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Justin Pasternak




Location: West Springfield, Massachusetts
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 10:26 am    Post subject: Knights throwing their maces, axes, etc during a battle         Reply with quote

Does anyone have any evidence of knights throwing either their war-hammer, mace or axe at an opponent during a skirmish or battle?

I'm positive that their was a description from one of Ewart Oakeshott's books on a knight and his etc.
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Malcolm A




Location: Scotland, UK
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 11:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi there.
I read somewhere that at the Battle of Bannockburn the knights on the English side, being unable to break through the Scottish schiltrons, throw their axes / maces from close range in an attempt to create a break in the Scottish formation.
I don't have any official sources to cite at present but it is something for you to follow up.
If I find anything that authenticates the above I'll post it here.
Cheers

Edit; One reference to follow up on is the Scalacronica, written by the son of Sir Thomas Gray [also called Thomas]. This it seems was a recollection of his father's experiences including his part at the Battle of Bannockburn.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure about medieval examples, but in the Renaissance there was a lot of pistol-throwing by people desperate to get a second "shot" out of the poor weapon. It's abuse, I know. But it happened.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
I'm not sure about medieval examples, but in the Renaissance there was a lot of pistol-throwing by people desperate to get a second "shot" out of the poor weapon. It's abuse, I know. But it happened.


I humbly request another topic on the subject of thrown firearms be started with sources cited. I'd be particularly interested in primary sources on the matter. I've heard this info passed around quite a bit but have not yet found a primary source describing it. Somebody fill in the blanks for me.
Cheers.

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J. Bedell




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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 1:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a weapon that I believe was used during the renaissance called a "hurlbat". It is a short axe made of a solid piece of steel, made exclusivley for throwing.

-James

Edit: I don't know if you can tell from the picture but aside from the edge, every protrusion is sharpened so that no matter how it hits it will do damage.



 Attachment: 20.77 KB
hurlbat.jpg


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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Thu 08 Feb, 2007 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Please see This topic for more information on "Throwing hammers and other missile weapons".

Thank you.

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 3:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
I'm not sure about medieval examples, but in the Renaissance there was a lot of pistol-throwing by people desperate to get a second "shot" out of the poor weapon. It's abuse, I know. But it happened.


I humbly request another topic on the subject of thrown firearms be started with sources cited. I'd be particularly interested in primary sources on the matter. I've heard this info passed around quite a bit but have not yet found a primary source describing it. Somebody fill in the blanks for me.
Cheers.


That would be interesting. However, I doubt there is enough primary source material available to even allow us to make a stab at it.

For years I heard tales that one of the elements of the Highland Charge was that the Scots halted at pistol shot distance from the enemy, fired their handguns, then hurled them at their opponents. However, in the course of researching a monograph and book on the subjects of the battle tactics of the Highland Scots and Scottish Firearms, I could not locate any contemporary accounts of that happening. While there may be something out there I have yet to locate anything that says this was done. There are, of course, modern accounts of this sort of thing but I do not know the origin of the idea.

When you think about the consequences of throwing a pistol, the logic behind doing so disappears. You lose the gun, first of all. Secondly, even if you are able to locate it in the heat of battle, chances are it has been damaged or at minimum lost its flint. Also, the idea of halting in the face of an aggressive enemy, pulling one or more pistols - meaning having to sheath broadsword and/or dirk, then trying to cock the thing(s) so you can shoot it/them - then throwing away something you could possibly use for your own defense should the charge go awry, becomes less appealing.

I believe that pistols in the 17th and 18th centuries at least, were primarily defensive weapons for the Highlander, and that throwing them, except in cases of extreme emergency, was not something one did.

Any other ideas on that?

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Feb, 2007 7:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's something I heard about in 16th-century accounts, actually. I doubt we'd find anything in the Chevalier de Bayard's memoirs, but memoirs of people starting lower down the ladder privilege--Blaise de Montluc?--might have something to say about it. I don't have either of them at hand at the moment so I can't search for quotations right away.
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Feb, 2007 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Malcolm A wrote:
Hi there.
I read somewhere that at the Battle of Bannockburn the knights on the English side, being unable to break through the Scottish schiltrons, throw their axes / maces from close range in an attempt to create a break in the Scottish formation.
I don't have any official sources to cite at present but it is something for you to follow up.
If I find anything that authenticates the above I'll post it here.
Cheers

Edit; One reference to follow up on is the Scalacronica, written by the son of Sir Thomas Gray [also called Thomas]. This it seems was a recollection of his father's experiences including his part at the Battle of Bannockburn.


A secondary source for this is Oman's Art of War in the Middle Ages vol. 2; the incident occurred the day before the main battle, as I recall. I don't think he cites the exact source, but it should be among his footnotes and bibliography.
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Feb, 2007 5:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To the best of my knowledge, throwing one's pistol into the enemy's face was reserved for desperate circumstances, and not an accepted tactic. I'm sure it was done, just like plenty of horse-killing was done when a man was in desparate straights, but it wasn't usually considered to be the proper thing to do if you were a Knight. But it certainly happened, and sometimes commanders even ordered such a thing.

I think a lot of the mythology of throwing pistols comes from the very real tactic that was practiced by sailors during the 18th and early 19th Centuries for boarding actions. Since they weren't carrying spare cartridges for them once you fired off your pistol it was pretty useless, so many ship's captains encouraged it as a practical means of distracting their enemies in the heat of battle. Ships pistols were relatively cheap and plentiful (and they do belong to someone else, after all!), and pretty much expected to be used up fairly rapidly, either by combat loss or rust. Happy But this is the only occasion that I am aware of that such a tactic was actually encouraged. With pistol-armed cavalry, you're supposed to ride to the rear and reload the thing after you've discharged it , which is made somewhat more difficult if it's laying on the ground under the hooves of several hundred horses, so I suspect that disposing of it on purpose was frowned upon by most commanders.

Per throwing much of ANYTHING in combat, again, I'm sure it was done, but generally speaking, throwing away any of your weapons in a combat situation is usually a poor idea, as you may well have good need for that thing shortly.

Cheers!

Gordon

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sun 11 Feb, 2007 5:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

As I stated in a previous thread, there is an image from the Bayeux tapestry that may show a mace being thrown at the Normans by the English. It's a hafted object with a bulbous, or perhaps even flanged, head, shown in mid-flight between the opposing sides. I suppose it can happen, with adrenaline rushing and desperation setting in.

As Nathan posted earlier, there were also weapons designed specifically for throwing, or at least with throwing as a definite option, like hurlbats and throwing hammers. The francisca of the Franks is an earlier example of such a weapon.

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Kevin Inouye




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Feb, 2007 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My personal favorite, if only for the humor and shock value, is the plate from "Gladitoria" showing two knights in full armor, and one of them has unscrewed the pommel of his sword (you can see the threads drawn in on the tang) and is throwing his pommel at his opponent. WTF?
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Feb, 2007 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hm. Funny. Pistol-throwing by cavalry? The instances of pistol-throwing that I remember happened in the context of infantry combat.

Last edited by Lafayette C Curtis on Wed 14 Feb, 2007 9:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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Carl Goff




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Feb, 2007 5:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That doesn't seem like anything but a desperation tactic unless you're packing an extra weapon or two which is designed for throwing (i.e. the Frankish francisca).

Sure, if you're desperate because your opponent's good enough to kill you anyway, you might as well take the chance, but otherwise...not likely.

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Feb, 2007 4:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
I think a lot of the mythology of throwing pistols comes from the very real tactic that was practiced by sailors during the 18th and early 19th Centuries for boarding actions. Since they weren't carrying spare cartridges for them once you fired off your pistol it was pretty useless, so many ship's captains encouraged it as a practical means of distracting their enemies in the heat of battle. Ships pistols were relatively cheap and plentiful (and they do belong to someone else, after all!), and pretty much expected to be used up fairly rapidly, either by combat loss or rust. Happy But this is the only occasion that I am aware of that such a tactic was actually encouraged. With pistol-armed cavalry, you're supposed to ride to the rear and reload the thing after you've discharged it , which is made somewhat more difficult if it's laying on the ground under the hooves of several hundred horses, so I suspect that disposing of it on purpose was frowned upon by most commanders.

Per throwing much of ANYTHING in combat, again, I'm sure it was done, but generally speaking, throwing away any of your weapons in a combat situation is usually a poor idea, as you may well have good need for that thing shortly.

Cheers!

Gordon


Gordon...

I was not aware that throwing pistols was encouraged in the naval action. The design of 18th and 19th century pisols, with most having a heavy brass cap on the handle, would seem to encourage using them as a bludgeon once the bullet was gone. Do you have some references supporting that idea?

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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