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Cole Sibley




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jun, 2005 9:30 pm    Post subject: Zwiehander: effective vs cavalry?         Reply with quote

Every once and a while a forum opinion pops up with regards to the large 'two-handed' swords as being effective as anti-cavalry weapons, specifically as being able to 'easily' kill a knights horse from under him. Could a professional group of Zwiehanders pose a serious threat to a group of knights?

Now I've never handled a six foot long sword, nor have I attempted serious combat against a man from horseback; but from my experience as a rider I'd like to think that with a good (well trained) horse I would fear no single man, nor even a small group. In my experience a good horse is completely capable of knocking over a cow (1000 pounds of 4 legged fury), or sidestep any offensive advances of said beasty, and I would say a cow is both faster, and more dextrous than any man (just try to knock over a cow some time). I couldn't argue that a well trained and intent man could seriously injure a horse (or rider) with a Long sword, but it seems the odds would be stacked against him, and that from the reverse side an armed and intent horseman would have a massive advantage.

Is there historic evidence along this vein, and are there any experienced jousters or mounted combatants that might shed any light? Maybe I'm way off on this one, I'd be curious of other opinions.
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David Lindberg





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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jun, 2005 10:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now, I may not be able to offer the type of response you want but I will try to offer a tactical perspective of the use of the Zweihander.
Considering that it was used mainly by the Landsknecht Doppelsoldner, and his equivelants, the Zweihander would have occured primarily in pike blocks, mainly in the front, and back, but a few may be dispersed inside. One of the purposes of the pike at this time would be to deflect attacks from cavalry. At this point the heavily armoured men at arms would have been a relatively frequent sight on the battlefield (true knights would, by then, be rarer).
Now, with the protection of 4-5 rows of pike heads, even at the front of the formation, the Zweihander would have little to do with defeating a horseman, though perhaps it might be used to execute a prone opponent or some such.

Anyway, the Zweihander was a weapon used for a specific situation, this is why the Doppelsoldner also carried his Katzbalger. Of course, this is not to say that it would not have been used against cavalry after, for example, the pike block had broken formation. In this case I would suppose it to be reasonably effective.
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Tue 07 Jun, 2005 11:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And I will choose to politely, but fervently, disagree with David... Happy

Both of these topics come up quite often, and I've been putting a lot of effort into establishing the truth(s) of the matters, and so a lot of this is quite fresh in my mind, and quite thoroughly scoured... Happy

Caveat the first, I am 100% willing to be completely wrong about the following, but will need some pretty substantial references to back it up, as most of the above opinions stem from Hollywood and the Historical Re-enactment community and word of mouth. I've spent a great deal of time crawling through the available manuscripts of the period over the last few years, all manner of books written referencing various Period Sources (Charles Oman, Hans Delbruck, and the like), as well as countless hours of sifting through period artwork.

My Achilles heel? I have extensive information regarding Renaissance Warfare in general, how the troops were armed and deployed, etc. However, most of that is contained in period English manuscripts. They primarily cover the English and Dutch practices, as well as there are several that describe the Spanish, French and Italian prctices, some from the point of few as an observer on the field, some as translations of other documents written by their respective foreign authors. As most of these documents are written in the last quarter of the 16th century, there is almost no written evidence at my disposal (read as "...in English") contemporary with the era or culture of the Zwiehander or Bidenhander, and the English never seemed to have really required a two-handed sword in their ranks, at least to any notable extent.

So, there's my flaw, feel free to plug holes into my fields of reference, I love learning more... Happy

So, with that all said, here is what I've learned....

The rise and decline of the two handed sword coincides with the rise and fall of the Polearms as an "Offensive" Unit (roughly 1450-1530). Polearms (most especially Pikes) continue to get used for another 150 years, but their role shifts from that of the Juggernaut effect of the Early swiss Pike Phalanxes into more defensive roles, notably protecting the Shot, and their role was more like the Anvil in being the proverbial "immovable object" from the latter half of the 16th century on.

This earlier "Pole-Offensive" era sees very little warfare in England, most all of the conflicts in Europe are in the Italian wars between the Emperor, France, and the Italies. Also the Welsh Longbow is still the preferred English method of disposing of large massed formations. It's no small surprise to me that the majority of the two handed swords we find are either Italian or German. By the time England gets into the fray with Spain in the Low Countries and Ireland (1560's), the Caliver and Harquebus have replaced the Bow (and bypassed entirely the two handed sword) as the best way to dispatch a wall of Pikes.

The Battle of Pavia (1525) really was the zenith for the Zwiehander, and by the 1560's they were fairly well gone, except for as Parade pieces, and there is a similar ebb in two handed swords overall (the Zwiehander usually being associated with a specific *design* of these class of weapons, specifically having the flukes above the ricasso, and more developed quillons and port rings).

As far as *where* the Zwiehander specifically, (and the two handed sword in General), is deployed, many Landsknecht re-enactors describe the Doppelsoldier armed with Zwiehanders as "shock troops". This does not appear do be the case.
Most often they are deployed with Halberdiers to guard the Ensign, or flag-bearer. They are usually placed in the center of the formation, so are a last-ditch defence for the Captain and Flag. They *can* get used in the manner described (charging down the pike ranks), but since their numbers are so small (1/2-1% of the Soldiers), it's not their normal task, to be sure.

As I have little contemporary written evidence, I can only judge by a few snippets of text, and then the contemporary pictorial evidence:

'Giacomo DiGrassi, His True Art Of Defence'
Translated By I.G., 1594

"The two hand Sword, as it is used now a daies being fower handfulls in the handle, or more, having also the great crosse, was found out, to the end it should be handled one to one at an equall match, as other weapons, of which I have in treated. But because one may with it (as a galleon, among many gallies) resist many Swordes, or other weapons: Therefore in the warres, it is used to be placed neere unto the Ensigne or Auncient, for the defence thereof, because, being of it selfe hable to contend with manie, it may the better safeguard the same."


'Certain Discourses Concerning Formes And Effects Of Weapons'
Sir John Smythe, 1590.

(In reference to how the Imperial forces are drawn up)

"When the great Princes of Germanie...are disposed to make warre...being bound (as they are) by their tenure Militarie to the Empire, some to find horsemen, and others to finde footmen at their own charges...form their regiments of footmen into great bands of 500 to an Ensigne... ...their milicia consisting of Harquebuziers, Piquers, and some Halbarders, with a few slath swords for the gard of their Ensignes..."

('Slath' sword is a euphemism for a two handed sword. I recently acquired a Catalog from the Landeshaus Graz that was printed in the 60's, and two of their two-handed blades are described as something like 'slather schwert' (sp? I'll dig up the book later)

As far as *how* the Zwiehander is used, it seems to be very much handled like a polearm as opposed to a traditional sword. The fluke or forward quillons above the Ricasso give you a safe place to grip it, point up or down, and they would be deployed between pike ranks. When the time to strike has come, they slide down the ranks, and engage with the tips of a few pikes. Since this tool is an incredibly powerful lever, one Zwiehander can successfully bind up 5-6 pikes at once. From here, you can either press the pikes to the side or the ground and hope your compadres pile in the opening, but that would leave the Zwiehander rather exposed to getting nailed by other pikemen. If, however, you bind up those blades and start charging up the length of the pike, you're going to find yourself holding onto the end of a four foot long sword blade, punching into all of the soft, chewy centers of pikemen 16 feet away from the effective end of their weapons... Happy

The best application appears to be use the flukes and quillons as your defence to safely engage with the pikes, then press and slide.

As far as the training descriptions, most of the extant fight manuals are written in the late 16th century, which puts the majority of them mostly 50 years or more *after* the height of the two handed sword in use in battle. Lichtenauer and the early German fight books were certainly published long before, but they *undershoot* the era of the Zweihander by a fair margin. With this in mind, I feel the best Fight Book to focus on in regards to being contemporary with the era of the two handed sword would be Achille Marozzo's 'Opera Nova'. This work is primarily textual, not to mention written in 16th Century Tuscan, a distinctly unique Italian dialect, and is usually overlooked, except for the nifty buckler shapes...

http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~wew/fencing/manuals.html

Now, I've not met a complete English translation yet (Mr. Tobler, got some time on your hands? Happy, but the two handed sword plates all show commonalities with my described (yet undocumented) manner of using these weapons against pikes.

To wit:

1) Almost all of the guards are firmly on the middle position, with fairly horizontal blade positions.

2) 4 Cutting postures, and 15 Defensive postures. Sense a slight bias in it's intended application?...

3) Of the 15 Wards, 6 are point down, 3 are point up, and 6 are point level. Again, sensing a theme... Happy


Now, to the Artwork. I have to confess that going after the "1%-er" here is proving troublesome. Add to that that the majority of the Artists I'm going to mention are known everywhere for talents *NOT* in line with the works I'm citing, not found anywhere in the Internet, and most of my references will cost a pretty penny to see for yourself, until I get my scanner up and running... Happy

Most of it stems from the Maximillian era, and again, reaches it's peak with the Battle of Pavia, but there are some very telling works out there.

Hans Holbein the Younger: Primarily known for his Court Portraiture (Henry VIII's portraits being the most familiar to us English-descended folk), there are two drawings he made simply titled "Infantry Battle" that demonstrate a couple two handed swords in the fray. They are depicted in a strong downward chop in the middle of a Pike/Halberd fight. No online references found, they are in the Leeds Collection in London, and are published in the Osprey book for the "Battle of Pavia" (~$14.00)

Bernard Van Orley: Ahhh, the Pavia Tapestry. One of the best works contemporary with that event, and so little is published about it... The Osprey book has a few pictures from it, but they are all black and white photos, and miniscule. The Original is on display at an obscure Museum in Italy. The best images I have are from a book published by Banco Toscano, and is titled "Giovanni Delle Bande Nere". It's in Italian, and is a Coffee Table book with various essays about Giovanni De Medici. ~$35.00 plus shipping, kind of hard to find. While not a complete record of the Pavia Tapestry, it has a few excellent plates of various sections. Of particular note is one section, where a Doppelsoldier is pictured about to dispatch of a Pikeman (or Halberdier) who is weilding a pole that has been cracked. This might be where the myth of the "Pike Breaker" comes in. This sword is quite decidedly a true Zwiehander in it's design. There are a couple other Zwiehanders pictured in the Tapestry, but they are usually in the center of a Pike square, so are not really seen so well "in action".

Giorgio Vasari: Mostly known for his book about Michelangelo, and his Architechtural design, he was also a fairly well regarded Fresco painter. Again, in the "Giovanni Delle Bande Nere" book, there is a picture of a particularly interesting Fresco he did in the "Sala de Giovanni Delle Bande Nere" in the Palazzo Vecchio. It's title was in Italian, but translated out as something like "The fight between Giovanni and the Orsini at the Bridge to Sant'Angelo".

In it are several two handed swordsmen fighting a knot of pikemen. They are in what *ALMOST* appears to be what Morozzo calls the "Guardia de Coda Lunga et Alta", or "the High, Long Tail". Marozzo's guard has the Right hand at the quillons, left hand on the pommel, blade set horizontally straight out, sternum high, towards the right side of the body. This is almost identical to the painting, however the painting shows all of the swordsmen with their left hand at the quillons, their right on the pommel, and a slight downward angle from the sternum to about the navel. They engage the pikemen with this guard, and are seen to be charging down the shaft, using the edge as a shield, and running point first towards the pikemen. Imagine the two handed sword as the tusks of a boar, yeah, it's gonna leave a mark.

At any rate, there are other paintings, most of which are seen in the Osprey book (although poorly reproduced and *tiny*), most of them painted by Anonymous artists, and simply described as "the battle of Pavia", or 'the taking of Tunis", etc.

In all, almost every example of a Zwiehander has it portrayed near Halberdiers and the Ensign. Most distributions of Halberdiers/Billemen in a Company are at about 20%, and the ratios that are apparent in *every * single illustration I've seen:

1. For every flag visible, you only ever see one or two Zwiehanders.

2. For every Zwiehander visible, you see about 20-30 Halberds/Bills.



Whew! Almost done, and the next one is short... Happy

As to the chopping off the horses legs, that appears to be a Braveheartism. I've already firmly entreched them in the middle of the Pike square, but to agree with and add to David's point

1. Horses are quick
2. Horses are smart
3. Horses are big
4. Horses are mean (when trained to be mean)
5. Horses are expensive, and useful

Kill the man, not the horse, and a Halberd, Glaive or Billhook is a hell of a lot better way to get a Rider's complete and undivided attention.... Happy

So, either I've done my homework, or I am going to get schooled, but at least my fingers got their excercise... Happy

Again, I would *LOVE* to get some of the contemporary Deutch/Switzer resources under my belt, so I welcome any and all pertinent data, and if there is anyone out there reasonably close to Graz, I have a favor to ask of you.... Happy

Nighty night,
Matthew
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 12:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
As to the chopping off the horses legs, that appears to be a Braveheartism. I've already firmly entreched them in the middle of the Pike square, but to agree with and add to David's point

1. Horses are quick
2. Horses are smart
3. Horses are big
4. Horses are mean (when trained to be mean)
5. Horses are expensive, and useful


6:Horses that find themself engaging infantry in hand to hand battle tend to have a mean, Well trained fighter with lots of armour and a loooong weapon on topp of them.... Big Grin

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Kevin S. McCarley




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 3:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great post Matthew! Thanks for taking the time to share all those details and references.

I'm certainly no expert but this is a topic I've thought about from time-to-time. I'm thankful for the education!

I don't doubt for a second Matthew's research based conclusions... but it would be interesting to add some thoughts from some re-enactors/WMA folks who have swung a two-hander as well as inputs from the cavaliers out there.

Kevin.

Kevin
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Chris Last




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 6:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Beautiful post Matthew!

I am from the re-creation aspect of spectrum and most of what I have been taught in regards to Zweihanders has been exactly as you said word of mouth shock troop stuff. Your research is fantastic and I'm going to be digging through my own period sources to look up some of those points as well.

We have in our camp a Lutel 16003 zwei (http://www.lutel.cz/katalog160.htm) and we have used it in some of our experiments over the last couple years. When we have swung at a block of pike (using practice pikes - 14 foot pine dowels in three ranks of charge for horse, charge, and high charge) the zwei will definately displace the pike. However it does put the person swinging a pike grossly out of position for any sort of secondary attack with the zwei. Now we may not be doing things correctly, but in our practice the zwei-user, unless backed up greatly by his own infantry, would be dead.

Holding onto the Lutel Zwei and going at the pells with it in our camp, it does definately feel more like a polearm should than a sword. In fact, I personally found it more 'comfortable' to use it like my halberd than a sword.

You've gotten my interest going again, and I think this summer we'll try out some of the press and slide experiments and see how that works!

Thanks again!

Chris

" Hang fires are all fun and games untill someone gets their eye poked out... by charging calvary." - J.Shoemaker

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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew;

As always, your scholarship is amazing! Thank you for those great quotes, and for digging up such obscure and archane but nifty tidbits! This is one of the reasons I keep hanging out on this forum!

Anyway, my own input here viz. Zweihanders. First, I agree 100% with Matthew's assessment that the Zweihander Schwert's primary use was as a defense for the Ensign, and as such was an extremely small percentage of the whole. MAYBE 10 out of 100 would be armed with "short weapons", and of that , most of them would have halberds rather than the Zweihanders. So they're rare, and in the center of the formation.

However, there are certainly instances where the Double Pay men were called forward to get the pikemen out of a jam, or to "loose things up" as it were. One of the best examples is at Bicocca in 1522, where the Imperialists had secured themselves a position behind a sunken road, deepended to form a ditch "deeper than a pike was tall". When the pikes jammed up in front of the ditch, then the call was sent out to the the Officers and Double Pay men to come forward and earn that pay. Needless to say, since the rampart beyond the ditch was festooned with arquebusiers, not a lot of them made it across the ditch to play "mano-a-mano" with the Spaniards.

But as far as what effect a Dopplesoeldner armed with a Zweihander might have on a horseman. One on one, the footman is dead for all of the above reasons given by Cole and Matthew, but secondly he is in this period invariably carrying a long lance. (All of this is pre-supposing that we're dealing with Gendarmes rather than Light Cavalry, since Light Cavalry has no business mixing it up with Heavy Infantry anyway...) The heavy lance was anywhere from 14-18 feet long, pushed by a vehicle weighing in at (counting horse, man, horse armour and man's armour) around a ton, going at a good 25 miles per hour. Granted that the lance is a one-shot weapon, but with a well trained war horse dancing around a footman isn't a huge difficulty.

There are several references (Ravenna 1512, Ceresole 1544, Dreux 1562) of Gendarmes on fully armoured horses riding completely THROUGH Pike squares, and popping out the otherside. Obviously any Zweihanders even in the middle of the square weren't doing the trick (had to get a good swing when your packed in like that). But it also may be pointed out that it takes a very special horse to be able to do that sort of thing, not simply charging at a solid wall of pikes, but also going INTO a solid wall of men, and continuing on through to the other side.

As was noted above, the war horses were big (though not the big Draft horses we see today for sport jousting), spirited and mean. They were also almost always Stallions... which means that all of them did indeed have the "balls" to do what it took. Stallions are agressive, violent and smart (in fact the finest Dressage horses today are Stallions. Once you get them interested in something, they take to it in a big way). Stallions also enjoy attacking other horses, AND people if they are trained to it (some don't have to be, LOL!). If you've ever seen the Lipizzaner Stallions of the Spanish Riding School of Austria, then you've seen some of the amuzing tricks that were used to engage both other horses and footsolders. "Airs" were kicking out for and aft at the same time, while other kicks, bites and "nudges", i.e. body blocks, were tools of the trade. (For some odd reason Hollywood doesn't get into that sort of thing in their big Cavalry melee's: too much likelyhood of folks getting killed, I guess!) Add to it, as noted by Elling, a Gendarme with a war-hammer, mace or hand-and-a-half sword on board, and you have a rather prickly customer to deal with.

(This brings up an interesting side issue for another thread: with the above statement on Stallions, is it any wonder that the so-called "severe" bits and spurs were used? Controlling 3/4 of a ton of testosterone-pumped fury in a swirling melee with a simple snaffle bit and bear heels just ain't gonna happen. Modern folks sometimes whine about how cruel those aids were, but seldom connect that there is a difference between their gentle Gelding in the controlled environment of a ring, and a Stallion in the mass confusion of a battle.)

As a side note, virtually all of the authors I have consulted (I believe Matthew can back me up on this one) agree that one of the main reasons for the discontinuation of the Lance in favour of the Pistol was the difficulty in getting such well trained horses, and well trained men to ride them. Each Gendarme needed five horses, three being top-grade War Horses, for a campaing. The Habsburg-Valios Wars, and then the French Wars of Religion and Dutch Revolt used up a LOT of horses, and when added to the numbers of horses lost in the various wars against the Turks in the East, that adds up to a huge amount of horse flesh that was reduced to carrion. Since pistoliers didn't need the speed or weight carrying capacity, and could make do with Geldings (who are a LOT easier to deal with on a day-to-day basis), it starts to make sense.

Anwyay, meine zwei pfennings.

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
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Matthew H





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a really good topic.

There is one point that I'm interested in a little clarification on, though. I may have just misread it

Quote:
The fluke or forward quillons above the Ricasso give you a safe place to grip it, point up or down, and they would be deployed between pike ranks. When the time to strike has come, they slide down the ranks, and engage with the tips of a few pikes. Since this tool is an incredibly powerful lever, one Zwiehander can successfully bind up 5-6 pikes at once. From here, you can either press the pikes to the side or the ground and hope your compadres pile in the opening, but that would leave the Zwiehander rather exposed to getting nailed by other pikemen. If, however, you bind up those blades and start charging up the length of the pike, you're going to find yourself holding onto the end of a four foot long sword blade, punching into all of the soft, chewy centers of pikemen 16 feet away from the effective end of their weapons...


are you referring to moving up between the files toward the front ranks to engage the enemy when they have come to a push of pike?

I know you said moving between the ranks, but that would be a lateral movement that would not take the soldier towards the enemy unless the block is surrounded

And if so, then I'm not entirely certain that the man with the zwei would be able to reach the enemy. I don't have access to the art you've referenced, so it puts me at somewhat of a disadvantage here, but according to Smythe's "Certain Instructions...", which I realize was not published until 1590, he describes the formation of pikes as such when engaging the enemy:

"And if all the pikers of a band, … and that the …Captains would have their pikers to charge or to receive a charge of another square of pikers their Enemies, then are they to say to the first rank of pikers. “Straighten and close your ranks, couch your pikes and charge:” which being pronounced, all the pikers of the first rank must join, and close themselves close in front, letting fall the points of their pikes and carry them close breast-high with both their hands steadily and firmly, the points full in the faces of their Enemies:"

The next couple of ranks do the same.

The pikemen are so close to each other at this point (shoulder to shoulder, that is) that the man with the zweihander would not have room to move between the files to get to the enemies' pikes.

I'm not entirely certain he'd be much good until the enemy made it's way throught the pikes to where the ensign was standing.

Please let me know what you think.
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Cole Sibley




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 11:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent information gentlemen, very interesting. It seems a general consensus then that a 2-hander vs a the horseman is basically a myth. It is very interesting though to notice the limited number of Dopplesoldners historically utilized. It seems that they truly did have Very specific (or limited) uses.

I may see something of Chris's point about lateral movement though. If, as Mathew states, the Dopple is able to slide up the pike ranks (this makes perfect sense), it seems like it may be even more effective to slide up laterally (or diagnally), in order to create a wider hole, so to speak.

Could it be another myth then that the Dopplesoldner is payed double for his skill with the 2-handed sword? It seems that mere strength/skill of arms can be replicated by many men. Perhaps combat experience then? That 'being in the 'right place at the right time', is the more important aspect? It seems the Dopple may have some very important aspects of maintaining formations and even moral. I'm unfamiliar with 'military rank' structure of these specific time periods (off to investigate), but if memory serves there was as yet no real chain of command, there was merely a leader. Could the Dopplesoldner be the beginning of small unit/combined arms tactics?
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

>I know you said moving between the ranks, but that would be a lateral movement that would not take the soldier towards >the enemy unless the block is surrounded

I see I said "deployed between Pike Ranks", and you're right, that should say "Files".

By "sliding down the ranks", I mean between the files, moving from the middle ranks to the front (Rank 5 to 4 to 3, etc...), and then once you get a good purchase on the opposing pikes, shoot through and proceed up the ranks (1 to 2 to 3, etc.)

The damage that can be executed by a successful attempt at the above is heinous to the integrity of a Pike Square, and it's the cohesion of bodies that makes the square work. First, by raking the blade up the poles, you're going to extract either a few fingers or hands, or at the least cause the Pikeman to drop their pikes. Either case weakens the front.

Next, as you've correctly surmised, yes, the Pikes are packed in like Sardines. However, even if you're standing Breast to Back To Breast To Back, etc., there is still about an 18" gap between each Pike. Plenty of room there for a man to operate in, especially when he's holding a 6 foot prybar.

Sure, it's tight squeezing him out if your own front is packed in, but I'll be honest, I've been able to step over my Pikemen's thighs (stick foot through about waist high, step down in front of his leg), and only a slight wiggle was required to pop my butt through (and at 6'2" and 230 pounds, that's mighty impressive... Happy all without displacing anyone or creating a gap in the front.

Also remember, we're talking one or two guys in a company, not Cox's army, but the idea of slipping smaller arms between pike ranks is not new, the Spanish did it with Sword and Buckler men, and later almost everyone did it with Harquebuses.

Now, where you really get to see the chaos fly is that if you successfully got him out, and through the front ranks of pikes, he's now armed with the aforementioned 6 foot pry bar that has some unique aspects, most notably some really nasty hooks, and oftentimes, sharpened quillons. It's kind of like watching someone wrestle with a Barracuda, lots of sharp and nasty thrashing about.

Since your opponents pikes are just as squeezed in as yours, they really can't go anywhere, and you can dispatch them fairly handily. You can furthermore use your Zwiehander as a sort of shield (Point in ground, grab port ring, and use as a Kite Shield), draw the Katzpalger, and pretty much gut and hamstring to your heart's delight (Damn, I miss Don Smith and Battle Pageant... Happy

Is it the way to win the war? Nope, but it's going to cause an extreme softening of the area where you are, and if your Pikes are backing your play, they can squeeze in your opening, and proceed to divide and conquer.

I hope that helps illustrate it better.

Thanks all,
Matthew
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 12:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Could it be another myth then that the Dopplesoldner is payed double for his skill with the 2-handed sword? It seems that mere strength/skill of arms can be replicated by many men. Perhaps combat experience then? That 'being in the 'right place at the right time', is the more important aspect? It seems the Dopple may have some very important aspects of maintaining formations and even moral. I'm unfamiliar with 'military rank' structure of these specific time periods (off to investigate), but if memory serves there was as yet no real chain of command, there was merely a leader. Could the Dopplesoldner be the beginning of small unit/combined arms tactics?


It's *not* a myth that the Dopplesoldner is a double-pay man, it *is* a myth that every Dopplesoldner weilded a Zwiehander. You're right, the Dopplesoldner were the experienced soldiers, and were deployed as Ad Hoc "Sergeants", for lack of a better word.

They were required to have their own Armour and Weapons, and their experiences in the wars were what earned them their pay. Whether they were Pikers, Harquebusiers, Halberdiers or Zwiehanders didn't matter, they would be put in as file leaders, and peppered elsewhere among the ranks to keep the War Machine rolling, and when push came to shove, and as Gordon said, they were needed to "loosen things up", they were put to the test, and made to earn their pay.

Dopple = Zwie is just another Faireism... Happy
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think a two hander is a very good anti-cavalry weapon (obviously a pike is better), but don't see why folks with two handers couldn't stand against cavalry, assuming their were more of them (as infantry should always outnumber cavalry) and they had good order and courage.

But I guess late period cavalry were a bit better at charging through formations than earlier cavalry...
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Matthew H





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 1:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The clarification makes perfect sense, and is what I was looking for. Thankyou!
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Cole Sibley




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting Mathew, I had never heard that before, only that the Dopple was the Norse 'berserker' of his age; which never did make a lot of sense to me. Just as today then, double pay takes a lot more than just a strong arm Happy
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 3:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Twohander between the files could be compared to a " Maul " splitting a log: Being a wedge between the grain of the pike square.

Horizontal and wide sweeps of the sword would be impossible, but all that sliding of blade and vertical slashing wouldn't be obstructed by the friendly pikes on each side of the Double handed swordsman.

( Anyway that how I understand the discussion so far ! )

Against a horseman the Twohander might have a chance if he got his timing just right and might be better off than a single handed and shield swordsman.

On the other hand: Give me a Longbow, a crossbow or musket and good aim. Razz Laughing Out Loud

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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 4:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
I don't think a two hander is a very good anti-cavalry weapon (obviously a pike is better), but don't see why folks with two handers couldn't stand against cavalry, assuming their were more of them (as infantry should always outnumber cavalry) and they had good order and courage.

But I guess late period cavalry were a bit better at charging through formations than earlier cavalry...


The biggest problem is that historically the shorter weapons get run down by cavalry, be they sword and buckler men/Targeteers, halberdiers, or two-handed swordsmen (or arquebusiers for that matter...). The Swiss learned that one against the Italians in the early 15th Century by trying their halberd tactics in the open field against Italian Gendarmes (which is why they transfered their faith to the Pike), and the French were constantly having their Arquebusiers run down by their countrymen of a different faith during the Wars of Religion. It seems as though the only weapons system that could stand against Cavalry was the English one of Longbow and dismounted Gendarme, but even they had their sharpened stakes at their front to discourage the horses, and it was totally defensive tactically. When field artillery came into play, THAT tactic got old fast, thus restoring the Gendarme back to his primacy.

Pretty much it's that the lance outranges any of the shorter weapons, and when propelled by a Destrier at a gallop, there's a LOT of foot-tons of energy there at the sharp end. And when the horse is armoured, (which in the first half of the 16th Century was usually the case for Gendarmerie) it only leaves the legs to aim for, and the weilder of the sword would have to discount any idea of defending himself for the opportunity to dispatch the horse instead.

One thing for us all to also keep in mind is that the Cavalry of the late-15th Century on was pretty well disciplined. Be they from the compaignes d'ordonnance of France or Burgundy, or the various Italian Condottieri, or the Imperialists, Heavy Cavalry was taught to charge in tight formations, with other formations backing them up in order to keep up a constant shock hitting the Infantry bloc. With one compaigne d'ordonnance of 50 Gendarmes hitting you in tight formation, followed up by two or three more in echelon or coming up from reserve, it would be VERY difficult for any but the hardiest of veterans armed with pikes to keep their formation and not be run down like frightened pullets... in general only the very best Germans, and of course the Swiss, could manage that feat.

When you get down to it though, the real tactical brilliance of using Heavy Horse wasn't so much to break pike squares (which they could do often enough to make them want to try it all the time) but to hold the pikes in position, and keep them from either advancing on their tactical goal, or from retreating. At that point (as the French figured out by 1512, perfected it by 1515, forgot it at Pavia in 1525) you could pound the absolute snot out of them with your artillery. Large stationary formations of flesh and blood do VERY poorly in relation to iron projectiles weighing in at 12-24+ pounds, travelling at 1500 feet per second. So even a nice formation of Zweihanders, assuming that they could indeed stand against Gendarmes, would have to deploy tactically against them and be slowed to the point that artillery would make them rather miserable.

Rochambeau.

Anyway, long explanation for a simple question! I tend to get side-tracked...

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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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon and Matthew K:
Very good an informative posts, as someone who mainly works with the German&French stuff it's interesting to seen what the English sources have to say.

A couple of comments on the Swiss vs Milanes condottiere at Arbedo in 1422.
To my undertadign the Swiss were 2/3 halberds and 1/3 pike by this time not counting the crossbowmen.
The inital mounted milanese charges was a failure and they lost some 400 horses.
Then Carmagnola broguth his crossowmen forward while he dismounted his cavalry. The dismounted men-at-arms used lance which outreached the halbereds (This had alread happend before at the battle of Sempach) Soon the Swiss were hard pressed to resist until the arrival of some 600 Swiss foragers whcih the Milanese misstook for a much larger reinforcement and broke of their attack.

After Arbedo the Swiss started to increase the number of pikemen above the 1/3 used during that battle but as late as 1476 at the battle of Murten the majority of the Swiss still seem to have used the halbered.

The myth fo the larger formatiosn of doppelsöldner armed with zeihänders arose in the works of sevarl german historian who worked in the late 19th Century. That at elats is how far I've been able to trace it. The period sources certainly does not mention any lareg scale use of the zweihänder in battle. And to judge by the few list of equipment I've been able to find for landskenchts the Zweihänders were issued at a very limited scale, between 0-4 such swords were issued to a 300-400 man company whiel the remainder of he men used pike and arquebus except for a few men armed with halberd and tasked with guardign the engisn and the hauptman. By the mid-16th century at least the Zweihänder seems to have become mostly a weapon used by officers and NCO's partly to show rank.

Regards
Daniel
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon;

You've got me convinced NOW that a formation of Twohanded swordmen against heavy cavalry is NOT a good idea. Eek!

Maybe it's just to many " Bad " movies or being on the side of the underdog ( The poor footsoldier ! ) But I sort of weakly cling to the idea that in a one on one fight the guy on foot might have a chance with a Twohander, maybe with some help from a terrain cluttered with boulders or big trees to hide behind. Not a caught in the middle of a flat plaine, PLEASE !

In any case your arguments proving me wrong should be educational and entertaining. Wink

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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 5:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:

A couple of comments on the Swiss vs Milanes condottiere at Arbedo in 1422.
To my undertadign the Swiss were 2/3 halberds and 1/3 pike by this time not counting the crossbowmen.
The inital mounted milanese charges was a failure and they lost some 400 horses.
Then Carmagnola broguth his crossowmen forward while he dismounted his cavalry. The dismounted men-at-arms used lance which outreached the halbereds (This had alread happend before at the battle of Sempach) Soon the Swiss were hard pressed to resist until the arrival of some 600 Swiss foragers whcih the Milanese misstook for a much larger reinforcement and broke of their attack.

After Arbedo the Swiss started to increase the number of pikemen above the 1/3 used during that battle but as late as 1476 at the battle of Murten the majority of the Swiss still seem to have used the halbered.

Regards
Daniel


Daniel;

You're absolutely right on that one... I had forgotten that the Milanese had to dismount, and now that I think about it wasn't one of Camagnola's ideas that his Gendarme's lances could defeat halberds even when dismounted? Been too long since I read up on that one!

And Jean, sorry to discourage your close-held notions of Foote vs Horse! But you are actually dead on the money with the comment about trees and such, that is precisely the conditions at Pavia under which the Imperialist Arquebusiers could defeat the French Gendarmerie. In the morning fog and forested conditions of the game park, the French Cavalry simply couldn't get at the Spanish and German Infantrymen, and ended up masking them their only serious hope of reversing a bad situation, which was the French Artillery. Once the fog had lifted to the point the Artillerymen could see anything, and the French horse was out of the way, King Francios was already a prisoner and the flower of French chivalry was dead on the field (hmmm... familiar phrase! I think that happened a few times too many...) At any rate, since "Shotte" and other short weapons were so vulnerable to Horse, the tactic became to utilize the Pikes as the defensive position to which they could retreat as needed. Just as the use of the Arquebus began as a defense of town walls by Urban Militias, the Spaniards figured out that all they needed to do was to provide walls that moved... just don't let those pesky fellows with crowbars (Zweihanders) near your bricks (Pikemen)!

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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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Jun, 2005 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A very enlightening discussion, gentlemen! All of the salient points seem to be covered. If a cavalry charge can be broken up the horsemen are very vulnerable to aggressive and numerous infantrymen. That happened at Kephissos in 1311, and was important in the Flemish victory at Courtrai. The choice and preparation of the terrain was an important, and often neglected, factor in the great English victories of the Hundred Years' War, whether against charging cavalry or charging dismounted men-at-arms.
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