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  1. - Top - End - #181
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    There's nothing stopping anyone from wearing plates of armor on the outside like that, I think there actually were few designs like that, particularly in Western Asia.

    The problem here, obviously is that most plates doesn't appear to have any actual fastening visible, and they mysteriously fit here figure here and there.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    What can you tell me about this design of armor? Is it based on something or pure fantasy.

    On one hand, it really looks like actual armor, but on the other, this looks very unlike anything I've seen in reality.
    fantastic, but not overly so, at least to my eyes. armour simmilar to that did exist, and i can't see any obvious "shot traps" or simmilar, though obviously she'd need a helmet for actaul combat. lack of armour down the arms is notable, as she appears to have just soft leather between the shoulders and her bracers, which would quickly lead to a lot a scars form glancing blows to the arms, if on a major wound form someone targeting the unarmoured spot. however, plently of people have gone into battle with bear arms, as they feel the weight is not worth it/can't afford or make effective armour for it, and relied on "active" defense (i.e. parries and dodges) rather than passive (armour) to protect them.

    that said, she;d still be vrunerable to archery
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    What can you tell me about this design of armor? Is it based on something or pure fantasy.

    On one hand, it really looks like actual armor, but on the other, this looks very unlike anything I've seen in reality.
    Big pauldrons are big, but not too big. Looks kinda patchwork, mostly.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Storm Bringer View Post
    that said, she;d still be vrunerable to archery
    Not all armor is gothic plate.

    I was mostly interested about the cuirass. I complete forgott about the terracotta army, which seems to be pretty much armored with that very thing.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Not all armor is gothic plate.

    I was mostly interested about the cuirass. I complete forgott about the terracotta army, which seems to be pretty much armored with that very thing.
    I'm pretty sure he mean that her arms and head are pretty much defenseless.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Of course, in any siege, the militia is going to play a significant part, but usually only on the defensive. The besieging armies were mostly mercenary.
    This is a gross simplicification, it's nothing to do necessarily with the quality of the militia, it's simply the risk to reward of a given war. The town couldn't risk their militia on extensive long running campaigns, because if the militia took large casualties (like say from disease during a siege of some enemy stronghold) the tow n population and therefore it's money-making potential is seriously damaged, as is the towns ability to defend itself. But the history of Switzerland, Germany, Bohemia and indeed Italy is full of examples where they took the risk anyway and the militias as often as not proved more than capable of holding their own.

    Now we are back to the question of when does some cease to be a militiaman and become a mercenary. However, yes, these men were often a product of the urban militias, and, as we have noted before, Genova was known for its crossbowmen.
    No, I just think you don't understand the reality of Medieval life, people often had many roles. Recruiters used to hire mercenaries from Berne and and Zurich by directly approaching the town council. The men from the militia would fight for a fixed time (usually during a specific 'fighting season' which might vary from region to region, but mostly summer) and for a fixed amount of pay under fixed rules. I'm pretty sure the Genoese crossbowmen and Venetian galleys hired out under the same kind of arrangements. These men were both militia and mercenaries... and typically craftsmen as well.

    However, the author is not terribly impressed by the communal levies, stating that in addition to their role being primarily defensive:
    Levies are different than militia, though the two often get conflated.

    The author then turns to the subject of factionalism -- which was also on the rise as the result of a lack of external threats. Factionalism made it difficult to organize the militia especially for anything other than the defense of the city.
    That may be the key difference betwen the towns where the militia declined in Italy, and those where it didn't - towns like Venice and Genoa established stable governments pretty early on.

    In North of the Alps on the one hand, the Gereman cities were protected from big Kingdoms like France or Spain because they were part of the HRE (or Poland, or Sweden, or Bohemia or Hungary or whatever). But on the other, the threat particularly in certain parts of Germany from nearby Lords and Prelates who believed they owned hereditry titles to the towns never went away, and this of necessity put some limit on the factionalism and urban class wars, often leading to a compromise government, usually between the Patricians and the craft guilds.

    The constant warfare made the hastily summoned, primarily defensive, militia not as effective. ...

    Finally the author turns to military technology. He argues that the crossbow (and long bow, and saracen bow), required more training and practice than a spear. In addition to this, they influenced armor, resulting in a shift toward more metal armor. The new weapons and equipment encouraged new tactical techniques that required more experienced troops as well. These factors together increased the gap in effectiveness of a part-time soldier versus a professional one. As an example he provides a brief description of the battle of Campaldino (1289).
    I don't know who wrote the book in question or when it was published but that seems to be a rather inaccurate statement, since part-time militias were who won the Battle of Golden Spurs in 1302 and Morgarten in 1315... and 300 battles since that time. Inclu.ding in Italy. Crossbows were part of the Genoese militia (and the Berne, Zurich, Augsburg, Bruges etc. etc.) since the 12th Century.

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  7. - Top - End - #187
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    \I don't know who wrote the book in question or when it was published but that seems to be a rather inaccurate statement, since part-time militias were who won the Battle of Golden Spurs in 1302 and Morgarten in 1315... and 300 battles since that time. Inclu.ding in Italy. Crossbows were part of the Genoese militia (and the Berne, Zurich, Augsburg, Bruges etc. etc.) since the 12th Century.

    G
    Michael Mallett wrote Mercenaries and their masters, he also wrote some books on the history of Florence, the Borgias, and collaborated with J. R. Hale on a book about the military organization of Venice. This work (Mercenaries and their masters) is considered to be the entry point to any discussion about the condottiere.

    It is at times lacking in details, as it covers the subject broadly, but it remains the key work.

    To refer to your specific remark about militia being integral parts of battle -- no duh! We are talking about trends that evolved slowly over time. It wasn't like somebody flipped a switch and all the communal militias suddenly became worthless, and only condottiere were effective in Italy. It was a process that occurred over generations, with militias being increasingly augmented, then displaced by mercenaries.

    No, I just think you don't understand the reality of Medieval life, people often had many roles. Recruiters used to hire mercenaries from Berne and and Zurich by directly approaching the town council. The men from the militia would fight for a fixed time (usually during a specific 'fighting season' which might vary from region to region, but mostly summer) and for a fixed amount of pay under fixed rules. I'm pretty sure the Genoese crossbowmen and Venetian galleys hired out under the same kind of arrangements. These men were both militia and mercenaries... and typically craftsmen as well.
    I'm not sure you understand the difference between someone who performs military service for financial reward, and someone who feels an obligation towards their state. That is the key difference between mercenary and militia, and that difference is sometimes difficult to determine as *all* soldiers were paid for their service. The convenient interpretation is to define mercenaries as foreigners -- but this can be somewhat misleading. Florence in the 13th century made a very clear separation between her mercenaries and militia, and while mercenaries were typically assumed to be foreigners, some Florentines are listed on the rolls as mercenaries.

    You seem to be focusing on the exceptions, like Genoa and Venice, rather than the rule. Did Genoese crossbowmen earn their skill and reputation serving as militia or as mercenaries? The argument is pretty persuasive: mercenaries/professional soldiers would spend more time training and invest more in their equipment than militia. Genoese who hired themselves out as crossbowmen would see more action and develop better skills, than those who limited themselves only to their militia obligations. Genoa (and Pisa, who was also known for its crossbowmen), and Venice, were states with overseas colonies, who perhaps saw more conflict than usual, but also had more money to invest. They didn't *have* to invest that money in foreign troops, who were often considered unreliable, they could hire out local troops -- but while these troops aren't foreign mercenaries, they could effectively be considered "local" mercenaries, as they are performing the same function.

    Finally, some states, especially the larger ones with overseas holdings (like Genoa and Venice), would still invest in their militias, and have training schemes. Venice, being so impressed by the "saracen bow", adopted it and trained up a local force in its use -- although that experiment didn't last for too long. Another militaristic state, which very quickly went to one man rule, Milan, also seems to have kept its militia in a better state, along with being an early adopter of professional, state employed, permanent soldiers.

    Nonetheless, increasingly through the 13th and 14th centuries, mercenaries were hired in larger and larger numbers, displacing militias and "local" troops almost completely by the early 15th century, in Italian warfare.

    G -- I've quoted what is probably the best source on the development of condottiere and the decline of the Italian militias. If you have other sources that disagree, I would love to hear them. If you are merely skeptical of some the statements, I can elaborate on them.

  8. - Top - End - #188
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    I'm not sure you understand the difference between someone who performs military service for financial reward, and someone who feels an obligation towards their state.
    Many clearly felt both in equal measure.

    You seem to be focusing on the exceptions, like Genoa and Venice, rather than the rule.
    No, my focus is in Central Europe East of the Rhine and North of the Alps, mainly in the 15th Century, because that is what I've principally studied. But to the extent that I am familiar with Italy and with other eras, Genoa and Venice were arguably the two most powerful city-states in Italy during most of the Medieval era, in fact between them they controlled most of the trade in a huge swath of the Mediterranean. Their principle rivals Florence and Milan were at the height of their power when they still had their own miltiias.

    Did Genoese crossbowmen earn their skill and reputation serving as militia or as mercenaries?
    As militia in the first Crusade, (when Genoa was little more than an oversized fishing village) specifically at the Seige of Jerusalem. Then again later in the third Crusade in the Battle of Jaffa. That is how they got to be famous enough that people wanted to hire them as mercenaries.

    The argument is pretty persuasive: mercenaries/professional soldiers would spend more time training and invest more in their equipment than militia.
    Prove it. I've got militia rolls from several cities in Northern Europe, they were very well equipped. I challenge you to find any infantry anywhere in the same era better equipped than the Bernese or Zurich militias.

    Genoese who hired themselves out as crossbowmen would see more action and develop better skills, than those who limited themselves only to their militia obligations.
    Again, prove it. I don't think this is the case. Have you studied how many wars, raids, sieges and other engagements the militia of any particular town actually fought in for any given era?

    G -- I've quoted what is probably the best source on the development of condottiere and the decline of the Italian militias. If you have other sources that disagree, I would love to hear them. If you are merely skeptical of some the statements, I can elaborate on them.
    I've indicated where I'm most skeptical, and I think some of the arguments that you already quoted from the book are problematic for the reasons I pointed out upthread. I'll go further and say that I think the whole narrative of the reasons for the decline of militias in Italy is spurious. Mercenaries were not a new invention of the 14th or 15th or 16th Centurires, when Frederick Barbarosa was invading in the 12th Century his armies were full of mercenaries. I do have plenty of sources on all of this, more for Central Europe as I've said several times but I also have some for Venice, Genoa, Florence and other towns - in detail. But I'm out of town at a conference so it will be a while before I can cite anything from my library at home. If I have time later I'll see what I can find online.

    In the meantime I don't think you have refuted any of my points.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    An example of how Milan and Venice were a bit more cutting edge in their organization of armies in the 15th century is the increasing use of permanent troops known as provisionati. These troops began as permanent garrison troops, but by the end of the 14th century some cavalry forces are being organized along similar lines, and also being referred to as provisionati (and also lanze spezzate).

    However in the middle of the 15th century we start to see an increase in the number of permanent infantry (p. 114) (emphasis mine):

    By 1476 Milan had 10,000 permanent infantry, including 2,000 hand-gun men . . . At this point, however, it is clear that the word provisionato was being used in a new context. Both Milan and Venice began a system of selective conscription to produce a sort of superior militia. The men selected were fully armed and commanded by professional infantry constables. They could be called out for full-time service in an emergency and otherwise for periodic training sessions. The system somewhat resembles that of the francs archers in France and probably accounts for 10,000 provisionati in Milanese pay in 1476. Certainly it is about then that one becomes aware of Venice raising troops in large numbers in this way for service against the Turks in Friuli, and they are clearly quite distinct from the ordinary militia.

    All these, then, were permanent forces in the complete sense of the word.
    So how we define militia again comes to fore in this question. These soldiers can be looked at as "sort" of militia, but they were kept distinct, and considered different, from the "ordinary" militia. This is why the discussion of what constitutes an urban militia is significant. These troops, were not considered "militia" at the time. While we can describe them as militia, we could also describe them as "national guard" or even "reserves" -- both terms would be anachronistic and potentially misleading.

    Mercenaries still dominated warfare in Italy during this time period, and that was the point of my original comment -- urban militias weren't always the best forces around. How we define "militia" will of course influence our perspectives. So it's good that we have that discussion. If by "urban militia" you mean any soldier from an urban center (who would/could theoretically have militia obligations) -- then we need to go over our terms very carefully.
    Last edited by fusilier; 2012-10-16 at 05:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Many clearly felt both in equal measure.
    Sorry to hate to do this to you: prove it!


    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    As militia in the first Crusade, (when Genoa was little more than an oversized fishing village) specifically at the Seige of Jerusalem. Then again later in the third Crusade in the Battle of Jaffa. That is how they got to be famous enough that people wanted to hire them as mercenaries.
    Ok, so that's about a century or a half-a-century before the militia system started to be replaced by mercenaries . . .



    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Prove it. I've got militia rolls from several cities in Northern Europe, they were very well equipped. I challenge you to find any infantry anywhere in the same era better equipped than the Bernese or Zurich militias.
    So you've compared these rolls to those of Italian condottiere infantry (or cavalry) companies in Italy?

    I don't have such rolls, so I'm relying upon secondary sources. But more importantly, as I stated, I was referring to Italy. It's kind of pointless to compare an Italian mercenary company to a German militia, as they rarely came in conflict during the 15th century. So perhaps a comparison of forces that actually came into conflict (i.e. Italian militia rolls to Italian mercenaries).

    But if you insist -- during the 15th century (prior to the French invasion of Italy at the end of the century) there were four battles between Swiss forces and Italian forces (that I am aware of). There was one German invasion in 1401 that was repulsed by Venice.

    The four battles versus the Swiss have the following breakdown:
    The battle of Arbedo in 1422, where the Swiss pikemen were smashed by a larger condottiere force.

    The battle of Giornico valley in 1478. Here the Swiss retreated before a larger force from Milan, trapped the force in a narrow valley, and rained down crossbow bolts (and probably some arquebus balls) from the steep mountain sides. The Milanese force took heavy casualties and retreated.

    The battle of Ponte di Crevola in 1487, where the Milanese trapped a large Swiss force and defeated them. In this case the Milanese army was made up largely of light cavalry and the new conscript infantry.

    The battle of Calliano also in 1487. Here a Venetian army was attacked by Swiss and Landsknechten while crossing a river, and it's leader killed. However, the right wing of the Venetian army crossed the river and forced back the Swiss and German infantry, gaining a local advantage.

    While a mixed record, it is clear that Italians could get the better of Swiss and Germans during this period -- who you claim owe their superiority on the battlefield to their militia status?

    You have claimed that urban militias were almost always superior to other forces.

    I have claimed that in Italy the urban militias declined, and condottiere were more effective during a specified period, and backed that up with secondary sources, explaining the reasons why they declined.

    While I can't say specifically if German or Swiss militia could be defeated by mercenary forces, as I don't have sufficient details for the battles above. The indication is that they could be and that they could also be victorious.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Again, prove it. I don't think this is the case. Have you studied how many wars, raids, sieges and other engagements the militia of any particular town actually fought in for any given era?
    No, as stated above, I've relied upon the study of well respected author on the subject. If that's not sufficient for you, then I guess you "win"! Of course if you wanted to travel to Italy and pore through the various archives, I suppose you could. But I'm willing to trust Mallet's research and analysis, as most historians seem to be willing to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I'll go further and say that I think the whole narrative of the reasons for the decline of militias in Italy is spurious.
    Good for you, the world needs more renegades who ignore the lifetime works of respected authors!

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Mercenaries were not a new invention of the 14th or 15th or 16th Centurires, when Frederick Barbarosa was invading in the 12th Century his armies were full of mercenaries.
    Who's claiming that they were a new invention? Certainly not myself or Mallett.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    In the meantime I don't think you have refuted any of my points.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Here's another question for fun:

    If Action Movie Heroes existed (the ones who can kill a hundred guys and do ludicrous stuff), how would this change the ancient world and warfare?
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Sorry to hate to do this to you: prove it!
    The 'mercenaries' from Berne and Zurich who fought so often in Italy and elsewhere remained loyal to their own towns no matter how many times they fought for other people as mercenaries. I think that says enough.

    Ok, so that's about a century or a half-a-century before the militia system started to be replaced by mercenaries . . .
    Which is completely beside the point. You asked how they got to be famous, as mercenaries or militia. The answer (that you clearly didn't know) is, they got famous as militia. The Genoese militia was so effective people were willing to pay a pretty penny to hire them as merecenaries. They still also remained militia. Just exactly like the Swiss (who came to fame after their militia victories against the Hapsburgs) and the Czechs (who came to fame after the drastic failure of the Hussite Crusades) and so on. They idea that they could be effectively both and still citizens with day jobs is one of the things that you (and your pal Professor Mallet, apparently) argued against.

    So you've compared these rolls to those of Italian condottiere infantry (or cavalry) companies in Italy?
    Some of them are pretty well documented, the White Company for example, it wouldn't be hard.

    I don't have such rolls, so I'm relying upon secondary sources. But more importantly, as I stated, I was referring to Italy. It's kind of pointless to compare an Italian mercenary company to a German militia,
    It wasn't that rare actually. You just cited a few of the largest battles which clearly pitted Germans or Swiss against either Milan or Venice. But German (and Swiss) militia were involved in dozens of other battles in Italy in the 14th and 15th Century on a small and large scale, as mercenaries.

    The four battles versus the Swiss have the following breakdown:
    The battle of Arbedo in 1422.. the battle of Giornico valley in 1478... While a mixed record, it is clear that Italians could get the better of Swiss and Germans during this period -- who you claim owe their superiority on the battlefield to their militia status?

    You have claimed that urban militias were almost always superior to other forces.
    You are trying, intentionally or otherwise, to change or conflate what I said. Which was: militia were often excellent troops and tended to be the best infantry. The battles you listed above were fought by Swiss infantry forces with little or no cavalry support, against strong cavalry forces, and yet as you pointed out, the result is mixed. This means the infantry was very good since most infantry alone was at a disadvantage against cavalry in that period. At Giornico, 600 [Swiss] confederates defeatd 10,000 Milanese troops. Those confederates were not 'special miltia' like they had resorted to in Milan, which was no longer a republic at that point. They were just ordinary burghers and peasants in their day jobs. And yet they were fighting at the pinnacle of power in that era, sufficient to face down one of the most powerful Princely families in Italy.

    I have claimed that in Italy the urban militias declined, and condottiere were more effective during a specified period, and backed that up with secondary sources, explaining the reasons why they declined.
    You actualy said, upthread, allegedly backed by your sources, that :

    In addition to this, they influenced armor, resulting in a shift toward more metal armor. The new weapons and equipment encouraged new tactical techniques that required more experienced troops as well. These factors together increased the gap in effectiveness of a part-time soldier versus a professional one. and then talked about a late 13th century battle.

    ...which is a general statement about militia and it's gibberish since militias were using iron armor and heavy crossbows by 100 years before that time. You want sources? Here are the statutes of the militia of Bologna dating from 1236 AD, the militias were formed in 1164 with the founding of the Lombard League. Thes militias have crossbows and wear mail armor.

    http://archive.org/stream/statutidel...ge/n5/mode/2up

    The statutes are written in Latin but the introduction of the book is written in modern Italian and you can translate it yourself (using google translate if necessary).

    While I can't say specifically if German or Swiss militia could be defeated by mercenary forces, as I don't have sufficient details for the battles above. The indication is that they could be and that they could also be victorious.
    I never said otherwise. I said militia tended to be excellent quality and made the best infantry. Not just in Italy, but all over Europe. Not just in the Middle Ages, but back into antiquity.

    The militia in the Italian towns (gradually) declined when they progressively lost their republic status to Signore and then their autonomy to the Pope or some foreign King... or the stronger Republics like Venice or Genoa.. under the pressure of invasions by France, Germany and Spain. But the Swiss didn't have to resort to creating semi-professional armies because their part-time militias remained sufficient to protect their towns, and when they wanted to, invade foreign nations, just like with those of the Flemish towns, the German, the Dutch, the Czech, the Polish and so on which remained autonomous.

    These towns still used mercenaries anyway, just like the Italian towns before their loss of autonomy, for the simple for the simple reason that towns had more money than men.

    The fact is though that

    1) the entire saga of the city-states in Italy started with a series of victories by the militia of the Lombard League against the invading armies of the German Emperors, including thousands of mercenaries.

    2) throughout the Medieval period, in Italy, the most sought-after infantry remained Swiss militia. The next most sought after were German militia. Calling them 'mercenaries' as if they appeared out of thin air doesn't change what their actual origin was (or what their day job was)

    3) During this same period, the most powerful military entities in Italy were Genoa and Venice, both of which relied heavily on their own militias. Venice rose to power in fact largely because their naval fleets included rowers recruited from their own towns, who could fight when the galleys crashed together, unlike everyone else who used slaves or prisoners.

    You also simply don't understand (or won't accept) the reality in the Medieval world, in Italy and everywhere else, that most people didn't have one job as a soldier, or an artisan, or a farmer, or a seaman, or a merchant for their entire life, but did many of the above things at different times, and yet they could still do them all well. This was the definition of a "Renaissance Man". Just like people do today but even more so. Even in the mercenary companies, it was mostly the leadership who were truly professional. Their armies tended to be seasonal.

    No, as stated above, I've relied upon the study of well respected author on the subject.
    You cited one guy who hasn't published since 1988 and who made some comments which clearly missed the mark. "The increasing use of metal armor"? In the 13th Century? Armies were using 'metal armor' on a large scale since the first Crusade! And it may be news to you but there are scores of military historians (and even experts on mercenaries) and many of them disagree. So I guess these guys are 'renegades' who ignore each others lifetimes of research.

    Who's claiming that they were a new invention? Certainly not myself or Mallett.
    See my reposted quote above. You said crossbows and armor were the reason why militias couldn't 'keep up' with mercenaries. Crossbows and armor, (and militias )... were around since the first strife between the Italian towns and the German Emperors as you said yourself well before any of the Italian communes lost their militias. So your theory falls flat.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I have no idea what you two are arguing about. Are the statements "militia were not always the best troops" and "militia were often the best troops" mutually exclusive? Sounds like you are virtually in agreement to me.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    This response is really long. If you want a summary skip to the bottom.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    See my reposted quote above. You said crossbows and armor were the reason why militias couldn't 'keep up' with mercenaries. Crossbows and armor, (and militias )... were around since the first strife between the Italian towns and the German Emperors as you said yourself well before any of the Italian communes lost their militias. So your theory falls flat.

    G
    It was one, among many factors. It wasn't *the* reason. It was *a* reason. Just like factionalism isn't *the* reason, it's *a* reason for the decline of the militias. The system is complex enough, that it doesn't hinge upon one of these factors, but I will quote Mallett:

    All of these developments made it increasingly necessary to think in terms of professional and specialist troops. Plate armour was both more costly, and more physically demanding to wear; it was the armour of the professional not of the feudal or 'city' knight. It was innovations like these which widened the gap between part-time and professional soldiers, and made it ever more necessary for employers to seek the latter if they could afford them.
    Also, it wasn't just that the new equipment was more expensive -- as the crossbow had become very popular across all of Italy -- it's that it allowed more sophisticated tactics, it was those tactics that required more training, and therefore gave more edge to those who could afford to spend more time training. The battle of Montaperti Campaldino is an example of this -- the outnumbered Ghibelline force used more sophisticated tactics to defeat a larger Guelf force. While both forces were comprised mostly of militia, the Ghibelline force was "stiffened" by a core of mercenaries. It represents an early stage of mercenary influence on the development of Italian warfare.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    You asked how they got to be famous, as mercenaries or militia. The answer (that you clearly didn't know) is, they got famous as militia.
    Ok, this raises another question that I will ask below. I also want to tie into this statement:

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    You also simply don't understand (or won't accept) the reality in the Medieval world, in Italy and everywhere else, that most people didn't have one job as a soldier, or an artisan, . . .
    I've ignored this line of reasoning, not because I don't accept or understand the premise (I do). I argue that it's bearing isn't significant. Why? Because the amount of time spent soldiering is the factor here. I understand that soldiering wasn't a full time job, even for people who were considered "full-time" soldiers. But I would argue, that the *more* time spent soldiering, the better the soldier (theoretically speaking, all other things being equal). Perhaps, more importantly, the more time the "company" spends in the field the better the company, as it has more time to refine and practice tactics, beyond individual fighting. Remember that the context is that developments in weaponry, have allowed more complex tactics to development, that require more time to master.

    So, my question to you is: how many months did the Genoese crossbowmen who went on the Crusades spend actually in the crusades? (Months out of a year). And how does that compare to those crossbowmen, who did *not* campaign in the Crusades? Also, at which point, i.e. how much time must a man spend away from his home, other job(s), or simply his town, before his role ceases to be one of mere militia obligation, and he can be considered a full time soldier? Understanding, that doing "a stint" as a full time soldier, doesn't make one a full time/professional soldier for the rest of his life.

    An aside: In Italy the campaigning season had two breaks, the longer one being winter. By the 15th century mercenaries were being called out of winter quarters with increasing frequency, leaving even less time for other employment. Likewise during the Italian Wars, many of the French/German/Spanish/Swiss soldiers must have been far away from their homes for years.

    My question, is how much of an affect their "extra-curricular" military activities had on their effectiveness. I would suspect that it would enhance the performance of the militia, by sharing their experiences with those who didn't participate in the larger campaigns.

    In that sense, did the later Swiss and German mercenaries, also have a similar affect on their home militias improving them with their experience?

    I feel that treating them "solely" as militia, seems to be denying that by some of their members performing duties beyond that of the typical militiaman, enhanced their military prowess.

    But now I'm digressing from the central discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    It wasn't that rare actually. You just cited a few of the largest battles which clearly pitted Germans or Swiss against either Milan or Venice. But German (and Swiss) militia were involved in dozens of other battles in Italy in the 14th and 15th Century on a small and large scale, as mercenaries.
    In the 14th century foreign mercenary companies were common in Italy, but by the 15th century, most of the mercenary companies in Italy could rightly be considered "Italian" -- they were typically led by Italians (not always, and foreigners were a bit more common among the infantry constables). Foreigners still made up a large portion of the rank-and-file mercenaries, but they didn't bring their tactics, weapons, and organization to the company. Those remained "Italian" in that sense. So a Swiss or German serving in Condottiere company, wouldn't be trained or equipped like a Swiss or German serving in his militia back home. Also, part of the strength of these mercenary companies was their permanence -- they didn't disband at the end of every campaigning season, with their members scattering toward their various homes. Instead, they usually went into Winter quarters, (where they may be called out, with extra pay), and then reformed, in theory replenished and refreshed in the Spring.

    While there were certainly border skirmishes, major incursions by significant external forces weren't too common in northern Italy. The French sent some forces on a couple of campaigns, but nobody seems to have been terribly impressed by them. In southern Italy, French and Spanish intervention had been fairly common, and even the Turks got in there (the siege of Otranto). Italian mercenaries also served outside of Italy, but I couldn't dig up much information on them. The stradiots were hired into the Italian system late in the 15th century. But I'm not aware of any Swiss companies being hired by the Italians during that period.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    You are trying, intentionally or otherwise, to change or conflate what I said. Which was: militia were often excellent troops and tended to be the best infantry.
    Ah, ok, we are talking about who had the best *infantry*. I don't have specific information about the Germans, but in Italy, I claim that the militias were not the best infantry around, during *certain* phases.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The battles you listed above were fought by Swiss infantry forces with little or no cavalry support, against strong cavalry forces, and yet as you pointed out, the result is mixed. This means the infantry was very good since most infantry alone was at a disadvantage against cavalry in that period. At Giornico, 600 [Swiss] confederates defeatd 10,000 Milanese troops. Those confederates were not 'special miltia' like they had resorted to in Milan, which was no longer a republic at that point. They were just ordinary burghers and peasants in their day jobs. And yet they were fighting at the pinnacle of power in that era, sufficient to face down one of the most powerful Princely families in Italy.
    Well lets get something straight about Giornico -- that was a tactical disaster from the Milanese perspective. The Milanese could have assault rifles, and the Swiss nothing more than slings and the result would have been similar. -- Ok, that's a bit hyperbolic -- Let's say if you switched the armies' positions, the Swiss would have been in for a world of hurt. Any army that finds itself in such a position would have been in serious trouble. Cavalry and infantry don't really play into it. It was a brilliant maneuver by the Swiss pure and simple.

    As for the claim about cavalry vs. infantry -- at Arbedo the Condottiere cavalry dismounted to attack the Swiss, who had formed up in pike squares.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The militia in the Italian towns (gradually) declined when they progressively lost their republic status to Signore and then their autonomy to the Pope or some foreign King... or the stronger Republics like Venice or Genoa.. under the pressure of invasions by France, Germany and Spain.
    There were two things going on. An enlarging of the Italian states, at the cost of the smaller communes. And the external interference of non-Italian kings (German, Spanish, and French) on those states. Those are different phases in history. Basically, prior to about the 13th century, the various Italian communes banded together to resist foreign invaders. When that pressure let up, they started quarrelling among themselves, which led to a consolidation of power in a few larger states (but still Italian states). [Note, this is the period that Mallett claims the communal militias began to decline] Then, beginning with the invasion of Italy by the French in 1494, foreign invaders starting messing about again, and the now larger Italian states, failed to put together a truly effective league to stop them. Leading to the Italian Wars of the 16th century.

    For more information on these wars, I suggest Christine Shaw's and Michael Mallett's work released this year: The Italian Wars of 1494-1559. It's unfortunately something of a light treatment (there's a lot of ground to cover), but it claims to be the only work to study the wars as a whole (at least in English).

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    1) the entire saga of the city-states in Italy started with a series of victories by the militia of the Lombard League against the invading armies of the German Emperors, including thousands of mercenaries.
    I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    2) throughout the Medieval period, in Italy, the most sought-after infantry remained Swiss militia. The next most sought after were German militia. Calling them 'mercenaries' as if they appeared out of thin air doesn't change what their actual origin was (or what their day job was)
    No idea what you are talking about.

    In the 14th century a lot of the foreign mercenaries were veterans of the 100 years war (John Hawkwood is a favorite among English sources). National affiliation doesn't seem to be very strong, but German cavalry was well respected if I recall correctly.

    In the fifteenth century, infantry tended to have more foreigners than Italians when compared to the cavalry. Germans and Hungarians were popular leaders with the hand-gun companies, but not exclusively. The Romagna was considered one of the best regions to recruit infantry.

    Only in the sixteenth century, with the foreign invasions of the French and Spanish, do Swiss, and then Germans become the most sought after infantry in Italy(and they commanded the highest pay, even if they were sometimes not terribly reliable). In that period, the Swiss and Germans may indeed be able to claim to be the best infantry around -- but before then, they were not noted in Italy, and their record against the Italian states (what little there was) was mixed. In Italy some of the best recruiting grounds for infantry were in the Umbria and Romagna valleys. Milan and Venice were considered to have the best developed professional infantry forces.

    Mallett does have this to say, however:
    Infantry forces, therefore, formed a significant part of fifteenth-century Italian armies. It is true that there were was no disciplined pike infantry of the Swiss type, which was enjoying brief, but lastingly significant success beyond the Alps. It is also true that, because the nature of the Italian mercenary system, the companies tended to be small an unused to operating en masse. But large numbers of specialist and well trained infantry were available and played an increasing part in the warfare.
    The Italian condottiere infantry seemed to have put more emphasis on crossbowmen (later hand-gun men), and they started experimenting with light sword and buckler type troops from a fairly early date (1416). They don't seem to have ever developed a local disciplined pike force. However, remember the effectiveness of Cordoba in 1503 at Cerignola. Pikes made a big impact in the wars in the 16th century -- and Italy was clearly hurting there -- but combined arms was a better solution, and Italy did have a tradition of effective "mercenary" companies of light infantry and missile troops.

    As for the make up of the infantry mercenary companies, active in Italy during the 15th century (Mallett):

    These men did not command integrated companies of their own nationals, and it seems to be true that the proportion of foreigners amongst the leaders was higher than amongst the rank and file.
    (Galloglaich:)
    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    3) During this same period, the most powerful military entities in Italy were Genoa and Venice, both of which relied heavily on their own militias. Venice rose to power in fact largely because their naval fleets included rowers recruited from their own towns, who could fight when the galleys crashed together, unlike everyone else who used slaves or prisoners.
    Not so sure about that. Venice is definitely up there in the list, but Genoa had been weakened after loosing some wars to Venice in the 14th century. Milan, was militarily, very significant during that period, more so than Genova during the 15th century. Florence, can't be ignored as a major player, but tended to be pretty backward militarily speaking. Both Milan and Venice hired mercenary infantry, and developed provisionati infantry, but they tended to be commanded by mercenaries.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Speaking in broad terms. The mercenary forces in Italy, developed in response to a gradual decrease in the effectiveness of urban militias, which declined for a variety of complex reasons. The mercenaries adopted more sophisticated tactics, which allowed them to be more effective than the militias -- partly because they could spend more time training than the militias. While originally, they were mostly cavalry, sophisticated mercenary infantry also developed. The condottiere system gradually shifted toward one of a permanent employment, via lengthening contracts, and a tradition of renewing contracts. Concurrent with that development, was the rise of true permanent soldiers in the Italian states. The Italian system of warfare ran into problems with the French Invasion of 1494. There were several reasons for this, including the inability of the Italian states to form an effective league. However, one of the reasons for the loss at Fornovo, which can be instructive as failure of the Italian system of warfare, is that the Italian plan was too complicated, too sophisticated, for the large number of forces that had, eventually, been gathered. Italian tactics were, in short, too complicated to scale up well. And the armies of the Italian Wars would be very big compared to the armies of the previous century. It is at this point that disciplined pikemen, become the mainstay of almost any effective army. Pikemen, that, perhaps, weren't as tactically sophisticated as their earlier Italian counterparts, could be fielded in very large numbers.
    Last edited by fusilier; 2012-10-17 at 07:18 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
    I have no idea what you two are arguing about. Are the statements "militia were not always the best troops" and "militia were often the best troops" mutually exclusive? Sounds like you are virtually in agreement to me.
    Yeah, my last post took way too long to write. The conversation seems to be over all the place. I think we are arguing about whether or not militia were usually the best infantry? I contend that there was a period of time, at least in Italy, where mercenaries were better.

    And then, I think there's disagreement about what constitutes a militia, for example should we consider Genoese crossbowmen serving in the Crusades militia?

    I think it's resulting in a confused and convoluted argument, that's quickly disintegrating into a mass of individual tangentally related discussions and references to battles.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Yeah, my last post took way too long to write. The conversation seems to be over all the place. I think we are arguing about whether or not militia were usually the best infantry? I contend that there was a period of time, at least in Italy, where mercenaries were better.

    And then, I think there's disagreement about what constitutes a militia, for example should we consider Genoese crossbowmen serving in the Crusades militia?

    I think it's resulting in a confused and convoluted argument, that's quickly disintegrating into a mass of individual tangentally related discussions and references to battles.
    but, unlike most arguments on the internet, has not slipped into a series of snide put downs of the other mans points, so i think your're both doing rather well.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Storm Bringer View Post
    but, unlike most arguments on the internet, has not slipped into a series of snide put downs of the other mans points, so i think your're both doing rather well.
    Thanks.

    While there are clearly some historical details to be hammered out -- there's also I think a disagreement on what can rightly be called militia.

    Crossbowmen are an interesting example. Across most of Italy, urban and rural men had an obligation to learn how to use a crossbow. And I think that's what Galloglaich is getting at -- those people ostensibly developed their skills as crossbowmen from their militia obligations.

    But, while the use of an individual weapon may have been the result of militia obligations, more sophisticated tactical training was obtained by those individuals who spent more time in the field, and, perhaps more importantly, by those companies who stayed together. That was achieved by the mercenary units operating in Italy, and not by the urban militias.

    To a certain extent, that's the thesis of Mallett's work. In Italy (starting in about the 13th century), the mercenary units became more sophisticated in their tactics -- partly because they could stay employed year round. They influenced the entire system of warfare in Italy, and beyond. They raised the bar for the level of professionalism in the military, and they influenced the development of truly permanent forces. They were a product of rather unique conditions, and the system did have its flaws. But they were not anachronistic and backward, as they have often been characterized.

    Sadly, until recently, Mallett's work wasn't very accessible. It seemed to be known to academics who specifically focused on the Italian condottiere -- which in English there doesn't seem to have been many (significantly Mallett's work was translated into Italian and was popular). And known to dopes like me, who happened to stumble across a reference to the book and were lucky enough to find a copy at a university library! :-)

    As a result, the popular opinion of condotierre hasn't really changed. For example in the Borgias TV series, where somebody remarks: "we Italians have no word for cannon" -- sigh.

    Anyway the book is now in print, with a nice foreword by William Cafferro (an author of a couple of recent books dealing with condottiere in a more narrow field), and should be available on Amazon. I know of no other work that treats the Italian condottiere so comprehensively. I would like to find a copy of Mallett's and Hale's work on the Venetian military, I think that would be a good read.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Since I have nothing to add regarding militias and mercenaries... Speculation time!
    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    If Action Movie Heroes existed (the ones who can kill a hundred guys and do ludicrous stuff), how would this change the ancient world and warfare?
    The first thing that springs to mind is actually logistics: how important it would be to find any available Heroes and get them into the army, so they're not wasted as carpenters or whatever. I would expect some kind of "warrior caste" or feudal system to develop, to give Heroes lives of leisure and luxury in return for their services. Something like the Mamlukes perhaps, where the Heroes form a military/ruling class, or a lot of small princedoms ruled by a Hero.

    I also imagine a lot of searching for the Chosen Ones, in the best of fantasy traditions. Can they be bred or created? Perhaps murdering their parents at an early age would do the trick? There would be a lot of experimentation, I'd guess.

    That aside, if there are supermen around your average soldier is kind of pointless. He's just Hero-fodder, and "mundanes" should probably just be kept off the battlefield doing something useful, like farming. This leaves battle to a chosen few, and in a pre-modern society I'd expect highly ritualized combat between chosen champions with the loser (being very valuable) perhaps being ransomed.

    In a modern society, with every soldier being Rambo I don't know what to expect. With these Ramboes being infiltrators and demolition-men, the war would consist of Heroes trying to blow up important buildings or stop the bomb at the last second?

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I agree the discussion between Fusilier and I has become a little bit too scattered and maybe slightly too heated, but we both respect each other and we have both remained civil. I also think some of the points under contention here are very interesting and a few are even pretty important.

    And I've also learned a few things such as about these semi-professional militias in Milan and Venice.

    Maybe we can try to pare down the tendrils of this discussion into the key points where we seem to disagree.

    1) Were part - time militias just as effective as ostensibly full - time mercenaries (and were mercenaries actually full-time?)


    2) How did fighting effectiveness improve in Medieval armies? How did Medieval warriors learn to use better tactics and more sophisticated weapons?


    3) Did militia actually decline in just in some towns in Italy or everywhere in Europe? And if so, when and why?


    4) Was the reason for the purported decline, as Fusilier has shown us that Mallett seems to be saying, somehow related to the introduction of complex weapons like crossbows and in the use of metal and / or plate armor contributing ?

    #1 is kind of hard to prove either way definitively though I think we could learn something and have some fun pursing it (it would take some time) I think #2 is a really interesting and important question. #3 is worth looking at a bit further but again, it will take some time. #4 can help us ground the debate in reality a bit more perhaps with somewhat left effort.

    Does this sound like a reasonable summary?

    I'd like to reach something close to a consensus before I make any effort to clarify my positions further since I have (frustratingly!) very limited computer access for the next few days since I'm stuck at a conference right now.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I will be leaving and will be gone over the weekend and will not have internet access. So I'll try to address these now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I agree the discussion between Fusilier and I has become a little bit too scattered and maybe slightly too heated, but we both respect each other and we have both remained civil. I also think some of the points under contention here are very interesting and a few are even pretty important.

    And I've also learned a few things such as about these semi-professional militias in Milan and Venice.

    Maybe we can try to pare down the tendrils of this discussion into the key points where we seem to disagree.
    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I1) Were part - time militias just as effective as ostensibly full - time mercenaries (and were mercenaries actually full-time?)
    1) As you pointed out, the Italian urban militias were able to deal with mercenaries during the 11th - 12th centuries.

    Was there a change, and if so, why?

    For the first question, something clearly changed in Italy. I think the traditional response is that the militias were neglected, ignored or suppressed by the Signori (I'm not actually sure, I've never seen the complete argument). However, Mallett writing in the 1970s considered that view to have "long since been exploded". Part of the reason was that where Signori took control, they did so without force, so there was no need to suppress the militia. Also, other states which didn't go to one man rule, did switch to employing mercenaries on a large scale.

    I got into the reasons why in previous posts and do not wish to repeat all that material here. I think the most objectionable reason was new equipment -- but that reason is fairly complicated in itself, and ties into the next question.

    As I have been reviewing the source(s), I'm willing to walk back my claim that the mercenaries were not truly full time soldiers, but with some caveats. In the early stages (14th century), the campaigning seasons in Italy wouldn't have left foreign mercenaries which much time to return home, without the companies being disbanded. Once companies were well established entities, the 14th century was known as the time of the great companies, they would typically overwinter at some place they conquered, and then see who wanted to hire them in the Spring.

    During the 15th century, there were more "Italians" (I don't want to say "locals") among the rank-and-file, but they were typically sent to winter quarters -- and certain things were expected of them during that time period (including repairing and replenishing equipment), in addition to them being "on call" for a potential winter campaign. The nature of Italian warfare meant that "foreign" troops couldn't be simply be sent back to their homes, to wait until they were needed -- there wouldn't be enough time to recall them. So these soldiers really could be considered full-time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    2) How did fighting effectiveness improve in Medieval armies? How did Medieval warriors learn to use better tactics and more sophisticated weapons?
    2) This is getting tricky -- the time of the Condottiere in Italy, is generally considered the Renaissance, although to see properly their roots one has to go back a little bit further.

    Also, there's a difference in terminology. Where I would say "soldiers," you say "warriors." To me this is a potentially fundamental disagreement. In my mind warriors are individuals who fight as individuals. Soldiers, band together into units and fight as part of a larger whole. It's not a difference in physical presence, but in mentality. So to me, part of being a good soldier has a lot to do with understanding drills and tactics, and individual prowess with a particular weapon (or weapons) is a secondary consideration. For a warrior it would be reversed -- individual prowess with a weapon is the primary focus.

    For the training of condottiere, I will turn to a source I'm usually loathe to go to: The Osprey book on the subject (Osprey can be real hit or miss) -- I do this only because the index in Mallett's book isn't that good, and I don't feel like scouring his pages at the moment.

    They note that the early condottiere were assumed to be trained, experience men, because they were typically veterans of other wars.

    However, after that, young men received their training within the company itself, as squires and pages (and this held for the infantry companies too). It also stated that they preferred to hire soldiers who at least some training. In the case of crossbowmen, places like Venice and Genova would certainly be good places to recruit, because everybody was required to train with a crossbow.

    Unfortunately, the work doesn't get into the details of how training occurred at the unit level. Apparently some condottiere ran what were de fact military schools that taught tactics in addition to basic fighting skills. Also, that different styles would require different training schemes:
    Some preferred to dismount their men and use them in tight infantry formations. If they wanted their men to be supported by the fire of archers or crossbowmen, this required different training and coordination if it was to be done effectively.
    They further claim that effective condottiere must have required constant training (specifically referring to the cavalry).

    I was able to quickly look up tournaments in Mallett's work, but the section was primarily about soldiers and society. Tournaments typically included mock battles, which would seem a logical place to look for more training. Florence had many tournaments, one a year after the defeat of Pisa in 1406, but they were primarily for the Florentines themselves -- a chance for the political mercantile class to show off. On the other hand Venice didn't have as many tournaments, but theirs were more practical. Venetians didn't actually participate in the mock battles of the 15th century, instead it was the professional, non-Venetian (i.e. mercenary) soldiers that fought in these battles. That way the Venetians could evaluate the effectiveness of their mercenaries.


    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    3) Did militia actually decline in just in some towns in Italy or everywhere in Europe? And if so, when and why?
    3) That's a good question. I'm convinced that they declined in Italy at least, staring around the 13th century, and this was a general trend across all of Italy, but not an equal one. Like above I don't want to go over all the reasons again, but the need to keep troops in the field all the time, was part of it. However, it was a slow decline, militias gradually faded and mercenaries came to the fore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    4) Was the reason for the purported decline, as Fusilier has shown us that Mallett seems to be saying, somehow related to the introduction of complex weapons like crossbows and in the use of metal and / or plate armor contributing ?
    4) This is where things get "complex", and we need to carefully interlock the various pieces. I'll try to do that briefly, and off the top of my head (so challenge what *I* say first, so I can double check it against Mallett).

    I. The constant warfare of the 13th century necessitated the use of permanent troops, both for garrisons and to carry out the economically devastating raids. Turning to mercenaries was an effective solution, when there were experienced veterans available.

    II. Correct me if I'm wrong, the increasingly use of increasingly(?) more powerful crossbows, led to more armor (specifically plate armor, but during the 15th century also more horse armor). This was an added expense for the cavalry. Mallett also claims that more armor required more physical conditioning (which seems logical to me). Those are requirements that probably benefit those who could spend more time training.

    III. Foreign mercenaries could spend more time training. They needed to at least be on call most of the year, but unlike militia they were too far from their homes to return to them when nothing else was going on.

    IV. Mallett feels that the crossbow had more offensive opportunities -- it was still primarily a defensive weapon -- I assume he's comparing it to a spear -- and that some more sophisticated tactics could be used with it.

    V. By the 15th century, Italian condottiere were known for using very sophisticated tactics, rotating troops in and out of battle, and mixing forces (cavalry, crossbowmen, light infantry, heavy infantry, even artillery). If we accept that, then there must have been a transition from more simplistic tactics to more sophisticated ones -- and as mercenaries became popular, there may have been something about them, that allowed them to master such sophisticated tactics that militias had trouble with.

    The opposite side, I suppose, would be to argue that militia could master such tactics, but they didn't for other reasons. But that doesn't seem to square with what is known. Venice and Genova didn't go to one man rule, and kept their militia obligations fairly strong, but still hired mercenaries to fill out their armies, and Venice, at least, developed provisionati to augment their forces.

    I would like to point that mercenaries in Italian warfare, were increasingly being hired for long stints during peace time. There was a huge array of contract types, some which allowed a condottiere to hire his company out to other states, but he could be recalled at any time! So it's not easy to cover everything.

    Much of Mallett's book concerns the relationship between condottiere and their employers, and the institutions that were put in place to manage these relationships. He presents Milan and Venice as being very advanced in this regard, and Florence as being particularly backward.

    ----------------------------------------------------
    I guess I'm having trouble writing nice concise answers, because I feel the subject matter is complex, and will be ill-served by too short an answer. :-/
    Last edited by fusilier; 2012-10-18 at 01:17 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    OK, I've got a question.

    I'm designing armor for a 6 armed character (see my avatar). I wanted something stylish that didn't just wind up being fantasy armor. My insipration was the kinda generic stereotype of the spanish conquistador of the breast plate and chain mail shirt.

    The idea, as it stands is a long hole on each side for the 3 arms, the breast plate being solid, no bumps some "female armors" have that direct weapons to the heart but some basic engraving on it and under it, a tight layer of sci fi type padding/kevlar stuff.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Lea Plath View Post
    I'm designing armor for a 6 armed character (see my avatar). I wanted something stylish that didn't just wind up being fantasy armor. My insipration was the kinda generic stereotype of the spanish conquistador of the breast plate and chain mail shirt.
    Can you tell us exactly where the secondary and tertiary sets of arms protrude? Just straight down the side, shoulderblades, what are we dealing with here? (This is important to the question of arm and shoulder protection.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lea Plath View Post
    no bumps some "female armors" have that direct weapons to the heart
    In this thread, that should be a given.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lea Plath View Post
    under it, a tight layer of sci fi type padding/kevlar stuff.
    Unless you expect this kevlar material to stop something the breast plate wouldn't, or cushion impacts or some such, there wouldn't be a huge amount of point to it as a secondary layer.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Sounds pretty sane so far.
    Unless you expect this kevlar material to stop something the breast plate wouldn't, or cushion impacts or some such, there wouldn't be a huge amount of point to it as a secondary layer.
    That would be the most critical point: What should this armor actually defend against? Solid projectiles (firearms, railguns, etc)? Lasers? Concentrated very hot stuff (Some sort of "plasma gun" or lightsaber)? Spread out moderately hot stuff (like flamethrowers)? Melee weapons? All of the above?
    A description of the most common weapons in your setting and how they work (at least the rough concept) would be quite useful.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by gkathellar View Post
    Unless you expect this kevlar material to stop something the breast plate wouldn't, or cushion impacts or some such, there wouldn't be a huge amount of point to it as a secondary layer.
    It probably would help to distribute impacts yet further, which is always a good thing. The downside is that kevlar is fairly heavy once there is enough of it to be worth something, and putting a heavy layer inside armor that is already on the heavier side is less than ideal. Being seriously weighed down in combat is a problem (hence the generally minimal leg protection seen on infantry in just about all eras), as is having to carry a lot of gear around on the march.

    On other questions: What's the general consensus among historians on the quality of the book From Sumer to Rome: The Military Capabilities of Ancient Armies. It seemed mostly solid, with some very glaring problems in the use of modern comparisons (due mostly to a lack of understanding of modern warfare) and in the actual tests done. Are there other problems I should be aware of?
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I have a couple questions about professionalism in Medieval armies.

    First off, would it be fair to say that housecarls where essentially an early incarnation of knights? If not, what are the important differences between knights and housecarls?

    What about ministerales? Functionally, what where the differences between ministerales and "free" knights in places like England?

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    This really is just a wild guess with no substential facts backing it, so take it with a grain of salt. But I think militias would probably be the precursors of standing conscript armies, as opposed to low ranking nobles and peasants.
    A militia would be outfitted and trained by the community, and even if they would only be what we now call reserves, this seems to be a better context to develop more advanced and professional organization.
    If a rich city like Bern, Zurich, or Prague is outfitting its entire militia, they can order weapons and armor in bulk and pay for it from the defense budget. Not sure how it was for knights at that time, but the popular image is that of each knight being responsible for the training and equipment of his lance of six to eight men, and having to pay for it with his own funds. That probably would make armies of knights look a lot more ragtag, and wouldn't lead to a lot of training in large unit tactics. And I think both the Swiss and the Czechs were quite famous for their exceptional use of large cohesive units. Quite similar to what made the Roman legions great.
    Also, militias are defending their home or at least fighting battles so a shared enemy never makes it to their own home if they can stop them in an allies territory. Knights and their men would be fighting because their lord had some political ambitions or even just for pay if they were freelancers.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Ok so, I was kind of hoping to just define terms before launching back into really long detailed arguments, but since you already did that I'll attempt to be systematic. I'm going to start with number 4 since I think it's the easiest one to settle.

    Did complex weapons and metal and / or plate armor make warfare too sophisticated for militias to handle?

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I've already probably been too long winded on this argument, so here are some images with brief descriptions.

    Mid- 14th Century depiction of the "Battle of Golden Spurs" from 1302, in which the town militia of the cities of Bruges, Ypres and Ghent in Flanders, with a little help from regional knights, smashed the French nobility.


    That is the victorious militia on the right, using their characteristic weapon 'the Godendag' which I'll get into more in a minute. Note they are depicted by the period artist, wearing the latest armor of that period (transitional harness with coat of plates)

    Communal skirmish in Bologna between Guelphs and Ghibellines, 1369 AD

    It's hard to tell with the shields but the heavy infantry appear to be wearing heavy armor, certainly they all have helmets and some appear to have gauntlets. The crossbowmen are wearing lighter armor, possibly mail or just textile.

    Militia from the town of Prague in a wagonberg of War Wagons, 1420

    Note some kind of armor on all of the fighters, coat of plates in my opinion, plus crossbows, firearms, and flails, all of which the Czechs advanced in this period.

    Miltia from the towns of Prague and Tabor in a tabor or War Wagon during the Hussite wars (1422-1440's), painting is from mid to late 15th Century.


    Note they are wearing plate armor and using the latest weapons of that era.

    Italian Carroccio, mid 15th Century not sure the specific town or the battle but it could be Milan or Florence. As you are probably aware, these special ox-drawn carts were usually manned by militia, they often carried the standard of the town.


    Note again, they are wearing plate armor and carrying a heavy crossbow.

    Berne militia praying before the battle of Laupen (14th Century, painting from the 15th century) Diebold Schilling

    Note, plate armor nearly universal, longswords for sidearms. Note the Berne standard behind them. And the crossbow standard I don't know whose that is.

    Armed militia from Zurich, relieving a siege, Diebold Schilling, 15th Century

    Note, plate armor nearly universal, guns and pikes.

    Militia from Berne, Zug, Uri, Schwyz and Zurich praying again after another battle, 15th Century.

    Note plate armor and longsword sidearms (usually associated with knights) seem to be universal.



    Now according to my sources, in Central and Northern Europe, individual members of the militia were required to own both arms and armor by the town ordinances, and also by their guilds (since the guilds usually formed the core of the infantry and often some of the cavalry too - the Butchers of Rostock for example were required to own warhorses as well). I think the guild connection is particularly significant as regards training, though I'll get to that in another post. But we have guild regulations from Flanders in the 13th Century (the oldest I have is from the skinners guild of Arras in 1236) stipulating that all guild members must have specific armor and weapons.

    Even in rural militia in many areas, not just weapons but armor was required by all free men. For example the original Law of the Gulating, in Norway, required arms only in the 11th Century, but by the 12th Century the Law had been updated to include "helmet, mail hauberk, shield, spear and sword" for the wealthier peasants and all burghers.

    From what I understand it was the same in Italy by the time of the formation of the Lombard League. The regulations of those fighting guilds in Bologna that I linked upthread required armor, bucklers, weapons (spears and swords) from all their members, and in some case horses as well (for the more affluent).

    Crosbows, similarly, were ubiquitious particularly in urban militias. In Flanders like in Bologna, they had specific military guilds which were formed to augment the town defenses. The first two on record were the Guild of St. George (in Ghent and then Bruges) which was a crossbow guild, and the guild of St. Sebastian which was an archers guild (the Flemish used English style longbows). These date back to the mid -13th Century. In the 14th Century the St. Michels Guild was formed, and a second St. George guild for the new type of crossbows, and then in the 15th Century the St. Barbara's guild was formed for firearms.

    The Swiss are of course, famous for their crossbows, as were the Czechs, and the Germans. Tactical Crossbow training even shows up in some German fencing manuals from the 15th century









    In fact I think it's clear that far from falling behind military technology and tactics, the urban miltiias tended to be major innovators of both, setting shockwaves through Eurpean history and carving out crucial landmarks in the development of hand to hand weapons (like the Flemish Godendag, mentioned above, the Swiss Halberd, the Czech war-flail, and the Swiss pike), crossbows (which were vastly improved by the Genoese, the Swiss, the Czechs who were I think the first to make large scale use of mounted crossbowmen, and the Flemish who were the first to use steel prods), firearms and cannon (both vastly improved by the Czechs), and complex combined-arms systems, some of which are barely known in the English speaking world, like the Hussite style war-wagon, which turned out to be particularly decisive against the Turks, as well as confounding to the German and Western Knights; and the pike / halberd and crossbow tactics developed by the Swiss as just two examples.

    So in light of all this, I think the argument that militias couldn't handle more sophisticated weapons, or armor, or tactics, is bogus. If some or all the urban miltiias in Italy got to the point where they couldn't handle these things, I suspect it means something else was going on. Either factional disputes or too much pressure from outside or the Signore system and loss of citizen autonomy or some other factor. Too much olive oil in their diet ;)

    But to be honest I'm actually fairly dubious it was such a factor in Italy, I think the popular narrative about this is off and probably based on some very old data.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    What, in terms of historical context, would be the difference between a heavy and light shield? I know tower shields are generally like the pavise, but I'm not exactly certain how big one or the other of the two other kinds of shields are. I know in terms of game rules one is easier to shield bash with than the other, but what would a knight, like, say, King Arthur and his Knights (fictional, I know, but it provides the context I'm looking for) have used?

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    What, in terms of historical context, would be the difference between a heavy and light shield? I know tower shields are generally like the pavise, but I'm not exactly certain how big one or the other of the two other kinds of shields are. I know in terms of game rules one is easier to shield bash with than the other, but what would a knight, like, say, King Arthur and his Knights (fictional, I know, but it provides the context I'm looking for) have used?
    That would depend on the time period, region, and what kind of fight the knight was expecting. I mean, you would have seen heavier shields on the battlefield than in civilian combat, but beyond that there's a lot of variation between any given country and any given century. The knights of the round table are pretty ahistorical, so that doesn't give much context.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    What, in terms of historical context, would be the difference between a heavy and light shield? I know tower shields are generally like the pavise, but I'm not exactly certain how big one or the other of the two other kinds of shields are. I know in terms of game rules one is easier to shield bash with than the other, but what would a knight, like, say, King Arthur and his Knights (fictional, I know, but it provides the context I'm looking for) have used?
    In historical context it's impossible to divide anything into "heavy and light shields".

    Those D&D terms are for simple representation of bigger and smaller shields. It doesn't really do to good of a job at it, either.

    Shields were generally coming in all shapes and sizes, together with overall bulk and construction there were a lot of weight/coverage combinations.

    King Arthur, as actual theoretical British warlord could probably use Roman style shields, or more 'local' types, I'm not sure.

    King Arthur's as 'medieval' knight shield would obviously depend on period of depiction/tale.

    Probably most famous depiction of early 'knights' - Bayeux Tapestry shows large, 'kite' shields, popular all around Europe for riders and more 'serious' infantry as well.

    http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/Homework/bt/

    In later period, kite shields generally are getting shorter and more acutely shaped, giving birth to typical 'heater' shield.


    http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtya.../otm39ra&b.gif


    Around the break of 12th/13th century, knightly shields generally cease to be gripped by central grip - they instead are getting more and more often strapped to forearm - it's pretty much standard way of using shields in 13th and 14th century

    http://manuscriptminiatures.com/stat...inal/142-8.jpg


    On the other hand, all kinds of round shields, centrally gripped shields, really large shields never go away completely - there would be a lot of regional variety, obviously.

    13th century round shields from Norway


    14th-15th century Prussian/Latvian/Mazovian small 'pavise' with central bulge. Later became popular all over Europe.
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