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Toni Leivonen




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2015 5:47 am    Post subject: Effectiveness of ranged weaponry against armour?         Reply with quote

So, I have been trying to figure something out. How well did different kinds of ranged weaponry affect different kinds of protection? There's a lot of information about longbow vs. crossbow (and a lot of contradicting stuff), but what about javelins and slings? I heard somewhere that javelins had a lot of penetrative power, but would a roman pilum do anything if used against someone in 14th century plate?
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Rob A. Williams




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm just guessing; but, I don't think that there would be much risk of penetration by a pilum against late medieval plate armor.
The simple fact is, the pilum was intentionally made out of soft iron. Even when thrown with sufficient force, I would imagine the head would just mushroom against a breastplate.
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Rob A. Williams




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 12:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, from what I've recently read, it would seem that Mike Loades (author of "The Longbow), and Matt Easton (Scholar Gladiator or Youtube) seem to doubt the ability of the longbow, regardless of the type of arrow to penetrate late period hardened armor.
Matt points out that at Agincourt, there is very little report of French Knights actually being killed by arrows, and Mike points out that what documentation there seems to be of arrows killing armored soldiers seems to be the result of arrows shot into the face of the knight that had their visors up so that they could survey the field.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rob A. Williams wrote:
I'm just guessing; but, I don't think that there would be much risk of penetration by a pilum against late medieval plate armor.
The simple fact is, the pilum was intentionally made out of soft iron. Even when thrown with sufficient force, I would imagine the head would just mushroom against a breastplate.


Well, not quite. While the shank was wrought iron (as were many perfectly hard implements back then!), the point was at least hammer-hardened. For a while the general belief was that the point was not specially hardened (besides hammering), but apparently some recent analyses have found that they were, at least sometimes.

The purpose of the pilum was to penetrate *shields*, which it certainly could do. It wasn't really meant to penetrate armor, simply because there wasn't a lot of armor around in those days. But I'd have to guess that a pilum would be more likely to penetrate medieval armor than some other weapons. I just wouldn't bet my life on it! Of course, armor quality varies, too.

Matthew
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It depends on a lot of factors.

On the Archer side:
Distance
Poundage of bow
Arrow weight
Arrow tip type and material

On the target side:
Type of armor/quality of armor
Placement of hit
Angle of impact

And some other factors I forgot.

Now consider that we are dealing with a long period of time and a large variation in battlefield conditions and armor types. The general consensus is that armor of the time period was quite good at dealing with arrows and quarrels otherwise we would have seen different casualty rates.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The best modern testing of longbows against plate was done in 2005 and published in the RA's Arms and Armor Journal:
"A report of the findings of the Defence Academy warbow trials Part 1 Summer 2005." By Paul Bourke and David Whetham. pp.53-82.

Here is a summary of the test and some comments.
http://www.swordforum.com/forums/showthread.p...ublication

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As for the effectiveness of javelins, there was a very famous mercenary company in the 14th Century consisting largely of light infantry (Almogavars) armed primarily with spears and javelins, and they seem to have been rather spectacularly successful on the battlefield.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_Company

The wiki on the Almogavars specifically mentions using javelins against armor of French knights in the 13th Century

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almogavars#War_i..._of_Aragon

The Almogavars formed the most effective element of his army. Their discipline, ferocity and the force with which they hurled their javelins made them formidable against heavy cavalry of the Angevin armies. They fought against cavalry by attacking the enemies' horses instead of the knights themselves. Once a knight was on the ground he was an easy victim of an Almogavar.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Mar, 2015 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
As for the effectiveness of javelins, there was a very famous mercenary company in the 14th Century consisting largely of light infantry (Almogavars) armed primarily with spears and javelins, and they seem to have been rather spectacularly successful on the battlefield.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalan_Company

The wiki on the Almogavars specifically mentions using javelins against armor of French knights in the 13th Century

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almogavars#War_i..._of_Aragon

The Almogavars formed the most effective element of his army. Their discipline, ferocity and the force with which they hurled their javelins made them formidable against heavy cavalry of the Angevin armies. They fought against cavalry by attacking the enemies' horses instead of the knights themselves. Once a knight was on the ground he was an easy victim of an Almogavar.


I agree that javelins should be more effective than arrows against armour, but this doesn't say that. It tells us that the Almogavars had the discipline and skill to get in close and attack the horses, similar to how classical peltasts operated. If there are any sources specifically saying that their javelins were good at punching though armour, I'd be very interested.

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Matt Easton




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 2:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Exactly, both arrows and javelins were effective against *horses*. The French at Poitiers and Agincourt dismounted most of their men-at-arms exactly for this reason. They didn't abandon their armour, they abandoned their horses. Boucicault's cavalry charge at Agincourt failed miserably, as did the repeated charges at Crecy. There were successful charges later in the Hundred Years War of course, when the French managed to catch the English archers not properly prepared with wooden stakes etc.
However, whether arrows or javelins will penetrate plate armour of the 14th/15th century is largely irrelevant to the outcome of battles, as the fully armoured soldiers only made a small proportion of any army. Boucicault and his comrades charged through the Agincourt arrow storm in their plate harnesses only to be *taken prisoner* (ie. not killed by arrows) in such large numbers that Henry V couldn't manage to hold them all. English armies in the Hundred Years War consisted of roughly 3 or 5 archers for every man-at-arms - French armies consisted of huge numbers of burghers, militia and suchlike, in mixed levels of armour. In the Wars of the Roses English armies some times consisted of around 5-10 archers for every man-at-arms. Whether you look at Italy, German, Spain or anywhere else you see that the majority of medieval soldiers were not fully armoured. Occasionally, such as at Patay, a small force of heavily armoured men did play a big part on the outcome of the battle, but usually that was not the case. At Nicopolis the European men-at-arms were overwhelmed by Turkish/allied forces - note that Boucicault was also taken prisoner there; he survived both English and Turkish 'arrow storms' to be taken prisoner, apparently unwounded, at two of the greatest battles of the period.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 5:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
the original chronicles paint a less catastrophic picture.In describing the cavalry charge by Sir Guillaume de Sauveuses with 300 lances, Monstrelet reports that ‘all of them returned, save for three men-at-arms … it was their sad misfortune that their horses fell amongst the stakes’; he does concede that ‘their horses had been so troubled by the arrow shot of the English archers that they could not hold control of them’ , but this is a very different story from the annihilating arrowstorm of popular legend. There were only three dead, and these casualties occurred because their horses were skewered on the stakes and their riders’ skulls cracked beneath an archer’s maul. The discomfited horses undoubtedly caused problems as they jibbed and bolted back towards their own lines. However, it was the fact that the mass attack turned back into the face of advancing men, trampling their own, that created the disaster of crowd chaos – one remarkably similar to the fatal mistakes made by the French at Crécy



https://books.google.nl/books?id=2SKbAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA55&lpg=PA55&dq=Monstrelet+Guillaume+de+Sauveuses&source=bl&ots=T0uuUAUxKl&sig=DEUg2oes6s6IUJQQ_usz5FNH504&hl=nl&sa=X&ei=S9obVdf7MYnzUs6Zg5gJ&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Monstrelet%20Guillaume%20de%20Sauveuses&f=false


It's somewhat unethical to test the longbow efficiency against live horses nowadays but I think it suffices to say that they were not as efficient as bullets. If you want to spectacularly drop/stop a horse like they do in the movies you need to hit a vital area such as the brain, heart, spine/windpipe or legs. I am not an equine expert by a long shot, actually pretty far from it but like most mammals it has a heart and lung system relatively well protected by a rib cage and sternum.





Perhaps it's not entire coincidental the chaffron (head piece) and chest protection were specifically called for in the Burgundian Ordnance's. I cannot with full confidence say that the chaffron, like the helmet for humans, was the most essential piece of armor but I wouldn't be surprised if it was. However I believe that even without armor a large part of a mounted force could push through an arrow barrage and reach the enemy with enough alive.

I too get the idea that the failing of cavalry at Agincourt and Crecy was more due to the advantageous and well prepared position of the English, than the mythological downpour of English arrows.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 6:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt,

Not sure we can assume those men-at-arms will killed as prisoners at Agincourt exclusively. This is a modern take that is very, very lightly supported by period sources. See Anne Curry's old Agincourt book on the sources and you will see this interpretation is very selective in an extreme way, largely ignoring the more contemporary accounts and eye witnesses. Even in her more concise recent book the preiod evidence does not support this. People pushing this concept have a clear agenda that does not coincide well with the history presented by the sources in general.

That does not mean that the Men-at-arms were arrow ridden corpses on the field as all accounts indicate they reached the English but I think this concept that those killed were slaughtered as prisoners is pretty much incorrect. Most men-at-arms were killed in the fighting.

I thought Boucicault was on foot..... his was the advanced battle. They has flanking horse for the advance but I am fairly sure he himself was not in it as he was leading the 8k foot men-at-arms with d'Albret.

The reality to me is that men-at-arms were killed by arrows. It happens. WE have accounts of it. The how they were killed and how often to me is the more difficult question.

Pieter,

That is true. But the other side is the Deeds of Henry does paint a pretty bad incident. Comparing sources that likely are eye witnesses that do not agree. Truth is I think both of them are likely exaggerating.

RPM
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 6:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Even against unarmoured men, arrows were rarely immediately fatal. Most of the arrow fatalities occurred after the battle when men bled out or were dispatched by the enemy as they lay incapacitated.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The how they were killed and how often to me is the more difficult question.


At Agincourt? After a few hundred yard slog through ankle/knee deep mud while wearing a bascinet with closed visor and shield raised? I think the first thing they did after reaching the English was open their visor for better vision and and some air. At that range the archers could possible fire horizontal shots at head level and kill people just by the sheer volume of their arrows. This is more or less what Mike Loades says in his 2013 book on longbows.

We also shouldn't forget that there was a sizable force of English finest wielding poleaxes and whatnot. They just had to stand still and wait for the half dead Frenchman to arrive. Maybe my imagination is taking a hold of me, but I can see how an armored French guy drenched in mud, an arrow sticking in his right arm and breathing heavily is a rather easy target.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 7:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan,

I think that depends on where the arrow hits, some places and you'd be dead I suspect right away or close to it but being wounded would be pretty awful and perhaps more of a disruption on the rest of the army.

Pieter,

I never said the English men-at-arms did not kill French men-at-arms. In fact I made mention of the fact that they engaged, pretty sure they did not just stand there at that point insulting each other though that would have been amusing perhaps. I am sure some of the men-at-arms were killed by other men-at-arms. What I am sure about is that most did not die as prisoners. There is no evidence for this but modern secondary ones that very much distort the period evidence.

"At Agincourt? After a few hundred yard slog through ankle/knee deep mud while wearing a bascinet with closed visor and shield raised? I think the first thing they did after reaching the English was open their visor for better vision and and some air. At that range the archers could possible fire horizontal shots at head level and kill people just by the sheer volume of their arrows. This is more or less what Mike Loades says in his 2013 book on longbows. "

There is just as much evidence for this as arrows killing mass numbers of men-at-arms. So we are simply picking one supposition for another. Mikes book on longbows is really just ok. I still think the Great Warbow is the place to turn for archery warfare or the RA Journal from 2006. It is possible for sure, I suspect it happened even but so to is it that arrows found gaps or even at times..... penetrated armour I suspect. But these are all guesses. All we know is that writers state men-at-arms are killed, how is another story. I think all of these are less likely and that many men-at-arms did indeed make it across the field. But then they would be under close archer shot and melee conditions.

To me the problem remains both sides want an all or nothing situation and I highly doubt that is the case here.

RPM
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not touching the old 'longbow vs. armor' thing!



And I certainly don't believe in absolutes.

I suspect armor usually worked and as Matt mentioned, fully armored people (especially fully armored people on fully armored horses) don't comprise 100% of any army. Though archers, marksmen, burger militia etc. aren't necessarily poorly armored either. Flemish militia from that 100 years war era seem to have been required to have significant armor. But there are still usually some gaps.

I don't also parse that passage from the wiki exactly the way Dan did but then, I make it a point never to agree with Dan. I think they are actually saying both things - they punched through the armor and they concentrated on the horses. But that doesn't make it true.

The Almogavars apparently used some solid iron javelins (perhaps something like the ancient soliferrum) which may have been particularly good at armor-piercing, and the larger size of the javelin probably made them a bit more damaging to horses, though I don't think there is enough data to say, and anyway it's not my particular field of interest.

They seem to be an interesting continuation of much older types of infantry, like velites, peltasts, the Franks with their angon, (which just seems to me like a pilum).

it's interesting and somewhat counter-intuitive to me that the Almogvaras, who are primarily armed with missiles seem to have been lightly protected light infantry, were still able to be effective on a 14th Century battlefield. Maybe their kit wasn't actually what we think it was.

Jean

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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:


"At Agincourt? After a few hundred yard slog through ankle/knee deep mud while wearing a bascinet with closed visor and shield raised? I think the first thing they did after reaching the English was open their visor for better vision and and some air. At that range the archers could possible fire horizontal shots at head level and kill people just by the sheer volume of their arrows. This is more or less what Mike Loades says in his 2013 book on longbows. "

There is just as much evidence for this as arrows killing mass numbers of men-at-arms. So we are simply picking one supposition for another. Mikes book on longbows is really just ok. I still think the Great Warbow is the place to turn for archery warfare or the RA Journal from 2006. It is possible for sure, I suspect it happened even but so to is it that arrows found gaps or even at times..... penetrated armour I suspect. But these are all guesses. All we know is that writers state men-at-arms are killed, how is another story. I think all of these are less likely and that many men-at-arms did indeed make it across the field. But then they would be under close archer shot and melee conditions.

To me the problem remains both sides want an all or nothing situation and I highly doubt that is the case here.

RPM


I am sorry if I misunderstood you but what part of what you are saying contradicts the part of my post you quoted?

I have seen a fair number of tests of arrows against layers of linen and in all of those they preformed really good against the arrowhead used against armor. I really believe the torso was the best protected area of most medieval soldiers. It's the head and limbs I'd be more worried about when facing people with any kind of weapon. I can't really prove it to anyone but I have this feeling that head wounds were the foremost cause of death in battle. Maybe a direct strike or arrow to the face or a wound to the limbs followed by a flurry of attacks aimed at the head, who knows? Information we would need for this is perhaps found in mass graves. How many folks went into battle with an open face helmet and how many of those with a visor chose to open it in battle?

In an Italian chronicle describing Fornovo 1495 most Italian man-at-arms were killed by wounds to the head and throat. French camp followers killed downed Italian knights with axes (knocking their brain out) according to the french sources.

-Harold Godwinson, supposedly killed by an arrow to the eye
-Henry IV, shot in the face with an arrow
-Richard III, largely unclear but a head wound finished him off
-James IV of Scotland, received an arrow in the face
-Charles the Bold, probably finished off by a halberd meeting his head at high velocity

Don't see these few cherry picked examples and the sources regarding one battle as me stating that head wounds were the primary killer. I just think it might be a feasible explanation as to how longbows could be used. A large volume of arrows being loosened at close range aimed at the head. Again I am not stating that I have the answer, it's me asking a question with a few examples pointing in one direction.

Regards,

Pieter
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter,

The problem is a list of a half dozen guys statistically is not useful or representative even remotely. We can assume others were killed there but that is not evidence to cover how every man-at-arms died, that is supposition past those men. There are accounts and I can dig them up again and start the great armour/arrow-apocalypse if needed but I really think the accounts are not that simple. One has to take both sides to figure this out and that is not what often happens. I am sure it is possible some died by lifting their visors but the evidence for this is scant so assuming this is largely the case for a large number of men is the same thing from the other side with their generalization as well.

Jean,

I agree. I do not think the writer divides the line that way either. I have looked It over fairly often and never seen it that way and still think it is incorrect to split it.

RPM
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:


[b]The problem is a list of a half dozen guys statistically is not useful or representative even remotely. [/b


Actually it's just five and I already stated those were Cherry picked, no need to state that again.


Quote:
We can assume others were killed there but that is not evidence to cover how every man-at-arms died, that is supposition past those men. There are accounts and I can dig them up again and start the great armour/arrow-apocalypse if needed but I really think the accounts are not that simple. One has to take both sides to figure this out and that is not what often happens. I am sure it is possible some died by lifting their visors but the evidence for this is scant so assuming this is largely the case for a large number of men is the same thing from the other side with their generalization as well.


I see your point but what I am trying to get at is answering a question of mine. What I stated rests on the assumption that folks fought with their visor lifted most of the time. Whether this is true at all is something I do not know nor something I can prove.

I look at these depictions from different places and different artists and I cannot help but wonder why, A: The infantry rarely has full face protection, B: The guys that have sallets with full face protection rarely chose to keep it all closed.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...tsveld.png

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...andson.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...ota_02.jpg

http://mult-kor.hu/image/article/index/kozepkor/karoly.jpg

http://www.medievalists.net/wp-content/upload...eCross.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/keYq3Js.png

+The Swiss Chronicles, many fechtbucher and much much more.

An easy answer for this could be that full face protection was too expensive for the average infantry soldier or that it was artistic freedom. I don't see any value in depicting the standard faces on the wealthy folks in the above named example but perhaps the artist did, who knows?

Perhaps fighting with bevor raised and visor down is simply not doable for the length of an entire battle, we'd have to ask a medieval person this but perhaps a reenactor could share his experience. Maybe the trade-off for better visibility and easier breathing is worth the loss of protection, but this is guessing on my part.

The bottom line is that I think that full face protection was developed for and almost exclusively used by cavalry. For whatever reason infantry never chose to adopt full face protection. If and, that is a big IF, we hold the previous to be true then faces and heads become a good target for archers or crossbowmen shooting at a dense formation at close range. I believe it's a feasible explanation when you look at how modern tests show that gambesons hold up reasonable well against arrows.

That is what I am getting at and if you spot a fatal flaw in this string of assumptions than take my story and destroy it piecemeal.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 12:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think even for cavalry the face protection is for when you are doing the lance charge or when you are under a storm of arrows. For normal fighting I've always understood it to be the case that more open helmets were used. I've done HEMA fencing for a few years and it is very strenuous, you really need to breathe unobstructed and I also think it's hard to see properly through a narrow slit in a visor. Of course it can be done, but I think having complete vision and unobstructed breath was a useful tradeoff for most fighters. Analogous in the case of infantry to their not using as much leg or especially lower-leg armor.

It's also a lot easier to get hit in the head than in the face, from my own fencing experiences. Others can chime in on that.

On a horse you can drop the visor and escape in at least some circumstances, but if you have to keep fighting you might want your visor open.

Jean

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Apr, 2015 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:

In an Italian chronicle describing Fornovo 1495 most Italian man-at-arms were killed by wounds to the head and throat. French camp followers killed downed Italian knights with axes (knocking their brain out) according to the french sources.

-Harold Godwinson, supposedly killed by an arrow to the eye
-Henry IV, shot in the face with an arrow
-Richard III, largely unclear but a head wound finished him off
-James IV of Scotland, received an arrow in the face
-Charles the Bold, probably finished off by a halberd meeting his head at high velocity


You also have archers at the Battles of Dupplin Moor (1332) and Halidon Hill (1333) specifically aiming for the face and head because their arrows were not having much effect on Scottish armour.

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