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Stefan Gurguriev





Joined: 04 May 2009

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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 7:14 am    Post subject: Combat in 15c plate armour and some unanswered questions         Reply with quote

Hi, I've been reading numerous articles and essays about plate armour combat, including : "Fight Earnestly" and many of the articles here in the forum (as well as "Would a dagger penetrate plate armour'' but several questions reamin unanswered.First, I know it was a common method of a knight wrestling another knight down and aiming to stab him in the visor but did a dagger easily slip in the visor, considering that the rondel was a thin slender blade and that visors were relatively broad in comparison?But from a practical point of view was it a reliable method of killing a knight?And would a longsowrd blade slip into the visor via a well aimed thrust?And was the Mordhau actually deadly for a man in plate (hence the name)?And in a melee was it common that knights bashed eachother on the helms with the blades of the sword and how effective was it in denting the helm/armour?And last, is it hard for an experienced knight to stab another knight in the knee joint or armpit?Does it require a lot of skill to actually perform such a blow?
Thanks for you answers in advance, I know my questions are tedious.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 7:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Combat in 15c plate armour and some unanswered questions         Reply with quote

Stefan Gurguriev wrote:
First, I know it was a common method of a knight wrestling another knight down and aiming to stab him in the visor but did a dagger easily slip in the visor, considering that the rondel was a thin slender blade and that visors were relatively broad in comparison?


Stefan,
Hello and welcome to myArmoury. Happy Others maybe better at answering your other questions, but Id like to address the one I quoted above.

Rondel dagger blades could be thin wide and either single or double-edged. They could also be narrow, edgeless, and with triangular or square sections. And there are many variations in between. So thick, thin, wide, narrow, sharp, no edges, one edge, two edge, etc. are all options.

Some daggers could easily slide into a visor with a well-placed thrust. Others would have to be angled just right. Others could be too thick to slide in.

Happy

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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 8:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
And in a melee was it common that knights bashed eachother on the helms with the blades of the sword and how effective was it in denting the helm/armour?And last, is it hard for an experienced knight to stab another knight in the knee joint or armpit?Does it require a lot of skill to actually perform such a blow?


I don't about the rest, but I'll take a stab at the above. (Stab! Hah, I slay me. Wink )

Operating under the assumption you are referring to the later full-plate cap-a-pie:
While it might be a good way to distract or stun a foe and would certainly have been done if needed, most people figure knights were not too hot on the random bashing at armor with expensive swords. A good solid blow could dent the helm and/or concuss the man inside, but if you want to go that route you get a mace or warhammer. Swords were largely used against a heavily armored foe through the half-swording technique, where the middle of the blade or there-abouts was grasped in the other hand. Doing this allows one to use it as a short polearm and gives greater control over the point.

This brings us to your last couple of questions. Was it hard? Most likely it could be rather difficult, depending on the condition of the opponent. If unhurt, the other man is probably trying to dodge and do some stabbing in return. Perhaps the best and often used tactic would have been to close quarters, grapple the other fellow to the ground, and then stick 'em. Again, if the guy hasn't been stunned or otherwise injured by this point, he's probably still resisting and trying to avoid getting stabbed, making it any manner of difficult.
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From fighting in my personal experience in plate, I know that unless you are very lucky, getting a well-placed thrust into a specific target on a moving body is about impossible. You have to wait until you are engaged in zogho stretto/grappeling range to do such, and even then, it is not easy.

A distracting blow to the head, groin, or other nerve sensitive area that can stun or disorient your opponent for a second or two will allow for more effective killing blows into the lightly armored / visor / under the aventail areas to be made with either a dagger or via half-swording. Smacking someone in the head with a sword even though there is no penetration still serves a purpose - because in my case (besides uttering explicatives that I probably should not), it does a pretty good job distracting you no matter how much padding you have on ye ole noggin'. Even being stunned for a couple milliseconds gives a skilled warrior to enterprise on any weakness you might have.

J.E. Sarge
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 10:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From everything I have been able to piece together... its not the weapons nor the armor that won the 15 th century but the "numbers"... vast numbers of cheaply armed, low wage, pikemen.

It was a breakdown in monetary stability that brought about feudalism in Europe after 400 ad. It was a buildup in monetary stability that began to erode feudalism after 1300 in Western Europe. It might be argued that the wide spread stability and progress that is required to have large armies of nobles in full plate... is the same condition that allows a growing merchant class to raise cheap wage paid armies too. If there had been no growing merchant class after 1300... perhaps the resources may not have been available to have large numbers of nobles in plate after 1400.

Stephan, you might also want to consider that a man in plate usually does not want to kill another man in plate. It is far more profitable to ransom him. This was a large reason why nobles went to war in the first palace. Ransom was a major source of income for the nobility. As JE Sarge mentioned above, knocking someone on the side of the helm with sword may not kill him, but it may shake him up and yield him. In order to do get to him though, you have to get through his lesser armed men, who you can kill will a sword because they would not have any money to ransom themselves.

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.
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Mon 04 May, 2009 11:37 pm    Post subject: Re: Combat in 15c plate armour and some unanswered questions         Reply with quote

Hello Stefan,

Before answering you, I would like to say your text would be easier to repond to if you break it up into smaller blocks which are easier to read.

Now, first, almost everything you 'most people' have heard about armored combat is false.

The first thing you must get rid of is the idea of a knight thursting with his longsword in some sort of fencing lunge.

A Knight did not hold his sword 'as a sword' when in an armored fight. He would place one hand on the blade to 'guide' the sword, and one on the hilt to power it.

When he closed with another knight, they would use their swords against each other like very short spears, almost wresting rather then fencing, to find the openings in the other's armor. These openings were very difficult to work a point into, but it was far easier then trying to overcome a plate directly, which was almost impossible.

They would NEVER bash each other with the blades in a real combat. This was done when showing off, and when one did not seriously intend to hurt the other fellow. This is called a 'deed of arms.' It is to look good infront of the ladies and the peasants who didn't really understand what you were doing anyway.

As to attacking through the visor, there are many who are quite firmly of the opinion that the visior was usually open when fighting on foot. After all the face was a small enough area to defend, and being able to see well and breathe well was more important. There is evidence it went the other way too, with some fightbooks showing closed visors on foot. The murderstrikes are merely dramatic names. (There are some ugly punches in the unarmed material which are also called murderstrikes, but would be unlikely to kill.)

The effectiveness of a blunt impact against armor is somewhat debated. I've known those who maintain a full-on blow from a polehammer will do no more then stun, and that they themselves have experinced such. I have less opinon here, having never been beaten in the head with anything mroe substantial then a rattan broadsword while wearing an overweight helmet. (I can say that one is not overly disconcerted by rattan impacts.) That said, any blunt impact would be highly unlikely to do lethal injury.

Stabbing someone in the knee or armpit, (In harness) would be difficult if the other follow is also well trained, as he will attempt to counter your every move. The back of he knee would be fairly vunerable as the front would be fairly invunerable due to the plate protection. But any target that could be attacked would, with the usual difficulties of fighting through the other fellow's defence.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Stefan Gurguriev





Joined: 04 May 2009

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue 05 May, 2009 4:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much for your answers!I've been asking those questions in order to try to imagine what a duel to the death it 15th century harness would look like.In th e''Fight Earnestly" manual rondel stabs are depicted as direct stabs in the face(visors lifted), but I think that a stab trough the visor of the sallet was also possible as well as in the gap between the bevor and the sallet.Thank you for your answers once agian.
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