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Ben P.

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PostPosted: Wed 10 Jun, 2009 6:47 pm    Post subject: A plethora of European 'Heavy' Cavalry questions 1495-1590s         Reply with quote

Here are questions that I thought up and would like to know your answers to. I'm thinking Gen 'd arme style (or a reasonable european equivalent with similar gear)

1 Is 'Heavy' the correct term?

2 What happens to a pike formation when it is hit by a cavalry charge? My theory is that the first three pikes (If the pike hasn't been outreached and the wielder hasn't already been killed by the eighteen foot lance) will be deflected up and to the side wrenching its wielder along with it and knocking the poor pikeman back as well further disrupting his formation. And that the ranks behind wont have time to level their pikes if the cavalry keeps going and thus they will be pinned

3 Which leads me to number three. When the barding hits the pike point will it be pierced? And how effective was barding from that era and how much did it weigh? Also why did barding fall out of use?

4 How many people will a lance kill before it breaks?

5 How well the Gens 'd armes perform (in a frontal charge)

6 How did the Gens 'd amres feel about a frontal charge against good unshaken infantry?

7 I've read about warhorses picking people up in their and shaking them or carrying them off. Any info/sources/citations?

BTW There's this guy I know who says that stallions were only picked as warhorses to show the riders virility (and some other nonsense about gender ideology) and that geldings did just as well (I think this is a load of you-know-what) can you give me any info/sources.citations that say otherwise?

8 What was the infantryman (specifically swiss and landsknecht) of the times opinion of the Gen 'd Arme?

9 How did Gens 'd armes solve the problem of the line coming apart when the horse charged?

10 Are there any survivng warhorse training manuals from the era?

11 Why didn't the Gens 'd armes keep their lances along with their pistol?

12 How long did it take Gen 'd arme or Gen 'd Arme like cavalry to reform and change direction? Also did their formations come apart that easily?

13 Which was the formation of preference? Wedge or En haye?

14 (This is unrelated with the other questions) IIRC I came across a mentioning in Nicephorus Phocus' work about armouring the inside of the hoof to protect it from caltrops. Any ideas on how that would look/perform?
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Gabriele Becattini

Joined: 21 Aug 2007

Posts: 715

PostPosted: Thu 11 Jun, 2009 3:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i'll try to answer a part of your questions, other are behind my knowledge of the subject

1-the terms heavy it's correct in my opinion considering that a full or three quarter harness was kept till the end of 16th century and at least the mid century full or frontal barding for horse

2- a well drilled and placed infantry formation could stop any frontal charge without suffering too much, when a pike formation was disrupted it was the result of a bad placing or insufficent drilling i believe that a cavalry formation without nsupport was no match for pikeman

3- the barding was very efficent, and an armoured horse and rider was very impervious to kill

4- i think no more than one, considering that the lance was almost useless after the first impact

5-depend which kind of result you was expecting, at the battle of pinkie in 1547 for example the english heawy cavalry fail to break the scottish pike but it was their charge that stopped the scottish pike onslaught, and allow the english arquebusier and bowman to shot down the pikeman.

6- the heavy cavalry formation had usually a fine esprit de corp, the french gendarme charged the imperialist at pavia without fear, at pinkie sir arthur grey of wilton, the english heavy horse commander, almost lost is life throwing it's cavalry force against the scottish pike

11- the lance survived together with pistol till the end of the 16th century, the english demilance and french compagnie d'ordnance was armed with both

13- the french used to charge en haye till the end of the religious war (1590s)


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Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team

myArmoury Team

Location: Birmingham, Alabama
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Jun, 2009 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You should read this article by Gordon Frye if you haven't already seen it:


Author of the Little Hammer novel
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Dan Howard

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PostPosted: Fri 12 Jun, 2009 1:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The term "heavy" is applied to any unit that utilises shock tactics. Weapons and armour are irrelevant.
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