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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 10:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
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...).


I don't really agree with this. Can you show me some examples of cavalry succeeding in a frontal attack on halberdiers without support from missile troops? I know it was very hard to get earlier period horses to charge into a solid formation of men. Soldiers with shields and spears regularly held off cavalry, as did the English, with their spears, axes and bills.

Weren't men with bayonets able to stand against cavalry? A gun with a bayonet on it isn't longer than a greatsword.

I agree with all your points about artillery. There's certainly no reason to use a formation of only two handers, and no evidence that I know of that such a thing ever existed. Pike were cheaper and surely far more effective. But I think morale and good order are the most important things to have when resisting cavalry. Lacking experience in fighting against horses, the Amerindians of Mexico made and used pikes against Spanish cavalry with very little success.
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:
The myth of the larger formation of doppelsöldner armed with zeihänders arose in the works of several german historians who worked in the late 19th Century. That at least is how far I've been able to trace it.


Yay! I'd love to get to the bottom of that one, and set it to rest once and for all.... Happy
Any information you could share about those rolls, texts and errant Authors would be greatly appreciated.

It's amazing how weird some of the myths get created. One of the major thrusts that sent me down the Manuscript acquisition path I've embarked on was related to two people on the West Coast Faire circuit that started a crusade to micromanage all of the Battle Pageants, and attempt to control the groups that participated in them.

They had made a declaration that all of the Pikes should be 24 feet long, and were attempting to enforce that on their respective groups first, and then others by example. Knowing that their lengths were off-base, but not sure by how far or why, I knew a fair amount of data was out there, and I embarked upon a mission to gather as many period references as I could to paint a complete picture for myself first, and then to pass it along, and prevent the fool's errand from seeing completion.

The results still give me the giggles... Happy

In John Bingham's 'Tactiks of Aelian' from 1616, he describes the ancient manners of warfare as recorded by Aelian, Xenophon, etc., including a fairly thorough description of their weapons. An excerpt of this section is reprinted in a few different modern books on the period, including a few Osprey books. One of the passages includes a reference to the pikes being "16 cubits" long ( a cubit being 18", this = 24'). The only flaw in this research is that they are referring to Macedonian Pikes from ~300 B.C. Happy

Of the Strength of the Macedonian Phanlange, and length of the Souldiers Pikes

Chapter XIIII

"...And the length of his Pike is sixteene Cubits according to the first institution, but in truth it ought to be foureteene Cubits..."


There is further potential confusion from another passage in that book. In one section, he speaks of Vitelli, a well respected and highly successful Condotierre from the late 15th century, and immediately reinforces the image with further references of the 16 cubit pike:

"Sorano, sheweth it; where Vitellozzo Vitelli discomfited the Almaines onely with the advantage of pikes an arme longer than theirs. Against long pikes, this policie was used by Cleonymus the Lacedemonian King, as Polienus teels. Cleonymus besieging Aedessa, and having overthrowne the wall of the City, the pikemen of the City salied out, whose pikes were each 16 cubits in length. Cleonymus closed his Phalange in depth, and commanded the file-leaders to lay away their pikes; and when the pikemen of the enemy came to charge, to seaze upon their pikes with both hands, and hold them fast, and the followers to passe thorough by the file-leaders sides, and maintaine the fight. The file-leaders laid hold on the pikes, and the enemy strove to recover them out of their hands. in the meane time, the followers passing thorough the rankes of file-leaders to the front, slew the enemies pikemen, and got the victorie."

Too bad Cleonymus' expoilts are from 302 B.C. (I like the tactic though... Happy

Ahh, the dangers of untempered data regurgitation.... Happy

BTW, in case anyone is interested in a further description of the Ancient pikes:

"Pikes for the most parte have beene called by two names by the Grecians; Doru and Sariffa. Aelian nameth the Dorata both heere, and in other places of this book. Xenophon, speaking of the weapons of the Chalybes, saith they had Dorata of 15. cubits long; armed with iron at one end onely."

I love research.... Happy
Matthew
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Quote:
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...).


I don't really agree with this. Can you show me some examples of cavalry succeeding in a frontal attack on halberdiers without support from missile troops? I know it was very hard to get earlier period horses to charge into a solid formation of men. Soldiers with shields and spears regularly held off cavalry, as did the English, with their spears, axes and bills.

Weren't men with bayonets able to stand against cavalry? A gun with a bayonet on it isn't longer than a greatsword.

I agree with all your points about artillery. There's certainly no reason to use a formation of only two handers, and no evidence that I know of that such a thing ever existed. Pike were cheaper and surely far more effective. But I think morale and good order are the most important things to have when resisting cavalry. Lacking experience in fighting against horses, the Amerindians of Mexico made and used pikes against Spanish cavalry with very little success.


You are correct of course in that such charges were generally ineffective without the support of missile weapons, no question. That's the whole point of course, is combined arms Big Grin . At Hastings it was William's combined arms army that won the day, but at Courtrai in 1302, the French were defeated because of a combination of poor terrain and lack of coordination. Same with Bannockburn, the English were poorly coordinated and the Scots rolled over them. But it was a Scottish Cavalry charge against the unprotected English archers which changed the outcome of that battle. The English learned.

There are numerous examples of the vulnerability of short weapons in the Habsburg-Valios Wars, but sadly most of my library is in boxes at the moment and I can't lay my hands on my volumes to be able to quote specifics. Nevertheless, the Spaniards in the early phases of that conflict had to change over from their sword-and-buckler and halberd based Infantry to pikes after suffering some early defeats at the hands of the French where they were in fact run down. It certainly became standard to NOT send out short weapons where they were vulnerable to Horse. Missile weapons without support were ridden down in short order, just like the French arquebusiers regularly were in the Wars of Religion. The English would invariably send out Halberdiers or Billmen to support their Shotte while skirmishing, but all would run for the cover of the pikes when Horse got too close. Hopefully Matthew has the supporting quotes at hand.

Although it has never been published as such, my own opinion (for what it is worth) is that the reason Bayonets worked, whereas Halberds did not (at least after 1422: as Daniel pointed out, the combination of 2/3ds Halberds and 1/3rd Pikes seemed to work at Arbedo against the Milanese Condottieri) is that from the mid-15th Century to the late-16th Century, Heavy Horse was VERY heavy, and most of the horses, certainly the front ranks, were armoured in plate along with the Gendarmes. By 1650, what passed for Heavy Horse were Harquebusiers, who had been considered the lightest of Horse a hundred years before, and by 1700 when the Bayonet was adopted, all that remained were Dragoons, a paltry shadow of what had been the mainstay of armies in 1500, or even 1600. Not only no armour, but mere conscripts and vagabonds on far cheaper horses, to try to replace the Flower of Chivalry. No wonder they did poorly against Bayonets! (However there are certainly instances of Squares being broken by Horse in the Age of the Bayonet as well, and Napoleon seems to have had some success with this.)

I am not suggesting for a minute that unarmoured Horse could or should go up against Pikes or even short weapons as a matter of course (one of the reason for the adoption of firearms by Light Horse early on!) The one time I know of when anyone tried tackling a pike-column with Light Horse (Ceresole, 1544) the French Light Horse got themselves slaughtered, and the commander, des Thermes, captured (it did however set into action consiquences which won the battle for the French). Even with the finest Gendarmerie though, charging a solid pike square was no panacea. The Swiss regularly absorbed such punishment and retained their cohesion, and occasionally the Landsknechts did too. It was indeed a matter of discipline and training.

Never the less, the Era of the Zweihander (and halberd as a useful weapon, really) was also the Era of the Barded Horse, and I believe that a compaigne d'ordonnance of Gendarmes could defeat a company of short weapons on any sort in open terrain, with or without missile support. But in broken or wooded terrain, forget it. And when the Gendarmerie is foolish enough to allow themselves to be stopped in FRONT of the pikes, letting the short weapons get at them in a melee (such as Charles the Rash did at Granson and Nancy), the Gendarmes often as not are toast.

Good discussion!

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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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 3:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting. I'm still not totally convinced, though. But maybe I am underestimating 15th and 16th century heavy horse.

Quote:
Even with the finest Gendarmerie though, charging a solid pike square was no panacea. The Swiss regularly absorbed such punishment and retained their cohesion, and occasionally the Landsknechts did too. It was indeed a matter of discipline and training.


Are you saying that unsupported cavalry charges regularly defeated non-Swiss pikemen?
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 5:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Interesting. I'm still not totally convinced, though. But maybe I am underestimating 15th and 16th century heavy horse.

Quote:
Even with the finest Gendarmerie though, charging a solid pike square was no panacea. The Swiss regularly absorbed such punishment and retained their cohesion, and occasionally the Landsknechts did too. It was indeed a matter of discipline and training.


Are you saying that unsupported cavalry charges regularly defeated non-Swiss pikemen?


I wouldn't say "regularly" nor "unsupported", but cavalry charges were a successful enough tactic to ensure their continued use throughout the 16th Century.

At Fornovo in 1494, the French Gendarmerie not only put the Italian Condottieri Heavy Horse to flight, but scattered the Italian Foote as well. At Ravenna in 1512, the French Horse was again able to break up an Infantry square, this one of Landsknechtes. However, there were NOT able to defeat a square of Spaniards made up of pikemen, halberdiers and sword&buckler men (who in fact caused such horrendous casualties among the French Foote that Machiavelli prophesied the return of the Roman method of war. This in fact brings up a good point, which is that when Heavy Cavalry is NOT an issue, short weapons do quite well against pikes. At Beneventum as well as Ravenna, men armed with sword and shield inflicted "Phyrric Victories" on their opponents. It is my opinion that the primary reason for pikes, at least during the Renaissance, was to try to fend off Heavy Cavalry. No Heavy Cavalry, no need for pikes.)

Again mentioning Ceresole in 1544, while the Imperialist Centre, made up of well armoured, well trained and motivated Landsknechts, was slugging it out with the Gascons and Swiss in their front, a well-timed charge by a fairly small group of Gendarmes in their flank cause the column to loose cohesion and break apart, resulting in I believe 8 survivors out of several thousand. At the same time, the comte d'Eghien was hurling his own Gendarmes at another Imperial pike column which had just defeated the French Infantry in that part of the battle. But they held them long enough for the victorious Swiss and Gascons to join the fray, resulting in yet another slaughter of Landsknechts.

As late as the French Wars of Religion, Pikemen other than the Swiss were rather vulnerable to Horse. Even they were subject to some heavy pounding though, as at Dreux in 1562, where the Huguenot Horse hit the Swiss of the Royalists time and time again, in fact going right THROUGH the Swiss pike square several times. All there proclaimed that it was in fact the steadiness of the Swiss, who surpassed all prior feats, that won the day for the Royalists.

Finally, at Tournhout in 1597, an army composed entirely of Pistolier Cavalry defeated a Spanish army of combined arms. After defeating and running off the Spanish Horse, the Anglo-Dutch Pistoliers turned on the Spanish pike-and-shot squares and defeated them in detail. Of course these fellows were rather disheartened to watch their own cavalry go scampering off, but as you note, Morale is indeed a major factor in war! The Swiss had it in the earlier case, the Spaniards did not here.

One could in fact make a point that regularly throughout the history of the West, whoever's Cavarly was victorious in the Cavarly-on-Cavarly fight, usually won the battle, as the Cavarly then was able to focus all of their attentions on the Infantry. Dreux is in fact one of the main exceptions to that. Still, it becomes a rather sad recital of such defeats.

So yes, unsupported Cavalry charges WERE successful, but the preferred option was of course combined arms.

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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Stephen Hand




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 7:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One of the keys to successfully charging solid infantry formations was firepower, yours and theirs. In the Napoleonic period it was standard practice for cavalry to threaten infantry, forcing them into square, which then made a beautiful artillery target. Bombarding squares was one of the main uses of horse artillery. Once the artillery had done enough damage, the horse could charge. The same thing was done at Falkirk in (IIRC) 1297, with a Scots pike schiltron, archers providing the firepower and knights completing the victory. In the case of the 16th and 17th centuries (the great age of European cavalry warfare-at no other time have armies had remotely as high a proportion of cavalry) firepower and shock was combined in the form of pistoleers (normally called cuirassiers), harquebusiers and carabiniers (armed with the arquebus and the carbine respectively). Faced with formed pikemen they could pour fire into them until the pikemen lost cohesion and could be ridden down.

This leads me to infantry firepower. I am not aware of a single instance of an unbombarded Napoleonic square who had loaded muskets being broken. There are many instances of squares with unloaded muskets being broken. If the bayonet armed infantry could hold fire until the charge was launched, the combination of a point blank volley and the bayonet was invincible. This is why pike formations in the 16th century started to have musketeers attached, and why the proportion of musketeers increased steadily between 1600 and 1700, until pikes were finally abandoned in favour of bayonets.

Stephen Hand
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Author of English Swordsmanship, Medieval Sword and Shield

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PostPosted: Thu 09 Jun, 2005 7:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One point worth adding is that the relative length of weapons matters also. The knight's lance exceeded the reach of a halberd, but a pike matched or maybe exceeded the lance in length. Which ever side has the longer weapon has an advantage. Once gendarmes and other lance-armed types disappeared, the long pike was unneeded also, and a bayonet had enough reach to hold off sword-armed cavalry. This balance was altered, although not upset, by the reappearance of lancers in the Napoleonic wars. The light Polish style lance had enough reach to outreach a bayonet. However, few men were adequately trained in using a lance at this time; lancers were also considered light cavalry, which was less likely to be used against formed infantry, so the lance was a nuisance rather than a deadly threat.
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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Jun, 2005 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For what it's worth, I may have found where some of the "Heroic Zwiehander" imagery stems from. I was re-reading Hans Delbrück's "History of the Art of Warfare", and in Volume IV, 'The Dawn of Modern Warfare', it goes into the Swiss and German Pike Square tactics of the early 16th century.

One of the references Delbrück uses over and over is a book published in 1522 that was an old Soldier's account of the Italian wars, and an overview of the tactics used. I can't recall the German title right now, but Delbrück believes that it was Frundsberg himself writing anonymously.

In this book, the Author describes Frundsberg in one engagement standing at the front of his Pikes, along with a few other two handed swordsmen, "...hewing the spears as an Axeman among Oaks" (paraphrased, but the image is essentially the same).

I'll dig up the exact title this evening and pass it along (clearly I need to get a copy... Happy , but with this kind of powerful imagery, it's easy to see how one could run with it, and depict *ALL* of the Landsknecht as these brave two-handed swordsmen mowing down Pike Squares against all odds... Happy
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Joel Whitmore




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Jun, 2005 3:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Hand wrote:
One of the keys to successfully charging solid infantry formations was firepower, yours and theirs. In the Napoleonic period it was standard practice for cavalry to threaten infantry, forcing them into square, which then made a beautiful artillery target. Bombarding squares was one of the main uses of horse artillery. Once the artillery had done enough damage, the horse could charge. The same thing was done at Falkirk in (IIRC) 1297, with a Scots pike schiltron, archers providing the firepower and knights completing the victory.


An interesting note about Falkirk is that the English knights on horse threw themsleves at the Scotts shciltrons with heavy loses until Longshanks was able to reign them in. Not bad for an old man with broken ribs (the night before his horse was spooked and ran over him when a fight broke out between the Welsh bowman and the English foot). Once the overproud knights withdrew and let the longbowmen decimate the Scot formations, the horsemen had an easy time of it.


Joel
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Jun, 2005 4:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joel Whitmore wrote:
An interesting note about Falkirk is that the English knights on horse threw themsleves at the Scotts shciltrons with heavy loses until Longshanks was able to reign them in. Not bad for an old man with broken ribs (the night before his horse was spooked and ran over him when a fight broke out between the Welsh bowman and the English foot). Once the overproud knights withdrew and let the longbowmen decimate the Scot formations, the horsemen had an easy time of it.


Joel


Good point, Joel! It really took the centralized Crowns with powerful kings to manage to reign in the overweening pride of the Knightly class and make them subservient to the Crown, at least to the extent that they would behave in a disciplined manner. I would expect that this is one of the explanations for why the Templars and Knights of Calatrava did well, in that they, as religious orders, had to submit to discipline off the field as well. Once the French Monarchy was able to begin to reign in their nobility to the point where they could form the compaignes d'ordonnance, they finally were supplied with a disciplined force of Cavalry that would obey their commanders, and thus win battles.

I think one could quite easily state that the difference between Medieval and Early Modern armies is that the former was comprised of Warriors, while the latter was made up of Soldiers, and that a smaller, disciplined force almost always beats the larger undisciplined one, even if the later is man-for-man much superior.

It's kind of interesting how the French Monarchy of the late-15th through the 16th Centuries had a wonderful Cavalry arm, and a magnificent Artillery train... but had to hire the Swiss for Infantry.

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: Fri 10 Jun, 2005 6:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"... I think one could quite easily state that the difference between Medieval and Early Modern armies is that the former was comprised of Warriors, while the latter was made up of Soldiers, and that a smaller, disciplined force almost always beats the larger undisciplined one, even if the later is man-for-man much superior. "

These two statements are both quite true, although I am not sure how they truly relate to each other. One could characterize warriors as being fighters by upbringing and tradition, while soldiers are fighters who are trained by a government whose army they join. Both may be full-time fighters, and both can be mercenaries. This notion ties into one reason for the prevalence of firearms over other missile weapons - that any able-bodied man could learn to use one in a few weeks, and could kill (if lucky) a fighter of any degree of skill in almost any armour. Soldiers can be readily and cheaply replaced. Social historians and economic historians naturally concentrate on the organization (especially financial) which allowed the creation of siege trains and the hiring of mercenary armies.

The second half of the sentence is very much true. However, there are a few circumstances in which warriors trumped soldiers. This is, I think, the case in Ireland in the 16th century. The Gaels were most definitely not soldiers, but for that particular kind of war they held their own against English soldiers for a very long time, until they joined their Spanish allies in fighting a conventional style war.
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Fri 10 Jun, 2005 7:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Felix Wang wrote:
"

The second half of the sentence is very much true. However, there are a few circumstances in which warriors trumped soldiers. This is, I think, the case in Ireland in the 16th century. The Gaels were most definitely not soldiers, but for that particular kind of war they held their own against English soldiers for a very long time, until they joined their Spanish allies in fighting a conventional style war.


You're absolutely right, in that when fighting an unconventional war, the warrior more often than not triumphs over the soldier. There are PLENTY of illustrations of that! Eek! But when the warrior choses to fight a convential war, the soldier usually triumphs.

My earlier point was simply that there was a definite transition from Warrior to Soldier in Western Europe between the Medieval period and Early Modern.

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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Matthew Kelty





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PostPosted: Fri 10 Jun, 2005 9:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is the Fründsberg reference I mentioned earlier:

'Trewer Rath und Bedencken eines Alten wol versutchen und Erfahrenen Kriegsmans'
(Trans. : "True Advice and Reflections of an Old Well-tested and Experienced Warrior")

"...in the battle of La Motta (1513) he (Fründsberg) stood in the first rank, swung his sword and fought like a woodsman who was felling an Oak in the forest..."

Tres Butch! Happy
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jun, 2005 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
At Fornovo in 1494, the French Gendarmerie not only put the Italian Condottieri Heavy Horse to flight, but scattered the Italian Foote as well.


Eh, Fornovo was mainly just a mess (especially in Alessandro Benedetti's text). Either way, though, the Italian infantry was mostly made of crossbowmen, with only a few German pikemen. And according to Charles Oman, Swiss pikes on the French side engaged the Germans. I see no indication whatsoever of a successful cavalry charge into heavy infantry...

Quote:
At Ravenna in 1512, the French Horse was again able to break up an Infantry square, this one of Landsknechtes.


I only have a older sources on hand at the moment (Oman and Taylor), but I thought the Landsknechtes were on the same side as the French. I see a Spanish cavalry charge succeeding on French and German infantry who were already bloody and engaged with the Spanish infantry. Then a successful French cavalry charge on the Spanish infantry on their flanks, coordinated with a fresh attack by the French and German infantry. Once again it doesn't seem like a successful unsupported charge against pikes to me...

In fact, in the same battle, a young French commander charged against a retiring but unbroken unit of Spanish pikes. That charge failed, and the commander was slain, along with many of his men.

Ceresole is another example of how cavalry has to be used in combination with infantry. It was also an example of how non-Swiss (German and Spanish) pikes could stand up to heavy horse.

Quote:
in fact going right THROUGH the Swiss pike square several times


Sure, and the same thing happened in another battles, but it hardly matter unless the infantry breaks. The formation simply reformed, and the cavalry often took major losses at each pass.

Quote:
the Anglo-Dutch Pistoliers turned on the Spanish pike-and-shot squares and defeated them in detail.


Ok, but this isn't a charge, it's making good use of firearms.

Quote:
So yes, unsupported Cavalry charges WERE successful


When and where? Many 16th century military writers made it clear that a front charge into a pike square was a bad idea. Examples of this include Robert Barret, Thomas Styward, Robert Hare, Roger Williams, Don Bernardino de Mendoza, and Raymond de Beccarie, Sieur de Fourquevaux. Some argued that horses just wouldn't charge into a wall of pikes, echoing much earlier examples of the same thing happening again infantry with spear and shield.

Quote:
short weapons do quite well against pikes.


Generally only after the battle has moved to a tight melee. In Ravenna, as I understand it, Spanish infantry used pikes in the front lines. Pikes clashes against pikes at first, and only after that did the sword and shield wielders move up and begin the slaughter. I think halberds were generally used in the same way, though English bills had success against Scottish pikes at Flodden. But they were annoyed by English arrow and artillery fire before making contact (though neither did of missile did them much actual hurt). Loss were also rather high on both sides, even with the English as the victors. While there is clearly some advantage to be had from shorter weapons once the battle as been joined, did anyone really advocate a unit of only sword and shield men to face a unit of pikes?

If anything the use of sword and shield men seemed to die out as time moved on. Writing at the end of the 16th century, and inspired mainly by the Spanish, Roger Williams had very use for shields, suggesting only 200 targets of proof among 10,000 men (he suggest 200 bills/halberds for every 1,000 pikes).
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jun, 2005 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:


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!

(...)

Cheers,

Gordon


That's right, Camagnola seems to have been a felixible and inovative commander, adapting tactics durign a battle is rare especialy since the Italians normaly didn't dismount. But the number of 'Lombards' in French service had risen sharply after Agincourt so there migth have been a transfer of military thinking from the 100years war or he migth simply have studied Sempach a lot with such belligrent neigbours as the Swiss.
Somehwere I have a photocopy of a Swiss article which went into Arbedo in great depth but of course I can't find it when I need it.

Pavia was a lovely mess indeed, it's so confusing that several of the later attempts of reconstructing the battle are almost worhless, Oman realy dropped the ball in his description of Pavia thogu it is a very hard batttle to work with. It isn't made easier by the fact that all involved on the winning side tried to claim the glory for themselves one way or the other.
Bourbon's landskenchs got the target every piekman dreams of, a large force of cavalry already fightign to it's fron and hemmed in by bad terrain. Without the outflankign move by Bourbon's Landskencht's and Von Salms horse I doubt that Prescara's Spanish foto would have made such an impact on the Gendarmerie. Even with the terrain and supported by pikemen Spanish were locked in a realy nasty fight with the Gendarmes. (One ofthe bg problems is keepign tracvk of wether the various authors speak of Pescaras Spanish foot or the force led by De Vasto, this makes it realy hard to get an idea of fought where and in what terrain)

Regards
Daniel
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jun, 2005 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:

I don't really agree with this. Can you show me some examples of cavalry succeeding in a frontal attack on halberdiers without support from missile troops? I know it was very hard to get earlier period horses to charge into a solid formation of men. Soldiers with shields and spears regularly held off cavalry, as did the English, with their spears, axes and bills.


With regards to mass halberds the Swiss were the only one to emply that particlar weapon in large numbers without large numbers of pikes and/or missile weaposn in support. And the Swiss always fougth from behind obstaclesor in broken terrain to increase the difficulties for any attacking cavalry. Once the Swiss started to move outside the confines of the valleys and forrests of the Confedracy they added pikes to their mix of arms. so they obviously didn't belive in that halberd alone was suffcient for cavalry defence.

The English only stood of attacking cavalry thanks to a combiantion of archery, well chosen defensible positions and man made obstacles. When those elements failed or wern't present the english mostly came of second best such as at Cocherel, Vernuil (although the Englishmasterfully turned the battle around in later stage), Formigny, Blanquefort and Castillon.

It's getting late so i'll have to get back t oyu with regards to spear armed fott vs knightly horse

Regards
Daniel
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jun, 2005 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"With regards to mass halberds the Swiss were the only one to emply that particlar weapon in large numbers without large numbers of pikes and/or missile weaposn in support. And the Swiss always fougth from behind obstaclesor in broken terrain to increase the difficulties for any attacking cavalry. Once the Swiss started to move outside the confines of the valleys and forrests of the Confedracy they added pikes to their mix of arms. so they obviously didn't belive in that halberd alone was suffcient for cavalry defence. "

The Swiss at Laupen, 1339, (Bernese and Forest Cantons, that is) did not fight from behind obstacles or in broken terrain. The Bernese and their allies attacked down a slope, and while the Bernese routed the infantry of Freiburg and various feudal lords, the men of the Forest Cantons charged into the front of the formed mass of feudal horsemen. They could not and did not force their way further forward, but were promptly surrounded. Their weapon was principally the halberd, and they held their ground against the men-at-arms until the Bernese could rally and attack the horsemen from the rear. This is 80 years before Arbedo. It would seem the halberd was a reasonably good anti-cavalry weapon. At Arbedo and Sempach, it was dismounted men-at-arms with lances who discomforted the halberd-wielding Swiss.
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jun, 2005 10:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin;

My point about sword and shield was that it was in fact effective against pikes, but absolutely not when the pikes were well supported by Horse. Machiavelli waxed eloquent in Arte della Guerra about them, but needless to say, as you well note, the Spaniards didn't keep them long at all. Their one major victory, if you can call it that, was Ravenna. Indeed, only Maurice of Nassau seems to have been considering using Targeteers to any extent, and that seems to be more due to the classical model, just as was Machiavelli. I think that Machiavelli was the only one to seriously advocate a mass return to the Shield, and all of the professional soldiers ignored him. And your point vis-a-vis Flodden is well taken: there were high casualties on both sides, the English from the original Scots impact, the Scots from the melee.

The sources you are quoting are great, BTW, and you have some stuff that I haven't managed to track down as of yet. And agreed, the later 16th Century authors aren't exactly promoting cavalry charges as the be-all and end-all of a battle (though Walhausen certainly seems to have thought they still had merit as late as 1616, and I was under the impression that Sir Roger Williams had some notion of the effectiveness of "Launtiers" against Foote). However, there certainly were commanders who behaved that way! Big Grin Louis, Prince of Conde, and the head of the Protestant Cause in France for one. His idea of how to win a battle was with a smashing cavalry charge. It was his gendarmes in fact who were unsuccessfully charging through the Swiss pike square at Dreux in 1562. However his nephew and successor, Henri of Navarre, used cavalry tactics quite successfully a generation later. Excuse my lack of quotes here, due to my library being in boxes at the moment, but at Coutras, after defeating the Catholic Horse, Henri turned his Horse on the Catholic Infantry and destroyed them in detail, much as the Anglo-Dutch did at Tournhout. Yes, they made good use of firearms, both against the opposing Horse as well as Foot, but mostly to blow holes into the formations and charge in with the Sword. This in particular was Henri's tactic: a combined use of pistol and sword together. (I have a great article that a friend, Ron Love, wrote entitled "All the King's Horsemen: the Equestrian Army of Henri IV" published in the 16th Century Journal back in '93. GREAT research on this stuff. Try to track it down if you can, it's worth the effort.)

My illustration of Dreux, with the Huguenot Heavy Horse going through the Swiss, was more to illustrate that Horse could do such a thing. However, all of the witnesses expected the result to be quite different, with the Swiss breaking. That they did not made it quite a remarkable feat. Indeed, the French Horse went through their Landsknecht opponents at Ceresole too, without breaking them, and in both instances took heavy casualties in the process. But at Dreux, the Huguenot Horse had already broken the Royalist Infantry made up of Frenchmen, which was of course not terribly highly regarded at the time (or am I thinking of St. Denis? Dang, mind like a seive...). And the French Heavy and Light Horse made the victory of Ceresole possible by slowing down first the Italian Foote, and then the Landsknechtes on the other parts of the field long enough for the Gascon and Swiss Infantry to destroy them. Indeed, these were not sole Horse victories, but the battle would certainly not have had the same result without the French perponderance of Horse.

Per Ravenna, you caught me in gross error on that one (gotta dig out those books...). I had forgotten that the French had Landsknecht's that year. Indeed, certainly one of the Spanish pike columns, (festooned with sword and buckler men), fended off quite successfully the charges of the French horse, resulting in the foolish death of Gaston de Foix, the French commander after the battle was already won. But it was the charge of the French Horse through the breaks in the ditch that Navarro had set up to defend (after they had run off the Spanish Horse, which charged prematurely due to infilading French artillery fire) that broke up the Spanish Infantry. Granted, it was a charge on the flanks and the rear while the Spaniards were paying attention to their front, but it certainly did the trick, and the Spaniards were not shaken at the time.

Since the original question for this thread was more to do with short weapons vs Horse, I still believe that Heavy Horse on the pattern of the compaigne d'ordonnance could fairly easily deal with MOST formations of short weapons. Pikes were there in fact to provide a wall or hedge that was effective against such a force, and for the most part, I think it was quite successful in that. Heck, they would have dropped it quicky had it not been. And although occasionally charges by Heavy Horse were successful in breaking Infantry, their primary value was in either holding Infantry's attention, allowing them to be smashed with artillery (such as at Marignano in 1515) or other Infantry (Ceresole, 1544). Running down disheartened Infantry after their Cavalry had been run off (Mookerheyde 1578 [I think I have that one right]), Courtras, 1586 and Tournout remained fairly ususual. Tournhout especially in that it was almost entirely a Cavalry force on the Ango-Dutch side which defeated a combined arms Spanish army on the march (and indeed, it was primarily Pistolier Cavalry that did this trick, as the Spaniards were the only ones in the field to have Lances that day). Intelligent use of firearms, indeed, but fulfilling the tactical precepts of that form of Horse, i.e. Pistoliers.

Anyway, you're keeping me on my toes, that's for sure, and making me think out my answers, LOL! And I applaud your good use of the primary sources, and I'm sure you'll find plenty to pick apart in the above missive, Big Grin .

Cheers,

Gordon

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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jun, 2005 11:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:


Pavia was a lovely mess indeed, it's so confusing that several of the later attempts of reconstructing the battle are almost worhless, Oman realy dropped the ball in his description of Pavia thogu it is a very hard batttle to work with. It isn't made easier by the fact that all involved on the winning side tried to claim the glory for themselves one way or the other.
Bourbon's landskenchs got the target every piekman dreams of, a large force of cavalry already fightign to it's fron and hemmed in by bad terrain. Without the outflankign move by Bourbon's Landskencht's and Von Salms horse I doubt that Prescara's Spanish foto would have made such an impact on the Gendarmerie. Even with the terrain and supported by pikemen Spanish were locked in a realy nasty fight with the Gendarmes. (One ofthe bg problems is keepign tracvk of wether the various authors speak of Pescaras Spanish foot or the force led by De Vasto, this makes it realy hard to get an idea of fought where and in what terrain)

Regards
Daniel


Pavia is a mess to figure out, all right! I'm not quite sure that it's been sorted out yet to many people's satisfaction. I can't say I've paid a huge amount of attention to it, but between Oman and Angus Konstam, there's plenty of difference, and Bert Hall has yet another interperetation... but all agree that the lessons learned at the time were, shall we say, varied! What of course strikes most people as completely retrograde is Francios I's decision to not disband his compaignes d'ordonnance, but to work on the internal communications and tactics. Frankly I think he was correct in this, since it was the total lack of coordination between his Horse, Foote and Artillery that lost him the battle, rather than the tactical briliance of the Marquis de Pescara (though Pescara and Del Vasto's innovations were in fact quite important nevertheless). As always, it's as much the loser's mistakes as the victor's abilities that make for a battle's results! Eek!

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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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jun, 2005 11:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

>since it was the total lack of coordination between his Horse, Foote and Artillery that lost him the battle, rather than the tactical briliance of the Marquis de Pescara

Hey! No discounting Giovanni Delle Bande Nere's sudden departure from the field due to an untimely case of *dead*.. Wink

Francis lost I think somewhere around 1000-2000 shot with that (Giova's boys went home.... Happy, and if I'm remembering the layout of the park, they would've been along the path of the "secret march".

Us Italian re-enactors often contemplate a world without a Siege of Florence and Sack of Rome.... Happy


One thing I did want to add was that while some of those 16th Authors certainly do cite *not* to use Cavalry to charge straight at companies of foot, that's not to say they *don't* use Cavalry to charge the foot. 'Straight' is the operative word to consider.

I've not cracked open all of the references tossed out there, but Mendoza's comments were actually in regards to a tactic he used where he took "a fift" of his Infantry, and proceeded to push an assault on the opponent's Flank. As the opponent turned to meet the threat, Mendoza had 25 Light horse charge the Center, which had now become oblique, and broke the opponent's Reiters left to defend the Flank, as well as the Infantry beyond. He doesn't attribute the above success to anything other than his Light Horse.

BTW, that success aside, Mendoza still clings to his Lancers, and says he needs only 125 of them to run down 500 Argoleteers, or "Swarte Ruyters"... Happy
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