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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jan, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject: Questions on heavy cavalry.         Reply with quote

Hello all.

So I was thinking about squires, and how important they must have been on the medieval battlefields. Without them a knight would have no one to take care of his spare horses, or to help him don his armor. Since there are people on this website who have experience donning armor I wanted to know how you get along without a squire.

Is simply having a buddy system with a fellow knight enough when it comes to donning armor?

How long does it take you guys to do so? (I know different harness are different, but if anyone has experience I would greatly appreciate knowing how long it takes you to don your respective harness.)


Part two of this question, in ancient armies (roman, macedonian, etc.) how did the cavalry opperate without squires? How many horses would a horseman need during these times?

Thank you so much for the invaluable info.

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Zac Evans




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 2:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It can take about 20 minutes to put on full harness, possibly slightly less if your squire is very well acquainted with your harness. One of the big time eaters is that most things are attached using ties, which can take a while, especially as you have to get them attached at just the right tension so the armour doesn't slip and become uncomfortable, or even dangerous.

It would be possible to get armoured using a buddy system. As my group has no knights with squires we make use of each other and the other non combatants to help us get ready. Some need more help than others, depending on the complexity of their harness.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 4:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How much more time would it take to don a complete harness if the wearer has no assiatance?
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 8:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
How much more time would it take to don a complete harness if the wearer has no assiatance?


The key word here might be " COMPLETE " harness. Wink

Depending on the armour it might be impossible to put on all the parts on by oneself as one might not be able to reach the ties and tie them with other armour parts getting in the way.

One reason maybe to prefer maille armour or maille with a bit of selective plate coverage for a " chevauché " as one can pull on a maille hauberks by oneself relatively quickly.

My armour wearing experience is very limited as I mostly just look at it but trying to put it all on at once gets very difficult after the breast plate in on as it makes reaching back to buckle arm and shoulder harness very much a thing for a contortionist and the effort rapidly makes one heat up under the armour in frustration. ( Oh, also my armour is not expensive fitted to my body armour and this would cause problems that maybe a " squire " very skilled in helping to secure the armour might be able to minimize but not eliminate ? )

Oh, and this is armour using a lot of buckles rather than ties and is easier to put on by oneself that one needing to use points, as well just putting it on in period would not be enough as I imagine that properly adjusting the tension of the ties was an art in itself and increased the time needed to arm up compared to just slapping it on any old way.

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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
How much more time would it take to don a complete harness if the wearer has no assiatance?


Impossible with full harness from the 13thC onwards. Too many straps and laces to adjust so that the kit moves properly.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 12:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Questions on heavy cavalry.         Reply with quote

Michael Curl wrote:
Hello all.

So I was thinking about squires, and how important they must have been on the medieval battlefields. Without them a knight would have no one to take care of his spare horses, or to help him don his armor.


Another aspect of what squires did was help to trap prisoners and horses for ransom. In my opinion, that made them essential in 11th through 13th century tournament, and the same period battlefield situations. For a successful knight, this function of squires and "helpers" (kippers, etc.) could more than make up for their expenses. Try to imagine the scenario of a valuable opponent knocked off of an expensive quality mount at moderate speed. They separate, and the opponent is still dangerous on the ground in a one on one setting. The squire and entourage helped round up the mount and surround the intended prisoner. This removed a lot of risk from the knight, and made profit more certain.

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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not know if it is impossible but it is hard. Much harder than getting so help. I have been able to get on several authentic early 17th harness on with little problem alone (no greaves but everything else including helmet though w/out gauntlets as few of them were wearable and those with fingers were to fragile to try).

I tried a SCAish 15th harness I made that I could get on alone and it was more or less complete though it was very ahistoric looking back. My new mid 14th one is as close as I can get it to what it should be and is not too hard but I prefer help with the COP as it is a bit difficult. The one thing I cannot do with my 14th century harness is get my padded coif on alone as it laces at the back and I have not figured out spiral lacing blind yet. I will work on it though. Wink

To me the trick for me is to leave certain things that are impossible or hardest to do alone already strapped so that the only things unstrapped are what allows you out. This makes it so it fits well but takes less time and leaves only the straps and lacing you can reach.

The main issue is time for me doing it alone. I can usually spend 20-30 minutes or more doing this alone. That said with my wife's help I can get my 14th century kit- aketon, hauberk, padded cuisses, sabatons, greaves, poleyns, hauberk, COP, rerebraces, vambraces, couters, padded coif, mail coid and helmet (either great helm or bascinet) on in less than 15 easy, we have gotten around 10 on a few occasions. If out son helps might double the time it takes to do this...Practice makes perfect. I can get a great deal of my armour on alone… my next COP will be even better. On monday I might see if my work load is low and try getting all the armour on alone times and with help from my wife.

In the end there are plenty of men at arms who did not have squires so someone likely helped them whether they had a communal squire for a group or helped one another I do not know but I doubt they'd have had to do it alone. I'd also be surprised if a guy took more than 10-15 minutes to get fully suited as once you get familiar with armour it is fairly straight forward.

RPM
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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 6:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, second question. I heard that one mounted warrior required 3 horses, one for battle, one as a spare, and one that the squire rode that carried equipment. Would this have been consistent for all horsemen of all periods? I don't recall the roman cavalry doing this. However I believe the mongols did.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 9:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll take a shot at part two of your original question.
As far as I've been able to deduce, Romans, Greeks ect probably functioned fine without squires as most of the army would have consisted of foot soldiers, been relativly standardized (armour, training, rations, pay ect) unlike some medieval armies, and since (to my knowledge) only wealthy, well trained men (land owners) could even afford a horse to fight (so they probably had a horse to fight on, and one at home or something, so not many) which probably translated to personal skill and wealth, thus the need for an extra person was unneeded methinks...

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jan, 2009 9:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Romans would have relied on a buddy system to help each other arm - especially for the segmentata. This can't be put on alone unless, as Randall suggested, certain parts are left strapped and the legionary wormed into the pre-assembled cuirass. Athenian hoplites definitely had servants to carry their armour and to help them don it just before commencing battle.

Some types of medieval armour such as the coat of plates can't be put on alone since the buckles are at the back. The means of fastening body armour can sometimes help detemine whether it was meant to be worn by nobility or by commoners. Armour intended for lower classes can be put on alone - with straps fastening at the side or front. Upper class armour is more likely to have buckles in places that are difficult to fasten without assistance..
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jan, 2009 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan,

I used to think that as well but am not so sure now. Since most of the Wisby ones are seconds we cannot be sure who they were intended originally but a few that show some sign they were intended for knightly first owners. Those we can be more sure about as being found in the remains of castles, the two Kussnach and Bavaria COPS seem all three to be for knightly or nobles class men and are all side mount. Maybe a good research project for the future.

RPM
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jan, 2009 2:03 am    Post subject: Re: Questions on heavy cavalry.         Reply with quote

Michael Curl wrote:
Part two of this question, in ancient armies (roman, macedonian, etc.) how did the cavalry opperate without squires? How many horses would a horseman need during these times?


Are you sure that they operated without squires or at least servants? Aside from the buddy system that Dan has mentioned, remember that each Roman infantry squad in the early Empire was accompanied by a couple of slaves, and I think it's very likely that the cavalry also had servants or slaves even though I can't recall a source for this right off the top of my head. Servants would probably have been even more important in earlier periods when the Roman cavalry was made up of the richest and most aristocratic men in the army!

If I remember correctly, the Macedonian hetairoi (the Companion cavalry) were nobles or gentlemen as well. Similarly, Greek cavalry outfits were often made up of the few people rich enough to afford the horse and accoutrements. Maybe the Greek practice of closely supporting their cavalry with light infantry (the hamippoi) also has something to do with cavalrymen's retinues?
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jan, 2009 9:05 am    Post subject: Re: Questions on heavy cavalry.         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Michael Curl wrote:
Part two of this question, in ancient armies (roman, macedonian, etc.) how did the cavalry opperate without squires? How many horses would a horseman need during these times?


Are you sure that they operated without squires or at least servants? Aside from the buddy system that Dan has mentioned, remember that each Roman infantry squad in the early Empire was accompanied by a couple of slaves, and I think it's very likely that the cavalry also had servants or slaves even though I can't recall a source for this right off the top of my head. Servants would probably have been even more important in earlier periods when the Roman cavalry was made up of the richest and most aristocratic men in the army!

If I remember correctly, the Macedonian hetairoi (the Companion cavalry) were nobles or gentlemen as well. Similarly, Greek cavalry outfits were often made up of the few people rich enough to afford the horse and accoutrements. Maybe the Greek practice of closely supporting their cavalry with light infantry (the hamippoi) also has something to do with cavalrymen's retinues?



Exactly a servant would it a lot easier, BTW couldn't you leave certain parts of the armor strapped together? I know
that Byzantine optimates had two squires (Armata)

BTW Laffeyete greek cavalry units weren't the most armored units
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jan, 2009 1:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So what is the difference in donning times between attempting it alone and having a servant to assist? A mail shirt would not make much of a difference since the haubergeon can be slipped over the head but chausses can be difficult - especially if they have fastenings behind the legs. It is impossible for me to put on my Dendra panoply unassisted. How much quicker can a medieval breast and back plate be donned with an assistant?
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Zac Evans




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jan, 2009 3:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For a late medieval cuirass you're looking at 2 minutes tops for a squire to put it on you. Without a squire you'd be struggling an awful lot, and depending on how it is attached and where the buckles are etc it could take 5 minutes or even be impossible.

The real difficulty is shoulder armour. Practically impossible to put on yourself, particularly pauldrons.
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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 9:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All great answers, but does anyone have any knowledge as to my second question? i.e. how many horses are needed to field a unit of heavy cavalry? and does this necessitate a squire?
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 10:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We have records of knights having a war horse, riding horse and pack horse. We also know some knights had multiple war horses, especially higher up lords. So yes it would require additional people to care for them but when not in war the warhorse was not rode on campaign as it needed to be fresh for battle.

RPM
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd think for poorer knights, a riding horse and warhorse would be one in the same. The packhorse would probably be an older riding horse, or really any horse in general.

M.

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Michal Plezia
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My armour is impossible(or close to impossible- I really tried without success) to don without help.It is middle 15c italian armour.The most difficult parts will be cuirass and pauldrons.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Jan, 2009 12:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK. Sorry but did not have time yesterday so I just did it while breakfast was cooking.

Kussnack style COP- 1.43-1.68 minutes- longest was 1.68minutes shortest was 1.43) ave. 1.48
Aketon-30-40 seconds. ave33.7
Mail 20-30 seconds, only did it twice 22 and 29

Maybe I will try the rest later.

COP had all right straps done while left undone.

RPM
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