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Jan Bouckż




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 4:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[

Now for cavalry, the crossbow seems to have been used in a similar method to javelins. Loose a few, then sometimes charge home.[/quote]

No, that is wrong assumption....as far as i know in the Central Europe cavalry crossbowmen were used often - and in fact were light horse - of course some of them were relatively well armoured.

They were used for recon duties, surprise attacks on enemy convoys and fight with forward enemy units. In battles they supported heavies from the wings. A big difference amongst them and their foot colleagues also was that they actively used swords and other weapons like a branch of cavalry, for foot crossbowman was sword predominantly back-up weapon and they were armoured for the reason that they were standing in the front ranks, i.e. faced danger of enemy fire.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
No, that is wrong assumption....as far as i know in the Central Europe cavalry crossbowmen were used often - and in fact were light horse - of course some of them were relatively well armoured.


Javelin armed cavalry generally also functioned in a light horse role.

Quote:
They were used for recon duties, surprise attacks on enemy convoys and fight with forward enemy units. In battles they supported heavies from the wings.


The same duties that javelin armed light horse had.

The European Jinetes and Stradiots included crossbowmen as time went on and the goat's foot became an option to allow mounted corssbowmen a decent strength bow that could be drawn while mounted.

You do not see the crossbow being used among the standard light horse archer - they continued to use the composite.

These are generalities, although there may be a specific incident that bucks the system.
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Jan Bouckż




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
Quote:
No, that is wrong assumption....as far as i know in the Central Europe cavalry crossbowmen were used often - and in fact were light horse - of course some of them were relatively well armoured.


Javelin armed cavalry generally also functioned in a light horse role.

Quote:
They were used for recon duties, surprise attacks on enemy convoys and fight with forward enemy units. In battles they supported heavies from the wings.


The same duties that javelin armed light horse had.

The European Jinetes and Stradiots included crossbowmen as time went on and the goat's foot became an option to allow mounted corssbowmen a decent strength bow that could be drawn while mounted.

You do not see the crossbow being used among the standard light horse archer - they continued to use the composite.

These are generalities, although there may be a specific incident that bucks the system.


These cavalry crossbowmen in fact were also used like a horse archers and after expansion of Ottomans on the Balkan they were especially useful in the figting of bow-armed horse archers. Two kinds of troops you mentioned are from Meditarrenium area ....you cannot forget that from 1200 the use of bows in continental Europe was very limited so there was nearly no chance to see horse archer in HRE...and throwing of javelins from horse back was not very popular way of fighting well armoured Westeners.......
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 11:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
These cavalry crossbowmen in fact were also used like a horse archers and after expansion of Ottomans on the Balkan they were especially useful in the figting of bow-armed horse archers. Two kinds of troops you mentioned are from Meditarrenium area ....you cannot forget that from 1200 the use of bows in continental Europe was very limited so there was nearly no chance to see horse archer in HRE...and throwing of javelins from horse back was not very popular way of fighting well armoured Westeners.......


I'd think true bow armed cavalry were the best means to combat them, or of course infantry archers.

We have the Crusades, where the Crusaders were using the crossbow as the missile of choice among footmen. They also had Turcopoles to combat enemy horse archers, and these Trucopoles where not crossbow armed. I'd say it was because of cultural bias if indeed Turcopoles were turkish - however, there is a muster list from this period, and Turcopoles as often as not had Christian names. It seems Turcopole was no longer an ethnic group, but a troop classification. So we have europeans armed with compsote bows on horse when the european foot predominantly used crossbows.

I guess what I am saying is that crossbow armed cavalry was not a evolutionary model for horse archers - horse archers continued to be armed primarily with the composite bow. However they indeed did show up in the ranks of cavalry traditionally armed with javelins.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 27 Jul, 2012 1:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
Let's get a few things straight:

A crossbow has one long loading string that enables to fix the shorter shooting string(s - you have more than one of these). As long as it's possible to span a crossbow, you can switch strings. Crossbow strings were highly lubricated because they were thick bundles of moved fibres that would wear out rapidly due to friction. Lubrication was often with wax and other hydrophob materials. There's of course a problem if you are shooting in the rain - same with longbows - or if you have to keep your crossbow ready in the rain because of an imperfect information situation - scouting & command failure.

There's a constant urge to compare long self-bows and crossbows because of a few encounters in reported battles during the 100 Years War. The crossbow of the Genoese was a different concept. It's technically speaking no problem to create crossbows with much longer draw length and much less power required per draw length in order to achieve a shooting frequency like the bow. Looking at ancient China, you'll find no differentiation between prod and bow because the stock of the crossbow was rather an instrument to simplify using the same bow, but with a very steep learning curve - allows for rapid mobilization of large combat forces. In Europe that's absolutely not the case.
The often repeated story that crossbow use could be taught within a short timeframe was not what paymasters considered when they made crossbowmen in Europe highly paid professionals that were sought after mercenaries (The English longbow archers did make a reputation in English service due to enemy blunders, they did not earn the same praise as mercenaries of various rulers). Why? Well, I mentioned that earlier in the forum, the crossbow was a complicated machine that required maintenance and adjustment and someone capable of doing that with the right tools. This made the crossbow a craftsman's weapon and learning a craft put you on a know-how advantage in comparison to the usual peasant population, plus you did have the option to earn your money in a free town. In order to entice such people to serve as mercenaries you needed some motivation - good pay.
Conceptual the crossbow in Europe developed towards increasingly heavy draw weight with a short draw length. The requisite bolt for optimized energy transfer is quite heavy, but has much reduced friction loss during time of flight due to being short and heavy. A heavy projectile weapon - the javelin - had so far been typical of Western European and Maghreb warfare in stark contrast to Eastern Europe and the Mashriq who traditionally relied more on sophisticated bows.
Verbruggen (The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages) even mentions groupings of crossbowmen an javelineers in French service. If you compare crossbow and javelin it turns out both have similar rate of shot in combat operation, but the munition spent with a crossbow is cheaper and lighter, allowing for a more continuous rate of shot. The big bonus is that the crossbow allows for much more precise shooting and exploitation of situations in combined arms combat and it has much less qualms with space and footing - try hurling a javelin from constricted slippery ground.

In regions like Scandinavia, that had been heavily into the longbow, the crossbow became the universal weapon and was replaced as such only by the reforms in order to create the military to fight Gustav Adolph's conquests in the 30 Years War (with prior limited success against Poland-Lithunia). In Scandinavia you find just the same tactical ideas the English had with their longbows enacted with massed crossbows. Unfortunately I know no study that directly compares both approaches.

The reports from the 100 Years War serve agendas you must find out in order to understand a text. Wars are fought within a political framework that regulates the blame game. It may be true that the Genoese crossbowmen considered their current situation against the English not as a sound tactical situation to press on. They opted for retreat because they wanted to make a better approach with the protection of paveses still in the bagage train. The English archers had no such option. The mass of the French knights never understood that there was a man other than a noble capable of thinking and making a decision and led their disastrous charge. This might have been fueled by the usual rivalry between different military approaches. If you go to the Wars of the Roses you'll discover that the English had the ability of mutual destruction with missile warfare, but pressed for close combat in order to live through the decision. The Genoese had also the close combat option - against English men-at-arms and archers, but for them the pavese option was the best choice to fight well and enjoy their payment afterwards. From an egoistic perspective it's usually pretty annoying to be a dead mercenary.


This is a very good post, I agree 100%. The thing is, there were different types of crossbows, the highly paid crossbow mercenaries used the more powerful ones, generally, and / or were trained to use crossbows from horseback. I would also add that the French didn't require the Genoese to lose a battle in spectacular fashion, in spite (perhaps to some extent because of) their prowess as cavalry - look at Hattin or Nikopolis. This was more a reflection of the poor qualities of Feudal military leadership. On the other hand, a self disciplined Feudal king could deploy a combined arms force and make good use of both heavy cavalry and crossbowmen - look at Richard Lionheart vs. Saladin. Generally speaking though, it was the professional armies which fared better, and made better use of the crossbow, which was as Kurt points out, by far the most popular missile weapon in Europe until it was gradually superseded by firearms in the 15th and 16th Century.

J

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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 5:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jan Bouckż wrote:
Quote:


Now for cavalry, the crossbow seems to have been used in a similar method to javelins. Loose a few, then sometimes charge home.


No, that is wrong assumption....as far as i know in the Central Europe cavalry crossbowmen were used often - and in fact were light horse - of course some of them were relatively well armoured.

They were used for recon duties, surprise attacks on enemy convoys and fight with forward enemy units. In battles they supported heavies from the wings. A big difference amongst them and their foot colleagues also was that they actively used swords and other weapons like a branch of cavalry, for foot crossbowman was sword predominantly back-up weapon and they were armoured for the reason that they were standing in the front ranks, i.e. faced danger of enemy fire.


The Thalhofer depictions of armed crossbowmen make it appear that the threat of their loaded weapon making a precise hit was their most potent tool. In concept this appears to me more like a ranged weapon that works as the longest lance and is a precursor to mounted pistoleers. Compareable mounted javelineer would require few very heavy javelins. A different concept would be a light and quick crossbow for making multiple shots in quick succession. That's a weapon if reduced utility in an increasingly well-armoured and shielded environment. Corssbowmen did certainly reload mounted, but seeing them as a system in comparison to the horse archer might be wrong, seeing them as a different approach to the European idea of lance armed cavalry is closer to what scarce sources we have. This lance armed cavalry did in the beginning have the option to throw this lance. Throwing it out of the window with heavy couched lances creates a tactical weakness against evasive opponents. You need something ranged and the best weapon to hit on the right spot was the crossbow - mounted crossbowmen are an idea of maintaining the old tactical option of thrown lances with different equipment and precision induced increased lethality per shot.


Last edited by Kurt Scholz on Sun 29 Jul, 2012 4:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sat 28 Jul, 2012 9:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You can see an example of mixed lancers and mounted crossbowmen in a small deploying army here in the Schloss Wolfegg hausbuch from 1490

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hausbu...eerzug.jpg

(click on image for detail)

You can see the crossbowmen on the van (on the left) and in the rear (on the far right). They look a lot like the ones in Talhoffer, except they are wearing helmets and cuirass. Note one guy has the crossbow prod and string covered against moisture. You often see this. Also the wooden, fur-lined quiver which I never understood the reason for. Anyone know?

Polish /German records from Krakow in the early 15th Century indicate it cost 11 grivna (a sliver bar very roughly equivalent in value to a mark) to equip two mounted crossbowmen and 20 grivna to equip one 'lancer'. This includes the horse(s).

We have records indicating that Jan Ziska took captured horses from defeated Crusaders in the 1420's and gave them to crossbow marksmen from among the Czech peasants and burghers who were trained as scouts for the Hussite army.

By the time of the 13 Years War (1450's-1460's) In Central Europe, or in the Baltic at any rate, a 'lance', the tactical unit of a heavy cavalryman (roughly an average of 5 men), often included 1 or 2 crossbowmen as well as a demi-lancer or two and a "valet" (valetti), in addition to the main cavalryman on the armored horse. This individual also sometimes carried a crossbow on his saddle exactly in the fashion of a pistol.

They were also used a great deal with tabors or war-wagons. Not just in static, defensive mode either but in moving columns. The wagons provided overhead cover against area-shot arrows, the primary tactic of the Tartars and Turks, and these 'tabors' were used with great success against the Central Asian horse archers on several well documented occasions, initially by Hussite mercenaries in the armies of powerful warlords like John Hunyandi and Jan Jiskra (not to be confused with Ziska) and later by the Cossacks, the Russians (Muscovites), and even the Turks themselves.

I agree with Kurt the battlefield niche of the crossbow seems to be precision and hard-hitting, I suspect especially against horses, since they seemed to be able to maim and kill horses quickly. But they do also seem to have been used surprisngly often for indirect shots, with those 'bremsen' whistling bolts (which I'd love to hear an example of in use). Jan Dlugosz also mentions horses were afraid of the sound of the heaviest crossbows. They apparently got quite good effective range out of these. But the decisive battlefield effects seem to be at close range, much in the manner Kurt describes (from horseback, like a thrown lance), and also in defending wagons and wagon-forts, which decided the course of several battles in the 15th Century that I know of (heavy cavalry breaking on these wagons). The guns didn't seem to have the same accuracy for individual targets.

There is also an area of confusion on my part. A lot of the discussion about crossbows seems to imply that the really large winch ones were the 'heavy' military category, whereas the smaller cranequin type were for hunting. But in all the artwork I've seen from German, Polish and Czech sources it's actually the cranequin type which seem to be used by the armies and militias and this does also show up in the records (the cranequins themselves were expensive). They called the windlass type the 'English winder' and it only seems to have been used for sieges. The cranequin was called the 'german winder'. I'm wondering if this is because so many of the hunting types survived since they were still being used in the 18th Century or am I missing something?

J

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Jan Bouckż




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 2:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[ A lot of the discussion about crossbows seems to imply that the really large winch ones were the 'heavy' military category, whereas the smaller cranequin type were for hunting. But in all the artwork I've seen from German, Polish and Czech sources it's actually the cranequin type which seem to be used by the armies and militias and this does also show up in the records (the cranequins themselves were expensive). They called the windlass type the 'English winder' and it only seems to have been used for sieges. The cranequin was called the 'german winder'. I'm wondering if this is because so many of the hunting types survived since they were still being used in the 18th Century or am I missing something?

J[/quote]

I fully agree with Jean regarding "heavy millitary category" of crossbows, because from archeological excavations of besieged castles in the Czech Republic is clear that maximum battle range of crossbows used by the defenders is something about 170 metres, in fact from cca 1400 defenders regurarly used heavy gun powder handweapons and light guns with range cca 300 metres........so it was not necessary to use heavy crossbow... Happy
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 11:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course there is a difference between 'range' and 'effective range'.

But the Czechs seem to have been pioneers of the effective use of handguns and field-guns, not just in sieges but in tabors or war-wagons.

How late do you think they were still using crossbows in significant numbers in Bohemia?

J

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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dunno if it helps, but Wiki cites Zdzisław Spieralski i inni, Zarys dziejów wojskowości that while in the middle of 15th century crossbowmen formed up to 80% of infantry, in 1497 Szolc's party had 98 shooters, of which only 3 had crossbows.

That was in Lwów whereabouts, so close enough, I guess. Big Grin
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jul, 2012 12:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Similarly, I know that in Krakow they still had almost no guns as late as 1427, and after an encounter with some Hussites on a 'beautiful ride' the guilds decided to buy some, as well as some of the Czech style flails.

A town document from 1427 stated that the town council did a survey and only had 2 'hand boschen' in the town armoury, and none of the flails, so they allocated money to buy 87 new 'hand boschen' and 147 flails to add to the various tower arsenals.

This is from Urbrojenie w Polsce sredniowiecznej 1350-1450, Armaments in Medieval Poland 1350-140" Andrzej Nadolski, Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Historii Kultury Materialnej, (1990), pages 470 and 472 (in an English language commentary at the end of the book). Unfortunately it didn't say how many crossbows they had.

J

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 2:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have no issues with the view that mounted crossbowmen were a more aggressive, close-combat-oriented "light heavy cavalry" type as opposed to a Western equivalent of Eastern horse archers. We have no end of evidence that mounted crossbowmen tended to be brigaded with heavier rather than lighter cavalry. An illustration in Benedict Tschachtlan's chronicle is perhaps the most explicit depiction of this, with a mixed force of mounted crossbowmen and light lancers deployed in loose array on the flank of a more closely-ordered formation of lance-armed men-at-arms.

The problem appears when we try to generalise this just a little bit too far and assume that foot crossbowmen must have been as "forward" and aggressive as their mounted cousins. Granted, if I was a medieval commander then I would have wanted to make sure that my infantry crossbowmen had at least some rudimentary training in the use of their backup hand-to-hand weapon (not just swords, since sometimes we see axes being carried in this role instead), and in minor skirmishes in confined spaces (woods, villages, city streets and houses) I would have liked them to be able to give a good account of themselves if they had to engage in hand-to-hand combat during brief surprise encounters. However, I wouldn't see the hand-to-hand weapon as part of their primary weapon package--not the way that the gladius and pila had equal primacy in the armament of the Roman legionary--and I would have wanted to keep my infantry crossbowmen as far away from hand-to-hand fighting in larger-scale encounters.
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Jan Bouckż




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 6:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Similarly, I know that in Krakow they still had almost no guns as late as 1427, and after an encounter with some Hussites on a 'beautiful ride' the guilds decided to buy some, as well as some of the Czech style flails.

A town document from 1427 stated that the town council did a survey and only had 2 'hand boschen' in the town armoury, and none of the flails, so they allocated money to buy 87 new 'hand boschen' and 147 flails to add to the various tower arsenals.

This is from Urbrojenie w Polsce sredniowiecznej 1350-1450, Armaments in Medieval Poland 1350-140" Andrzej Nadolski, Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Historii Kultury Materialnej, (1990), pages 470 and 472 (in an English language commentary at the end of the book). Unfortunately it didn't say how many crossbows they had.

J
It is really very surprising, because first document about gun producers in Prague is from 1373 and in 1380-1400 gun powder weapons became widespread - Hussits of course started to use weapons from city armouries...perhaps Krakow burgers were very carefull with money..... Big Grin
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jan Bouckż wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Similarly, I know that in Krakow they still had almost no guns as late as 1427, and after an encounter with some Hussites on a 'beautiful ride' the guilds decided to buy some, as well as some of the Czech style flails.

A town document from 1427 stated that the town council did a survey and only had 2 'hand boschen' in the town armoury, and none of the flails, so they allocated money to buy 87 new 'hand boschen' and 147 flails to add to the various tower arsenals.

This is from Urbrojenie w Polsce sredniowiecznej 1350-1450, Armaments in Medieval Poland 1350-140" Andrzej Nadolski, Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Historii Kultury Materialnej, (1990), pages 470 and 472 (in an English language commentary at the end of the book). Unfortunately it didn't say how many crossbows they had.

J
It is really very surprising, because first document about gun producers in Prague is from 1373 and in 1380-1400 gun powder weapons became widespread - Hussits of course started to use weapons from city armouries...perhaps Krakow burgers were very carefull with money..... Big Grin


Well, of course there were two factors here worth considering, 1) these are for the public armouries, which were to equip those residents (as opposed to citizens) who didn't have their own gear, apprentices and poor shopkeepers and servants and so on. Even journeymen were required to have some kind of arms and armor of their own, full guild members (masters) had a lot of gear. So they may very well have had some of their own guns already. Jan Dlugosz describes a fire in Krakow in 1451 in which he mentions that the fire was worse because so many people had gunpowder stored in their houses.

2) The Czechs were without a doubt the world leader in firearms in the late 14th and early 15th Century, and had a lot more of them and better ones than anyone else, at least as far as I've been able to determine, so it's not at all surprising to me that they would be ahead of the Poles / Germans of Krakow and that the Krakow burghers would upgrade their arsenal as a result of an encounter with the Czechs. Up to that point their main threat would be local Polish knights and Tartar raiding parties, neither of which had a lot of firearms by that point.

Plus, yes they probably were pretty stingy with their money... Wink

G

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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 10:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
I have no issues with the view that mounted crossbowmen were a more aggressive, close-combat-oriented "light heavy cavalry" type as opposed to a Western equivalent of Eastern horse archers. We have no end of evidence that mounted crossbowmen tended to be brigaded with heavier rather than lighter cavalry. An illustration in Benedict Tschachtlan's chronicle is perhaps the most explicit depiction of this, with a mixed force of mounted crossbowmen and light lancers deployed in loose array on the flank of a more closely-ordered formation of lance-armed men-at-arms.

The problem appears when we try to generalise this just a little bit too far and assume that foot crossbowmen must have been as "forward" and aggressive as their mounted cousins. Granted, if I was a medieval commander then I would have wanted to make sure that my infantry crossbowmen had at least some rudimentary training in the use of their backup hand-to-hand weapon (not just swords, since sometimes we see axes being carried in this role instead), and in minor skirmishes in confined spaces (woods, villages, city streets and houses) I would have liked them to be able to give a good account of themselves if they had to engage in hand-to-hand combat during brief surprise encounters. However, I wouldn't see the hand-to-hand weapon as part of their primary weapon package--not the way that the gladius and pila had equal primacy in the armament of the Roman legionary--and I would have wanted to keep my infantry crossbowmen as far away from hand-to-hand fighting in larger-scale encounters.


I concur, mounted crossbowmen were a concept different from foot crossbowmen. In both cases the crossbow mostly replaced javelin use. For mounted troops heavy thrown javelins that also worked as lances were replaced, while on foot it was rather a replacement of light javelins to darts, not something as heavy as the "archetypal" pilum.
myArmoury has a showcase sections on Scandinavian warfare, including crossbowmen with bardiches or spears. It's not that different from bills and bows, especially if you consider that the swordstaff was an evolution from the spear in Scandinavia.
A crossbowman can shoot lots of cheap and deadly ammunition. If he has a large enough shield, he is protected while doing this. Please note, this shield is not necessarily a very heavy pavese with use only for frontline troops, but more of a multi-purpose tool. The crossbowmen did consider it possible to be drawn into close combat and were correspondingly armed. Large shields offered the option to approach any infantry under good protection, there was no way to have a pure crossbowmen force without dedicated and not just emergency close combat troops. In this aspect, Scandinavia and the British Islands are similar, they merged missile and close combat troops. In Scandinavia, it were crossbows and axes/hewing spears and on the Islands it were longbows and bills/axes.
The Genoese crossbowmen are compareable to one of the universal soldier ideas with javelins, a large shield and a short sword, sometimes with a spear (the other one has a bow, a shield, a spear and a sidearm or is just the close combat fighter without ranged weapons), but replaced the javelin part and omitted the spear, like many others before them.
The Roman legionaries, the tureophoroi and the Almogavars all originated from this concept, with the crossbow replacing the javelin (with pros and contras) and forcing some changes, especially dropping the infantry shock charge (not for cavalry with crossbows), but enhancing missile deadliness. The shock had already become more of an issue of mounted troops, such as the men-at-arms, or on foot, the longspear blocks. In a close combat situation, these crossbowmen would, similar to a Roman legionary, stab around a large solid shield into the enemy - very energy efficient, but this would likely be not their primary task, because they could keep deadly efficient missile shots in ranged and in close combat, making them a much more deadly force (see Lanchester's laws above).
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Jan Bouckż




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Jan Bouckż wrote:
Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Similarly, I know that in Krakow they still had almost no guns as late as 1427, and after an encounter with some Hussites on a 'beautiful ride' the guilds decided to buy some, as well as some of the Czech style flails.

A town document from 1427 stated that the town council did a survey and only had 2 'hand boschen' in the town armoury, and none of the flails, so they allocated money to buy 87 new 'hand boschen' and 147 flails to add to the various tower arsenals.

This is from Urbrojenie w Polsce sredniowiecznej 1350-1450, Armaments in Medieval Poland 1350-140" Andrzej Nadolski, Polska Akademia Nauk, Instytut Historii Kultury Materialnej, (1990), pages 470 and 472 (in an English language commentary at the end of the book). Unfortunately it didn't say how many crossbows they had.

J
It is really very surprising, because first document about gun producers in Prague is from 1373 and in 1380-1400 gun powder weapons became widespread - Hussits of course started to use weapons from city armouries...perhaps Krakow burgers were very carefull with money..... Big Grin


Well, of course there were two factors here worth considering, 1) these are for the public armouries, which were to equip those residents (as opposed to citizens) who didn't have their own gear, apprentices and poor shopkeepers and servants and so on. Even journeymen were required to have some kind of arms and armor of their own, full guild members (masters) had a lot of gear. So they may very well have had some of their own guns already. Jan Dlugosz describes a fire in Krakow in 1451 in which he mentions that the fire was worse because so many people had gunpowder stored in their houses.

2) The Czechs were without a doubt the world leader in firearms in the late 14th and early 15th Century, and had a lot more of them and better ones than anyone else, at least as far as I've been able to determine, so it's not at all surprising to me that they would be ahead of the Poles / Germans of Krakow and that the Krakow burghers would upgrade their arsenal as a result of an encounter with the Czechs. Up to that point their main threat would be local Polish knights and Tartar raiding parties, neither of which had a lot of firearms by that point.

Plus, yes they probably were pretty stingy with their money... Wink

G
Sorry Jean, but I cannot agree with you: a) guns typically were part o city armouries, because nobody wanted such dangerous weapons + crossbows and pole weapons to be distributed through the city ( Wink especially mayor and counsellors). On the other hand is true that majority of locals owned some side weapons like swords, dussacks, daggers and sabers, its clear from heritages lists and rich burgers owned also some armour and helmets. Such gun powder weapons perhaps were stored in the towers of city walls - I visited Krakow twice and as I remember individual guilds were responsible for certain tower/towers of defence circuit. Storing of gun powder in the houses is under my opinion connected with trade with this material. Morover gun powder weapons (especially bombards and hevy pieces) were symbol o wealth and threat to castles....!

b) I think that rich German centers of weapon production and trade like Passau, Nurnberg and etc. had in their arsennals a lot of such weapons, but it is a fact that Czechs were the first to use them in number in the field. That was a very important factor in the Hussit wars. International trade was in these time already well established...... Wink ....
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 12:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not believe crossbowmen would be overly effective in a melee.

Correct me if I am wrong, but did not crossbowmen carry sidearms as opposed to main weapons?

The pavise would seem cumbersome in hand to hand, and I also think their formation would be less dense than heavy infantry. The fact they seem to be armoured would help a bit, but I would think crossbowmen would fight on the defensive, their pavises forming not a barrier but at least breaking up the enemy a bit, but also preventing the crossbowmen from functioning in a tight formation.

Not that they could not occasionally be effective, such as English archers going HTH with disorganized and fatigued french men at arms like at Agincourt, and they could fight as well in hand to hand as any other infantry desigend more for missile fire, but that would certainly not be their strength I would not think.
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Jan Bouckż




Location: Czech Republic
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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
I do not believe crossbowmen would be overly effective in a melee.

Correct me if I am wrong, but did not crossbowmen carry sidearms as opposed to main weapons?

The pavise would seem cumbersome in hand to hand, and I also think their formation would be less dense than heavy infantry. The fact they seem to be armoured would help a bit, but I would think crossbowmen would fight on the defensive, their pavises forming not a barrier but at least breaking up the enemy a bit, but also preventing the crossbowmen from functioning in a tight formation.

Not that they could not occasionally be effective, such as English archers going HTH with disorganized and fatigued french men at arms like at Agincourt, and they could fight as well in hand to hand as any other infantry desigend more for missile fire, but that would certainly not be their strength I would not think.


Garry, these guys were not expected to excell in HTH, but they were usually standing in the Central Europe from 1400--1550 in formation as follows:
- first line pavissmen in armour;
- second line mixture of heavy infantry (armoured) with war hammers, halberds and pikes;
- crosbowmen + shots;
- light infantry - pole weapons + axes and etc.


They were not expected to participate in melee...crossbows were expensive.... Confused Wink
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Mikael Ranelius




Location: Sweden
Joined: 06 Mar 2007

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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
I do not believe crossbowmen would be overly effective in a melee.

Correct me if I am wrong, but did not crossbowmen carry sidearms as opposed to main weapons?

The pavise would seem cumbersome in hand to hand, and I also think their formation would be less dense than heavy infantry. The fact they seem to be armoured would help a bit, but I would think crossbowmen would fight on the defensive, their pavises forming not a barrier but at least breaking up the enemy a bit, but also preventing the crossbowmen from functioning in a tight formation.

Not that they could not occasionally be effective, such as English archers going HTH with disorganized and fatigued french men at arms like at Agincourt, and they could fight as well in hand to hand as any other infantry desigend more for missile fire, but that would certainly not be their strength I would not think.


Crossbowmen and other missile troops hardly engaged in melee on their own, but acted together with heavy infantry like dismounted men at arms (as in the case of Agincourt) or spearmen.

Then of course there are examples of troops acting like heavy infantry but who carried crossbows as a secondary weapon. In late 15th /early 16th century Stockholm, each city guardsman was supposed to be armed with a pollaxe, a messer and a crossbow.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jul, 2012 3:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jan Bouckż wrote:
Sorry Jean, but I cannot agree with you: a) guns typically were part o city armouries, because nobody wanted such dangerous weapons + crossbows and pole weapons to be distributed through the city ( Wink especially mayor and counsellors). On the other hand is true that majority of locals owned some side weapons like swords, dussacks, daggers and sabers, its clear from heritages lists and rich burgers owned also some armour and helmets. Such gun powder weapons perhaps were stored in the towers of city walls - I visited Krakow twice and as I remember individual guilds were responsible for certain tower/towers of defence circuit. Storing of gun powder in the houses is under my opinion connected with trade with this material. Morover gun powder weapons (especially bombards and hevy pieces) were symbol o wealth and threat to castles....!



I think that depends enormously on the political organization of the towns. Krakow was a guild town and as you noted the individual guilds, furriers, butchers and so on, actually controlled each of the principle town gates. The guild members themselves were obligated to keep arms and armor. I can cite regulations on that, I have some from Flanders. See also:

“…not only every noble, but even every burgher in the Guilds has
an armoury in his house so as to appear equipped at every alarm.
The skill of the citizens in the use of weapons is extraordinary.”
-Enea Silvio Piccolomini, before he became Pope Pious II, mid 15th C

Other 'Patrician' towns like Nurnberg which you mention below, were much more centralized in their authority and would be more careful about arming the common folk. I do also know that gun-related regulations in Bohemia were pretty strict in the 16th Century.

Now what specifically the regulations on firearms specifically were, i.e. if they were different than regulations on other weapons like I can't be sure. Based on the fire Dlugosz described I'm not sure i agree with your premise, it is one interpretation, but I would necessarily assume that.

Quote:
b) I think that rich German centers of weapon production and trade like Passau, Nurnberg and etc. had in their arsennals a lot of such weapons, but it is a fact that Czechs were the first to use them in number in the field. That was a very important factor in the Hussit wars. International trade was in these time already well established...... Wink ....


The Czechs made several innovations in gun warfare in the 1420's-1440's, where they were clearly ahead of the rest of Europe, including in the use of the individual handgun (the pistala and more advanced primitive harquebus) the houfnice, and the gun-wagon concept. The German towns imitated the Czech style gun wagons in the war but were not able to use them effectively.

Some of this may have had to do with the dissemination of 'gunpowder culture' among militias and so on, because up to around 1450 they were not using corned powder, meaning it had to be mixed in the field, quite a hassle and potential for mistakes. Even with the corned powder, there are of course all kinds of dangers inherent to handling gunpowder.

As for bombards and so on, that is well beyond the realm of individual hand-guns which I believe the Krakow regulations were referring to, though again, it is hard to be sure. They could be referring to hook-guns or trestle guns or houfnice as well. Based on the price they paid I doubt it was anything bigger than that.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic


Last edited by Jean Henri Chandler on Mon 30 Jul, 2012 3:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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