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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 493

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2014 7:32 pm    Post subject: Rarity of mounted warbowmen/ javelins dismounting ability,         Reply with quote

If was cruisnf through a video by lindybiege on Mace and found guy commeting on the prevalence of horse archers in Medival Western Europe. He first staed that it is impossible to used longbow on horseback and mounted crossbowmen would function as dragoons and horse archers in Western Europe were rare. He also stated that the use of javelins were more common because a javelin could hit a man in plate and even if it doesn't penetrate his armour, it could knock him of his horse reliably. I countered that Mike loades demonstrated that you can shot a longbow of horseback, you just can't shoot 360 degrees like you can with a Turkish recurve bow. I also pointed to the use of mounted archers in the hundred years war and the Scottish Independence and and the that Heavy lancer War saddle were designed to make in hard for a rider to be dismounted even when hitting someone at full gallop with a 10 to 12 lance or being hit by one. Any thoughts on the matter? I don't think this guy knows what he is talking about. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoPGpdxJ0fE Here is the link to the video and discussion.
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2014 1:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since a mounted javelin thrower isn't knocked off his own horse by throwing the javelin, why would the target be knocked off? The momentum transfer in both cases is the same (and it's momentum that will matter for knocking things off horses, not energy; energy will matter for penetration of armour, and heavy javelins are very good for that).

With a high draw weight short bow (like the Asian reflex-recurve composite bow), you don't have a 360 degree arc of fire, unless you shoot ambidextrously (and swap the bow to the other hand). Your arc of fire without changing hands is from about straight ahead to past straight backwards, maybe about 210 degrees total.

Mounted archers were rare in Western Europe, compared to how common they were in Eastern Europe and much of Asia. More common than men-at-arms in some armies in Western Europe, so not that rare.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Isak Krogh




Location: Sweden
Joined: 07 Feb 2012

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2014 2:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The mounted archers in the hundred years war only travelled on horseback, they where not supposed to fight as cavalry. Except possibly at Blanchetaque, does anyone know what evidence there is for that actually to have happened? The illustration used as proof is about 100 years out of date.

The japanese longbow mentioned in the discussion is not the same as a european longbow if used on horseback because of its asymetrical placing of the grip. Japanese mounted archery is linked to korean and chinese archery which in turn is linked to steppe-nomadic archery traditions.

But yes, a european longbow can be shot from horseback but its length restricts the movement and a javelin will probably not dismount a fully armoured man.

The mounted archer in the bayeux tapestry is very interesting, can anybody elaborate with other evidence of mounted archery in high medieval western Europe? http://asianmil.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8354be543...246970b-pi
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Will S




Location: Bournemouth, UK
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 161

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2014 2:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Surely draw weight is an issue. It's all well and good saying a longbow CAN be used on horseback, and if its a piddly 50# bow then I don't doubt it, but that's not a bow you'd use for warfare.

A Warbow needs to be able to push a heavy war arrow through the armour, padding and spleen of a sarcastic Frenchman, and for that you need something well in excess of 110#, and if the estimates of the MR bows are to be believed, more like 150#. Once you get to that weight, it requires the whole body to get into the bow and if you're trotting along on trusty Betsy that's very difficult.

There are so many elements to shooting a heavy bow that really require you to be standing firmly on the ground. While the exceptionally strong may be able to loose one arrow from a proper Warbow on horseback using just their arm strength, I can't imagine it being a functional and practical system. Remember that the fantasy images of Legolas nocking and loosing faster than a hummingbirds heart murmur as he rides through a mass of enemies is a load of rubbish. Ride close enough to an enemy to be able to hit him with a big heavy arrow and by the time you've nocked another somebody has pulled you off the horse, I'd imagine.
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Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2014 3:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

His 'medieval maces' look pretty damn LARP-ish in the first place, to be honest.

So I wouldn't expect the rest to be much more accurate either.

There is nothing really indicating that mounted crossbowmen of Central/Eastern Europe were used as 'dragoons', either.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2014 4:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

will back up Wills post by saying I can easily shoot a 40lb biow from a horse but its a reasonably pointless exercise and there is all sorts of stuff to get in the way and tangle me up. Once I get up to my 80lb- forget it.

One of the things people also forget is stringing the bow. Unless you always cary it strung you pretty well have to dismount to do that at which point you might as well shoot it from the ground.

They dont have to be sarcastic Frenchmen either Will, I'll shoot at any resident of the isle de paris regardless of his outlook on life.

I have noticed in many threads there is often a tendency to treat historical happenings like tables from a wargaming rule book regarding accuracy of this vs that depending on what levels of kit is in play. There are no hard and fast rules and upon first contact all rules and plans pretty well go out the window.

The fact we dont see more of them cropping up says something as well. We see plenty of them on foot because it works.

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Ralph Grinly





Joined: 19 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2014 4:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Honestly..I don't see the validity of much of the arguments re-guarding Archers/jcrosbowmen ( mounted or otherwise) vs Armoured knights as being all that realistic. Whether or not an arrow will/will not punch through a breastplate/whatever is all well and good. But this all ignores the reality of battlefield conditions. If an archer is being attacked by a mounted warrior - the *obvious* target is the largest one- the horse. Dismount the knight, and he's more or less out of the battle - either he's stunned by the impact of being thrown, or trapped under an injured horse. The same goes for a javelin- a horse with a couple of those in it is not going to be easily controlled. And yes, many horses were covered with some forms of armour, most likely padded material to lessen the effect of projectile weapons. But such padding is not all that effective. Fully armoured horses were relatively rare on most battlefields.
Of course, it's not 'noble" or heroic to admit a battle was won by killing fairly harmless animals, so that fact tends to be glossed over in many accounts And yes..I know..a warhorse is not actually 'harmless, but without it's rider to direct it, it's not likely to be too much danger. True, a war horse was trained to be a weapon itself, but it needed a human to direct it.
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Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2014 5:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ralph Grinly wrote:
Dismount the knight, and he's more or less out of the battle - either he's stunned by the impact of being thrown, or trapped under an injured horse..


It's hard to agree about that one.

We have plenty of sources about x amount of horses being killed/disabled under some guy.

As in, someone was unfortunate enough to lose a horse, but continued the battle on spare ones, or on his own feet.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2014 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe the European answer to a horse archer was the mounted crossbowmen, a crossbow is way more practical on horseback than a longbow for reasons mentioned above.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2014 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Writing in the late sixteenth century, Sir John Smythe recommended mounted archers equipped with English bows. I doubt he would have suggested this if weren't at least basically functional. Fifteen- and/or early sixteenth-century French regulations for mounted archers specified that they had to be competent shooting their bows or crossbows both on foot and from the saddle. Abundant evidence shows that many mounted crossbowers did shoot from the saddle. As far as javelins go, one of Fourquevaux's histories extols the penetrating power of the cavalry javelin.
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.

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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Thu 18 Dec, 2014 4:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One mounted archer can shoot from a horse. How does it happen en masse in a battlefield situation? Is everyone shooting up in the air in an indirect way, or are they riding in line and shooting on the move at the target, a la native indians in wild west waggon circle style situation?

No matter how you do it, missile weapons from horseback in a body create all sorts of fun issues. John Smythe proposed a fair few ideas, not all were that practical. Although he was proffering advice it was also a bit of politicking against a rival and an attempt to excuse a less than successful european expedition.

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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