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A. Hill




Location: Texas
Joined: 07 Aug 2015

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PostPosted: Fri 07 Aug, 2015 11:18 pm    Post subject: calvary shields?         Reply with quote

I'm curious about the types of shields used by light and heavy calvary. There is also a particular type of shield that is in my head as used by mounted archers, but I can't seem to find out if it is a real thing. It was rounded at the top, but the bottom was a crescent shape. Does this actually exist? Thank you for any assistance.
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

Posts: 669

PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 12:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mr/Ms. Hill,

It's cavalry. Calvary is where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. You also need to be more specific. What culture and time period are you interested in knowing more about? If you were to leave the question as open ended as "what kind of shields did cavalry use?" then one could probably write a book about the subject. You mention horse archers. Are you intrigued by Scythians or Mongols, perhaps, or some other steppe culture? Please provide some more specific details so that the question can be answered appropriately, and welcome to myArmoury!

-Gregory
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A. Hill




Location: Texas
Joined: 07 Aug 2015

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 1:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Apologies for the incorrect word choice. I'm more interested in what was most efficient for riders using quick in and out techniques than a specfic era. Steppe cultures would work and possibly Macedonian as well. I hope this is more concise.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 5:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Where I've seen mounted archers with shields, the shields are round. Typically about 18-24" across, rather than tiny or huge. This was the usual shield across most of Asia, from China through to the Ottomans. This kind of size seems to work well on horseback. The same kind of shield developed independently as a cavalry shield in North America. Shields tended to be quite large before the horse, and after the horse, they shrank, and the typical cavalry shield was an 18" round shield.
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree, but only for skirmishers or horse archers. Shock cavalry always had bigger shield. Unless they needed both hands for their weapon, like contus. Roman cavalry, celtic cavalry, medieval cavalry, they all had bigger shields for heavy cavalry usage.
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 8:27 am    Post subject: Re: calvary shields?         Reply with quote

A. Hill wrote:
I'm curious about the types of shields used by light and heavy calvary. There is also a particular type of shield that is in my head as used by mounted archers, but I can't seem to find out if it is a real thing. It was rounded at the top, but the bottom was a crescent shape. Does this actually exist? Thank you for any assistance.


The only time I've seen a crescent shaped shield used on horseback was in the movie Troy. I don't remember any light cavalry from history using this kind of shield.

Éirinn go Brách
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A. Hill




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the help everyone. This place seems pretty awesome.
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To clarify on the crescent shaped shields, they're called pelta. They absolutely did exist, and were used by skirmishers on both foot and horseback, but they were worn with the horns up or to the right, not down, so the curve of the crescent more or less followed the bend of the arm.

To wit:













And no, they were not specific to cavalry at all. In fact, it was light infantry who got called peltasts.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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A. Hill




Location: Texas
Joined: 07 Aug 2015

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 1:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the clarification. It had begun to drive me nuts cause I could see them in my head but couldn't place them.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 1:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Mikko. I know of the pelta, but have never heard of it used from horseback. Could you provide an example of this?
Éirinn go Brách
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2015 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Indeed, I was about to post a reply earlier about ancient Scythians and Thracians probably using the pelta from horseback, then I decided to check the visual sources to make sure. After seeing dozens of contemporary representations of men wielding peltas, I did not come across a single instance of one being used on horseback. However, I saw numerous examples of small, round shields being used instead.

-Gregory
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Sun 09 Aug, 2015 7:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, I was thinking of Scythian and Thracian horse skirmishers, too... but, indeed, it seems all the images I can find of them with peltas are from modern books (including history textbooks!) and games. It may well be a modern misconception, in which case, my bad!

FWIW, in period art Amazons are typically depicted with peltas (and matching light gear), whether on foot or horseback. Like this:



But they're a mythical people and their depictions are based more on theme and symbolism, and so shouldn't be assumed representative of the use of these shields in reality...

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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