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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Joined: 14 Mar 2015

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PostPosted: Mon 15 Jun, 2015 2:31 pm    Post subject: How one would distinguish Knights and Men at Arms?         Reply with quote

Knights were the traditional feudal elite paid in land tenure so they could have enough income to purchase his own heavy armor, weapons and a war horse. A Man at arms would be usually a non-knight who fought as heavy cavalry, perhaps a mercenary or a household troop of some Lord. Although squires are generally described as "apprentice knights", I found these texts that have just confusing me a bit:

Quote:
However, during the Middle Ages, the squire’s rank came to be recognized in its own right; it was no longer assumed that a squire would automatically become a knight. The connection between a squire and any particular knight also ended, as did any shield-carrying duties.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squire

Why did that happened?


Then came these:

Quote:
Although a knight bachelor, a knight banneret and all grades of nobility usually served as men-at-arms when called to war, the bulk of men-at-arms from the later 13th century came from an evolving social group which became known as the gentry. The man-at-arms could be a wealthy mercenary of any social origin, but more often he had some level of social rank based on income, usually from land. Some came from the class known as serjeants but increasingly during the 14th century they were drawn from an evolving class of esquire. Esquires were frequently of families of knightly rank, wealthy enough to afford the arms of a knight but who had thus far not been advanced to knightly status or perhaps had avoided it because they did not want the costs and responsibilities of that rank. Also found serving as men-at-arms were the lowest social group of the gentry, known by the 15th century simply as gentlemen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-at-arms

From what I understand, men at arms would be relatives or sons of knights/lords who would have the conditions to fight as heavy cavalry, but also include serjeants and squires. But, the question remains, why some squires avoided knighthood?


Quote:
The proportion of knights among the men-at-arms varied through time. Between the 1280s and 1360s, figures between 20-30% were commonplace. Thereafter, there was a rapid decline, with the figure dropping to 6.5% in 1380. A slight rise is recorded to 8% at Agincourt, perhaps because this was a royal army, but thereafter the figure continued to decline and by 1443, the Duke of Somerset mustered only 1.3% knights among his men-at-arms.[26]

I always thought that it was just because of land grant that was possible to employ men to fight as heavy cavalry, but then, why the knights were so few in number already in the fourteenth century and to the point of almost disappearing in the mid-fifteenth century?

My final question is: how soldiers and noblemen would distinguish a knight from a man at arms and to a squire in Battlefield? I do not know if the rules of using golden spurs for Knights and silvered spurs for Squires was widespread in France / England or even exist in the Iberian Peninsula, in HRE or in Italy. Beside this, what would be other forms of clothing (for both rider and horse) were used to make this distinction? GENERALLY speaking, would an 15th century men at arms be less or equal armed as a Knight?
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Mon 15 Jun, 2015 3:28 pm    Post subject: Re: How one would distinguish Knights and Men at Arms?         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Knights were the traditional feudal elite paid in land tenure so they could have enough income to purchase his own heavy armor, weapons and a war horse. A Man at arms would be usually a non-knight who fought as heavy cavalry, perhaps a mercenary or a household troop of some Lord. Although squires are generally described as "apprentice knights", I found these texts that have just confusing me a bit:

Quote:
However, during the Middle Ages, the squire’s rank came to be recognized in its own right; it was no longer assumed that a squire would automatically become a knight. The connection between a squire and any particular knight also ended, as did any shield-carrying duties.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squire

Why did that happened?


Then came these:

Quote:
Although a knight bachelor, a knight banneret and all grades of nobility usually served as men-at-arms when called to war, the bulk of men-at-arms from the later 13th century came from an evolving social group which became known as the gentry. The man-at-arms could be a wealthy mercenary of any social origin, but more often he had some level of social rank based on income, usually from land. Some came from the class known as serjeants but increasingly during the 14th century they were drawn from an evolving class of esquire. Esquires were frequently of families of knightly rank, wealthy enough to afford the arms of a knight but who had thus far not been advanced to knightly status or perhaps had avoided it because they did not want the costs and responsibilities of that rank. Also found serving as men-at-arms were the lowest social group of the gentry, known by the 15th century simply as gentlemen.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man-at-arms

From what I understand, men at arms would be relatives or sons of knights/lords who would have the conditions to fight as heavy cavalry, but also include serjeants and squires. But, the question remains, why some squires avoided knighthood?


Quote:
The proportion of knights among the men-at-arms varied through time. Between the 1280s and 1360s, figures between 20-30% were commonplace. Thereafter, there was a rapid decline, with the figure dropping to 6.5% in 1380. A slight rise is recorded to 8% at Agincourt, perhaps because this was a royal army, but thereafter the figure continued to decline and by 1443, the Duke of Somerset mustered only 1.3% knights among his men-at-arms.[26]

I always thought that it was just because of land grant that was possible to employ men to fight as heavy cavalry, but then, why the knights were so few in number already in the fourteenth century and to the point of almost disappearing in the mid-fifteenth century?

My final question is: how soldiers and noblemen would distinguish a knight from a man at arms and to a squire in Battlefield? I do not know if the rules of using golden spurs for Knights and silvered spurs for Squires was widespread in France / England or even exist in the Iberian Peninsula, in HRE or in Italy. Beside this, what would be other forms of clothing (for both rider and horse) were used to make this distinction? GENERALLY speaking, would an 15th century men at arms be less or equal armed as a Knight?


For intends and purposes consider man-at-arms a blanket term for everyone acting as heavy cavalry in Western Europe.

The term Knight and Squire more or less changed meaning over the High and Late medieval period.

The classic Hollywood idea is that a squire (essentially an apprentice of a Knight/Knight trainee) "graduates" to become a Knight and at times this was the case. However the title or rank of Knight usually had a certain monetary cost attached to it, money needed to maintain the lifestyle, equipment and free time to perform certain duties.

Later on squire and knight became more detached from military function and were more or less social ranks with Knight being the more prestigious of the two. You could say this gradual change resulted in fewer Knights being present on the battlefield. You could go to war as landowning gentry as a man-at-arms and you might get knighted for a particularly brave deed, knight would be a honorific title (Sir Sean Connery). Now there is where my knowledge ends and I do not know if this late medieval/ early modern Knight title also had duties and extra costs attached to it but that could be the case.
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Jun, 2015 12:53 pm    Post subject: Re: How one would distinguish Knights and Men at Arms?         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
The classic Hollywood idea is that a squire (essentially an apprentice of a Knight/Knight trainee) "graduates" to become a Knight and at times this was the case. However the title or rank of Knight usually had a certain monetary cost attached to it, money needed to maintain the lifestyle, equipment and free time to perform certain duties.

Later on squire and knight became more detached from military function and were more or less social ranks with Knight being the more prestigious of the two. You could say this gradual change resulted in fewer Knights being present on the battlefield. You could go to war as landowning gentry as a man-at-arms and you might get knighted for a particularly brave deed, knight would be a honorific title (Sir Sean Connery). Now there is where my knowledge ends and I do not know if this late medieval/ early modern Knight title also had duties and extra costs attached to it but that could be the case.



So knighthood became more "fancy" over the times than an real need of feudal elite cavalry? Apparently, should not be many differences in competence between a generic knight and a generic man-at-arms, then it seems reasonable that they gradually lost ground. But found it odd anyway, mainly because, in general, the non-knight man-at-arms would come from the personal retinue of a lord (I think it wouldn't be to much) and from mercenary companies, which would also be expensive in any semi-capitalist state.

What kind of duties and equipment of a knight that could make the squire's rise to knighthood much more hard/less attractive? I mean, as far as I know, the only way to make squires is by turning it into an knight's arms bearer. What would be the point of becoming a squire if you do not can or even want to become a knight?


Finally, the equipment of a squire (weapon, armor, maybe even a coat of arms, if they couldhad one) was very different from a knight?
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Jeffrey Faulk




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PostPosted: Tue 16 Jun, 2015 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you were picky--

A knight was specifically a man who held a lower rank of nobility. A man at arms could be a knight, but could also be a senior commoner soldier who happened to either possess or be granted the use of a suit of armour.

That's how I understand it, anyway. I could certainly be wrong.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Tue 16 Jun, 2015 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
If you were picky--

A knight was specifically a man who held a lower rank of nobility. A man at arms could be a knight, but could also be a senior commoner soldier who happened to either possess or be granted the use of a suit of armour.

That's how I understand it, anyway. I could certainly be wrong.


Or just gentry.

I saw some numbers being thrown around which stated France had something like 90.000 noble families during the medieval period. I presume most were untitled nobility who might just have 400 or so acres to their name in a single village.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 18 Jun, 2015 5:03 pm    Post subject: Re: How one would distinguish Knights and Men at Arms?         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
A Man at arms would be usually a non-knight who fought as heavy cavalry, perhaps a mercenary or a household troop of some Lord.


You're making the terms "knight" and "man-at-arms" far too exclusive to each other here. Knights were men-at-arms too -- just with some extra rights and obligations due to their specific social and political status.


Quote:
Although squires are generally described as "apprentice knights", I found these texts that have just confusing me a bit:

(snip)

Why did that happened?


To put it simply, we don't know for sure. What we do know is that by the 15th century or so, "esquire" was pretty much a title earned automatically by people born into the knightly social class in England or France -- they didn't have to get esquired to a knight to get it. Of course it carried the implication that the bearer had to be prepared to mobilise and fight as a man-at-arms in times of war, or else to pay the scutage so that the lord or king could hire a suitable substitute with the money.


Quote:
From what I understand, men at arms would be relatives or sons of knights/lords who would have the conditions to fight as heavy cavalry, but also include serjeants and squires. But, the question remains, why some squires avoided knighthood?


Because knighthood didn't only confer social prestige -- it also imposed more duties and obligations upon the bearer. An esquire might be able to get away with showing up to muster alone (or, more likely, with a non-combatant servant or two), but a knight would probably have had to muster a small retinue, either from his own tenants or by hiring professionals of the appropriate type. Not to mention that a knight had to maintain a certain lifestyle in order to protect his social standing, and it could get pretty expensive.


Quote:
My final question is: how soldiers and noblemen would distinguish a knight from a man at arms and to a squire in Battlefield?


Why would it even matter? People had personal heraldry back then, and if you were a friend or enemy on the battlefield then you probably would have been looking for a specific person (either a commander to follow, a friend to keep close, or a notable enemy to defeat) by seeking out his specific arms as shown on his coat of arms, his shield, his caparison, or his helmet crest. There would have been no point in distinguishing all full-fledged knights as a group from all (e)squires as a group.


Quote:
I do not know if the rules of using golden spurs for Knights and silvered spurs for Squires was widespread.


Probably didn't matter on the battlefield. If you were looking down to check out the enemy's spurs, you're probably not paying attention to his weapon and that's just plain suicidal.


Quote:
Beside this, what would be other forms of clothing (for both rider and horse) were used to make this distinction?


Once again, why bother? What's so important about distinguishing a generic knight from a generic squire? You wanted to know the individual's identity, or at most what company or retinue he belonged to. A generic sign to distinguish all knights from all squires would have been militarily irrelevant once the fighting actually began


Quote:
GENERALLY speaking, would an 15th century men at arms be less or equal armed as a Knight?


Well, yes if he was a knight? And knights weren't all armed in exactly the same way either. It's pretty safe to assume that all men-at-arms by the late 14th century would have had head-to-toe armour, but it might not have been all plate (so some parts might only be protected by mail or brigandine or splints or what-have-you).


Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:

What kind of duties and equipment of a knight that could make the squire's rise to knighthood much more hard/less attractive?


Maintaining a more opulent residence that wouldn't look embarrassing when one had to receive a guest of equal or higher social rank? Maintaining a retinue, or hiring one for wartime service? Having richer clothes and jewellery and horse tack so as to not embarrass oneself in the company of equals or superiors?


Quote:
What would be the point of becoming a squire if you do not can or even want to become a knight?


You would still have been the social superior of most other commoners. And would have been a more eligible match for a daughter of a gentry family, or better still for the daughter of a minor (sometimes even major!) noble if you wanted to marry up. You would have been far less likely to be seen as an upstart if you managed to improve your fortunes (perhaps through war) and enter higher social circles even without being knighted


Quote:
Finally, the equipment of a squire (weapon, armor, maybe even a coat of arms, if they couldhad one) was very different from a knight?


Why should it be different? Militarily, they were from the same general class (i.e. man-at-arms, so they would have had to meet roughly the same standard of equipment. The full-fledged knight's equipment might have looked more fashionable and better decorated, and the retinue might be larger, but the difference would have been a matter of degree rather than kind.


Interestingly enough, the "knight" was a socially inferior rank in the beginning -- a well-equipped and thus reasonably well-off soldier, true, but still not quite noble, and a proper noble in the 9th or 10th century or so would have balked at being called a mere "miles."On the other hand of the timeframe, we see a considerable degree of title inflation; the men-at-arms of the French Ordonnance companies had to have several horses and maintain an entire "lance" that included several other combatants and one or two noncombatants, and they were given a stipend over and above their regular pay just so that they could maintain a lifestyle comparable to their rank and honour!
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2015 9:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
To put it simply, we don't know for sure. What we do know is that by the 15th century or so, "esquire" was pretty much a title earned automatically by people born into the knightly social class in England or France -- they didn't have to get esquired to a knight to get it. Of course it carried the implication that the bearer had to be prepared to mobilise and fight as a man-at-arms in times of war, or else to pay the scutage so that the lord or king could hire a suitable substitute with the money.



Do you mean that for example, a son of a knight (perhaps even a baron or other nobleman?) who joined in military would be called a squire, even if he didn't was the "shield-bearer" of an knight or any nobleman? If that were the case, then the squire would be a "distinction" between man at arms of lower and high birth?


Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Because knighthood didn't only confer social prestige -- it also imposed more duties and obligations upon the bearer. An esquire might be able to get away with showing up to muster alone (or, more likely, with a non-combatant servant or two), but a knight would probably have had to muster a small retinue, either from his own tenants or by hiring professionals of the appropriate type. Not to mention that a knight had to maintain a certain lifestyle in order to protect his social standing, and it could get pretty expensive.


So the knight actually had the financial conditions to employ his own military retinue? With levy soldiers, man-at-arms and even mercenary soldiers? I thought the only who could do this would be the Baron, which would bring together his levied peasants, their household troops and his vassal knights in special positions of his "Lances Fournies"

Quote:
Why would it even matter? People had personal heraldry back then, and if you were a friend or enemy on the battlefield then you probably would have been looking for a specific person (either a commander to follow, a friend to keep close, or a notable enemy to defeat) by seeking out his specific arms as shown on his coat of arms, his shield, his caparison, or his helmet crest. There would have been no point in distinguishing all full-fledged knights as a group from all (e)squires as a group.


Mainly in situations like: a knight enemy that would like to find another knights to challenge and prove their valor. Or even during a corpses count, probably the knight/nobleman would have some "accessory" in their clothing to identify them. But mainly because of ramsons: I don't think that non-noble soldiers would be taken captive because of their ramson, but a knight or other nobleman would. Then, it should some way to identify who possibly was a noble and could afford a ransom.

You mentioned " his coat of arms, his shield, his caparison, or his helmet crest." and also I think probably the "horse coat of arms" and the knightly belt (If actually was wideworld worn) had also some influence. I wouldn't doubt that they probably would use this type of identification during the century XII to most of the XIV century. But, specifically from the popularization of "White Armour" (from 1415 and beyond) the shield was largely abandoned and the coat of arms began to disappear in favour of uncovered plate.

My mental image of a knight this time is someone who worn full hardness and didn't wore coat of arms, and to be honest, the books of medieval militarism of Osprey Publising were a contributing factor. Am I wrong and coat of arms were still a trend in military clothing of the nobles and especially in the low nobility military fashion?



Quote:
Interestingly enough, the "knight" was a socially inferior rank in the beginning -- a well-equipped and thus reasonably well-off soldier, true, but still not quite noble, and a proper noble in the 9th or 10th century or so would have balked at being called a mere "miles."On the other hand of the timeframe, we see a considerable degree of title inflation; the men-at-arms of the French Ordonnance companies had to have several horses and maintain an entire "lance" that included several other combatants and one or two noncombatants, and they were given a stipend over and above their regular pay just so that they could maintain a lifestyle comparable to their rank and honour!


So, in fact it was the gendarme who had to maintain the other soldiers of his Lance? I thought it was "the employer" or any high administrative officer of the Ordinance.

By the way, as you brought it up, I would talk about something that has left me very curious. At first the knights were very common units in the cavalry, even in XI century Castile and Aragon (which didn't had any knightly tradition) had cases when half of the field cavalry were composed of knights. At first, the book sources in my contry says that gunpowder (probably arquebuses or hand cannons) ended the dominance of the knight, which is completely ridiculous: In the time of Agincourt (1415) the proportion of knights in the cavalry was only 6% (according to Wikipedia). My question is, for what reasons (social, economic and military) they began to replace the knights with man at arms (non-knight man-at-arms, to be clear)? Give a land ternure to a knight wasn't more profitable than paying gentry and mercenary man at arms?


[/quote]


Last edited by Pedro Paulo Gaião on Fri 19 Jun, 2015 9:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2015 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I used to take this as a referential to differentiate a generic knight from a generic squire:


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Quinn W.




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2015 9:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:

Quote:
Why would it even matter? People had personal heraldry back then, and if you were a friend or enemy on the battlefield then you probably would have been looking for a specific person (either a commander to follow, a friend to keep close, or a notable enemy to defeat) by seeking out his specific arms as shown on his coat of arms, his shield, his caparison, or his helmet crest. There would have been no point in distinguishing all full-fledged knights as a group from all (e)squires as a group.


Mainly in situations like: a knight enemy that would like to find another knights to challenge and prove their valor. Or even during a corpses count, probably the knight/nobleman would have some "accessory" in their clothing to identify them. But mainly because of ramsons: I don't think that non-noble soldiers would be taken captive because of their ransom, but a knight or other nobleman would. Then, it should some way to identify who possibly was a noble and could afford a ransom.

All of these examples are reasons why it would be useful to identify *enemy* knights. I can see why you might want your allies to be able to recognize you (although as Lafayette mentioned that was probably done on an individual level rather than a group-wide one), but if you are dressing in some identifying manner it would be done to benefit your friends, not your enemies. It doesn't make a lot of sense to dress in a way that would make it more convenient for your enemies to know whether or not your corpse is worth looting.

"Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth"
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 19 Jun, 2015 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Do you mean that for example, a son of a knight (perhaps even a baron or other nobleman?) who joined in military would be called a squire, even if he didn't was the "shield-bearer" of an knight or any nobleman


Yes for the most part, and if we're talking about the last century and a half in medieval England and France. Even then there were exceptions, and all bets are off once we get into the ungodly lands like Germany or that barbaric place on the wrong side of the Alps.


Quote:
If that were the case, then the squire would be a "distinction" between man at arms of lower and high birth?


Not really. If an archer or infantryman of common birth got "promoted" into a man-at-arms in the military hierarchy, his social rank would normally become that of an esquire.


Quote:
So the knight actually had the financial conditions to employ his own military retinue? With levy soldiers, man-at-arms and even mercenary soldiers? I thought the only who could do this would be the Baron, which would bring together his levied peasants, their household troops and his vassal knights in special positions of his "Lances Fournies"


Remember that social rank did not automatically correlate with wealth. Wealthy knights might well have more land and money than the poorest barons. The wealthiest counts could easily make the poorest dukes look like paupers. And a merchant could have been richer than a baron or duke without having the prestige of aristocratic rank. If people's social rank always accurately indicated their wealth, there would have been no need for such legal measures as distraints of knighthood (i.e. forcing all common people who owned more than a certain amount of wealth to become a knight, and bear the concomitant legal and social obligations such as mobilising for war as a man-at-arms or paying the scutage).


Quote:
Mainly in situations like: a knight enemy that would like to find another knights to challenge and prove their valor.


In that case the challenger would have wanted to identify a worthy individual enemy. There's no point in being able to identify an opponent as a generic knight or squire, since a knight might have been rich enough to pay a king's ransom or so poor that he had to pawn his land and manor just to be able to adequately equip himself and his retinue. But if you specifically knew the individual you're squaring up against, you'd also know how much wealth he had and how much he would have been able as a ransom. That's why when a man-at-arms rides out to challenge somebody from the opposing side to single combat for honour and his lady's favour, he'd clearly name himself ("I am Sir David of Loamshire") rather than just saying he was a knight (which would have been meaningless). And he'd expect the opponent to name himself too so that he'd know not only the opponent's mettle but also how much he was worth.

Well, in reality, the individual man-at-arms might not really know exactly how much his enemy was worth. But he could just ask a nearby herald, and that brings us to your next question.


Quote:
Or even during a corpses count, probably the knight/nobleman would have some "accessory" in their clothing to identify them.


Yes, they would have arms that identified them as an individual, not just as a generic nameless noble or knight or squire. And this is where heralds come in -- it's their job to know and memorise people's arms throughout Europe and then use that knowledge to identify who was who on the enemy's side, whether living or dead. Note that if you read actual medieval chronicles, they often had substantial lists of the names of notable men killed, wounded, and/or captured on both sides. It was the heralds' job to check the dead, the wounded, and the captives and record their names for posterity (as well as for more immediate purposes of burial, ransom, and billeting for medical treatment).


Quote:
But mainly because of ramsons: I don't think that non-noble soldiers would be taken captive because of their ramson, but a knight or other nobleman would. Then, it should some way to identify who possibly was a noble and could afford a ransom.


Whoa. There was a ransom system for common soldiers too! There's even a recent book on this subject, though the title escapes me at the moment.


Quote:
You mentioned " his coat of arms, his shield, his caparison, or his helmet crest." and also I think probably the "horse coat of arms" and the knightly belt (If actually was wideworld worn) had also some influence.


The caparison is that big piece of cloth (or two) worn by the horse to show off the rider's armorial bearings.


Quote:
I wouldn't doubt that they probably would use this type of identification during the century XII to most of the XIV century. But, specifically from the popularization of "White Armour" (from 1415 and beyond) the shield was largely abandoned and the coat of arms began to disappear in favour of uncovered plate.


This is where (once again) the heralds come in. After a battle, a siege, or just about any other kind of notable encounter, heralds from both sides would meet and inspect the dead. At least one of them would have been able to recognise the notable dead by face. Individually, that is. A herald who could only say "he's a knight" instead of correctly identifying Sir Richard of Mudshire is really asking to be fired. In great disgrace.

If you're talking about identifying the enemy during the fighting, why, you could just square up against the bloke and demand his name, man to man. If he wouldn't answer, bash him down and ask for his name while you're demanding his surrender. If he's dead, well, just move on and let the heralds tell once the fighting is over.


Quote:
My mental image of a knight this time is someone who worn full hardness and didn't wore coat of arms, and to be honest, the books of medieval militarism of Osprey Publising were a contributing factor. Am I wrong and coat of arms were still a trend in military clothing of the nobles and especially in the low nobility military fashion?


Yes and no. Yes, "white armour" became increasingly common from the early 15th century onwards. But no, people never entirely stopped wearing coats of arms either. The shape of the armorial overgarment might change, but they never really went out of existence until sometime around the turn of the 17th century.



Quote:
So, in fact it was the gendarme who had to maintain the other soldiers of his Lance? I thought it was "the employer" or any high administrative officer of the Ordinance.


The other members of the lance (and, in fact, the homme d'armes himself) were paid by the state, but it's very unlikely that the Compagnies d'Ordonnance completely broke with the time-honoured tradition of having the man-at-arms deeply involved with the administration of his lance. It's even possible that the other members of the lance were paid through the man-at-arms rather than having to collect their pay in person from the company's bursar or treasurer.


Quote:
By the way, as you brought it up, I would talk about something that has left me very curious. At first the knights were very common units in the cavalry, even in XI century Castile and Aragon (which didn't had any knightly tradition) had cases when half of the field cavalry were composed of knights. At first, the book sources in my contry says that gunpowder (probably arquebuses or hand cannons) ended the dominance of the knight, which is completely ridiculous: In the time of Agincourt (1415) the proportion of knights in the cavalry was only 6% (according to Wikipedia). My question is, for what reasons (social, economic and military) they began to replace the knights with man at arms (non-knight man-at-arms, to be clear)? Give a land ternure to a knight wasn't more profitable than paying gentry and mercenary man at arms?


I think much of the confusion stems from the fact that you're confusing the term "knight" in the military sense (which, in later times, became virtually synonymous with "man-at-arms") and "knight" as a social and political rank (which increasingly became a minority among the men-at-arms).

Now, the main reason why a king or lord might invest a knight with the lordship of a manor (or two, or several) rather than keeping the knight as a professional soldier paid in money was largely related to several non-military factors. One was the state of the money economy; at a time when money was not yet as widespread and many transactions were still done in kind, it would have been a pretty complicated matter to pay a knight directly with so many bushels of wheat and so much meat and vegetables and herbs; selling these things first in the market to get the money to pay the knight might not have been all that easy either, and would only have been practical for a small number of very close household retainers. Another important reason was the difficulties of administration; imagine trying to produce and handle all the paperwork needed to keep knights paid on a regular basis -- lists, tables, receipts, contracts, deeds -- in an era when every single document had to be written out by hand and communication was largely performed through personal travel (no telegraph, no telephones, and sure as hell no Internet). It's much simpler to just give the knight a decently-sized patch of land and tell them to administer it by themselves, letting them collect the income to maintain themselves and their family and their arms and their retinue (if any). Of course, the downside is that you're giving them a local base of power that they could exploit if they started getting rebellious thoughts, but hey, no system is perfect.

As these hurdles became less and less significant with the passing of time, paying soldiers with money (and collecting the taxes, duties, tolls, and imposts with which to pay them) became a more practical proposition, so eventually it became more preferable to centralise the administration of the army and state finances. It was this centralisation of state power (and not gunpowder) that lay at the heart of the "Military Revolution" thesis, although of course the term "revolution" becomes rather meaningless when we realise that the processes that led to the Renaissance "revolution" were already in operation several centuries back in the Middle Ages.


Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
I used to take this as a referential to differentiate a generic knight from a generic squire:



That squire could just as well have been a knight -- and conversely, that knight could just as well have been a particularly wealthy squire who could afford more equipment than the average. The concept of trying to look for uniform signifiers for the generic knight vs. the generic squire is really pointless and meaningless.
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Jun, 2015 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Quote:
If that were the case, then the squire would be a "distinction" between man at arms of lower and high birth?


Not really. If an archer or infantryman of common birth got "promoted" into a man-at-arms in the military hierarchy, his social rank would normally become that of an esquire.


Why? I mean, now he won a better role in his Lance? He became a "shield-bearer" or some kind of someone's servant? Or this was done only as a reward? Like when someone got knighted? The purpose of promoting a soldier to squire guarantee some small practical change or was only a matter of reward with a purely social basis?

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Yes, they would have arms that identified them as an individual, not just as a generic nameless noble or knight or squire. And this is where heralds come in -- it's their job to know and memorise people's arms throughout Europe and then use that knowledge to identify who was who on the enemy's side, whether living or dead. Note that if you read actual medieval chronicles, they often had substantial lists of the names of notable men killed, wounded, and/or captured on both sides. It was the heralds' job to check the dead, the wounded, and the captives and record their names for posterity (as well as for more immediate purposes of burial, ransom, and billeting for medical treatment).


That was new, I didn't know that noblemen had servants carrying their arms. It makes sense then that it becomes possible to identify noblemen in accordance with their respective arms. But that was a luxury reserved for the High Nobility or it was common for riders had their own heralds?

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Whoa. There was a ransom system for common soldiers too! There's even a recent book on this subject, though the title escapes me at the moment.


Common Soldiers? Amazing, but who would pay their ransom? Some official or close relatives?
I think they should probably be caught in mass and then would be negotiations rather than in individual numbers (but I'm just a ignorant in the subject)

Quote:
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You mentioned " his coat of arms, his shield, his caparison, or his helmet crest." and also I think probably the "horse coat of arms" and the knightly belt (If actually was wideworld worn) had also some influence.


The caparison is that big piece of cloth (or two) worn by the horse to show off the rider's armorial bearings



Which of these arms would be more common/widespread among Knights and Barons in battlefield? Shields, Caparison or Surcoats/Tabards?

Actually, it's because I had read a small fragment which highlighted that at first, surcoats were limited to monarchs to the point they reached the Low Nobility. I think then probably should have been some way that is more popular to display their weapons, or maybe some kind of regulation restricting certain garments to kings and dukes. By the way, could serjeants and man-at-arms carry their Lord's arms in shields, surcoats or other kind of battlefield garment?


Quote:
Individually, that is. A herald who could only say "he's a knight" instead of correctly identifying Sir Richard of Mudshire is really asking to be fired. In great disgrace.


Sorry for the misunderstood, I had thought if in fact the knights wore some type of clothing or equipment that could highlight themselves, whether alive or mere corpses.


Quote:
I think much of the confusion stems from the fact that you're confusing the term "knight" in the military sense (which, in later times, became virtually synonymous with "man-at-arms") and "knight" as a social and political rank (which increasingly became a minority among the men-at-arms).


Actually, it's because I usually separate the knight's honor to the simple heavy cavalry role. It's really a matter of why the traditional feudal knight was supplanted by soldiers known as man at arms. In fact, the men at arms became so generalizing that even the traditional Knight was called "a Man at Arms", which was at first a name they gave to differentiate the other and non-knightly cavalry.

Quote:
As these hurdles became less and less significant with the passing of time, paying soldiers with money (and collecting the taxes, duties, tolls, and imposts with which to pay them) became a more practical proposition, so eventually it became more preferable to centralise the administration of the army and state finances. It was this centralisation of state power (and not gunpowder) that lay at the heart of the "Military Revolution" thesis, although of course the term "revolution" becomes rather meaningless when we realise that the processes that led to the Renaissance "revolution" were already in operation several centuries back in the Middle Ages.


So, we might say that in fact the decline of chivalric warfare was more a matter of centralization than efficiency / convenience? I don't know if maybe the constant wars between England and France helped decimate the knights and their replacement by non-knightly man at arms.

You mentioned that the knighthood was constantly inflated over the times. We could say that the nobles were increasingly reluctant in distribute knightly honors for squires and soldiers because of that inflaction? Or is it why the title was increasingly linked to social prestige than military service (speaking until around the end of the Wars of the Roses, at least)? Perhaps the sum of the two? Perhaps that explained why knights were so little significant compared to the rest of the men at arms at the time of the Battle of Agincourt!

Quote:
That squire could just as well have been a knight -- and conversely, that knight could just as well have been a particularly wealthy squire who could afford more equipment than the average. The concept of trying to look for uniform signifiers for the generic knight vs. the generic squire is really pointless and meaningless.


I had thought that was why the squire had no right to display their weapons as extravagantly as the represented Knight
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John Hardy




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Jun, 2015 8:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:


So, we might say that in fact the decline of chivalric warfare was more a matter of centralization than efficiency / convenience? I don't know if maybe the constant wars between England and France helped decimate the knights and their replacement by non-knightly man at arms.


Well the advantage of the feudal "land for service" system of knights was also its great drawback for monarchs attempting to establish or maintain widespread empires by force of arms -- such as Edward III or Henry V of England and their predecessors or successors. Feudal knights owed their lord a certain number of days service per year. Typically between 30 and 60, I believe. And frequently with a limitation on how often or how long they could be required to serve outside their own realm -- which generally meant the particular kingdom or maybe even duchy their lands were located in, rather than the total lands controlled by their monarch.

The problem for someone like Henry II of England, for example, is that he ruled "the Angevin Empire": the Kingdom of England, and the Duchies / Counties of Normandy, Anjou, Gascony, Poitou and a few other lands that are also all now part of modern France. And an English knight owed him service as King of England and not as Angevin Emperor, so if Henry II had to go fight an incursion into Anjou, that was "foreign service" for his English forces. And he could blow his entire year's worth of service from all of them while just getting them assembled and over to the trouble spot. (And vice versa for his Norman, Gascon, Angevin etc knights.)

Eventually, once a more regular money supply was established, the solution was obvious: take cash in lieu of service from the feudal knights and nobles (the "scutage" or "shield tax") and use it to hire mercenaries (infantry, archers and men-at-arms) who would stay and fight as long as the pay was there. The early beginnings of standing royal armies in fact.
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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jun, 2015 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Hardy wrote:
And an English knight owed him service as King of England and not as Angevin Emperor, so if Henry II had to go fight an incursion into Anjou, that was "foreign service" for his English forces. And he could blow his entire year's worth of service from all of them while just getting them assembled and over to the trouble spot. (And vice versa for his Norman, Gascon, Angevin etc knights.)

Eventually, once a more regular money supply was established, the solution was obvious: take cash in lieu of service from the feudal knights and nobles (the "scutage" or "shield tax") and use it to hire mercenaries (infantry, archers and men-at-arms) who would stay and fight as long as the pay was there. The early beginnings of standing royal armies in fact.



I see, so it looks like there was a lot of bureaucracy in that matter. But the King of England or "Angevin Emperor" wouldn't have french vassals and knights in his french lands? Or they simply "exported" English folk and nobility to replace the natives?
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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jun, 2015 4:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
John Hardy wrote:
And an English knight owed him service as King of England and not as Angevin Emperor, so if Henry II had to go fight an incursion into Anjou, that was "foreign service" for his English forces. And he could blow his entire year's worth of service from all of them while just getting them assembled and over to the trouble spot. (And vice versa for his Norman, Gascon, Angevin etc knights.)

Eventually, once a more regular money supply was established, the solution was obvious: take cash in lieu of service from the feudal knights and nobles (the "scutage" or "shield tax") and use it to hire mercenaries (infantry, archers and men-at-arms) who would stay and fight as long as the pay was there. The early beginnings of standing royal armies in fact.



I see, so it looks like there was a lot of bureaucracy in that matter. But the King of England or "Angevin Emperor" wouldn't have french vassals and knights in his french lands? Or they simply "exported" English folk and nobility to replace the natives?


Oh no, he had local vassals of the various local backgrounds -- who also owed him service but again only for a very limited number of days outside their home territory.

You have to remember that nationalism as we know it is primarily an artifact of the modern era. In medieval times, you owed your loyalty not to an abstract "nation" or "state" or "nationality" but to a specific person - your lord of your local village, who in turn owed his personal loyalty to a specific person, and so on up the chain to a duke, king or emperor at the top..

Anyway, Henry II of England probably thought of himself first and foremost as Henry of Anjou as that was his own birth land. In fact, I believe his son Richard I was the first of the Norman kings of England who spoke English as his primary language -- and that was over a century after William of Normandy had conquered the place.

All of the Continental lands held by Henry II and the other "English" Angevin emperors had come into their possession through inheritance or marriage -- not conquest. The tricky bit came when they had to hold onto all those spread-out family lands against invaders and rebels without a professional centralized army...
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jul, 2015 4:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Quote:
If that were the case, then the squire would be a "distinction" between man at arms of lower and high birth?


Not really. If an archer or infantryman of common birth got "promoted" into a man-at-arms in the military hierarchy, his social rank would normally become that of an esquire.


Why? I mean, now he won a better role in his Lance? He became a "shield-bearer" or some kind of someone's servant? Or this was done only as a reward? Like when someone got knighted? The purpose of promoting a soldier to squire guarantee some small practical change or was only a matter of reward with a purely social basis?


It was both practical and ceremonial. Elevating a common archer or foot-soldier into a man-at-arms (after long and meritorious service) did not only mean that the new man-at-arms now had the obligation to serve with the equipment and in the military capacity of a man-at-arms. He would also become an esquire with all the social rights and obligations that it entailed -- more social honour in being able to mingle with the lower aristocracy on a more equal basis, but also more social, political, and economic burdens due to the expectation that he would have to live up to his new social rank.


Quote:
It makes sense then that it becomes possible to identify noblemen in accordance with their respective arms. But that was a luxury reserved for the High Nobility or it was common for riders had their own heralds?


It varied. We can make a comparison with lawyers today. Some lords or knights who were rich enough to retain the service of a personal herald on a permanent basis might have done so in a similar manner to how rich individuals and corporations today might hire in-house lawyers. Others might hire heralds on a more temporary basis. Many others would not have private heralds of their own, and would have had to rely on the heralds in the service of the king or lord who brought them into the campaign.


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Common Soldiers? Amazing, but who would pay their ransom? Some official or close relatives?


I'd rather just direct you to the actual book in question -- Dr. Remy Ambuhl's "Prisoners of War in the Hundred Years' War"


Quote:
Which of these arms would be more common/widespread among Knights and Barons in battlefield? Shields, Caparison or Surcoats/Tabards?


In what era, what place, and what contexts? Things varied widely throughout the span and breadth of the MIddle Ages and sometimes it's just impossible to offer useful generalisations.


Quote:
Actually, it's because I had read a small fragment which highlighted that at first, surcoats were limited to monarchs to the point they reached the Low Nobility. I think then probably should have been some way that is more popular to display their weapons, or maybe some kind of regulation restricting certain garments to kings and dukes.


If you want to find out about such regulations, try to restrict your search to more specific areas and periods. The laws aout the display of arms in 12th-century Spain can be pretty much guaranteed to be very different from those in 15th-century Hungary.


Quote:
By the way, could serjeants and man-at-arms carry their Lord's arms in shields, surcoats or other kind of battlefield garment?


Of course. But, as always, it depends on whether they have their own personal or familial arms (which they would usually prefer to display in lieu of their lord's or employer's) and whether they are under any contractual stipulations about whose arms they had to display and where (since medieval lawyers were just as fussy about detail as modern lawyers are).


Quote:
Sorry for the misunderstood, I had thought if in fact the knights wore some type of clothing or equipment that could highlight themselves, whether alive or mere corpses.


As a group? Not unless they were members of one of the military orders (the Templars, Hospitallers, Knights of Calatrava, that kind of thing).


Quote:
You mentioned that the knighthood was constantly inflated over the times. We could say that the nobles were increasingly reluctant in distribute knightly honors for squires and soldiers because of that inflaction? Or is it why the title was increasingly linked to social prestige than military service (speaking until around the end of the Wars of the Roses, at least)? Perhaps the sum of the two? Perhaps that explained why knights were so little significant compared to the rest of the men at arms at the time of the Battle of Agincourt!


There's no way to answer this question in a single forum post. It'd take a good book (or two, or three) about feudalism and medieval social hierarchies before you'd even begin to grasp the complexities of how medieval military organisation and "peacetime" social structures interacted with each other. So start reading!


Quote:
Quote:
That squire could just as well have been a knight -- and conversely, that knight could just as well have been a particularly wealthy squire who could afford more equipment than the average. The concept of trying to look for uniform signifiers for the generic knight vs. the generic squire is really pointless and meaningless.


I had thought that was why the squire had no right to display their weapons as extravagantly as the represented Knight


If a mere squire had enough wealth and social clout to own and display more ostentatious arms than a poorer knight , there was often nothing that would stop him from doing so -- except in places where there was a "distraint of knighthood," which could force richer people of a lower social rank to assume the rank of a knight (with all the rights and obligations that it entailed) if they had more than a certain amount of wealth.
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jul, 2015 4:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Hardy wrote:
The problem for someone like Henry II of England, for example, is that he ruled "the Angevin Empire": the Kingdom of England, and the Duchies / Counties of Normandy, Anjou, Gascony, Poitou and a few other lands that are also all now part of modern France. And an English knight owed him service as King of England and not as Angevin Emperor, so if Henry II had to go fight an incursion into Anjou, that was "foreign service" for his English forces. And he could blow his entire year's worth of service from all of them while just getting them assembled and over to the trouble spot. (And vice versa for his Norman, Gascon, Angevin etc knights.)


It's not that simple. One very important legacy of the Norman and Angevin eras was that many of the prominent barons in England also held land on the Continent from the King of England in one of his other capacities as the lord of Normandy or Gascony or Aquitaine or what-have you, so they already owed him continental service to one extent or another. The flip side is that while the King of England was essentially the supreme legal authority in England, he was still subordinate to the King of France on the Continent, and this was sometimes abused by his chief subjects who would appeal to the King of France if they didn't like the legal rulings he made as the King of England despite the fact that the French king obviously had no legal authority over the lands on the far side of the English Channel. This was probably one of the causes that led Edward III to claim the throne of France when it went vacant, because if the King of England was also the King of France then there'd be no way for an English subject to submit such a sneaky appeal to the French court (while intentionally or unintentionally impugning the dignity of the English king as a sovereign lord).

A similar condition also persisted in Scotland, and it's pretty interesting to note that Robert the Bruce continued to hold lands south of the Border as an English lord even after his successful rebellion and enthronement as the independent King of Scotland! Now anyone who expects clearly delineated Game of Thrones-style borders and feudal hierarchies can go cry in a corner.
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jul, 2015 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
John Hardy wrote:
The problem for someone like Henry II of England, for example, is that he ruled "the Angevin Empire": the Kingdom of England, and the Duchies / Counties of Normandy, Anjou, Gascony, Poitou and a few other lands that are also all now part of modern France. And an English knight owed him service as King of England and not as Angevin Emperor, so if Henry II had to go fight an incursion into Anjou, that was "foreign service" for his English forces. And he could blow his entire year's worth of service from all of them while just getting them assembled and over to the trouble spot. (And vice versa for his Norman, Gascon, Angevin etc knights.)


It's not that simple. One very important legacy of the Norman and Angevin eras was that many of the prominent barons in England also held land on the Continent from the King of England in one of his other capacities as the lord of Normandy or Gascony or Aquitaine or what-have you, so they already owed him continental service to one extent or another. The flip side is that while the King of England was essentially the supreme legal authority in England, he was still subordinate to the King of France on the Continent, and this was sometimes abused by his chief subjects who would appeal to the King of France if they didn't like the legal rulings he made as the King of England despite the fact that the French king obviously had no legal authority over the lands on the far side of the English Channel. This was probably one of the causes that led Edward III to claim the throne of France when it went vacant, because if the King of England was also the King of France then there'd be no way for an English subject to submit such a sneaky appeal to the French court (while intentionally or unintentionally impugning the dignity of the English king as a sovereign lord).

A similar condition also persisted in Scotland, and it's pretty interesting to note that Robert the Bruce continued to hold lands south of the Border as an English lord even after his successful rebellion and enthronement as the independent King of Scotland! Now anyone who expects clearly delineated Game of Thrones-style borders and feudal hierarchies can go cry in a corner.



Game of Thrones is a bit to grim and serious to represent the real middle ages some times. Killing rebellious nobles wasn't always done on the continent, an apology note was sometimes enough to avoid losing ones head. The hall where the red wedding was held looks about as festive as an alms house, not something you'd expect.

Another fun thing is that the French king held Roman Law in incredible disdain because it was held to be the law of the Holy Roman Emperor who as emperor would stand above a mere King. How did the French king try to legitimize himself as sovereign without superior? Papal rulings and Roman law...

In 1213 the count of Montpellier asked the pope to legitimize his bastards and as an argument he put forward that popes had legitimized the Children of king Philippe Auguste. The Pope declared he had no jurisdiction and one of the reasons for that was that unlike Phillip Auguste the count could go to his superior (the king), the king could not: quum rex franciae superiorem in temporalibus minime recognoscat. In worldly matters the king had no superior. of course that single line was taken out of context by legal scholars and debated for three centuries.

And then there are the Dukes of Burgundy who had two de jure feudal overlords but were in fact so powerful they weren't commanded.
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jul, 2015 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Something that should be pointed out; in 1415, the year of the battle of Agincourt, for example, knighthood was an honor that, as has been commented, was very rare among the English. It was, however, much more common among the French, by percentage as well as numbers. Different realms, different practices. Heraldic garments are used less and less in the field and more restricted to the tournament as the 15th century goes on; I believe this is because such garments are easier to grasp during wrestling than uncovered plate.

There is not time or opportunity in a battle, typically, to track down a herald and get him to point out the best opponent to bag for ransom. Their equipment is the best way to tell. If their armour is very fresh in appearance and up to date, with lots of decorative bling, for example, that is a better sign than someone in older equipment that is very plain. Odds are, though, that any fully armed man will be worth something.

By the time you get to Jeanne d'Arc, the foot in the Hundred Years War have a bad tendency to slaughter each other out of hand. I think Eastern Europe was already much bloodier in that respect. By contrast, the Italian condottieri usually exercised a great deal of professional courtesy.

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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2015 3:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I hadn't asked this before but ... what is the purpose to turn an archer into a man at arms? This is just a waste of years and years of hard training with the longbow. It would make more sense to had some kind of promotion into archers' role than a system that introduced him in a completely new fighting method


Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Quote:
Which of these arms would be more common/widespread among Knights and Barons in battlefield? Shields, Caparison or Surcoats/Tabards?


In what era, what place, and what contexts? Things varied widely throughout the span and breadth of the MIddle Ages and sometimes it's just impossible to offer useful generalisations.


Generally speaking, let's say in France, from the twelfth century to the late fifteenth centuries ...
I think that a painted shield was much more "democratic" for anyone than caparison, but it's just my but that's what I suspect without much basis


James Arlen Gillaspie wrote:
Something that should be pointed out; in 1415, the year of the battle of Agincourt, for example, knighthood was an honor that, as has been commented, was very rare among the English. It was, however, much more common among the French, by percentage as well as numbers. Different realms, different practices.


Is there any sensible explanation for this? Perhaps the geography of Great Britain, the lack of large horse farms or anything like that? Cause England was for centuries a cultural satellite of France, one would expect them to imitate his war traditions ...
The percentage of nobility in England was very different than it was in France? (somewhere around 1.2%, if I remember correctly)

James Arlen Gillaspie wrote:
By the time you get to Jeanne d'Arc, the foot in the Hundred Years War have a bad tendency to slaughter each other out of hand. I think Eastern Europe was already much bloodier in that respect. By contrast, the Italian condottieri usually exercised a great deal of professional courtesy



Despite the fact that the French common people should probably hate the englishmen, a common soldier capturing a noble could not earn him a good ransom?
I know a few cases of ordinary soldiers who captured kings and won lands and knighthood from his commanders. If an ordinary soldier captured for example, an Count, you could expect some sort of promotion? At least for sergeant (if serjeants-at-arms were actually a common thing)?
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PostPosted: Wed 07 Oct, 2015 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
I hadn't asked this before but ... what is the purpose to turn an archer into a man at arms? This is just a waste of years and years of hard training with the longbow. It would make more sense to had some kind of promotion into archers' role than a system that introduced him in a completely new fighting method


Men-at-arms didn't only fight in their traditional roles as heavy cavalry, heavy infantry, and/or light cavalry. Many of them served as officers that led companies of lesser troops (archers, spearmen, billmen, what-have-you). At the same time, battlefield role and troop classification was closely linked to social prestige in the everyday/civilian world. A man-at-arms simply stood on a higher rung of the social ladder than a longbowman, so it made perfect sense to promote an archer into a man-at-arms in order to give him more legitimacy in a leadership role.


Quote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Quote:
Which of these arms would be more common/widespread among Knights and Barons in battlefield? Shields, Caparison or Surcoats/Tabards?


In what era, what place, and what contexts? Things varied widely throughout the span and breadth of the MIddle Ages and sometimes it's just impossible to offer useful generalisations.


Generally speaking, let's say in France, from the twelfth century to the late fifteenth centuries ...
I think that a painted shield was much more "democratic" for anyone than caparison, but it's just my but that's what I suspect without much basis


That's really a very broad timeframe -- too broad for any kind of useful generalisation. Besides, all the items you mentioned (shields, caparisons, surcoats/jupons/lentners/whatever) didn't always carry the wearer's personal or unit heraldry; sometimes they were just a plain colour, and sometimes they bore unrelated symbold.


Quote:
Cause England was for centuries a cultural satellite of France, one would expect them to imitate his war traditions


I wouldn't exactly call England a cultural "satellite" of France. The Norman and later Angevin nobles who sat on the English throne had a great deal of cultural influence of their own in mainland France, too -- perhaps comparable to Burgundy in the mid-15th century. After all, in certain periods, the English kings held more lands in France than their French counterparts!


James Arlen Gillaspie wrote:
Despite the fact that the French common people should probably hate the englishmen, a common soldier capturing a noble could not earn him a good ransom?
I know a few cases of ordinary soldiers who captured kings and won lands and knighthood from his commanders. If an ordinary soldier captured for example, an Count, you could expect some sort of promotion? At least for sergeant (if serjeants-at-arms were actually a common thing)?


There was really no one-size-fits-all rule we can apply to every single instance of warfare in the period in question. Sometimes even men-at-arms weren't reluctant to kill each other outright when taking prisoners would have imposed an unacceptable demands upon the army's resources (for instance, if one army had far fewer men than the other, and would have had to weaken its battle-line to an unacceptable degree if it had to detach a number of men to escort and guard its prisoners of war). And sometimes people were quite willing to give quarter to the opposing side's common soldiers when the potential benefits from ransom outweighed the resource demands of guarding, transporting, and feeding the prisoners until they could be exchanged.
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