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M. Eversberg II

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PostPosted: Sun 16 Dec, 2007 11:57 pm    Post subject: Dark Age and Medieval infantry         Reply with quote

Now that I'm pretty much done with Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight, I was wondering if there was an equivalent book for the foot troops of the periods it covers in that book? AAMK talks a bit about them but not much.


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Lafayette C Curtis

Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Fri 21 Dec, 2007 5:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The knight/man-at-arms wasn't just a heavy cavalryman--he was also the dominant form of infantry in most parts and periods of medieval Europe, so AAMK has actually covered a great deal of the infantry half of that subject. As for infantry other than dismounted men-at-arms, maybe you could check Kelly DeVries's Infantry Warfare in the Early Fourteenth Century: Discipline, Tactics, and Technology.
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Jared Smith

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PostPosted: Fri 21 Dec, 2007 12:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I interpreted Eversberg's question to cover dark ages and medieval ages, which could be very broad (4th to 14th century...) Where dark age era ends and some later "medieval" age begins is a little subjective. I think you pretty well described the situation of the Frankish-Gaul Norman ages, Charles Martel, Charlemagne, etc. At least before "dark ages", we could point to some old German tribes (Tenceteri and possibly a couple of others) that seem to have been characterized by Roman historians as being dedicated cavalry (preferring to die rather than get caught off of their horse if I remember on Tenceteri characterization right?)

Its also fair to say that in all periods, some group's cavalry would dismount and fight on foot. I never thought to classify specific groups (Germans maybe?) that pretty well did this without hesitation over most of later medieval period. I would appreciate your insights and examples. The idea really does interest me as I suspect it is on target for some groups, maybe less so for others.

We can sight post "dark ages" English and French battle commanders (princes, etc.) that tended to reserve cavalry as a dedicated function, and avoided using them as infantry on "open field battles" (sieges being another situation entirely) during 12 through 14th century era. Even for these, we can find exceptions where terrain or weather eliminated cavalry use. Then again, we can find some that actually did send the cavalry to doom through marshy ground and archer volleys rather than reapplying the men as infantry.

Another aspect of it is that most armies would spend a great deal of their time foraging. Possibly in no armour. Henry the Black Prince was summarized as having something like 20 days of actual open battle over a period of more than 10 years. Men trained for "heavy cavalry" in major battle would undoubtedly have spent a vast majority of their time equipped differently than they would for a major battle with opposing cavalry, and in groups not designated "cavalry" and "infantry."

Anyhow, the concept of the interchangeable cavalry man in later medieval era is important, and worth elaborating on.

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