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Paul B.G




Location: Victoria, Australia
Joined: 01 May 2011
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PostPosted: Sat 25 Jun, 2011 6:38 pm    Post subject: Hypothetical question about sword development?         Reply with quote

Now you will have to excuse me if this question is a bit odd or left field but keep in mind that I’m not yet a sword owner Sad still playing the waiting game Worried

I still have a somewhat romantic notion when it comes to swords particularly handling, effectiveness, attack / defensive capabilities etc. By romantic I mean that when I think of a sword the 1st impression that comes to mind is a slightly longer blade say 32” + and a 2 handed grip.

From what I have read the longer 2 handed swords only really came about some centuries down the track in sword history and only really came about in response to changes in battle field tactics and in particular changes in amour? And sorry if you haven’t guessed I’m referring to medieval swords Wink

So my hypothetical question, assuming that amour never really progressed passed the leather stage, say because it was thought that the weight was too much of a disadvantage, how do you think swords would have developed, would we only see single handed swords or would the development of the larger 2 handed swords still occurred?

Cheers - Paul

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person

O====[::::::::::::::::::::::::::::>

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

—Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Jun, 2011 6:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do you need a shield? If yes, then you want a 1-handed sword. If you're armoured well enough to survive the arrows and spears without a shield, then it's optional.

Reach is good. You also get more reach with a 1-handed sword than a 2-handed sword of the same blade length. I'd say about 4"/10cm more. A 2-handed grip doesn't stop you from using a sword one-handed, but this reach is something you will give up if going to a purely 2-handed sword (which will probably be longer, and give you back this lost reach).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Bob Burns




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Jun, 2011 7:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To my learning the beastly but yet graceful for they're size two handers were mainly developed to counter the long pikes rebirthed from ancient times, for the purpose of protecting gunners during reloading. Also to. Combat the ever increasing number of long polearms on the battlefield. Advancements in steel technologies also made these longer blades possible.
My personal opinion is that gunpowder weapons would have developed with or without the advancement of steel armor and thus the tactics of the pikes and therefore the need for large twohanded swords. This is just my own theory. The utilization of gunpowder for weaponry once it had been discovered. Was bound for the battlefield to knock down castle walls from cannon fire, which was also a profound psychological weapon to terrify horses and the enemy. Gunpowder was a whole new realm of harnessed energy and this "harnessed energy" was the main theme of siege weapons. Hand held gunnery was a most certain outcome of this new source of energy and thus the need to protect gunners with pikes, resulting in the need for a weapon to counter pike formations.

Bob

It IS What It IS! Only In Truth, Can Reality Exist!
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Paul B.G




Location: Victoria, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 25 Jun, 2011 7:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Do you need a shield? If yes, then you want a 1-handed sword. If you're armoured well enough to survive the arrows and spears without a shield, then it's optional.

Reach is good. You also get more reach with a 1-handed sword than a 2-handed sword of the same blade length. I'd say about 4"/10cm more. A 2-handed grip doesn't stop you from using a sword one-handed, but this reach is something you will give up if going to a purely 2-handed sword (which will probably be longer, and give you back this lost reach).


I guess without plate armor the shield might become a mainstay for the regular army in particular and therefore would preclude the need to develop a 2 handed sword. But would the shields weight and cumbersome nature deter its use for the lone mercenary? Would the lone warrior then just use a single handed sword or a sword in each hand or sword and battle axe or would the lone warrior in time develop the need for a 2 handed sword?

I guess I’m really just wondering if the longer 2 handed swords were just a response to the changes in armor, or could you say there development was the natural progression in the general improvement of sword in form and function?

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person

O====[::::::::::::::::::::::::::::>

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

—Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
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Paul B.G




Location: Victoria, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 25 Jun, 2011 7:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob Burns wrote:
To my learning the beastly but yet graceful for they're size two handers were mainly developed to counter the long pikes rebirthed from ancient times, for the purpose of protecting gunners during reloading. Also to. Combat the ever increasing number of long polearms on the battlefield. Advancements in steel technologies also made these longer blades possible.
My personal opinion is that gunpowder weapons would have developed with or without the advancement of steel armor and thus the tactics of the pikes and therefore the need for large twohanded swords. This is just my own theory. The utilization of gunpowder for weaponry once it had been discovered. Was bound for the battlefield to knock down castle walls from cannon fire, which was also a profound psychological weapon to terrify horses and the enemy. Gunpowder was a whole new realm of harnessed energy and this "harnessed energy" was the main theme of siege weapons. Hand held gunnery was a most certain outcome of this new source of energy and thus the need to protect gunners with pikes, resulting in the need for a weapon to counter pike formations.

Bob


Hmm I hadn’t considered it that way, would be a very narrow window in history for the use of the longer swords. Ill have to ponder this some more.

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person

O====[::::::::::::::::::::::::::::>

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

—Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
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Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Sat 25 Jun, 2011 7:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think many people underestimate the non-military influences on late medieval sword design, such as fashion and especially judicial combat and duelling. There are many examples of sharply tapering 15th century longswords that had about as much of a battlefield role as the katana or smallsword in the 18th century.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Jun, 2011 2:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul B.G wrote:
Timo Nieminen wrote:
Do you need a shield? If yes, then you want a 1-handed sword. If you're armoured well enough to survive the arrows and spears without a shield, then it's optional.

Reach is good. You also get more reach with a 1-handed sword than a 2-handed sword of the same blade length. I'd say about 4"/10cm more. A 2-handed grip doesn't stop you from using a sword one-handed, but this reach is something you will give up if going to a purely 2-handed sword (which will probably be longer, and give you back this lost reach).


I guess without plate armor the shield might become a mainstay for the regular army in particular and therefore would preclude the need to develop a 2 handed sword. But would the shields weight and cumbersome nature deter its use for the lone mercenary? Would the lone warrior then just use a single handed sword or a sword in each hand or sword and battle axe or would the lone warrior in time develop the need for a 2 handed sword?

I guess I’m really just wondering if the longer 2 handed swords were just a response to the changes in armor, or could you say there development was the natural progression in the general improvement of sword in form and function?


depends on the shield really, viking shields are fairly light, but can be quite flimsy at around 3-5 kg round with a central boss
by conrast, a roman scutum was around 7-9kg,
and the greek aspis was around the 10kg or more mark

but in reality, both the aspis and scutum were more heavy formation fighting shields, good examples of lone person fighting shields would be the byzantine teardrop shield, like a stubbier kite shield. the viking shield is EXCELLENT for 1 on 1 fighting.

but armour and ultimate protection isnt always the be all and end all, you also need to consider HOW those people fought, your not gonna have a massive shield if your a light horse archer,

and also remember that the sword was for a long time in history afairly expensive weapon to get.

its generally accepted for example that the samurai quickly stopped using personal shields due to their initial primary nature as horse archers. and a lack of proper infantry during the same period. plus the fact that they were all fairly well armoured

whereas kite shields and heater shields are decent for individual fighting on horse or on foot
in another example the macedonian phalangite traded the massive aspis and dory for the much smaller shield that allowed them to hold the sarissa in 2 hands. the shield was partly passed through a central band, and parly slung from the neck, allowing one to have a pike AND a shield.


as a general rule heavier the armour, the less of a shield one will use for example by the age of gothic and milanese plate, there was little need to have a shield at all. and thus the knightcould more comfortably use a much wider variety of weapons.

but without heavy armour, r a fast horse, your going to ned a shield to fend off missiles, the other thing is that especiallytypes like the viking shield, they arnt just passive things you hold out in front of you to just stop arrows.

you can bind peoples arms against their bodies, an enemies weapon can get stuck in the edge of the shield letting you hit HIM.
depending on how heavy it is you can also use a shield to shove, jostle and hit people, to punch, using a viking shields rim like a brass knuckle, wouldhurt like hell,.
a common tactic for the romans was to simply drive forward, punch with the shield then stab with the gladius,
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Jun, 2011 10:38 am    Post subject: Re: Hypothetical question about sword development?         Reply with quote

Paul B.G wrote:
...assuming that amour never really progressed passed the leather stage...


When was that? Do you mean the leather spolas of Classical Greece? Because if you're talking about medieval Europe, leather armor was never common.

Quote:
...say because it was thought that the weight was too much of a disadvantage...


As opposed to death? There are indeed numerous examples of men wearing less armor than was technically available, but from what I've seen over the years, those who could afford it wore at least some. It was worth the weight.

Quote:
...how do you think swords would have developed, would we only see single handed swords or would the development of the larger 2 handed swords still occurred?


That's quite a "what if"! You'd have to make drastic changes to all of Europe's social and technological evolution, I think.

Quote:
I guess without plate armor the shield might become a mainstay for the regular army in particular and therefore would preclude the need to develop a 2 handed sword.


I think you may have answered your question right there. Shields were standard equipment for about 3000 years! They long predate armor of any sort. So one-handed weapons were generally the most common.

Quote:
But would the shields weight and cumbersome nature deter its use for the lone mercenary?


Ha, you need to handle more shields! Very few of them are "cumbersome". Even the Roman scutum is surprisingly light and maneuverable. By the way, why is your mercenary "lone"? He'd be hired by someone raising a permanent bodyguard force, or a temporary army of whatever size. I doubt he'd be expected to fight alone very much if ever.

Quote:
Would the lone warrior then just use a single handed sword or a sword in each hand or sword and battle axe or would the lone warrior in time develop the need for a 2 handed sword?


He'd use whatever was considered fashionable for his culture. He might certainly have a choice (e.g., shield and spear, or a bow), but there are very few recorded instances of men using 2 swords on a battlefield. A single-handed sword (or spear or axe, etc.) was meant to be used with a shield, and giving that up voluntarily makes one a missile-magnet!

William P wrote:
by conrast, a roman scutum was around 7-9kg,
and the greek aspis was around the 10kg or more mark


I'd say those weights are a little high. While the Republican scutum could weigh a good 20 pounds (c. 9 kg), the shorter and thinner Imperial scutum was considerably lighter, in the 12-pound range (5-6kg). The Greek aspis was comparable--mine is WAY too heavy at 18 pounds! Should be 12 to 14 at most. Large shields like those were indeed meant mainly for formation fighting, but were clearly used for one-on-one combat as well. (Gladiators, for instance!)

Quote:
and also remember that the sword was for a long time in history afairly expensive weapon to get.


Not always! Obviously a very high-quality sword was out of reach of most commoners, but cheap swords were often available. The Roman gladius springs to mind, but if we want to stick to the middle ages, there's another thread on this board ("The Peasant and his weapons", I believe) that cites very inexpensive swords, as well as laws requiring commoners in some areas to own swords. On the other hand, I will agree that the one-handed sword was generally not meant as one's primary weapon, spears being far more common. And I agree with most of the rest of what you said, William!

Matthew
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Sun 26 Jun, 2011 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well...the XIIa and XIIIa were before the advant of plate being very common and are two handed swords so I'm not sue if saying two handed swords were developed solely to deal with heavy armor is correct. Of course both these weapons were facing more then just leather.

As for shield being heavy...they can be...or they can be light...depends on the shield and the purpose of the shield. If your not in formation, you would choose a different shield then if you were in formation. But like armor, they keep you alive, they are ALWAYS worth the weight until armor gets good enough to make then redunant.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Jun, 2011 4:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
If your not in formation, you would choose a different shield then if you were in formation.


Hmm, not sure I agree with that. Sure, a pavise or mantlet isn't going to be lugged into a one-on-one combat, but most other shields that I know of were used alone or in formation just the same. And most soldiers would not have the luxury of toting multiple shields.

And really, how common was one-on-one combat? Do we have any statistics or primary sources? My guess is that it would be limited to aristocratic duels, tournaments, or judicial duels (which often had distinctive weaponry anyway). The average unemployed soldier might get into a bar fight or street brawl, but that wouldn't necessarily involve heavy weapons (or weapons at all!), and would not necessarily be only 2 guys duking it out.

Quote:
But like armor, they keep you alive, they are ALWAYS worth the weight until armor gets good enough to make then redunant.


I'm with you there!

Matthew
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William P




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Jun, 2011 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
P. Cha wrote:
If your not in formation, you would choose a different shield then if you were in formation.


Hmm, not sure I agree with that. Sure, a pavise or mantlet isn't going to be lugged into a one-on-one combat, but most other shields that I know of were used alone or in formation just the same. And most soldiers would not have the luxury of toting multiple shields.

And really, how common was one-on-one combat? Do we have any statistics or primary sources? My guess is that it would be limited to aristocratic duels, tournaments, or judicial duels (which often had distinctive weaponry anyway). The average unemployed soldier might get into a bar fight or street brawl, but that wouldn't necessarily involve heavy weapons (or weapons at all!), and would not necessarily be only 2 guys duking it out.

Quote:
But like armor, they keep you alive, they are ALWAYS worth the weight until armor gets good enough to make then redunant.


I'm with you there!

Matthew

i guess youd know about the aspis, considering that i learnt and got alot of my source material about the lengths and images of hoplite weapons FROM your website and it was a massive help btw in learning more about hoplite arms,
as for the scutum, i base that on abit of speculation based on the recently learned weight of a romano british scutum being roughly 7.5kg based on the example i was shown, my viking shield is about 4.5kg, which is roughly 9lbs (assuming 1 kg= ~2 pounds

as for 1V 1 combat, by that its fair to mean a group of individual fighters, fighting another group of individuals, as opposed to say that sort of massed hoplite or shieldwall battles. lets nt forget that those sorts of pitched battles, especially in the dark ages, accounted for, id imagine a not too big pecentage of fighting done, lets not forget raids, fights between ships crews, seiges, all of these environment dont very easily allow actual unit Vs unit fighting, another example is analysis of mycenean warfare, and that of samurai battles, plus battles of most of the medieval period, where most fighting was in general a haphazard melee once two groups of fighters reached each other.

so 1v1 id say is MORE of a consideration that rigid or semi rigid formation fighting like hoplite and phalangite phalanxes or roman maniple system units, or byzantine units, or even later, napoleonic musketeer formations are less common ways that people clashed.

as for swords, i was sortof influenced by the notion that the sword wasnt the most common weapon and especially that unlike axes or spears swords had little off battle use, and in the case of the viking swords and samurai katana which influenced the expensive remark, were sometimes considered to be fairly precious.

its also worth noting that argably, the sword isnt really the nastiest of weapons one can have. id argue a spear, or a axe, or a war hammer are alot more scary, since as i see it. a sword stroke can damage unarmoured tissue well and armoured (even leather if its tough enough) a bit less, including designated slicing swords like oakshott type X swords and falchion and katana, but a daneaxe or a toothed warghammer head will crush you, prettymuch regardless of WHAT your wearing. or will yout stick you wit the spike. or the head of a spear which can run through just about anything non metallic.
a swords value might be that especially in the case of the arming sword, or longsword is that its a compromise, it can slice, stab, and, held the right way, be used like a mace or warhammer.
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Paul B.G




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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jun, 2011 1:54 am    Post subject: Re: Hypothetical question about sword development?         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Paul B.G wrote:
...assuming that amour never really progressed passed the leather stage...


When was that? Do you mean the leather spolas of Classical Greece? Because if you're talking about medieval Europe, leather armor was never common.

Quote:
...say because it was thought that the weight was too much of a disadvantage...


As opposed to death? There are indeed numerous examples of men wearing less armor than was technically available, but from what I've seen over the years, those who could afford it wore at least some. It was worth the weight.

Quote:
...how do you think swords would have developed, would we only see single handed swords or would the development of the larger 2 handed swords still occurred?


That's quite a "what if"! You'd have to make drastic changes to all of Europe's social and technological evolution, I think.

Quote:
I guess without plate armor the shield might become a mainstay for the regular army in particular and therefore would preclude the need to develop a 2 handed sword.


I think you may have answered your question right there. Shields were standard equipment for about 3000 years! They long predate armor of any sort. So one-handed weapons were generally the most common.

Quote:
But would the shields weight and cumbersome nature deter its use for the lone mercenary?


Ha, you need to handle more shields! Very few of them are "cumbersome". Even the Roman scutum is surprisingly light and maneuverable. By the way, why is your mercenary "lone"? He'd be hired by someone raising a permanent bodyguard force, or a temporary army of whatever size. I doubt he'd be expected to fight alone very much if ever.

Quote:
Would the lone warrior then just use a single handed sword or a sword in each hand or sword and battle axe or would the lone warrior in time develop the need for a 2 handed sword?


He'd use whatever was considered fashionable for his culture. He might certainly have a choice (e.g., shield and spear, or a bow), but there are very few recorded instances of men using 2 swords on a battlefield. A single-handed sword (or spear or axe, etc.) was meant to be used with a shield, and giving that up voluntarily makes one a missile-magnet!

William P wrote:
by conrast, a roman scutum was around 7-9kg,
and the greek aspis was around the 10kg or more mark


I'd say those weights are a little high. While the Republican scutum could weigh a good 20 pounds (c. 9 kg), the shorter and thinner Imperial scutum was considerably lighter, in the 12-pound range (5-6kg). The Greek aspis was comparable--mine is WAY too heavy at 18 pounds! Should be 12 to 14 at most. Large shields like those were indeed meant mainly for formation fighting, but were clearly used for one-on-one combat as well. (Gladiators, for instance!)

Quote:
and also remember that the sword was for a long time in history afairly expensive weapon to get.


Not always! Obviously a very high-quality sword was out of reach of most commoners, but cheap swords were often available. The Roman gladius springs to mind, but if we want to stick to the middle ages, there's another thread on this board ("The Peasant and his weapons", I believe) that cites very inexpensive swords, as well as laws requiring commoners in some areas to own swords. On the other hand, I will agree that the one-handed sword was generally not meant as one's primary weapon, spears being far more common. And I agree with most of the rest of what you said, William!

Matthew


Gday Matt thanks for your detailed reply Wink Perhaps I didn’t set out my question right, your comments are all correct but have expanded a bit past the question I was trying to ask Wink

I guess the question that im trying to reconcile in my head is more of a comparison of 1 Vs 2 handed swords. As stated my question is completely hypothetical and I was just setting a scene with my leather armor & weight premise. I was really just wondering if the longer 2 handed swords were just a response to the changes in armor, or could you say there development was the natural progression in the general improvement of the sword in form and function?

Now Im probably going to be wrong in this comment but the katana (2 handed sword) would seem to be the epitome in sword evolution in Japan and this seemed to occur in a culture that whilst had some degree of body armoring, did not go to the lengths of developing body armor as seen in Europe.

As always this forum continues to be a learning experience.

Cheers

Paul

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person

O====[::::::::::::::::::::::::::::>

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

—Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jun, 2011 2:34 am    Post subject: Re: Hypothetical question about sword development?         Reply with quote

Paul B.G wrote:

Now Im probably going to be wrong in this comment but the katana (2 handed sword) would seem to be the epitome in sword evolution in Japan and this seemed to occur in a culture that whilst had some degree of body armoring, did not go to the lengths of developing body armor as seen in Europe.


The katana is (typically) a short-bladed sword. Practical length is limited by what can be drawn from a scabbard tucked into the waist sash/belt. (Consider that earlier tachi, in scabbards slung from the waist, were longer on average.) The katana came into the limelight as a civilian sword, an everyday dress accessory for all samurai.

There were Japanese 2-handed swords, specialised 2-handed swords as opposed to swords that could be used in either 1 or 2 hands. Odachi/nodachi could get up to the size and weight of European two-handers (Zweihänder etc.). If you count the nagamaki as a sword instead of a polearm, then that 's another example.

The standard battle weapons were two-handed: bow, spear, naginata, and musket. The primacy of archery when samurai evolved is the usual (and good) explanation for the lack of shields (which were used earlier).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Mon 27 Jun, 2011 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Japan developed A LOT of body armour. While no place developed the kind of steel exoskeleton of renaissance Europe, you are going to find that the Japanese had plenty of armour.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=22602

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jul, 2011 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
plus battles of most of the medieval period, where most fighting was in general a haphazard melee once two groups of fighters reached each other.


A haphazard melee? Are you sure about that? If it was true, then the casualty rates in most medieval battles should have been much, much higher. In reality, while the formations involved wouldn't have been as neat as in Roman times or the 18th century, once fights got above a certain size there was almost certainly a clear delineation along an identifiable front between the two opposing groups of combatants, with not much mingling taking place until one side was beginning to lose its morale and cohesion. I've personally witnessed a number of neighbourhood street brawls where the participants must have been much less well-trained and less disciplined than medieval armies, and they weren't haphazard Hollywood melees.


Timo Nieminen wrote:
The standard battle weapons were two-handed: bow, spear, naginata, and musket. The primacy of archery when samurai evolved is the usual (and good) explanation for the lack of shields (which were used earlier).


"Lack of shields" might not be accurate either once we take account of the pavises that were practically ubiquitous in medieval Japanese infantry combat (especially archery duels).
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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jul, 2011 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
William P wrote:
plus battles of most of the medieval period, where most fighting was in general a haphazard melee once two groups of fighters reached each other.


A haphazard melee? Are you sure about that? If it was true, then the casualty rates in most medieval battles should have been much, much higher. In reality, while the formations involved wouldn't have been as neat as in Roman times or the 18th century, once fights got above a certain size there was almost certainly a clear delineation along an identifiable front between the two opposing groups of combatants, with not much mingling taking place until one side was beginning to lose its morale and cohesion. I've personally witnessed a number of neighbourhood street brawls where the participants must have been much less well-trained and less disciplined than medieval armies, and they weren't haphazard Hollywood melees.


Timo Nieminen wrote:
The standard battle weapons were two-handed: bow, spear, naginata, and musket. The primacy of archery when samurai evolved is the usual (and good) explanation for the lack of shields (which were used earlier).


"Lack of shields" might not be accurate either once we take account of the pavises that were practically ubiquitous in medieval Japanese infantry combat (especially archery duels).


and theres also the fact that according to the article on this site on japanese armour the Sode on earrly O-yoroi WERE essentially small shields. tied to eachh shoulder.

the reason this makes sense is that many other horse cultures that had armoured horse archers, namely the various peoples from the kypchaks , seljuks, and the various calipates and sultanates, plus the mongls many of these troops often carried a shield as well. so the fact that the samurai were horse armers to my doesnt explain the lack of personal shields.

to me theres a difference between a large pavise or mantlet, and a personal sheld that one fights with.


as for the nature of medieval battles.

thats what ive read, that for the common soldier, battles were 'terrifying free for all's' this is based, around the book 'the medieval knight, other books in the series were 'the greek hoplite' the roman legionaire' the british redcot of the napoleonic wars, and a whole host of other books. and its not that famous osprey series either.

my point is while you might gang up with your buddies. most fighting wasnt super clear cut, your more or less looking after yourself, its not like a phalanx were the men both behind and to the sides of you

i mean look at t this way, knights, when they charged an enemy and knights being knights, got into actual sword combat with their fellow knights or other enemies, thats still more or less 1v1 fighting

i realise that theres a much better way of expressing what i mean, that is "individual fighting". for example a the battle of i think haldon street, where boudiccas army charged the romans, the britons more or less fought in the style of tindividual warriors. while there was an overal plan in battles like haldon, and also in the zulu wars, and agincourt, for the french, while they had the large battle line waves of dismounted nobles. i would assume that they wernt opting for a shield wall, instead each knight would be more or less fighng for himself, of course theres the oppertunity to help out your nearest ally.

again as i mentioned, lets not forget that large scale pitched battles make up only a fraction of overall combat in history, this frction changes from culture and different time periods. but, while i dont have official figures, so i could be wrong. it makes sense that we have fighting for example, seiges and raids are extremely commonplace during the dark ages and the medieval period. then we have shipborne fighting. all of these are environments where each man fights more or less on his own.

you sortof get what i mean
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jul, 2011 9:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
thats what ive read, that for the common soldier, battles were 'terrifying free for all's' this is based, around the book 'the medieval knight, other books in the series were 'the greek hoplite' the roman legionaire' the british redcot of the napoleonic wars, and a whole host of other books. and its not that famous osprey series either.


Sorry, William, but I think you have a distorted view of medieval armies and battles. A lot of those combatants, even the commoners, were experienced and/or trained. In fact, with smaller actions, those would be far more likely to be the men fighting, rather than the fearful green farmers (who were often trained militia anyway!). And anyone with battlefield experience knew that The Line Is Life. They fought in lines. They knew about formations. They knew that a man in a line was NOT alone or fighting on his own, and could not be ganged up on by the enemy. It's very true that they were generally not as highly trained as a Roman legionary who did weapon and formation training every morning of his life for 20 years! But you really don't need that much training to stand close to your buddies, keep your shield in front of you, and point your spear forwards. That's a shield wall, and that's how they fought anytime there were more than a half-dozen guys with room to stand.

Quote:
my point is while you might gang up with your buddies. most fighting wasnt super clear cut, your more or less looking after yourself, its not like a phalanx were the men both behind and to the sides of you


It was exactly like a phalanx. People like to think of the Greek phalanx as some kind of machine, rigid and mechanical and unbreakable. The reality is that in the Classical era, only the Spartans bothered to drill, and they were the only ones who could keep a phalanx intact long enough to close with the enemy! Everyone else's phalanx kind of desintegrated into a long stringy mob at that point. It was simply a line of regular guys with shields and spears who were initially organized into nice ranks and files, but who did not do any regular training together. They were not trained soldiers any more than the average medieval militia. And in ancient Greece and medieval Europe, you knew who was on which side primarily by which direction they were facing! Staying in some kind of formation meant avoiding any potentially fatal confusion. It also allowed you to watch out for your friends around you--these are not strangers, mind you, but neighbors and relatives. And they would definitely be several ranks deep if there were more than a couple dozen men on each side.

Quote:
i mean look at t this way, knights, when they charged an enemy and knights being knights, got into actual sword combat with their fellow knights or other enemies, thats still more or less 1v1 fighting


Sure, any blow delivered in even the most immense battle is only heading towards one target! But there's a heck of a lot mroe to worry about in a mass battle than just that one opponent, so it isn't nearly the same.

Quote:
i realise that theres a much better way of expressing what i mean, that is "individual fighting". for example a the battle of i think haldon street, where boudiccas army charged the romans, the britons more or less fought in the style of tindividual warriors.


No, the infantry advanced in a compact mass with a reasonably straight front: a shield wall. In fact they were probably more compressed than the Romans, since there were so many more of them confined to an inadequate space. But the Britons like any other Celtic or Germanic people back then were well aware of how to fight mass combats. They simply were not as unified and well-drilled as the Romans. (Yet sometimes they still won!)

Quote:
again as i mentioned, lets not forget that large scale pitched battles make up only a fraction of overall combat in history, this frction changes from culture and different time periods.


That's very possible. But even a small-scale fight or "skirmish" could easily involve 2 lines or shield walls of combatants.

Quote:
it makes sense that we have fighting for example, seiges and raids are extremely commonplace during the dark ages and the medieval period. then we have shipborne fighting. all of these are environments where each man fights more or less on his own.


If there are multiple combatants, a man alone is most likely going to die quickly. If you have friends around, stay close to them, and protect each other. You can do this in a clump or mob or square or triangle or column, but in order to have the most possible weapons pointing towards the bad guys, the best idea is to form a line. Shields up, spears forward: it's a shield wall. You don't have to be packed together or overlap your shields for that, but they certainly knew that a basic line was the way to go to war.

Vale,

Matthew
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jul, 2011 3:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ok, fair enough,

so you would say, that knowing to fight as an individual took second place to fighting as a larger group?

would you say that in your experience fighting as a hoplite as opposed to other time periods. , aside from obvious examples like the buckler would you say that some shields are more suited for individual fighting. because for example, ive heard it postulated that for example the greek aspis, seeing as how its so heavy and cumbersome, its useless for anything BUT shieldwall/ phalanx fighting. as evidenced that when broken up, you tossed the aspis first.


whereas for example. when in reenactment training as varangian guardsmen, while training is usually 3- 4 a side since the pool of turnouts is fairly small , , we usually advance on each other in a line, but what a common tactic of mine at least is to break off and try and essentially flank the other line, you can do that with a viking/ saxon or other shield. because you can maneuver your shield fairly well. and its better due to its grip mechanism ansd size for covering yourself as an individual. you can better look after yourself than say a hoplite aspis, or a norman kite shield.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Jul, 2011 5:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
ok, fair enough,

so you would say, that knowing to fight as an individual took second place to fighting as a larger group?


Hmm, yes, I think that's safe to say for the average commoner on the battlefield. Certainly knights (and other elites) trained for one-on-one combat, and this would certainly be of benefit in a mass battle. And they would not train *exclusively* for single combat!

Quote:
would you say that in your experience fighting as a hoplite as opposed to other time periods. , aside from obvious examples like the buckler would you say that some shields are more suited for individual fighting.


I'm not sure I would. My feeling is that most shields evolved for mass warfare, and would be used for the occasional one-on-one fight simply because that's what was in use and familiar to the combatants. As you say, a buckler might not be optimal in mass combat especially if there are lots of missiles flying. It was great against other men with swords and bucklers (or just swords), but may not have been as good against a single man with a larger shield (all other factors being more or less equal). As far as I know, warriors tended to use the same basic gear (whatever it was) for both single and massed combat, though there was certainly specialized dueling and jousting gear from the later middle ages onward. So it must have worked well enough for them.

Quote:
because for example, ive heard it postulated that for example the greek aspis, seeing as how its so heavy and cumbersome, its useless for anything BUT shieldwall/ phalanx fighting. as evidenced that when broken up, you tossed the aspis first.


The aspis is NOT all that "heavy and cumbersome"! It didn't weigh much more than a Viking shield, and the deep dishing as well as the strapping arrangement makes it less of a burden for the arm. And while a damp sock might be thought of as "useless" in single combat, 7 square feet of bronze-faced wood is certainly not! It's a perfectly good shield for many applications, though it does seem to be specially evolved for the phalanx battle environment. It was only discarded to FLEE a battle! EVERYone tossed their shields and weapons to run away.

Quote:
whereas for example. when in reenactment training as varangian guardsmen, while training is usually 3- 4 a side since the pool of turnouts is fairly small , , we usually advance on each other in a line, but what a common tactic of mine at least is to break off and try and essentially flank the other line


Three to four men per side is a bar fight, not a battle. Sure, you can do something like that alone with numbers like those, but as the numbers increase, your flanking maneuver has to increase proportionally or it's suicide. Flanking maneuvers happened all the time, and could be done by whatever troop types were present, from naked slingers to musketeers to armored cavalry to several divisions of tanks. Sure, if you're lugging 20 pounds of shield you may not be sprinting as fast or far as a man with 2 pounds of buckler, but on a battlefield you probably don't have to. Groups of men moved at a walk or maybe at a jog, until the final charge.

Quote:
you can do that with a viking/ saxon or other shield. because you can maneuver your shield fairly well. and its better due to its grip mechanism ansd size for covering yourself as an individual. you can better look after yourself than say a hoplite aspis, or a norman kite shield.


Heck, a Norman kite shield is lighter and easier to hold and maneuver than a Viking shield! Gives better protection, too, I'd say, cuz the legs are covered. Found that out in my very first reenactment! And like I said, the aspis is perfectly good for that sort of thing, too. You can do flanking maneuvers or most any other sort of tactic with a Viking shield, or a Roman scutum, or a buckler, or a Mycenaean figure-8 shield. (Or with no shield at all!) Obviously, if we start discussing the sorts of spiffy moves that can be done with a center-grip round shield, such as trapping an opponent's weapon, striking with the edge, etc., those sorts of things might not be possible with other shields, or might be done differently. But it's a lot easier to crush a man's foot with a scutum or figure-8 shield! Those larger shields worked just fine for whatever needed to be done, or they would not have been used.

Vale,

Matthew
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