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Dominic Dellavalle




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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 8:27 am    Post subject: Jousting Question         Reply with quote

Hello all,

A question and more of curiosity in regards to jousting. I've never participated in jousting of any sort although I have spent some time reading up on it and watching others compete. One point that I have always noticed is that both riders will approach on the right side of the lists, with the lance in their right hand pointed over the left side of the horse.

As a person that is left-handed, I'm curious as to what you do to overcome this? Are you just stuck with holding the lance in your off-hand?

I did some searching to see if there was any historical mentioning of cases such as this, but with no luck.

Thanks,
Dominic
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 8:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can speak for one left-hander who jousted. He did as you said - jousted right. That's only one guy, and modern, at that. Outside of that islolated example, I can't tell you anything more. There are others here who could speak with much greater authority.

I don't really see how, in the tournament, this would not be the case, as the list forces an angle (varying by the jousting style from nearly no angle to somewhere around 30 degrees, if I remember correctly - again, not an authority). The greater the angle of the attack, the more force is vectored sideways instead of through the Knight. Passing shield to shield with lances crossing for right-hander to right-hander places the shield (or other substitute armour) as the target. A left-hander would catch the opponent's lance inside the shield, on the lance arm/shoulder. I'd think using my off-arm would be better than using my stronger one and forgoing the benefit of the shield - also, that cants the lance away from the body, which is a much more awkward position than the traditional right-handed couched lance.

Good question, Dominic!

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've looked at this in depth as a lefty. In a tournament, you couldn't joust left-handed because the enemy would hit you and not your shield. This is because you're forced to go down one side of the list and not the other. Two left handers could joust one another with no problem. What I've found is that in a combat condition, it could be advantageous to be a lefty, but mostly it just wouldn't matter. We have to realize that jousting in fifteenth century lists is about as close to real medieval mounted combat as playing paintball is today. In fact, paintball might be less artificial.
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alina Boyden wrote:
We have to realize that jousting in fifteenth century lists is about as close to real medieval mounted combat as playing paintball is today. In fact, paintball might be less artificial.


Alina brings up a great point here. Again, I can only go from my experience, which does not include mounted combat, but does have a lot of single and mass combat. The left-handed swords(wo)man is used to fighting with a shield in the right against right-handers. As a Righty, I found I had to adjust drastically to the Lefty - and there weren't many. Honestly, I was knocked down a few pegs. That didn't mean an automatic loss for me, but my win/loss ratio certainly was different. I would imagine in real combat, since often lances were used en masse aganist foot troops, right or left really wouldn't matter.

Does anyone have examples of armour that shows evidence of being left-handed, such as a shield strapped for the right, or a lance rest on the left side of the breastplate?

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's another aspect that you have to consider for the timeframe, and that is the matter of left-handedness. Christians believed the left to be at the least, weaker, illicit or irregular, all the way to the extremes of evil or wicked (remember, the Devil preys on weakness).

The word 'left' in Italian is sinestra, rooted from the Latin for "contrary" or "unfavorable". Before adopting "gauche", Old French also used "senestre". Sinister is described in Old French as "prompted by malice or ill-will" in 1411. This pretty much holds true through the Middle English and German tongues as well.

There are many examples of how this thought was permeated through culture (the bad guy always enters from stage left), colloquialisms and habit (marching and manuevers originate with the right foot, and birds flying from the left are considered bad omens), and one throwback that can still be recognized in many of our own lifetimes is how up until the last 40 years or so, Children were discouraged from exploring their natural tendencies to be left handed, especially in the Catholic and Jesuit parochial schools.

Also think about how often you've seen historic left-handed firearms and swords, and how many swords are hung on the right side of the body....

...and that would be never. Happy

Matthew

P.S. Interestingly, prior to Christianity making it's stand, the English, Romans, Slavs, and others had considered the Left to be lucky... Happy
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually that's not true. The romans considered the left to be unlucky, and that's where much of the anti-lefthandedness came from. Christianity didn't adopt the policy so much as society continued with what it had been doing. In Rome, they had stairs specially designed so you could only enter the house with the right foot - hence putting your best foot forward. They also positioned beds so that you could only get out on the right side - hence waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

And actually, I'm almost positive I have seen some examples of left-handed weapons of various types. I'll have to look for them. But we have to remember than only 1 in 9 people is left-handed, and that lefties tend to be far more adaptable than righties. So it might have been unusual for someone to doggedly stick to left-handed behavior.
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Dominic Dellavalle




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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the great feedback so far. Certainly raised some interesting points for me to think about, primarily the one regarding the number of left handed combatants. I'd love to see some weapons or armor tailored for left handed people if anything is out there.

One aspect that didn't occur to me until it was raised earlier is the fact that left-handedness was looked down upon and most people were pushed into using the right hand. In fact my mother (who is naturally lefty like myself) was not allowed to write with that hand as a youngster in the school system.

Don't want to derail my own thread, but I also believe that part of the idea behind the origin of the "handshake" dealt with keeping both parties fighting hand unavailable and thus not allowing either an advantage. Again more emphasis, or concern, in this case was placed on the right hand over the left.

Back to my jousting question then. If in fact people, even if naturally lefty, were only able to use their right hand to joust how much did that effect their ability? I can use my right hand for most tasks, even writing, but when it comes to fine motor control it's just not there. When I think of the primary roles that hand/arm plays I really think of raw strength and dexterity. Again, not being a jouster, I would think that strength can be left out of the occasion, since most of the force is created by the forward momentum of the mount and the arm of the jouster is generally locked in place.

As for dexterity, well I wonder just how much aiming is involved when jousting. I would think using a hand/arm I don't predominantly use my aim would be affected. Much like when I try to trap shoot with alternate hands...the balance just never feels right. Would this be something that to think about?

Dominic


Sidebar - I believe Julius Caesar was left handed, but I doubt anyone told him he couldn't use that as his predominant hand Happy


Last edited by Dominic Dellavalle on Thu 05 May, 2005 11:00 am; edited 1 time in total
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Lloyd Clark




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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 11:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Every lefty that I know complains about this initially (they complain even more about throwing spears which the target is always located to the right of the riding path - forcing them to either throw over their horse's head or throw right-handed), but come to accept it.

Jousting was done "left-to-left" (this is not to be confused with using the "lance" in combat) with the lance passing over the horse's neck right-to-left. Why, I would assume that since most people were right-handed (and probably would have changed if one of the Kingly proponents of the sport had been left-handed) that was they way most trained.

There is a major division in present day jousting (and among some historians that I have spoken with) on the validity of "right-to-right" jousting, done with the lance still couched under the right shoulder. Apparently, there are a few pieces of artwork that show such a joust (one even has the shields being held in a completely useless position on the left arm) that some have interpreted to being historical evidence of this style of jousting. Those that do still demonstrate and compete in this style term it "Southern Italian" (I have no idea why) and it is the cause of almost universal double unhorsings.

In the tilt (or joust) the main goal was to break your lance, with unhorsing coming in a distant second. By passing the lance over the neck of the horse you place the striking angle at between 22 and 30 degrees. This makes breaking the lance much more common, and lessens the impact somewhat on the rider. Trust me, it still hurts, but not quite as much.

I hope this helps. If you want to see a bit of modern day jousting - go to www.happyproductions.ca and look for the footage from last year's Dragon Lance World Championships.

Cheers,

Lloyd Clark
2000 World Jousting Champion
2004 World Jousting Bronze Medalist
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 12:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had also read that about the handshake showing that your weapon hand was empty as a sign of friendship. Makes sense in a historical context as even placing your hand on the hilt of your sword when confronting someone could be legal grounds for an accusation of assault (Turberville v Savage 1669). I also read that the way mens' coats open as opposed to womens' was so that you could open the coat with your left while reaching for your sword with your right (presumably developed once frock coats had come into fashion).

This thread is really interesting and made me think of a few questions about jousting and lances in warefare. I am a complete novice in this area so sorry if the questions seem facile.

When you look at later jousting armour they sometimes have a kind of hook or rest on the breast of the armour. I assume this was to rest the lance in (may be wrong - drink holder perhaps ?). Did war armour have these ? I imagine not ,so where did they rest the lance ? On the shield ? On the left arm ? Or not at all ?

In warfare was it the common practice to present the lance across the body as in jousting or did the rider choose which side to use the lance. It seems that a degree of flexibility would be desirable as the target might move to the other side of you on your approach. Or was this simply irrelevant because the tactic was used en masse against large bodies of opponents so you were bound to hit something ?

You say the purpose in jousting was to break the lance (wasn't there some measure of how much had to be broken off for it to be a valid hit or somesuch). In warfare what happened to the lance? It struck me that if you were attacking a foot soldier or mounted opponent at full tilt and hit them bang on target with the lance, the lance would probably go through them wouldn't it (if they weren't wearing plate armour as most foot soldiers wouldn't)? Then what do you do with the lance? Abandon it for a secondary weapon ? Try to extricate it from the body of your opponent (difficult in the extreme I would think) ? Or were lances tipped in a shape that made them smash into an opponent but not penetrate ? Or did you just carry on regardless collecting a kind of foot-soldier kebab on your lance !!!

PS lefties are a nightmare to fence against, which is why there have been so many lefty fencing champions. They present very side-on and the inside lines of their target area just vanish. And they keep attacking you on your outside lines. Very sinister indeed.

Daniel
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 4:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm fairly certain Gordon will jump in here shortly and rescue me, but if I'm remembering correctly:

1) The War Lance was very different from the Tournament Lance. War Lances were closer to pikes as far as design. Think a 14'-20' spear. Very disposable, and the term in war parlance "a Lance" actually means 2-5 Heavy Cavalry and 1-5 footmen (different eras had different proportions) that assist with re-equipping the rider with a new lance when one is lost or broken.

2) The Lance in war was a spear head, which means you could theoretically get it stuck right through someone, but think about the lance that goes in like butter with 3000 pounds of force pushing it, will pull out just as easily when 3000 pounds goes by.... :)

3) This touches on the Lance Rest (or bottle opener for you creative types... :). If I recall, that is a tournament feature. When engaging in tender man morsels, the Lance is used in a much more flexible attack style. I'm thinking the attacks were more circular in action than straight, head-on charges, and the Lances were used to spear off the sides of the horse. The couched charge was good to dismantle other horsemen, but you don't want to pick a guy up off the ground and carry him with you, you just stab, push him to the ground, and as you whir on buy, let the force extract it, and circle around for another charge.

I reserve the right to be completely wrong about this, sadly very little literature describes it in any detail, but this thread may be the impetus I need to go crack open Cruso again... :)
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 4:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Again, lances varied from time period to time period, culture to culture, and even took on some of the attributes of fashion. For example, Byzantine heavy cavalry liked heavy lances. Then, they decided they preferred lighter, thinner lances. Then, they changed their minds again and went with big, long, heavy lances. Most of the ones from the 13th century that I've dealt with are about 12-15 feet long, though they could be shorter.

In the west, it was preferred more and more to have a narrow tip on the lance, like a bodkin. In the east, particularly with the muslims, a wide, cutting blade was preferred. This is because the couched lance only has an effective radius of 30 degrees at most on either side of the horse's head. In contrast, the muslims and other easterners used many different styles of lance fighting. In some cases the lance was even held in one hand and thrust backwards at an enemy who was chasing you.

These temporal and regional differences make it very hard to pin down evidence for left-handed jousting. If you are a mail armored muslim using a small round shield and a lance, there will be no evidence for which hand you preferred. Only in the giant suits of hideously ugly tournament jousting armor from the very end of the middle ages can we see any evidence one way or the other.
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Lance rest or Arreté (sp?) was a common feature on the armours used in war as well and is in evidence in both written and artistic sources (effigies mostly) as well as on suriving armours. It was one of the major reason why cavalry enjoyed a revivial as shock troops in the later part of the 15th Century. Howeve rusign did require training and at the battle of Montl'hery in 1465 only 50 of the 1200 Burgundian men-at-arms present knew how to properly usi th elance rest accordign to the chronicler de Commines who was present.

The rest itself is removable which is why the bolts used to fix to the breastplate in many cases is the only trace of its presence on many surviving harnesses. And on the less pristine armorus even that can be missing so all you have is a couple of rivet holes in the plate.
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Daniel Parry




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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2005 5:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We all reserve the right to be wrong on this site I think, Matthew. Thanks to you and all for the responses. More questions !!

The reason I asked the question about what happens when you hit a target with a lance in warfare was that it occurred to me that even given all the enormous force of a lance backed by a well fed destrier and an equally well fed knight, once the lance penetrated you would have to rotate the arm backwards (or at least side-ways) in order to loose the lance from your victim as you passed. Otherwise as Matthew said you would take your victim with you, which would render your lance ineffective I would imagine. This movement of the arm given the speed of the horse and the weight and length of the lance would seem very difficult without dislocating your elbow. Unless (as is likely) there was a different technique for accomplishing this which I have not thought of. That's also why I wondered whether they just abandoned the lance after contact. If as Matthew says above it is a question more of using the lance as a spear rather than in couched linear attack then that's a different kettle of fish as the momentum factor wouldn't be quite as much of a problem.

The replies also touched on my follow up question. Was the mounted lance attack a one-off shock tactic after which the knights would get involved in the general melee followed by foot soldiers or did they circle (possibly picking up replacement lances) for another attack. I would think that if their initial attack was supported by foot soldiers after breaking the line, a second attack would not be an option because you'd be running directly into your own men.

Final one is that I was interested by Alina's comments about the changes in style of lance and cavalry. The immediate presumption would be that a change in weaponry would be a result of a change in tactic (necessity being the mother...etc). But maybe that's not the case. The comparison between bodkin style tips and leaf spear tips made me think, unless your opponent was wearing an extremely durable armour (and had a body made of rubber) the impact alone would incapacitate if charged regardless of the tip shape, and if used as a spear without a charge would the style of tip make such a difference? Maybe it would, I don't know, but maybe it was also a fashion change to a degree as Alina mentions.

The biggest effect that occurs to me writing this of lance-bearing cavalry on destriers is the psychological impact. Perhaps that was the most important factor above styles of lance and techniques. I think If you were on foot and faced with 400 or so knights with lances on 16-hand horses thundering towards you at full tilt, you'd either have to be a very brave man or rather drunk to stand your ground.

Thanks for the info on the lance rests too. That one always puzzled me.

Daniel
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2005 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a great thread, and I'm sorry that my present situation causes me to not be able to take a more active part in it, but I'll happily throw in my two cents worth anyway.

As Alina and others have pointed out, different types of cavalry have used their lances/spears in different ways. The light horse style, be they Jinete, Arabic, Hungarian etc. use the light lance in many different ways other than simply the couched lance of the heavier cavalry (darned near as a Naganata really). But since we're primarlily discussing the heavies, that's where I'll focus.

To begin with we must make note of the fact that for the most part the heavy lance is a single-shot weapon. Certainly by the 16th Century in the West (and Poland too, as I recall) to return from a charge with an intact lance was a great disgrace, as it meant that you didn't make contact with your enemy. Unlike with the Infantry, to loose the cornet/guidon/banner was the honourable thing to do, i.e breaking the lance holding said coronet/guidon against the enemy's chest. Returning to the point of muster for a second lance provided by the squire was standard, in order to continue the fight.

As Lloyd pointed out, the angle of attack is important. For simply breaking a lance for sport, such as in the joust, an oblique angle of attack is prefered (as you really aren't trying to kill the other fellow) but on the battlefield the more direct the angle the better your chances for success. Although Francios de la Noue noted at the end of the 16th Century that due to improved armour "it would be a miracle if any were killed by the spear" you had a good chance of unhorsing an opponent with a direct hit on the breastplate or helmet.. as well as breaking the lance under the impact. But this also greatly increases your chances of a head-on collision (which is why again they used the lyst in the later jousts, to not only define the angle of attack but also to prevent such collisions which are detrimental to all involved, needless to say...) But another thing to consider is, as pointed out, what to do with a lance which has pierced your enemy? If still intact, and you are using it across your horse's neck, you're going to be unhorsed too. However, if you are going "right to right" or dead-on to your target, and pierce him, you can either let go the lance (if you do NOT have a lance arrest) or preferably it breaks, leaving you with the stump to return with in triumph. With lighter lances there is a specific way of holding the lance to allow it to be used and discarded without the strong possiblity of playing pole-vault with it, such as is done with tent-pegging.

Per the lance arrests, indeed the are not only important as a "rest" but really the term "arrest" is more proper, since what with plate armour, a rather heavy an smoothe lance, and LOTS of impact, without one the lance has a distinct tendency to slide backwards under the arm rather than imparting the full effects of the speed and weight of the horse/rider combination, and allows the impact to be diffused to the gendarme's breastplate, thence to the body, the saddle, and finally to the horse. A SERIOUS improvement in imparting violence to the point of the lance!

I personally don't recall anything off hand dealing with left-handedness, other than what is noted above. Dexterous/righthandedness (it's "right" you know) vs. sinister/lefthandedness (also being "gauche" etc., though that rightly belongs to the 19th Century and the "left side of the Seine") Still, I would be VERY surprised at finding much at all on lefthanded gendarmes. As noted above Southpaws tend to be rather more dexterous (hehehe) than Righties, so with constant tutelage (be it gentle or rough) the Leftie who didn't adopt right-handedness would be a rare bird indeed.

Anyway, great subject for discussion, I look forward to hearing more cool thoughts!

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
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Lloyd Clark




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2005 1:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Parry wrote:

Thanks for the info on the lance rests too. That one always puzzled me.

Daniel


Here is a link to my arret:

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/joustwarrior/de...mp;.src=ph

It takes a bit of practice to get good with these, but once you do, they really lessen the impact on your hand - however, they increase the impact of the blow considerably. You'll find out quickly how good your seat is when you start using an arret.

Also, I would have to check, but in one of the Medieval Equestrian Combat manuals, it shows a combatant actually couching their sword under their arm (and presumably against the arret) like a lance. I am not quite sure how well that would actually work - but I will be working it out in the coming months.

Cheers,

Lloyd Clark
2000 World Jousting Champion
2004 World Jousting Bronze Medalist
Swordmaster
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2005 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lloyd;

Thanks for that link.

One of the things that is more intuitive than actually known is the shape of the lance seems to have been determined by the lance arrest or lack there-of. Without one, there isn't a real need for the classical hourglass grip at the butt end of the heavy lance, but the swelling front and back of the grip (IMHO) does two things. First the front swelling aids the arrest in actually arresting/gripping the lance and holding it in place, while the swell to the butt end of the lance is as a counterbalance for the rather extreme length of most of the heavy lances.

From my research it looks as though by the early 16th Century most heavy cavalry lances for war were 14-16' in length (which they needed to be to counter the 16-18' pikes in use). While a pike could be weilded with two hands, obviously a lance cannot, since you need one of them for controlling the horse. But with a counterweight and the pivot-point in the form of the lance arrest, then you have the perfect method for securing the lance. It's fairly well balanced on the body of the user via his breastplate, and the shock (as Lloyd notes!) is transfered from there to the saddle and the horse through the gendarme's body, as opposed to just his hand and wrist (I note a lot of busted wrists in the Jousting community, I presume from a lack of lance arrests?)

The main thing though is that the shape is more dictated by the use of the arrest, rather than just as a counter-weight. As Alina noted, there are plenty of other cavarly types out there using straight lances, and using them in a manner other than that of the gendarme (i.e. a straight-on charge with a couched lance). With the hourglass shape, a lance would be rather unhandy for much other than the charge, while the straight light lance would be far less effective in that role.

Oh, another interesting point is that tournament lances for the most part were (from my understanding of it) significantly lighter than war lances, usually through fluting or even hollowing out the center of the tournament lance. The Poles also used this trick on their war lances, and were thus able to go with the horrendous length of 22' on their war lances (although these were straight, and not used with an arrest). THAT is bloody long!

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
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http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2005 4:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

>Also, I would have to check, but in one of the Medieval Equestrian Combat manuals, it shows a combatant actually >couching their sword under their arm (and presumably against the arret) like a lance. I am not quite sure how well that >would actually work - but I will be working it out in the coming months.

I cracked open "Medieval Warfare" by H.W. Koch last night, as well as a couple other books on the period, and found some interesting plates, including one like you describe, as well as a few other interesting observations and notes.

Firstly, "Heavy Cavalry" from the middle Medieval period (~800-1100) are really what we would call "Light Cavalry" later on. This is the "Chail mail, Iron Helmet, Spear, Shield and Sword" type of fighter. The images from the Bayeux tapestry and other contemporary artwork also display a fair number of charges where the lance is weilded overhead (~900-1000).
Later artwork doesn't show that tactic anymore, they're all couched, and since they are not using plate armour yet, there are obviously no rests in use.

What really struck home was that all of the images that show Horse vs. Horse definitely have the couched lance, and while there are precious few images that show Horse vs. Foot, the ones that *do* illustrate this, all have the Cavalry holding the lance with two hands, left hand is holding the lance overhanded, with equal divisions of right hand overhand or underhand. This position would really make sense in the "stick it, and use a pole vaulting type arm motion to drive the footman down, and pull out as you pass by, especially with the underhanded back hand position.

As you get into full armour period (~1200+), the images of horse vs. foot disappear entirely, and it's couched lance against couched lance. I've not spotted any rests in the images of Crecy and the other later battles, but I'm not in any postion to doubt Daniel's research on the matter. I'd be tempted to say the lance rest doesn't appear until the late 14th century, but that is just a hunch based on the armour I've seen.

The last thing to add was based on the text of this book, so it's H.W. Koch's interpretation of events on the line. He's done good research in other areas, so I feel confident in his work, but I'll not stand by it as factual without some primary reference material to back it up.

Having said that, he indicates that the Cavalry tactics in use were actually far slower than what we picture in our minds, based on the 18th and 19th century models, which *were* lightning charges. He indicates that Horsemen were actually moving at a slow gait, at a pace equivalant to the footman, and were merely using the extra leverage, height, and mass of the horse to achive their results. He describes their actions as almost slow-motion compared to later tactics.

The Cavalry focused on other Cavalry, but when a rout was in order, they'd just slide in and start spearing people, or using their hand to hand weapons. There doesn't appear to be much in the way of using a wave of horse to overpower a wave of men, but primarily to scatter archers, harass the flanks, and protect against other horse.

At any rate, not my primary period of focus, but interesting nonetheless.

Matthew
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2005 5:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew, you're dead on the money with the observation that what qualified as "heavy cavalry" in 1000 was definitely LIGHT cavalry in 1500, rather akin to the Jinete that is the subject of discussion on another thread, and the use of his lance would probably be rather similar.

One of the things that is seldom pointed out, because it didn't quite fit with the Knight's ideal of chivalry, was that the primary purpose of really Heavy Cavalry was to defeat Infantry. Of course to do that you FIRST have to defeat the other guy's Cavalry force, starting with the Heavies, but once that was done, there is a rather sad and unfortunate history of the army that looses it's Cavalry battle then is subject to the slaughter of it's Infantry force. Clear into the early 19th Century though this is proven out (with some major exceptions of course). But what remains is that Heavy Horse was the only real viable offensive weapon that a Commander had at his disposal. Archers, pikemen, arquebusiers, you name it, were still for the most part defensive in nature. They could hold ground to be sure, and they were absolutely necessary for siege work of course, but on the mobile battlefield, it was Heavy Horse that provided the Shock, the action, and the offensive power that could be projected at will against the enemy. As the French discovered (eventually) in the 100 Years War, the best way to defeat the English was to not attack them, but force the English to move, and then hit them when they were thus vulnerable.

As far as speed of attack goes, there are of course many opinions on that one. One thing is for certain though, and that is that a lance is only as good as the power behind it. And while the modern image of the Gendarme has him mounted on a huge draft horse, in point of fact they were mounted on much smaller, more mobile animals. They weren't small by any standards, of course, being very beefy and strong enough to carry a fully armoured gendarme at good speed across a plain, but still, not these 2,000 pound monsters that some modern jousters use... much more likely to be in the 1200-1500 pound range (by way of comparison a mid-19th Century US Cavalry horse was expected to weigh in at between 950 and 1150 pounds). But that sure does LOOK cool, I have to admit! Big Grin Still, you do have a very good point in that battles of the period just weren't as rapid or mobile as the one's of the 19th Century!

Good points all, thanks!

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Lloyd Clark




Location: Beaver Dam, WI
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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2005 6:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
They weren't small by any standards, of course, being very beefy and strong enough to carry a fully armoured gendarme at good speed across a plain, but still, not these 2,000 pound monsters that some modern jousters use...


Hey, quit picking on my babies! They're not monsters, just really big children!Wink

Seriously, horses the size of modern drafts didn't exist until well after the renaissance. But don't picture medieval knights on super light horses either. Picture a Cob crossed with an Arab - shorter and more dexterious, but definitely with a strong backend (the horse's motor) and powerful frame.

Personally, I ride drafts and crosses just because it is my preference. I enjoy working with the Wooly Mammoths, as drafts often go out of their way to please their rider. And once you get used to mounting from a block (which I do anyway in full armour) and the fact that you can see for miles...they aren't too different from other tiny horses.

Just a quick note on the initial lance charge, I have experimented with this somewhat against static targets (read this as straw bales) and haven't been able to competently accomplish it at anything over a trot. It places too much torque on the shoulder and wrist. I am going to try setting up a target similar to the one that the Royal Armouries use as their sword target (a straw filled stack attached to a spring/post holder) and attempt it again with various lengths and types of lances.

Thanks to Allen of Mercenary Tailor, I have a nice breastplate and REALLY NICE Crusader Great Helm to attack with lance, spear, mace, and hammer. I will be taking copious pictures and video and will, of course, report back my findings and impressions here.

Have a great weekend,

Cheers,

Lloyd Clark
2000 World Jousting Champion
2004 World Jousting Bronze Medalist
Swordmaster
Super Proud Husband and Father!
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Fri 06 May, 2005 8:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lloyd;

No jabs against your babies, mate! I ride a half-draft myself, and love the temperment that a Draftie has! I figure that mine is pretty close to what a Destrier ought to be... aroung 1500 pounds, pretty leggy but still VERY beefy in the body. He can handle my skinny backside with easy, and carry a good load of iron as well. But although I would argue that it isn't precisely "period" to use a full sized Draft horse, by the same token I agree completely that a gendarme isn't about to be found riding an Arabian! I'd rather see the larger horses myself, since our own perception of size has changed so much over time. But there is no doubt that Destriers were large animals, and chunky brutes. But I'd wager that they were usually pretty high on the "attitude" list as well, LOL!

On the subject of the Charge, I would really like to see what you find out with the cool toys that Allan sent you to play with! I am really interested in finding out more on the speed/accuracy end of it too. I just got a nice little 5-acre pasture to play in, so I'm about to set up a course for myself soon... we can swap stories and info!

Thanks for the input too, BTW, and take care!

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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