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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Inserting Arquebusiers Amongst the Pikes Reply to topic
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2016 1:30 pm    Post subject: Inserting Arquebusiers Amongst the Pikes         Reply with quote

There is a famous account from a 16th century memoir where a captain thought he was clever by placing an arquebusier besides each pikeman in the front rank with orders to fire just as the pikes crossed. Unfortunately, he found that his opposite number had the same idea, only had armed his light-armed with pistols instead. The result was a bloodbath even by sixteenth-century standards, but at least none of the front-rankers survived to complain.

What is the original source, and what is the re-telling in English which everyone knows? I am away from my library of 16th century things, and in a country where sources like Oman are hard to come by, so if anyone knows I would appreciate it. And the 16th is not my century ...
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Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2016 2:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You may have read it in Hall's Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe. The story is from The commentaries of Messire Blaize de Montluc.

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A51199.0001.001?view=toc
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Daniel Staberg




Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
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PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct, 2016 12:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sounds like you remember the "Oman" version of events, he mixed together the original account of Monluc mentioned in the previous post with details taken from other sources IIRC Du Bellay who also fought in the battle without making clear which parts were from Monluc and which were from Du Bellay. Monluc does not mention pistols for example.
"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 411

PostPosted: Wed 12 Oct, 2016 12:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Henry O. wrote:
You may have read it in Hall's Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe. The story is from The commentaries of Messire Blaize de Montluc.

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A51199.0001.001?view=toc

It could be ... I definitely read Bert S. Hall's book on gunpowder back when I was studying for my BSc.

Do we have any idea where that passage comes in either the English translation or the original French? For my purposes citing a secondary source like Hall should be fine, and if I find a copy he should give me his sources.

I'm in a city where I can't just flip through Hall, Parker, and Oman, so thanks to you both for the advice to check out Hall, Oman, and Montluc!
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Daniel Staberg




Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
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PostPosted: Thu 13 Oct, 2016 2:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Henry O. wrote:
You may have read it in Hall's Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe. The story is from The commentaries of Messire Blaize de Montluc.

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A51199.0001.001?view=toc

It could be ... I definitely read Bert S. Hall's book on gunpowder back when I was studying for my BSc.

Do we have any idea where that passage comes in either the English translation or the original French? For my purposes citing a secondary source like Hall should be fine, and if I find a copy he should give me his sources.

I'm in a city where I can't just flip through Hall, Parker, and Oman, so thanks to you both for the advice to check out Hall, Oman, and Montluc!


Here is the full Monluc quote in the 1971 adaption of the 1674 English translation.

"I thought I gad been the cunningest snap in all the whole army having contrived to place a row of arquebusiers betwixt the first and second rank to kill all the captains first, and had said to Monsieur de Taix three or four days before that before any of ours should fall I would kill all their captains in the first rank: but I would not tell him the secret till he had given me command of the arquebusiers, and then he called to him de la Burthe the sergeant major, bidding him presently make choice of the arquebusiers and to place them after that manner. Upon my faith I have never seen nor heard of the like before and thought myself to be the first inventor of it; but we found that they were as crafty as we for they had done the same thing, who never shot no more than ours till they came within a pike's lenghth, and there was a very great slaughter, not a shot being fired but it wrought its effect."
Page 110-111 "The Habsburg-Valois wars and the French wars of religion, Blaise de Monluc. Ed. Ian Roy. Part of the Longman Military memoir series.

At the time the "sergeant major" was the officer responsible for the actual forming up and deployment of the unit, he was supposed to be an experienced professional who also knew how to do the required maths and could read and write.
The Spanish considered the position so important that the Sargento Mayor was the 2nd in command of a Tercio and a position that was not open to any but the ablest of veterans.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 411

PostPosted: Thu 13 Oct, 2016 5:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:
Sean Manning wrote:
Henry O. wrote:
You may have read it in Hall's Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe. The story is from The commentaries of Messire Blaize de Montluc.

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A51199.0001.001?view=toc

It could be ... I definitely read Bert S. Hall's book on gunpowder back when I was studying for my BSc.

Do we have any idea where that passage comes in either the English translation or the original French? For my purposes citing a secondary source like Hall should be fine, and if I find a copy he should give me his sources.

I'm in a city where I can't just flip through Hall, Parker, and Oman, so thanks to you both for the advice to check out Hall, Oman, and Montluc!


Here is the full Monluc quote in the 1971 adaption of the 1674 English translation.

"I thought I gad been the cunningest snap in all the whole army having contrived to place a row of arquebusiers betwixt the first and second rank to kill all the captains first, and had said to Monsieur de Taix three or four days before that before any of ours should fall I would kill all their captains in the first rank: but I would not tell him the secret till he had given me command of the arquebusiers, and then he called to him de la Burthe the sergeant major, bidding him presently make choice of the arquebusiers and to place them after that manner. Upon my faith I have never seen nor heard of the like before and thought myself to be the first inventor of it; but we found that they were as crafty as we for they had done the same thing, who never shot no more than ours till they came within a pike's lenghth, and there was a very great slaughter, not a shot being fired but it wrought its effect."
Page 110-111 "The Habsburg-Valois wars and the French wars of religion, Blaise de Monluc. Ed. Ian Roy. Part of the Longman Military memoir series.

At the time the "sergeant major" was the officer responsible for the actual forming up and deployment of the unit, he was supposed to be an experienced professional who also knew how to do the required maths and could read and write.
The Spanish considered the position so important that the Sargento Mayor was the 2nd in command of a Tercio and a position that was not open to any but the ablest of veterans.

Great, thanks! That let me find it in book 2, page 72 of the 17th century English translation.

I can buy a copy of Hall if I need a modern account to refer people to.

There are some odd coincidences in military history, like the Monitor and Merrimac arriving in the same place within 24 hours.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Dec, 2016 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oman's works on medieval and Renaissance military history have gone out of copyright if I'm not mistaken, and there are scanned versions freely available on archive.org.
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