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L. Bailey





Joined: 04 Jan 2008

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 4:58 pm    Post subject: How fast was the medievel warrior?         Reply with quote

This question occured to me today when trying to imrove my forty-yard dash time. How fast do you think the ancient-medievel warrior would have been, without armour, etc? Is there any documentation of knights recording sprint times?
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 5:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can only imagine it would depend on the physical condition and health of the individual warrior, really.
The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

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L. Bailey





Joined: 04 Jan 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, of course, but perhaps an average?

The only real way this question could be answered is if knights recorded times, etc. Just mere curiosity.
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Corey D. Sullivan




Location: Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 5:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually, that's an interesting question.

We know that the Greeks held the Olympics.

Are there any recorded instances of sprinting and foot races in later periods?

"He had scantly finyshed his saienge but the one armye espyed the other lord how hastely the souldioures buckled their healmes how quikly the archers bent ther bowes and frushed their feathers how redely the byllmen shoke their bylles and proved their staves redy to appioche and loyne when the terrible trotnpet should sound the blast to victorie or deathe."
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Gavin Kisebach




Location: Lacey, Wa US
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 5:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

With or without dysentery?

I'm not just asking to be funny; I think this could vary wildy on the health of the army. A well stocked army at the start of a campaign probably looks like a completely different animal than it would after sloggin aroung northern France for two years.
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Torsten F.H. Wilke




Location: Irvine Spectrum, CA
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 5:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An accurate determination of speed would probably have been quite difficult during those times, seeing as there were no watches able to read seconds. Precise and consistent distance measurements were yet another story, I believe... Confused
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K. Larson




Location: Shanghai
Joined: 04 Oct 2007

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 8:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mechanical clocks appeared in 1656, so they'd have had no reliable means of recording times in the medieval period. Terms like "space of a dozen breaths" or "five heartbeats" weren't just poetic license, they were the only means of recording small time intervals.

Obviously there's a great degree of variation in human running speed, much to my youthful dismay in grade school. Considering that medieval humans did not enjoy our modern diet and performance footwear, we might assume that a medieval individual might be every so slightly slower, on average, than a modern runner. On the other hand, they were also more physically active, so then again, they might be quicker. All in all, it's probably a wash.

As for running while wearing armour, considering the critical importance of running (away) in pre-modern warfare, I can only imagine that the equipment was designed so as not to impede movement. Others on this forum who have more experience with wearing the stuff can help out more than I can.
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B. Fulton





Joined: 28 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, are you talking about a medieval KNIGHT (used to riding on horseback pretty much everywhere, or at least moving most of his stuff on one) or an infantryman? Since most of the infantry are far more used to both wearing their armor while running around, and running (to or away), they'd be a bit faster.

I've run up and down hills, across fields and into/between buildings wearing 60+ lbs of Kevlar, plates, helmet and equipment (before adding rifle, ammo, etc) and you can get up some seriously good speed for short bursts. And I'm not a great runner.
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Mark Williamson





Joined: 11 Mar 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 10:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well according to the seminal work done by professor McInter-Nett the average 13th century knight could run at least fast enough to "safely retreeve a babe from a infernous peasant dwelling situated no more than a stone throw away from his mark before a Horned yellow Belly Dragon in ballistic dive could snatch the babe from the burning hut, so long as the dragons elevation at the beginning of his dive was no greater than twice the height of the central tower of castle camelot. This view is further supported by Doctor T. Foil, who quotes the "swiftus appendix" of the "necronomicon" (ibn version) in saying that "a man at arms, suitibly braced by the breath of sirocco, can fire an arrow from the horse bow of the eastern invaders, dismount his steed, and gallop on his two legs, in full armor, at such a speed as to enable his catching of the same fired arrow upon his shield at its termination"

I hope this helped. Laughing Out Loud
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Bill Tsafa




Location: Brooklyn, NY
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 10:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would say they had the same physical capabilities as trained men today. Modern nutrition probably would give people today a sight edge in performance potential.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 11:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not sure you could figure out how fast anyone could run from this period, though mechanical clocks show up much earlier than the 17th. The BM has a half dozen british ones from the 14th and 15th centuries and Salisbury Cathedral has a early 15th century clock in it, though there are likely more as this is off the top of my head. Yes indeed they had clocks but they are terribly large and doubtful anyone was using them for timing of races.

There is info out there on marches and the distance they could cover per day but I doubt you could get such info for anyone running.

RPM
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Ben C.





Joined: 01 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 5:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
I would say they had the same physical capabilities as trained men today. Modern nutrition probably would give people today a sight edge in performance potential.


I would say it would be more likely they had similar physical capabilities to people in the 19th and early 20th century. In the 2nd half of the 20th century huge improvements were made in training techniques, nutrition and supplements (including drugs) which have allowed modern athletes to advance considerably in terms of strength/power, speed, technique and overall fitness. A good example of this can be seen at the 1908 Athens Olympics; in most of the heats the sprinters were running between 11 and 12 seconds with the eventual gold medallist (Reggie Walker) running 10.8 in the final. Those are still fast times but they wouldn't even win a high school state final nowadays. Even I can run under 12 seconds and I'm a 95kg judoka rather than a specialist sprinter.

The difference between 10.8 and modern times of 9.8 may not seem like much on paper but it's a huge difference in reality. My brother can do the 100 about a second faster than me which usually amounts to about a 10-15 metre gap between us. When I played rugby even the difference between 10.6 and 10.8 was quite noticeable when you saw guys running on an open field.

Somewhat indirectly related, recent studies have shown that we probably reached close to our full athletic potential in the 1980's and that most the progress in the last 20-30 years has mostly just been with technology. This was based on the fact that since the 80's the amount of world records being broken is decreasing year by year and the margins they are being beaten by are getting progressively smaller. From the 1950's to the late 80's the opposite had been occurring. It seems that without new breakthroughs the amount of Olympic records being broken each time will drop to nearly 0 by about 2030.
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Glennan Carnie




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Yes indeed they had clocks but they are terribly large and doubtful anyone was using them for timing of races.


Not unless they ran really, really slowly.
Big Grin

Salisbury clock seems to be dated to the late 14th century (although mentioned earlier)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salisbury_cathedral_clock
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Gavin,

You said, "With or without dysentery?"

I think you made an excellent point.

Also, I think, we are all assuming that we are talking about men who have the quality of health (I'm not talking about fitness or conditioning) that athletic young men do today and I think that is an erroneous assumption. A few years ago I remember reading about archeologists finding the burial places of a number of men who died trying to take a fort during either the American Revolution or the French & Indian Wars and virtually to a man they all showed fairly substantial spinal trauma from the constant heavy lifting they had to do in their daily lives. Similarly the French Canadian courier du bois and voyageurs wore sashes not because they were colorful but because the sashes were acting as trusses because they had hernias from lifting the incredibly heavy goods they had to move. I can't think that life was necessarily any kinder or gentler for men in the Middle Ages. I suppose that the nobles and knights were excused some of the heavy lifting that the workers had to do but I bet the knights took the kind of beating pro football players take today and without the benefits of trainers and doctors with todays medical knowledge. My suspicion is that these warriors may have been a pretty beaten up bunch by our standards today.

Ken Speed
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Robin Palmer




Location: herne bay Kent UK
Joined: 21 Dec 2007

Posts: 138

PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Ken

As an ex para I can testify that injuries in the military are not a thing of the past when I was in it was hard to find someone in my unit not carrying some form of injury. Injury is relative I know a lot of men and women who have done years of hard work and heavy lifting and carry the results including me. While not as fast as we were we can still move fast enough when needed we wont win any races but we can do what is needed. Our ancesters may have lacked the modern diet and the nutritional experts telling them what to eat and do but they were fit. Even knights trained hard they ran and there are illustration of them doing acrobatics hand stands and cartwheels. I suspect that if we ignore modern athletes then your average medieval or ancient man would be fitter than most average people today. An interesting comment was made in the Osprey Ancient Greek warship the Greeks built a copy of a Trireme it was used for a series of tests and the rowers were largely varsity rowers who had several problems not least their physical size which caused problems in the confined benches. The article noted that ancient and medieval man tended to have a lower body mass than modern plus mast modern athletes train for short sharp burst of speed. Our ancesters would from choice have preferred endurance over short term speed.
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Robin,

I'm repeating your post because you make a lot of salient points and I don't want to forget any.

As an ex para I can testify that injuries in the military are not a thing of the past when I was in it was hard to find someone in my unit not carrying some form of injury. Injury is relative I know a lot of men and women who have done years of hard work and heavy lifting and carry the results including me. While not as fast as we were we can still move fast enough when needed we wont win any races but we can do what is needed. Our ancesters may have lacked the modern diet and the nutritional experts telling them what to eat and do but they were fit. Even knights trained hard they ran and there are illustration of them doing acrobatics hand stands and cartwheels. I suspect that if we ignore modern athletes then your average medieval or ancient man would be fitter than most average people today. An interesting comment was made in the Osprey Ancient Greek warship the Greeks built a copy of a Trireme it was used for a series of tests and the rowers were largely varsity rowers who had several problems not least their physical size which caused problems in the confined benches. The article noted that ancient and medieval man tended to have a lower body mass than modern plus mast modern athletes train for short sharp burst of speed. Our ancesters would from choice have preferred endurance over short term speed.[/quote]

Yes, I agree about injuries, you can't do rough physical things of any kind and expect to get away scot free. If you read GATES OF FIRE, a pretty good fictional account of Thermoplye, the author is careful to mention how many of the Spartans carried injuries from previous battles and still did what they had to do. The question here is literally about "winning races" though and I think a big difference would be in the level of medical care and knowledge in recuperating from those injuries. I agree as well about the level of fitness of our ancestors; for one thing they didn't have computers to keep them sitting down! I saw and helped my grandfather and great uncle farm just before farming became almost completely mechanized (baled hay rather than loose and combines for grain rather than threshing machines) and I know I wouldn't be able to do that now.

I don't think I can even imagine the level of aerobic fitness of someone who rowed a trireme or the like! I know they worked in some kind of shifts or they would have died like flies but even so.


Ken Speed
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B. Fulton





Joined: 28 Dec 2004

Posts: 180

PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My grandfather worked as a carpenter from about age 10 till his early 60s, and this was (at the beginning) pre power tools (around 1915 till about 1962). Even in his late 70s his upper body strength (and he was a small guy) was enough to where he could grip a man's hand and put him on the floor. Swing hammers and use saws for decades and that muscle doesn't go away. Happy He was old and arthritic but still strong as hell and nasty at close ranges.

On recovering from injuries, age, and other subjects... during predeployment training, we're patrolling in Germany up and down mountains and hills in full Kevlar and plates (40lbs or so) plus equipment (another 25). The young guys (18-20) would go screaming up the hills, rifles at the ready and run out of gas 3/4 of the way up. Us old guys (30,33 and 37 respectively) started off a bit slower but just never stopped. As I explained, panting by one kid who was down to walking speed as I went by at a slow jog "stamina kid......speed's fine, staying power is better"

Sometimes, the old injured guys know better. Happy In my case I have wiped out knees.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After reading the last post I couldn't help thinking about that old story - did you hear the one about the two knights standing on top of a hill looking down at the enemy camp? The young knight says, hey dad, let's run down and kill one of those guys! The older knight then says, no son, lets walk down and kill them all.

Well, actually in the original story it was bulls and cows, and their intentions were somewhat less violent.
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 9:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK JD,

Just remember, you started it. This one gives you a small idea of what the kind of farming I spoke about earlier was like.

A farmer who lived in Illinois died and since he hadn't been a particularly good man he went to Hell.
Well, when he got there he looked around and sort of muttered to himself, " This isn't so bad; it reminds me of hilling potatoes the end of June. The Devil overheard the farmers comment and was insulted and told his demons to turn up the thermostat which they did. The farmer noticed that it was hotter and he said sort of quietly, "This isn't so bad; it reminds me of doing the milking in July." Well, the Devil in incensed and he calls his demons and tells them to turn up the thermostat as high as it can go. Steam is coming from the floor of the caverns, the paint on the walls is bubbling and the farmer looks around and says, "Why, this is just like home; it was just like this when I used to make hay in August!" The Devil ,as you can well imagine, is enraged! He screams at his demons, " Ok, we'll freeze him out! Turn the air conditioning on high!" The demons obeyed. The old farmer looked around and he noticed that there was ice forming on the floors and frost on the walls and water dripping from the ceiling was turning into stalactites and stalagmites of ice. He was awestruck and then he got an absolutely incredulous look on his face and started jumping up and down, cheering and whooping and hollering, waving his hands in the air and shouting, "The Cubs have won the Pennant, The Cubs have won the Pennant!!"


For those of you who don't know about baseball, the Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series in any living human's lifetime.


Man, I've written a few off-topic posts here but this might be a record in its own right!



Humble Apologies to All,


Ken Speed
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Mar, 2008 8:18 am    Post subject: How fast was the medieval warrior?         Reply with quote

It's quite hard to tell, since medieval warriors prefer to ride horses rather than running on the ground. What's more, they even wear heavy body armour which makes them quite difficult to run or get up after falling.
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