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Henry O.

Joined: 18 Jun 2016

Posts: 189

PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2018 1:38 pm    Post subject: Giorgio Basta's opinion on lancers/other cavalry?         Reply with quote

I've been curious about Basta lately since he had a great deal of experience fighting cavalry both in eastern and western europe, though sort of frustrated about the lack of information about his work in English. So I'm wondering if someone more familiar with his book on the governing of light cavalry or who knows how to read it can help answer some questions for me.

Cruso says that Basta considered lancers to be light cavalry. By "light" did that just mean lighter than the men-at-arms, or was basta saying that the cuirassiers should perform shock charges in massed formations while the lancers should be used as loose skirmishers?

Did Basta make a distinction between western-style, 3/4ths plate lancers and the lightly armored stradiot/early hussar-style lancers in the east at all?

What were his thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of lance vs pistol or lancer vs cuirassier, and how did they compare to the opinions of others at the time or those whose military experiences were limited to fighting in western europe?

Also, does he give any particular thoughts on the usefulness of pikemen against cavalry at the time? Did he still think that pike and shot infantry overall had the advantage against cavalry even on an open field, or did he think that they needed the protection of ditches or other obstacles?
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Javier Ramos

Location: Spain
Joined: 07 Jun 2018

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon 06 Aug, 2018 2:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Has been a long while since I read those, so probably I will be mixing a lot of concepts. Do not take my word for what follows.

Cruso in 1632 copied a lot from Basta (about 1606 IIRC) who actually was accused of copying his work from a Spaniard which name I do not remember, at the end of XVIth century. Lancers were practically gone by 1609. So what is written about lancers by Cruso and almost by Basta was outdated.

Lancers were 3 quarters armor. Other authors, IIRC (Bernardino de Mendoza) explain that they are called "light" but they are not. I think they started being the companions part of Gerdarmes lances, pooled together.

The clue here is that training a horse for lancers was much more expensive than another for cuirassiers of pistoliers. At the same time weight of pistol and carabines bullets were increasing in parallel to armor. Bulletproof armor was really heavy but was accomplished. Then killing horses became the easiest way to unmount an opponent. Part of the fun of being a cavalryman was to capture horses and sell them... but if everybody was shooting horses it was very impractical to keep a lancer unit because you have much more to lose than to win.
This meant the end of lancers in west Europe for almost 200 years. They were still used in East Europe, Asia, and Spanish colonial America.
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