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Malcolm A




Location: Scotland, UK
Joined: 22 Mar 2005

Posts: 89

PostPosted: Tue 15 Apr, 2008 5:27 am    Post subject: Putting a stake in the ground         Reply with quote

Hello all,
Hoping someone can assist on this topic which has kept me curious for a while.
At the Battle of Agincourt there has been a fair bit of importance of sorts put on the fact that the English archers were ordered to prepare stakes to place in the ground to disrupt the French cavalry charge[s].
These stakes were hauled out of their initial position in the ground and taken with the English army when they made their advance towards the French just prior to the first arrow assault being made.

It has been said that the archers used their mauls to hammer the stakes into the ground.
Most pictures that I have seen shown the stake ends as being very pointed which makes me wonder how did they manage to hammer in a stake which had a sharp hitting surface?
Would they not have damaged the pointed ends with repeated hammer / maul blows?
Or did they sharpen the above ground end after the stake was in place and if so how? I would guess that the ends would be crudely sharpened in this case.
Or were the stakes not sharpened at all above the ground and left basically as it was chopped from the tree?

Hoping someone can help or advise.

It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself
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Sean Belair
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Joined: 08 Aug 2006

Posts: 147

PostPosted: Tue 15 Apr, 2008 6:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

a stake does not necessarily need to be sharpened. Horses won’t charge a solid line of anything. not to mention running into a stake, sharpened or not at full gallop would ruin your day.

if the stakes are sharpend they would be driven in first
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James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

Posts: 253

PostPosted: Sun 20 Apr, 2008 5:12 pm    Post subject: stakes         Reply with quote

Sirs-It took years to train a war horse to charge anything, espeically a noisy line of people carrying sharp things. The trainers at the local Renn-Faire said it took 3-4 years to teach the jousting horses to charge each other,and that there are only a few ranches in California that still do it.(They train horses for the movie industry.) When they have to train horses to tolorate noise, blood, or fire its even harder.The training ranches make nursing colts walk on slaughterhouse refuse while listening to to recordings and smiffing smoke.Only if the colt can do this do they train it for war.This is the same basic techniques medieval trainers used, except they didm't have recorders.
Ja68ms
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Malcolm A




Location: Scotland, UK
Joined: 22 Mar 2005

Posts: 89

PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 5:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello guys,
Many thanks for the inputs
I was always a bit dubious about the above ground ends of the stakes being sharpened and felt that artists etc did that because they felt that was better looking.
I guess the film industry always feels the need to make things [swords, maces, stakes etc] look acceptable to the cinema audiences minds without necessarily thinking through the practicalities.
Once again, thanks

Cheers,
Malcolm

It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 6:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's purely speculation on my part, but I'm guessing that the stakes were driven into the ground and then sharpened roughly with an axe. I doubt we are talking about fine pieces of craftsmanship here. Happy
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Rod Walker




Location: NSW, Australia.
Joined: 05 Feb 2004

Posts: 212

PostPosted: Mon 21 Apr, 2008 7:37 pm    Post subject: Re: stakes         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Sirs-It took years to train a war horse to charge anything, espeically a noisy line of people carrying sharp things. The trainers at the local Renn-Faire said it took 3-4 years to teach the jousting horses to charge each other,and that there are only a few ranches in California that still do it.(They train horses for the movie industry.) When they have to train horses to tolorate noise, blood, or fire its even harder.The training ranches make nursing colts walk on slaughterhouse refuse while listening to to recordings and smiffing smoke.Only if the colt can do this do they train it for war.This is the same basic techniques medieval trainers used, except they didm't have recorders.


3-4 years to train a horse to joust??? Wow, doesn't sound like they are very good trainers Wink

There are also a lot more people that train horses around the world for this sort of thing then just a few ranches in California.

I have trained horses to joust in a day. The longest took 4 weeks to train.

Many of the horses in this video of us training had only been introduced to the guns and being shot off 2 weeks before and this was their first time being fired at.
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=volU9e9AYSA

A few more videos showing us and our horses in action.
http://au.youtube.com/user/RodericValcerre

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




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 8:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I tend to concur with Rod on these matters. I have in-laws that train horses to herd cattle (team penning) in fairly short periods of time. This is pretty aggressive (bossy) behavior that they can learn, or be identified as unsuitable for the task very quickly.

Horses in a chaotic and unfamiliar situation might just blunder into a wooden stake. Muddy ground and obstruction of view would certainly make the situation worse.

A friend of mine (father within my son's Boy Scout Troop) just had his prized, "dependable", quarter horse spook and charge into a fence post within its home pasture, and impale itself. It looked extremely serious initially, but no bones or organs were harmed and the owner is working with bandages and salves (so far looking good) bringing the horse back to health.

I figure that if a horse someone considers to be very good can manage to impale itself on a very familiar post, an unfamiliar battlefield with randomly placed posts would pose some degree of actual threat to the same animal.

Regardless, the post is still useful. The horse that is very nimble goes around the post. and has to momentarily concentrate on something other than bearing down on the opposing enemy. Supposedly, heavy cavalry rode nearly "knee to knee" (exaggerated probably but still gives the idea as close) and some horses in a good line would not be able to maintain optimal position faced with these stakes. The stake probably gives the pikeman some improvement in where to take a stand. (He may not get run over by something much heavier than himself.) Alternatively, the horse gets impaled. I see the posts as useful rather it diverts the horse's path and group line of charge, or if it actually harms the horse.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 8:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
It's purely speculation on my part, but I'm guessing that the stakes were driven into the ground and then sharpened roughly with an axe. I doubt we are talking about fine pieces of craftsmanship here. Happy


After the stakes were pounded in they used GIANT pencil sharpeners like the small ones you used at school. Razz Laughing Out Loud

Sorry, bad joke. Wink Laughing Out Loud

I'm sure that this didn't exist ( both the joke above and the following idea ), but one could make a posts setter that would be flat on the outside, so that a maul could be used, and with a conical hollow to put over pre-sharpened stakes, protecting the sharpened tips.

So prepared poles could be sharpened on both ends: One end to go into the ground and the other end to stick out with a
" pointy " end.

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





Joined: 06 Apr 2007

Posts: 115

PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another possibility (from an engineering perspective, I have no historical knowledge) would be to notch the stake at 3 or 4 places around the circumference, after sharping each end.

One small cut 90 degrees to the ground, and another 45 degrees into the wood from the vertical would give enough of a notch or lip to hammer it in with a small sledge or maul.

It would weaken the stake slightly, but would act like a pre stressed lance.

*shrugs* just a thought
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

or maybe they left a small length of one or more of the branches to hammer them in. I really have no idea either. I doubt too much time went into development of the stake though but I could be wrong...

RPM
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Dan P




Location: Massachusetts, USA
Joined: 28 Jun 2007

Posts: 208

PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They probably figured "quantity over quality" and that one didn't really need a needle tip on a wooden stake for it to work.
If I had to guess how they practically did it, they probably put as rough a point on each end as possible and then hammered the stake in. If the point got rounded off a bit from the hammering it probably didn't matter, and even then it would only be twenty seconds with a knife to put the rough point back on.

I bet they seemed a lot sharper to the people charging the position on horseback... maybe thats how we get some of the very pointy stakes seen in lots of illustrations.
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James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

Posts: 253

PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs-Don;t forget the horses were fighting too ! That's why they wore armour.They were getting hit by swords and maces,,stabbed,,attacked by 200 lb mastiffs,speared, kicked and bitten by other horses.(Remember, they were stallions, they foight as a matter of course) I didn't see any of thi s this in the videos.
Ja68ms
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Rod Walker




Location: NSW, Australia.
Joined: 05 Feb 2004

Posts: 212

PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Sirs-Don;t forget the horses were fighting too ! That's why they wore armour.They were getting hit by swords and maces,,stabbed,,attacked by 200 lb mastiffs,speared, kicked and bitten by other horses.(Remember, they were stallions, they foight as a matter of course) I didn't see any of thi s this in the videos.


Riiiight, You do realise that killing horses in mock battle is frowned upon these days. Confused

But that's not the point you made. You said 3-4 years to train a horse for a Ren-faire. There are no Mastiffs, no horses being stabbed, fighting etc. In fact there is no chance of this happening in this modern era at any of the shows, Ren-faires etc.

We use our horses in melee combats as part of our re-enactments and tournaments. Again, it does not take 3-4 years to train them for this and there are more then a few ranches in California training for it.

Have a look around the internet, you will find any number of re-enactors using horses in large scale battle re-enactments.

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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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 411

PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 6:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Belair wrote:
a stake does not necessarily need to be sharpened. Horses won’t charge a solid line of anything. not to mention running into a stake, sharpened or not at full gallop would ruin your day.

if the stakes are sharpend they would be driven in first

I'll add to the chorus of voices not to dismiss that some horses might have reached the field of stakes. It seems like most people follow Keegan, and modern horse trainers who've never trained warhorses, in dismissing the reality of contact between cavalry and close-order infantry. But I've never seen a detailed analysis of combat between heavy foot and cavalry earlier than Keegan's of Waterloo which relies upon primary souces. Rod's comments are quite interesting.

I also figured that they 'touched up' the stakes with knives or axes before they started volleying. They had plenty of time: the French had decided not to open the engagement themselves. The stakes wouldn' t need to be all that sharp ...
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Fri 25 Apr, 2008 3:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Has anybody here mentioned the possibility of the horses slowing down in order to cross the field of stakes without impaling themselves? Of course, it'd be a tradeoff, and not necessarily a very profitable one at that since the horses would then become excellent targets for missile troops and/or a countercharge by hostile infantry. I think I remember an interpretation of the Battle of Nicopolis (1396) mentioning this possible use for the field of stakes--Matthew Bennett's maybe?

And let's not forget that the stakes can be used as a device to induce the hostile army into dismounting their men-at-arms....
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