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Dashiell Harrison




Location: California
Joined: 14 Jun 2014

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri 03 Nov, 2017 5:01 pm    Post subject: Halberds pulling riders down         Reply with quote

Hi all!

I've often heard it told that late medieval pole arms of the seven-foot haft, hook+chopping blade+spike (I'm just going to say halberds for ease of discussion) were designed for fighting cavalry in general and for hooking the off of their horses in particular.

This is definitely one of those claims that I *want* to be true (I've always thought pikes were a bit boring compared to halberds and bills) but I've never seen much in the way actual evidence for it.

Has anyone seen period artistic or literary depictions of/instructions on how to use a pole weapon in this manner?

To what extent do people think halberds and such were designed for fighting horsemen in general?
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Mark Tan





Joined: 30 Nov 2016

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Sat 04 Nov, 2017 12:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

paulus hector mair depicts halberd on foot vs horseman

http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Paulus_Hector_Mair

http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/0000/bsb0...;seite=337

http://daten.digitale-sammlungen.de/0000/bsb0...;seite=340
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Stephen Curtin




Location: Cork, Ireland
Joined: 17 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Nov, 2017 12:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Dashiell, good question. Sorry I can't be any help in answering this one but I'm looking forward to reading what others have to say on the matter.
Éirinn go Brách
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Mon 06 Nov, 2017 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If the horse is almost stationary and the rider is caught off guard or unawares, yes maybe. But do you really want to play chicken (excuse the phrase) with 1/5 ton of skilled rider and animal and attempt to hook something that will simply pull you off your feet and pull the weapon out your hand?

The Mair plates for foot vs horse are very cartoony and the scale out in most. In certain perfect situations some might work but there is an awful amount of assumption going on. I'm a pretty average armoured rider but even I could counter many of the examples shown, a more skilled rider would avoid most of those situations or defeat them easily. Not saying they can't work, but rather you than me...

However, on the 'the hook on bills and halbereds are designed for pulling riders off horses'... that's a re-enactorism. Unless you are able to stop the horse and work with other foot soldiers do do that or a number of other factors are brought into play too.

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Iagoba Ferreira





Joined: 15 Sep 2008

Posts: 153

PostPosted: Mon 06 Nov, 2017 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It would be hard, but I'd choose it without doubt against a musket with bayonet. Being expected to defeat a lancer with a cumbersome firearm, worsened by adding the bayonet... WTF?!

If I remember well, in the "Nueva Ciencia" is explained how a Diestro can defeat a horsemen with his rapier. That people tried hard to sell their stuff!
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Felix Wang




Location: Fresno, CA
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Nov, 2017 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The halberd was the favored weapon of the Swiss in the early days of their confederation, but was later supplanted by the pike. The pike may have been a better weapon for stopping oncoming heavy cavalry. Halberds were still used, and I suspect were helpful once the impetus on an enemy charge was stopped.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2017 4:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For all we know, the halberd might have been originally designed to fight infantry -- and relatively poorly-armoured infantry at that, given that the main enemies of the Swiss Confederates and the neighbouring mountain/forest Germans were basically each other in their endless internecine feuds between neighbouring villages and cities. And what evidence we have for its use against cavalry indicates that it was best used just as a "spear with benefits" -- six to nine feet is a pretty decent reach, with the bonus of being able to use the axe or back-spike against people who had been unhorsed in the press.
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