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  1. - Top - End - #241
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I pointed out, with facts, that his theory that "armor and crossbows" made war too complex for militias was patently ridiculous. I think this was broad enough of a hole in his argument (the principle one that you quoted) that I didn't need to elaborate further, but I can if you want.
    And I've repeatedly pointed out -- it didn't make war "too complex" for the militias, but it gave the Condottieri an advantage. That advantage was one that came from spending more time training tactics with mixed arms.



    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    If they got fined, one assumes there was a reason...
    Yes, but the statistics showed that they weren't missing 90% of their men. The most egregious offenders were down only about 25%, and they were considered to be exceptional. For the most part the contracts were being honored.



    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    No- you are missing the point. Experience can be trumped by technology, training and esprit de corps, as the militia of the Flemish, the Germans, the Swiss and the Czechs repeatedly proved. And as did the Venetians and the Italians of the Lombard League and many others.
    So only militia could have access to training? That's my point. The Condottiere spent a lot of time training -- they could afford to do so, because increasingly their contracts employed them during peacetime.



    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    In some cases yes it does, but quite often experimentation with different tactics comes from training, which happens with militias as often or more often than with mercenaries.
    Ah, this is where we are in fundamental disagreements of the facts. But, you have admitted you are not familiar with the Italian campaigns of the time. Mercenaries started to receive more and more training, as their contracts kept them enrolled even in peacetime. That was a major change in the system.

    Would you agree that if this were the case, then mercenaries would be better trained than militia?

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The only way you could have this feeling is if you didn't read all my other posts, let alone follow all the links and so on. I don't necessarily blame you, they were long and we don't agree on just about any of this so you probably didn't want to read it. But you are once again completely missing the point as a result.
    I did read your posts -- what I don't see is how they applied to Italian condottiere of the 15th century.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    I mentioned personal weapon training as one aspect of understanding of Medieval Warfare that Mallett obviously didn't understand, (and contrary to your assertion, the effectiveness and weight and so on of armor and crossbows and guns and swords does matter on a larger scale because these things do percolate up - and these are things - the weight of armor- that you and Mallett mentioned) and which has changed dramatically since his era. But it's only one of several things that have in terms of our understanding. I already pointed out at length the major tactical and operational innovations of the militias during the Medieval period, which you seem to have glossed over or ignored.
    First, you haven't read Mallet and you are making major assumptions. Crossbowmen could be hired out of the militias, and he flatly states that this was the major source for them. But the difference is the system that they entered.

    Second, I've glossed over those developments, because they form the starting point for the condottiere, not a competing system. Sforza tactics involved highly detailed, complicated battle plans with various forces supporting each other in close ways that required lots of practice. Braccesco tactics involved less pre planning but detailed manipulation of forces during battle - rotating troops in and out in small numbers, and also very close coordination between different kinds of troops. Both systems required a high degree of training to be effective. Well timed ambushes and encircling maneuvers led to more prisoners being taken during Italian warfare in the 15th century.

    Those tactics are named for famous Condottiere and not urban militias for very good reasons. These are the innovations that Italian mercenaries started to introduce -- innovations that were not matched by the militias, at least not in Italy, including Venice and Genoa.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    But regarding armor, maybe Mallett thought it was too much for militias because he thought it weighed a lot more than it did.
    I find this to be unlikely, but it is possible. Other authors working at the same time, those who had done even a little research, seem to have had a good idea of the actual weight of armor. Bradford's translation of "The Siege of Malta", from 1965, includes notes that get the weight of armor right, and tries to dissuade the myth that armor was excessively heavy (although he does mention that heat must have been an issue). This research took time to percolate up into popular works, but Mallett was by no means working in the framework of popular works. However, he doesn't mention numbers, and it's possible that he used some outdated ideas about armor.

    A proper, complete suit of plate armor would be heavier than a complete suit of chain mail -- correct? Does wearing plate armor (for long periods of time), require more physical conditioning?

    Mallett's approach is very systematic. My suspicion is that militia cavalry couldn't afford as many suits of plate armor as mercenary cavlary -- this puts pressure on the system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    As I've pointed out repeatedly, militias pioneered many if not most of the principle military tactical innovations of the late Medieval period, including but not limited to, halberd squares (the Swiss) pike squares (the Swiss) firearms (the Czechs) gun wagons (the Czechs) field howitzers (the Czechs) and the most sophisticated tactics of integrating crossbows with heavy infantry, which you alluded to (via Mallett) several times upthread, were pioneered by the Genoese, the Flemish, the Swiss, and the Czechs. Militias.
    That the militias introduced technologies into warfare isn't debated. See above, however, for the complex tactics that developed within the Condottiere. That's where the militias couldn't compete (not well anyway). However, as stated upthread, those complex tactics didn't scale up -- and once you could start putting large number of forces on the field militia effectiveness could become paramount. However, the Italian urban militias could only field very large numbers when they combined together, and that was rare after the 13th century.

    The Condottiere style of warfare, refined during the 15th century, ran into problems at the end as large invasions of Italy once again took place. However, they left their mark on the development of warfare and tactics, and Cordoba's use of combined arms at Cerignola can be seen as a further development of Condottiere tactics, modernized, as it were, to the new scale of warfare.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    As for cavalry, I've pointed out several times that militias tended to make good infantry, often the best available - whereas the best cavalry comes from the Feudal Aristocracy. It's always been that way, going back to Alexander.
    In northern and central Italy, the feudal aristocracy wasn't as strong, so their availability to provide good cavalry was rather diminished. Nevertheless I would still argue that Condottiere cavalry were better, in certain time periods. But we are basically digressing at this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    If they weren't, why did you yourself say that Venice used the militia first, and usually brought in the mercenaries after the war 'bogged down' as you put it (i.e. in most cases, became a siege)?
    The condottiere system developed over time. For most of the fourteenth century the city-states would initially rely upon their militia, and then hire mercenaries as they felt necessary. However, beginning in the second half of the fourteenth century, mercenary contracts started to get longer, and were increasingly renewed. So by the fifteenth century mercenaries were usually in the permanent pay of those states. In the mid 1300s most contracts were 2-3 months, sometimes six months. By the 1440s most Venetian contracts were for two years, plus one year (Italian contracts had an optional period, but by this time it was pro-forma to assume the employer would activate the option). So they had a large mercenary force on hand to initiate campaigns -- and they wanted to get their money's worth.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    And you are continually skipping the other point I've repeatedly raised, that mercenaries were most often themselves raised directly from militias. The Venetians as case in point relied heavily on militia from Albania, Croatia, (the Dalmatian Coast) including the famous Schiavoni who comprised the bodyguard of the Doge of Venice. And further afield, German and Czech miltiia such as comprized the bulk of the Venetian financed Hungarian Black Army.
    I've been ignoring it, because I'm tired of repeating myself:

    They received their tactical training as mercenaries -- that's what set them apart from the militia.

    Militia serving as mercenaries for years on end, potentially for various employers, cease being militia in my mind. I've presented the evidence of the long term contracts that they signed with regards to this. While some mercenaries drifted in and out of the system, training with a well accomplished Condottiere would put them apart from other militia.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    which brings me to the second part of my point. Yes Venice relied heavily on a permanent force of mercenaries, because Venice controlled half of the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean at various times. They were one (by todays standards) very small city with a heavily engaged manufacturing sector they could not afford to disrupt (since their wealth came from trade and manufacturing) including a 3,000 ship fleet, and they had to garrison hundreds of islands and fortifications from Italy all the way to the Black Sea. Genoa faced the same problem, incidentaly.

    You seem to think Venice was limiting their activity to the Italian peninsula, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth - they had a huge Empire to maintain. For example note this map:
    My focus in on Italy. So it's Venice's actions in Italy that bear on the subject. That's why I've ignored their overseas activities, except when they bear directly on Italian warfare. Venice's militia was probably in better shape, partly because they had a large overseas empire to maintain. The use of mercenaries was common in their major wars in Italy in the 15th century.


    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    You keep trying to bring it back to this, but I am not focused on the Italian Condottieri, I have my hands full with the other research I'm doing right now. I do however have several sources on Swiss and Czech militia and the Landsknechts, including first-hand accounts and primary sources if you want me to recommend some of those I can. But for the time-being my interests lie north of the Alps.

    G
    My focus is Italy. And I fear that you are being too dismissive of the Italian system, and what information I present, because it doesn't fit with the Northern European narrative.

  2. - Top - End - #242
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    How effective are bones for stopping/turning blades? There was a documentary where they noted dented skulls, and that the dents seemed to be from sword-cuts.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Traab View Post
    Samurai versus viking, the kanabo smashed the viking shield.
    I've seen demonstrations of how this is pretty much nonsense, as one can expect from Deadliest Warrior. A respectably made wooden shield is not plywood, it will not shatter easily.

    Quote Originally Posted by Voyd211 View Post
    Besides the obvious course of action known as the bayonet, what would be a practical method of combining a melee weapon with a firearm? I have essentially the Book of Armaments, and most of the combination weapons shown were showpieces and probably wouldn't work as martial weapons.
    There's not really a whole lot. Melee weapons and ranged weapons tend to have different needs and are designed to endure different stresses. An unstrung bow might serve as a respectable cudgel, and of course the stock of a gun is strong and can endure a lot of impact force, but even in those cases, damage to the weapon remains a possibility.

    A bayonet is convenient specifically because you're not introducing much stress that a rifle doesn't undergo already, and because a direct thrusting motion directs most of the stress back into the wielder. That advantage isn't encountered much elsewhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    How effective are bones for stopping/turning blades? There was a documentary where they noted dented skulls, and that the dents seemed to be from sword-cuts.
    Bone is pretty strong! Chopping straight through it requires tremendous force and material hardness. The denser it gets, the stronger it gets, and it tends to be less vulnerable to getting sliced through than it is to impact forces. That said, taking a hit with a blade on your skull or other bone is going to be very painful and probably result in severe injury.
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  4. - Top - End - #244
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I already cited 3 year contracts way upthread, though those were not the most common type. Even if they were, three years is hardly a lifetime. It's like a typical military tour today and one tour in the army doesn't make you a hardened professional soldier (I did a tour and I sure ain't one).

    I think this boils down to my taking a view of things from beyond Italy, (as well as in Italy), while you are looking at a microcosm of really only within Italy and only a certain period. I'm looking at a macrocosm. In fact the reason I'm fairly familiar with the Italian campaigns in spite of never focusing on it is because I had to learn about all the other regions surrounding Central Europe in order to make any sense of Central Europe. Everything in the Medieval world was highly interconnected, militarily, economically, and culturally, especially in places like Italy which had so much international commerce (and so many powerful foreign enemies)

    I'm familiar with the Sforza method and a few of the others as well, including some of the foreigners like Hawkwood, but as you pointed out these didn't necessarily 'scale up' past the semi-formal type of warfare the condottieri were developing ... not without good reason I might add, to somewhat reduce their own casualties and the overall destruction of war. What did scale up was the militias of the Swiss, Flemish, Czechs ... and the Venetians.

    With regard to the Venetians, you simply can't talk about the role of their armies in Italy without paying any attention to their enormous commitment outside of Italy. Hell 80% of their military was outside of the Italian peninsula most of the time and most of the time all Venice cared about was some major power like the Ottoman Empire and when they were focused in their own back yard it was usually aimed at the other big Italian maritime empire, Genoa.

    Mercenaries didn't just appear out of thin air. And militias didn't sit on their hands until some major battle came, they tended to fight all the time. By your narrative militias were just static and only got combat experience when they fought as mercenaries - and if they did fight as mercenaries, they ceased to be militia. This is all nonesense. Look how many wars the Swiss got into in any 100 year period between the 14th and 17th Centuries

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles...ss_Confederacy

    You just can't view all this in a vacuum. Just as mercenary infantry often came from militias, mercenary cavalry usually came from Aristocrats, both from within Italy and beyond, in Spain, Savoy, Provence, Germany, and Dalmatia to name a few typical sources.

    You might want to look into where Venice recruited most of their mercenaries - they were a combination of Croatian feudal cavalry and Dalmatian urban militias

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dalmatia#Middle_Ages

    ...who came from a meaner place than Italy where they had to contend with the Ottomans, the Hungarians, the Serbians and so on. So they had plenty of experience both as militias and as mercenaries.

    The Condottieri are interesting, and there is no doubt that they contributed to the development of warfare in Italy and well beyond it, but it's ridiculous to contend that they had a monopoly on skill, expertise, innovation or battle effectiveness. My own area of research is on the militias, from Central and Northern Europe but also throughout Europe, and I know enough about them to be pretty confident that they were no push-overs in combat and could in fact contend with the best the Condittieri could throw at them. I think I've shown more than enough evidence of their importance in period warfare on every level. Beyond that we may just have to agree to disagree since we seem to have started talking past each other.

    G
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  5. - Top - End - #245
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    How effective are bones for stopping/turning blades? There was a documentary where they noted dented skulls, and that the dents seemed to be from sword-cuts.
    Swords will cut right through bone if you can cut properly. The reality of Medieval Warfare is much, much, much more brutal than in Video games, movies, or RPG's. Why? I have no idea since we have all of the above set in modern or sci fi or apocalyptic eras which are plenty gory.

    These are from Kutna Hora in Czech Republic, 14th Century
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    These are from Wisby in Sweden (Gotland), also 14th Century


    Note a humerus (thigh bone) severed, they found a few bodies in that site which had both legs cut through by the same cut- also severed top of a skull.

    Another from Wisby


    This is from Townton, in the UK, 15th Century



    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2012-10-23 at 08:10 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Can it be assumed those cuts were made by one-handed swords?
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Can it be assumed those cuts were made by one-handed swords?
    At Wisby, probably yes since this was one of the most common types of edged weapon, we think, in that battle. At Kutna Hora, it would be a mix of things, arming swords, (two-handed) longswords, messers, bills, glaives. At Towton longswords are probably the most common sidearm, but there would also be bills, glaives, axes and so on, as well as plenty of spears and crushing weapons.

    Probably at least some of the cutting injuries were from swords (I think 25% of the bodies they found at Wisby had cut marks on them, the rest were either from soft tissue damage or missiles) because swords were so ubiquitous, (and at Wisby so were shields which is why we think there were a lot of single-handed swords... and also why so many people seem to have been cut in the lower left leg). But other cutting weapons were also common so you can't really be certain.

    Modern test-cutting does replicate this though with swords, I've seen plenty of people cut through pig skulls, pork shoulders, hams and so on at test-cutting events. If you have a good sword and know what you are doing it's not very hard. It's actually pretty disturbing how easy it is.


    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2012-10-23 at 10:07 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Me:
    Civic militias weren't always the best forces around, but there were periods where they were.
    Galloglaich:
    City militias were usually extremely effective, they tended to be the best infantry in every era...
    My response.
    The Italian urban militias declined with the rise of the Condottiere system, while they didn't disappear completely, in some areas they were very limited often just supplying pioneers (and usually from the rural militia). Condottiere forces tended to be very cavalry oriented, but infantry companies became increasingly common.
    That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Even in Italian states where the militia was well trained and strong, mercenaries were the primary fighting force. Obviously not for every moment in time, and not for every location in space.

    However, I had gone on a bit farther than I probably should:
    I suspect something similar happened in the German states, although probably at a later date.
    I said this because I'm not unaware of the larger picture, and knew that German Landsknechts and Swiss mercenaries became popular in the late 15th and 16th centuries. But I did couch it in terms of uncertainty, as my detailed knowledge of how they operated was very limited. As I respected your knowledge of them, I later limited my objection only to what I consider myself to be very familiar with: Italian Condottiere.

    G -- you were critical of my understanding of the broader picture of things. So allow me to be critical of the information you present.

    For example:

    Hell 80% of their military was outside of the Italian peninsula most of the time
    Ok, do you have a source for that? Or a context? Is that before or after Venice starting expanding in mainland in Italy? And finally, what does that mean? How does that impact the larger system of warfare?

    You seem to have lots of details, but there's no clear understanding of what they mean or how they fit into what's going on.

    You've also misconstrued my arguments, typically through exaggeration:

    The Condottieri are interesting, . . ., but it's ridiculous to contend that they had a monopoly on skill, expertise, innovation or battle effectiveness
    I never said they did.

    By your narrative militias were just static and only got combat experience when they fought as mercenaries
    I never made that claim.

    and if they did fight as mercenaries, they ceased to be militia
    Certainly when they joined permanent mercenary companies. Otherwise, I questioned whether or not it was fair to call them militia, if they spent a long time serving as mercenaries.

    This is all nonesense.
    Maybe I have failed to articulate my positions well. But, I think for someone who professes ignorance on the subject, this is a very demeaning and rude thing to say. You also began, almost immediately, by attacking my source simply because it was from the 1970s, and I really didn't know how to respond to that (especially when you mentioned a theory that it considered obsolete). I have too much respect for this board, and, believe it or not, you, to continue with this. I'm done.

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

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    Last edited by Spiryt; 2012-10-24 at 03:54 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Wow, those are really brutal! Better than the ones I posted. Where are they from?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Maybe I have failed to articulate my positions well. But, I think for someone who professes ignorance on the subject, this is a very demeaning and rude thing to say. You also began, almost immediately, by attacking my source simply because it was from the 1970s, and I really didn't know how to respond to that (especially when you mentioned a theory that it considered obsolete). I have too much respect for this board, and, believe it or not, you, to continue with this. I'm done.
    I have respect for you as well, and your knowledge of the Condottieri which is better than mine. But I'm not entirely ignorant on Italy, I have read a few books on Venice and I've read Burckhardt and Delbruck and some of the other classics, as well as Machiavelli and Boccaccio and some of the other primary sources. I just don't have a bookshelf devoted to the Italian wars or the Condottierri as I do for the Baltic or Central Europe. Too little time and money. But I am well enough versed on the Swiss and the German mercenaries (who eventually became the Landsknechts), and the Czechs, and all three of these groups were involved quite a bit in wars in Italy from the earliest Medieval period.

    We have both to some extent or another started talking past each other in this discussion, which I suppose is an inevitable stage of debates like this on the internet. I stuck with it because it's an important issue to me, among a few other similar ones, it's something I've been researching for many years and have tried to debunk myths about for a long time. Miltiias in particular are a special area of interest for me, I just gave a lecture on their role in fencing three weeks ago at a HEMA event in Boston. Like the guilds, the Free Cities, and the European martial arts, I think they are an important part of history which has been largely misrepresented and misunderstood. A lot of why I participate on this forum is to debunk persistent myths like this.

    In our discussion, you have referred to 'the militias' in general, when I think you really mean the militias in Northern Italy in a certain specific period. I strongly disagree with a lot of your more general statements on the nature of militias and I believe I have plenty of evidence to support my position, which was arrived at by reading the source data not by any theory. In fact I'm sorely tempted to drill down into your last detailed response and try to refute it point by point! But as the discussion has become a bit too heated for you and I and probably less interesting for the rest of the board I'll respect your request and desist.

    I'd just like to leave the argument by continuing to stand by my main assertion: that most fighters in the Middle Ages and even into the Early Modern period were part time 'soldiers' at best, the truly full time professional specialist was a rarity. Many famous figures of the Renaissance dabbled in mercenary work at one time or another, and yet they also did many other things, often brilliantly well. This was the definition of the so-called "Renaissance Man". The militia of the towns in particular, generally speaking, was not the rabble it's often portrayed as by modern people, or useless, in fact they were sometimes so extraordinarily effective they changed the nature of war in our collective history forever. I think it is perhaps an important lesson for today.

    My personal opinion on Italy is that in many of the towns, the townsfolk may have simply decided that their freedom was not worth the price of constant warfare and eventually lost interest in it. But I admit this is a provisional theory at best, maybe we can revisit all this one day when we have both had more time to focus on that special place/time in European history where so many of the greatest achievements of art, literature, philosophy, music, architecture and a thousand artisans skills flourished at a peak rarely if ever matched by anywhere or anybody else in the world. And sadly, where war and invasions by powerful States wrought so much havoc and eventually led to decline.

    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2012-10-24 at 03:22 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Wow, those are really brutal! Better than the ones I posted. Where are they from?

    G
    Supposedly from Dublin and 'Iceland'. Somebody just posted pictures from museums without much description.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I've seen such skulls from BBC documentaries. Even if these ones are forgeries, skulls like that have been found in Northern Europe.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Swords will cut right through bone if you can cut properly. The reality of Medieval Warfare is much, much, much more brutal than in Video games, movies, or RPG's. Why? I have no idea since we have all of the above set in modern or sci fi or apocalyptic eras which are plenty gory.

    These are from Kutna Hora in Czech Republic, 14th Century
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    These are from Wisby in Sweden (Gotland), also 14th Century


    Note a humerus (thigh bone) severed, they found a few bodies in that site which had both legs cut through by the same cut- also severed top of a skull.
    Hate to be an anatomy geek, but the humerus is the bone of the upper arm, not leg. The femur is the thigh bone.

    The second bone from the left is a humerus, severed near the shoulder joint. It's upside down in the photo, the elbow at the top, but you can see the anatomy here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Humerus_post.jpg

    The third bone is a left tibia (shin bone) with a chunk taken out of it. It's upside down. You can see the malleolus of the ankle at the top right of the bore. That's the bump on the inside of your ankle. The blow would have been to the outside of the left lower leg, as one would expect for a guy fighting with a shield, his left foot forward.

    Here's a picture:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gray258.png

    A femur has a big ball to fit in the socket of the pelvis to form a hip joint. None of these bones show that.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femur
    Bones aren't all that hard to cut through with a sharp heavy piece of steel. Butcher do it all the time. I have no trouble believing a blow to an unarmored limb could sever it.

    But you generally don't have to cut through bone to incapacitate your enemy. The guy with the divot in his tibia probably had muscle and blood vessels severed by that blow, and likely was out of combat bleeding to death pretty quickly.

    Sorry to be pedantic, but there are no severed thighs here.
    Last edited by Mike_G; 2012-10-24 at 03:26 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    No you are absolutely right, my bad... I should have said 'bicep bone' or something. I think there were some severed femurs in the famous report on the excavation on Wisby but I may be wrong on that. I better quit while I'm behind!

    I can't believe I confused femur for humerus, I used to be a Medic !

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

    This is a question I have been wondering about for awhile:

    Some of you (especially Ad'lan) may know about a guy in Germany named Joerg Sprave, who runs The Slingshot Channel to celebrate and document his hobby. As he has extensively demonstrated, latex rubber, such as that used in the humble slingshot, is an effective energy-storing material for projectile weapons. I have no doubt that his handheld slingshots are very lethal weapons. But could they be effective on a battlefield? In the realm of muscle-powered weapons, I can't help thinking that historically used weapons (the bow, crossbow and sling) have better overall performance than slingshots.

    If (vulcanized?) natural rubber had been discovered and invented in the 12th century and was somehow available, could it have been used to make weapons for warfare, in various civilizations around the world?

    I think you would need to consider a number of factors to judge the effectiveness of slingshots and slingbows.

    1. Energy storing and releasing capability; the speed of contraction
    2. Range (related to the above)
    3. Accuracy
    4. Lethality
    5. Durability (how many shots before the rubber breaks?)
    6. Portability
    7. Ease and Cost to Manufacture
    8. Versatility, (such as ability to use different types of ammunition)
    9. Effect of Weather/Climate
    10. Time required to train Soldiers effective in its Use


    A lot of these things need some testing to reach a conclusive argument to support or dismiss rubber. I don't recall Joerg ever comparing his slingshots to medieval weapons.

    I know this thread is home to a number of people very knowledgeable in medieval weaponry. What are your thoughts?

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

    He seems to be getting pretty respectable KE for quite low effort with rather clunky contraptions...

    Since I don't think anyone was using slingshots for hunting any bigger game, or something, it will probably be hard to gain serious data.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    How much psychological impact did standard bearers actually have? They probably were important in large battles where commanders overlooking the battlefield had to know which unit was which one, but did it really make a difference for the soldiers on the ground to see if someone still held up the flag or not? Was it any indicator for how well the battle was progressing?
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    From what I've read it seems like in at least some parts of Medieval Europe the Standards were extremely important, especially for the more feudal armies. IIRC at the Battle of Grunwald / Tannenberg, one of the pivotal moments was a fight over the Polish (Kraków) standard, which the Poles briefly lost but then recovered. In Medieval Armies the standard bearer was one of the highest ranks, and the standards had special and bodyguards. Unit commanders in the Cavalry were called Bannerets and their men rallied around their banners.


    The Italian city-states used to put their standards on a cart called a carroccio which was thought of as sort of the soul of the city, from my understanding. The Swiss also put great store into their own banners, the Banner Carrier or Vennerbrunnen was one of the principle military leaders of the town miltiia, and also a political leader in town.



    Going further back, losing the three Imperial Eagles at Teutoburg forest was a major trauma for the Roman Empire and they made extraordinary efforts to recover them.

    I think people tend to dramatically underestimate the role of morale in warfare and in Medieval warfare in particular. One of the best tactical wargames ever made, Squad Leader, was based largely on morale... it ended up being the basis for a lot of successful WW II based computer games like Close Combat, Steel Panthers, and Combat Mission. I think it's one of the most critical elements of Medieval War as well, along with exhaustion, terrain, and kit.

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

    So was the standard usually with the commander? That would probably indicate that a lost standard means the leader has fallen.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    How much psychological impact did standard bearers actually have? They probably were important in large battles where commanders overlooking the battlefield had to know which unit was which one, but did it really make a difference for the soldiers on the ground to see if someone still held up the flag or not? Was it any indicator for how well the battle was progressing?
    The flags were immensly important in battle both from a moral and a tactical point of view. In terms of tactics it was fairly simple. Before modern communications technology looking at the locations of your units flags was the most efective way to tell were everybody was. Generals looked at the flags to see where all their units were, the soldiers in the units looked for their flags to determine where they should be. If the flag was ahead of them they needed to advance, if it was parrallel to them they should stop, if it was behind them they could move backwards, Etc. Since the flag was often the only thing thay you could see above the smoke of battle soldiers would literally have to rally round the flag, otherwise they would not know where to go or where their units were.

    From a morale point of view many armies practicaly worshiped their flags. In the Roman army every legionare would sooner die than see the eagle standard taken. there were very few instances of eagles being captured and these only happened when the entire legion was wiped out, Teutoberg forrest for example. Later the Napoleonic French were similarly fanatical about their own eagle standards, only one was captured. This was not limited to the french and romans alone however. The flag is a symbol. It represents everything you are fighting for. As a member of the US Army I can say for myself and I believe most of the others that I know that saying we have a strong attachment to our flag is a huge understatement. The Flag is America, America Is the flag, it represents everything that we work for, and everything that those who came before us work for. We come from different backgrounds, different religions, different states, we have different beliefes, and different goals, but we are all united around the flag. When the flag is raised in the morning and lowered at night the entire base comes to a halt, you drop whatever you are doing no matter what it is, you park your car and get out if you are driving, and you Salute the colors if you are in uniform or place your hand over your heart if you are not. The flag is a BIG deal. The national anthem is about our flag and the fact that despite a horrible bombardment that our men couldn't even reply to it stayed flying over Fort McHenry.

    go on youtube and look up "Ragged Old Flag speach" watch that and you will get some idea of about one tenth of what a flag means.

    In addition to national flags there are unit flags that sometimes are treated with equal importance. During the Civil War the flag of the Irish Brigade was a good example of the importance of a unit's regimental flag. At Gettysburg the Irish Brigade ran into a Confederate unit at the wheatfield. After heavy fighting the Irish Brigade was forced to start withdrawing. The man carrying the flag got hit and went down, the Confederates charged at exactly the same time. The Irish brigade, seeing their flag get taken immediatly rallied, faced the enemy, and rushed back into the fight, the entire fight for the wheatfield after that was centered around groups of men from both sides fighting over that flag. The union retook the flag, the the confederates got it again, then the Irish took it back, etc.

    There are more examples than I can count of things like this happening.

    moral of the story, flags were VERY important.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    So was the standard usually with the commander? That would probably indicate that a lost standard means the leader has fallen.
    I think it was usually seperate, or more accurately, there were both 'unit' standards representing a particular house, town, castle, cause etc., and then there were also personal standards.

    It's not my area of expertise but I believe in the Roman army standard bearers were a specific type of troop called (at least at one point) an Aquilifer, who carried the Legions eagle, and the Signifier who carried the cohorts Signum, wore special armor and kit, including an animal head hood.





    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquila_(Roman)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquilifer

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signifer

    So I think it's not a precise correlation but if the standard falls it is likely the leader has fallen too.

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

    The army standard (and its loss) was immensely important in the Latin east, for example, where it took the form of the "true cross" (or rather a part of it in a representation of the cross). The army of the third crusade similarly employed a large cart driven standard, which was carefully guarded.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    So was the standard usually with the commander? That would probably indicate that a lost standard means the leader has fallen.
    It would depend upon the era, but I don't think the loss of a flag typically indicated that the leader had fallen (see below). As stated before, one battlefield function of a standard (or colors) was to indicate where the unit should be. The commander could move around a bit, to observe different aspects of his unit in battle, and hopefully have a better understanding of the overall situation. -- That wasn't always the case, sometimes the commander stuck himself in the front, to have more direct control over the unit, although that was probably rare in the "gunpowder" age.

    The colors had an emotional appeal to them, and in a sense they represented the heart and "spiritual" center of the unit. They were the rallying point when things got bad. To lose the colors was considered very disgraceful. Likewise to capture an enemy's colors was usually considered an almost heroic act. It's also possible that the loss of the colors could lead to confusion, as the visual indicator of the point to organize around was now lost.

    Also a note about terminology:
    "The standard" refers to the standard colors -- i.e. the colors that are standard to the army, or the "national colors". In the American Civil War, Union troops had the basic American battle flag (the stars and stripes).

    Alongside this flag would be another flag that represented the particular unit, in the American Civil War: "The regimental colors" (sometimes just the "regimentals", I think). Those colors were personalized, although they may be set to a regulated design. The standard could also have some personalization (the name of the regiment for example), but always had the standard colors and format. Thus the term "standard".

    The colors were typically carried together at the center of the regiment. Smaller flags may be carried at either end, known as "guidons", i.e. "guide on" as the flanks of the unit could be the "guides". They are most well known from cavalry depictions, but infantry units could have them too. I've seen a considerable variety of them.

    Finally, officially, the colors were not flags -- flags were flown from flagpoles over forts, towns, camps, etc. Colors were carried into battle. "Flags" could be considerably different from standards.

    -------
    That's all nineteenth century practice though. I'm sure it extends to the 18th century, but earlier than that it probably gets a bit different. Standards do seem to have been fairly common by the time of Emperor Charles V (the cross of burgundy, and the Hapsburg Eagle). Flags were of course used well before that -- but how often they were standard, I don't know. In the Middle Ages more household flags were probably common, and mercenary companies often had their own designs. I would imagine that an army might adopt a common flag to carry to help identify its own units in battle? When commanders typically had an entourage with household banners, to help locate them on the field, then perhaps the loss of *those* banners might indicate a fallen or captured leader. During the 19th century high ranking officers might have similar flags, to aid in the location of headquarters (Division, Corps, Army colors) -- but the flags would stay with the headquarters, and not necessarily with the particular officer (although distinguishing the two could be tricky).

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

    Two more questions on professional medieval armies:

    1. I've read that the army that Charles Martel brought to Tours (732 AD) was a professional, full-time army. How was he able to pull this off when, as far as I know, almost everybody else in Europe (baring the Byzantines) would have to rely on feudal levies and mercenaries for the next couple hundred years?

    How was such an army recruited, organized, and equipped?

    How much resemblance could it be said to bear to a modern state-army?

    Did Martel also have to draw on part-time levies to supplement his professionals.

    2. Does anybody buy the theory that Cnute the Great (985-1035 AD) led an army of 3,000 or so full-time professional housecarls that received a monthly salary? If so, any ideas how this army was recruited, organized, trained, and equipped?

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    Two more questions on professional medieval armies:

    1. I've read that the army that Charles Martel brought to Tours (732 AD) was a professional, full-time army. How was he able to pull this off when, as far as I know, almost everybody else in Europe (baring the Byzantines) would have to rely on feudal levies and mercenaries for the next couple hundred years?

    How was such an army recruited, organized, and equipped?

    How much resemblance could it be said to bear to a modern state-army?

    Did Martel also have to draw on part-time levies to supplement his professionals.

    2. Does anybody buy the theory that Cnute the Great (985-1035 AD) led an army of 3,000 or so full-time professional housecarls that received a monthly salary? If so, any ideas how this army was recruited, organized, trained, and equipped?

    I would have to research the details, but it really depends on how do you define "professional".

    In the first place " feudal levy" usually wouldn't be all that similar to modern conscription - quite often, most of the army would in fact be somehow 'professional'.

    Housecarls by definition were rulers retinue - chosen warriors, companions of both drinking and wars, bodyguards etc. Usually enjoying a lot of wealth/privileges, in exchange expected to be dependable fighting force.

    How was he able to pull this off when, as far as I know, almost everybody else in Europe (baring the Byzantines)
    It really depends on general numbers I guess...

    Many, many armies were able to "pull it off", just most had some kind of of "filler" in addition, usually some common man infantry, that, at least for good part of medieval period, wasn't expected to do much in actual clash.


    People who were expected/required to take part in war expedition, were also required to own, and be capable of using certain weapons.

    We fortunately have a lot of laws preserved, that state what was someone required to bring with himself to war.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    My understanding is that Martel's force was either fully composed of, or had a very large corps of, full-time soldiers. That is to say, soldiers who where directly loyal to him and, when not fighting, spent their time training and not practicing any other trades. In other words not a group of people who possessed weapons and knew how to use them and could be called into service when needed, but a large force of soldiers who where always in service. From what I've read, no other medieval European kingdom could field a large force of infantrymen who owed allegiance to the king and spent all their time training to fight in a group. This is what made the Frankish army different from the other armies of medieval Europe, its what allowed them to beat the Moors when other European lords could not. My question, is what else did the Franks do differently from other European kingdoms that allowed them to develop military capabilities that other kingdoms could not?

    As for the housecarls, according to Wikipedia, there is a theory that Cnute's housecarls, in addition to hanging with him, protecting him, and fighting along side him, also functioned like a (fairly large for the era) 3,000+ man standing royal army that garrisoned fortifications throughout his territory and where always serving as soldiers. I'm wondering what you folks thing of the validity of this theory.

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

    Frankish kingdom and it's subjects were huge, populous, and generally powerful - so it as a result had a lot of people who were pretty much living from a war(s).

    That's the simplest answer, obviously reality will be always more complicated.

    That is to say, soldiers who where directly loyal to him and, when not fighting, spent their time training and not practicing any other trades.
    Every ruler powerful enough had plenty of people like that. People like that were largely pretty much ancestors of later knights and general nobility.

    Martel being powerful ruler of something like 1/3 of what would be called Europe back then, could afford to have huge army of such people.

    Byzantium being another powerful organism had a lot of professional fighters as well.

    Bulgarian, Rus etc. warlords would administer similar forces as well - most probably way smaller though.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    How effective is a Falx as a weapon in open battle, as opposed to a more "typical" weapon like a sword or an axe? Could you see it becoming the "standard" weapon for a mercenary company or other such organisations (as the pike for the Swiss, or the pike/greatsword/musket for the Landsknechts)? (Assume late dark ages time period, northern europe-style location).
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Silverbit View Post
    How effective is a Falx as a weapon in open battle, as opposed to a more "typical" weapon like a sword or an axe? Could you see it becoming the "standard" weapon for a mercenary company or other such organisations (as the pike for the Swiss, or the pike/greatsword/musket for the Landsknechts)? (Assume late dark ages time period, northern europe-style location).
    Well, 'typical sword or axe' cover so many things, that it's really hard to compare.

    As far as becoming standard goes, something like that quite feasibly could play 'greatsword' part. AFAIU, those finds of two handed 'falx' we have, put it pretty much in somehow similar category as large two handed sword.

    It definitely cannot be compared to pike or other such polearm, and most certainly couldn't function like pikes/spears/halberds/guisarmes in formation.
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