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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep, 2005 2:14 am    Post subject: Portuguese target men and what not?         Reply with quote

Hey, the other thread, (which was starting to get a bit hot, so I decided to start a new thread) made me curious about the portuguese targeteer, particularly the naval targeteer.

What do we know about him, his equipment, and his methods of combat? Would we be looking at a steel or wooden target for the most part?

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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David Black Mastro




Location: Central NJ
Joined: 06 Sep 2005
Reading list: 20 books

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Posts: 279

PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep, 2005 10:06 am    Post subject: Re: Portuguese target men and what not?         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
Hey, the other thread, (which was starting to get a bit hot, so I decided to start a new thread) made me curious about the portuguese targeteer, particularly the naval targeteer.

What do we know about him, his equipment, and his methods of combat? Would we be looking at a steel or wooden target for the most part?


Targetiers (rondeliers, rodeleros, rotularii, et al.) were used by many navies during the 16th century. In his Mirror for Seamen (c. 1530), which was concerned with sailing ships, Alonzo de Chaves said that targetiers ("corselet men") were the best troops for a boarding fight. They also figured prominently on board Mediterranean galleys. The galleys of the Spanish, those of their Italian client states, and the Knights of Malta were generally manned with the most heavily armed and armored fighting men, since the close boarding fight was favored by them. The Venetians, due largely to chronic manpower shortages, depended much more on their artillery skills (Marc Antonio Quirini's relief of Famagusta in 1570 is a good example of Venetian gunnery--Quirini's men sank several Ottoman galleys with their guns). The Venetians were still prepared for the boarding fight, and had men trained for it--these marines were referred to alternately as scapoli or huomini di spada ("men of the sword")--but, as author John F. Guilmartin noted, it was very much a last resort for the Venetians (whereas, for the Spanish and Knights of Malta, boarding action was the first choice).

The equipment of targetiers, naval or otherwise, was generally similar--an open helmet (morion, burgonet, etc) and plate cuirass with or without tassets. Arm defenses were apparently optional (and seem to have been less and less common as the 16th century wore on). Mail arm defenses were sometimes worn instead of plate. Instead of a plate cuirass, a brigandine might be worn.

Swords would have varied depending on the nation (i.e., Englishmen may have favored basket-hilts, while the Mediterranean targetiers probably preferred espadas with elaborate "swept"-style hilts). Predecessors of the schiavona were used by the Venetians in the 16th century, and the true schiavona of course came into use in the following century. A large dagger (pugnale Bolognese, etc.) was invariably carried as well.

It is known that some targetiers also carried pistols, but I have been unable to confirm whether or not this was common at sea with anyone.

The target itself could either be wood convered in leather (with metal reinforcements), or all steel. In the 16th century, steel targets seem to have been especially popular. Some were "targets of proof", that actually gave protection against bullets. One would think that these would be useful in a sea battle (with so many arquebuses and muskets engaged), but the downside was that they were heavy (Roger Williams said the average man could carry one for about an hour).

Fighting at sea was rough business. Space was typically at a minimum (especially on galleys). Decks of enemy vessels were sometimes smeared with honey, soap, or butter (or all three), so that unsuspecting boarding parties lost their footing. Caltrops (called triboli by the Venetians) could be hurled from fighting tops, to likewise thwart boarders. Chaves mentioned the use of pikes to fend off boarders--the heads were greased, so that they were difficult for the attackers to grasp.

As for the Portuguese in particular, their situation seems somewhat unique, like the Venetians. As Antonio Cejunior mentioned on the other thread, the Portuguese pioneered the art of standoff gunnery in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, by equipping their caravels and carracks with powerful, stone-throwing camelos mounted close to the centerline. Using long-range shooting, the Portuguese were able to defeat the Muslims in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean time and again. The Portuguese also used these tactics against English privateers in the 1550s. Standoff gunnery made as much sense for the Portuguese as it did for the Venetians, since they typically had little in the way of manpower. Still, they were likewise prepared for the boarding fight (which was sometimes preferrable or even necessary), as the design of their later sailing ships indicate. Take, for example, the large galleons of the Armada, like the flagship San Martin--these were Portuguese vessels, and they were "high charged", meaning that they had tall and elaborate fore-and-after castles, equipped with antipersonnel guns. Such ships carried heavy guns too, but their design was really geared around close action. It would take the English to reintroduce long-range shooting on sailing ships, when they created the "race-built" ship.

"Why meddle with us--you are not strong enough to break us--you know that you have won the battle and slaughtered our army--be content with your honor, and leave us alone, for by God's good will only have we escaped from this business" --unknown Spanish captain to the Chevalier Bayard, at the Battle of Ravenna, 1512
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Sat 24 Sep, 2005 10:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Facinating! You must have quite a library.
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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David Black Mastro




Location: Central NJ
Joined: 06 Sep 2005
Reading list: 20 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 279

PostPosted: Sun 25 Sep, 2005 9:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:
Facinating! You must have quite a library.


Yeah, and it took about a decade to put together! Happy

"Why meddle with us--you are not strong enough to break us--you know that you have won the battle and slaughtered our army--be content with your honor, and leave us alone, for by God's good will only have we escaped from this business" --unknown Spanish captain to the Chevalier Bayard, at the Battle of Ravenna, 1512
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Michael G. Myers




Location: El Paso, Texas
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 112

PostPosted: Sun 25 Sep, 2005 10:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic overview, Dave. Thanks,



Michael

"In the fight between you and the world, back the world." - Kafka

"Neither flesh, nor fowl, nor good red-herring..."
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David Black Mastro




Location: Central NJ
Joined: 06 Sep 2005
Reading list: 20 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 279

PostPosted: Sun 25 Sep, 2005 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael G. Myers wrote:
Fantastic overview, Dave. Thanks,



Michael


Anytime, Mike. Thanks for the compliment. Happy

"Why meddle with us--you are not strong enough to break us--you know that you have won the battle and slaughtered our army--be content with your honor, and leave us alone, for by God's good will only have we escaped from this business" --unknown Spanish captain to the Chevalier Bayard, at the Battle of Ravenna, 1512
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