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Ian Hutchison




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Dec, 2013 7:21 pm    Post subject: Gallóglaigh anachronism?         Reply with quote

I recently got side-tracked into digging up information about gallóglaigh and was wondering whether anyone in the know could confirm that their equipage was as anachronistic as it appears. From the scant period art sources I've been able to find (and more modern examples which must be taken with a grain, or two, of salt), it appears that apart from helmet styles, very little changed about their appearance or arms from the 13th to the 16th century.

Take for example this image from a 14th century carving:


The visor-less bascinet is not exactly out of place but notice the lack of plate, and short sleeved, knee length hauberks?

Next is a 16th century image (1528 I believe):


Still wearing the short-sleeve, full length hauberk with no plate and either a conical or a bascinet.

And lastly, perhaps the most well-known depiction of gallóglaigh, from Durer, 1521:



Besides a change in helmet style and the addition of a bishops mantle, not at all that different from the appearance of their predecessors.

Is this essentially unchanged appearance accurate, was military technology so stagnant in Ireland compared to the mainland? Are all of these derived from an unchanging stereotype? Or is there some other explanation?

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Mike O'Hara




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Dec, 2013 8:29 pm    Post subject: Galloglass equipment         Reply with quote

Hi Ian

The galloglass or gallóglaigh as you more correctly name them did seem to use the same base equipment for a very long period or time. There are a couple of excellent threads already on myArmoury about the kit.

There is a note in Halpin - Irish medieval swords c1170 - 1600 that reads "...the heavy armour and improvised weapons that were developed in other parts of Europe to meet the demands of warfare on the grand scale ... were of little use in the local raiding and skirmishing that was endemic in the West Highlands..". In other words, most "war" was raids and guerrilla tactics.

In Harbison Native irish Arms and Armour in Medieval Gaelic literature 1170 - 1600 he mentions "..The gallowglass was, according to Sentleger writing in 1543, a footman 'harnessed in mayle and bassenettes' and each having his own weapon called a sparre.."

Hayes-McCoys book Irish Battle A Military History of Ireland also talks about gallóglaigh being armed as you described in mid 16th century battles, even tough firearms were known and in play. Again if you raid from cover, early firearms are less effective than against massed charges.

I'd be interested if there are more well versed scholars on the forum that can confirm or deny the sources I've noted, my material on the gallóglaigh is still a work in progress! Its a warrior I have the kit for as its what I normally used for fighting purposes.
The sparre or sparth is a fearsome damn thin, that's for sure. My blunt one still smashes up my pell with no difficulty.

cheers
mike

MIke O'Hara
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Dec, 2013 9:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Trinity College,Dublin holds MS 1440, The Book of De Burgos, c.1571-1580. Lough Henney style "barbutes" or conical style helmets and mail seem to be common, though plate legs seem more common. Folio 19r, Riocard mór mac Uilliam cungcur, is an example of the fullest plate armor shown, though the breast might be interpreted as an anime style or brigandine work.
http://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/content/1202..._43_LO.jpg



Folio 20r, Sor Uilliam William II: http://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/content/1202..._45_LO.jpg
Folio 21r, Tomás Mac Emoind: http://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/content/1202..._47_LO.jpg
Folio 22r,Riocard mac Emoinn na féasóige: http://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/content/1202..._49_LO.jpg

Folio 22v,Sedhan Mac Riocaird Shean: http://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/content/1202..._50_LO.jpg
Folio 24r, Seaan MacUilliam Mhic tSeaain/Sheaan son of Oliverus, son of Sheaan son of Richard: http://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/content/1202..._53_LO.jpg

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Ian Hutchison




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Dec, 2013 11:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies, I had assumed that the reason behind the arms and armor not changing was wholly economic, I completely forgot that, of course, there would be much less change without some impetus or good reason.

Now, given that their equipment was comparatively obsolete, what made them desirable as mercenaries outside of Ireland?

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Dec, 2013 4:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
what made them desirable as mercenaries outside of Ireland?


Unless they were paid in food and drink I expect it was a reputation for being tough warriors, probably bordering on the lunatic.

I think their kit can be described as old fashioned but not entirely obsolete. They are wearing mail and steel armour, just not in the 'modern' style. Defensively they are not any worse off than many 16th cent foot soldiers really.

Just wondering if there any sources for what the better equipped, knightly, classes were wearing around then?
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Dec, 2013 12:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My take on the lack of change in gallowglass equipment has always been that, there was no need for change. In the rest of Europe the heavy cavalry charge, and massed archery, were two of the main driving forces which lead to change in arms and armour. Heavy cavalry were never very successful in places like Ireland, and the Scottish highlands, because of the terrain. This boggy and mountainous terrain also ment that small scale raiding was preferable over large scale warfare, and so massed formations of archers weren't used. So although the gallowglass may seem to carry on using outdated equipment, it must have suited their needs just fine to have been in use for so long.
Éirinn go Brách
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Andrew J. Leslie




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PostPosted: Wed 10 Sep, 2014 11:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
My take on the lack of change in gallowglass equipment has always been that, there was no need for change. In the rest of Europe the heavy cavalry charge, and massed archery, were two of the main driving forces which lead to change in arms and armour. Heavy cavalry were never very successful in places like Ireland, and the Scottish highlands, because of the terrain. This boggy and mountainous terrain also ment that small scale raiding was preferable over large scale warfare, and so massed formations of archers weren't used. So although the gallowglass may seem to carry on using outdated equipment, it must have suited their needs just fine to have been in use for so long.


While cavalry charges would have been tough anywhere in Scotland north of the Firth of Tay, groups of archers were used quite commonly in the Highlands. In fact, one of the most common weapons among their warriors was a bow. Take the battle of Inverlochy for example. The archers opened the battle as they shot down upon their enemy from a good vantage point. At that moment the rest of the force, infantry, charged and won the day. At the battle of Curlew Pass the Irish fired bows upon the English, and this was in 1599.

If my memory serves me right, this is the correct link to a blog describing Gaelic archery and its proliferation. After the initial part of this blog the writer finally gets to descriptions of battles where the bow was used.
http://ceathairne.blogspot.com/2013/07/archer...lands.html
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Neal Matheson




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 1:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great question.
As Stephen writes "It must have suited their needs just fine to have been in use for so long.". The Galloglaigh didn't really last long after the widespread introduction of firearms into Ireland. Bows were hugely popular among the Anglo-Irish and yew wood and bow staves were imported into the pale in large numbers. According to tests conducted by the Royal Armouries mail and padding effectively resists arrows shot from heavy bows. Mail and cotun type armour was probably enough to mean that Galloglaigh remained effective against missile troops. Spencer is clear that Scottish bows were weaker than those used by the English, that said there is a surprisingly large number of Gaelic chieftains who were killed or seriously wounded by arrows.
Archers were effective against Galloglaigh at Cnoc Tuagh (Knockdoe 1504) though the battle was still decided with hand weapons. Hayes McCoy states that the Irish were resistant to martial innovation though anglo Irish did take up Gaelic Irish arms and tactics, hinting that they were suited to the conditions in Ireland. As Gaelic chieftains often supplied armour it may well be that the "resistance" to innovation was financial.
On the one hand this on the other hand that......
I haven't read that Galloglaigh were particularly sought after outside the Gaelic world. I know that kern were considered excellent light skirmishers and "foragers" by English armies who used them on the continent.

More battles here:
http://ceathairne.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/reve...rning.html

http://www.seeknottheancestors.com/
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 12:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@ Andrew. Yes you are right. I had forgotten how common bows were among highlanders. I was thinking more of the Irish.

@ Neal. Hayes McCoy raised a good point. Anglo-Irish lords very often adopted Gaelic tactics and equipment. The Irish landscape just wasn't well suited to the kind of warfare practiced in England, and on the continent.

Éirinn go Brách
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 5:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neal,

What evidence is there that Scot archers were weaker than English. Strickland and most seem to indicate the issue was more a volume issue or quality. In the 15th the Scots make rather good movements to fix this after I think James got back from his capture by the English but increasing demands for archers by law, increasing their numbers. AS well the same bows made in England were exported to Scotland so it'd be rather odd if they were weaker but we have evidence from Ed I onwards basically of this as part of the arms trade to the north, usually at the start of a war the king orders all armour sales during much of the 14th and 15th bows listed.

RPM
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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
Neal,

What evidence is there that Scot archers were weaker than English. Strickland and most seem to indicate the issue was more a volume issue or quality. In the 15th the Scots make rather good movements to fix this after I think James got back from his capture by the English but increasing demands for archers by law, increasing their numbers. AS well the same bows made in England were exported to Scotland so it'd be rather odd if they were weaker but we have evidence from Ed I onwards basically of this as part of the arms trade to the north, usually at the start of a war the king orders all armour sales during much of the 14th and 15th bows listed.

RPM


James Logan in his text for The Clans of Scotland makes a point to mention several times in his descriptions and commentary that accompanies R.R. MacIan's illustrated plates that the Scots had historically been particularly skilled as archers (whether his comments were based on reliable information or not is open to debate).

The tribe of Gaels in Ulster known to the Romans as the Scotti, who frequently raided Britain's western coast and eventually established colonies in Wales and Argyllshire, claimed to be descendants of a people known to the ancient Greeks as the Scoloti or "Royal Scyths" who at one time inhabited the Pontic Steppes, but who migrated westward across Europe to the Atlantic along with the Cimmerians and other Gallic tribes, until they reached Spain and from there they ultimately went to Ireland.

The Scyths were historically considered to be remarkable bowmen, and the name Scyth/Scoloti itself is said to mean "archers". The Declaration of Arbroath written in 1320 references this history of the Scots:

"....we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today. The Britons they first drove out, the Picts they utterly destroyed, and, even though very often assailed by the Norwegians, the Danes and the English, they took possession of that home with many victories and untold efforts; and, as the historians of old time bear witness, they have held it free of all bondage ever since."
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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 9:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neal Matheson wrote:

I haven't read that Galloglaigh were particularly sought after outside the Gaelic world. I know that kern were considered excellent light skirmishers and "foragers" by English armies who used them on the continent. l


While Galloglaigh generally refers to Scottish Gaelic mercenary soldiers who hired out to fight in wars outside of Scotland between the 13th and 16th century, Highland Scottish mercenaries (MacKay's Highlanders) fought for King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Thirty Years War (1618–1648):



During the Thirty Years War another band of 500 Scots led by Captain George Sinclair of Stirkoke (son of David Sinclair and a nephew of the Earl of Caithness) were en route to hire out as mercenaries in Sweden but were ambushed by a group of farmers while crossing through Norway. The "Sinclair Saber", a type of dussage, takes its name from the sword carried by George Sinclair.
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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Though it's worth pondering on how much those Sweden mercenaries depict actual usage (bow shooting in the second plane) and how much just presentation of 'national types".

Didn't Scottish and Irish people had ban on leaving Britain with anything other than bow and dirk?

It's possible that those are just their personal belongings, while in army majority of them were grabbing pikes/muskets and joining the Swedish well oiled warmachine.

As far as I am aware at least, foreigners formed 'standard' regiments of Swedish army. In fact in many campaigns Swedish armies were mostly composed out of Germans anyway.
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Neal Matheson




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 11:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Randall, Sorry I should have written "Highland" not Scots.The Source for weaker bows comes from Spencer (among others) who was an eyewitness to highland mercenaries serving in Ireland. There were a number of differences between arms used by Highland and Lowland Scots. My research is largely about Gaelic cultures but my understanding of Lowland Scotland is that they tried to raise and maintain "English" style archers, including using powerful warbows.
Lewis, my understanding is that galloglagh is a specific Irish term for Hebredian (hence Gall) mercenary families setting up "shop" in Ireland not a general term for mercenaries. Later Highland mercenaries were considered distinct from Galoglaigh. Yes Highland and Scots mercenaries fought all over Europe. I'm not sure they were particularly prized though. Again outside Gaelic Ireland/Scotland I am not that well researched and would be interested to read more.

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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 1:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lewis A. wrote:
Neal Matheson wrote:

I haven't read that Galloglaigh were particularly sought after outside the Gaelic world. I know that kern were considered excellent light skirmishers and "foragers" by English armies who used them on the continent. l


While Galloglaigh generally refers to Scottish Gaelic mercenary soldiers who hired out to fight in wars outside of Scotland between the 13th and 16th century, Highland Scottish mercenaries (MacKay's Highlanders) fought for King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during the Thirty Years War (1618–1648):



During the Thirty Years War another band of 500 Scots led by Captain George Sinclair of Stirkoke (son of David Sinclair and a nephew of the Earl of Caithness) were en route to hire out as mercenaries in Sweden but were ambushed by a group of farmers while crossing through Norway. The "Sinclair Saber", a type of dussage, takes its name from the sword carried by George Sinclair.

Records show that only 1/3 of Donald MacKay's regiment was made up of Higlanders when the regiment was raised for Danish service in 1626. The need to replace heavy losses with new recruits had effectivly diluted the "identity" of the companies by the time the regiment transfered to Swedish service in 1629 and indeed the transfere was followed by another large influx of new recruits as the regiment was brought up to regulation strenght in preparation for the Swedish invasion of Germany.

Nor did MacKay's men wear Highland dress in Swedish service, while in Denmark they had several times been issued with proper military clothing by Christian IV and in 1630 the Swedish Crown issued the regiment huge amounts of cloth to be made into new uniforms. So the famous Stettin print does not show MacKay's men as these would have been indentical in apperance to the uniformed German and Swedish regiments. Further evidence that the print does not show MacKay's men or indeed any Scottish unit in Swedish service is the fact that the men are showed with bows. dirks and only a single musket. MacKay's regiment was a conventional regiment armed with pike and musket from the very begining in Danish service and the Swedish Crown made sure it was fully equipped with proper weapons and armour before it was sent to Germany.

The lack of proper weapons and the use of Highland dress in the Stettin print does in fact make it possible to identify the Scottish soldiers in the print. They belong to Alexander Hamilton's regiment which was part of the 'English army' led by the Marquis of Hamilton. This was private force of 6000 men raised with the support of the Stuarts that was made up of 3 regiments of Englishmen as well as Hamilton's regiment of Scots and Irish troops. Because the export of weapons was forbidden by law the Marquis men arrived in Germany unarmed by military standards and the Marquis sent letters to the Swedes begging them to supply him with weapons.


The ambush of the 350 Scots led by Lieutentant-Colonel Alexander Ramsay and Captains George Hay & George Sinclair at Kringen in Norway took place in 1612 during the earlier Kalmar War between Sweden and Denmark-Norway. Like the other Scots troops entering Swedish service at the time they would have been mostly unarmed since weapons were only issued to the troops once they mustered in Sweden. Due this they were easy prey for the Norwegian peasant levy which was far better armed having been issued with new weapons in 1611. The weapons sent to Norway by Christian IV included a large number of 16th century German basket hilted swords and dussacks which he had purchased from German armouries keen to get rid of old and obsolete weapons. The dussacks were misinterpreted as Scottish weapons and connected with Sinclair by 19th Century historians but there is no evidence at all supporting this.

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Neal Matheson




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 3:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

" The weapons sent to Norway by Christian IV included a large number of 16th century German basket hilted swords and dussacks which he had purchased from German armouries keen to get rid of old and obsolete weapons. The dussacks were misinterpreted as Scottish weapons and connected with Sinclair by 19th Century historians but there is no evidence at all supporting this."
That's pretty much what they said at the RA when I went there. The "sinclair hilt" we handled was pretty nasty and clumsy.

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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 6:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Neal,

That may be. I tend to look from the lowland side in general so when you said that I was curious to look into it.

Thanks,

RPM
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Neal Matheson




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 9:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Randall,
Yes I should look a bit more at what went on in the Lowlands and actually feel a bit silly for making that mistake.
Neal

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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2014 5:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the topic of Highland mercenaries being sought after outside of the Gaelic world. Does Highlanders fighting on the continent indicate that they were sought after, or that they themselves were seeking out employment?
Éirinn go Brách


Last edited by Stephen Curtin on Sun 14 Sep, 2014 6:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lewis A.




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Sep, 2014 1:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
On the topic of Highland mercenaries being sought after outside of the Garlic world. Does Highlanders fighting on the continent indicate that they were sought after, or that they themselves were seeking out employment?


The Garlic world?

Hmm, are you asking about Scottish mercenaries in Italy?

Maybe that is where the Scotto family originated....
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