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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Best Shields -- Duelling and Formations Reply to topic
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Matt J.





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PostPosted: Fri 24 Aug, 2012 9:37 am    Post subject: Best Shields -- Duelling and Formations         Reply with quote

Let's name two situations.

One, a small encounter. Perhaps with a few ruffians, or perhaps a 1-on-1 duel.

Second, a large battle, with you on foot--unless you have preference to cavalry shields.



Originally, I thought the buckler was the best weapon for duelling. But now, I wonder if something like the Viking Round Shield would be better? I was impressed by several techniques using said shield, and am wondering if its main disadvantage is you'd look silly lugging such a large shield around with you.

With formations and battles, I always hear praise given to the round shield. Though, I wonder whether the Roman shield is given too little credit.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 24 Aug, 2012 10:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd think for one on one a gripped as opposed to strapped shield fares better, so I'd agree with the viking shield.

For formation fighting, you probably have to include the hoplon in the argument as well.
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Matthew Harrington




Location: Michigan
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Aug, 2012 10:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can attest that a viking shield is the best type of defense and offense in a 1v1 duel. I have a regular knights metal shield and a handcrafted viking roundshield. I've beaten everyone from fully armored English Knights to German Longsword Fencers in 1 on 1 matches, the range of moves including offensive techniques along with open door philosophies of the roundshield in unrivaled. The weakness of the roundshield IS big warfare and formations, and darn, it gets heavy with no arm strap. Just look at Norse warfare and how they tended to avoid big battles because shield walls were crap.

Conclusion:

1v1 = Roundshield

Warfare/Formations: Strapped metal shield

~See you in Valhalla, brother.~
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Aug, 2012 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bucklers are a lot less cumbersome than large round shields, so civilians and soldiers armed with other weapons, like bows or pole arms, could tote a buckler easily.

In the informal fight, there is a lot to be said for the round shield.

The roman scutum is an interesting issue. it was a military massed combat shield par excellence, but was also a fistheld shield.
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Aug, 2012 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Felix Wang wrote:
Bucklers are a lot less cumbersome than large round shields, so civilians and soldiers armed with other weapons, like bows or pole arms, could tote a buckler easily.

In the informal fight, there is a lot to be said for the round shield.

The roman scutum is an interesting issue. it was a military massed combat shield par excellence, but was also a fistheld shield.


I wonder if the the combination of length/shape and horizontal grip of the roman infantry shield allowed it to be held with the arm in a more relaxed state than would be the case with a centre gripped round shield. With the latter, you tend to have to 'lift' it a bit more to give coverage, so the weight might be more of a factor.

Geoff
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Aug, 2012 2:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Harrington wrote:
...The weakness of the roundshield IS big warfare and formations, and darn, it gets heavy with no arm strap. Just look at Norse warfare and how they tended to avoid big battles because shield walls were crap.

Conclusion:

1v1 = Roundshield

Warfare/Formations: Strapped metal shield


What?? Then why were shield walls with center-grip round shields THE primary form of warfare for at least 6 centuries?? Late Romans, Goths, Visigoths, Byzantines, Franks/Carolingians, Saxons, Scandinavians/Vikings--ALL these people fought in line with round shields! There is absolutely no reason to think that one on one duels were at all common in those societies, compared to warfare. (Aside, perhaps, for small brawls with only a few men on each side, which *might* have opened up into a series of one on one actions.)

I hadn't heard of a "knight's metal shield" until about the 16th century or so. Up to that point, battle shields were typically wood, weren't they?

And I suspect your round shield may be too heavy, if you can't handle it with just the center grip. We all make our shields too heavy!

Matthew
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Matthew Harrington




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PostPosted: Sat 25 Aug, 2012 10:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
What?? Then why were shield walls with center-grip round shields THE primary form of warfare for at least 6 centuries?? Late Romans, Goths, Visigoths, Byzantines, Franks/Carolingians, Saxons, Scandinavians/Vikings--ALL these people fought in line with round shields! There is absolutely no reason to think that one on one duels were at all common in those societies, compared to warfare. (Aside, perhaps, for small brawls with only a few men on each side, which *might* have opened up into a series of one on one actions.)

I hadn't heard of a "knight's metal shield" until about the 16th century or so. Up to that point, battle shields were typically wood, weren't they?

And I suspect your round shield may be too heavy, if you can't handle it with just the center grip. We all make our shields too heavy!

Matthew


I'm not trying to offend you by any means, but shield walls during that time usually ended up in massive casualties on both sides, and really came down to who had more numbers. Why do you think the vikings did hit and run? To avoid mass battles where they would lose kin. (Look at the site Hurstwic for Norse and Viking battle tactics) Also the OP didn't give any time specific/period specific restrictions. Also, I meant my shield gets tiring holding it during a one on one match after around 45min. (held differently and much easier in a shield wall, but less effective.) So I could imagine hours of battle would wear on you for some time. Also, by knights metal shield, I of course meant kite shield.

~See you in Valhalla, brother.~
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 5:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For what it's worth, George Silver in his Paradoxes of Defence rates the buckler higher in a one-on-one fight, but the target superior in battles.

"The sword and buckler has advantage against the sword and target, the sword and dagger, or rapier and poniard. (...) Yet understand, that in battles, and where variety of weapons are, among multitudes of men and horses, the sword and target, the two handed sword, battle axe, the black bill, and halberd, are better weapons, and more dangerous in their offense and forces, than is the sword and buckler, short staff, long staff, or forest bill. The sword and target leads upon shot, and in troops defends thrusts and blows given by battle axe, halberds, black bill, or two handed swords, far better than can the sword and buckler."

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Harrington wrote:
I'm not trying to offend you by any means, but shield walls during that time usually ended up in massive casualties on both sides, and really came down to who had more numbers. Why do you think the vikings did hit and run? To avoid mass battles where they would lose kin.


Oh, boy, can anyone give me a hand on this one? Yes, Viking raiders were happy to get plunder without having to fight much to get it, but that had been standard procedure for any sort of raid like that since the Stone Age! (When you're going to rob a bank, you don't call the cops ahead of time and have them meet you there, eh?) Viking ships were a huge advantage in that regard. But we know the Vikings--and other Scandinavians--fought plenty of battles, using the same shield-wall-based tactics as everyone else in Europe at that time. After all, a shield wall is just a battle line of men with shields, same as ancient Sumerians, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Carolingians, Saxons, etc. Linear warfare was the rule right into World War I, and its general precepts are still applicable today in some ways. It was my impression that casualties varied dramatically from battle to battle, but tended to be much worse on the side that lost, since most casualties were inflicted at the *end* of the battle, when one side broke and began to flee. I'm afraid I can't give you a catalog of medieval battles, but for example, I suspect the Vikings could not have taken over half of England (the Danelaw) by using hit-and-run tactics and avoiding battle.

From what I've heard and read, battle casualties may not have been as horrific as you imply. Even most of the losers were likely to escape with their lives. If you assume that a one-on-one duel is going to end in a death (and I'm not saying you said that!), it seems to me that you'd have a much better chance of surviving a large battle than a duel! Plus, if all these heavily armed societies that require or allow all free men to carry weapons are assuming that this is for those men to fight duels, it seems that they are assuming a state of anarchy as well as the loss of HALF their male population over time! Obviously there WERE duels and blood feuds, but I suspect this military readiness was intended for warfare.

Quote:
Also, I meant my shield gets tiring holding it during a one on one match after around 45min. (held differently and much easier in a shield wall, but less effective.) So I could imagine hours of battle would wear on you for some time.


Ah, gotcha. Sure, 45 minutes with ANYthing would be tiring! And certainly any full-scale battle was exhausting for all concerned.

Quote:
Also, by knights metal shield, I of course meant kite shield.


I thought it was generally accepted that kite shields were made of wood, as were the "heater" shields of the 13th and 14th centuries. Bucklers could be metal, but I hadn't heard of any regular battle shields up to the 15th century that were made mainly of metal.

Matthew
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 6:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
I thought it was generally accepted that kite shields were made of wood, as were the "heater" shields of the 13th and 14th centuries. Bucklers could be metal, but I hadn't heard of any regular battle shields up to the 15th century that were made mainly of metal.

There were all-steel rotellas, targets and the like, medium-sized, relatively light infantry shields with arm straps. But yeah, heaters and kites were made of wood (and not usually rimmed with metal, either).

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 1:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll back up Mathew Amt. People tend not to use battle tactics that result in massive casualties on both sides. European warriors used center-grip round shields in shield wall formations for centuries because it worked! How heavy is your shield Mathew Harrington? Most original round shields were very thin and light and relied mostly on their flexibilty to remain intact under blows. Most reenactor shields are massively overbuilt compared to originals, though of course that is necessary because a historically accurate shield would have to be replaced after every couple of practices or battles. In period, you would spend a lot of time lugging your shield around, but it would only have to take a blow rarely or never. Round shields were used more to deflect with the rim than take full-on blows anyway.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 2:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
People tend not to use battle tactics that result in massive casualties on both sides.


I'm skeptical of this generalization. To the contrary, I argue that close combat with edge weapons invariably results in a bloodbath if both sides stand firm. You see similar dynamics from the Roman era to the Renaissance. Against King Pyrrhus of Epirus, the Romans specifically - and successfully - adopted the strategy of fighting to the bitter end and inflicting debilitating casualties even in defeat. They did so primarily with shields and swords. Another famous example comes at Cannae, where Hannibal lost thousands "of his bravest men" in the carnage. Jumping forward, a small force of Swiss at the Battle of Sankt Jakob an der Birs killed so many in their suicidal charge that the much larger invading French army opted to withdraw. According to a memoir from the Battle of Novara in 1513, the the first rank of the defeated landsknechts suffered a 98% mortality rate and the victorious Swiss fared even worse. The weight of the historical evidence suggests that committed infantry units could and did hack one another to pieces.

I interpret close combat as a game of chicken. Sometimes nobody swerves.

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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 3:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course I realize that such bloodbaths occured, but that is not the point. Battle is a gamble, and if there is little to no chance of winning, it is time to choose a different game. Mathew Harrington suggested that battles usually ended in a bloodbath. Accepting a risk of massive casualties is one thing, using tactics that are almost sure to get everyone killed is another.
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Matthew Harrington




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 5:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
but for example, I suspect the Vikings could not have taken over half of England (the Danelaw) by using hit-and-run tactics and avoiding battle.


I'd have to agree with you there about the Great Heathen Army, but also look at the more recent Revolutionary War. We bested the British mostly with hit and run tactics. I guess I was talking more about small bands of vikings than armies and that would just be a numbers issue. For tactics I was also incorrect as well, how could I forget the BOAR SNOUT!

~See you in Valhalla, brother.~
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Reece Nelson




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 6:23 pm    Post subject: Ideal shield for dueling         Reply with quote

I personally am a fan of this shield (the name escapes me) I'v used this in half sword position and it worked remarkably! Big Grin I liked how much protection it offered while allowing a decent rang of movement with my arms...and its great too for using a spear Wink

-Reece



 Attachment: 23.16 KB
198316_369431963116636_100001495073044_962545_1527425720_n.jpg


 Attachment: 51.15 KB
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Better view of the shield
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Nathan Quarantillo




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 6:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is very little in common with revolutionary war period combat and the heyday of the shield wall, especially as far as the functionality of equipment is concerned. could you please elaborate your point?

Also, the boar's snout was still a variation of guys lining up with shields. If anything, it reinforces the view that the shield wall was effective, that it would be used in such an offensive manner.

"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Harrington wrote:
I'd have to agree with you there about the Great Heathen Army, but also look at the more recent Revolutionary War. We bested the British mostly with hit and run tactics.


NO! We most certainly did not! The Americans didn't have a prayer of even matching the British until they became proficient at matching them toe-to-toe in LINE of battle. Certainly there was guerilla action on both sides, and certainly there was concern about protecting supply lines, etc. That's war in any era! But I *can* give you a catalog of up-front battles that decided the Revolution, and it's not short.

As has been said, that's really not relevant to the topic, except to emphasize that battles in lines were the rule for over 4000 years.

Matthew
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 7:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Would George Silver's target (targe?) be circular like the rotella or rectangular like the ones in Italian fencing treaties?
I'd assume the former rather than latter as the rectangular one is generally a centre-grip, whilst the former is strapped with 'enarmes'.

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Matthew Harrington




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 8:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
But I *can* give you a catalog of up-front battles that decided the Revolution, and it's not short.


Than my 10th grade history teacher must have been pulling my leg. Laughing Out Loud Thanks for the info though. Being wrong in a discussion just means I learn more!

~See you in Valhalla, brother.~
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William P




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PostPosted: Sun 26 Aug, 2012 11:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Harrington wrote:
Quote:
But I *can* give you a catalog of up-front battles that decided the Revolution, and it's not short.


Than my 10th grade history teacher must have been pulling my leg. Laughing Out Loud Thanks for the info though. Being wrong in a discussion just means I learn more!


not to mention that the revolutionary war featured combatants and regiments from most of the european powers, the british utilised 'germanic' troops such as prussian riflemen (thus in one swoop dispelling the idea that the americans were the only side to use the rifle in skirmish )
and of course the americans had massive french support..

and if i remembr correctly the ferguson rifle saw its one and only battlefield use in the battle of brandywine (the ferguson was a breech loading rifle tha was discontinued due to being finniky and easily broken) and he french and indian wa aught the british and french the value of dedicaed skirmisher regiments as opposed to simply having a ligh company to the line regiments..

but id also agree that some form of line has always been central to a battle until very recently even if i is an improvised thing, by which i mean people huddle together to face a foe

and a shield is always good for that while good armour protects YOU a wall of largish shields closely spaced will also stop some of the missiles that miss you or bounce off your armour, from hitting people in he ranks behind you.
case in point the sumerian wall painting showing a line of men with overlapping spear points
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