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William P




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Mar, 2012 10:57 pm    Post subject: use of ranged weapons by battlefield knights true or false?         Reply with quote

as the question implies, my understanding of the European 'knights' were that these guys were purely melee specialists, NEVER, or only very rarely using ranged weapons like bows, crossbows, r even slings/ javelins, on the battlefield.
and they only started using any ranged weapon with the introduction of the cavalry wheel-lock pistol, with later renaissance 'knights' using pistols as well as lances and swords

is it really true that the knights almost NEVER used ranged weapons in battle either when mounted, dismounted, on ship or on either side of a seige? or is this one of those really widely believed, but untrue myths

unlike their eastern counterparts, i.e my understanding is that, russian boyars, and polish/ hungarian noble cavalry would often use the tactic of throwing javelins, as well as middle eastern sipahis, and samurai, which were often horse archers.
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Corey Skriletz




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Mar, 2012 12:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, don't quote me on any of this, but if I recall, King Richard I was known to have used a crossbow from time to time. And unless I'm much mistaken, one of the pope's later said that it was his use of such a sinful weapon that led to his death at the hands of the same device.

And it says here, that he was said to have used the crossbow to pick off enemy soldiers from the battlements. Of course that's on wikipedia so take it with a grain of salt.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_I_of_England

Of course this isn't to say that it was common practice, but knights certainly did use ranged weapons fro hunting so they must have gotten pretty good with them, good enough that they wouldn't hesitate to pick them up and use them should the situation call for it. At least that's my opinion. I'm sure someone more learned than I can give you a much better answer.
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William P




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Mar, 2012 12:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

indeed, one book, by christopher gravett, makes that point, that they trained to use them but ONLY for hunting or sport

personally that seems foolish, and while knights were motivated (supposedly) to want to be seen looking brave and flighting skillfully in in hand to hand combat

it doesnt seem logical that one would spend all that time, learning to use a weapon, and not try to use it in war
although, conversely, learning to use a bow to snipe at a boar or fox at a distance is quite different from learning to shoot at people who are shooting back AT you.
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Jens Boerner




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Mar, 2012 6:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, since I just recommended Tirant Lo Blanc, the late-15th century novel about knighthood to somebody else, It also comes into my mind when I read this topic.
Of course knights did use ranged weapons. You can find several examples there, including thoughts about it and knighthood in gerneral.

I don't think you can make general of the kind "somebody never/always used this or that" in the middle ages, especially when it comes to knights and weapons. I mean, they were highly-.training warriors. Of course the used whatever was necessary.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Mar, 2012 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, part of the equation is that using a bow or crossbow simply isn't practical for a knight about to go into action on a typical battlefield. He's on horseback, for one thing, and armored, usually in a closed helm, and already juggling a shield and lance. Not really possible to do anything effective with a longbow at that point!

During a siege, it's all different. Lots of sitting around in camp with not much to do, so grabbing a bow and taking potshots would be amusing.

There would always be at least a little of the chivalry factor, of course--fighting at close quarters is *proper* for a knight! It's amazing how many battles were lost simply because someone refused to do something that was considered unmanly or unchivalrous. Possibly that wouldn't matter if peasants needed to be mown down and couldn't be reached in the usual way!

So in a way it was just practicality and logic--leave the archery to those best equipped for it, and the close combat to the knights. That generally worked well enough, and natural conservatism would make people loathe to do something different.

Matthew
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Jens Boerner




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Mar, 2012 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Well, part of the equation is that using a bow or crossbow simply isn't practical for a knight about to go into action on a typical battlefield. He's on horseback, for one thing, and armored, usually in a closed helm, and already juggling a shield and lance. Not really possible to do anything effective with a longbow at that point!


What is a "typical battlefield"? I mean, from the 14th century on knights tend to fight on foot quite often, and there are also plenty of occurances where heavily armour riders used crossbows, in germany that kind of troups were called "stadtreiter" in the late middle ages.
It's also a matter of definition wether to call some of these "knights". They were armoured, riding a horse, they were often quite wealthy, some of them of noble birth...

I think it is also a matter of what time frame we're talking of....
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William P




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Mar, 2012 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ii was thinking pre 1500, since after that even gendarmes and other men at arms/ knights had a pistol or two,

and i forgot to mention javelins but i think theres a lot more evidence of knight throwng spears around in battle.
matthew does make a good point about usng a bow while on horseback while charging with a lance.

but then again, theres no reason why, once the charge has impacted, and assumng the cavalry havent gotten bogged down n melee fighting, riding away a little bit, letting off an arrow or two then buggering off to get a new lance to ME seems a smart idea.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Mar, 2012 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jens Boerner wrote:
What is a "typical battlefield"?


A reasonably open space with 2 opposing forces of guys getting ready to whomp each other! I just meant as opposed to a siege, sea battle, or other exciting variation.

Quote:
I mean, from the 14th century on knights tend to fight on foot quite often


Sure, but generally as heavy infantry, yes? In a close formation with polearms and other melee weapons. It just seems to me that a couple guys trying to use a bow or crossbow in such a situation would be disruptive, and of little use.

Quote:
and there are also plenty of occurances where heavily armour riders used crossbows, in germany that kind of troups were called "stadtreiter" in the late middle ages.
It's also a matter of definition wether to call some of these "knights". They were armoured, riding a horse, they were often quite wealthy, some of them of noble birth...


Okay, cool, I didn't know about them! But they sound like a dedicated troop type, with a fully developed purpose and tactical function. Using crossbows was a regular and planned part of their purpose, not an ad hoc or irregular thing. So everyone would be familiar with troops like that and would know what to expect, so there would be no adverse confusion among their comrades.

Quote:
I think it is also a matter of what time frame we're talking of....


Oh, absolutely!


William P wrote:
but then again, theres no reason why, once the charge has impacted, and assumng the cavalry havent gotten bogged down n melee fighting, riding away a little bit, letting off an arrow or two then buggering off to get a new lance to ME seems a smart idea.


The reason is FORMATION. Leaving your formation after an unsuccessful attack to go off looking for a bow was probably frowned upon! If your buddies think you are fleeing, they may follow suit, or you'll be labeled a coward! If your whole formation is pulling back to re-form for another charge, and many of your fellow knights are getting new lances handed to them, the expectation will be that you will prepare to *charge* again, not mess around plinking. Are you going all the way back to your tent for a bow? Did you have one of your squires bring it along, ready to hand to you? Will you have to go convince an archer to give his up to you? He and his unit are doing their jobs, and if you take their bows they can't do that. Plus, if enough of your friends get the same idea, your whole cavalry force is now disrupted and dispersed, and your archers are disrupted and half disarmed. Perfect opportunity for the *enemy* archers to pour a few ferocious, concentrated volleys on you, just before their coherent and gleeful cavalry slams into your mixed gaggle...

Even assuming that some knights DID have handy bows or crossbows, how much will that effectively increase your missile fire? After hand-to-hand combat you're already breathing hard, probably not aiming as well as the trained professionals. And remember that knights form only a small percentage of the total force, so there may be a lot more archers calmly shooting--and depending on YOU to keep enemy knights from chopping them up!

Do your job, and let them do theirs, eh?

If the battlefield use of bows or crossbows by any significant numbers of knights/nobles is a regular part of the warfare of a particular place and time, we probably have good documentation of that. From what I know, it had to be pretty uncommon in, for example, England and France from the 12th century through the 15th.

Sieges are different! There might only be a few guys plinking back and forth, so one knight with a crossbow might actually make a difference in firepower. Of course in Richard's case it made a BIG difference--he got himself fatally wounded!

Sometimes traditions and customs had a purpose, eh?

Matthew
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Mar, 2012 10:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can recomend Gordon Frye's feature article "From lance to pistol", which explains the relation between melee and missile cavalry quite well.
In short, melee cavalry are more agressive than missile cavalry, who will prefer to fire at long range and turn instead of charging to contact. During the renaisance, this was offsett by the pistols armour piercing capablities exceeding those of the lance.
Once armour disappears from the battlefield, cavalry start charging with swords in hand once more.

Outside their role as shock cavalry, or heavy infantry, knights would readily use bows. Archery is even listed among the knightly virtues in some sources.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Iagoba Ferreira





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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the Iberian peninsula, fighting as light cavalry (a la gineta) was not a problem for most of the knights, and one of the basic weapons for that kind of warrior are the javelins or darts.

Alfonso the IIIrd of Aragón, while defending his kingdom from the French attack in 1285 was the target of another javelin (one azcona muntera to be precise) thrown by a Navarrese knight (the queen of Navarra had married the king of France the previous year). The knight was wearing a breastplate? (peto) and iron bevor (gola de acero).

If you wanted examples of knight bows or crossbows instead javelins, in the early XVth century, Pero Niño, a castillian knight who did several naval raids in Northern Africa, England and the Channel Islands, was a famous crossbowman, but I will have to look in his near contemporary biography if he used it in combat too.
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Doug Lester




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 11:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another thing that has to be considered is that not everyone armoured was a knight, even if they were frequently fought as mounted troops. So if you have an illutration of a person in at least 1/2-3/4 armour shooting a crossbow was not necessarily a knight.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maximillian chose to depict himself shooting a crossbow. If there was some sort of stigma associated with that weapon then it is unlikely that he would have distributed a public image associating himself with it.
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William P




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2012 11:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Jens Boerner wrote:
What is a "typical battlefield"?


A reasonably open space with 2 opposing forces of guys getting ready to whomp each other! I just meant as opposed to a siege, sea battle, or other exciting variation.

Quote:
I mean, from the 14th century on knights tend to fight on foot quite often


Sure, but generally as heavy infantry, yes? In a close formation with polearms and other melee weapons. It just seems to me that a couple guys trying to use a bow or crossbow in such a situation would be disruptive, and of little use.

Quote:
and there are also plenty of occurances where heavily armour riders used crossbows, in germany that kind of troups were called "stadtreiter" in the late middle ages.
It's also a matter of definition wether to call some of these "knights". They were armoured, riding a horse, they were often quite wealthy, some of them of noble birth...


Okay, cool, I didn't know about them! But they sound like a dedicated troop type, with a fully developed purpose and tactical function. Using crossbows was a regular and planned part of their purpose, not an ad hoc or irregular thing. So everyone would be familiar with troops like that and would know what to expect, so there would be no adverse confusion among their comrades.

Quote:
I think it is also a matter of what time frame we're talking of....


Oh, absolutely!


William P wrote:
but then again, theres no reason why, once the charge has impacted, and assumng the cavalry havent gotten bogged down n melee fighting, riding away a little bit, letting off an arrow or two then buggering off to get a new lance to ME seems a smart idea.


The reason is FORMATION. Leaving your formation after an unsuccessful attack to go off looking for a bow was probably frowned upon! If your buddies think you are fleeing, they may follow suit, or you'll be labeled a coward! If your whole formation is pulling back to re-form for another charge, and many of your fellow knights are getting new lances handed to them, the expectation will be that you will prepare to *charge* again, not mess around plinking. Are you going all the way back to your tent for a bow? Did you have one of your squires bring it along, ready to hand to you? Will you have to go convince an archer to give his up to you? He and his unit are doing their jobs, and if you take their bows they can't do that. Plus, if enough of your friends get the same idea, your whole cavalry force is now disrupted and dispersed, and your archers are disrupted and half disarmed. Perfect opportunity for the *enemy* archers to pour a few ferocious, concentrated volleys on you, just before their coherent and gleeful cavalry slams into your mixed gaggle...

Even assuming that some knights DID have handy bows or crossbows, how much will that effectively increase your missile fire? After hand-to-hand combat you're already breathing hard, probably not aiming as well as the trained professionals. And remember that knights form only a small percentage of the total force, so there may be a lot more archers calmly shooting--and depending on YOU to keep enemy knights from chopping them up!

Do your job, and let them do theirs, eh?

If the battlefield use of bows or crossbows by any significant numbers of knights/nobles is a regular part of the warfare of a particular place and time, we probably have good documentation of that. From what I know, it had to be pretty uncommon in, for example, England and France from the 12th century through the 15th.

Sieges are different! There might only be a few guys plinking back and forth, so one knight with a crossbow might actually make a difference in firepower. Of course in Richard's case it made a BIG difference--he got himself fatally wounded!

Sometimes traditions and customs had a purpose, eh?

Matthew


i said get a new lance since, as many would point out, when charging footsoldiers the appropriate tactic is charge, then pull out and charge again, getting bogged down does a knight no favours.

and, naturally the assumption is, yes they already have a bow or crossbow handy. clearly going off to get one if you dont have one is an unwise idea for the reasons you point out. in the same reason infantry dont run to the guys in the next blook of soldiers to grab that spear they had forgotten or broken somehow.

but at the same time say youve hit footsoldiers and not scattered them, you pull away to make a repeat charge

the fact archers will pop arrows at you is always a concern, but the fact your moving i dont think is much of an issue since theyd pop arrows at you anyway, unless theyr occupied taking out enemy footsoldiers and OTHER archers.

charging other cavalry is another situation and of course you dont switch to ranged items until youve dealt with the enemy

but having a crossbow on your back i wouldnt think would get in your way that much, would it? or a bow at the saddle.

and there is also the byzantine cataphracts, these guys were indeed armedwith javelins and bows as well as the kontos i.e the big lance.
although, quite often the situation was that of a specialised formation of bow wielding cataphracts ringed with kontos wielding kataphracts,
but we still have HEAVY troops that had ranged capabilities.
clearly this wasnt a hard thing to do
though it is pretty clear ranged weapon use was uncommon among knights when mounted...
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2012 12:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:
Jens Boerner wrote:
What is a "typical battlefield"?


A reasonably open space with 2 opposing forces of guys getting ready to whomp each other! I just meant as opposed to a siege, sea battle, or other exciting variation.

Quote:
I mean, from the 14th century on knights tend to fight on foot quite often


Sure, but generally as heavy infantry, yes? In a close formation with polearms and other melee weapons. It just seems to me that a couple guys trying to use a bow or crossbow in such a situation would be disruptive, and of little use.

Quote:
and there are also plenty of occurances where heavily armour riders used crossbows, in germany that kind of troups were called "stadtreiter" in the late middle ages.
It's also a matter of definition wether to call some of these "knights". They were armoured, riding a horse, they were often quite wealthy, some of them of noble birth...


Okay, cool, I didn't know about them! But they sound like a dedicated troop type, with a fully developed purpose and tactical function. Using crossbows was a regular and planned part of their purpose, not an ad hoc or irregular thing. So everyone would be familiar with troops like that and would know what to expect, so there would be no adverse confusion among their comrades.

Quote:
I think it is also a matter of what time frame we're talking of....


Oh, absolutely!


William P wrote:
but then again, theres no reason why, once the charge has impacted, and assumng the cavalry havent gotten bogged down n melee fighting, riding away a little bit, letting off an arrow or two then buggering off to get a new lance to ME seems a smart idea.


The reason is FORMATION. Leaving your formation after an unsuccessful attack to go off looking for a bow was probably frowned upon! If your buddies think you are fleeing, they may follow suit, or you'll be labeled a coward! If your whole formation is pulling back to re-form for another charge, and many of your fellow knights are getting new lances handed to them, the expectation will be that you will prepare to *charge* again, not mess around plinking. Are you going all the way back to your tent for a bow? Did you have one of your squires bring it along, ready to hand to you? Will you have to go convince an archer to give his up to you? He and his unit are doing their jobs, and if you take their bows they can't do that. Plus, if enough of your friends get the same idea, your whole cavalry force is now disrupted and dispersed, and your archers are disrupted and half disarmed. Perfect opportunity for the *enemy* archers to pour a few ferocious, concentrated volleys on you, just before their coherent and gleeful cavalry slams into your mixed gaggle...

Even assuming that some knights DID have handy bows or crossbows, how much will that effectively increase your missile fire? After hand-to-hand combat you're already breathing hard, probably not aiming as well as the trained professionals. And remember that knights form only a small percentage of the total force, so there may be a lot more archers calmly shooting--and depending on YOU to keep enemy knights from chopping them up!

Do your job, and let them do theirs, eh?

If the battlefield use of bows or crossbows by any significant numbers of knights/nobles is a regular part of the warfare of a particular place and time, we probably have good documentation of that. From what I know, it had to be pretty uncommon in, for example, England and France from the 12th century through the 15th.

Sieges are different! There might only be a few guys plinking back and forth, so one knight with a crossbow might actually make a difference in firepower. Of course in Richard's case it made a BIG difference--he got himself fatally wounded!

Sometimes traditions and customs had a purpose, eh?

Matthew


i said get a new lance since, as many would point out, when charging footsoldiers the appropriate tactic is charge, then pull out and charge again, getting bogged down does a knight no favours.

and, naturally the assumption is, yes they already have a bow or crossbow handy. clearly going off to get one if you dont have one is an unwise idea for the reasons you point out. in the same reason infantry dont run to the guys in the next blook of soldiers to grab that spear they had forgotten or broken somehow.

but at the same time say youve hit footsoldiers and not scattered them, you pull away to make a repeat charge

the fact archers will pop arrows at you is always a concern, but the fact your moving i dont think is much of an issue since theyd pop arrows at you anyway, unless theyr occupied taking out enemy footsoldiers and OTHER archers.

charging other cavalry is another situation and of course you dont switch to ranged items until youve dealt with the enemy

but having a crossbow on your back i wouldnt think would get in your way that much, would it? or a bow at the saddle.

and there is also the byzantine cataphracts, these guys were indeed armedwith javelins and bows as well as the kontos i.e the big lance.
although, quite often the situation was that of a specialised formation of bow wielding cataphracts ringed with kontos wielding kataphracts,
but we still have HEAVY troops that had ranged capabilities.
clearly this wasnt a hard thing to do
though it is pretty clear ranged weapon use was uncommon among knights when mounted...


It's different if a unit or a part of a unit were supposed to use ranged weapons. If knights charged and then some retreated to regroup and charge again, and some of them stayed in the middle to shoot with bows and didn't stay in formation and didn't regroup and charged simultaneously with others, that would be bad. Cataphracts had an organized tactic for that, first lines fight with melee weapons and rear lines stand behind them and shoot over their heads into the enemy's rear ranks. That works well and doesn't disrupt the formation. Knights weren't trained for such tactics and spontaneous separation from the unit and shooting wouldn't be very useful...
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Brian Robson





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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2012 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suppose it probably depends to some degree on what you mean by a knight..

Early on, knight was more like a job description (describing a heavy cavalry) - later it was more a title/measure of status and not necessarily a frontline soldier.

But then, I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was the same regardless Big Grin
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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2012 10:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
William P wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:
Jens Boerner wrote:
What is a "typical battlefield"?


A reasonably open space with 2 opposing forces of guys getting ready to whomp each other! I just meant as opposed to a siege, sea battle, or other exciting variation.

Quote:
I mean, from the 14th century on knights tend to fight on foot quite often


Sure, but generally as heavy infantry, yes? In a close formation with polearms and other melee weapons. It just seems to me that a couple guys trying to use a bow or crossbow in such a situation would be disruptive, and of little use.

Quote:
and there are also plenty of occurances where heavily armour riders used crossbows, in germany that kind of troups were called "stadtreiter" in the late middle ages.
It's also a matter of definition wether to call some of these "knights". They were armoured, riding a horse, they were often quite wealthy, some of them of noble birth...


Okay, cool, I didn't know about them! But they sound like a dedicated troop type, with a fully developed purpose and tactical function. Using crossbows was a regular and planned part of their purpose, not an ad hoc or irregular thing. So everyone would be familiar with troops like that and would know what to expect, so there would be no adverse confusion among their comrades.

Quote:
I think it is also a matter of what time frame we're talking of....


Oh, absolutely!


William P wrote:
but then again, theres no reason why, once the charge has impacted, and assumng the cavalry havent gotten bogged down n melee fighting, riding away a little bit, letting off an arrow or two then buggering off to get a new lance to ME seems a smart idea.


The reason is FORMATION. Leaving your formation after an unsuccessful attack to go off looking for a bow was probably frowned upon! If your buddies think you are fleeing, they may follow suit, or you'll be labeled a coward! If your whole formation is pulling back to re-form for another charge, and many of your fellow knights are getting new lances handed to them, the expectation will be that you will prepare to *charge* again, not mess around plinking. Are you going all the way back to your tent for a bow? Did you have one of your squires bring it along, ready to hand to you? Will you have to go convince an archer to give his up to you? He and his unit are doing their jobs, and if you take their bows they can't do that. Plus, if enough of your friends get the same idea, your whole cavalry force is now disrupted and dispersed, and your archers are disrupted and half disarmed. Perfect opportunity for the *enemy* archers to pour a few ferocious, concentrated volleys on you, just before their coherent and gleeful cavalry slams into your mixed gaggle...

Even assuming that some knights DID have handy bows or crossbows, how much will that effectively increase your missile fire? After hand-to-hand combat you're already breathing hard, probably not aiming as well as the trained professionals. And remember that knights form only a small percentage of the total force, so there may be a lot more archers calmly shooting--and depending on YOU to keep enemy knights from chopping them up!

Do your job, and let them do theirs, eh?

If the battlefield use of bows or crossbows by any significant numbers of knights/nobles is a regular part of the warfare of a particular place and time, we probably have good documentation of that. From what I know, it had to be pretty uncommon in, for example, England and France from the 12th century through the 15th.

Sieges are different! There might only be a few guys plinking back and forth, so one knight with a crossbow might actually make a difference in firepower. Of course in Richard's case it made a BIG difference--he got himself fatally wounded!

Sometimes traditions and customs had a purpose, eh?

Matthew


i said get a new lance since, as many would point out, when charging footsoldiers the appropriate tactic is charge, then pull out and charge again, getting bogged down does a knight no favours.

and, naturally the assumption is, yes they already have a bow or crossbow handy. clearly going off to get one if you dont have one is an unwise idea for the reasons you point out. in the same reason infantry dont run to the guys in the next blook of soldiers to grab that spear they had forgotten or broken somehow.

but at the same time say youve hit footsoldiers and not scattered them, you pull away to make a repeat charge

the fact archers will pop arrows at you is always a concern, but the fact your moving i dont think is much of an issue since theyd pop arrows at you anyway, unless theyr occupied taking out enemy footsoldiers and OTHER archers.

charging other cavalry is another situation and of course you dont switch to ranged items until youve dealt with the enemy

but having a crossbow on your back i wouldnt think would get in your way that much, would it? or a bow at the saddle.

and there is also the byzantine cataphracts, these guys were indeed armedwith javelins and bows as well as the kontos i.e the big lance.
although, quite often the situation was that of a specialised formation of bow wielding cataphracts ringed with kontos wielding kataphracts,
but we still have HEAVY troops that had ranged capabilities.
clearly this wasnt a hard thing to do
though it is pretty clear ranged weapon use was uncommon among knights when mounted...


It's different if a unit or a part of a unit were supposed to use ranged weapons. If knights charged and then some retreated to regroup and charge again, and some of them stayed in the middle to shoot with bows and didn't stay in formation and didn't regroup and charged simultaneously with others, that would be bad. Cataphracts had an organized tactic for that, first lines fight with melee weapons and rear lines stand behind them and shoot over their heads into the enemy's rear ranks. That works well and doesn't disrupt the formation. Knights weren't trained for such tactics and spontaneous separation from the unit and shooting wouldn't be very useful...


no they wernt, they appear to have been trained, on horseback, purely as shock cavalry. thats the evidence i KEEP hearing.

but you guys have showcased that many things printed in popular books and tv shows and internet articles as simply being untrue. and i wondered if that concept of knights using ranged weapons on the battlefield, was true or false, even if it was uncommon, thats still knights using ranged weapons, on foot or on horse.

the main point of this thread was to establish, partly whether the myth of the knights purposely disdaining weapons in the way hollywood thinks samurai disdained firearms.

i guess i just have this idea in my head of charge, pull back to regroup, when regrouped, everyone pulls out a bow/ crossbow (those who dont have one, sit there doing nothing, to keep formation), loose a bolt or two, put away the bow, THEN charge.

this gives them the ability to shoot an arrow which would cause some disruption, then charge straight afterwards, since theyre standing still anyway, regrouping into lines, not doing anything

the intention being the whole unit switches to a ranged weapon as a secondary. then switches back to their lances or swords, or whatever they have to fight with in melee, assuming they havent been able to get a spare lance off their squires or something.
the maindownside id see of a group of armoured cavalry stopping, even while doing their normal regrouping, to use a bow, is that it might give nearby enemy infantry time to prepare for the inevitable charge.

this is a hypothetical of course, but in a mounted role i see that the issues with using bows are of course much greater when about 70% of the time your dedicated shock cavalry.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2012 6:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
but you guys have showcased that many things printed in popular books and tv shows and internet articles as simply being untrue. and i wondered if that concept of knights using ranged weapons on the battlefield, was true or false, even if it was uncommon, thats still knights using ranged weapons, on foot or on horse.


Gotcha. You're questioning your assumptions, and that's a good thing! Best way to do it is to go back to original sources, accounts of knights in battles, and see if there is anything which doesn't match the popular scenario.

Quote:
i guess i just have this idea in my head of charge, pull back to regroup, when regrouped, everyone pulls out a bow/ crossbow (those who dont have one, sit there doing nothing, to keep formation), loose a bolt or two, put away the bow, THEN charge.


So all you need is a more or less reliable account or depiction (or more than one, preferably!) of something like this happening in a medieval battle. Otherwise we're just making up "shoulda coulda woulda" theories. In this case, while I agree that many of the modern *reasons* for knights not using missile weapons may be modern rationalizations, and that it's never safe to say "never", I just have a feeling that any significant evidence in support of the theory would have appeared by now, if it existed.

My motto: Good research questions the answers more often than it answers the questions! (Usually said with an evil grin!)

Matthew
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2012 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not a historical perspective and just a tactical one: I could see Knights or heavy cavalry carrying bows or crossbows as a backup weapon useful if unaccompanied by a force of missile troops and having to deal with harassing attacks by horse archers they can't close with, or if attacked when travelling or in camp.

If forced to fight on foot in a purely defensive context following an ambush having some missile weapon available could be useful. ( Note, a sling as emergency survival missile weapon has the advantages that carrying a sling is not a burden and found rocks are often easy to find ).

Some types of heavy cavalry at different time periods and cultures would also carry bows with their kit.

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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2012 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most scholars of subject today agree more or less that significant part of battles between Poland and Teutonic Order, for example, like most famous Grunwald/Tannenberg involved a lot of mounted crossbowmen shooting at enemy positions, taking covers between 'heavier' riders engaging in melee when necessary etc.

In general lord/highly situated knight entourage usually involved a lot of retinues with crossbows or perhaps bows, and since knights serving as other knights retinue etc. weren't uncommon at all in 15th century - due to simple wealth differences for example - I think it's pretty safe to say that many, in particular less wealthy knights could be using crossbow a lot, at least talking about Eastern Europe in general.
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Chris Godby




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PostPosted: Tue 06 Mar, 2012 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Talhoffer has plates demonstrating mounted crossbow against mounted lance. So it may not have been uncommon for people of high station to go about with a crossbow and occasionally find themselves in a scrape. That said, I think this would have been less likely to take place in a battlefield context amongst massed heavy cavalry.
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