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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 2:31 am    Post subject: kite shield vs round shield         Reply with quote

Hello folks !
So, i read here and there at the hasting (1066) battle they were kite and rounded shield used by footmen.
Rounded shield was used by northen people since at least bronze age (https://www.academia.edu/1200494/THE_FUNCTION_OF_BRONZE_AGE_SHIELDS)
Kite shield appears with the increasing use of cavalry in warfare.
i read somewhere that footmen begin to use kite shield because it was more protective.
But rounded shield was for centuries.
all of this say : Is kite shield was more appropriate for infantry in large battle and round shield more appropriate for smaller scale fights ?
thanks for reading Happy
cheers
edit : and by the way for unarmoured duel with shield and sword is a round shield is appropriate ?
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 2:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Alexis. Unfortunately the idea that infantrymen adopted kite shields from cavalrymen is a common misconception. In fact it went the other way. The kite shield first showed up as used by Byzantine infantry, presumably for increased protection to the legs. Later it was adopted for use on horseback. As for a one on one duel. I think a round shield would be preferable over a kite shield. AFAIK srikes to the legs were not common in duels, because they left you vulnerable to a counter to the head. This means one of a kite shields main selling points is less important. Also a round shield is easier to move around, and use offensively.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkhpqAGdZPc

Watch this video for a good idea of how an unarmoured duel with sword and shield might have looked like.

Éirinn go Brách
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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 3:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok nice!
So kite shield came from byzantine infantry and give more protection but round shield are better for one on one duel because you can manoeuvring it better and can use it offensively more efficiently.
Thanks.
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Harry Marinakis




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 6:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexis Bataille wrote:
Ok nice!
So kite shield came from byzantine infantry and give more protection but round shield are better for one on one duel because you can manoeuvring it better and can use it offensively more efficiently.
Thanks.


I dunno, I find that a round shield has too many disadvantages compared to other shield shapes.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:

I dunno, I find that a round shield has too many disadvantages compared to other shield shapes.


Hi Harry. Could you go into go into more detail on this? I've seen it argued that the heater shape is superior to round shields. Is this what you are referring to, or do you include kite shields as having an advantage over round shields?

Éirinn go Brách
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O. Stockhaus




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Me and my viking reenactment group exclusively use round shields between 80 and 95 cm in diameter. They have as they had in northern Europe up until the medieval period center mounted grips under a boss. My experience is that the mobility and offensive properties the center gripped round shield possesses is of great use in skirmish fighting and duels. There they have a great advantage over the early kite shield which (to my knowledge) often was strapped to the arm.

The round shield is also useful in larger battles when you lock shield in a shield wall, as you then get great resistance from spear thrusts and attempts to push the line. Unless the spears aim for your legs. Then you are screwed. That problem is solved with the kite shield.

It is my opinion that the round shield is connected to an older warrior culture with germanic-celtic roots that celebrates dueling capabilities and personal strength. When infantry tactics once again developed around 1000 a.d. their usefulness declined in favor for kite shields.
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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great ! thanks O. Stockhaus !
I have another question about sparing with round shield : in dual combat do you prefer spear, axe or sword ?
I heard here and there that spear is slightly better then come the sword and then the axe.
Axe was still massively used because it was a good side weapon cheaper than sword.
thanks again Happy
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Harry Marinakis




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 10:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Round shields can be smaller and offer less protection.

Round shields often come with a center grip, which means they are susceptible to being pushed around and opened up to attack.

People who use center-grip round shields will tell you how superior they are to other shield types - but shield to shield, push come to shove, a center grip round shield is inferior to larger shields with forearm straps. I do not think that center grip round shields were meant for crashing into shield walls, and other such "brute force" fighting, so maybe the comparison is unfair.

That being said, a good fighter can still use a center grip round shield effectively if they are experienced in using such a shield. But you won't see me using a round shield anymore.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 10:42 am    Post subject: Re: kite shield vs round shield         Reply with quote

Alexis Bataille wrote:
Is kite shield was more appropriate for infantry in large battle and round shield more appropriate for smaller scale fights ?


In a word, no. Round shields had been in use for at least 2000 years before the kite appeared. They were used by any number of cultures that fought mass battles. It worked for them. Whether you have 20 guys on each side or 20,000, the basic use and physics of shields, spears, swords, axes, and bows are pretty much the same. So the size of the battle doesn't really have any effect on the weapons favored by a culture. Sure, there ARE some weapons that are better suited to one-on-one duels, and some that are *designed* for that. And there are others (such as pikes) that I *really* wouldn't want to try using in a one-on-one fight. For the rest, though, what's the difference?

Quote:
Kite shield appears with the increasing use of cavalry in warfare.


Careful. Cavalry had been used effectively by many cultures for a long time before that, for example by Alexander the Great.

Quote:
and by the way for unarmoured duel with shield and sword is a round shield is appropriate ?


Again, it worked for them!

Matthew
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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, nice, so why Byzantine favored kite shield for their infantry ?
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 11:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Round shields can be smaller and offer less protection.


What round shields loose in length, they gain in width. As has been said, kite shields give better protection to the legs, but round shields (when held edge facing your opponent) can give better protection to an extended arm.

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Round shields often come with a center grip, which means they are susceptible to being pushed around and opened up to attack.


This can also be used as an advantage, as you can rotate the shield to protect your sword arms side.

Éirinn go Brách
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Harry Marinakis




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 11:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
This can also be used as an advantage, as you can rotate the shield to protect your sword arms side.


As I said.... (:

Yes, you can rotate the round shield to protect your side - but then I can pin your round shield to your side because your center grip does not have the power to overcome the force that I can generate with my kite or heater shield.

And then I kill you.
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Ralph Grinly





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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 12:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One reason for preference for kite shields by normans was protection - on horseback you can't swing a shield about AND control your horse at the same time. In battle, Normans SLUNG their kite shields over their shoulder - this protected left side of body and leg - leaving left hand free to control the horse's reins. As to the question, why didn't OTHER mounted warriors use kite shields - well, here's my two cent theory. The Normans - AS normans..had only recently become "Normans", mounted warriors, fighting on horseback. Before then, they had been Viking raiders before they settled down in France. So, they were still developing their culture and techniques. Some-one, maybe familiar with Byzantine kite shields found they worked on horseback pretty well and took it from there ? Note - as armour, and Normans developed..the kite shield fell out of favour..it's disadvantages out weighing it's advantages.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 1:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry. Even with your shield crossed over to protect your sword arms side, you can still attack and defend with your sword. Plus to pin a round shield in this position (with a strapped type shield) you would have to be within punching/grappling distance, and closing to this distance could prove difficult as a round shield has a longer forward reach. And if things did turn into a grappling match a round shield is more easily discarded, than a shield strapped to the arm. All this said I'm not trying to prove that the central gripped round shield is the be all and end all of shields. Every shield type has it's pros and cons, but IMO round shields are often underrated by people today.
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Baard H




Location: Norway
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Norwegian book "Vikinger i Krig" ("Vikings at War") argues that the roundshields biggest strength were duels with tactics like the shieldwall a way to compensate for its shortcomings in line-fighting (At one point the book say's that when faced with opposition, a tactic used by raiding parties would be to fake flight, split up in smaller groups of two's and three's and then turn around and enter duels and skirmishing with their pursuers rather than get stuck in a drawn out line-battle).

The kite's have - as has been mentioned - better line-fighting capabilities as they give better protection to the legs and being strapped to the wielder's arm the weight is better distributed than the center-gripped roundshield, which means you can hold it up longer without tiring as fast. The problem however, comes when you duel with it.

The roundshields from the viking age that can be measured in size with accuracy puts them in the 80-110 cm range, not exactly small (I hate it whenever I see reenactors running around with shields as small as 60 or even 50 cm). I haven't done much research into the realm of kite-sizes, but I know enough that a size up to around 60*120 as I often see in reenactment is a decent size. With this in mind there isn't really much difference in shield size, just the distribution of the coverage.

If a roundshield (with center-grip) and a kite met in a duel, the kite would have more force available in the shield, but far less reach due to the straps. Assuming 80 cm roundshield and 60 cm wide kite, the center grip of the shield would give the wielder about 40cm extra reach from his palm-grip with the kite-wielder maybe 10 or so.
This means a shield against shield push from the kite will need him to be closer to his opponent than if he also had a roundshield, though the added strength of the strap-system would mean that a shield on shield push from the roundshield would be futile.
If the kite-wielder rush in to try and push his opponents shield, he also endangers himself by going far inside his opponents range from both the sword and a skull-bash from the shield. In addition, the roundshield-wielder can just match the amount of steps the kite-wielder does and stay out of shield range.
In a duel, you do not want to be closer to the opponent than absolutely necessary. As such, the kite's extra strength doesn't get into play but the flexibility and manoeuvre of the round shield remains (bar the shield-pushing). As the kite is narrower, it loose reach and the added defence to the legs doesn't give any advantage in a duel, unless dueling a guy with a long pole-weapon, but then everything I just said wouldn't really mean much anyway.

On the note of which weapon is best:
The spear is the most useful in a line ("never to throw your spear, unless you have two, for in battle array on land one spear is more effective than two swords" King's Mirror) but in a duel it would need a true master for it to be effective I think. Swords and one-handed axes - while shorter - is much more maneuverable and thus harder to block and if you just manage to get past the dangerous spear-point, the rest of the shaft is fairly harmless.
Also, the laws of which order a young farmhand in the leidang should get his weapons say that he should first get an axe, then a shield and then a spear.
In the Norwegian laws from at least the late viking through the high middle ages, the sword and axe is considered equal.
"The axe can do whatever a sword can and then some" is a common expression in reenactment. Although the axe doesn't have the handling of a well-balanced sword, once your skill negates that you have a weapon that can hook onto shield-rims, opponents weapon or even limbs (it is also a myth that an axe can only chop, most axes was actually designed to cut just like a sword albeit with a shorter edge. Quite a lot of the axes were even able to thrust, even if it wouldn't be as effective as a sword-thrust it would still hurt at the very least.).

(Damn, this was a long post...)

At kveldi skal dag leyfa,
konu, er brennd er,
mæki, er reyndr er,
mey, er gefin er,
ís, er yfir kemr,
öl, er drukkit er.
-Hávamál, vísa 81


Last edited by Baard H on Sun 09 Nov, 2014 1:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 2:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Baard. Your explanation is what I was getting at, only you put much better than me. I also hate when people make assumptions about viking shields based on their experiences with round shields that are much smaller than what were actually used. The only part I don't really understand is why someone would think that the shieldwall was used due to some shortcoming of the central gripped round shield.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Right, a shieldwall is how any heavy infantry with shields fought! You line up and hold your shields in front of you. Depending on how tight the formation is, you might not have a lot of space for fancy maneuvers, though any trained man will still have advantages.

Matthew
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Nov, 2014 4:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Right, a shieldwall is how any heavy infantry with shields fought


Exactly. So why anyone would say that it was used due to some fault with round shields is beyond me.

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Baard H




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 1:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry, I should have specified: OVERLAPPING shieldwall. The mobility of the center grip is a huge advantage in duels, but when you stand in line it is more of a hindrance as a hard hit from a spear or dane-axe can easily open it up for other spears, to counter this you overlap your shield with the guys next to you, distributing that force.

When using shields with straps on the other hand, you are much better suited to stand in line by yourself (non-overlapping) Overlapping can still be used to make an even stronger wall, but it isn't a pure necessity any longer.

At kveldi skal dag leyfa,
konu, er brennd er,
mæki, er reyndr er,
mey, er gefin er,
ís, er yfir kemr,
öl, er drukkit er.
-Hávamál, vísa 81
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Nov, 2014 2:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the clarification Baard. Makes sense I suppose. I don't know enough about this particular aspect of formation fighting to argue one way or the other.
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