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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Thu 15 Dec, 2011 2:30 pm    Post subject: Anglo-Saxon Cavalry         Reply with quote

Anybody notice the Angles are fighting on horseback on the Aberlemno stone? http://www.ancient-scotland.co.uk/site.php?a=2
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Dec, 2011 10:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It has been the subject of some serious research, as reviewed here: http://horseinculture.blogspot.com/2010/11/revising-cavalry.html
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Matthew Bunker




Location: Somerset UK
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PostPosted: Fri 16 Dec, 2011 2:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Given the depictions of mounted warriors on the Sutton Hoo and Vendel/Valsgarde helms, along with the clearly military horse burials in England and North Western Europe, I think there's a good case to be made that some pre-Conquest English warrior elites fought on horseback.

In the very early English period, when troop numbers might number in the hundreds rather than the thousands available during the later days of the Heptarchy and beyond, even a small body of cavalry could make a huge difference on an open battlefield.

"If a Greek can do it, two Englishman certainly can !"
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Sat 17 Dec, 2011 10:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suspect most folk, when they think of Anglo-saxon warriors, only think of Hastings, and Bayeaux tapestry. No anglo saxon horses shown there..ergo..Anglo Saxons didn't use them. vast oversimplification. Folks forget that prior to Hasting. Anglo saxon army mustered for ages, waiting for invasion..then they heard of Viking invasion way up noth at Stamford bridge. Army dashes up there, smashes Vikings, then hears Normans have landed..dash back down south to face Normans. By the time they formed up at Hastings again, pretty well any horses, cavalry they had would have been blown, worse than useless. I suspect the average,Anglo Saxon upper-class warrior knew very well how to act as cavalty..in the old sense..as mobile scouting forces..only fight on horseback if no option. Normally, they'd fight in co-operation with their foot soldiers, as they did at Hastings
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Dec, 2011 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I suspect the average,Anglo Saxon upper-class warrior knew very well how to act as cavalty..in the old sense..as mobile scouting forces..only fight on horseback if no option. Normally, they'd fight in co-operation with their foot soldiers, as they did at Hastings


I'd agree with this. They were in pocession of horses. Strategic mobility was one reason I'm sure (though traveling quickly as a mounted force avails you little if 75% or more of your army is on foot and cannot keep up).

And I could see them used as scouts, or in pursuit of a smaller fast moving group, or for foraging.

But I would think in most large set piece battles they would be infantry.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Dec, 2011 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
Strategic mobility was one reason I'm sure (though traveling quickly as a mounted force avails you little if 75% or more of your army is on foot and cannot keep up).


Except that in a force march situation, infantry can out-march cavalry. Men on foot can push themselves to their physical limit, getting less sleep and less food, with just some extra grumbling (and maybe a little more desertion!). Horses under the same conditions simply die out of obtuseness. ("Look, lads, fresh meat!") Basically, horses need to be coddled along and need time to graze and sleep. Plus, if you have any kind of baggage train, it's going to include mules and oxen, not known for their speed.

Single horsemen, or a few together, given repeated chances to change mounts, can certainly cover enormous distances quickly, but you can't do that with an army.

Matthew
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Dec, 2011 10:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was just reading that King Athelstan required two well horsed men from every plough. Now how these men were used who knows.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec, 2011 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Except that in a force march situation, infantry can out-march cavalry.


This is really tough to say as a blanket statement, as their or so many contributing factors.

You can compare say the strategic speed of various "horse people" throughout history, or compare to the forced march abilities of roman or napoleonic infantry, but there are the above contributing factors at work here. And without enough spare mounts, cavalry on the march can turn into infantry, as with the crusaders in the middle east.

But from what I have read, Ghenghis Khan could cover 100 miles per day with his army (Siege or supply trains would have to lag behind), whereas Roman infantry could cover 20+ miles per day, and in Napoleons time a march of over 12 miles per day was considered "excessive".

The amount of spare mounts, the equipment carried by either, the training of the troops, the terrain all factor into this.

I'd say though that in general, cavalry can cover more ground in a period of a few days, but when it gets to be a few weeks both are similar, though the men keeping a similar pace to cavalry over a long haul will as you say, be subject to desertion and other issues.

Cavalry are far more effective for foraging and recon however.

But either will rapidly out distance their supply train of wagons or carts.

But Cavalry while on the march will not have to stop and graze - they will usually carry enough provisions to be fed grain, at least if for the short term.
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Rex Metcalf




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would be curious to see some genetic testing done on the horse remains from this period in both England and Scandinavia.

I have long held a hypothesis based on admittedly scant historical evidence that these horses were the progenitors of the medieval Ambler and in turn would be foundation stock for the modern gaited breeds particularly the Tennesse walking horse, the Kentucky single foot and other very ancient yet obscure breeds of British descent here in the American South . Having raised Walkers all my life, following in my Grandfathers footsteps, I can vouch from experience that 60 miles a day is not unreasonable and 100 miles per day is not impossible.

The Icelandic and Paso Fino fall into this category as well. As does although to a lesser extent the Appaloosas who exhibit the "Indian shuffle". All can trace their characteristics of endurance, comfortable traveling gait, and trainability to very early selective breeding program carried out in Medieval England, Spain and Scandinavia. My theory may be wrong but in a day and age when horses carried armies and out marching an opposing force was just as important as outfighting them in some cases, I think its a reasonable hypothesis.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec, 2011 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://royalholloway.academia.edu/JenniferNev...oroughbred

Above is a rather detailed article on horses and the Anglo Saxon culture
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David Huggins




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec, 2011 9:35 pm    Post subject: A-S Cavalry         Reply with quote

I'm not sure if these links will work here Len, but these may interest you.

'Horse in Early AS England' pdf
http://independent.academia.edu/ChrisFern/Pap...cal_evide\
nce_for_equestrianism_in_early_Anglo-Saxon_England_c.450-700

Horses in Vendel Period Scandinavia’ pdf
www.isvroma.it/public/pecus/sundkvist.pdf

Steve Pollington also recently wrote an article on A-S use of the horse in warfare in Medieval Warfare Magazine issue1

best
Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

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PostPosted: Thu 22 Dec, 2011 10:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dave they work fine. One scenario for the Aberlemno stone is that the artist was not involved with fighting anglo-saxons and had no real knowledge of their battle tactics. He was merely creating a mirror image of the tactics used by his own people. But the fact that the angles are wearing pioneer style helmets at least suggest some knowledge of the enemy on his part.

It would be a shame if there weren't any anglo-saxon cavalry. Why? Because two of the most popular knights in medieval England were Sir Guy of Warwick and Sir Bevis of Southhampton, and they both take place in anglo-saxon times.

Also, some good stuff on training horses http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/articles/gillmor2.htm and info on 8th c. Bretons with some comparisons between German calvalry and Roman.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Thu 22 Dec, 2011 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
two of the most popular knights in medieval England were Sir Guy of Warwick and Sir Bevis of Southhampton, and they both take place in anglo-saxon times


I would not use this as anything close to any documentation though for the use of cavalry be Saxons.

These were legendary heroes, earliest stories written in the 13th centuries (probably making them mounted knights as per the warriors of Norman England at that time), and they come complete with Dragons and Giants.

But with all that, my thoughts is still that in larger set piece battles, saxons (at least the later saxons) did not function as cavalry, though the ones with horse may well have performed recon, foraging, pursuit and other similar things while mounted, and combat could certainly happen in these situations.

Actually, I think this is in many ways similar to the Norse/Dane tradition, they were known to be adept riders and confiscate large numbers of horses on their raids.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 23 Dec, 2011 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary, I was kind of joking about Sir Guy and Sir Bevis, but...it's like when R.G. Collingswood in 1936 suggested that Arthur was a general using cavalry as mounted commandos, as Geoffrey Ash said this would add a trifle more substance behind the chivalric romance.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 23 Dec, 2011 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Gary, I was kind of joking about Sir Guy and Sir Bevis,


Gotcha Big Grin

Arthur though as a cavalryman makes sense, that would be following the Romano-British military model.

Though one would think javelins and spears as opposed to couched lances!
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