalry was such a big part of the early success, there wasn't anything like it around. Light cavalry was the way to go in the East at the time of the Crusading period.


Definitely not true--see my post above. The Turkish tribes who fought the Crusaders at Dorylaion (Dorylaeum) were primarily light horse-archers, but the settled Islamic principalities in the south had more varied forces that included large numbers of infantry and heavy cavalry. The horse-archers tend to get the spotlight in Western accounts of the period simpy because they were unfamiliar, so the chroniclers gave more attention to them than to the more familiar-looking (and familiar-acting) infantry and heavy cavalry forces.

Quote:
Now, there were Heavy Cavalry in the East, but it was not a major force like the Knights of the West, they were more of an elite class unit.


Weren't the Western men-at-arms elite as well? And, if anything, it would be quite misleading to peg the Western men-at-arms as "heavy cavalry" because most of their actions in the Holy Land came in the form of sieges, where they fought dismounted as heavy infantry, and raids, where they served in a way more akin to light than heavy cavalry. Even at Dorylaeum, and again at Jaffa--two of the most important among the (infrequent) pitched battles in the Crusades--most of the Western men-at-arms actually fought on foot!

Quote:
Also, shock tactics were not widely employed in the East where more warfare focused on light raids and mobility and major clashes were a bit more rare.


This was actually true for Western Europe as well--read any chronicle of a medieval European war and you'll see that they were dominated by raids, skirmishes, and sieges, not pitched battles. And as I've said before, the light horsemen and heavy infantrymen who fought in these encounters were for the most part the same knights and men-at-arms who formed the heavy cavalry formations.

Quote:
The advent of the Turks late in the game would start to swing this around a bit. There is also the Mamluk forces, but that is again rather later in the game as they were used more in Africa until close to the 1300s as I understand
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamluks


Er...where did you get the idea that the Mamluks were restricted to Africa? The earliest reference to Persian-style Asawira came in the 7th century not long after the Arab Conquest, while the ghilman (whose differences with Mamluks were largely semantic) were attested as early as the 9th or 10th century in Iraq. Saladin used Mamluks effectively during and before the (12th-century) Third Crusade. Even the Wikipedia article mentions these!
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