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N Cioran




Location: Toronto
Joined: 21 Nov 2010

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PostPosted: Thu 13 Jan, 2011 10:48 am    Post subject: Two men per spear         Reply with quote

Folks,

English free company lances in Italy are described on two occasions as dismounting and the two combatants handling the same spear.

Does anyone know of any evidence for this besides the statements by Villani and the other chronicler?

Thanks
Cole
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2011 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No, can't find anything except for Villani--but he did make an interesting point that the Englishmen managed their lance in the manner of men hunting after wild boar, and in a recent discussion on a wargaming group I was informed that this might mean that the two-man lance team operated with the man in the rear holding the lance to keep the enemy at bay while the first closed in and engaged with a shorter weapon (presumably a poleaxe or a sword and shield). I wonder if there's anybody here who's conversant with medieval hunting treatises?
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N Cioran




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2011 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette,

Great catch! I'd missed that detail, and will go back and check it out. If it is right, its consistent with the early contracts defining the arms of a lance, namely a lance, sword, and dagger for the caporale, and a sword and dagger for the valetti!

Thanks!
Cole
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Gabriele A. Pini




Location: Olgiate Comasco, Como
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Jan, 2011 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In a Discovery Channel serie there was an episodes about the Weapons of the Bible and how some authors thinks (Attention: weasel words!) that Giona, son of Saul, first king of Israel, fought with his companion in a similar style: one men with a big shield, the other with a spear.

In a mock battle with untrained people (one couple with one shield and one spear, the other with two shields and two swords) the tactic appeared to be functional, if not effective.
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N Cioran




Location: Toronto
Joined: 21 Nov 2010

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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 5:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting. thanks to Lafayette I did a little review:

From the passage on de re Militari, Villani says, "every two take a lance, carrying it in a manner in which one waits for a boar with a boar-spear" (http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/sources/villani3.htm)

Now there is not a single image of two men holding a spear waiting for a boar that I can think of. If you look at the pictures of the boar hunt in Gaston Phoebus at the Morgan you see the lower left most figure waiting:

http://www.themorgan.org/collections/swf/exhibOnline.asp?id=832

My feeling at this point is that the lance advances with the fully armoured caporale bearing the spear as shown, the valetti waits in support, using his sword as opportunity presents, much like a swordsman would dart in to deliver a killing blow when the boar is fixed with the spear.

Have fun!
Cole
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 7:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We do know from artwork and text that in Italy, among other places, there were units of citizens in smallish groups where one had a spear and shield and another had a crossbow. The shield was rather large so my feeling is it was somewhat static and the spear likely to form up to prevent cavalry charges. All the while supported by crossbowmen, who used the shield to reload behind.

My guess is that the idea is they are part of a unit is more likely correct over two persons using the same weapon.

Is Villani the source of this? I will need to relook at it again.


RPM
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Jan, 2011 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cole,

Its been a while since I read that passage of Villani but I seem to recall it described two men partnered with one substantial spear, taking turns using it in the fight so as to:
- Wield a heavier, longer spear than their opponents (who favoured a lance cut down for use on foot)
- Rest more frequently so as to maintain the fight longer

But it has been a while and I recall thinking Villani's description was extremely vague and open to broad interpretation.

Since the English fought on foot, in slightly heavier upper body armour than their Continental contemporaries and most importantly always with flanked archers to compress opposing men at arms into the centre - it seems a logical advantage to seek a longer, heavier weapon to keep the massed body facing them just a bit farther away.

It would be good to quote that passage if you have it handy. That would save a lot of us digging it up. It isn't very long - two, three sentences at most, right?
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N Cioran




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Fri 21 Jan, 2011 3:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Kel!

Here's the description of the English from the link above:

" Their armor was almost uniformly a cuirass and a steel breastplate, iron arm-pieces, thigh- and leg-pieces; they carried stout daggers and swords; all had tilting lances which they dismounted to use; each had one or two pages, and some had more. When they take off their armor, the pages presently set to polishing, so that when they appear in battle their arms seem like mirrors, and they so much more terrible.

Others of them were archers, and their bows were long and of yew; they were quick and dexterous archers, and made good use of the bow. Their mode of fighting in the field was almost always afoot, as they assigned their horses to their pages. Keeping themselves in almost circular formation, every two take a lance, carrying it in a manner in which one waits for a boar with a boar-spear. So bound and compact, with lowered lances they marched with slow steps towards the enemy, making a terrible outcry - and their ranks can hardly be pried apart."

But, that's an older English translation, I'd be very curious to see if there are any other interpretations of it the Italian, and the orginal Italian...

Have fun!
Cole
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Eric Allen




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 21 Jan, 2011 9:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm,

To my eyes, that translation reads as "every two take a lance" not to mean two guys fight with one lance, but that every other guy in the formation has a lance.

In fact, my reading of that passage brings to my mind's eye an arc (or a rectangular formation with bent-back flanks) of varying depth and size depending on how many men are present, standing shoulder to shoulder. Every other man in the formation, at least along the perimeter, is armed with a lance, the rest with bows. So along the perimeter of the arc you have lanceman-bowman-lanceman-bowman-lanceman-etc-etc-etc.

Sort of a hybrid half-schiltron. You've then got a longbow formation with infantry support to keep enemy cavalry from riding them down, and if the bowmen act as swordsmen in close-combat, you've got a mobile schiltron of spears.

I wonder if something like this might be the "hedgehog" formation described for the English at Crecy?
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Fri 21 Jan, 2011 9:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cole -

That quote looks like its from M.A. Tout from something like 1912. I got copies of Villani's chronicles from the UofT library to try to puzzle through but they are vast! I really think we need to dismiss Tout's translation; for example the bit about "cuirasses and breastplates" almost assuredly translates as mail haubergeons and breastplates according to Matthew Strickland. The description is so sparse that only Villani's correspondents might have understood what he meant. I'm not willing to build an interpretation on it. I can't prove it though, I have no idea where those copies might be lurking in all these boxes... Worried

Another Spring Cleaning project I see! Laughing Out Loud
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N Cioran




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 3:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I found my Caferro and the relevant quotes again, here we go:

Azario:

"They had very large lances with very long iron tips. Mostly two, sometimes three of them, handled a single lance so heavy and big that there was nothing it could not penetrate. Behind them, towards the posterior of the formation were the archers, with great bows, which they held from their head to the ground and from which they shot great and long arrows."

Caferro's read of Villani confirms much of the above, adding that the pages hold the horses, the formation is round, and the the spear is held, "in the manner in which spearmen hunt a wild boar."

Enjoy,
Cole
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Christian G. Cameron




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cole--My Medieval Italian is not non-existent, and my dad's is quite good. Let's get the original Villani (I already fired off to Kaeuper at UofR asking for his text) and see what we think. We can post the results on this thread.

And as to two to a spear--I can think of so many sets of phrases that could be yielded from Italian (half have lances? anyone's guess)...let's just look at the Italian.

But carried as one faces a boar--since I've just been through all the Classical and a few medieval texts--your GP illustration is spot on, and has the added dimension that the back hand appears reversed, meaning that the shaft could also be held head high but point down--which I understand is how the Swiss used theirs...

Here's Xenophon, nicely matching yr illustration
Quote:
.[11] ἐὰν δὲ μὴ βούληται ἀκοντιζόμενος καὶ βαλλόμενος κατατεῖναι τὸν περίδρομον, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπανιεὶς ἔχῃ προσιόντα περιδρομὴν ποιούμενος, ἀνάγκη, ὅταν οὕτως ἔχῃ, λαβόντα τὸ προβόλιον προσιέναι, ἔχεσθαι δ᾽ αὐτοῦ τῇ μὲν χειρὶ τῇ ἀριστερᾷ πρόσθεν, τῇ δ᾽ ἑτέρᾳ ὄπισθεν: κατορθοῖ γὰρ ἡ μὲν ἀριστερὰ αὐτό, ἡ δὲ δεξιὰ ἐπεμβάλλει: ἔμπροσθεν δὲ ὁ ποὺς ὁ μὲν ἀριστερὸς ἑπέσθω τῇ χειρὶ τῇ ὁμωνύμῳ, ὁ δὲ δεξιὸς τῇ ἑτέρᾳ. [12] προσιόντα δὲ προβάλλεσθαι τὸ προβόλιον, μὴ πολλῷ μείζω διαβάντα ἢ ἐν πάλῃ, ἐπιστρέφοντα τὰς πλευρὰς τὰς εὐωνύμους ἐπὶ τὴν χεῖρα τὴν εὐώνυμον, εἶτα εἰσβλέποντα εἰς τὸ ὄμμα τοῦ θηρίου ἐνθυμούμενον τὴν κίνησιν τὴν ἀπὸ τῆς κεφαλῆς τῆς ἐκείνου. προσφέρειν δὲ τὸ προβόλιον φυλαττόμενον μὴ ἐκκρούσῃ ἐκ τῶν χειρῶν τῇ κεφαλῇ ἐκνεύσας: τῇ γὰρ ῥύμῃ τῆς ἐκκρούσεως ἕπεται.


Quote:
If, in spite of javelins and stones, he refuses to pull the rope tight, but draws back, wheels round and marks his assailant, in that case the man must approach him spear in hand, and grasp it with the left in front and the right behind, since the left steadies while the right drives it. The left foot must follow the left hand forward, and the right foot the other hand. [12] As he advances let him hold the spear before him, with his legs not much further apart than in wrestling, turning the left side towards the left hand, and then watching the beast's eye and noting the movement of the fellow's head. Let him present the spear, taking care that the boar doesn't knock it out of his hand with a jerk of his head, since he follows up the impetus of the sudden knock.


Which BTW is one of the earliest literary WMA quotes I think there is...

Christian G. Cameron

Qui plus fait, miex vault

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Kurt Scholz





Joined: 09 Dec 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2012 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm119.html

The tale of the "Seven Swabians" is famous for 7 guys on one spear, mostly hunting a hare and drinking good beer for free due to their ferocious appearance. It's a parody, but some truth might be to the idea of more than one men for a spear with an older version of a nine men-spear by Hans Sachs, the Medieval - Early Modern German playwright.
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Michael R. Mann




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2012 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is this spike really described as a spear?
In the known version of the fairytale there is written Schweinsspieß (i.e. a spike for a pig or a sucking-pig). A spear wasn't mentioned.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2012 7:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't shed any light here, but I will observe that, in English, a "spear" can also describe a small military unit--As in, "two men per spear". When I read the topic name I thought that's what was meant.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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