Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Gendarmes, The Italian wars and more [Newcomer] Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Sun 16 Feb, 2014 1:55 pm    Post subject: Gendarmes, The Italian wars and more [Newcomer]         Reply with quote

Well let me start off this post by saying that I just joined this forum. I have recently taken an interest in the arms and armor of Man-At-Arms in the period from the Wars of the Roses up to the period around 1540 when the lance was slowly discarded in favor of a carbine/pistol.

I am most fascinated by the French Gendarmes and actually signed up after viewing this old thread regarding the Gendarmes. http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...mp;start=0

Now I have a lot of question regarding the armor of the Gendarmes and the tactics/viability of their use during the Italian wars. I am not sure if this subsection of the forum is meant for questions regarding the tactical use of the Gendarmes so i'll leave that aside for now.


*Note: I have access to a university library and search engine for peer reviewed articles on which I found a nice paper on the transition from Lance to pistol. If you happen to know a good source of information on this subject which normally requires payment do not be afraid to mention it since I probably have access to it.


An Osprey book on the battle of Fornovo 1495 depicts the Gendarmes as mostly wearing Milanese armor with front strap and an armet helmet sans waffenrock. A book from the same publisher about the battle of Pavia 1525 depicts many of the Gendarmes wearing the fluted Maximilian armor with a waffenrock. Now this is where things start getting a little complicated for me.

First off I could not find a date when the Gendarmes made a switch from the Milanese armor with Armet to Maximilian and other contemporary armors of that time. I would assume that the Gendarmes usually being on of the most well financed soldiers were among the first to adopt this new style of armor, but was this change uniform among the whole compagnie or was the Milanese armor kept around even to Pavia?

The second thing that left me somewhat puzzled is the other types of contemporary armors used along the Maximilian armor.

An Example: The armor of Bayard de Chevalier (died 1524)



Unless some radical change in armor appearance took place after his death I would assume this style of armor was also worn during the Battle of Pavia (1525). However I know virtually nothing about this style of armor nor could I find the date this was made. I see he wore a close helmet of a type I believe they call "sparrow beaked" but I do not know what this type of armor was called. Another thing I could not find was the protective quality this armor and the Maximilian had. There are reports of Imperial gunners literally pressing the barrel of their gun against the armor of a dismounted Gendarme to finish him. Was this meant as a Coup de grâce or was it a necessity because the bullet could otherwise not penetrate the armor?

A third question ventures more into the arms and tactical aspect of the Gendarmes.

It is obvious their main weapon was the lance which I believe was around 3.6 meters long but the questions I have regarding the lance are mainly tactical of nature so I will leave those for the moment.

It is the sidearm usually depicted on Gendarmes that puzzle me a bit




As you see they are both depicted as having a sword as sidearm, from the pictures I have not been able to determine whether these were the classic cut and thrust swords or more rapier like swords we see in the later part of the 16th century.
From records we know that the Gendarmes often clashed with enemy cavalry during an engagement. The lance being a one use weapon in most cases would be quickly discarded after the initial impact at which point they would draw their (at this point unidentified) swords. But how does one use a sword like that in combat against an equally armored opponent? I can clearly see that such a sword would be effective versus the minimally armored gunners or slightly armored infantry of that day, yet I do not see how one could utilize a sword against what I would call the pinnacle of plate armor.

I hope someone here is able to answer some of my questions or point me in the direction of where I could find the answer myself.

I have a few more questions about the Gendarmes in terms of how they worked in a battle but those are of a nature that has less to do with the armor and arms itself, but if I can ask those questions on this forum please tell me so.

I am also sorry for butchering the English language in such a manner, it is not my native language.


PS, Why is it that we don't see the late medieval/early renaissance armor a lot in reproductions? Is the craftsman skills required to make them simply to high for any blacksmith today or is no one interested in that time period?
View user's profile Send private message
Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,189

PostPosted: Sun 16 Feb, 2014 9:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You might want to read Instructions for the Warres (1548) by Raimond de Beccarie de Pavie, baron de Fourquevaux - usually shorted to just Fourquevaux, because that's a long name. Fourquevaux was a young teenager when Bayard fell in 1524. He gave a detailed description of how he wanted men-at-arms to arm themselves and fight. He wanted them to each have a lance of reasonable length, so he's not much help there, a sword - also not specific - and a mace. He wrote that a proper harness for a man-at-arms should be complete and that it would defend against basically everything except guns and artillery. He did note that harness might stop a arquebus ball at distance or if the gun were poorly charged or overheating. He wanted considerable horse armor for his men-at-arms and instructed them to avoid aiming their lances at their opposing armored counterparts and instead target the horses, which apparently rarely wore much barding at that time. Once the men-at-arms took to their swords, they were to continue to target the horses or any unarmed spot the found of the men.

One relevant passage seems worth reproducing here, from the 1589 English translation.

Fourquevaux wrote:
In the meane while the enemie his men of armes do charge ours as much as the horses can runne, but marke well the man|ner of our men who stand still to receiue them. But assoone as the Captaine generall his Trompet doth sound, they do runne all at once: although the rase be not aboue twentie or thirtie pa|ces. And this they haue done (as I think) to resist their enemies the more forciblie. Haue you seene how our men of armes haue with their Launces galled the enemies horses in their breastes and sides? being sure that the enemies could neither hurt their persons nor their horses, because that they are very well armed themselues, and their horses are  barbed and garnished with Chamfrings and Criniers, which the enemies do want: which is the cause that you do see so many of the enemies slaine, and so fewe of ours. Marke how our men with the force of their hor|ses, and with the thrustes of their swords do repulce their ene|mies, killing their horses as long as they may, & laying on vpon the men at all places where they may finde them vnarmed. The mase doth his office there also, and the Captaine Generall of the horsemen doth commaund the men of armes to keepe them selues firme together, and not to breake their rankes, or to suffer their enemies to enter within them by any meanes.


Note the tactic of waiting to charge until the last minute as to better maintain order. Fourquevaux wrote that the French men-at-arms used this tactic at Ravenna 1512 to defeat their Spanish counterparts. He only cryptically described use of the mace in contests between men-at-arms, perhaps because he assumed his reader to be familiar with the weapon and considered the customary approach - whatever that was - sufficient. Presumably cavalry targeted the head primarily with the mace.

Jousting in Medieval and Renaissance Iberia by Noel Fallows includes Juan Quijada de Reayo's instructions for horsemen in war, published in 1548. Unlike Fourquevaux, Quijada de Reayo instructed readers to aim their lances at the man's belly at the first encounter, though he acknowledged targeted the horse as a legitimate tactic. After breaking his lance, the man-at-arms should then fight with estoc, arming sword, hammer, and dagger in that order. The estoc and sword should target the visor and the voids, which Quijada de Reayo identified as the armpits and the belly. The text isn't completely clearly, but it looks like the hammer should target the head and the hands, which would make sense.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 4:35 am    Post subject: Re: Gendarmes, The Italian wars and more [Newcomer]         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
First off I could not find a date when the Gendarmes made a switch from the Milanese armor with Armet to Maximilian and other contemporary armors of that time. I would assume that the Gendarmes usually being on of the most well financed soldiers were among the first to adopt this new style of armor, but was this change uniform among the whole compagnie or was the Milanese armor kept around even to Pavia?


Considering that the gendarmes were the elite element of the army, the procurement of their arms would still have been done on a private and individual basis. So, on one hand, they would have been motivated to keep up with the latest fashions, while on the other hand not all of them would have had the money to commission a new suit of armour every five years or so. The most likely result is that one would see a mixture of new and slightly out-of-date styles, though I doubt many men-at-arms at Pavia could afford to ignore fashion so far as to wear a "Milanese"-style armour from the era of Fornovo. Only an old veteran knight made of pure awesome would have been able to pull that off without attracting giggles (and I'm not saying that none fought in that battle).


Quote:
The second thing that left me somewhat puzzled is the other types of contemporary armors used along the Maximilian armor.

An Example: The armor of Bayard de Chevalier (died 1524)



Unless some radical change in armor appearance took place after his death I would assume this style of armor was also worn during the Battle of Pavia (1525). However I know virtually nothing about this style of armor nor could I find the date this was made. I see he wore a close helmet of a type I believe they call "sparrow beaked" but I do not know what this type of armor was called.


Just a normal style of armour from the Maximilian era, albeit particularly subdued with less waist suppression and lacking the mass of fluting that characterised the classic "Maximilian" style. In fact, this particular armour already hints at some "post-Maximilian" characteristics that would come to typify mid-16th century armour, especially the lower waistline. Have a look at the KD garniture here:

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_ana_charlesv.html


Quote:
Another thing I could not find was the protective quality this armor and the Maximilian had. There are reports of Imperial gunners literally pressing the barrel of their gun against the armor of a dismounted Gendarme to finish him. Was this meant as a Coup de grâce or was it a necessity because the bullet could otherwise not penetrate the armor?


The quality and amount of powder used in the same type of firearm could vary widely, so it's not surprising that some firearms were perceived as lacking the power to do damage from longer ranges. Another possibility was accuracy -- obviously it's virtually impossible to miss when the muzzle is pressed right against the target. And there's yet a third possibility; the firearm may be powerful and accurate enough to kill from a practical combat range (let's say 50-100 yards for that era, though the circumstances of the battlefield at Pavia meant there was little need to shoot that far), but the user might simply want to shoot from point-blank range for catharsis' sake. We see this all the time in modern warfare; a pistol is perfectly capable of killing from 25 meters away and a rifle could do it from 300, but soldiers and militiamen do execution-style shootings with the muzzle pressed right against the target all the time.


Quote:
From records we know that the Gendarmes often clashed with enemy cavalry during an engagement. The lance being a one use weapon in most cases would be quickly discarded after the initial impact at which point they would draw their (at this point unidentified) swords


Assuming that the enemy hadn't been driven off by the initial charge. Big Grin Cavalry combat was a complicated phenomenon. Even more so for us who don't have first-hand experience to base our conclusions on.


Quote:
But how does one use a sword like that in combat against an equally armored opponent? I can clearly see that such a sword would be effective versus the minimally armored gunners or slightly armored infantry of that day, yet I do not see how one could utilize a sword against what I would call the pinnacle of plate armor.


Banging a sword against an armoured opponent might not have been all that effective, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't done. At Roundway Down in the English Civil War, the Royalist cavalry routed Haselrig's London Lobsters (a Cuirassier unit named such for their appearance in three-quarters armour with long segmented tassets), and when they pursued Haselrig they shot him with pistols and beat upon him with swords, all to no effect. If I'm not mistaken, he was only brought down by a combination of exhaustion inside his heavy armour and a serious wound to his horse.


Quote:
I have a few more questions about the Gendarmes in terms of how they worked in a battle but those are of a nature that has less to do with the armor and arms itself, but if I can ask those questions on this forum please tell me so.


You're not likely to get any definite answers since (as far as I know) none of us were there to see what really happened, but if you can put up with that then go ahead and ask. If you're really worried about the appropriateness of the topic in this forum, though, you could just add your questions to the old thread on gendarmes, since it's in the Off-topic Forum (and unlike most other boards out there, we encourage the resurrection of old threads if those threads have particularly useful information).
View user's profile Send private message
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 6:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
You might want to read Instructions for the Warres (1548) by Raimond de Beccarie de Pavie, baron de Fourquevaux - usually shorted to just Fourquevaux, because that's a long name. Fourquevaux was a young teenager when Bayard fell in 1524. He gave a detailed description of how he wanted men-at-arms to arm themselves and fight. He wanted them to each have a lance of reasonable length, so he's not much help there, a sword - also not specific - and a mace. He wrote that a proper harness for a man-at-arms should be complete and that it would defend against basically everything except guns and artillery. He did note that harness might stop a arquebus ball at distance or if the gun were poorly charged or overheating. He wanted considerable horse armor for his men-at-arms and instructed them to avoid aiming their lances at their opposing armored counterparts and instead target the horses, which apparently rarely wore much barding at that time. Once the men-at-arms took to their swords, they were to continue to target the horses or any unarmed spot the found of the men.

One relevant passage seems worth reproducing here, from the 1589 English translation.

Fourquevaux wrote:
In the meane while the enemie his men of armes do charge ours as much as the horses can runne, but marke well the man|ner of our men who stand still to receiue them. But assoone as the Captaine generall his Trompet doth sound, they do runne all at once: although the rase be not aboue twentie or thirtie pa|ces. And this they haue done (as I think) to resist their enemies the more forciblie. Haue you seene how our men of armes haue with their Launces galled the enemies horses in their breastes and sides? being sure that the enemies could neither hurt their persons nor their horses, because that they are very well armed themselues, and their horses are  barbed and garnished with Chamfrings and Criniers, which the enemies do want: which is the cause that you do see so many of the enemies slaine, and so fewe of ours. Marke how our men with the force of their hor|ses, and with the thrustes of their swords do repulce their ene|mies, killing their horses as long as they may, & laying on vpon the men at all places where they may finde them vnarmed. The mase doth his office there also, and the Captaine Generall of the horsemen doth commaund the men of armes to keepe them selues firme together, and not to breake their rankes, or to suffer their enemies to enter within them by any meanes.


Note the tactic of waiting to charge until the last minute as to better maintain order. Fourquevaux wrote that the French men-at-arms used this tactic at Ravenna 1512 to defeat their Spanish counterparts. He only cryptically described use of the mace in contests between men-at-arms, perhaps because he assumed his reader to be familiar with the weapon and considered the customary approach - whatever that was - sufficient. Presumably cavalry targeted the head primarily with the mace.

Jousting in Medieval and Renaissance Iberia by Noel Fallows includes Juan Quijada de Reayo's instructions for horsemen in war, published in 1548. Unlike Fourquevaux, Quijada de Reayo instructed readers to aim their lances at the man's belly at the first encounter, though he acknowledged targeted the horse as a legitimate tactic. After breaking his lance, the man-at-arms should then fight with estoc, arming sword, hammer, and dagger in that order. The estoc and sword should target the visor and the voids, which Quijada de Reayo identified as the armpits and the belly. The text isn't completely clearly, but it looks like the hammer should target the head and the hands, which would make sense.


Thanks for taking the time to help me out. I was able to find an English translation of the book mentioned above. Is there any mention of how cavalry should charge infantry in that book? The version of the book I have is a photocopy which I cannot search through.

Regarding the sidearm I wonder how one on earth could ever use a sword on horseback to specifically thrust through the visor. I assume that would not be an easy feat when on foot but when two men are both mounted the difficulty increases a fair bit.


Another thing that left me somewhat confused were these two accounts of two battles early in the Italian wars.

Fornovo (THE MEMOIRS OF PHILIP DE COMMINES LORD OF ARGENTON )

http://www.archive.org/stream/memoirsofphilip...a_djvu.txt

Quote:
and indeed so they did ; but the Estradiots them-selves were no less affrighted with our artillery ; for a shot from a falconet having killed one of their horses, they retired with great precipitation ; but in their retreat they took one of our Swiss captains, who had gotten on horseback to watch their retreat, and, being unarmed, was run through the body with a lance.


This quote describes a small skirmish of the Venetian Estradiots against the French. Now I am impressed that cannons from that time managed to hit light cavalry but it's the last part of the quote which seems a little strange to me. Maybe it's the old(er) English description but does the highlighted part mean that he was killed by a lance or that he literally got the entire length of the lance through his body?

Quote:
That night we had two great alarms, and all through our own negligence, in not having taken the same precautions to secure ourselves against the incursions of the Estradiots, as we used to do against the light horse ; for twenty of our men-at-arms, with their archers, would easily have stopped two hundred of them ;


Is this boasting in any way or was that the actual balance of force between heavy cavalry and light cavalry?

Quote:
On Monday morning, the 6th of July, in the year 1495, by seven o'clock, the noble king mounted on horseback, and called for me several times : I came to him, and found him completely armed, and mounted upon the best horse I ever saw in my life. The horse was called Savoy, of the Bressian breed, and had been given him, according to common report, by Charles, Duke of Savoy. It was a black horse, with but one eye, of no extraordinary stature, but tall enough for him that was to ride him.


The King rode a one-eyed horse into battle? Am I really reading this correctly?


Another source I found (although written by a history lecturer) also mentions a few things regarding the Gendarmes and Bayard also caught my attention.

http://www.niderost.com/pages/Battle_of_Marignano.htm

Quote:
French lookouts noted the enemy’s approach and alerted their army that an attack was imminent.

At that moment King Francis was in his chamber trying on some new armor. German-made, as were all the best suits of the period, it was tastefully decorated with blue enamel devices and fit the king like a second skin. The metallic rig allegedly was so closely fitted that no weapon could pierce it.


Should I take the remark about the second skin literally? Is that a way of saying it looked elegant or that in all actuality is was armor unlike the Maximilian type and more like that in the original post, no bulging and fluted lines but neat and close fitting?

Quote:
The king and his companions mounted a flank attack against the Swiss host, checking though not stopping their steamrolling advance. The battle soon degenerated into a bloody bludgeoning match, with little quarter asked or given. In fact, the Swiss had mutually pledged to spare no Frenchman except the king himself. It was to be a war of total extermination.

The battle seesawed back and forth, now the Swiss seemingly on the verge of victory, a moment later fortune smiling on the Gauls. Francis personally led charge after charge – some said as many as 30 separate advances – and, as he fought, the royal warrior and his men were like woodcutters paring down the pike “forest,” tree by tree. In the meantime the young monarch’s new Venetian allies had yet to put in their appearance.


This is what you could call a tactical question: Did they Gendarmes bring a new lance all 30 of those charges with which they killed a single person each charge or did they make 29 unsuccessful charges when their horses reared only to have the last charge succeed in driving back the Swiss?

Quote:
When the sun finally sank into a cushion of smoke and dust, and night fell, the battle simply raged on under the moon’s impassive eye. Men-at-arms abandoned their mounts to fight on foot with sword and axe, hacking, stabbing, thrusting at their stubborn opponents. Toward midnight, though, the battle finally slowed and stopped, due to the sheer exhaustion of the participants.


Is there actually any indication that Gendarmes ever dismounted to fight on foot? If so what weapon would have been their choice? Seeing how much of the infantry of that day was mostly unarmored the poleaxe has no distinct advantage but the enemy did wield long pikes which I assume even harmed fully armored Man-At-Arms.

This actually brings me to another question. The later part of the Italian wars is marked by many sieges, what was the Gendarmes role in this? Did he not participate in sieges at all or did he fight on foot when the need arose?
View user's profile Send private message
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Regarding the sidearm I wonder how one on earth could ever use a sword on horseback to specifically thrust through the visor. I assume that would not be an easy feat when on foot but when two men are both mounted the difficulty increases a fair bit.


Nobody said it'd be easy. That was why the lance or pistol was the primary armament for shock cavalry for much of the Renaissance -- the sword didn't come into prominence until well into the 17th century, when cavalrymen had begun to shed most of their armour and once more became vulnerable to cold steel.


Quote:
Quote:
and indeed so they did ; but the Estradiots them-selves were no less affrighted with our artillery ; for a shot from a falconet having killed one of their horses, they retired with great precipitation ; but in their retreat they took one of our Swiss captains, who had gotten on horseback to watch their retreat, and, being unarmed, was run through the body with a lance.


This quote describes a small skirmish of the Venetian Estradiots against the French. Now I am impressed that cannons from that time managed to hit light cavalry but it's the last part of the quote which seems a little strange to me. Maybe it's the old(er) English description but does the highlighted part mean that he was killed by a lance or that he literally got the entire length of the lance through his body?


Only that he was killed by the lance, which probably penetrated to the other side of his body but not necessarily all the way down the length of the lance. After all, 15-20cm (6-8in.) of lance through one's body would be deadly enough, no?


Quote:
Quote:
That night we had two great alarms, and all through our own negligence, in not having taken the same precautions to secure ourselves against the incursions of the Estradiots, as we used to do against the light horse ; for twenty of our men-at-arms, with their archers, would easily have stopped two hundred of them ;


Is this boasting in any way or was that the actual balance of force between heavy cavalry and light cavalry?


Probably both. It's worth noting that cavalry was the favoured troop type for raids precisely because they could break off and abort the attack if they weren't sure of an overwhelming advantage on their side, so it's perfectly reasonable that a security detachment of between fifty and seventy men (counting the "archers" in addition to the men-at-arms) would have been enough to persuade two hundred lightly-equipped raiders that pressing the attack would have been too costly for them.


Quote:
Quote:
On Monday morning, the 6th of July, in the year 1495, by seven o'clock, the noble king mounted on horseback, and called for me several times : I came to him, and found him completely armed, and mounted upon the best horse I ever saw in my life. The horse was called Savoy, of the Bressian breed, and had been given him, according to common report, by Charles, Duke of Savoy. It was a black horse, with but one eye, of no extraordinary stature, but tall enough for him that was to ride him.


The King rode a one-eyed horse into battle? Am I really reading this correctly?


Not implausible. The design of 16th-century chanfrons (facial plates) for men-at-arms' horses heavily restricted the horse's vision, and in any case a horse doesn't rely quite as much on stereoscopic vision as a human does -- so on the whole, being short by one eye wouldn't have been such a disadvantage to a destrier as long as the rider was competent enough.


Quote:
Quote:
French lookouts noted the enemy’s approach and alerted their army that an attack was imminent.

At that moment King Francis was in his chamber trying on some new armor. German-made, as were all the best suits of the period, it was tastefully decorated with blue enamel devices and fit the king like a second skin. The metallic rig allegedly was so closely fitted that no weapon could pierce it.


Should I take the remark about the second skin literally? Is that a way of saying it looked elegant or that in all actuality is was armor unlike the Maximilian type and more like that in the original post, no bulging and fluted lines but neat and close fitting?


You're reading too much into the passage. "Like a second skin" could simply mean that the armour fit particularly well, and doesn't have to imply anything about the aesthetic and decorative features. Besides, this seems to be a secondary source statement, not a primary account, so it's quite probable that it's just the writer's own interpretation or literary embellishment.


Quote:
This is what you could call a tactical question: Did they Gendarmes bring a new lance all 30 of those charges with which they killed a single person each charge or did they make 29 unsuccessful charges when their horses reared only to have the last charge succeed in driving back the Swiss?


We don't know. Big Grin

If you're asking my personal interpretation, though, they probably charged the corners of the Swiss pike squares, stopping and wheeling back after each brief impact. The main goal would have been to slow the Swiss advance down and keep them vulnerable to the excellent French artillery rather than actually breaking or pushing them back with the charges, though no doubt the gendarmes would have been happy to take the chance if any of the Swiss formations were to break under the combined weight of their charges and the artillery bombardment. (Alas, the Swiss didn't break.)

Again, purely from my imagined picture of the engagement, each of the thirty charges would have been rather small in scale, and the horsemen would have had the opportunity to either ride back and pick up new lance or take unbroken ones from others in the rear rank who hadn't had the chance to come into personal, physical contact with the Swiss. That's just what I think things would have looked like, though. I wasn't there and I don't know for sure.


Quote:
Is there actually any indication that Gendarmes ever dismounted to fight on foot?


Their ancestors -- the men-at-arms of the Ordonnance companies from the mid- to late 15th century -- were certainly intended to be dismountable. Many of the wars that Involved French men-at-arms in the second half of the 15th century saw them dismount rather frequently (often along with the supporting archers and coustiliers) to assault villages or participate in sieges. In the 16th century their role was more specialised and they no longer dismounted quite as often, but they remained capable of dismounted fighting for quite a while.

Quote:
If so what weapon would have been their choice? Seeing how much of the infantry of that day was mostly unarmored the poleaxe has no distinct advantage but the enemy did wield long pikes which I assume even harmed fully armored Man-At-Arms.


The poleaxe had the advantage of tradition. Big Grin


Quote:
This actually brings me to another question. The later part of the Italian wars is marked by many sieges, what was the Gendarmes role in this? Did he not participate in sieges at all or did he fight on foot when the need arose?


They obviously participated in sieges. There was a notorious incident where German men-at-arms refused an order to dismount and lead an assault into a breach, but I've seen a rather convincing analysis that this was because the assault was a rather suicidal proposition anyway, not because they really couldn't or didn't want to dismount.

The main problem with accounts of sieges and assaults is that we usually don't get many details about who participated in what action, particularly when it came to small skirmishes between and outside the lines. Cavalry still had a very important role in such skirmishes. Although this kind of work usually fell upon the light cavalry, it's not unconceivable that mounted gendarmes would get involved from time to time, especially since they didn't always have to fight with all their equipment on. A troop of men-at-arms without horse armour, and perhaps even minus lower leg armour, would have provided an excellent heavy reserve to a mostly-light cavalry patrol or probing force. And remember that Bayard -- the stereotypical heavy cavalry commander if there ever was one -- once led a lighting raid in light-cavalry style!

(The lesson is that gendarmes were born as a multirole force; although the heavy cavalry role eventually took more and more of their time, they didn't entirely lose the multirole capability until quite late in their evolution.)
View user's profile Send private message
Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,189

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 10:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fourquevaux wanted men-at-arms to refrain from skirmishes because in them the men-at-arms typically only spoiled their horses and became accustomed to flight. He left the possibility open that would fight in skirmishes if absolutely necessarily. Of course, this shows that at the time - the 1540s or so - men-at-arms did often participate in skirmishes.

Also note infantry weren't all lightly armed during this period. Many pikers and halberdiers fought in at least helmets, breastplates, and backplates. Fourquevaux wrote by the 1540s some soldiers had started discarding their armor and that often only the first few ranks in pike formation wore harness. He wanted armor for every single soldier in his ideal army, though he realized this might not be practical. Fourquevaux gave his regular pikers three-quarters harness and hose of mail - very considerable armor. I don't know how many pikers actually wore such extensive protection, but based on artwork a number in the front ranks would have worn helmets, breasts, backs, arm harnesses, gauntlets, and tassets.

For example of what courageous men-at-arms could do, consider this example from the 1579 English translation of Francesco Guicciardini's history of the Italian Wars. It comes in the battle of Novara 1513, during which Guicciardini wrote that the French cavalry fled and did nothing worthy of praise except for this

Guicciardini wrote:
onely the lorde Robert la Marche caryed with a vehement affection of a father, entred the battell of the Svvizzers with a squadron of horsemen, to res|kew Florango and Iames his sonnes, capteines of Almain footemen, who lying sore wounded on the earth, his vallour to the great wonder of the Svvizzers, drewe them on liue out of that daunger


So even during a lost battle, a single squadron of men-at-arms had the ability to charge into a pike formation and escape alive. Writing in the 1590s, Sir John Smythe considered it plausible that a cavalry charge - and he probably imagined lancers on mostly unarmored horses - might get through the initial five ranks of pikers in his ideal infantry formation. He wrote that the halberdiers behind these five ranks of pikers could deal with any such horsemen as made it through, but just the fact he addressed this point suggests cavalry charges could penetrate five ranks of pikers and more.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!


Last edited by Benjamin H. Abbott on Mon 17 Feb, 2014 11:30 am; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:


We don't know. Big Grin

If you're asking my personal interpretation, though, they probably charged the corners of the Swiss pike squares, stopping and wheeling back after each brief impact. The main goal would have been to slow the Swiss advance down and keep them vulnerable to the excellent French artillery rather than actually breaking or pushing them back with the charges, though no doubt the gendarmes would have been happy to take the chance if any of the Swiss formations were to break under the combined weight of their charges and the artillery bombardment. (Alas, the Swiss didn't break.)

Again, purely from my imagined picture of the engagement, each of the thirty charges would have been rather small in scale, and the horsemen would have had the opportunity to either ride back and pick up new lance or take unbroken ones from others in the rear rank who hadn't had the chance to come into personal, physical contact with the Swiss. That's just what I think things would have looked like, though. I wasn't there and I don't know for sure.


Quote:
Is there actually any indication that Gendarmes ever dismounted to fight on foot?


Their ancestors -- the men-at-arms of the Ordonnance companies from the mid- to late 15th century -- were certainly intended to be dismountable. Many of the wars that Involved French men-at-arms in the second half of the 15th century saw them dismount rather frequently (often along with the supporting archers and coustiliers) to assault villages or participate in sieges. In the 16th century their role was more specialised and they no longer dismounted quite as often, but they remained capable of dismounted fighting for quite a while.

Quote:
If so what weapon would have been their choice? Seeing how much of the infantry of that day was mostly unarmored the poleaxe has no distinct advantage but the enemy did wield long pikes which I assume even harmed fully armored Man-At-Arms.


The poleaxe had the advantage of tradition. Big Grin


Quote:
This actually brings me to another question. The later part of the Italian wars is marked by many sieges, what was the Gendarmes role in this? Did he not participate in sieges at all or did he fight on foot when the need arose?


They obviously participated in sieges. There was a notorious incident where German men-at-arms refused an order to dismount and lead an assault into a breach, but I've seen a rather convincing analysis that this was because the assault was a rather suicidal proposition anyway, not because they really couldn't or didn't want to dismount.

The main problem with accounts of sieges and assaults is that we usually don't get many details about who participated in what action, particularly when it came to small skirmishes between and outside the lines. Cavalry still had a very important role in such skirmishes. Although this kind of work usually fell upon the light cavalry, it's not unconceivable that mounted gendarmes would get involved from time to time, especially since they didn't always have to fight with all their equipment on. A troop of men-at-arms without horse armour, and perhaps even minus lower leg armour, would have provided an excellent heavy reserve to a mostly-light cavalry patrol or probing force. And remember that Bayard -- the stereotypical heavy cavalry commander if there ever was one -- once led a lighting raid in light-cavalry style!

(The lesson is that gendarmes were born as a multirole force; although the heavy cavalry role eventually took more and more of their time, they didn't entirely lose the multirole capability until quite late in their evolution.)


So folks today really still don't know a cavalry charge really works? That's a bummer Worried

Regarding the dismounted fighting could you name a few battles as example? I must admit my knowledge of French history has a gap between the Hundred Years war and the Italian wars. Also which siege had the German Man at arms refusing to dismount?

Another thing I have trouble with is placing a dismounted man at arms/Gendarme in a battlefield with pikes and shot. How would Gendarmes with poleaxes and swords fit in the pike and shot type of warfare when not on a horse? Or did handheld firearms not play that big a role in the Italian wars? Were they used as a separate infantry block or intermingled with pikes in a manner like the zweihander wielding Landsknecht?
View user's profile Send private message
Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,189

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In general I think men-at-arms fought on horseback during the Italians Wars. If on foot I suspect they'd fight like anyone else with pike or halberd. Nobles often served as infantry officers, as the example of Robert la Marche saving his sons from a pike melee shows. But folks equipped as men-at-arms and enrolled to fight as such were valuable and hard to come by, so they would stick to their role in most cases. I recall one story of Bayard fighting unarmored on foot with a pike upon a sudden encounter. And assaults of fortified positions would be time you might see men-at-arms dismount and fight on foot. Anyone who did fight with pollaxe on foot would do the same service as a halberdier.
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
In general I think men-at-arms fought on horseback during the Italians Wars. If on foot I suspect they'd fight like anyone else with pike or halberd. Nobles often served as infantry officers, as the example of Robert la Marche saving his sons from a pike melee shows. But folks equipped as men-at-arms and enrolled to fight as such were valuable and hard to come by, so they would stick to their role in most cases. I recall one story of Bayard fighting unarmored on foot with a pike upon a sudden encounter. And assaults of fortified positions would be time you might see men-at-arms dismount and fight on foot. Anyone who did fight with pollaxe on foot would do the same service as a halberdier.


Yeah that sounds quite reasonable. Did the halberdiers fight in one formation with the pikes as the Spanish shield and buckler man or did they act as flanking units?


PS, I actually stumbled on a forum post of a video game in which a certain person has a lot of first hand accounts of cavalry skirmishes of man at arms.



I actually recommend them as they shed some light on the matter of targeting horses and fighting a plate armored knight with a sword.

http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthrea...nt-to-help
View user's profile Send private message
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 2:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
You might want to read Instructions for the Warres (1548) by Raimond de Beccarie de Pavie, baron de Fourquevaux


Many thanks again for that recommendation.

There are however some curios descriptions in it. Namely that a pike man of the front rank should wear a breastplate with tassets reaching down to the knees, a hose of mail , a codpiece of iron and headpiece with the sight almost covered.


The things in bold I have never seen the in popular images of pikemen including the famous landsknecht
View user's profile Send private message
Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,189

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 4:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fourquevaux, like many 16th-century military writers but especially so, loved armor. He wanted his pikers heavily armored in order to protect them and encourage them to fight rather than run away. He even assigned targets for their backs to sling down in the press and described them as heavily laden. All of this intentionally differed from common practice; Fourquevaux wrote that usually only the first few ranks wore much armor and that these also contained all the best soldiers.

Paul Dolnstein's sketchbook describes and portrays how landsknechts fought in Sweden around 1502: they all wore helmets, breasts, backs, and arm defense. Judging by the image, their cuirasses included tassets to almost the knee. This strikes me as a good standard for well-equipped pike infantry. I suspect Fourquevaux's desired piker armament represents the heaviest and most complete harness historical soldiers ever wore. (Some nobles might have fought in complete plate armor with the pike.) Like many 16th-century military manuals, Fourquevaux's tells what he considered ideal, though he also at times described existing practice and his problems with it.

As far as halberdiers go, they could be surrounded by pikers in large formation, there to assist the pikers in the press. That's how Fourquevaux wanted them, and he specially wrote that the would rescue his pikers turned targetiers in a hard-fought melee. They could also just hang around defending the ensign. Others might fight alongside the shot in looser order.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 5:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:


Guicciardini wrote:
onely the lorde Robert la Marche caryed with a vehement affection of a father, entred the battell of the Svvizzers with a squadron of horsemen, to res|kew Florango and Iames his sonnes, capteines of Almain footemen, who lying sore wounded on the earth, his vallour to the great wonder of the Svvizzers, drewe them on liue out of that daunger


So even during a lost battle, a single squadron of men-at-arms had the ability to charge into a pike formation and escape alive. Writing in the 1590s, Sir John Smythe considered it plausible that a cavalry charge - and he probably imagined lancers on mostly unarmored horses - might get through the initial five ranks of pikers in his ideal infantry formation. He wrote that the halberdiers behind these five ranks of pikers could deal with any such horsemen as made it through, but just the fact he addressed this point suggests cavalry charges could penetrate five ranks of pikers and more.



That would have been an awesome sight to behold. But I could potentially see it happen.

If pikeman held a formation like this:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...g_3653.jpg

--which seems historically accurate--.



Gendarmes with barded horses could pass through the gaps and pikes might glance off the bard of the horse. The lance of the cavalry man himself of course making the pike folks give way to dodge the lance and prevent impalement.

That said you could potentially penetrate five ranks of pikeman but you would not kill them all, you would most likely have a block of angry halbadiers in front of you and what is left of 5 ranks of pikeman behind you. Which is where I assume the non barded lighter cavalry mentioned in the manual comes in, to enter the broken up pike formation and Finnish the work.



PS, what is a hose of mail? Is that the mail chausses of the 11-13th century?
View user's profile Send private message
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Mon 17 Feb, 2014 6:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Fourquevaux, like many 16th-century military writers but especially so, loved armor. He wanted his pikers heavily armored in order to protect them and encourage them to fight rather than run away. He even assigned targets for their backs to sling down in the press and described them as heavily laden. All of this intentionally differed from common practice; Fourquevaux wrote that usually only the first few ranks wore much armor and that these also contained all the best soldiers.

Paul Dolnstein's sketchbook describes and portrays how landsknechts fought in Sweden around 1502: they all wore helmets, breasts, backs, and arm defense. Judging by the image, their cuirasses included tassets to almost the knee. This strikes me as a good standard for well-equipped pike infantry. I suspect Fourquevaux's desired piker armament represents the heaviest and most complete harness historical soldiers ever wore. (Some nobles might have fought in complete plate armor with the pike.) Like many 16th-century military manuals, Fourquevaux's tells what he considered ideal, though he also at times described existing practice and his problems with it.

As far as halberdiers go, they could be surrounded by pikers in large formation, there to assist the pikers in the press. That's how Fourquevaux wanted them, and he specially wrote that the would rescue his pikers turned targetiers in a hard-fought melee. They could also just hang around defending the ensign. Others might fight alongside the shot in looser order.



Yeah I recall reading a passage where he points out the armor of roman infantry was heavy so that they would not flee (at least that I think that's what it mean).

Oh there is one other thing in the manual about types of cavalry, he mentions one type using javelins and wearing 'mail sleeves' I could not google the name because the handwriting and different spelling left me unable to.

He also mentions mounted Harquebusiers and recommends that young nobles should first act as Harquesbusiers before becoming Gendarmes, It seems young soldier were the same back then Razz eager to shine and charge first.
View user's profile Send private message
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Wed 19 Feb, 2014 11:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:

So folks today really still don't know a cavalry charge really works? That's a bummer Worried


In fact, it's amazing that we know so much about things that happened nearly half a millennium ago. But we can't dodge the fact that none of us were there to see what really happened, and that the only real living cavalrymen we can consult were (or are) trained and deployed in an era with very different tactics and paradigms from those of the 16th century.


Quote:
Regarding the dismounted fighting could you name a few battles as example? I must admit my knowledge of French history has a gap between the Hundred Years war and the Italian wars.


Then you probably should check out the first half of Commynes' memoirs. There's a decent translation here:

http://www.r3.org/on-line-library-text-essays...s-memoirs/

Chapters 3-4 of Book One contain a rather detailed account of the Battle of Montlhery, which involved men-at-arms fighting both on foot and on horseback. The rest of the text also mentions several other incidents where men-at-arms dismounted to support the lesser foot or to perform their own special missions (such as infiltrating a fortified church). Indeed, given the degree and variety of skills they were supposed to have (compared to the amount of training that would have been mandated for lesser troops), it would perhaps be more accurate to compare these men-at-arms to modern special forces than to conventional "heavy" forces like armour or mechanised infantry.


Quote:
Also which siege had the German Man at arms refusing to dismount?


I'm afraid I don't remember the exact incident, but the counterexample (German and Burgundian men-at-arms dismounting to reinforce their foot at Guinegatte) is briefly mentioned in Commynes.


Quote:
Another thing I have trouble with is placing a dismounted man at arms/Gendarme in a battlefield with pikes and shot. How would Gendarmes with poleaxes and swords fit in the pike and shot type of warfare when not on a horse? Or did handheld firearms not play that big a role in the Italian wars? Were they used as a separate infantry block or intermingled with pikes in a manner like the zweihander wielding Landsknecht?


Again, we don't know for sure, and it's very likely that the exact terms of their employment depended heavily upon the commanders' plans and the condition of the battlefield. So the men-at-arms could be instructed to pick up pikes and become super-heavy pikemen, presumably in the first rank to protect the less well-armoured common pikemen; they might use swords and poleaxes to form an assault detachment operating in close cooperation with the pike square, much as Swiss halberdiers did in the early decades of the Italian Wars; they could be assigned to guard the standards or the infantry commander in the manner of two-handed swordsmen; or they could form an entirely separate detachment to mount small-scale assaults against villages, farmhouses, hedgerows, or other minor strongpoints on the battlefield, often with the support of "commanded shot" (small detachments of arquebusiers, musketeers, or other firearm-based troops).
View user's profile Send private message
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Thu 20 Feb, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Pieter B. wrote:

So folks today really still don't know a cavalry charge really works? That's a bummer Worried


In fact, it's amazing that we know so much about things that happened nearly half a millennium ago. But we can't dodge the fact that none of us were there to see what really happened, and that the only real living cavalrymen we can consult were (or are) trained and deployed in an era with very different tactics and paradigms from those of the 16th century.


Quote:
Regarding the dismounted fighting could you name a few battles as example? I must admit my knowledge of French history has a gap between the Hundred Years war and the Italian wars.


Then you probably should check out the first half of Commynes' memoirs. There's a decent translation here:

http://www.r3.org/on-line-library-text-essays...s-memoirs/

Chapters 3-4 of Book One contain a rather detailed account of the Battle of Montlhery, which involved men-at-arms fighting both on foot and on horseback. The rest of the text also mentions several other incidents where men-at-arms dismounted to support the lesser foot or to perform their own special missions (such as infiltrating a fortified church). Indeed, given the degree and variety of skills they were supposed to have (compared to the amount of training that would have been mandated for lesser troops), it would perhaps be more accurate to compare these men-at-arms to modern special forces than to conventional "heavy" forces like armour or mechanised infantry.


Quote:
Also which siege had the German Man at arms refusing to dismount?


I'm afraid I don't remember the exact incident, but the counterexample (German and Burgundian men-at-arms dismounting to reinforce their foot at Guinegatte) is briefly mentioned in Commynes.


Quote:
Another thing I have trouble with is placing a dismounted man at arms/Gendarme in a battlefield with pikes and shot. How would Gendarmes with poleaxes and swords fit in the pike and shot type of warfare when not on a horse? Or did handheld firearms not play that big a role in the Italian wars? Were they used as a separate infantry block or intermingled with pikes in a manner like the zweihander wielding Landsknecht?


Again, we don't know for sure, and it's very likely that the exact terms of their employment depended heavily upon the commanders' plans and the condition of the battlefield. So the men-at-arms could be instructed to pick up pikes and become super-heavy pikemen, presumably in the first rank to protect the less well-armoured common pikemen; they might use swords and poleaxes to form an assault detachment operating in close cooperation with the pike square, much as Swiss halberdiers did in the early decades of the Italian Wars; they could be assigned to guard the standards or the infantry commander in the manner of two-handed swordsmen; or they could form an entirely separate detachment to mount small-scale assaults against villages, farmhouses, hedgerows, or other minor strongpoints on the battlefield, often with the support of "commanded shot" (small detachments of arquebusiers, musketeers, or other firearm-based troops).


Thanks for shedding some light one this, I will try to look into other sources for further information.

I have two other questions remaining though.

Why is reenactment of anything from 1100-1477 so common while we never see anything of the Italian wars?

And what are these knobs on the horse barding. I heard someone suggest they are there to deflect pikes during a charge but is this possible?








EDIT: I found another print which is quite interesting. Sadly I could not find the date it was made so maybe it's just a modern one.

View user's profile Send private message
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Sun 23 Feb, 2014 5:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think I found a nice heroic depiction of Francis I



Notice how he is charging a pike square and already has ran over a couple of guys.
View user's profile Send private message
Raman A




Location: United States
Joined: 25 Aug 2011

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Mon 24 Feb, 2014 9:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:


This is definitely historical. It's from the work Theuerdank, originally published in 1517 in Nuremburg. It was one of two "autobiographical" accounts Maximilian I produced, along with Der Weisskunig. I believe that Der Weisskunig was never finished or published, though. Check both of them out for lots of great woodcut art featuring early 16th century German arms and armor.
View user's profile Send private message
Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
Reading list: 10 books

Posts: 577

PostPosted: Mon 24 Feb, 2014 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Raman A wrote:
Pieter B. wrote:


This is definitely historical. It's from the work Theuerdank, originally published in 1517 in Nuremburg. It was one of two "autobiographical" accounts Maximilian I produced, along with Der Weisskunig. I believe that Der Weisskunig was never finished or published, though. Check both of them out for lots of great woodcut art featuring early 16th century German arms and armor.


Thanks, the armor depictions are great Wink
View user's profile Send private message
Raman A




Location: United States
Joined: 25 Aug 2011

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Tue 25 Feb, 2014 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The peytral "knobs" appear to have been much older than the 16th century.



http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4373/7014/

Sorry, I'm not sure what their exact function was.
View user's profile Send private message
Jaroslav Kravcak




Location: Slovakia
Joined: 22 Apr 2006

Posts: 123

PostPosted: Thu 27 Feb, 2014 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well as far as sources go (I have rather amateur interest in it), memoirs of french from 16th century are great sources of information and examples.

As for Bayard, many great tales and information are in:

https://archive.org/details/TheRightJoyousAndPleasantHistoryOfSanPierreTerrailLaChevlieirDe

Its english translation, though there are some french versions and I find them better, even though my french is terrible. There are many example of skirmishes, depictions of sieges and mentions of men at arms fighting dismounted. There might be many good reasons for some, or many men at arms to dismount, youll certainly find a passage in this book, that I cannot exactly recollect now, where italian militia would block passage through the mountains and it was gained from them by bayard and others, that dismounted with pikes/lances in hand and dislodged their adversaries. There is also description of siege of Brescia, some time before battle of Ravenna in which dismounted gendarmes, along with bayard stormed the city, also mentioned is their use as armoured shields for arquebusiers. (this would be cca in february 1512)

Then there are many memoirs, also at the same site, in french, with some good informations about most illustrous battles of french gendarmes of that times. Examples are memoirs of du Bellay, Montluc, de Tavanes, de la Noue and others.

These are all sources free to download, its a shame most dont have easily accesible english translation.

Im most interested in french gendarmes as well and heavy cavalry of this period in general. Concerning the battle of Marignano, I see one more point about their charges, when you compare battles of Novara and Marignano, I see paralel to some point, french would be rather surprized by sudden attack at both instances, completely defeated first time, victorious second time. I see main difference in proper cavalry support. They might have tryed to charge against big uninterrupted Swiss blocks, it can be supported by literature, might get inside causing casualties, but Id say most of their work would be to keep swiss from completely ovewhelming their own infantry. These might have been routed several times at many places and certainly were giving ground to swiss advance, I can very well imagine most charges would be devastating to the swiss, if they were disrupted after sucesfully pushinf french infantry back, so they could ride among them in small groups, cut many of them down and forcing them to retreat from gained ground and back into dense mass, as I see it currently, without them, swiss would have rolled through french rather soon and would have won second great victory over french after Novara.

Just to add, it seems there are several examples of cavalry accomplishing much more than just getting 5 ranks deep into pikemen. There might be many untold examples, when such a feat would cause infantry to simply dissolve and break in panic and most of the good example of cavalry riding through unbroken infantry are against high quality enemy, like Swiss at Dreux, 1562, spanish/germans at Ceresole 1544 - in both cases there is a mention of gendarmes riding through whole formation. (more astonishing in second case, as Swiss at Dreux seem to only be 10 ranks deep), but they lack specific infarmations, especially how much damage they were able to cause (there would be more than 1000 Swiss dead and up to half of their number wounded at the battle of Dreux out of 5000-6000, but theres no way to tell how many of these would be due to firearms, also exact losses for huguenot gendarmes are nowhere to be found, I had no luck yet.), while casualties are ennumerated quite well (at least for the battle of Ceresole in several memoirs - Montluc, du Bellay, de la Noue) One thing is certain - in both cases infantry would outnumber gendarmes greatly (especially hommes d armes, proper gendarmes with full plate armour and barded horse - at least on paper, the rest being archers) and both sides would suffer casualties.
Best example for me, one from which Id say it can be extrapolated what even single warhorse among infantry was capable of is battle of Grandson in 1476 and Louis de Chatel-Guyon, that managed to leap into Swiss pike square on armoured horse and in few minutes kill 30 Swiss and get into its middle, finally being neutralized when trying to capture one of the flags, either alone, or with very few that got inside. This should be described in a letter of bernese captain to the city council, detailing the battle, for information about where to see it and read for yourself, you can try to contact chef de chambre, he mentions it here for example:

http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewto...se#p120875

I tend to believe, most men would simply turn before collision with infantry and only rarely at one or two spots several men might force their way inside and ram their way through, causing some casualties, or even panicking infantry and routing whole formation. They would generally be hundreds in strengh at most charging against thousands in dense formation and gunfire, so odds would be against them and most time, most of them wouldnt get anywhere close to the enemy, they might ride paralel to front of pikesquare, try to fence with their lances etc. to create the opening.
Somehow I dont really like the idea of whole line of horsemen either bowling over many rows of pikemen as one big wave, or the picture of hundreds of horse getting impaled on pikes in second, I believe most times there was no real contact at all with very few casualties , mostly from firearms and maybe artillery and rarely some horsemen might get inside and then it ended either catastrophically for infantry, being disorganized, broken and cut down, or riders passed wounding as much as they could and infantry simply closed lanes once again and reform, or riders were stopped and neutralized in the mass of infantry.

Its amazing, that best examples of what might have happened at the point of contact (especially how single horseman can be the cause of destruction of whole units of infantry) are from victorian era england and napoleonic wars, mostly british (like Khushab, Aliwal), others like mamluks against russian guard grenadiers square at Austerlitz, or french cavalry vs austrians at Dresden.

There are many good examples that might in the end show, that possibilities of what might have happened at contact are endless and there are no hard set rules to be extracted from it, it seems like it was allways a gamble. But its interesting to think about it. :-)
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Gendarmes, The Italian wars and more [Newcomer]
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum