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J. Douglas




PostPosted: Fri 14 Apr, 2017 11:48 am    Post subject: Pavisers- use, equipment, and existence.         Reply with quote

So recently I was reading an online article on medieval Sheilds, armour, and weapons. It was a good article, but I can't remember much about it. :P

On the article, it mentioned "pavisers"- French spear-troops armed with pavises (all be it slightly smaller ones then crossbowmen used) and spears or other polearms. The article says this was to help block English arrow fire. (We're talking 14th and early 15th century, 100 years war here)

Since reading that, I've done a bit of research- and apart from finding that these troops were also sometimes used by hungry and Poland, everything else online has been "total war" units, or wargaming miniatures. I've come out completely blank.

So, I have a few questions regarding these "illusive" troops.

-what would their use have been on the battlefield? Defending "wall", an aggressive infantry unit, just normal infantry? it depends? (Probably the latter Big Grin )
-did they see widespread use? Were they used much at all?
-what King of equipment would they have used? Shorter spears, halberds, bills, pikes, etc, etc,?

If anyone could point me in the direction of any sources that would be great, to.

~JD (James)
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 15 Apr, 2017 5:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi James. Sorry I can't really help with this question. All I can tell you is that pavisiers were also used in Scottish armies of the mid to late 15th century. The equipment required of these troops is mentioned in the following legislation.

1456 
"each man whose goods extend to 20 merks be furnished at least with jack, with sleeves to the hand or else a pair of splints, a sellat or a pricking hat, a sword and a buckler, a bow and a sheaf, and if he can not shoot that he shall have an axe and a targe either of leather or of board with two hands on the back." 

1471 
"Also that each yeoman who cannot handle a bow should have a good axe and a targe of leather to resist the shot of England, which is of no cost but the value of a hide." 

1481 
"Item, that every axeman who has neither spear nor bow shall have a wooden or leather targe according to the fashion of the example that shall be sent to each sheriff."

Now don't be fooled by the word targe. At this point in time the word targe was a synonym for shield, and so could be used to refer to any kind of shield, including pavises.

So it seems that Scottish pavisiers of the second half of the 15th century would be armed with; jack, helmet, sword, pavise, and axe. Now this axe was probably a pollaxe. I would also love to know how these troops were used. If I was to guess I'd say that their role was probably to form a defensive wall in front of the archers.

Here is an image of a man armed with a pavise and a pollaxe. I think it's late 15th century, either Italian or Spanish.



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Iagoba Ferreira





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PostPosted: Sun 16 Apr, 2017 3:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Navarrese documents of the late XIVth century name a kind of soldier named pillart or pillard, which together with the crossbowmen, formed all the foot soldiers (sometimes an odd English longbowman is in the lists). Probably the word is also used in French documents, so it can be a start.

What is certain is that in the whole XVth century Iberia pavises in several shapes, sizes and woods were widely used. Sadly, the exact differences between them are unknown to us, but sometimes 4-5 names can be found in the same document, showing that a variety of pavises used at the same time.

In "El victorial", the tales and adventurea of Pero Niño, from the early XVth century, you can read at least an account of Castilian crossbowmen and pavisisiers fighting longbowmen in the coasts and islands of England.

And there are several images of spear and pavise armed troops.

In the "Biblia de Alba" and the knightly tale of "El caballero Zifar" both from the early- middle XVth century, are several drawings. This image is from the later.

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Guillaume Vauthier




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Apr, 2017 5:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Iagoba Ferreira wrote:
Navarrese documents of the late XIVth century name a kind of soldier named pillart or pillard, which together with the crossbowmen, formed all the foot soldiers (sometimes an odd English longbowman is in the lists). Probably the word is also used in French documents, so it can be a start.

In french, "pillard" means "looter" or "robber". I think it refers more probably to soldiers that were pillaging, and not a particular type of soldier/equipment.
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Iagoba Ferreira





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PostPosted: Sun 16 Apr, 2017 7:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Pillart" appears as a soldier category to be recruited in a Navarrese document of 1378 (and many others).
Reading the documents I cannot find descriptions about their equipment. I had read somewhere that they could be spear and shield armed infantry, but reading again the sources I'm inclined to think that perhaps they were light cavalry, and thus, with no relation to this thread...
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Apr, 2017 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
1456 
"each man whose goods extend to 20 merks be furnished at least with jack, with sleeves to the hand or else a pair of splints, a sellat or a pricking hat, a and a buckler, a bow and a sheaf, and if he can not shoot that he shall have an axe and a targe either of leather or of board with two hands on the back." 


Did scottish ordinances enforced archery over other sorts of equipment? Also, what does "a pair of splints" means? A Brigandine/Coat of Plates?
The text is referring both to one handed as to two handed axes, right? Or to pavises and smaller shields?

Guillaume Vauthier wrote:
Iagoba Ferreira wrote:
Navarrese documents of the late XIVth century name a kind of soldier named pillart or pillard, which together with the crossbowmen, formed all the foot soldiers (sometimes an odd English longbowman is in the lists). Probably the word is also used in French documents, so it can be a start.

In french, "pillard" means "looter" or "robber". I think it refers more probably to soldiers that were pillaging, and not a particular type of soldier/equipment.


I would bet that such "robbers" were actually almogavars with a french name. By 14th century the Catalan Company and the Navaresse Compagny employed many gascons, navaresse, catalans and even some frenchmen among their ranks
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T. Kew




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Apr, 2017 11:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Splints seems most likely to be an arm defense of some type, potentially what gets called jack chains or a similar form of limited plate armour. Note that it's an alternative to having sufficient sleeves on the jack.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Apr, 2017 4:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scottish Kings of the 15th century made numerous legislations requiring men to own bows and to practice archery every Sunday. However I'm not sure how effective this effort was as most Scottish infantry continued to fight as spearmen.

Splints can mean different things at different times and in different places, but given the context of late 15th Scotland, I'd agree with T. Kew. A pair of splints was probably what we would call jack-chains.

This is just my opinion, but I believe that the axe in this case was a pollaxe, and the targe was a pavise.

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Mark Lewis





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PostPosted: Tue 18 Apr, 2017 7:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The pavise originates from Italy - the name itself is a reference to the town of Pavia, though the specific association may be apocryphal. The earliest reference I have come across is a mention in Florentine regulations from around 1260 - the pavesarii are to accompany and protect archers and crossbowmen. During travel, the pavesarii are to remain near the baggage train to be able to quickly retrieve their pavises if needed for battle. This matches the well known actions of the Genoese mercenaries at Crecy in 1346 (though here the impatient French king ordered the Genoese into battle without their pavises).

Later 14th century Florentine documents indicate that pavesarii and crossbowmen were mustered in roughly equal numbers, and crossbowmen were higher paid. So it seems that at least originally the pavisier was only a low-ranking soldier, not well-armed or equiped, just a body serving to shield the more important yet vulnerable missile troops.

The first documented uses of pavises in France and England occur within a decade or two after Crecy - its possible that the battle marks their introduction into Western Europe.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Apr, 2017 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here are some more Scottish legislations worth looking at.

1430
"Item, each yeoman that is of £20 in goods shall have a good doublat of fence or a habergeon, an iron hat with a bow, sheaf, sword, buckler and knife. And all others of £10 in goods have a bow, sheaf, sword and buckler. And the yeoman that is no archer, and cannot draw a bow, shall have a good sure hat for his head and a doublat of fence with sword and buckler, and a good axe, or else a pointed staff."

1491
"each gentleman who has £10 worth of land or more is adequately furnished and armed with a basinet, sallet, metal hat, gorget or pisane, whole leg harness, sword, spear and dagger; and gentlemen who have a small amount of land or unlanded shall be armed as far as possible according to the view and discretion of the sheriffs, bailies and such persons as our sovereign lord will depute and commission for this; and honest yeomen with sufficient power who choose to be men of arms shall be sufficiently furnished according to the discretion of the said sheriffs or commissioners; and all other yeomen of the realm between sixteen and sixty shall have sufficient bows and sheaves, sword, buckler, knife, spear or good axe instead of the bow"

These two legislations state that an axeman was to be armed with axe, sword and buckler, and a knife. The only way this makes sense is if a pollaxe is what was the type of axe intended.

Altogether these legislations show us that the targe (pavise) was not a popular item, nor was it used for very long. Targes only appear in legislation between 1456 and 1481. 25 years isn't a particularly long time. I think that the Scottish experimented with the idea of pavisiers, but probably didn't find them to be very effective. Also, the fact that examples of these targes had to be sent out to every sheriff, 25 years after their introduction, tells us that they weren't particularly popular, otherwise these examples wouldn't have been necessary.

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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jun, 2017 5:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
These two legislations state that an axeman was to be armed with axe, and buckler, and a . The only way this makes sense is if a pollaxe is what was the type of axe intended.


Why it wouldn't be the iconic lochamber axe? There were already known in Middle Ages and used by infantry and dismounted men-at-arms alike (as in 1380's Battle of Outerburn). The other weapon in found in use of scottish knights at Outerburn was the pike. The image you posted showing a soldier with a pollaxe and a pavise should - in my opinion - be taken as artistic license, not as good evidence for such combination.

Scotland could be really that conservative in terms of weapons: they didn't adopted the halberd in Modern Era and suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of english billmen in Flodden (1513). And, as far as I researched, they doesn't seen to have adopted the frontier bill either, but I might be wrong on that.

Stephen Curtin wrote:
Altogether these legislations show us that the targe (pavise) was not a popular item, nor was it used for very long. Targes only appear in legislation between 1456 and 1481. 25 years isn't a particularly long time. I think that the Scottish experimented with the idea of pavisiers, but probably didn't find them to be very effective. Also, the fact that examples of these targes had to be sent out to every sheriff, 25 years after their introduction, tells us that they weren't particularly popular, otherwise these examples wouldn't have been necessary.


You should be cautious before doing such assumptions: first, you must be sure that such targes were firstly introduced by this early date (I can prove otherwise). Them, you should be sure that there were indeed "pavises" not the generall sort of "targes"; I found references for 16th century dutch rondassiers/targe draghers carrying really large shield, but not totally covering the entire body and way of what you expect of a pavise; and they HAD references for pavises there, since the spanish employed the so called "empavesados" from Gallicia in Italy and Netherlands, but that's a different subject.

In any case, I'll put what I find in Ian Heath's Armies of Feudal Europe 1066 - 1300. p. 94. Before the ordinances you posted:



I must highlight that, since 13th century, scottish pikeman already used shields, although I don't have a bloody idea how they used those when carrying pikes. Also, Heath shows that the axe was already popular - and we both know there aren't pollaxes by this time, though I don't know if they had other styles of axes by that time, besides the irish one. I don't know too if such "guisarme" was the forefather of the lochamber axe.

Another quote, this one is from Pete Armstrong's Stirling Bridge and Falkirk 1297-8:

https://brego-weard.com/lib/cam117.pdf


The author puts doubt in the use of shield while holding the pikes and didn't mention the sources Heath quotes, but shows that "schiltron" implies in use of shields. I can relate the doubt of using shield while holding pikes; not cause it was impossible - burgundian pikemen used small shields too - but because the schiltrons were recorded as being weak against longbowmen's fire - that could only be achieved via the lack of protection of the pikemen.


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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jun, 2017 6:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's possible, though not necessarily ideal, to use a smallish shield in conjunction with a pike. Various historical soldiers did this. See this thread, for example.
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Fri 09 Jun, 2017 9:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also find other references about axes and shields in scottish military of 14-15th centuries. This is from Heath's Armies of Middle Ages vol. 1. p. 103.:



The heater shield is also found in effigies of highlander chiefs and seens to have been very popular among scots. Notice that local taste for axes was already present by that time; that shouldn't be surprising: Robert de Bruce had a of fine axes and used one of them to kill a young english knight in single (at horseback). The type of axe mentioned in the manuscript:
https://scontent.fgig4-1.fna.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/18922193_1211426098968455_6755630500653154073_n.jpg?oh=30f9a136993e91d217e1b25d52976f7c&oe=59E8AC53

-----------------------------------

Iagoba Ferreira wrote:
What is certain is that in the whole XVth century Iberia pavises in several shapes, sizes and woods were widely used. Sadly, the exact differences between them are unknown to us, but sometimes 4-5 names can be found in the same document, showing that a variety of pavises used at the same time.

In "El victorial", the tales and adventurea of Pero Niño, from the early XVth century, you can read at least an account of Castilian men and pavisisiers fighting longbowmen in the coasts and islands of England.

And there are several images of spear and pavise armed troops.

In the "Biblia de Alba" and the knightly tale of "El caballero Zifar" both from the early- middle XVth century, are several drawings. This image is from the later.


Spanish pavises (or paveses) tend to be shorter and suited for skirmishing and méele , perhaps that's why the french and the dutch in 16th century called them "targes". This article says that such troops were particularly popular amoung galicians, although they could be seen in all peninsula; as Prof. Paulo Jorge Simões Agostinho states in his book, spanish kingdoms all shared the same types weapons no matter from where they came: a type of light javelin from Navarre was common in the entire peninsula, and things like that.

Article: http://ejercitodeflandes.blogspot.com.br/2013...esado.html

-------------------------

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
It's possible, though not necessarily ideal, to use a smallish shield in conjunction with a pike. Various al soldiers did this. See this thread, for example.


In the first post you mentioned that sources talk about "pavises" in scottish pikemen's equipment at Flodden. They do really talk about that type of shield or is what you assumed from its context?
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jun, 2017 2:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Why it wouldn't be the iconic lochamber axe? There were already known in Middle Ages and used by infantry and dismounted men-at-arms alike (as in 1380's Battle of Outerburn)...... The image you posted showing a soldier with a pollaxe and a pavise should - in my opinion - be taken as artistic license, not as good evidence for such combination.


Yes the "axe" mentioned in these legislations could well have been a Lochaber axe, or any other similar weapon. The point I was making was that these axes were probably two handed weapons, as evidenced by the fact that axemen also carried swords (and sometimes bucklers) as back up weapons.

I highly doubt that single handed axes and small shields were intended as a primary weapon set, as some might interpretate from these legislations. A two handed axe makes far more sense as a primary weapon IMO. Yes one of the figures on the Carlisle charter has a man armed with a single handed axe and heater style shield, but this could easily be depicting a man who has lost his primary weapon (probably a pike). The same is true when we hear of people like Robert the Bruce using small hand axes. This was a sidearm, not a primary weapon.

The image of a soldier with pavise and pollaxe might be artistic license as you say, but I'm almost certain that I've seen this combination in other images.

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Scotland could be really that conservative in terms of weapons: they didn't adopted the halberd in Modern Era and suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of english billmen in Flodden (1513). And, as far as I researched, they doesn't seen to have adopted the frontier bill either, but I might be wrong on that.


To my mind you have this backwards. The Scots employed "modern" pike tactics at Flodden, whereas the English were the conservative ones, still using longbows and billhooks.

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
You should be cautious before doing such assumptions: first, you must be sure that such targes were firstly introduced by this early date (I can prove otherwise). Them, you should be sure that there were indeed "pavises" not the generall sort of "targes"


If you can prove that the iconic Highland style targe was in use before the 16th century then I would love to see the evidence. The fact the the word targe has been used before this time is not good evidence IMO. The word targe could be used to describe shields of any size, from bucklers to pavises. The legalisations which mention targes, state that they could be made from either leather or from wood. This does not sound like later Highland targes to me.

Also their purpose seems to have been to "resist the shot" of the English. This to me suggests a relatively large shield. This is perhaps the main reason that I think that these targes were what we would call pavises.

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
I found references for 16th century dutch rondassiers/targe draghers carrying really large shield, but not totally covering the entire body and way of what you expect of a pavise; and they HAD references for pavises there, since the spanish employed the so called "empavesados" from Gallicia in Italy and Netherlands, but that's a different subject.


The fact that the Dutch used large shields referred to as targes, illustrates my point that the word targe didn't always refer to small circular shields.

I wouldn't rely too heavily on Ian Heath. He has some good information, but also some mistakes. For example the only reference I can find to targes of barkened bull's hide, comes from a poem by Sir Walter Scott. Also The Bruce's 1318 legislation doesn't specify pikes of 16 feet, in fact it makes no mention whatsoever of length.

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
I must highlight that, since 13th century, scottish pikeman already used shields, although I don't have a bloody idea how they used those when carrying pikes


Scottish pikemen have been using shields since the time of the Picts, as evidenced by the carving on the Aberlemno stones. However I don't think that this has much bearing on what shield was used by 15th axemen.



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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Sat 10 Jun, 2017 11:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Manuscript miniatures seems to have quite a few depictions of spearmen carrying large shields in the 14th-15th centuries

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4925/15120/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4925/14666/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4304/22524/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/search/?tags=%22pavise%22
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jun, 2017 7:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
Yes the "axe" mentioned in these legislations could well have been a Lochaber axe, or any other similar weapon. The point I was making was that these axes were probably two handed weapons, as evidenced by the fact that axemen also carried s (and sometimes bucklers) as back up weapons.

I highly doubt that single handed axes and small shields were intended as a primary weapon set, as some might interpretate from these legislations. A two handed axe makes far more sense as a primary weapon IMO. Yes one of the figures on the Carlisle charter has a man armed with a single handed axe and heater style shield, but this could easily be depicting a man who has lost his primary weapon (probably a pike). The same is true when we hear of people like Robert the Bruce using small hand axes. This was a sidearm, not a primary weapon.


You certainly have a point in your first paragraph, but I must say that such men were likely to be "irregular". With that, I'm saying that they didn't were actually a part of the proper equiped army: they didn't had what he could call "basic" equipment for a soldier - even in Scotland - by that time. No armour at all, nor even helmets: that's why I believe Froissart called them "ribaudaille", which means "[....] aventurier who followed the army in search of looting."
Source: http://dictionnaire.education/fr/ribaudaille

In the swiss army, they divided the soldiery in classifications: there was one, made by those who volunteered in the army but didn't had the basic equipment or the necessary discipline, who were not considered part of the "proper" army, but marched and fought together, not for payment - which they didn't have - but for the opportunity of looting. I believe that was the reason why you see such poorly armed infantry in the painting; a guy with an heavy one handed axe + shield isn't that bizzare if he is a inappropriate armed irregular, right?

Heath seens to support me:
Ian Heath wrote:
Taken from Edward II's charter to Carlisle of 1316, depicting the unsuccessful Scottish siege of that place the previous year, this figure is probably representative of those foot-soldiers of the 'commonalty' for whom Froissart reserves the term ribaudaille. His costume appears to comprise a hooded cape, possibly a poor rendition by the original artist of an early brecan plaid drawn up over the head, worn over an undershirt apparently tied between the legs, the latter garment probably being a saffron-dyed leine croich. On his feet are rawhide brogues with the hair left on; these were customarily replaced several times on campaign from the hides of the cattle that were slaughtered for food.


And yes, I'm considering what you told me about Heath, but I'm quite surprised about the pike-length you are telling, usually the error I find in his work are generally stuff I do deep research (e.g.: evidences for 13th CoPs and early developments in 13th century spanish effigies)
-------------

Stephen Curtin wrote:
The image of a soldier with pavise and pollaxe might be artistic license as you say, but I'm almost certain that I've seen this combination in other images.[


Henry O. wrote:
Manuscript miniatures seems to have quite a few depictions of spearmen carrying large shields in the 14th-15th centuries


Henry, the miniatures you posted (of which Heath covers them, specially those from Paris' milita) are showing pavisiers with what I would call "average" or "normal" spear-length, scots actually carried pike-length "spears". This actually change things a lot: you need both hands to manœuvre a pike, but you easily have a shorter spear with a large shield in the other hand. Spaniards did that in 15th century, for example. Shields COULD be used with pikes, but they must be small and pratical enough to not be attached to the arm, in the manner the burgundian pikemen - and probably the flemmings - used. You find many evidence for the shape and size of burgundian shields, so I will not talk much about that.

I don't think using a pavise and a pollaxe/two handed axe would be practicall at all: you can't use the pollaxe while holding the shield and it would be terrible to put them in their backs just to fight with the axe. The only case of large shields being used by infantrymen were some men, and they usually did this - as Heath suggests - to protect them against enemy arrows, since they would probably turn their backs to preparing the for the next shot (them, using the shield to protect most of their body).
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Jun, 2017 8:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, I also would resist the idea of pavises being used in scottish schiltrons. I mean, shields were used in schiltrons; if they weren't, there would be no "schiltron" at all. Let's see some quotes I found (in Wikipedia, but they came from good authors, so let's be tollerant at first):

"The front ranks knelt with their spear butts fixed in the earth; the rear ranks leveled their lances over their comrades heads; the thick-set grove of twelve foot spears was far too dense for the cavalry to penetrate."
Source: Oman, Charles (1924). The Art of War in the Middle Ages. vol.2. London: Greenhill. p. 80.

They had axes at their sides and lances in their hands.They advanced like a thick-set hedge and such a phalanx could not easily be broken."
Source: Brown, Chris (2008). Bannockburn 1314. Stroud: press. p. 78.

They were all on foot; picked men they were, enthusiastic, armed with keen axes, and other weapons, and with their shields closely locked in front of them, they formed an impenetrable phalanx ..."
Source: ibid. p. 90

From what we know about schiltrons:
1) They had shields and use them in their formations
2) Defensive formations used stances that couldn't be achieved with large shields

You actually told me that we shouldn't consider "targe" as a reference for the latter highland targe, so I was thinking: what shields scotsmen used that could fit the role? My answer in the heater shaped ones: they were used longer in Scotland than any other places (16th century highlander chiefs still used with them), could and certainly were called "targes" and, were small and practical enough to be attached to the arm while holding a pike (more or less likely the burgundian pikemen did).

Then, you would probably say: "the legislation say the shields were intended to resist the shot of the english". I don't see why that exactly would meant such a great shield as the pavise: heater shields could do the job, and they were the only reference for scottish shields we had by that time. Remember that those shields DIDN'T changed longbowmen effectiveness against schiltrons and other infantry, so the can only conclude that the shields weren't that effective (that matches heater shields perfectly).

Oddly enough, I eventually came across another topic, and you was in the discussion:
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=23240

Quote:
All I have to support claim this is that Patten mentions the Scots unsuccessfully using these targets as protection against shot. This also makes sense when we consider the 15th century legislation which state that a man who could not use a bow, should equip himself with an axe and a targe (which matches Patten's description), to resist the shot of the English. This man sounds like he might have been a pavisier/sapper used to carry a large shield, and construct field fortifications.


I'm not inclined to believe that those legislations aren't meant to sappers, but your source definitely say such shields weren't sucessfull in protecting scots against longbowmen, what might prove my earlier point. And, I don't believe that pavises weren't effective against missiles: every regular crossbowmen in Portugal used them, early landsknecht crossbowmen used pavises as well and genoese arbalests were using them before everyone else. Many people even believes that Crecy would be a whole different affair if genoese could actually use their crossbows while protecting themselves behind their large pavises.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jun, 2017 1:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi again Pedro.

You are right. It is possible that the figures on the Carlisle charter could be showing us "irregular" troops. This raises another question though, why would Robert the Bruce be using irregular troops to operate his siege equipment, and to scale the ladders? Wouldn't the more professional troops be given these tasks? Perhaps this image is not to be trusted. It comes from an English source after all. Maybe portraying the Scots so poorly equipped was just English propaganda?

Even if the Carlisle charter is to be taken as evidence for what irregular troops were like in the early 14th century, I don't think that this applies to the axe and targe men mentioned in 15th century legislation. You can see in the above quotes that axe and targe men were required to also have; helmets, jacks, swords, and bucklers. These men were just as well equipped as any other type of infantry at the time, and so I think they should be thought of as "regular" troops. If fact in the 1456 legislation, it specifically states that no poor or under-equipped men should show up for military service.

Yes trying to fight with a two handed axe and a large shield would be highly impractical, but that isn't at all what I meant. Many pavises were designed so that they could stand up on their own. These pavises didn't need to be held in hand or strapped to the back. My current thinking is that these men might have set up their targes/pavises to form a defensive wall to shelter other troop types from the initial volleys of English arrows, but if the enemy reached the Scottish lines then these men would fight with their two handed axes.



Edited to make one small additional point.

Éirinn go Brách


Last edited by Stephen Curtin on Sun 25 Jun, 2017 3:57 am; edited 2 times in total
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jun, 2017 3:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
You actually told me that we shouldn't consider "targe" as a reference for the latter highland targe, so I was thinking: what shields scotsmen used that could fit the role? My answer in the heater shaped ones: they were used longer in Scotland than any other places (16th century highlander chiefs still used with them), could and certainly were called "targes" and, were small and practical enough to be attached to the arm while holding a pike (more or less likely the burgundian pikemen did).


Yes I agree. I think that when medieval Scottish pikemen used shields, then they were probably using heaters. However by the time that we have legislations which mention targes, Scottish pikemen seem to have abandoned the use of shields other that some using bucklers. These targes are specifically mentioned as to be used by axemen, not pikemen. Also the fact that these targes are described as being made from either wood or leather (not both), and the fact that examples of these targes had to be sent out to each shire, leads me to think that these were a type of shield not familiar to the general public, and so I don't think that these 15th century targes were what we would call heaters. Side note; I don't think that their is evidence for Highlanders using heaters as late as the 16th century.

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Then, you would probably say: "the legislation say the shields were intended to resist the shot of the english". I don't see why that exactly would meant such a great shield as the pavise: heater shields could do the job, and they were the only reference for scottish shields we had by that time. Remember that those shields DIDN'T changed longbowmen effectiveness against schiltrons and other infantry, so the can only conclude that the shields weren't that effective (that matches heater shields perfectly).


I agree that the use of these axe and targe men do not seem to have been that effective, but this to me does not negate the possibility that these men were pavisiers. There are other factors to consider. For example we have no idea what percentage of a Scottish army was made up by axe and targe men. Perhaps there wasn't enough of these men to make a difference. Perhaps they were used to protect something important, such as a standard or banner, and so only small numbers were needed.

Another point that needs to be considered is that, the legislations say that men who cannot shoot a bow are to be armed with axe and targe. Why can these men not shoot a bow? From what I remember Scottish Kings tried to emulate the English, and made laws to enforce weekly archery practice. Why is it that some men were unable to be archers?

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
I'm not inclined to believe that those legislations aren't meant to sappers, but your source definitely say such shields weren't sucessfull in protecting scots against longbowmen, what might prove my earlier point.


One reason that these Scottish shields were ineffective against the English arrows, could be because they were made from wooden boards without a leather facing (as per the legislation). Also Patten's account doesn't give us any idea how many of these shields he saw. Perhaps he only saw a handful, and that's another reason why they weren't very effective.

Éirinn go Brách
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Sun 25 Jun, 2017 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:

Henry, the miniatures you posted (of which Heath covers them, specially those from Paris' milita) are showing pavisiers with what I would call "average" or "normal" spear-length, scots actually carried pike-length "spears". This actually change things a lot: you need both hands to manœuvre a pike, but you easily have a shorter spear with a large shield in the other hand. Spaniards did that in 15th century, for example. Shields COULD be used with pikes, but they must be small and pratical enough to not be attached to the arm, in the manner the burgundian pikemen - and probably the flemmings - used. You find many evidence for the shape and size of burgundian shields, so I will not talk much about that.

I don't think using a pavise and a pollaxe/two handed axe would be practicall at all: you can't use the pollaxe while holding the shield and it would be terrible to put them in their backs just to fight with the axe. The only case of large shields being used by infantrymen were some men, and they usually did this - as Heath suggests - to protect them against enemy arrows, since they would probably turn their backs to preparing the for the next shot (them, using the shield to protect most of their body).


I agree that actually using a two-handed polearm with a shield wouldn't be that feasible. Just carrying a shield and a two-handed polearm might be though.

In this segment from the bayeux tapestry, the huscarl on the far left during the first norman charge seems to be carrying a spear, shield, and a daneaxe in his shield hand. The huscarl on the far left by contrast has presumably dropped his shield and spear and is fighting with his axe alone.



During the 16th century Fourquevoux took the opposite approach when it came to shields for pikemen. He concluded that strapping a target to the left arm is too cumbersome and only provides static protection (which isn't very useful when the pikemen are wearing plate armor anyways), but if the pikemen wore shields on their backs then they would be convenient to carry and could be quickly slung forward once the pike was broken.
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