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Antonio Lamadrid





Joined: 17 Apr 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 12 Oct, 2008 2:28 pm    Post subject: An alternative Battle of Hastings         Reply with quote

Talking today with a Roman reenactor friend, we thought of an imaginary Battle of Hastings: 7000-8000 Norman troops versus… 7000-8000 Roman legionaries, a legion plus a few cohorts, Late Republic or Early Empire.

We both agreed that, if led by a good commander like Caesar or Marius, the legionaries would have sent Duke William back to Normandy with a bloody nose.

The legionaries, being so disciplined, would have never fallen prey to feint retreat tactics, like the fyrd did.

My main doubt is how the gladius would have fared against the much better quality 11th century blades.

What do you think?
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C. Gadda





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PostPosted: Sun 12 Oct, 2008 9:23 pm    Post subject: Re: An alternative Battle of Hastings         Reply with quote

Antonio Lamadrid wrote:
Talking today with a Roman reenactor friend, we thought of an imaginary Battle of Hastings: 7000-8000 Norman troops versus… 7000-8000 Roman legionaries, a legion plus a few cohorts, Late Republic or Early Empire.

We both agreed that, if led by a good commander like Caesar or Marius, the legionaries would have sent Duke William back to Normandy with a bloody nose.

The legionaries, being so disciplined, would have never fallen prey to feint retreat tactics, like the fyrd did.

My main doubt is how the gladius would have fared against the much better quality 11th century blades.

What do you think?


It should be pointed out that the Fyrd had suffered very serious losses in the north fighting Hardrada; had Stamford Bridge not happened, William would still only be known as "the Bastard", and then only as an obscure footnote in the history books, since his feints would not have affected the outcome of the battle (which, even as it was, turned out to be a rather narrow victory.

As for the sword quality, I doubt it would make any significant difference. And its a somewhat debatable assertion as to quality, given that pattern welded examples existed.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Oct, 2008 10:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I am not mistaken Harold had to ride from the north with his gaurd to make it as well using local frydsmen. Likely the normans would have taken quite a few places by the time a foot army could reach them.

Interesting idea but do not underestimate Williams generalship. Basically took over all northern France and forced the French king to peace all by military might and planning. William at his time was a brilliant military leader. Also that normans employed bowmen, infantry and other soldiers, possibly crossbowmen so its not just an infantry verse cavalry battle.

RPM
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Chuck Russell




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Oct, 2008 3:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

calvary would have been an issue too. the Normans actually used the horses they rode on. while say the A&S rode them to battle and then dismounted. that being said the Romans used calvary as well. hmmmmmmmmm
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Douglas S





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PostPosted: Mon 13 Oct, 2008 3:43 pm    Post subject: Re: An alternative Battle of Hastings         Reply with quote

Antonio Lamadrid wrote:

My main doubt is how the gladius would have fared against the much better quality 11th century blades.


I doubt that it would have been sword against sword. Maybe sword against shield, etc. The Normans were not using tactics that were unknown to the Visigoths, although they were probably better disciplined.


The Anglo-Saxons were about average foot soldiers of the time, and they appear to have not much discipline. Given this, it seems that England was lost just barely. So I am sure that legionaries could have held the hill.
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Jeff A. Arbogast





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PostPosted: Sat 25 Oct, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject: Re: An alternative Battle of Hastings         Reply with quote

Antonio Lamadrid wrote:
Talking today with a Roman reenactor friend, we thought of an imaginary Battle of Hastings: 7000-8000 Norman troops versus… 7000-8000 Roman legionaries, a legion plus a few cohorts, Late Republic or Early Empire.

We both agreed that, if led by a good commander like Caesar or Marius, the legionaries would have sent Duke William back to Normandy with a bloody nose.

The legionaries, being so disciplined, would have never fallen prey to feint retreat tactics, like the fyrd did.

My main doubt is how the gladius would have fared against the much better quality 11th century blades.

What do you think?


Interesting contest...
While I would not want to face a Roman army in a toe-to-toe slugfest, at which they excelled, the Romans were never known for their great cavalry. If the Normans did more or less as they did at Hastings, peppering the Legionnaries with arrows in between cavalry charges with long lances (as at Adrianople) and quick retreats, (but preserving their infantry to protect their archers, which would be no match for the legionnaries) I think they could PERHAPS wear the Romans down. But the Legion's iron discipline would make them more reliable than the Saxon fyrd was. On the other hand, being mainly an infantry army, they could only stand on the defense in their favorable position. The Normans would quickly send the Roman cavalry packing, leaving themselves free to roam at will around the Roman position, looking for weaknesses or simply surrounding the Legionnairies while the archers riddled them, perhaps throwing in the Norman infantry on one side while the cavalry attacked them from another after the dangerous Roman troops were sufficiently weakened and demoralized. The Legion could try to retreat in order, however, which kept them dangerous, while a medieval army usually just disintegrated.
As for swords, I would keep my troops away from a face to face brawl with the Roman short sword. The Gauls were slaughtered in their thousands against it, swinging their long swords against the Gladius, and the Normans would have long swords.
I would suggest to stay mobile and wear the Romans down with incessant arrow showers and quick cavalry charges. It worked for the Parthians at Carrhae, and Hannibal's cavalry was always deadly to Rome.

A man's nose is his castle-and his finger is a mighty sword that he may wield UNHINDERED!
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James Lopez




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2008 10:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No Doubt the Normans Cav. would own in a fight agaisnt the Roman Cav. and seeing that the cavarly has fled and the legionaries stranded on top of a hill the Normans maybe would have sorruonded them that is maybe if they had more troops anyway if the Normans did surround them the legainares would have made an attempt to break out wich is likely to succeed and in a organised retreat flee thus forfeiting to battle to the Normans.OR with the Roman Cav. gone and the Normans attacking them with a charge from the Romans would have countercharge against the Inf. or Cav. doesn't matter with the speed gathering and counter charging down the hill at the charging Normans the Legions would have the advantage of a somewhat Cav. Charge(would have given my dog to see that battle) and narrowly won the battle...Narrowly that is.Both would have been given opprotunitys the seize the day it all depends if there leaders see that opportunity if they do then they win if they don't then all hell breaks loose and....they lose!but i vote for the Normans cause if they didn't win then history would blow up but thats after the battle.....fin
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 12:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Romans would win.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 5:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Romans would probably win. Even Saxons lost very narrowly.
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Marcos Cantu





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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Although native Roman cavalry was generally poorly regarded, a Legion usually had a large amount of allied troops which provided very skilled cavalry
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Rob Runacres




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 6:49 am    Post subject: Re: An alternative Battle of Hastings         Reply with quote

Douglas S wrote:
Antonio Lamadrid wrote:

My main doubt is how the gladius would have fared against the much better quality 11th century blades.


I doubt that it would have been sword against sword. Maybe sword against shield, etc. The Normans were not using tactics that were unknown to the Visigoths, although they were probably better disciplined.


The Anglo-Saxons were about average foot soldiers of the time, and they appear to have not much discipline. Given this, it seems that England was lost just barely. So I am sure that legionaries could have held the hill.


The Anglo-Saxons lost due to previous circumstances and bad luck. The Anglo Saxons did not deploy much of the Northern armies because of the battles of fulford Gate and Stamford Bridge, so Harold was indeed using those men he could gather. As is, his defensive position was excellent; the hill at Battle is very steep and very suitable for repelling horse. Spears, stones, etc were pelted on the rapidly slowing cavalry as they struggled up the slope and the final attack would expose the horse's chest as well as head to the final axe blows. The Normans for their part were thrusting over arm, but the angle of the ascent would nullify the height advantage the rider might have along much of the ridge. Of course, a final advantage to note is the ability of well armed foot soldiers to brush a cavalry attack on a defended position (Banockburn, First Newbury, Waterloo, etc).

william's luck was in when the Bretons broke (well, the Normans said it was the Bretons, but they could be just applying the blame). After William himself was unhorsed his lines faltered... and then the Saxons poured downhill into pursuit and into cavalry country. So the Normans were victorious, but were still fighting Anglo-Saxon reinforcements into the night and were reticent in their chronicals about the mauling they received. Also it took twenty years to subdue the rest of England.

Given the terrain and their defensive tactics, I'd say the Romans would have won. Sword type would have
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Rob Runacres




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

... been irrelevant, when I manage to finish my rambling.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 7:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jst wanted to point out a few thing - the Normans were not Horse archer Parthian, so Parthian tactics not have been overly effective.

Secondly, if we are speaking of the classical Roman army, they were a far beeter force than the Roman army of 378 at Adrianople.

Laslty, the Roman legionairres from classical times all wore armour, while not many more than the Huscarls wore metal armour on the Saxon side. The archery would have had even less of an effect against the Romans.

I'd give the Normans superiority in Cavalry for certain, though a smart would have used has cavalry smartly, either to repel the archer ranks (then withdraw back to safety), or in flanking manuvers, and not waste them in a head on assault vs Norman cavalry.

William was smart enough not to keep his cavalry slugging it out head to head vs a strong Saxon Shield wall - I'd give the Roman general some credit too.

And I do believe William should not be underestimated as a leader.

Still I think I would have to go with the Romans in this one, though the Roman general would love to have a contingent of Saxon Huscalrs I'm sure!
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 12:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I usually don't get into things like this, but lemme get this straight: You're going to let the Romans have the high ground with open terrain in front of them, excellent flank protection, normal auxiliary support, and *equal numbers*--and some people still think the Normans have a prayer?? I think William's only hope of survival is to run like hell for the boats!

Yes, the Saxons were good. The Housecarls were arguably the finest infantry west of Constantinople, and even the fyrd had a warrior tradition going back many centuries.

Yes, the Normans were good, too! William was an excellent commander and he had a well-balanced force composed mainly of professionals.

BUT---don't underestimate Roman cavalry. They were as well-armored as the Normans (mail, large shields, helmets), and they used the same kinds of spears and javelins. Cavalry was always a substantial part of any typical Roman army: half of all known auxiliary units were cavalry, and half of all auxiliary *infantry* units were actually mixed infantry and cavalry. So I'd expect those Romans at Hastings to have a good 2000 cavalry. We like to think of the Norman army as being one-third cavalry, but is there any evidence to back that up? My guess would be much less than that, even though cavalry was always considered the most important element. And remember, the Romans have the high ground!

Even assuming the Normans are equal to or better than the Roman cavalry, you still have Roman infantry to deal with. Legionaries and auxiliaries who are *used* to fighting outnumbered. Who have no qualms of attacking a cavalry force. And most importantly, who are trained to fight as a cohesive force, with an excellent system of communications right down to the company level. Any retreat by part of the Norman army, real or feined, could easily have been followed up by a coordinated and well-supported assault which had every chance of driving the Normans right off the field. The entire Roman army was geared for a moment like that, and their troops champed at the bit to be let loose to attack. Five thousand bloodthirsty highly-trained armored killers raining pila into horses and unarmored infantry, surging forward in a single movement like some lawnmower from hell. Downhill? Gravy. Poor Normans...

I think Britain would STILL be Roman territory!

Valete!

Matthew/Quintus/Aelfric/etc.

PS: For what it's worth, if you had the Romans attacking the Saxons, I *still* think they'd win!
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think you bring up a few good points, Matthew, The Roman infantry would likley have either stayed in formation or perhaps even purued better in good order vs. Fleeing cavalry.

The cavaly thing though I'm not sure about. First of all, the biggest thing as the stirrup issue. The debate rages on about how effective stirrups actually made cavalry, so I think it's hard to say where this puts them. But I would think it would give the Normans a bit of an advantage at least. Secondly, the Normans were armoured a bit better than classical Roman cavalry, and for point of reference I'm looking at the 1st century AD or so Roman Army, not the Trajan model.

The other issue is from what I know, the Romans would be closer to 700-1400 cavalry for an army of 7000, if holding true to their common distributions in the Classical age.

The biggest question I have is how the Romans would have fared against heavy cavalry. Sure, good discipline and armour for most helps, but javelins and shortsword are hardly the ideal weapons with which to repel cavalry.

They would not have presented quite the initial obstacle on initial contact as a Saxon shield wall with 2 handed axe and spear armed troops - these weapons are better against cavalry. But if they keep morale and formation, once the initial cavalry push subsides, they should be able to begin winning as superior numbers come into play. But once again their weapons are not the best suited for the task. They were designed more for combatting infantry, their usual opponent.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 3:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
IThe cavaly thing though I'm not sure about. First of all, the biggest thing as the stirrup issue. The debate rages on about how effective stirrups actually made cavalry, so I think it's hard to say where this puts them.


No debate at all. Everyone who has used a Roman saddle affirms that it gives a very secure seat, and there is no problem with throwing javelins, swinging a sword, using a shield, or even charging with a couched spear. It works.

Quote:
Secondly, the Normans were armoured a bit better than classical Roman cavalry, and for point of reference I'm looking at the 1st century AD or so Roman Army, not the Trajan model.


I dunno, I don't think the difference would have been very significant. One could argue that Roman shields were larger and Roman helmets covered better. Plus some Romans were wearing greaves, while leg armor is very rare on Normans (William and 2 or 3 of his buddies, according to the Tapestry). But it's possible that not all Roman cavalry was armored, so I won't argue the point too strenuously. BUT the Romans would still have been trained to act as a cohesive force, not really the case with William's cavalry.

Quote:
The other issue is from what I know, the Romans would be closer to 700-1400 cavalry for an army of 7000, if holding true to their common distributions in the Classical age.


Depends a lot on the mix of auxiliaries available. Hmm, yeah, might have overshot my numbers a little, but I'd still say your minimum is probably too low.

Quote:
The biggest question I have is how the Romans would have fared against heavy cavalry. Sure, good discipline and armour for most helps, but javelins and shortsword are hardly the ideal weapons with which to repel cavalry. They would not have presented quite the initial obstacle on initial contact as a Saxon shield wall with 2 handed axe and spear armed troops - these weapons are better against cavalry.


But legionaries fought cavalry successfully quite often! They could either throw their pila just before contact, ripping the heart out of a charge of unarmored horses, and/or hold on to one pilum each to serve as a spear--exactly as Caesar's troops did at Alesia. When they saw Caesar coming to their aid, they then threw their javelins and charged with their swords, against Gallic cavalry. It worked. William's cavalry didn't really fight any differently from Roman or Gallic cavalry. They rode up and chucked javelins, or thrust overhand with their spears. It's not quite the later freight-train charge with couched lances (though some are certainly shown with couched spears). Discipline is EVERYTHING in repelling such a charge. Remember, the Saxons kicked the Norman cavalry right down that hill several times, and it wasn't just their spears that allowed that. As I understand it, William only ordered the frontal cavalry assault *after* his infantry had been thrown back, and his knights were not all that warm and fuzzy about attacking those Saxons uphill. (Not sure where I heard that, though, so I can't back it up!)

If the Roman commander were all that worried about Norman cavalry hitting his legions, he could just deploy his auxiliary infantry across the front of his line, as Agricola did at Mons Grapius. They have spears.

The Normans are going down.

Matthew
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James Lopez




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2008 5:20 pm    Post subject: this         Reply with quote

.....ddaaammmmm thats some good points ya,ll put out there But you all failed to see the point that Wills army actually fled once (for real)and then seeinghis oppritunity did it again(feint retreat) i bet if would have workd out the same way because who wouldnt go after a foold that tried to kill you and your freinds i would go after them if i knew they were going to die under my blade or javelin......other than that the normans again would have sorrounded the enemy after taking care of the Roman Cav. but more out of range of archers and javelins until they run out of munition and just wait for either a reinforcement for the Romans or for a counter-attack down the hill.
El Lopez,Imperial Lieutenat Colonel of the Kasursain Empire,Diplomat of the Tribe Domination,And the Protector of the weak conquerer of the Corrupt.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2008 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
No debate at all. Everyone who has used a Roman saddle affirms that it gives a very secure seat, and there is no problem with throwing javelins, swinging a sword, using a shield, or even charging with a couched spear. It works.


From what I know the stirrups are not as important in the intial impact. But in melee, they give more range to the blows as you have a better way of maintaining balance. The big thing I have heard is they make it more difficult to be pulled from a saddle, perhaps when a lance is grasped for instance.

The Byzantines in an edict of around 585 AD stressed the importance of cavalry using stirrups. Almost every effective melee cavalry force after the introduction of stirrups makes use of them through the history of cavalry.

I think there were far more who actually used stirrups in battle that felt they were important and gave an advantage, based on this. I'd take their word over a few people who fell a Roman saddle is a secure seat.

I also do not believe in entirety the idea that the stirrup was one of the 3 most important military innovations of all time. I do however feel there is an advantage in using stirrups, how big of a role this played is my real question.

Quote:
One could argue that Roman shields were larger and Roman helmets covered better. Plus some Romans were wearing greaves, while leg armor is very rare on Normans (William and 2 or 3 of his buddies, according to the Tapestry). But it's possible that not all Roman cavalry was armored, so I won't argue the point too strenuously. BUT the Romans would still have been trained to act as a cohesive force, not really the case with William's cavalry.


Romans did not use the scutum on horse - they most often used oval or round shields no better than a kite shield, if not worse in coverage. As far as head armour, coifs were not used by classical romans from what I have seen, and a coif with nasal helm covers much of the face. Plus Romans may not have worn as heavy of quilting under their armour, though this is debateable.

But I don't see giving the Romans a big advantage in cavalry training. This was the strength of the Normans, and he act the were able to pull off feigned flght shows a ood mark in their favor, and this was not the only battle in which the did so. They also perfomed well against trained professional armies fo the times, the Byzantines in Italy, so I would be very careul in assuming the Normans t be not well trained.

Quote:
epends a lot on the mix of auxiliaries available. Hmm, yeah, might have overshot my numbers a little, but I'd still say your minimum is probably too low


Looked up a list of roman auxilliares for the entrie army around 150 AD - the auxilliaries were about 33% cavalry. THere were more cavalry units, but the were smaller than the infantry ones. A few things I've read puts legionairres at about 90% infantry. The auxilliary numbers were from a bit later time when Rome was moving more towards a cavalry force also.

But with all that, I'd guess the 700 low, probably more in the 1000-1400 range.

Quote:
But legionaries fought cavalry successfully quite often! They could either throw their pila just before contact, ripping the heart out of a charge of unarmored horses, and/or hold on to one pilum each to serve as a spear--exactly as Caesar's troops did at Alesia. When they saw Caesar coming to their aid, they then threw their javelins and charged with their swords, against Gallic cavalry. It worked. William's cavalry didn't really fight any differently from Roman or Gallic cavalry. They rode up and chucked javelins, or thrust overhand with their spears. It's not quite the later freight-train charge with couched lances (though some are certainly shown with couched spears).


I'd hardly put the Gallic and Germanic Cavalry on the same class as Norman cavalry. I'd probably look more at the Sarmations. While they did have the fully armoured Cataphracts, they also had a fair amount of lesser armoued Cavalry in the ranks. The Parthians were similar. Here are some observations Tacitus had:

Quote:
North of Black Sea was a territory ruled by the Sarmatians, a collection of tribes famous for their heavy cavalry warfare. The Roman writer Tacitus wrote about their encounter against Roman forces c. 69 A.D. and commented on their effectiveness in a massed charge: “when they charge in squadrons, hardly any line can stand against them.”


By "hardly any lne can stand against them", I thnk he would be referencing Roman Infantry.. Here is some other info from a rather well done Wikepedia aricle:

Quote:
Defeat by strong cavalry forces is a recurring event in Roman military history. The campaigns of Hannibal illustrate this well, as Numidian and Spanish/Gallic horsemen repeatedly outflanked Roman formations, dealing devastating blows in the sides and rear. Hannibal's great victory at Cannae (considered one of the greatest Roman defeats ever) was primarily an infantry struggle, but the key role was played by his cavalry, as in his other victories.

An even more dramatic demonstration of Roman vulnerability is shown in the numerous wars against Parthian heavy cavalry. The Parthians and their successors used large numbers of fast-moving light riders to harass and skirmish, and delivered the coup de grace with heavily armored lancers called "cataphracts". Both types of troops used powerful composite bows that shot arrows of sufficient strength to penetrate Roman armor. The cataphracts extended combat power by serving as shock troops, engaging opposing forces with their heavy lances in thundering charges after they had been "softened up" by swarms of arrows. The Parthians also conducted a "scorched earth" policy against the Romans, refusing major set-piece encounters, while luring them deeper on to unfavorable ground, where they would lack water supplies and a secure line of retreat. The debacle of the Battle of Carrhae saw a devastating defeat of Roman arms by the Parthian cavalry.[75] Against such foes the Romans faced a difficult task. How could they be defeated?


Now the Parthians were a bit different, Heavy cavalry aided by missile fre, not saying the Normans have this. But it is clear some of the Romans biggest struggles in battle were against cavalry, which is not what they were best designed to fight.

As far as the Gaullic Horsemen thing, most of the Gauls fought on foot, their cavalry was not numerous, though exact numbers are tough. And at Alesia, Caesar struck with Roman Cavalry (probably largely German auxilliaries LOL) at the back of a large Gaullic force, apparently arrived just in time to keep his forces from being overwhelmed. My guess is most of the Gaullic force was infantry, the legionairres where fighting mostly other infantry.

Quote:
If the Roman commander were all that worried about Norman cavalry hitting his legions, he could just deploy his auxiliary infantry across the front of his line, as Agricola did at Mons Grapius. They have spears.


I thought that many auxilliary infantry used arms similar to the Legionairres. But at Mons Grapius, this was against a Caledonian/Pictish force that was likley again almost all infantry, probabl more infantry heavy than the Gauls. Armour as also rare for these types, rarer than for the Gauls where it s still not common. Repellig a smal amount f lightly armoured cavalry (or more likely infantry) is not that much to rite home about. I actually am not very familiar with Agricola using these tactics. What is your source on this?

I still favor the Romans, I would think their better armour overall and own skirmishers would throw back the Normans Archers, and weaken any approaches made Norman Infantry of Cavalry uphill. I also think they would have better discipline in a feighned flight, though I'm not sure they could be sucessful if they indeed did pursue the cavalry. My only real question is would the Pila/Gladius armed Legionairres fare better or worse than a Saxon shieldwall of spears and Axe bearing Huscarls.

Quote:
The Housecarls were arguably the finest infantry west of Constantinople, and even the fyrd had a warrior tradition going back many centuries.



Actually, if you are referring to the Varangians, the Saxon Huscarls were the elite Byzantine infantry, at least after 1066 for a while, many taking service there after Hastings. Before that it was a mixture of Rus, Swedes, even some Norwegians like Harald Hardrada.
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James Lopez




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2008 6:47 pm    Post subject: This         Reply with quote

I have a book about Roman History,War,Goverment,and Economic.In the war Section and the sub section it is sad that the Romans rarely used cavarly in charges and attack they mainly used them for mobile skirmishers and was one of the most used Auxillery troops(if they could afford the horses).Also since the Roman Legionaries could use Javelins they undoubtly use it against the Cav.Charge they probaly aim for the man on the horse more effective since the horse would probaly stop and there would be less an attack instead of low armored Infantry and then when the horse would near them would pretty much cut up the legs since then the horse would be wounded and imobile thus leaving the attacker on the Horse exposed to ground forces.Plus since there is no doubt that the Romans could use the sheild wall and also the Romans would probaly use the auxillery troops to attack the Normans while they where retreating back down the hil.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2008 11:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James,

I am not sure I think the Normans were actually retreating. I have a feeling it was indeed a plan to break an otherwise impossible impass. William knew charging uphill against the shield wall would bring a low rate of success. Hence new tactic.

Even if the Roman were armoured it would seem unlikely in most ages that the average soldier would be completely covered. That said the large shields and many formations would more than compensate I suppose but depending on how they were employed would open them to danger. That said my guess is the average norman, french, breton infantryman was not nearly as well armed as the roman legionary, maybe a helmet, shield and spear.

The romans have a great victory record, especially in the long term but have a fairly large (and long) list of failures as well. Very few cultures had heavy horse of the same quality and equipment in the numbers William did. It is hard to know how many William had at hand as Chronicles exaggerate but the English sources all point to it being very large, almost as if they were unused to seeing usch numbers mounted. The likely reason is that they were. They of course had some mounted men, Edward the Confessor improved this by adding Normans even. I still think that unless you had a somewhat unusual roman force the cavalry would be in Williams favor. If he could pull off engaging their cavalry first I think he'd still have a time breaking the ranks of legionaries but I think it was still possible with his reputation for strategy, combined infantry, archery and cavalry.

That said in the end the romans would have a general and depending who it was it'd likely put William to a corner. Some of the best tacticians I can think of were romans, even into their twilight they get Aetius and others who with seemingly small forces do amazing things.

RPM
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