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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sun 18 Jan, 2015 11:51 am    Post subject: Mid to late 15th century army composition?         Reply with quote

Hey there folks,

the period of 1450-1500 is one of my favorite parts of the medieval period because of the armor types seen then and the early standing armies that emerged. What puzzles me is the army composition of this period and the way in which it was used.

The main armies of this period of which I know were:
The Black army of Hungary
The army of Burgundy
The French army
The English army of the war of the roses.

Having read parts of the memoirs of Phillip de Commines in which the war of the public weal and subsequent events are described, it reads as if the French and Burgundian armies in those periods were made up solely out of Man-at-arms and (franc)archers and the artillery train. Battles are described as if dismounted man-at-arms advance together with archers with cavalry on the flanks doing nothing.

To my best knowledge the English armies during the war of the roses also consisted of archers and man-at-arms with archers (and billmen?) who fought on food.

Did man-at-arms in the period of 1450-1500 fight on foot out of tactical considerations or did I misinterpret things a little? If they did fight on foot for tactical reasons was it that the archers rendered their horses vulnerable or did they simply encounter terrain that wasn't conductive to cavalry?

The Black army of Hungary seems to be the opposite of Western European armies of the same period. Sadly I do not have many primary sources or books to rely on, but it seems the vast majority of the army was mounted and that man-at-arms were the primary striking arm of the army. Did those man-at-arms also fight on foot or were they employed in the more traditional role of cavalry?

PS, I left the Spanish, Italian and German armies out of this question since I do not know a thing about those.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2015 8:23 am    Post subject: Re: Mid to late 15th century army composition?         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Having read parts of the memoirs of Phillip de Commines in which the war of the public weal and subsequent events are described, it reads as if the French and Burgundian armies in those periods were made up solely out of Man-at-arms and (franc)archers and the artillery train. Battles are described as if dismounted man-at-arms advance together with archers with cavalry on the flanks doing nothing.


Really? In the first battle he described -- Montlhery -- most of the men-at-arms fought mounted, and indeed he spoke of the Burgundians wasting much time by dismounting and then remounting their men-at-arms at the beginning of the battle. Apart from that, most of the archers who fought in the wars between the French royal house and the Duchy of Burgundy were either regular Ordonnance archers (on both sides) or English mercenaries (on the Burgundian side), not franc-archers; the only mention of franc-archers I recall is one where they were said to have been rubbish troops since they fled a good fortified position where they had been stationed to impede a Burgundian invasion of French royal lands.


Quote:
To my best knowledge the English armies during the war of the roses also consisted of archers and man-at-arms with archers (and billmen?) who fought on food.


Most of them, but not all. There were always some mounted reserves (usually small, but sometimes larger), and remember that the most famous incident at Bosworth Field was Richard III's mounted charge against Henry Tudor's infantry.


Quote:
Did man-at-arms in the period of 1450-1500 fight on foot out of tactical considerations or did I misinterpret things a little?


Both. Fighting on foot was still an important role for men-at-arms due to the legacy of the Hundred Years' War, but at the same time the men-at-arms were beginning to transition into a more specialised mounted role as the category became more and more restricted to people who could afford armour for both man and horse; many men who would have been men-at-arms earlier got assigned into lighter cavalry or infantry categories depending on how much equipment they could afford and the circumstances of their service, or became officers who led the "lesser" troops.


Quote:
If they did fight on foot for tactical reasons was it that the archers rendered their horses vulnerable or did they simply encounter terrain that wasn't conductive to cavalry?


A little of both, and there's the force of tradition (since they had spent over a century fighting the English on foot). But remember that major field battles were not the only kind of engagement out there, and you should not restrict your reading or thinking to battles; men-at-arms had to be versatile since they had to be able to fight mounted in small, mobile skirmishes and on foot when assaulting fortifications or built-up areas (such as the fight in the village at the beginning of the battle of Montlhery).
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Kyle Glover





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2015 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Keep in mind though that Bosworth is unique amongst Wars of the Roses battles because it features a cavalry on cavalry charge.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Jan, 2015 2:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Mid to late 15th century army composition?         Reply with quote

Quote:
Really? In the first battle he described -- Montlhery -- most of the men-at-arms fought mounted, and indeed he spoke of the Burgundians wasting much time by dismounting and then remounting their men-at-arms at the beginning of the battle. Apart from that, most of the archers who fought in the wars between the French royal house and the Duchy of Burgundy were either regular Ordonnance archers (on both sides) or English mercenaries (on the Burgundian side), not franc-archers; the only mention of franc-archers I recall is one where they were said to have been rubbish troops since they fled a good fortified position where they had been stationed to impede a Burgundian invasion of French royal lands.


Ah yes I see, I misconstrued the mounting and dismounting as them going at it on foot. As for the Franq-archers, they are mentioned during the campaign in 1472 in Caux (siege of Beauvais).


Quote:
A little of both, and there's the force of tradition (since they had spent over a century fighting the English on foot). But remember that major field battles were not the only kind of engagement out there, and you should not restrict your reading or thinking to battles; men-at-arms had to be versatile since they had to be able to fight mounted in small, mobile skirmishes and on foot when assaulting fortifications or built-up areas (such as the fight in the village at the beginning of the battle of Montlhery).


The more I am reading the more it seems like mounted man-at-arms acted as super heavy skirmishers who could chase off any kind of cavalry lighter than them. I suppose this ties in well with the idea of a quick mounted response team located in a castle/fortification which I heard some people say is the origin of Knights.

Back to battles again - Can it be said that the majority of infantry in western Europe of this team period consisted of archers supplemented by man-at-arms either mounted or on foot? Or am I overlooking something crucial that hasn't so far been mentioned in the memoirs?

I'd love to hear something about the Black army of Hungary too, their win to loss ratio is quite good.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jan, 2015 4:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Mid to late 15th century army composition?         Reply with quote

Quote:
Both. Fighting on foot was still an important role for men-at-arms due to the legacy of the Hundred Years' War, but at the same time the men-at-arms were beginning to transition into a more specialised mounted role as the category became more and more restricted to people who could afford armour for both man and horse; many men who would have been men-at-arms earlier got assigned into lighter cavalry or infantry categories depending on how much equipment they could afford and the circumstances of their service, or became officers who led the "lesser" troops.


This reminds me of one thing. Can we perhaps deduce the function of pre 1500 men-at-arms from looking at 16th century demi-lancers, Archers of the Ordnance or Chevaux-legers?

One thing I also recall is that Bayard went out and Skirmished a lot on horseback and mentions the Spanish aiming for (and killing) the horses, which to me implies that Gendarmes went without horse barding on day to day business often (or had a second skirmishing horse which is left out in the memoirs).
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 26 Jan, 2015 6:22 am    Post subject: Re: Mid to late 15th century army composition?         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
As for the Franq-archers, they are mentioned during the campaign in 1472 in Caux (siege of Beauvais).


Yes -- mostly about just how rubbish they were. The francs-archers are perhaps best described as an entirely different breed from the Ordonnance archers (who were pretty good) -- some of them weren't even archers, since (if I'm not mistakens) there are muster descriptions of francs-archers showing up with pikes or voulges instead of bows.

You might find this TMP thread interesting, BTW: http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=194047


Quote:
The more I am reading the more it seems like mounted man-at-arms acted as super heavy skirmishers who could chase off any kind of cavalry lighter than them. I suppose this ties in well with the idea of a quick mounted response team located in a castle/fortification which I heard some people say is the origin of Knights.


That, and conventional "heavy" shock cavalry, and heavy infantry, and parade adornments that redound to the majesty of the King, and so on and so on. They originated as a multirole/multipurpose force -- although of course not all groups of men-at-arms were equally good at performing at these roles -- and only lost this "multirole" nature very slowly and very reluctantly as other troops began to usurp their roles outside the heavy cavalry sphere.


Quote:
Back to battles again - Can it be said that the majority of infantry in western Europe of this team period consisted of archers supplemented by man-at-arms either mounted or on foot? Or am I overlooking something crucial that hasn't so far been mentioned in the memoirs?


Not really. Sometimes there was a fairly large number of non-chivalric "heavy" infantry -- billmen, pikemen, glaive-men, voulgiers, and the like -- and in some cases they outnumbered the archers. Sometimes the men-at-arms were the principal type of infantry (this was apparently the case in France before they began to hire the Swiss en masse -- their non-chivalric heavy infantry were either few in number, rubbish, or both). It's really hard to make meaningful generalisations since forces at this time were usually a patchwork made up of a mixture of standing regular units (like English household troops or the French and Burgundian Ordonnance companies), contracted professionals (most English units overseas and "mercenary" companies elsewhere), part-time troops (francs-archers and the core components of most urban and rural militias), and old-style feudal levies.


Quote:
I'd love to hear something about the Black army of Hungary too, their win to loss ratio is quite good.


You'd probably have more luck if you read German, since I think it's much more extensively covered in German publications than in English ones. But, generally speaking, Matyas' army wasn't that revolutionary in terms of equipment or tactics; what mattered the most was that he had a reasonably large standing army with regular command arrangements, thus greatly reducing his dependence upon feudal levies and the concomitant bargaining for funds and influence with his subordinate commanders.


Pieter B. wrote:
This reminds me of one thing. Can we perhaps deduce the function of pre 1500 men-at-arms from looking at 16th century demi-lancers, Archers of the Ordnance or Chevaux-legers?


Yes, but why would we have to when we also have primary sources on how medieval men-at-arms operated in the "light" capacity?


Quote:
One thing I also recall is that Bayard went out and Skirmished a lot on horseback and mentions the Spanish aiming for (and killing) the horses, which to me implies that Gendarmes went without horse barding on day to day business often (or had a second skirmishing horse which is left out in the memoirs).


More likely the second, since the Ordonnance regulations for gendarmes required them to have several horses. Earlier feudal arrangements and military contracts for men-at-arms also frequently mention the need for the men-at-arms (or at least the richer categories) to have multiple horses. Of course this doesn't mean that there were no men-at-arms who got away with having only one general-purpose horse (probably similar to a modern cross-country hunter).
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Mon 26 Jan, 2015 10:39 am    Post subject: Re: Mid to late 15th century army composition?         Reply with quote

Quote:
You'd probably have more luck if you read German, since I think it's much more extensively covered in German publications than in English ones. But, generally speaking, Matyas' army wasn't that revolutionary in terms of equipment or tactics; what mattered the most was that he had a reasonably large standing army with regular command arrangements, thus greatly reducing his dependence upon feudal levies and the concomitant bargaining for funds and influence with his subordinate commanders.


My German is a little shabby but still infinitely better than my French. It never dawned on me that the sources might be in German, I assumed they would be in Hungarian.




Quote:
Yes, but why would we have to when we also have primary sources on how medieval men-at-arms operated in the "light" capacity?


The descriptions sound so stiff and formal/factual, however most memoirs I read were from 1500 and later, maybe earlier texts are different. That said I'd like to read Le Jouvencel but I can't seem to locate an English copy.



Quote:
More likely the second, since the Ordonnance regulations for gendarmes required them to have several horses. Earlier feudal arrangements and military contracts for men-at-arms also frequently mention the need for the men-at-arms (or at least the richer categories) to have multiple horses. Of course this doesn't mean that there were no men-at-arms who got away with having only one general-purpose horse (probably similar to a modern cross-country hunter).


Translations of the Ordonnances mention a "charging horse" specifically, would a non charging horse be suitable for skirmishing, can any old horse be used for warfare? I am not really all that familiar with horses so I don't really know how the training of a Scottish border horse differs from a destrier besides the charging thing. [/quote][/quote]
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 02 Feb, 2015 8:31 am    Post subject: Re: Mid to late 15th century army composition?         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
My German is a little shabby but still infinitely better than my French. It never dawned on me that the sources might be in German, I assumed they would be in Hungarian.


Medieval Hungarian history was closely intertwined with the HRE. German settlers founded many villages and towns in Hungary and Bohemia and all sorts of other Central European regions, and in many cases these settlements were deliberately encouraged by kings/lords who wanted to make use of the Germans' work ethic and technical/mechanical knowledge. Not to mention that the town militias of the German settlements provided useful counterweights to the troublesome nobility. And of course, on a more directly relevant note, the professional component of Matyas' army included large numbers of German mercenaries. So it's no surprise that German medievalists have produced a significant portion of the finest scholarship on medieval Hungarian military history.

(And of course, you probably know that the Holy Roman Emperors were very interested in assuming the Hungarian crown too -- which they finally did in the 16th century.)


Quote:
The descriptions sound so stiff and formal/factual, however most memoirs I read were from 1500 and later, maybe earlier texts are different. That said I'd like to read Le Jouvencel but I can't seem to locate an English copy.


Look around and cast a wider net. Froissart and other chronicles of the Hundred Years' War have many useful passages about raids and scouting expeditions. The Scotichronicon (among others) has extensive information on the raids and counter-raids along the Anglo-Scottish border. And the list goes on and on.



Quote:
Translations of the Ordonnances mention a "charging horse" specifically, would a non charging horse be suitable for skirmishing, can any old horse be used for warfare? I am not really all that familiar with horses so I don't really know how the training of a Scottish border horse differs from a destrier besides the charging thing.


We don't know for sure either since the meaning and significance of some medieval equestrian terminology has been lost to us. Generally speaking, a knight who could afford multiple horses would probably want at least one destrier for the charge and a palfrey (pacing horse) for comfortable long-distance travel, as well as mules or cheap horses for servants and non-fighting members of his retinue. Some people say that pacing horses are unsuitable for battle since they can't gallop as quickly as more conventional trotting horses, but some say otherwise. If the latter opinion is true, then there might not have been a pressing need for a lighter secondary warhorse since the pacing horse could serve in that purpose instead.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sat 07 Feb, 2015 9:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also wonder how the "light" cavalry we see in the 15th century works into this. I've started reading Froissart recently and came across the description of 500 man-at-arms traveling 7 leagues from the main army to loot and burn the countryside and the occasional town. Now since we aren't the audience Froissart wrote for this leaves me with some questions. Were these 500 otherwise unsupported cavalrymen in armor or were they at all times attended by a mounted page/groom who did the actual dirty work?

No mention of any Skirmish is made but did the villagers or towns people put up any kind of resistance? And lastly, why didn't this kind of work get delegated to lightly armored/armed cavalry such as archers or coutilliers (who are of course only mentioned in the later 15th century)?
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Feb, 2015 3:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
I also wonder how the "light" cavalry we see in the 15th century works into this. I've started reading Froissart recently and came across the description of 500 man-at-arms traveling 7 leagues from the main army to loot and burn the countryside and the occasional town. Now since we aren't the audience Froissart wrote for this leaves me with some questions. Were these 500 otherwise unsupported cavalrymen in armor or were they at all times attended by a mounted page/groom who did the actual dirty work?


Armies were often recruited by the lance, so it'd be a reasonable conjecture that the men-at-arms on such expeditions would have been accompanied by the other members of their lance. Thus a force of 500 men-at-arms might be somewhere between 800 and 2000 men strong in reality, with the rest of the number being made up of archers, pages, hobilars, and the like.


Quote:
No mention of any Skirmish is made but did the villagers or towns people put up any kind of resistance?


Sometimes they did, and sometimes they didn't. Read on and you'll find a couple of episodes where villagers fought back against marauding bands of soldiers.


Quote:
And lastly, why didn't this kind of work get delegated to lightly armored/armed cavalry such as archers or coutilliers (who are of course only mentioned in the later 15th century)?


We don't know for sure. But if you're asking for my educated guess, I think competent commanders wanted raiding parties to be balanced forces that had both "light" and "heavy" elements to deal with a variety of threats and situations, and sending out a number of knights along with their lances would have provided something close to the desired force composition. Besides, while some doubts have been raised about the merits of the lance organisation in major battles (where troops were more likely to be segregated into relatively homogeneous companies), recent experiments in skirmish combat by some reenactment groups shows that it can be very effective indeed in small-scale skirmishes.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Wed 11 Feb, 2015 11:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh how much history would have benefited from a single "modern" historian writing and giving detailed descriptions back then.

Quote:
Armies were often recruited by the lance, so it'd be a reasonable conjecture that the men-at-arms on such expeditions would have been accompanied by the other members of their lance. Thus a force of 500 men-at-arms might be somewhere between 800 and 2000 men strong in reality, with the rest of the number being made up of archers, pages, hobilars, and the like.


It would make sense indeed, I can't really imagine the duke of X herding sheep or cattle together and bringing them back to the baggage train.

Is there actually an indication in the text indicating if those 500 men-at-arms (+ attached personal) were spread out? It does say they went ahead for 7 leagues but there is no indication of whether this was only in a straight line ahead and as a group of 500 or more in a 7 league radius around the baggage train and infantry all spread out in small groups.




Quote:

We don't know for sure. But if you're asking for my educated guess, I think competent commanders wanted raiding parties to be balanced forces that had both "light" and "heavy" elements to deal with a variety of threats and situations, and sending out a number of knights along with their lances would have provided something close to the desired force composition. Besides, while some doubts have been raised about the merits of the lance organisation in major battles (where troops were more likely to be segregated into relatively homogeneous companies), recent experiments in skirmish combat by some reenactment groups shows that it can be very effective indeed in small-scale skirmishes.


I would be very interested in reading this. Could you post an url, I am sure other people visiting this thread would also be interested.

Thanks in Advance.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Feb, 2015 7:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You definitely can't generalize about late- Medieval armies (for example about what a 'lance' actually meant in practice) because they were all different and different regions of Europe warfare was conducted in different ways. A 'lance' in the army of the Teutonic Knights and a Lance in the Burgundian army or the army of Venice are all different.

Most medieval armies were called up at time of need and grew (and shrunk) rapidly by hiring mercenaries as well as call-up of militias and feudal levies. But there were a few standing armies which kept a substantial nucleus of troops, including the ones you mentioned.

The Black army of Hungary
The army of Burgundy
The French army
The English army of the war of the roses.

In addition to those, you can add

The Teutonic Order
The Livonian Order
The Republic of Venice
The Republic of Genoa
The Kingdom of Castile (later Spain)
The Byzantine Empire
The Kingdom of Bohemia
The Kingdom of Poland
The Kingdom of Lithuania
The Swiss Confederation
The Grand Duchy of Moscow
The Zaparhozian Cossacks

There were also some groups of semi-controllable mercenaries including

The Ecourcheurs or Armagnac mercenary groups in France
The "Brotherhood" of Northern Hungary

and there were also some powerful more or less permanent navies,

The Republic of Venice
The Knights Hospitaller of St John
The Hanseatic League

The army of the Teutonic Order controlled a very large territory centered on Prussia in what is now northern Poland and the now Russian Kalliningrad Oblast, the army of the similar though a bit smaller Livonian Order in what is now Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Both of these were well organized sophisticated military States, their numbers were heavily augmented by foreign Crusaders and urban militias, though the Order suffered a rebellion by her own towns in the mid 15th Century which resulted in them going over to Poland. The Teutonic Knights kept a lot of records and their military structure is pretty well documented. This is a good article which can kind of get your foot in the door.

Venice maintained strong permanent armies both at home and across the Adriatic on what is now the coast of Croatia through the end of the Medieval period (they were also instrumental in funding and helping to organize the Black Army). Their navy included 3,000 ships. Their military production facility the Venetian Arsenal was arguably the most formidable the world had ever seen up to that point, it was capable of building a ship per day. Their military organization is pretty well documented I think though I don't know all the details. They relied a lot on Dalmatian mercenaires but they also had a formidable militia.

Genoa was as powerful as Venice in the 12th-14th Centuries and was her major rival for a long time, though by the 15th Century they were starting to decline, they were sort of eaten alive by their own bank and eventually taken over by Spain.

The Byzantine Empire obviously had one of the most organized and sophisticated militaries in Europe though they were definitely in decline by the 15th Century, Constantinople was captured in 1453 (at the time mostly defended by Venetian and Genoese at that time. The Byzantine State held on a bit longer in Trebizond until 1461. Though they were in sharp decline in the late medieval era they are worth looking into because they were so influential.

Castile (later Spain) had a formidable army and navy which was expanding through Iberia and into Italy (and across the Atlantic and Pacific) they were military innovators and were the first to consistently defeat the Swiss and they were hitting a peak of military power toward the end of the 15th Century with their organization of the Tercio. This guy was one of their chief military innovators.

The Swiss Confederation didn't have a permanent army as such, but their various militias, especially the formidable urban militias of Bern and Zurich, came together in a moments notice and defeated everyone from the French to the Holy Roman Emperor when their territorial interests were threatened. They also of course smashed the Burgundian army and ended the reign of the Valois dukes of Burgundy for better or worse. Their military organization is well documented and you can actually read several of their chronicles online which have hundreds of images of specific battles, sieges, and other military incidents.

Bohemia was in political chaos in much of the 15th Century but remained militarily formidable throughout. During the initial eruption of the Hussite heresy they were led by such capable military leaders as Jan Ziska (a veteran of both Agincourt and Grunwald, he wisely fought on the winning side of both) and Prokop who led punitive raids (so called 'beautiful rides' - anything but beautiful) against Bohemia's neighbors when they refused to make peace. The Czechs are known for their innovations with artillery, including the first widespread use of truly mobile (light) field guns, war wagons, firearms (which they also seem to have been the first to widely deploy in the open field), military flails, and more subtle innovations in siege warfare, military scouting and communications. After the Hussite Wars petered out in the 1430's people tend to forget about them but they remained a thorn in the side of Europe due to their continued heresy (they had worked out an internal compromise which allowed both Catholics and Hussites to practice their religion freely) and foreigners continued to attack them. In the later 15th Century they were blessed with another very capable military leader in the person of King George of Podebrady, a member of the lower nobility who was elected on the basis of his military and diplomatic competence. Though he was an advocate of international peace, famously proposing what some have described as the first concept of a European Union, he was a very skilled military commander and he fought the Black army of Mathias Corvinus to a standstill, (among other dangerous opponents).

Poland and Lithuania had formidable armies in this period, though they tended to wax and wane in the usual Feudal manner. They proved capable of handling the Teutonic Order at Grunwald and in the 13 Years War, but they also held their own against the Mongol Horde and the Ottoman Empire. The Poles are pretty well documented (especially by Jan Dlugosz) and I believe there is an article on this site about their armies in the Early Modern era. The Lithuanians are more of a mystery to me and I wish I understood their military organization better especially in light of their spectacular successes against the Mongols in the late 14th and early 15th Centuries, for example in the Battle of Blue Waters in 1362. Anyway the closer unity and continued military victories of Poland and Lithuania particularly in the second half of the 15th Century led to the foundation of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th, which was to prove one of the most powerful military entities in Europe for most of that century, and known for various military innovations such as the famous 'winged hussars'.

Their neighbor Muscovy was a nominal vassal of the Golden Horde but after the ghastly slaughter of the battle of Kulikovo Field in 1380, they exhibited increasing autonomy and independence, as they aggressively consolidated power at the exepense of the remaining independent Rus city-states like Veliky Novgorod, Tver and Pskov, and fighting with their Catholic neighbors in Sweden, Poland and Lithuania. Their armies were well organized and pretty well documented.

The "Brotherhood" army of Northern Hungary was another of the many contending for control of Hungary. They alternated between fighting the Hapsburgs and the Black Army of the Hunyadi / Corvinus family with fighting the Turks. They were made up mostly of Czech heretics and were led by a very capable Condottiere named Jan Jiskra or Jan Giskra. He defeated the Black Army several times and also defeated the Turks in the open field more than once. Eventually this army became the basis of the state of Slovakia. Though unknown to the lay public he is known in military history circles and there are two or three good academic articles about him. Here is one of them.

The Hanseatic League didn't really have a permanent navy but they kept warships to escort their merchant convoys and like the Swiss Confederation, when threatened they were capable of forming very powerful military forces (largely by converting their merchant fleets into privateers and hiring large numbers of mercenaries, augmented by their town militias.) They were strong enough to deal a stinging defeat to the Kingdom of Denmark by 1370 and defeating The Kingdom of England in the 1470s which resulted in the Hanse gaining a permanent base within the city of London called the Steelyard. Unfortunately the Hansa isn't well documented in English. The best source you can find on them in English is Philippe Dollinger's magisterial 1970 history which is out of print but is partly available on Google Books. Osprey recently came out with a book about their naval forces but it was very limited and (to me) disappointing.

The Zaporozhian Cossacks were made up of runaway serfs from Poland and Lithuania and runaway (or liberated) slaves from the Mongol and Ottoman States. Though known today for their superb cavalry but in the late medieval period they were mainly infantry, very good infantry apparently organized on the model of the Czech heretics with war-wagons and so on, and they also made heavy use of boats and ships, including on the Black Sea.


In addition to all of those there were dozens of smaller armies which came together into temporary coalitions on a more or less continuous basis, but the second tier would take too long to go through!


Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Thu 12 Feb, 2015 12:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for taking the time for such an extensive reply. I only read primary sources on three of those four armies I mentioned in my original post. Those three on the western part of the continent seemed to have rather similar armies but I realize now that only really is a small part of European warfare in the mid to late 15th century. The more I learn the more I realize there is so much more to learn. When I am done with Froissart I am certainly going to read some more on the Teutonic Order and the Hanseatic league, I am sure there are some English and German sources to be found.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Feb, 2015 1:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, it is bewilderingly complex. I actually think the specific habits of the French (for example the heavy emphasis on heavy cavalry as opposed to infantry) are actually somewhat unusual by the late medieval period, and I think are partly as much about the politics of the region as anything else. Burgundy actually had a lot of good well developed infantry available to it but didn't use them much because it always caused political problems for the Duke. But you can really find examples of almost everything in medieval Europe. Look at how variegated the Holy Roman Empire was (this map is from 1400)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a0/HRR_1400.png

For the Burgundians, Richard Vaughan's biographies of the various Valois - Burgundian Dukes have a lot of interesting anecdotes (in English).

I posted a few links with sources in the post above on the various armies.

There are a few letters floating around somewhere that Matthias Corvinus wrote to relatives in Italy which describe the organization (and pay) of fekete sereg (The Black Army). I tried googling last night and couldn't find them but I know they are out there somewhere because I quoted them before in an academic article I wrote a couple of years ago.

Jean

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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William P




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Feb, 2015 9:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

regarding the byzantines thoughm their hayday was during the 6th-7th centuries, the 9th-11th centiury, and the 12th century under the komnenian dynasty, after 1204, the byzantines VERY rapidly fell to decline

prior to that, in the periods i described, they were by a long way, THE most advanced army in europe, fielding ranks of pikemen clad in thich length , thick gambesons, and a series of constantly updated military manuals for generals to consult in their military operations. including one which relates purely to how to best deal with cross border raids and incursions in a variety of scenarios

i can give a more detailed description of troop types and roles and other aspects if you want, and i know where to show you more info and where to find those manuals
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Fri 13 Feb, 2015 6:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
regarding the byzantines thoughm their hayday was during the 6th-7th centuries, the 9th-11th centiury, and the 12th century under the komnenian dynasty, after 1204, the byzantines VERY rapidly fell to decline

prior to that, in the periods i described, they were by a long way, THE most advanced army in europe, fielding ranks of pikemen clad in thich length , thick gambesons, and a series of constantly updated military manuals for generals to consult in their military operations. including one which relates purely to how to best deal with cross border raids and incursions in a variety of scenarios

i can give a more detailed description of troop types and roles and other aspects if you want, and i know where to show you more info and where to find those manuals


I'd be very interested in those manuals. I heard the name Strategikon of Maurice a few times if that is the one you are referring too.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Feb, 2015 3:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
Quote:

We don't know for sure. But if you're asking for my educated guess, I think competent commanders wanted raiding parties to be balanced forces that had both "light" and "heavy" elements to deal with a variety of threats and situations, and sending out a number of knights along with their lances would have provided something close to the desired force composition. Besides, while some doubts have been raised about the merits of the lance organisation in major battles (where troops were more likely to be segregated into relatively homogeneous companies), recent experiments in skirmish combat by some reenactment groups shows that it can be very effective indeed in small-scale skirmishes.


I would be very interested in reading this. Could you post an url, I am sure other people visiting this thread would also be interested.


One of the groups with a more prominent online presence: https://harringtoncompanye.wordpress.com/skirmish/


Pieter B. wrote:
I'd be very interested in those manuals. I heard the name Strategikon of Maurice a few times if that is the one you are referring too.


There were many Eastern Roman tactical manuals, but only a few have been translated into English. George T. Dennis' translation of the 6th-century Strategikon has been around since 1986(-ish?), and more recently he also released a bundled translation of three Byzantine military treatises (I don't remember the title of the compilation, but it's literally quite close to "three Byzantine military treatises" or something like that). There's also Eric McGeer's Sowing the Dragon's Teeth, a translation of the 9th- or 10th-century manual attributed to Leo the Wise.

Mind that, like HEMA, new research quickly renders old translations obsolete. Dennis' translation of the Strategikon has been repeatedly criticised in newer scholarship, and Philip Rance has been working on a new translation since the early 2000s but there have been no news of whether he ever finished it. All that aside, the Strategikon is useful because it appears to be more of a practical manual intended to formalise and codify contemporary practices. Leo the Wise's treatise, on the other hand, is troublesome not because of the translation but because it's difficult to separate the relevant contemporary sections from the classicising references to previous works and authors.


I think one of the greatest problems in understanding 14th and 15th century warfare is a lack of familiarity with the broader context of medieval warfare as a whole. You probably should consider getting J.F. Verbruggen's The Art of War in Europe in the Middle Ages for an excellent overview of medieval European warfare up to 1300. It's also a good idea to browse De Re Militari's recently-restored articles page. Meanwhile, for an introduction written in a more popular style but still with relatively up-to-date materials, there's Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World. And there's the oldie but goodie by F.L. Taylor, [i]The Art of War in Italy, 1494-1528; it was published in the 1920s but its views on the continuities between medieval and Renaissance warfare often seem more progressive than that of many later works. Best of all, it's old enough that there's already a free online edition on the Internet Archive.
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William P




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Feb, 2015 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
William P wrote:
regarding the byzantines thoughm their hayday was during the 6th-7th centuries, the 9th-11th centiury, and the 12th century under the komnenian dynasty, after 1204, the byzantines VERY rapidly fell to decline

prior to that, in the periods i described, they were by a long way, THE most advanced army in europe, fielding ranks of pikemen clad in thich length , thick gambesons, and a series of constantly updated military manuals for generals to consult in their military operations. including one which relates purely to how to best deal with cross border raids and incursions in a variety of scenarios

i can give a more detailed description of troop types and roles and other aspects if you want, and i know where to show you more info and where to find those manuals


I'd be very interested in those manuals. I heard the name Strategikon of Maurice a few times if that is the one you are referring too.


to add to the other response you got above me, the other manuals following leo the wise taktika, is the praecepta militaria or 'composition of warfare' composed during the reign of Nikephoros Phokas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Praecepta_Militaria a decent summary although probably not perfect)

another one was composed in the early 11th century by Basil II as well. called The Tactica by Nikephoros Ouranos, a general under Basil

and the work by dennis is known simply as three byzantine military treatises, the first is the 6th century anonymous treatise on strategy.

the other two are much later in the 10th century i believe, the first is titled 'skirmishing' and involves cross border activity, raids and incursions and how to react to them http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_velitatione_bellica

the second one is instructions on campaign, not really concerned with troops armament, but more campaign management itself, such as where to best set up camp, how to best arrange tents, not to take too much stuff with you (it seriously mentions that) and other things like the treatment of spies and the like as well as how to best treat the soldiers and their superiors, im not sure of it's title in greek and who commissioned it though. dennis titles it 'campaign organisation and tactics. which sums it up well in its content im not sure where else to find the manual online since i dont know its proper name

niether of those two will tell you details precisely what equipment the men wore or how long their spears must be, they both just mention that the men needed to be well equipped and lead by competant officers. although it isnt devoid of numbers either
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Mon 16 Feb, 2015 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I think one of the greatest problems in understanding 14th and 15th century warfare is a lack of familiarity with the broader context of medieval warfare as a whole. You probably should consider getting J.F. Verbruggen's The Art of War in Europe in the Middle Ages for an excellent overview of medieval European warfare up to 1300. It's also a good idea to browse De Re Militari's recently-restored articles page. Meanwhile, for an introduction written in a more popular style but still with relatively up-to-date materials, there's Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World. And there's the oldie but goodie by F.L. Taylor, [i]The Art of War in Italy, 1494-1528; it was published in the 1920s but its views on the continuities between medieval and Renaissance warfare often seem more progressive than that of many later works. Best of all, it's old enough that there's already a free online edition on the Internet Archive.


I am nearly at the tactics chapter in Verbruggen's The Art of War which is an interesting read yet it does seem to put the focus on pitched battles a lot. I do think I should keep focused on 15th century warfare for now though, even though my interests are all over the place.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 13 Mar, 2015 1:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
I am nearly at the tactics chapter in Verbruggen's The Art of War which is an interesting read yet it does seem to put the focus on pitched battles a lot.


Yes, on one hand, Verbruggen was still a product of his times, and he felt the need to demolish the old consensus that medieval warfare was brutal and senseless with no tactical sophistication, so he had to pick examples that showed a high degree of tactical planning and coordination. On the other hand, battles are more dramatic so even the primary sources tend to give them a disproportionate share of attention compared to the day-to-day business of the "small wars." The only sources that tend to relate small-scale encounters in any details are the ones where the writer had first-hand experience of the events in question, such as Montluc's yarns about small raids and skirmishes.

Quote:
I do think I should keep focused on 15th century warfare for now though, even though my interests are all over the place.


Well, there's maintaining a reasonable degree of focus, and then there's missing the forest for the trees. The farther removed the era is from our own, the most necessary it is that we try to understand other eras that came before and after to get a good contextual look. For instance, the whole "military revolution" silliness came about because people didn't look far and deep enough to realise how much unbroken continuity there was between late medieval, Renaissance, and early modern warfare.
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