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Kyro R. Lantsberger





Joined: 21 Apr 2006

Posts: 39

PostPosted: Tue 29 Aug, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject: "Practical Soldiering" during Crusade times.         Reply with quote

Over the weekend I had a few beers with some friends of mine and got to talking about weaponry and history. We are all veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2004, and were part of the invasion and moving through the desert. We talked about how rough the environment is on your body and on your equipment.

The group of guys that I hang out with are all history buffs, and we were very curious how some of these same things affected the armies of the Crusade era. I have a seemingly permanant skin infection on my right forearm from insect bites, and everybody suffered some sort of malady or other going through the desert. We can only assume that these things were exponentially worse in the past.

What I am wondering is if there are any historians who have written about this, or if there are any translations of original documents in this area. The sieges and charges of this era are exciting, but I am far more interested in how you go from France to Jerusalem in chainmail with spears and swords without arriving at Jerusalem with blistered raw, larvae-filled skin, and a rusty backscratcher for a weapon. How did these massed forces maintain weapons and equipment throughout these campaigns?

Who are the best writers/What are the best works in this area?
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Allen Reed




Location: Northwest, IL
Joined: 19 Apr 2004

Posts: 78

PostPosted: Tue 29 Aug, 2006 12:22 pm    Post subject: Re: "Practical Soldiering" during Crusade times.         Reply with quote

Kyro R. Lantsberger wrote:
Over the weekend I had a few beers with some friends of mine and got to talking about weaponry and history. We are all veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2004, and were part of the invasion and moving through the desert. We talked about how rough the environment is on your body and on your equipment.

The group of guys that I hang out with are all history buffs, and we were very curious how some of these same things affected the armies of the Crusade era. I have a seemingly permanant skin infection on my right forearm from insect bites, and everybody suffered some sort of malady or other going through the desert. We can only assume that these things were exponentially worse in the past.

What I am wondering is if there are any historians who have written about this, or if there are any translations of original documents in this area. The sieges and charges of this era are exciting, but I am far more interested in how you go from France to Jerusalem in chainmail with spears and swords without arriving at Jerusalem with blistered raw, larvae-filled skin, and a rusty backscratcher for a weapon. How did these massed forces maintain weapons and equipment throughout these campaigns?

Who are the best writers/What are the best works in this area?


I know there are period descriptions of the Crusaders on the move. However, I can't quote you any texts right now.

I'll see if I can get you some refereneces when I get home tonight.

Allen
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Ken Rankin




Location: North Carolina
Joined: 12 Mar 2006

Posts: 69

PostPosted: Tue 29 Aug, 2006 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know that the History Channel's series on the Crusades touched on that, as well as other unsavory facts about the Crusades, like cannibalism. I just looked up the "Baghdad Boil", and God Bless you if you had to suffer with infections like that! If I come up with any links I will be sure to post them as it is a very interesting subject.

Ken
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Carl Goff




Location: Florida
Joined: 27 Sep 2005
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 196

PostPosted: Tue 29 Aug, 2006 1:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, once the Templars and Hospitalers (and later, Teutonics) became significant orders, they maintained their own local armories with Muslim slaves doing a lot of the work. This pretty much made shipping, and its associated damage potential, a moot point for them.

I'm sure they'd have been happy to provide weapons and armor to replace any damaged in transit to the Holy Land...for a suitable "gift," of course.

As for the health issues: Several kings, many nobles, and God only knows how many common soldiers, died of disease while on campaign. Plague, parasites, and other revolting health conditions were probably either just accepted with a fatalistic shrug or resulted in horribly ineffective cure attempts.

Edit: Great. Mentioning parasites has given me a psychosomatic itch.

Oh, East of sands and sunlit gulf, your blood is thin, your gods are few;
You could not break the Northern wolf and now the wolf has turned on you.
The fires that light the coasts of Spain fling shadows on the Eastern strand.
Master, your slave has come again with torch and axe in his right hand!
-Robert E. Howard
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Kyro R. Lantsberger





Joined: 21 Apr 2006

Posts: 39

PostPosted: Tue 29 Aug, 2006 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Rankin wrote:
I I just looked up the "Baghdad Boil"
Ken


Baghdad Boil = Subcutaneous Leshmaniasis

Yep, that's me.

Thanks for the quick replies. Its things like this that dont make it into the history books, but are what probably dominated the minds of participants in these conflicts on the day to day level.
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Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Aug, 2006 5:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Then as now, most of the "heavy equipment", like armour, would be carried on pack horses or carriages, if you had them.
however, roads where poor to no-existent, and progress was slow.
30 km a day wold be exceptional, and only achieved by highly organiced troops, like the roman legions.
Equipment was bulkier and heavier than today; Stuff like iron cooking pots, tents, and so on would be a bitch to carry.
The same goes for food and water.
This is one of the main arguments for "living of the landô" rather than supplying your troops from home; Logistics are just to poor for it to be posible.
renaissance armies where often accompanied by huge baggage trains, including camp followers ("generic support Personell", taking care of "virually all of the soldier's needs"). They also had a devastating effect on the areas they traveled through, since pillaging where considered a prime fringe benefit.

Ships would be the best way to cover long distances, by far. Not only are they faster, but they let you travel with less "wear and tear."
In scandinavia, campaigns where often carried out in the winter, because the advantages of moving the equipment on sleads outweighed the disadvantages of the cold weather.

A pre-20th century army could often sustain causalities of 20% without ever seeing combat, or even leaving their march up area. Sanitary conditions where poor, and effective medical treatment near non existent.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Allen Reed




Location: Northwest, IL
Joined: 19 Apr 2004

Posts: 78

PostPosted: Wed 30 Aug, 2006 7:22 am    Post subject: Re: "Practical Soldiering" during Crusade times.         Reply with quote

Quote:
I know there are period descriptions of the Crusaders on the move. However, I can't quote you any texts right now.

I'll see if I can get you some references when I get home tonight.

Allen


Sorry, but, I can't find the book I was looking for in my library. It might have been in my Father's library and we sold off a bunch of his books when he moved some years back.

The passage I remember describes the movement of troops during the Third Crusade. The idea was for the land based troops to move along the coast line so they could be resupplied by ship. However, this did not work out as well as hoped.

They were often attacked during the march by horse mounted archers and light infantry that would not stick around for the Crusaders to get organized enough to counter attack.

Allen
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Jason Daub




Location: Peace River, Alberta
Joined: 14 Jan 2005
Reading list: 78 books

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Wed 30 Aug, 2006 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kyro, I think that you might look for a copy of The Third Crusade: An Eye-witness Account of the Campaigns of Richard Coeur de Lion in Cyprus and the Holy Land, it is the Folio Societies translation of the Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi. I do not have a copy myself but David Miller used it as the primary source for his book Richard the Lionheart, the Mighty Crusader. Miller's book contains gems like "God, taking care lest the unbelieving should surprise His own champion while asleep, inclined the mind of a certain Genoese to go forth to the neighbouring plains at dawn." and this one also,"The horses and beasts of burden, affected by the cold and rain, were unable to proceed through the mud, but fell famished and knocked up beneath their loads. The drivers, in bitterness of spirit, raised their hands in anguish to heaven, and uttered imprecations approaching even to blasphemy."

I think that anyone who has had to deal with a "stuck" knows exactly what the second quote is about and the first one is one of the most interesting ways of implying "the call of nature" that I have seen.
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Margaret Lo




Location: Princeton, NJ
Joined: 02 Dec 2005

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri 01 Sep, 2006 8:30 am    Post subject: Re: "Practical Soldiering" during Crusade times.         Reply with quote

Kyro R. Lantsberger wrote:
I have a seemingly permanant skin infection on my right forearm from insect bites, and everybody suffered some sort of malady or other going through the desert. We can only assume that these things were exponentially worse in the past.



Hi Kyro,
I had a chronic skin malady on my leg that refused to respond to antibiotics. Skin was inflamed, weepy and tests inconclusive. Dermotologist put me on useless meds.

Then my mother (pediatrician for many years but trained in times before easy dispensation of antibiotics for everything) suggested that I treat it with heat: Take boiling water, put in a sponge or other medium to absorb water, let it cool a bit, apply on area of infection. Keep heat on it as hot as you can tolerate - but don't burn yourself. Do it for 15 - 20 min a couple times a day. Basically, you're killing whatever the heck it is with heat.

Worked like a charm.

M
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Caleb Hallgren




Location: DeKalb, IL
Joined: 01 Aug 2004

Posts: 64

PostPosted: Fri 01 Sep, 2006 5:53 pm    Post subject: Re: "Practical Soldiering" during Crusade times.         Reply with quote

Margaret Lo wrote:
Hi Kyro,
I had a chronic skin malady on my leg that refused to respond to antibiotics. Skin was inflamed, weepy and tests inconclusive. Dermotologist put me on useless meds.

Then my mother (pediatrician for many years but trained in times before easy dispensation of antibiotics for everything) suggested that I treat it with heat: Take boiling water, put in a sponge or other medium to absorb water, let it cool a bit, apply on area of infection. Keep heat on it as hot as you can tolerate - but don't burn yourself. Do it for 15 - 20 min a couple times a day. Basically, you're killing whatever the heck it is with heat.

Worked like a charm.

M


Hey that's actually a pretty neat idea. I'll keep it in my bag of tricks for when I commission.
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Phill Lappin




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 11 Apr 2005

Posts: 44

PostPosted: Wed 06 Sep, 2006 10:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

More people died on crusade from illness, starvation and thirst than in battle. I don't have documenation for it now, but I think that's fairly accepted for most campaigning armies during the period, especially in foreign lands.
IN NOMINE DOMINE
IN NOMINE CONVIVOR
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Greyson Brown




Location: Windsor, Colorado
Joined: 22 Nov 2004
Reading list: 15 books

Posts: 790

PostPosted: Thu 07 Sep, 2006 6:40 am    Post subject: Re: "Practical Soldiering" during Crusade times.         Reply with quote

Margaret Lo wrote:
I had a chronic skin malady on my leg that refused to respond to antibiotics. Skin was inflamed, weepy and tests inconclusive. Dermotologist put me on useless meds.

Then my mother (pediatrician for many years but trained in times before easy dispensation of antibiotics for everything) suggested that I treat it with heat: Take boiling water, put in a sponge or other medium to absorb water, let it cool a bit, apply on area of infection. Keep heat on it as hot as you can tolerate - but don't burn yourself. Do it for 15 - 20 min a couple times a day. Basically, you're killing whatever the heck it is with heat.

Worked like a charm.

M


It's interesting to consider that hot water is one of the things they would have had. I'm sure water was in short supply most of the time, but I know, in Iraq at least, it isn't very hard to find a hot object during the middle of the day. I'm sure similar results could be achieved with a hot rock or a handful of hot sand.

-Grey

"So long as I can keep the path of honor I am well content."
-Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The White Company
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