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John A. Brown





Joined: 19 Feb 2015

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PostPosted: Thu 15 Feb, 2018 4:52 pm    Post subject: Heavy Infantry vs Light Infantry like tanks squash trenches?         Reply with quote

I notice many games and movies often portray when heavy infantry armed to the teeth with-every body part covered in metal and using heavy weapons such as pikes- battle lighter infantry such as say macemen wearing just leather as armour or militia armed with just thick clothing and a sword, its always portrayed as a steamroll in which the heavy infantry squashes the lighter armed enemies like a tank. Literally its portrayed that the heavy infantry square in walking over the lighter infantry and squashing over them like an unstoppable bulldozer going over a neighborhood block of houses.

This is especially true if the heavy infantry is armed with pikes and forms a column wall of spears or is armed with long sword and shield and forms a phalanx style formation. Even if the lighter infantry is well-disciplined and organized, the heavy infantry in rigid spear columns or sword and shield phalanx blocks will slaughter the lighter infantry and push through rather easily.

Even in cases where medium weight infantry that is still somewhat lighter is using the same type of weapon and formations (pole arms in a spear wall) and is quite well-armored (chainmail), just the fact the heavy infantry is equipped in metallic armour such as plate armour or Hoplite bronze uniform is enough to leave it as a slaughter as heavy infantry rolles over the lighter infantry like a tank over trenches. Despite the lighter infantry still being well-equipped and using the exact same formation and weapon.

Is the gap that great? Is simply equipping one unit entirely of heavier armour and weapon automatically mean victory? Or even just a armour one class heavier and better (plate mail vs chainmail) even if the enemy infantry is well equipped and slightly lighter in class (medium infantry vs heavy infantry)?

I ask this question because despite the stereotype as often seen in movies like LOTR, I was playing Shogun: Total War and an interesting thing is that I was able to win several battles against the heavier Yari Samurai and NoDachi Samurai by sending Samurai Archers to attack in melee in a situation perfect for heavy infantry (bridge battles or battles in a flat plain). Although the Samurai Archers ultimately lost most of the time, the NoDachi or Yari Samurais took too damn long killing the archers that I was able to prepare a trap and send my cavalry to out flank them. Even in cases where I could not maneuver my troops for flanking, apparently my light Samurai archers were able to hold of the elite NoDachi or Yari Samurai in battle to not only exhaust them but inflict signficant casualties. So when I finally sent my real infantry as my Samurai archers were fleeing from collapsing morale, my own Ninganata Samurai were able to defeat the now-exhausted NoDachi or Yari quite easily.

So I'm wondering based on the Shogun:Total War battle how accurate the Hollywood stereotype of Heavy infantry steamrolling lighter ones is? I mean other games such as Age of Empires and most movies such as Troy shows even well-armoured troops using heavy weapons getting slaughtered quickly when fighting heavy troops (especially if the heavy troops are in a rigid shield wall formation or spear wall formation as seen in Troy). Even if the lighter troops try to form their own wall formation and are only slightly less armed (they're wearing chainmail with parts of plate as opposed to the fully plated heavy infantry and both are using long pikes).

Is real life more accurate to what I seen in Shogun:Total War?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Feb, 2018 2:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The terms "heavy" and "light" relate to the role of the unit, not their equipment. A naked man with a spear and shield is classed as heavy infantry if he is standing in a shield wall. A knight in full plate is classed as light cavalry if he is involved in scouting or skirmishing.

Virtually nothing you see in games or on TV is reflected in reality. Real armour was specifically designed to be arrow-resistant but when was the last time you watched a movie that had an arrow bounce off a piece of armour? Body armour in movies is just a fancy costume to make the actor look cool. Helmets are another matter; you rarely see actors in accurate helmets because the studio doesn't want to pay millions of dollars for an A-list actor and then cover up their face.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Feb, 2018 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a lot of evidence that armor does make a big difference for close combat. Various 16th-century military writers took this position and highly encouraged armor.

There are some cases were unarmored or lightly-armored troops could defeat heavily-armored ones, such as Agincourt 1415. English archers apparently were able to slaughter French men-at-arms in the melee, but that was probably because of terrain (mud), how arrow volleys had broken French formations, and support from English men-at-arms.

Pike blocks are special animal. The data overall indicate that they were extremely difficult to meet head on with other unit types, but that they didn't always do too well in an extended melee. Troops armed with short weapons such as sword and shield or halberd potentially have an advantage against opponents armed only with pike and sword. For example, at Flodden 1513, English halberdiers managed to defeat Scottish pikers in a tough fight.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Graham Shearlaw





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PostPosted: Sun 18 Feb, 2018 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah video games and films, both have the old sin of slowing down the combat to get in more story or give you time to react.
There prone to skipping

Pike blocks are basically unstoppable to the front, there fear only another pike block with longer pikes.

No if i could find some good footage from last years, Battle For Grolle i could show how this works in detail.

Only it doesn't work like that in the real world, the minute your there with the longest pikes, some one runs at you from the side with a sword.(note to self get a sword for next time.)
Hence the terico system and the use of Rodeleros/ halberdiers covering the sides is vital unless you can count on your weight of fire to keep back infantry.
(Cavalry

But as the real world happens to be a bit short of perfectly drilled pike blocks that attack each other head on,
In fact no one whants to attack a pike block head on, even horses not renowned for there brains will not attack a Pike block but a disorganized group of pike men are fair game.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Feb, 2018 7:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Encountering a pike formation with other pikers was certainly recommended, but not necessarily mandatory. The English didn't need pikers of their own at Flodden 1513. Machiavelli thought armored troops, especially targetiers, could get through pikes and force a melee that they'd win, though he still wanted some pikers in the front ranks of his ideal army.

The weight of the evidence indicates that both infantry and cavalry did charge pike formations head on at times, though such fights did typically result in significant casualties for both sides.

I suspect Machiavelli, Raimond de Fourquevaux, and Sir John Smythe were correct that armored units of targetiers or halberdiers surrounded by armored pikers would have the advantage over more piker-heavy and armor-light compositions in an extended melee. The thing is, extended infantry melees tend to be extremely costly for all involved and not where anybody wants to be. In practice, a lot of 16th-century armies apparently declined to optimize for the bad-war scenario.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Feb, 2018 10:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Encountering a pike formation with other pikers was certainly recommended, but not necessarily mandatory. The English didn't need pikers of their own at Flodden 1513. Machiavelli thought armored troops, especially targetiers, could get through pikes and force a melee that they'd win, though he still wanted some pikers in the front ranks of his ideal army.

The weight of the evidence indicates that both infantry and cavalry did charge pike formations head on at times, though such fights did typically result in significant casualties for both sides.

I suspect Machiavelli, Raimond de Fourquevaux, and Sir John Smythe were correct that armored units of targetiers or halberdiers surrounded by armored pikers would have the advantage over more piker-heavy and armor-light compositions in an extended melee. The thing is, extended infantry melees tend to be extremely costly for all involved and not where anybody wants to be. In practice, a lot of 16th-century armies apparently declined to optimize for the bad-war scenario.


It's sort of tricky to figure out if there is a specific rule on this. At flodden the Scots were apparently better armored than the english and many of them were carrying a buckler, target, or pavise of some sort to use with their swords in close combat but this apparently wasn't effective against the English bills. At Ravenna many of the landsknects were carrying two handed swords or halberds but still weren't doing too well in close combat against the spanish rodeleros. At ceringola Montluc claims that he ordered his troops to make only a single thrust and charge home much like Smythe recommended, but he still claims that the bulk of the fighting was done by the first three ranks or so. It was after the landsknechts routed that he describes the swiss pursuing and slaughtering them with their two-handed swords.

Though they became very popular very quickly, the actual effectiveness of the great pike squares is also sort of hard to pin down. Sometimes they did extremely well and proved practically unstoppable, other times they seem to have been completely slaughtered. There's a general consensus that this is largely determined by "cohesion" or "discipline", but again what exactly these terms mean is up to debate.

In either case yeah, by the second half of the 16th century as pike tactics were being widely adopted by nations with large numbers of cavalry or arquebusiers to perform offensive roles, the pike square itself returned to being primarily defensive, and rarely engaged in a push of pike long enough for it to turn into a pell mell (with the possible exception of sieges).

"In like manner our browne Bill, Halberd, or other shorte weapon, are most naturall for our Englishmen for where they may be brought to dealing of dry blowes, I think there is no other Nation that were able to stand against them, but the childe that is but this day borne from his mothers wombe, shall neuer liue to sée two battailes incounter pell mell, the one with the other, as héere before they haue doone, and to what ende then should so many short weapons serue, that are euer pla∣ced in that part of the battaile which should bee moste strong, where they can neuer be brought to doo seruice."
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Feb, 2018 12:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Henry O. wrote:


It's sort of tricky to figure out if there is a specific rule on this. At flodden the Scots were apparently better armored than the english and many of them were carrying a buckler, target, or pavise of some sort to use with their swords in close combat but this apparently wasn't effective against the English bills. At Ravenna many of the landsknects were carrying two handed swords or halberds but still weren't doing too well in close combat against the spanish rodeleros.

The Scots were a very diffrent type of pike formation, they lacked the training, tactical organisation and command and control of a continental pike unit. The terrain also provided the English with an advantage as it disrupted both the Scots formations and their advance in general. The pavises were as far as I understand the sources used only as a defence against English archery, to my knowledge they are not mentioned in the descriptions of the melee.

At Ravenna the Landsknechts were attacking a fortified position complete with a ditch bolstered by armed carts positioned behind the entrenchtment. This badly disrupted the formation of the pike square and forced the Landsknechts into a fight which very much suited the Spanish rodeleros. And while the rodeleros get the glory they were only a part of the Spanish infantry, the more numerous Spanish arquebusiers and pikemen were vital to the successfull defence. The Spanish would most probably have won that fight even if they had no rodeleros.

The Spanish themselves do not seem to have thought as highly of the rodeleros as for example Machiavelli, they steadily reduced their number in favour of more pikemen and used Landsknechts to make up what they lacked in skill and numbers. (In 1527 the Spanish infantry refused to go in to the field without German Landsknechts as they regarded the later as their "bastions".)

Henry O. wrote:

At ceringola Montluc claims that he ordered his troops to make only a single thrust and charge home much like Smythe recommended, but he still claims that the bulk of the fighting was done by the first three ranks or so. It was after the landsknechts routed that he describes the swiss pursuing and slaughtering them with their two-handed swords.

I think you are refering to the battle of Ceresole 1544? (Ceringola was back in 1503) At least in the original French there is little or no similarity between Smythe and Monlucs instructions on how to use the pike, Monluc advocates Swiss tactics i.e holding the pike in the middle and charging to break into the enemy formation with the pike as the main weapon all the time, (As opposed to the German style which used the entire lenght of the pike to fence.)Nothing about single thrust and then dropping the pike as in Smythe.)


Henry O. wrote:

In either case yeah, by the second half of the 16th century as pike tactics were being widely adopted by nations with large numbers of cavalry or arquebusiers to perform offensive roles, the pike square itself returned to being primarily defensive, and rarely engaged in a push of pike long enough for it to turn into a pell mell (with the possible exception of sieges).

Plenty of offensive use of the pike in the 2nd half of the 16th Century and beyond, the increased firepower of pike&shot formations effectivly prevented lenghty melees as the increased attrition and disruption reduced the cohesion needed for an extended push of pike. This strongly favoured the side with better quality troops, a good example is the way in which the Spanish won repeated battles in the open field against the Dutch using only small parts of their field army on the day of battle.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Feb, 2018 6:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:

The Scots were a very diffrent type of pike formation, they lacked the training, tactical organisation and command and control of a continental pike unit. The terrain also provided the English with an advantage as it disrupted both the Scots formations and their advance in general. The pavises were as far as I understand the sources used only as a defence against English archery, to my knowledge they are not mentioned in the descriptions of the melee.

At Ravenna the Landsknechts were attacking a fortified position complete with a ditch bolstered by armed carts positioned behind the entrenchtment. This badly disrupted the formation of the pike square and forced the Landsknechts into a fight which very much suited the Spanish rodeleros. And while the rodeleros get the glory they were only a part of the Spanish infantry, the more numerous Spanish arquebusiers and pikemen were vital to the successfull defence. The Spanish would most probably have won that fight even if they had no rodeleros.

The Spanish themselves do not seem to have thought as highly of the rodeleros as for example Machiavelli, they steadily reduced their number in favour of more pikemen and used Landsknechts to make up what they lacked in skill and numbers. (In 1527 the Spanish infantry refused to go in to the field without German Landsknechts as they regarded the later as their "bastions".)


Phillips' "In the Shadow of Flodden: Tactics, Technology and Scottish Military Effectiveness, 1513-1550" argues that the the scottish pike squares at flodden were a deliberate attempt to mimic swiss and landsknect tactics. The Scots had hired landsknecht mercenaries before and had forty french captains arrive in Scotland just months before the battle. Contemporary accounts mention that the scottish battles at flodden were formed into squares while the English battles were formed into lines, and they mention that the scots initially advanced in good order in the "almaine manner".

He concludes that the defeat at flodden had more to do with problems with the Scottish levy system, logistics, lack of training, soldiers' lack of familiarity with the new weapons and tactics, higher level officers not yet knowing how to use pike columns effectively, etc. This is sort of my point though, it's not enough to just put soldiers in a large square and give them all long pikes, there's very much a qualitative element where some pikemen end up performing way better than others. Whether that's due to training, leadership, or some sort of cultural familiarity with this style of pike warfare.

People like to focus on how pike squares made the mistake of charging into a well defended position with trenches or other obstacles at battles like Ravenna and Bicocca, but the thing is that the soldiers and commanders involved had expected the charges to work at the time. At Novara, the same year as Ravenna, Swiss pikemen similarly assaulted a well-defended french encampment and won a decisive victory against artillery, wagons, landsknechts, men at arms, etc. The swiss pikemen don't seem to have had much trouble in wooded or hilly terrain during the Burgundian wars, and I doubt they would have been so successful if all it took to stop them was digging a ditch. It pikemen could potentially do extremely well in all sorts of situations, but there doesn't seem to have been any surefire way to know if your pikemen were "good enough" to do what you want to do until the battle itself.

As you mention though, there does seem to have been an consensus in europe that pikemen were overall "better" than other sorts of melee infantry which grew stronger over time. Flodden and Ravenna never lead to some sort of widespread copying of the english billhook or the spanish rodeleros, as much as Machiavelli wanted it to. The Scots themselves continued to focus on developing modern pike infantry, and even the English by the second half of the century seem to have been convinced that pikes were overall better than bills. On the subject of pikes supposedly being bad at charging through trenches, to the contrary they start being seen as an essential weapon for defending and assulting fortifications well into the 17th century.

On the subject of shields at flodden. From the English Heritage Report on the battle the one source that uses the term "pavises" is also the one that mentions the Scots were so well protected that they could withstand 4 or 5 bills striking them at once. The "Trewe Encounter" just says : "every man for the most part with a keen and sharp spear of 5 yards length, and a target before him. And when their spears failed and were spent, then they fought with great and sharp swords."

Patten mentions that the Scottish pikemen were carrying either bucklers or targets again at the battle of Pinkie cleugh in 1547. If the scotish soldiers at Flodden were the result of a fairly hasty attempt to reform schilitrons into pike squares, then I would be very surprised if many of them weren't also still carrying traditional arms with them such as various types of shields for close combat.

Daniel Staberg wrote:
I think you are refering to the battle of Ceresole 1544? (Ceringola was back in 1503) At least in the original French there is little or no similarity between Smythe and Monlucs instructions on how to use the pike, Monluc advocates Swiss tactics i.e holding the pike in the middle and charging to break into the enemy formation with the pike as the main weapon all the time, (As opposed to the German style which used the entire lenght of the pike to fence.)Nothing about single thrust and then dropping the pike as in Smythe.)


I meant Ceresole, thankyou.

I've only read the english translation, but aside from the fact that he doesn't tell his men to literally throw their broken pikes into the air like Smythe suggests and the "hold the pike in the middle" bit (I'll admit that part still doesn't make much sense to me) it does sound very close to what Smythe was suggesting. Smythe's idea was that rather than continuous pike fencing the force of the charge would drive the enemy ranks back into each other so that they don't have room to draw their arms back and thrust their pikes a second time, rendering them useless. This also seems to have been what montluc experienced:

"the second Rank and the third were the cause of our victory; for the last so pushed them on, that they fell in upon the heels of one another, and as ours press'd in, the Enemy was still driven back"

Smythe also felt that the main advantage of this tactic would be to use it against pikemen who were keeping their ranks somewhat open in order to have more elbow room for pike fencing. Montluc says that from where he was standing in front of them, the germans did not present a solid wall of men, whether intentionally or unintentionally due to their rapid march:

"we saw great windows in their bo∣dy, and several Ensigns a good way behind, and all on a suddain rush'd in among them"

Also, whether the intent was for his soldiers to charge and perform one long, continuous thrust until their pikes broke, or to get in amongst the enemy and fight using their pikes as half-pikes his account does make it sound like there was quite a bit of disorder and some fierce melee combat:

"I was never in my life so active and light as that day, and it stood me upon so to be; for above three times I was beaten down to my knees."

Daniel Staberg wrote:
Plenty of offensive use of the pike in the 2nd half of the 16th Century and beyond, the increased firepower of pike&shot formations effectivly prevented lenghty melees as the increased attrition and disruption reduced the cohesion needed for an extended push of pike. This strongly favoured the side with better quality troops, a good example is the way in which the Spanish won repeated battles in the open field against the Dutch using only small parts of their field army on the day of battle.


Yeah, I should have specified that I meant that pike charges which actually came into contact were becoming much rarer. Pike charges when they did happen much more often started playing out like 18th century bayonet charges, where either the attackers or defenders would lose their nerve and run before actually coming into a push of pike. Good pikemen still decided battles and were still considered essential for controlling the field or keeping the rest of the army intact.

According to Sir James Turner in 1671, pikes were also still considered necessary for attacking or defending a fortified position. Interestingly, he also claims that it was still a common practice for a besieged army to keep older weapons such as halberds, partisans, long rapiers, even two-handed greatswords and morning stars stored in the outworks for defending musketeers and pikemen to pick up and use when needed.
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Feb, 2018 6:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Henry,
Thank you for the detailed & intersting reply, I am going to break down my reply into several diffrent parts as you provided me with a lot to reply and comment on.

Ceresole 1544 & Monluc
While an excellent read the 1674 English translation of Monlucs "Commentaires" has a number of problems, one of the most significant is that it is not so much a translation of the French 1592 edition as it is Charles Cotton's rewrite of his interpretation of the French text into English. There are significant changes and addtions when you compare Cotton's "translation" with the original French text.

Even later French editions from the 19th & 20th Centuries have problems because of how the original text was written with words left out/implied, idiomatic expressions and 16th Century French with it's non-standard spelling. Add in that the editors were not military historians or familiar with the military context of certain expressions and you see how they add changes and interpretations to make sentences make sense to them. A good example is Monluc's instruction to use the pike in the Swiss style where his "pousser" (push) has been interpreted into "passer" (run)

Cotton's 1674 "translation" of the instruction to fight in the Swiss manner:
Quote:
(...)but you must take your Pikes by the middle as the Swis•e do, and run head-long to force and penetrate into the midst of them,* and you shall see how confounded they will be.

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/eebo/A51199.0001.001/1:11?rgn=div1;view=fulltext (page 70)

Original French 1592 edition:
Quote:
(...)que nous en ceste manière. Mais il faut prendre les piques à demy, connue faict le Suisse, et baisser la teste
pour enferrer et pousser en avant, et vous le verrez bien estonné.

From the 1911 editions transcription of the text https://archive.org/details/commentairesdebl00mont
Scanned image of the 1592 edtion http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8610762b/f106.image

In the original French there is nothing about running head long nor about forcing and penetrating into the midst of the enemy. Monluc tells them to grip the pike in the middle as the Swiss do, lower the (pike) head to pierce and push forward and this will surprise/shock the enemy. Cotton's rewrite of the text has changed it's meaning.

Even if we interpret Monluc's "la teste" to refer to the men's heads rather than the head/point of the pike Cotton's retwrite is a significant change of the original text. And IMHO it is most likely a reference to the head/point of the pike as "enferrer"is a verb used to describe piercing done with a weapon. (And lowering your head to pierce the enemy makes not much sense even if you assume that they are supposed to pierce the formation, lowering the head means losing vision which is quite dangerous in any fight. Of course there is the possibility that there is some idiomatic meaning to the wording which is not recorded or understood today but IMO we have to rely on what we know rather than what we don't know.

Similar problems are to found throughout the English text, it is not an isolated problem found in only a few sentences.

Quote:
"the second Rank and the third were the cause of our victory; for the last so pushed them on, that they fell in upon the heels of one another, and as ours press'd in, the Enemy was still driven back"

is the text found in the English edition but what Monluc wrote was:
Quote:
"Le second rang et le tiers furent cause de nostre gain : car les derniers les poussoient tant qu'ils furent sur les leurs : et comme nostre bataille poussoit tousjours, les ennemis se renversoient."

You can see that the French word for "heel" ("talon") is missing among other things.


Henry O. wrote:
Smythe also felt that the main advantage of this tactic would be to use it against pikemen who were keeping their ranks somewhat open in order to have more elbow room for pike fencing. Montluc says that from where he was standing in front of them, the germans did not present a solid wall of men, whether intentionally or unintentionally due to their rapid march:

Quote:
"we saw great windows in their bo∣dy, and several Ensigns a good way behind, and all on a suddain rush'd in among them"

Monluc was not seeing gaps in the front ranks of the German formation, from his evelvated position on the ridge he "windows" [u]inside[/u ]the formation. He interpreted this as being due to their rapid advance but this was an misinterpretation of what he saw. What was actually happening was that the Germans divided their massive square into two, one to fight the French, the other to face the Swiss. This manouver is reported by Martin du Bellay whose memoirs is another primary source for the battle. Du Bellay has never been translated into English so his account is much less well known than Monluc's.

Also this quote from Monluc is another example of how Cotton changed things in his 1674 "translation". For example the word "several" does not appear in the original French . Monluc actually wrote "et des
enseignes bien derrière" ("and the ensigns well behind"). Likewise "(...), and all on a suddain rush'd in among them" is not quite what Monluc wrote: "(...).Et tout à ' coup nous nous enferrâmes," Notice that Cotton changed Monluc's "." to a "," and pushed two diffrent sentences into one. And "enferrâmes" is not the same as "rush'd in among them". To much gets lost and added in that translation. (It also reinforces the earlier translation error discussed above.)

I would really like to see a good modern translation of Monluc or at least the most important parts of his text, my own knowledge is only good enough to detect the errors and changes but frankly more than few parts are impossible for me to translate with any confidence due to the 16th Century spelling and missing words.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Wed 21 Feb, 2018 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you, Daniel! That helps clear up quite a bit.

To add some links in case they are helpful. Here is the report on Flodden which has been posted on these forums before:

https://content.historicengland.org.uk/content/docs/battlefields/flodden.pdf

For the late 17th century use of pikes i was mainly using Turner's "Pallas Armata", on page 173 there's the chapter 'Of the Offensive Arms or Weapons, used by the Infantry of Several Nations', and on page 178 'Master Lupton's Book against the use of the Pike Examined' where he gives his opinion on why the pike is still very useful:

https://books.google.com/books?id=0m9nAAAAcAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

---

Regarding Montluc, I feel like we could start a whole new thread discussing his commentaries. Razz

You're right though, I need to to be much more careful with the English translation. I was thinking that was a clear description of pike column charging at a run into the enemy, but now I'm going to have to find some other example. Were pike formations trained to "charge" at a marching pace or at a run? Or was it sometimes one and sometimes the other?

In the translation Montluc said that the entire front rank on both sides was "overthrown" during the fight. I assume that means most of the front rankers were knocked to the ground in their armor, not that the entire front rank was killed. However a couple pages later he states "oh yeah, I put a row of arquebusiers behind the first rank of pikemen and the enemy did the same," but he didn't mention them at all during the earlier description of the charge.

As for gripping the pikes in the middle, what do you suppose he meant by that? There seems to have been some debate in the 16th century regarding 1 on 1 pike dueling where some recommended holding the pike near the end, some recommend holding it at the middle, some recommend holding it at 1/3rd of the length etc. and james Turner mentions that pikemen could hold their pikes at the middle for instance to defend a rampart, but I don't see how this would be any advantage in a deep formation with men standing behind you.

I've notice a couple of older writers like Oman and Delbruck seem to interpret this as meaning that the germans held their pikes up high with the point sloping downwards while the swiss held their pikes near their waist with the point sloping upwards. Artwork doesn't seem to depict one method being used only by the Swiss and one method being used only by the landsknects, but you can find examples where sometimes the pikes are held high and sometimes the pikes are held low:

https://myArmoury.com/talk/files/dolnstein_battle_of_elfsborg_1502b_414.jpg

https://myArmoury.com/talk/files/horse_vs_foot_175.jpg

Anyways, I don't mean to strain your french skills any further, but on page 44 describing a rout caused by the french gendarmes the English translation says, "Our Gens d' Armes in those days wore great cutting Fauchions, wherewith to lop off armes of Male, and to cleave Morions, and indeed in my life I never saw such blows given."

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?cc=eebo;c=eebo;idno=a51199.0001.001;seq=67;vid=105656;page=root;view=text

It seems that the "Curtilace" or "Curtal-axe" was a very popular anti-armor weapon among french and spanish cavalry during the late 16th century, but I assume that Montluc expecting it to literally dismember mail-covered arms or cut morions in half is a mistranslation/exaggeration?
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Feb, 2018 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Henry O. wrote:
It's sort of tricky to figure out if there is a specific rule on this. At flodden the Scots were apparently better armored than the english and many of them were carrying a buckler, target, or pavise of some sort to use with their swords in close combat but this apparently wasn't effective against the English bills.


The Scottish pikers were well-armored according various sources, but I don't recall anything that definitively indicated they were armored better than the English halberdiers.

Quote:
At Ravenna many of the landsknects were carrying two handed swords or halberds but still weren't doing too well in close combat against the spanish rodeleros.


Were many of the landsknechts at Ravenna equipped with halberds or greatswords? Landsknecht armies of that period could be pretty heavy on pikers. According to Renaissance at War, a 1515 force had 12,000 pikes plus 2,000 with two-hand swords and only 800 halberdiers. Are there accounts from Ravenna 1512 of Spanish targetiers facing landsknecht halberds or greatswords?

It's additionally worth mentioning that the Spanish infantry was defending a fortified position and that the landsknechts, Gascons, and company ended up winning that battle thanks to support from the French cavalry.

Quote:
Though they became very popular very quickly, the actual effectiveness of the great pike squares is also sort of hard to pin down. Sometimes they did extremely well and proved practically unstoppable, other times they seem to have been completely slaughtered. There's a general consensus that this is largely determined by "cohesion" or "discipline", but again what exactly these terms mean is up to debate.


I'd say it was a matter of both discplina and virtus as J. E. Lendon uses the terms in Soldiers and Ghosts. The Swiss perhaps embodied virtus more than discplina, at least during their heyday (before Bicocca 1522).

Daniel Staberg wrote:
The Scots were a very diffrent type of pike formation, they lacked the training, tactical organisation and command and control of a continental pike unit.


The Scottish pikers at Flodden 1513 had continental training and officers. While presumably not as good as the best Swiss or landsknecht forces, they fought in that style.

Quote:
The pavises were as far as I understand the sources used only as a defence against English archery, to my knowledge they are not mentioned in the descriptions of the melee.


I suspect the Scottish pikers at Flodden 1513 used some sort of shield in conjunction with the pike, as Scottish shields are mentioned by multiple sources. We have specific references to that for later Scottish pikers, as well as for other pikers earlier and later.

Quote:
At least in the original French there is little or no similarity between Smythe and Monlucs instructions on how to use the pike, Monluc advocates Swiss tactics i.e holding the pike in the middle and charging to break into the enemy formation with the pike as the main weapon all the time, (As opposed to the German style which used the entire lenght of the pike to fence.)Nothing about single thrust and then dropping the pike as in Smythe.)


Thanks for the original French on that passage from Monluc. Note that Machiavelli, Fourquevaux, Smythe, and various other 16th-century sources agree that pikes become useless in a melee. The only way to avoid is to fence at the length of the pike to some extent or another. Perhaps holding the pike in the middle was Monluc preferred way to do this, as that grip also was what Joachim Meyer recommended for the battlefield.

Smythe's method and the one he derides both make a lot more sense to me conceptually. Holding the pike in the middle and trying to thrust and ward at shorter range, with 8ft or so of pike behind, sounds awfully awkward in formation.

Are there any Swiss or German manuals that cover how to use a pike in formation?

Sancho de Londoño provided specific instructions on how to thrust with the pike, which involves holding it more or less for maximum reach and pushing really hard. He thought longer pikes granted advantage and claimed that German and Swiss pikers always had long ones and won many of their victories because of this. I haven't yet noticed instructions for how pikers are to fight in an extended confrontation, but he did write that there isn't space for parrying when two squadrons of pikers encounter.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Feb, 2018 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A quick comment regarding Ravenna, I have been going through a number of the original sources today and the content of some of the primary sources is striking when compared to "classic" view of Ravenna which I got from Oman and Taylor. There actually seems to an eyewitness account which suggests that the Spanish left their entrenchtment(!), this occured after the intial attack by the native French infantry which was mostly repulse at the ditch by close range fire. When the French recoiled the Spanish sallied forth to rout them. This brought them into contact with the advancing Germans who stood their ground and halted the Spanish while the French fled.

None of the eyewitnesses on either side mention the Spanish targeteers and their supposed special tactic. This only appears in Machiavelli, the Guiccardini who was a friend of Machiavelli's and also in a distant Spanish source (Petrus Martyr)
This makes me more than a little sceptical as to wether the encounter between the Spanish targeteers and Landsknechts even took place. We know that Machiavelli made more than a few false statements about military matters, notably his claims about the Condottieri. I would not be surprised if he made up the targeteer story in order to further his theories about a recreated Roman legion. The main doubt I have comes from the Spanish source (Petrus Martyr) which I have not yet been able to get hold of.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Feb, 2018 12:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Henry O. wrote:

Anyways, I don't mean to strain your french skills any further, but on page 44 describing a rout caused by the french gendarmes the English translation says, "Our Gens d' Armes in those days wore great cutting Fauchions, wherewith to lop off armes of Male, and to cleave Morions, and indeed in my life I never saw such blows given."

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?cc=eebo;c=eebo;idno=a51199.0001.001;seq=67;vid=105656;page=root;view=text

It seems that the "Curtilace" or "Curtal-axe" was a very popular anti-armor weapon among french and spanish cavalry during the late 16th century, but I assume that Montluc expecting it to literally dismember mail-covered arms or cut morions in half is a mistranslation/exaggeration?

I was able to locate that part and it is almost a word for word translation of the original French. However it is the "strongest" possible translation if that makes sense? The French could also be translated to "wherewith to cut the armes of Maile" for example.

A very detailed 1552 description of the troops and equipment of the French army mentions the Gendarmes being armed with "le coustelas" which was also carried by the Archers of the Ordonnance companies. We can see a lot of curved cutting swords being used in artwork from the Wars of Religion which covers events up to 1570 and IIRC the weapon is also mentioned by La Noue. But I have never seen a surviving example of this type of cutting sword.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Feb, 2018 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This excellent blog provides a contemporary account of Ravenna that includes Spanish soldiers tearing apart the Gascon and German infantry formation with swords and shields. Their source is this 19th-century collection of documents.
Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Wed 21 Feb, 2018 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
The Scottish pikers were well-armored according various sources, but I don't recall anything that definitively indicated they were armored better than the English halberdiers.


Gervase Phillips concludes that the lowland levies and those from the cities would have been reasonably well equipped, if not very well trained or experienced, especially with pike tactics. The Scottish gentlemen were each supposed to supply themselves with plate harness although it may have been that during the actual battle the best armored men were put in the front ranks while those further back had only an almain rivet, mail, plate jack, or gambeson. It might be that the shields and pavises were being carried by those with less complete armor.

It's more the case that very few of the english troops were likely to be well equipped either. In 1513 Henry VIII had already taken a lot of the best troops, equipment, and treasury money down to France to pal around with his German friends.

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Were many of the landsknechts at Ravenna equipped with halberds or greatswords? Landsknecht armies of that period could be pretty heavy on pikers. According to Renaissance at War, a 1515 force had 12,000 pikes plus 2,000 with two-hand swords and only 800 halberdiers. Are there accounts from Ravenna 1512 of Spanish targetiers facing landsknecht halberds or greatswords?

It's additionally worth mentioning that the Spanish infantry was defending a fortified position and that the landsknechts, Gascons, and company ended up winning that battle thanks to support from the French cavalry.


Probably not much more than that. I was mainly bringing it up because that's what Oman used to "prove" that the sword and shield was far superior to the two-handed sword and halberd as well.

in either case though if they had thought that the trench and the wagons would render their pikes useless then they presumably would have brought more short weapons with them, or would have shortened many of their pikes before attacking. It's also worth noting that despite the heavy casualties the landsknects didn't rout like their allied infantry did.

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
I'd say it was a matter of both discplina and virtus as J. E. Lendon uses the terms in Soldiers and Ghosts. The Swiss perhaps embodied virtus more than discplina, at least during their heyday (before Bicocca 1522).


Thankyou! That's sort of what I'm thinking too. Most military treatises from this period certainly spend way more pages describing their ideal soldiers and officers than they do debating the merits of bows vs guns or pikes vs targets, even if the perfect soldiers they came up with remained far more prescriptive than descriptive when it came to actual early modern armies.
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Eirik R. F.




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Feb, 2018 3:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll answer the original question.

One of the reasons we distinguish between heavy and light infantry has to do with morale. Light infantry usually operate freely in open order, often in front of heavy infantry. Their job is to move, screen and harass the enemy. When the heavy infantry move in, the light infantry retreat behind their own heavy infantry. If the heavy, disciplined infantry know they have different roles to the light infantry on the battlefield, light infantry retreating behind their own heavy infantry will not break the morale of the army. The light infantry is just as important as the heavy infantry. They are able to force enemy heavy infantry to advance or take casualties in a static position. They can chase down a routing enemy better than soldiers trained to fight in formation with heavy armor. They can perform local flanking maneuvers along the battle line. Archers can neutralize cavalry and soften up infantry. Without them the heavy infantry are sitting ducks.

One of the reasons why light infantry is seen as less reliable in melee has to do with less armor, but this is not always the case. Alexander the Great had elite Agrianian light infantry peltasts. They operated freely and could stand their ground and go on the offensive. They had rather large shields, helmets, linothorax armor, slings, javelins and spears. Therefor light has to do with their role on the battlefield, not their equipment, even if there is correlation between light soldiers/less armour.

Of cause the best is to have flexible men with the ability to take any role, but sometimes this is not necessary. Often this comes down to a question about economy and availability. It's often better to have a few heavy infantry companies and many less armored light infantry companies to perform different roles to each other for the simple reason that heavy armor is not needed. If you have 1000 heavy infantry and 5000 archers and you fight against 1000 heavy infantry and 5000 light infantry without heavy armor and only spears/pole weapons, the archers will do the job against them without armor. Your own heavy infantry companies will bind the enemy's heavy infantry and your own archers will attack from the flanks. In this case armor would only be extra expenses.

Alexander the Great organized a balanced combined-arms setup for his army when he planed his invasion of Arabia. He used a mix of phalangites, spearmen, peltasts/slingers and archers in each company. The numbers were 256, 48, 96, 96, respectively for each 500-men company. The peltasts and archers were light because they operated freely in front of the heavy infantry line. This way he could go up against any army-setup. The spearmen could form a shieldwall or protect the flank of the pike-formation. The archers could target enemy archers, peltasts, cavalry and infantry. Peltasts could move and exploit openings, flank the enemy and harass the enemy and follow up on a rout. The phalangites could steamrolled a static enemy and provided a safe base for the light soldiers and protection against cavalry. This is how they cooperate with each other in order to defeat armies made up of one troop type.

Nikephoros Phokas did much the same. He had 10 pikemen, 40 heavy spearmen, 20 peltasts and 30 archers for every 100 men. In his formation the archers had long one-handed axes with a spike at the back in order to target cavalry when they broke into the formation. In this scenario the archers "transformed" into heavy infantry, but they couldn't fight against cavalry without the support and protection of the spearmen and pikemen. The pikemen/spearmen brought the cavalry to a halt and the archers with their melee weapons defeated them. If the enemy cavalry refuses to attack the pike/spearmen, the archers targeted them from a distance and the peltasts moved out to finish them off. If archers operate on their own they are easy picking for a cavalry unit. Same goes for peltasts.
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Carlos Valenzuela Cordero




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PostPosted: Mon 26 Feb, 2018 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear gentleman, let me introduce me: I am Carlos Valenzuela and I have been reading and writing about spanish Tercios and XVIth century spanish armies since ten years ago.
I have watched in my blog statistic one reference to this topic posted by Benjamin H. Abbott, and then I have read it. I have found very interesting your discussion here, and I want to contribute to it.

Sorry in advance for my poor english.

Regarding to the battle of Ravena and the use of “rodeleros” against pikes:

Pedro Navarro – the former privateer and now leader of the infantry – put some armed two wheels tumbrils with some sort of thick spears, long as cavalry lances – some say 60, some 70 – called by Luigi da Porto “carrette falcate di Dario”. Between these tumbrils or carts, the spanish put big arquebuses – then little pieces of artillery used in sieges and defense of fortress managed by two men – with a caliber of a “big walnut”. But this defenses were of no use.

According to the account published in CoDoIn 79 [ Relación de los sucesos de las armas de España en Italia en los años de 1511 y 1512 con la jornada de Rávena] – the colonels – there were no “maestres de campo” neither “tercios” in 1512, but “coronelías” or “colunelas” - Artieda and Arraiga entered into the german gascon square after the two squares were touching one to another with their pikes. They used their swords and they were protected by “rodelas” or circular shields and they reduced by this way the gascon square from 8000 to 1500 men.

According to Sanuto Diary, the infantry french vanguard was composed by 9500 men: the regiments of Molard [2000 men], Jacob Gaspar Empser [2000], the bastard of Cleves [1000], the captain Philip [1000], the brother of Empser [1000], Mongiron [1000], Bonivet [1000] and Grandiment [500]. I have written the names as they appeared in the venetian diaries.

Diego de Salazar, remembering this battle and Barletta [1503], recommended in 1536 in his De Re Militari, the use of rodeleros in a relation of 3 pikes: 2 rodeleros: 1 arquebus, but we know for sure that Salazar was “capitán del tiempo antiguo” - “old school soldier” when he published his book.
Salazar said that one man armed like a men at arm – with full armour – could easily confront with pikemen with no defense in their legs, arms and head – face and throat. He wrote that the only problem was traspassing the first ranks of the square, but one time the the first lines were broken it was very easy for well armed men smash all the square. It's supposed that the first ranks were occupied by the best men, and the best armed.

Quote:
Were many of the landsknechts at Ravenna equipped with halberds or greatswords? Landsknecht armies of that period could be pretty heavy on pikers. According to Renaissance at War, a 1515 force had 12,000 pikes plus 2,000 with two-hand swords and only 800 halberdiers


According to Vincenzo Quirini account, writing in 1507, the average german company was composed of 25 “schioppettieri”, 100 halberdiers – armed with “alabarde” or “pestaruoli” - and the rest were pikes, but we know that there were soldiers using two-hand swords. The venetian ambassador in the court of Maximilian wrote that every soldier had breastplate and bracelet, and some soldier use complete corselet with “mezze teste” - literally, “half head”, some helmet to cover the skull, but not the face. He said that the first two ranks of the squere were occupied by halberdiers, and the third, fouth and fifht of pikemen amd the flanks were occupied by "schiopettierie".

I dont' want use the term arquebusiers, because Italian “schioppettieri” and spanish “escopeteros” were the prelude of arquebusiers, but escopetas were different from arquebuses, as they were lighter and with little caliber [½ ounce for escopetas against ¾ to 1 – even 1 and 1/2 ounce for arquebuses]. In 1520's we can find both soldiers fighting together in italian or spanish armies.
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2018 5:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:


Thanks for the original French on that passage from Monluc. Note that Machiavelli, Fourquevaux, Smythe, and various other 16th-century sources agree that pikes become useless in a melee. The only way to avoid is to fence at the length of the pike to some extent or another. Perhaps holding the pike in the middle was Monluc preferred way to do this, as that grip also was what Joachim Meyer recommended for the battlefield.

Smythe's method and the one he derides both make a lot more sense to me conceptually. Holding the pike in the middle and trying to thrust and ward at shorter range, with 8ft or so of pike behind, sounds awfully awkward in formation.

Are there any Swiss or German manuals that cover how to use a pike in formation?

Sancho de Londoño provided specific instructions on how to thrust with the pike, which involves holding it more or less for maximum reach and pushing really hard. He thought longer pikes granted advantage and claimed that German and Swiss pikers always had long ones and won many of their victories because of this. I haven't yet noticed instructions for how pikers are to fight in an extended confrontation, but he did write that there isn't space for parrying when two squadrons of pikers encounter.


If you are referring to a melee in the true sense of the word (i.e a disorganised fight at very close range with the formations having been disrupted and penertrated) then I can’t think of a period military man that did not think that the pike was at a disadvantage. That is why both the Swiss and Landsknechts formed up their haufen with layers of different types of weaponry. A number of German sources describe having a rank of halberdiers after the first ranks of pike armed doppelsöldner with an inner core of halberdiers or halberdiers & “schlachtschwerten” surrounding the flags at the center of the haufen.

But as long as the formation was maintained the pikes had the advantage even though the two sides were in close combat. (Good examples of this are Sempach and Arbedo.)

My interpretation of Monluc is not that he aimed to create a melee situation where the French would use their pikes as the main weapon but rather that he aimed to prevent the French from getting stuck in a fight at the length of the pike in which they would be at a disadvantage. With the enemy front rank disrupted by the salvo fired by the arquebusiers that Monluc had hidden inside the French formation the French would be able to press home the attack at an engagement distance which favoured them. In the end both sides used the trick of hiding arquebusiers inside their formation, but the French seem to have been less disrupted by the initial clash and could keep pressing forward in formation while the Germans were never able to recover from the intial disorder, a situation that got steadily worse as the French pressed home their attack.

I have yet to find a Swiss or German military manual which discusses the use of the pike in any detail. I think there are two reasons for this, the first is that military knowledge in general and low-level military knowledge such as formation drill and use of weapons was still first and foremost transmitted through hands on training and experience in the same way that other crafts and professions were taught at the time. The second is that most manuals have a high-level focus, they are concerned with the organisation, administration and tactics at the army or regimental level (a number do not even include a section on combat or tactics). A good example is the” Trewer Rath” which may have been by Georg von Frundsberg. It is a short but well written instruction on how to command an army in battle which sections covering infantry, cavalry and artillery. But it is very much written for the commander of an army, it tells you recomended sizes and frontage for tactical units and some sub-units but next to nothing about the details of how the troops are to be armed, the detailed organisation of the two” haufen” of landsknechts and so on. Those details were not the concern of the Kriegsherr or the Oberster Feldhauptmann and would be left to the Oberst, the Hauptmann and the Feldwebel.

Sancho de Londoño is an excellent source but as always one needs to keep in mind the context in which he was making his statements. De Londoño entered military service in 1542 and his understanding of combat and the military art both may and may not apply to the period prior to 1542. And good example is his claim that the Germans and Swiss "always" used long pikes, if compared to other sources we find that this is untrue for the early years of the 16th C as we have a number of sources that show or mention both Landsknechts and Swiss using fairly short pikes (10-12 feet). A problem is that sources so often use language that is ambigious or not very precise. (Here Londoño is an above average source as benefits an experienced professional.) For example, just what did Monluc refer to when he considered the Germans to be more dextrous when fighting using the full lenght of the pike? Another example is the "Trewer Rath" mentioned above, in it Frundsberg mentions that the front ranks must be given space to "thrust freely" but is the sentence to be read as a literal instruction or should we read it more as "fight freely"?

Long pikes give an advantage but also demand more strength and skill to use. When my group went from the 10 foot pikes we had been using to testing a 14 foot model we noticed a real drop in both endurance and accuracy. It became notably harder to hit the exposed gaps in the armour but the testing was done with some restrictions as we did not have the necessary protective gear to allow face and throat trusts. Holding the pike in the middle increase accuracy but as you noted left us with the problem of having a lot of the shaft sticking out behind you.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2018 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One huge simplification that most games make is that the soldier-figures tend to be rather more eager to remain in formation and fight each other toe-to-toe than people probably were in reality. This is an understandable concession made for fun gameplay since obviously gamers want to see their armies fight a relatively brief and exciting pitched battle rather than spend hours or days chasing each other in a series of inconclusive skirmishes.

Another thing computer games tend to have difficulty with is people changing their manner of fighting when they changed formations. Iphikrates and his Athenian peltasts at Lekhaion/Lechaeum was able to disperse and outrun the Lacedaemonian (Spartan) hoplites when the latter attacked, but when the Lacedaemonians retreated it appears that sometimes the peltasts went so far as to harass them within hand-to-hand combat range. The final pursuit -- after the Lacedaemonians broke and routed upon seeing Athenian hoplite reinforcements menacing their rear -- could also have involved the peltasts cutting their hoplite adversaries down in hand-to-hand combat since it's hard to explain the catastrophic casualty rate if the latter had merely hung back and thrown javelins at the fleeing Lacedaemonians without attempting to take them down hand-to-hand.

This naturally puts light infantry at a disadvantage in computer simulations since it's very hard to model the kind of hit-and-run (or even swarming) guerrilla attack that they excelled in -- dispersing when the enemy advances, concentrating and pressing home when the enemy retreats -- without an inordinate amount of manual micromanagement by the human player.
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Carlos Valenzuela Cordero




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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2018 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
And good example is his claim that the Germans and Swiss "always" used long pikes, if compared to other sources we find that this is untrue for the early years of the 16th C as we have a number of sources that show or mention both Landsknechts and Swiss using fairly short pikes (10-12 feet).


If you read De Re Militari 1536, by Diego de Salazar, he talks about pikes of 9 "codos" - english cubit.https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codo_(unidad_de_longitud)

1 castillian codo = 1/2 vara = 2 palmos = 0.418 m, so 18 "palmos" or 3.762, against the 26 "palmos" - 5.424 meters of Londoño works.

De work of Salazar is somehow copied of Machiavelli's Della guerra, but if you compare both texts, Salazar changes some data, and the historic military examples refered to spanish troops are longer and more detailed, giving names of different captains and leader whom Salazar had to know.

Meanwhile Machiavelli says that in front of la Barletta 4000 german pikes were defeated by the spanish armed with "brocchieri", who we can translate by "broquel" or "rodela":
Fecesi loro incontro Monsignor d' Ubigni con le me genti d'arme, e con circa quattromila fanti Tedeschi . Vennero alle mani i Tedeschi , e con le loro picche basse apersero le fanterie Spagnoole; ma quelle ajaiate da' loro brocchieri, e dall'agilità del corpo toro, sì meicolarono con i Tedeschi, tanto che li poterono aggiugnere con la spada ; donde ne nacque la morte qaasi dì tntd quelli, e la vittoria degli Spagnuoli

The Salazar version of the episode is quite longer, and we know that the spanish who defeat the german pikes were armed with swords and equipped with "escudos gallegos y asturianos", a particular type of northwest spanish pavises.

http://bdh.bne.es/bnesearch/detalle/bdh0000052057
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