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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Thu 07 Aug, 2008 11:04 pm    Post subject: Classification of "reiter"         Reply with quote

Where did the Reiters actually stand in the cavalry classification systems of their age? I've been applying the term rather loosely to both light and heavy forms of firearm-wielding cavalry, but I'm worried that my usage might not actually be correct.

Additionally, "Reiter" doesn't seem to enter into the 17th-century triad of Lancers, Cuirassiers, and Harquebusiers, so I'm wondering about whether the term was still used in a taxonomic sense after the L/C/H classification system crystallized into a definite form. Did it drop out of use, or was it part of a parallel-but-different classification system as in the case of the caliver and the Schutzrohr?
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David Evans




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Aug, 2008 5:38 am    Post subject: Re: Classification of "reiter"         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Where did the Reiters actually stand in the cavalry classification systems of their age? I've been applying the term rather loosely to both light and heavy forms of firearm-wielding cavalry, but I'm worried that my usage might not actually be correct.

Additionally, "Reiter" doesn't seem to enter into the 17th-century triad of Lancers, Cuirassiers, and Harquebusiers, so I'm wondering about whether the term was still used in a taxonomic sense after the L/C/H classification system crystallized into a definite form. Did it drop out of use, or was it part of a parallel-but-different classification system as in the case of the caliver and the Schutzrohr?


Reiter, Rutter or Ruyter is a more Continental term, lasting into the mid 17th Century and beyond, alongside Harquisbusers, in the British expression. A Reiter is pretty much Horse intended to fight at knee to knee order, starting off in 3/4 plate and slowly reducing to just pot, back and breast plate in the Mid 17th Century. A Reiter could be as lightly armoured as a Harquisbuser or as heavy as a Cuirassier. It's seemingly more about how a Reiter fights than how a Reiter is armoured

In English usage would be Light Horse, Demi lancers and Knights into the late 16th Century. Light horse would wearing plate armour and carrying pistols, carbine and Nothern Staff. Demi lancers are intended to be in 3/4 plate, with pistols, lance, sword and maybe mace/poleaxe Knights are, although very rare, supposed to be in full plate, with lance, sword and mace/poleaxe. Knights just don't seem to feature that much, most Gentry and Nobles fought as Demi lancers or Light Horse. Reiters were hired by Henry VIII, and I think Elizabeth I as firearm armed Horse

The early 17th saw a move to Harquisbuser and Cuirassier. By the 1630's the Trained Bands were only to provide those two sorts of Horse. Dragoon was used alongside Harquisbuser in the 1631 instructions from the Privy Council and demand exactly the same arms and armour, saying that the Harquisbuser/Dragoon has replaced the Light Horseman. The British Civil War saw Dragoons added as a distinct type as the Cuirassier fell out of use. The Lancer in English usage vanishes, only hanging on in the Scots forces in the 1640's.

Depending upon the period your talking about, and where, It's pretty safe to call Reiters either light or heavy Horse, mainly using pistols and carbine to fight with.
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Aug, 2008 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stricktly spreaking the term Reiter has quite diffrent meanings in the 16th and 17th Centuries. The word it self simpy means "Horseman"
Begining in the mid-16th century the terms "Reiter"&"Schwartzreiter" was applied to German cavalry. The vast majority of them were pistoliers but in the 1550's there were still some bands equipped as light lancers i.e a form of demi-lancer.
These heavier Reiters can be hard to distinguish from the lighter mounted arquebusiers as some armies, notably the Imperial army classified all cavalry with firearms as "mounted arquebusiers" (pferdeschützen & Schwarz Schützen-Reutter) in this period regardess of wether they carried a arquebus or a pistol.

By the 1560's the heavy pistoliers were called "Gerüstete Reiter" in German while light arquebusiers were "Archibusier Ross"/Archibusierpferde/Schützenpferde.

In the last years of the 1590's Dutch and French influence led to changes, the best of the "(Gerüstete) Reiter" became "Kürassieren"/"Curassier Reitern" while both the "Schützenpferd" & the worst equipped of the "Reiter" became Arkebusier-Reuter (aka Bandelier-Reuter, aka Carabiners).

During the TYW the term "Reiter" came into use once more, essentialy it refered to any kind of military horseman armed with pistols and sword but soem soruces suggest that these "horsemen" were distinguished by the fact that they were only armed with offensive arms and made no use of defensive arms. (i.e armour)
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Aug, 2008 10:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe that according to Sir Roger Williams, "Rutters" would be classified as Medium Cavalry, rather than Heavy Cavalry. Likewise Basta and Cruso, his student, would classify them as such. Pretty much anyone in the 16th Century would reserve the title of "Heavy Cavalry" for the full-on Gendarmerie, the hommes d'armes of the compagnies d'ordonnance, and no one else. And there were precious few of those outside of service to the French Crown. The Spaniards had a few in the form of the old Burgundian bandes d'ordonnance, and the English in their companies of ordnance, but that's about it. Cheveaux legér, demi-launtiers, pistoliers (i.e. Reiters), etc. would all fall into the contemporary category of "light horse", which wasn't particularly light at all, but lighter than the Heavy Horse. Arquebusiers á cheval, Border Staves and the like were even lower/lighter on the scale, of course. Thus Reiters would fall neatly into "Medium Horse" by the standards of the day, if they were so inclined to use the term.

On the other hand, by the mid-17th Century, Reiters in 3/4 armour would have been considered Heavy Cavalry indeed.

Cheers!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Aug, 2008 10:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So I wasn't entirely wrong in using "Reiter" as a generic term? Well, that's a relief. And all the extra information has certainly been quite enlightening. Wink
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