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Mihai Ionita




Location: Romania
Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 1:23 pm    Post subject: On the schools of combat of Eastern Europe         Reply with quote

As many of you know, Western Europe has given us our main sources when it comes to reconstructing Western Martial Arts. The likes of Ringeck, Lichtenauer and Talhoffer are surely praised by many along with the Italian masters for passing down their knowledge of combat in an easy to understand form. Thanks to them, we now have many groups that faithfully follow their teachings in the realm of bladework. We also have "Jeu de la Hache" for the pollaxe and I'm sure many people are also thankful for that work.

But that's the West. Germany and Italy, to be exact. What of the East? In what ways did soldiers there learn their trade? And when I mean the East, I specifically refer to that troubled area North of the Balkans where there is a melting pot of culture caused mainly by warfare. There we have the Serbs, the Bulgarians, the Wallachians, the Moldavians, the Hungarians, the Transylvanians and also, as of the Fourteenth Century, the Ottoman Turks.

My questions are mainly related to Wallachia, since I now live in that area that once was called so by its contemporaries, and I am curious how the Wallachian soldiery deprived its skills. From those experienced in war, I am sure, but do you happen to know if they followed a particular school of thought. Or, to broaden the question, if there is any school of thought that was recorded whatsoever in the area?

As far as I know, the Wallachians were influenced by the Hungarians greatly while the Moldavians were influenced by the Polish. From whence did these nations deprive their martial skill? I am asking this because I am part of a reenactment group who wishes to reenact a unit from the Wallachian host back then, namely the Voivode's Guard. We like to train according to the era, and we'd appreciate not having to train after a Western source such as the German or Italian masters if an Eastern source more closer to home and more likely to have been used by our ancestors is at hand. Thus, I ask you, the many passionate people of myArmoury to help me if you can in this endeavour. Even the least bit of information would be greatly appreciated, good sirs.

So, for anyone who is of the "Too long; Didn't read;" school of thought, my question is what did people such as the Serbs, Wallachians or Moldavians use as a source to train? The less known and even less recorded Eastern schools? Or some deviation of the Western schools of martial skill adapted by the Hungarians or the Poles?
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Max Maydanik




Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Joined: 29 Apr 2007

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 2:52 pm    Post subject: Re: On the schools of combat of Eastern Europe         Reply with quote

There are no known Eastern European treatise on fencing or martial art that have been found till 17 century and even then it is translation of the western manuals. It does not mean that there were no such fechtbuches, it just means they did not survive.
- What do you prefer: a reconstruction of historical fencing or a real swordfight?
- Historical reconstruction of course. In the real swordfight, they just look at each other, mumble something and then ..a deathblow.
And in a historical reconstruction you have to think, plan your strategy and count points.
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Bill Tsafa




Location: Brooklyn, NY
Joined: 20 May 2004

Posts: 599

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 10:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is the Strategikon of the Byzantine Emperor Maurice written in the late 6th century. I consider it a foundation for Medieval warfare. The Strategikon details the heavy horse charges that Charlemagne later used to expand his Empire into what became know as East Frankia. The Byzantines were able to take horse charges to a new level because they adapted the use of stirrups from their contact with the Avars.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategikon_of_Maurice

http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/strategikon/strategikon.htm

The Strategikon covers a wide assortment of battle tactics including the coordinated use of Calvary and infantry. It includes the use of horse-archers. It covers a variety of terrain, weapons and armor. It covers logistics and psychological warfare. While the Strategikon does not have detailed information on the specific fighting techniques of the individual , it is certain that whatever information is given is intended for the battlefield rather then for duels.


There is also the Strategikon of Kekaumenos in the 11th century which I am less familiar with, but will make a point of reading up on.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategikon_of_Kekaumenos

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.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
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Allen W





Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 285

PostPosted: Thu 18 Dec, 2008 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually the bulk of our sources are central European rather than western European. As such they are very applicable to at leat the upper classes of Poland, Hungary, and the Baltics. These were popular areas for crusading and colonization from the Holy Roman Empire and the Teutonic Order. In fact the Baltic crusades were often used as a sort of finishing school/adventure vacation among the nobility of Western Europe while Sigismund's Order of the Dragon was active throughout Hungary and Romania. Additionally Jan Zizka is thought to Have fought alongside the Poles and Lithuanians at the battle of Tannenburg.

I realize this no help for light cavalry or the use of the saber but I wanted to be sure that you didn't dismiss these sources purely on nationality.
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Mihai Ionita




Location: Romania
Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Thu 18 Dec, 2008 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I'm not discarding Central Europe either. Actually, I'd be very pleased if anyone came forward and said if there are any existing sources that point out how the Poles or the Hungarians trained, since their whims and fashioned in turn influenced the Romanians in Moldavia, Wallachia and the like, in time.

And yes, the areas around Poland were an adventure holiday of sorts for Western European nobles who considered that the Holy Lands were too far away, yet still felt the need to do "God's work".
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 426

PostPosted: Thu 18 Dec, 2008 2:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mihai Ionita wrote:
Well, I'm not discarding Central Europe either. Actually, I'd be very pleased if anyone came forward and said if there are any existing sources that point out how the Poles or the Hungarians trained, since their whims and fashioned in turn influenced the Romanians in Moldavia, Wallachia and the like, in time.

And yes, the areas around Poland were an adventure holiday of sorts for Western European nobles who considered that the Holy Lands were too far away, yet still felt the need to do "God's work".

There is an article in one of the "SPADA" books on Hungarian swordsmanship. I don't know enough about the subject to tell if it was any good, and I think it also said that no surviving manuals are known from that area. For some reason, the medieval Germans were much more enthusiastic about writing fencing manuals than most other Europeans at the time.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Sat 20 Dec, 2008 9:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allen W wrote:
Additionally Jan Zizka is thought to Have fought alongside the Poles and Lithuanians at the battle of Tannenburg.


He is even said to have fought at Agincourt! If this is true (and I think it's not unlikely), then the idea that there was a great deal of mutual borrowing between Western, Central, and Eastern Europe would be even more viable than it already seems.
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Craig Johnson
Industry Professional



Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Dec, 2008 7:15 am    Post subject: Mountain Axe         Reply with quote

While not a sword system this concerns the area and may well have some influence on the use and practice of martial arts in the region. It is also a great tradition that has wonderful stories and legends. Oprishki site:

There is some training material, influences and culture info, analysis of the "axe dance" a folk dance with obvious martial roots and the interesting "The Skillful Woodsman Manual. Ken has out together a great site.

Best
Craig
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Mihai Ionita




Location: Romania
Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Mon 22 Dec, 2008 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is actually quite the kind of thing I was looking for. Thank you very much for your addition Craig!

And don't think that I'm looking for sources on sword-work alone. Any weapon is welcome and axes are actually quite important to us, seeing as we will recreate a medieval unit of the Wallachian army. The Voivode's Guard, to be precise, and seeing as they were professional soldiery (the sons of Boyars, mercenaries and also Free Men who had proven their worth) they had a wide range of weapons and fine armour to protect them in battle. So anything from axes to pollaxes to swords to halberds is welcome. We're talking the middle of the Fifteenth Century after all and this was quite a colourful age.

Anyway, I thank you once more and hope you will keep such additions coming. Local martial arts, that's just the thing we're looking for in this case!
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James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

Posts: 253

PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2008 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Mihail-"Fighting Techniques of the Early Modern World, 1500 to 1758" has some info on this, and it is illustrated. It points out that much armour,weaponry and tactics were borrowed from the Turks, illustrated examples being ths steel winged helmet and segmented armour. They also used the the turk technique of covering the the heavy csvalry with light calvary, and using heavy infantry support. It shows photos of the armour and helmet, and has drawings of the light calvary equipment. The book is available at Amazon.com, and is reasonably priced. Also a good book on Voivode Vlad Dracula would help, he defeated Mahommed the Conquerer when he tried to take over Roumania.As I understand it, Dracula raised his armies on the Theme system from the free peasentry, and one of the reasons he was fimally overthrown was due to his effirts to abolish serfdom and force the nobles and merchants(who were mostly german) to contribute heavy calvary and infantry to bring his army into line with the Turks.
Ja68ms
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Sun 28 Dec, 2008 2:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not just sword-work? Well, if you'd like to include archery, then you're going to love ATARN:

http://www.atarn.org/

Note that, despite the organization's name ("Asian Traditional Archery Research Network"), its website also contains a lot of information about Eastern European archery as well as many things that (properly speaking) belong to a Eurasian continuum of cultures rather than just the Asian part.
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Ken Pfrenger




Location: Kinsman Ohio USA
Joined: 26 Dec 2008

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2009 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the link to atarn ...very nice site.

Mihai ...glad that you are finding the Oprishki site useful. Hopefully I will be able to keep adding new info as I find it...pickings are indeed slim. And please if you run across any usefull axe info, please share with us:)

Craig...thanks for hawking my site:)
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Mihai Ionita




Location: Romania
Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Mon 05 Jan, 2009 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hm, I don't think I shall find more info than that. Well, the human body is the same for everyone after all, so how different could the moves have been? You only have two arms and two legs. In the end, we have kind of come to a consensus that we shall be using the German codexes for training (Lichtenauer, Danzig and so on) so now I'm off to search for some reliable sources.

After we figure out how we shall train, we will need weapons and armour. God help us on that endeavour, for it will be the most difficult yet.
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