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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    I apologize for being late to this conversation, although I think the question has been well answered already, there's a few minor things I would like to add.

    Quote Originally Posted by hymer View Post
    Maybe you don't need to do so much with the sails when all those rowers are there. When you're under sail, presumably they don't have sit there and get in your way.
    My understanding of a renaissance galley, the oarsmen didn't really have anywhere to go, they basically lived on the deck at their posts. This is why it was common in the Mediterranean to put ashore at night, where possible, and allow your crews to spend the night more comfortably on land.

    The question of how the crew managed the sails is a good one. Most galleys of the period had large lateen sails. The crew requirements for a lateen sail increases as its size increases, and a standard galley had a single, large lateen sail. So they required a good number of sailors to handle it.

    Re slave oarsmen:

    If by "slave" we mean any kind of forced labor (including prisoners, etc.), then slave rowing crews were primarily a development of the 16th century. Although there are cases from earlier. This development is traced in detail in John F. Guilmartin's Gunpowder and Galleys, but basically he attributes the change to wage inflation making the expense of paid professionals increasingly prohibitive. The Spanish shifted over more completely first, the Venetians resisted the longest.

    This change in manpower also led to a change in rowing. At the beginning of the century most galleys were rowed alla sensile each man had an oar. With three men on the same bench this required a certain amount of skill to prevent the oarsmen from interfering with each other. The other style of rowing alla scalaccio involved all men on the same bench pulling together on a single oar. It was easier to perform, and was usually used by forced labor crews, but it was less efficient. A galley rowed alla scalaccio required four men per bench, to keep up with a galley rowed alla sensile with only three men per bench.

    On the other hand, it was difficult to increase the number of oarsmen per bench using the alla sensile method, with three being the practical limit (although the Venetians did perform successful experiments with more, they don't seem to have put it into practice). So on a large vessel, where more men were needed, it was easier to employ the alla scalaccio style of rowing. Understandably, when the shift toward forced labor began, it would be the larger ships that would use it first.

    Finally, the switch to forced rowing crews was probably never 100%. I'll have to dig up my source, but I recall reading a crew description of a Spanish galley of the 1590s, and it still included a handful of professional oarsmen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Finally, the switch to forced rowing crews was probably never 100%. I'll have to dig up my source, but I recall reading a crew description of a Spanish galley of the 1590s, and it still included a handful of professional oarsmen.
    Yep, the so-called "buenas boyas", "good rowers"; they usually were convicts who had already served their sentence and "voluntarily" accepted to stay on board for a wage... But in truth, if you worked as a galley oarsman, that usually meant you either were pressured into it, or you had literally nowhere else to go... Nobody wanted to be a galley oarsman... it was dishonorable, stinky, exhausting, unhealthy, dangerous, the pay was bad and the food was worse...

    I guess desperate people would give it a go, if starving, and that some had hope of moving from oarsman to full on sailor... but I have no proof of that kind of mobility being the norm...

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    On the other hand, it was difficult to increase the number of oarsmen per bench using the alla sensile method, with three being the practical limit (although the Venetians did perform successful experiments with more, they don't seem to have put it into practice). So on a large vessel, where more men were needed, it was easier to employ the alla scalaccio style of rowing. Understandably, when the shift toward forced labor began, it would be the larger ships that would use it first.
    Also, a small vessel like a galliot or a felucca needed as many fighting men as it could afford. Oarsmen made most of the men onboard, and if they weren't fighting for you, the amount of warriors a small ship could carry was too small to take on a well-defended merchant vessel or to raid a coastal town...
    Last edited by Clistenes; 2019-06-17 at 12:12 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    Stability issues, but also it's the logical way of doing it. You point your galley the way it wants to go and aim where you are going, very simple.

    Basically, the way a galley is built you can only put weigth in the centre line, also the rowers take up space on the sides. But mostly a galley is built a certain way that is not conductive to putting cannon on the sides. You need a lot of ballast deep in the hulls to not roll over, again something galleys just can't have.

    Also you have to understand galley fleets face each other head on. The line-abreast formation was quite a late invention really, almost a century after cannon were commonly side-mounted of ships. Forming up head on is a necessity ofc course since most of your damage comes from head-on, eg rams.

    We need to look at the galley as essentially a fully explored technology at the time cannon is introduced, we are at "peak galley".

    We get side-mounted cannon only with the introduction of sizable roundships. They have the displacement and stability to mount them on the sides. Still in the 1600s shipbuilders weren't experienced enough not to make bad mistakes sometimes, RE: Wasa which capsized on her maiden voyage.
    To add a little more to this. The design of galleys did evolve with the introduction of cannon, mainly the bow became bigger/wider to support the increased weight. Some galleys had a ramp to run the main cannon below decks and more to the middle of the ship, improving handling when not in combat.

    On a galley there really isn't room for cannons on the sides (beyond small swivel pieces). Galleases, which were larger and had a different design, could mount more cannons on the sides. Placing the offensive weaponry at the front also made sense given the tactics used at the time, for both sailing ships and galleys, which were all about a boarding fight. In the case of galleys it worked much better with the physical design of the ship. On sailing ships it was difficult to mount large cannons in the bow, although they did attempt to do so. Instead it was easiest to mount large cannons in the stern (the sternchasers). But this meant the cannons were in a defensive position.

    As the designs evolved, sailing ships could start to mount more and more cannons on the sides, which eventually led to broadside tactics. But as Snowblizz points out with the Vasa (Wasa), even in the 17th century, the designers could still have trouble with getting the weight distribution right.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Yep, the so-called "buenas boyas", "good rowers"; they usually were convicts who had already served their sentence and "voluntarily" accepted to stay on board for a wage... But in truth, if you worked as a galley oarsman, that usually meant you either were pressured into it, or you had literally nowhere else to go... Nobody wanted to be a galley oarsman... it was dishonorable, stinky, exhausting, unhealthy, dangerous, the pay was bad and the food was worse...

    I guess desperate people would give it a go, if starving, and that some had hope of moving from oarsman to full on sailor... but I have no proof of that kind of mobility being the norm...
    Agreed -- although I can't imagine that the conditions on a galley are much better for than sailors than the oarsmen (except not having to row). It's still a very crowded vessel with little room.

    I've heard stories that when Florence started manning it's own galleys (after conquering Pisa), they conscripted people from coastal regions to man them. Many people fled from the coastal regions to avoid being conscripted, and some towns were practically deserted! They increasingly had to go farther inland to find crews.

    On the other hand, Venice seems to have done a better job at keeping a professional rowing force for longer. And conscription wasn't always looked upon as an undue burden, especially during a war when there was a certain patriotic zeal.

    Professional oarsmen were considered to be more skilled (at least in the earlier period). The sense I get is that they wanted to have a few professionals on a ship who could lead the rest of the oarsmen.
    Last edited by fusilier; 2019-06-17 at 12:22 PM. Reason: grammar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Also, a small vessel like a galliot or a felucca needed as many fighting men as it could afford. Oarsmen made most of the men onboard, and if they weren't fighting for you, the amount of warriors a small ship could carry was too small to take on a well-defended merchant vessel or to raid a coastal town...
    Yes, even if rowed alla scalaccio the smaller vessels tended to use fewer slaves/forced rowers. Another thing about using forced labor is that they had to be guarded, so that increased the manpower requirements too. On a small fighting vessel, it wouldn't leave you with enough fighting men.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Crew of the larger of the two galleys stationed in Cuba in the 1580s:

    "21 officers, 24 seamen, 46 soldiers, and 254 oarsmen made up of 13 paid freemen, 49 slaves, and 192 convicts including 18 Frenchmen and ten other foreigners."

    Source: Armies of the Sixteenth Century, 2: The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608 by Ian Heath.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Agreed -- although I can't imagine that the conditions on a galley are much better for than sailors than the oarsmen (except not having to row). It's still a very crowded vessel with little room.
    Rowing was VERY hard work; work such as rigging and sweeping the deck was greatly preferable... yeah, pulling the sails up and down is hard, but you aren't doing it continuously... And rowing was a dishonorable task, which was a big deal in Spain and Italy.

    Also, sailors had more mobility. Oarsmen were pressured to stay as part of the crew, while sailors had it easier moving from ship to ship... A captain could make do if he lost a large part of the crew, but a galley lacking oarsmen was screwed...

    And a sailor could move from a galley to a round vessel (which were more comfortable, less stinky and had better food...) easily... An oarsman had to stay in a war galley, which sucked...

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Crew of the larger of the two galleys stationed in Cuba in the 1580s:

    "21 officers, 24 seamen, 46 soldiers, and 254 oarsmen made up of 13 paid freemen, 49 slaves, and 192 convicts including 18 Frenchmen and ten other foreigners."

    Source: Armies of the Sixteenth Century, 2: The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608 by Ian Heath.
    Spanish America was a special case in that a VERY large percentage of the population were African slaves. Not just plantation workers, or the workers extracting gold from the rivers, or domestic service... also farmers, cowboys, artisans, masons, carpenters, peddlers, sailors, fishermen... etc., Slaves were often trained, and then they were allowed to set shop and work on their own in exchange for a fixed payment to their owners.

    On the other hand, there were less war prisoners. So they filled the gaps by renting slaves...

    In the Philippine Islands, where it was illegal to import slaves or to enslave the local population, the Spaniards sometimes drafted Chinese sailors as galley rowers... that often ended badly, with the Chinese rebelling and killing the Spanish crewmen...
    Last edited by Clistenes; 2019-06-17 at 01:13 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Rowing was VERY hard work; work such as rigging and sweeping the deck was greatly preferable... yeah, pulling the sails up and down is hard, but you aren't doing it continuously... And rowing was a dishonorable task, which was a big deal in Spain and Italy.

    Also, sailors had more mobility. Oarsmen were pressured to stay as part of the crew, while sailors had it easier moving from ship to ship... A captain could make do if he lost a large part of the crew, but a galley lacking oarsman was screwed...

    And a sailor could move from a galley to a round vessel (which were more comfortable, less stinky and had better food...) easily... An oarsman had to stay in a war galley, which sucked...
    I'm not really disagreeing, but I will point out that this changed over time. What you are describing is probably correct for the later period (16th and 17th centuries). In the 15th century, you had many professional oarsmen, and, in the mediterranean, still a large number of merchant galleys. There was an active season and an off-season where the oarsmen were discharged and allowed to seek other employment. Basically they had the same freedom and mobility as other sailors. Rowing on a large merchant galley could be a lot nicer, not only did the ships have more room for the crew, the oars were rarely used -- often just into and out of port.

    Effectively, I think there existed a pool of trained professionals who could be hired when necessary and possibly augmented with conscripts. (Note: conscripts are not considered "forced labor" in the literature). That changed over the course of the 16th century. By the end of the century (or even earlier in some places), it would not have been possible to hire a new crew when necessary. So discharging the crew, especially if it is a military vessel (which most were at this period), would not be practical.

    Also the size of galleys generally increased, the crew requirements increased even more, making the ships more crowded and more uncomfortable.


    Spanish America was a special case in that a VERY large percentage of the population were African slaves. Not just plantation workers, or the workers extracting gold from the rivers, or domestic service... also farmers, cowboys, artisans, masons, carpenters, peddlers, sailors, fishermen... etc., Slaves were often trained, and then they were allowed to set shop and work on their own in exchange for a fixed payment to their owners.

    On the other hand, there were less war prisoners. So they filled the gaps by renting slaves...

    In the Philippine Islands, where it was illegal to import slaves or to enslave the local population, the Spaniards sometimes drafted Chinese sailors as galley rowers... that often ended badly, with the Chinese rebelling and killing the Spanish crewmen...
    What the breakdown shows is that even in Spanish Cuba, which would have had many slaves, the majority of the rowing crew is still convicts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    I'm not really disagreeing, but I will point out that this changed over time. What you are describing is probably correct for the later period (16th and 17th centuries). In the 15th century, you had many professional oarsmen, and, in the mediterranean, still a large number of merchant galleys. There was an active season and an off-season where the oarsmen were discharged and allowed to seek other employment. Basically they had the same freedom and mobility as other sailors. Rowing on a large merchant galley could be a lot nicer, not only did the ships have more room for the crew, the oars were rarely used -- often just into and out of port.

    Effectively, I think there existed a pool of trained professionals who could be hired when necessary and possibly augmented with conscripts. (Note: conscripts are not considered "forced labor" in the literature). That changed over the course of the 16th century. By the end of the century (or even earlier in some places), it would not have been possible to hire a new crew when necessary. So discharging the crew, especially if it is a military vessel (which most were at this period), would not be practical.

    Also the size of galleys generally increased, the crew requirements increased even more, making the ships more crowded and more uncomfortable.
    I was speaking of Spanish galleys from the XVI century onwards.

    Venetia and other Italian trading powers had a strong fleet of merchant galleys with free oarsmen (and war galleys that protected their trading lines) during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance because they controlled the Mediterranean trade of fine wares like spices, silk and saffron, so they could afford to pay decent wages to professional oarsmen... But when Portugal accessed Asian markets, that started to change.

    Small corsair galley-type ships used free oarsmen too... Not just because using captive oarsmen would be impractical, but because piracy was profitable enough that using free oarsmen was worth it...

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    What the breakdown shows is that even in Spanish Cuba, which would have had many slaves, the majority of the rowing crew is still convicts.
    Yep. But the percentage of slave rowers is very high when compared to Europe (in Europe they would use Muslim captives instead...).
    Last edited by Clistenes; 2019-06-17 at 02:50 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    I was speaking of Spanish galleys from the XVI century onwards. . . .
    That's true, it also varied by location. For example, Venice didn't have such a low view of their oarsmen, and primarily employed paid freemen until the end of the 16th century.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Re slave oarsmen:

    If by "slave" we mean any kind of forced labor (including prisoners, etc.), then slave rowing crews were primarily a development of the 16th century. Although there are cases from earlier. This development is traced in detail in John F. Guilmartin's Gunpowder and Galleys, but basically he attributes the change to wage inflation making the expense of paid professionals increasingly prohibitive. The Spanish shifted over more completely first, the Venetians resisted the longest.
    The way I understand it, what happened in the 16th century was forced unpaid labour replacing forced paid labour. My notes on anti-vagrancy laws [i.e. "I looked that up long ago and now I don't know where I found it" ] say:

    "In 1545, as he was invading France, Henry VIII issued the proclamation “Ordering Vagabonds to the Galleys”, which ostensibly aimed to prevent people from avoiding the press gangs (conscription), but it didn’t end with the war. From that point on, vagrants could be used as galley-slaves, and the practice continued through the end of the reign of Elizabeth."

    So while galley-slaves appear around that time (at least in England), it's not like they replaced voluntary labour, only forced conscription which happened to come with wages of some sort. Or at least that's what I thought. Did I get that wrong?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    Slave rowers were around a bit earlier than the Renaissance (I have in mind an example from 900 AD), but they were mostly used by the Saracens, as far as I can remember.

    Looking at the image of the galley, does anyone know why they used to put most cannons in the front, and when they begun putting them on the sides? I assume that there was a risk of capsizing?

    Also, do we have any well-preserved wreck of a galley in some museum? I know that they excavated a merchant galley near Venice (San Marco in Boccalama), but I don't know if they actually ever put it in a museum.
    As far as i understand it slave rowers in the Mediterranean tended to be more common among merchant or transport vessels. In combat however it was still much preferred to have skilled, professional rowers, which is part of what made dedicated war galleys a bit more pricey to maintain.

    Regarding mounting cannons at the front of a galley. I wanted to add that it also made a bit more sense back when really heavy, bronze artillery capable of posing a serious threat to other vessels was still fairly expensive compared to the ships themselves or even their crews. If you can only afford a few large guns but have plenty of skilled crew and can build new galleys for fairly cheap, then the best way to get the most work out of your guns is to just put each one on it's own galley, making them very quick and maneuverable as well as easy to aim. At the prow of a galley there was usually plenty of room to walk around the guns and load them easily before more complex rolling trucks and pulley systems were perfected, and it also kept the gun fairly low to the water where it was more likely to hit the waterline of an enemy vessel and do the most damage when fired right before boarding. "Roundships" at the time typically had to be built way larger in order to mount the same caliber guns that a small galley could and especially when there wasn't much wind would have far more difficulty aiming. Similarly, if a fleet of roundships found itself too spread out it ran the risk of having the more maneuverable galleys gang up on just one ship at a time and pick the fleet apart piecemeal. Bernardino de Mendoza recommended that if sailing ships were threatened by galleys and there wasn't much wind then the ships should quickly launch all their skiffs or longboats with rowers and ropes and attempt to pull the fleet into a very tight formation where they can better support each other.

    Interestingly, the first half of the 16th century even saw some galleys briefly return to warfare in northern european waters. At the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547, William Patten noted the english Subtle Galley in particular for the effectiveness of its large, accurate cannon during the bombardment. He wrote that the scottish highlander light infantry in particular abandoned the fight after a single large cannonball killed twenty men in addition to the the master of Graham in a single shot.

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    As for that illustration, by the way, it (as well as most depictions of Renaissance and early modern galleys I have seen) shows the oars going over the outer walkways, such that anyone attempting to traverse them would have to step over each oar and then be careful of where they stand, lest the oar swing into their ankles during the stroke. This seems like an impractical way to conduct tasks which by themselves are demanding and dangerous, like handling rigging or fighting.
    Ideally there was supposed to be a fair amount of space between the oars where during combat they could store weapons, ammunition, barrels of seawater, surgeons, etc within easy access. Mendoza does mention though that galleys in particular should always keep at least a couple of lanterns lit below decks at night so that the men aren't stumbling and tripping over each other if they need to do something in the middle of the night.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rrgg View Post
    As far as i understand it slave rowers in the Mediterranean tended to be more common among merchant or transport vessels. In combat however it was still much preferred to have skilled, professional rowers, which is part of what made dedicated war galleys a bit more pricey to maintain.
    Quite the opposite, actually. Slaves were expensive, so merchants couldn't afford to have slave oarsmen (save maybe in the Caribbean, where you could rent slaves and pay their owner by the week...). States, on the other hand, could press vagrants, convicts and war prisoners into becoming forced labor as oarsmen...

    So war galleys were more likely to have slave rowers, while merchant galleys relied on free workers...

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    For those with more martial arts experience than I...

    Are there any attack to counter/grapple sequences that could fluidly end with the initial defender behind the initial attacker, somehow barring or locking his arm, and hand on the back of his head slamming him face-first into a wall?

    (For something I'm writing.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeadlessMermaid View Post
    The way I understand it, what happened in the 16th century was forced unpaid labour replacing forced paid labour. My notes on anti-vagrancy laws [i.e. "I looked that up long ago and now I don't know where I found it" ] say:

    "In 1545, as he was invading France, Henry VIII issued the proclamation “Ordering Vagabonds to the Galleys”, which ostensibly aimed to prevent people from avoiding the press gangs (conscription), but it didn’t end with the war. From that point on, vagrants could be used as galley-slaves, and the practice continued through the end of the reign of Elizabeth."

    So while galley-slaves appear around that time (at least in England), it's not like they replaced voluntary labour, only forced conscription which happened to come with wages of some sort. Or at least that's what I thought. Did I get that wrong?

    The most detailed works I've read focus on the Mediterranean, so I can't really speak to the English experience with oarsmen. I don't think you got anything wrong, but different nations had different approaches.

    Different nations had different cultures, strategic considerations, and resources. So their approaches would vary, even if we can point to general trends. For example, as the cost of paid oarsmen increased, in the 16th century more and more of the oarsmen were forced labor. However, Spain shifted almost completely to forced rowing crews very early. Whereas Venice increasingly experimented with forzati, but only just barely. Throughout the 16th century the majority of Venetian crews were paid freemen.

    I don't know if I can find a specific reference, but the sense I get is that conscripts were conscripted for a particular event: a voyage, a campaign, etc. They were not forced into service for years. The expense of maintaining them during the off-season discouraged governments from keeping them year round. Convicts, who have been sentenced for years, need to be held anyway (and you don't have to pay them).

    As for the increasing costs of paid oarsmen: In 1538 Spain paid oarsmen 1 ducat a month. In 1571 they paid them 10 ducats, less a two ducat clothing allowance. There may be other factors driving up the pay, but clearly some inflation was at work. Venice and the Ottoman Empire had greater ability to expand and shrink their fleets as the situation demanded, but Spain couldn't do that (for both organizational and strategic considerations). As a result, Spain was forced to keep a large permanent fleet. During the off-season they were known to discharge all those men whom they were confident they could rehire, but oarsmen were mainly supplied through forced labor, which could be maintained more cheaply year-round.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rrgg View Post
    Ideally there was supposed to be a fair amount of space between the oars where during combat they could store weapons, ammunition, barrels of seawater, surgeons, etc within easy access. Mendoza does mention though that galleys in particular should always keep at least a couple of lanterns lit below decks at night so that the men aren't stumbling and tripping over each other if they need to do something in the middle of the night.
    I would have to go over my sources again to get all the correct terminology, but basically, there was an inner walkway, and an outer walkway on each side, where soldiers could be stationed. However, from what I've seen they would still have to step over the oars. (Note the oars are leveraged between upright pegs mounted at the outside edge of this walkway, so it's not like the oars are moving all over the place).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Quite the opposite, actually. Slaves were expensive, so merchants couldn't afford to have slave oarsmen (save maybe in the Caribbean, where you could rent slaves and pay their owner by the week...). States, on the other hand, could press vagrants, convicts and war prisoners into becoming forced labor as oarsmen...

    So war galleys were more likely to have slave rowers, while merchant galleys relied on free workers...
    In the earlier period, they were mostly free. But I do believe there are later references in North Africa to slave (prisoners of war) being used to row merchant vessels. (I think Cervantes mentions this?)

    However, again, we are talking about different times/places. Spain, which had to maintain a large fleet year round, found it economical to use convicts on their military vessels. The Ottoman Empire, had a complicated way of providing for both freemen and conscripts, and they preferred to avoid using slaves on warships, if possible. (In reality a large expedition would usually have a mix, but slaves seem to have been a minority).

    The smaller galliots and fustas engaged in raiding, couldn't carry an effective number of fighting men, if they relied too heavily on slaves. Etc., etc.
    Last edited by fusilier; 2019-06-19 at 12:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rrgg View Post
    Regarding mounting cannons at the front of a galley. I wanted to add that it also made a bit more sense back when really heavy, bronze artillery capable of posing a serious threat to other vessels was still fairly expensive compared to the ships themselves or even their crews. If you can only afford a few large guns but have plenty of skilled crew and can build new galleys for fairly cheap, then the best way to get the most work out of your guns is to just put each one on it's own galley, making them very quick and maneuverable as well as easy to aim. At the prow of a galley there was usually plenty of room to walk around the guns and load them easily before more complex rolling trucks and pulley systems were perfected, and it also kept the gun fairly low to the water where it was more likely to hit the waterline of an enemy vessel and do the most damage when fired right before boarding. "Roundships" at the time typically had to be built way larger in order to mount the same caliber guns that a small galley could and especially when there wasn't much wind would have far more difficulty aiming. Similarly, if a fleet of roundships found itself too spread out it ran the risk of having the more maneuverable galleys gang up on just one ship at a time and pick the fleet apart piecemeal. Bernardino de Mendoza recommended that if sailing ships were threatened by galleys and there wasn't much wind then the ships should quickly launch all their skiffs or longboats with rowers and ropes and attempt to pull the fleet into a very tight formation where they can better support each other.
    The centerline cannon on a galley quickly became quite huge. By the mid 16th century, they were often 50 pounders, and later 70 pounders. Nothing on a sailing ship would match that for many years. Although the total weight of shot that a sailing ship could carry would typically be greater, the galley's centerline cannon, which is effectively a siege cannon, was quite the threat.

    Interestingly, the first half of the 16th century even saw some galleys briefly return to warfare in northern european waters. At the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547, William Patten noted the english Subtle Galley in particular for the effectiveness of its large, accurate cannon during the bombardment. He wrote that the scottish highlander light infantry in particular abandoned the fight after a single large cannonball killed twenty men in addition to the the master of Graham in a single shot.
    The Spanish found galleys very useful for anti-piracy action. That's why they sent some to Cuba (apparently sailing them there!), but they also maintained a squadron in Flanders at the end of the 16th and beginning of 17th century. They were very effective against the freebooters, but a galley squadron required an entire "ecosystem" to support and maintain it. In both cases the fleets kind of gradually died out, and weren't replaced.

    The English designed and used some interesting galleys, and some galleases, but it never really "took off." The Scandinavian countries, on the other hand, did manage to get galley fleets going in the 16th century, and continued using them into the 19th century.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    For those with more martial arts experience than I...

    Are there any attack to counter/grapple sequences that could fluidly end with the initial defender behind the initial attacker, somehow barring or locking his arm, and hand on the back of his head slamming him face-first into a wall?

    (For something I'm writing.)
    i've seen a kempo competition where that was done, it was started by a punch, the defender rolled into the attacker's reach, grabbed the wrist, ducked under the arm while twisting it, and ended in a standard arm lock... before being thrown to the ground by a variant of the ippon throw from judo. it was very quick, but as i understand it, kempo is heavily focused on take downs and ground grapples.
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    What did Renaissance galleys do with slaves when they weren't rowing? One of the reasons slaves weren't much used in antiquity was that they stopped at a beach most nights, and you couldn't bring a stockade/pen everywhere you went, not to mention the absence of any means of controlling them on board.

    Oarsmen massively outnumbered everyone else on board; for example a trieres had 180 oarsmen, with only 15 other crew and about the same number again of marines.

    How did that differ in the 15th-17th centuries? Were they simply left on board (since those vessels stayed in the water)?
    Last edited by Kiero; 2019-06-19 at 03:36 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    For galley crews in the Mediterranean, here's a relevant excerpt from Suraiya Faroqhi's The Ottoman Empire and the World Around It (I.B. Tauris, 2004):

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    Mediterranean states maintained galleys well into the seventeenth century, and a few ships of this type were in use even after 1700/1111–12. As the overcrowding and overwork on board resulted in high mortality rates, there was a sustained demand for rowers. Where the galleys based in Istanbul were concerned, we have noted that prisoners taken in war had as companions in misfortune both criminals and ‘free’ rowers furnished by the local craft guilds. In the sixteenth century, it became common also in the Ottoman territories to sentence people to the galleys for a variety of misdeeds. At certain times, the number of Ottoman subjects illegally kidnapped and sold to the naval arsenal may also have been considerable. In the North African provinces, with their much smaller populations, the percentage of slave rowers was probably higher than on the galleys based in Istanbul.

    Galley crews consisting largely of prisoners, whether in the service of the Ottoman sultan or else of a Christian ruler, had little reason to feel any loyalty towards the state responsible for their misery. When a galley was under attack, the rowers thus might seize the chance to revolt; and in less extreme situations they were liable to flee if given half a chance. The insecurity generated by this situation in turn was the source of much brutality on the part of officers and guards, which cost the lives of many slaves. When a galley was taken by the ships of a Christian power, the Christian rowers were set free, and the converse was true for Muslim galley slaves if the captor was an Ottoman vessel. On the other hand, rowers with the ‘wrong’ religion were not included in this gesture of liberation. Thus, when Christian rowers were freed because the galley on which they had served was taken by a Maltese or papal ship, this did not mean that the misfortunes of their Muslim colleagues were at an end, quite to the contrary. Nor were Christian galley slaves normally released when their ship fell into the hands of the Muslims.

    To date virtually no memoirs of Ottoman ex-galley slaves have been found, so that we know very little about the way in which these men experienced their captivity. However, the Roman archives do preserve evidence of the acts through which certain slaves serving on the papal galleys attempted to obtain liberation. One way was to flee the port towns where the ships were anchored, and make one’s way to Rome as, at least at certain times during the sixteenth century, slaves who reached the Capitol and demanded their freedom were recognized as freedmen. Even after the right to automatic manumission had been abolished, slaves continued to arrive because, if they could provide proof of baptism, they were still able to obtain their freedom. Others attempted to flee to Muslim territory, on a boat that they had found or ‘liberated’; unfortunately we only know something about those attempts that miscarried, and often those fugitives who had the misfortune to be recaptured were severely punished. Of course, the successful ones were those who left no trace.

    In the second half of the sixteenth century, when food prices had greatly increased, captives employed on galleys generally received only the absolute minimum in terms of food. Michael Heberer of the small Neckar town of Bretten, near Heidelberg in today’s south-western Germany, who rowed on Ottoman galleys during the 1580s/987–98, described a remarkable scene in which the owner of a galley, a powerful bey, demanded that the captain (re’is) increase his beatings of the slaves in order to make them row harder. The captain refused, replying that the slaves needed more food, not beatings. When the owner was unwilling to see reason, the captain resigned his post in protest, saying that the slaves were people just as he himself, and that he wanted to treat them as men and as not as animals. According to Heberer, the bey was livid, but did not dare to do anything, as both the soldiers and the passengers took the captain’s side. Bad though conditions were on Ottoman galleys, they were often even worse on those of the Christian powers, where the bread was frequently inedible and possibly also the moral code which governed the treatment of ‘infidel’ captives was but weakly developed.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiero View Post
    What did Renaissance galleys do with slaves when they weren't rowing? One of the reasons slaves weren't much used in antiquity was that they stopped at a beach most nights, and you couldn't bring a stockade/pen everywhere you went, not to mention the absence of any means of controlling them on board.

    Oarsmen massively outnumbered everyone else on board; for example a trieres had 180 oarsmen, with only 15 other crew and about the same number again of marines.

    How did that differ in the 15th-17th centuries? Were they simply left on board (since those vessels stayed in the water)?
    In the 15th-17th centuries, in the Mediterranean they would still back their ships against a friendly shore at night if possible.

    I don't have a precise answer, but I do know that the use of prisoners required more soldiers to guard them, which in turn weighed the ship down, which required more rowers to keep up dash speed . . . It created a kind of feedback loop, that led to the gradual enlarging of galleys.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Slightly tangential but please remember that logistics and technology are dictating weapons and tactics. Rowers were used to give increased maneuverability to sailing ships. Without rowers ship commanders were largely at the mercy of the winds. While this was always the case, having rowers meant that ships could maneuver independently of the wind once they were close to their opponents. It also allow ships mobility when moving between currents or wind patterns. And here is where rowing really comes into play. Piracy was possible, and prevalent, because ships followed established currents and wind patterns and these brought them past choke points. Ships moving from England to America (both North and South), for instance, sailed down the coast of Spain and Africa and rode the winds and currents West. Which exposed them to the predations of pirates from the cities on the North and Western Coasts of Africa. These currents and winds exposed Spanish shipping to piracy in the Caribbean and created similar choke points around Madagascar and the Straits of Malacca. Pirate ships used the wind to place themselves in favorable positions where they could then use their rowers (mostly slaves according to some fairly detailed accounts of the Algerines) to chase down ships.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    For those with more martial arts experience than I...

    Are there any attack to counter/grapple sequences that could fluidly end with the initial defender behind the initial attacker, somehow barring or locking his arm, and hand on the back of his head slamming him face-first into a wall?

    (For something I'm writing.)
    From personal experience, ikkyo (first technique) from a punch defence, especially if you follow up the technique with a tenkan (redirect) finish rather than an irimi (entering) finish in the first video. You won't have your hand on the back of his head, but you can still drive him head first into a wall.

    Alternately you can do gokyo which is more an arm bar, but it's harder to spin your opponent since you'd tend to go to the outside of the line of attack rather than the inside, making you stay more in the initial direction of travel.

    If you don't like aikido, then I believe there's similar techniques in jiujitsu, but I don't know the technique names that style uses.
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2019-06-19 at 11:24 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    For those with more martial arts experience than I...

    Are there any attack to counter/grapple sequences that could fluidly end with the initial defender behind the initial attacker, somehow barring or locking his arm, and hand on the back of his head slamming him face-first into a wall?

    (For something I'm writing.)
    Yes. I suggest Wiktenauer as a good source of answers to these kinds of questions. And for this one I specifically recommend Fiore's work. The dagger section in particular, but the sword in armor section has a couple of suggestive techniques.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Guizonde View Post
    i've seen a kempo competition where that was done, it was started by a punch, the defender rolled into the attacker's reach, grabbed the wrist, ducked under the arm while twisting it, and ended in a standard arm lock... before being thrown to the ground by a variant of the ippon throw from judo. it was very quick, but as i understand it, kempo is heavily focused on take downs and ground grapples.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    From personal experience, ikkyo (first technique) from a punch defence, especially if you follow up the technique with a tenkan (redirect) finish rather than an irimi (entering) finish in the first video. You won't have your hand on the back of his head, but you can still drive him head first into a wall.

    Alternately you can do gokyo which is more an arm bar, but it's harder to spin your opponent since you'd tend to go to the outside of the line of attack rather than the inside, making you stay more in the initial direction of travel.

    If you don't like aikido, then I believe there's similar techniques in jiujitsu, but I don't know the technique names that style uses.
    That's great, and close enough to what I was trying to picture in my head that it works -- the character could follow through with the motion at full speed and drive the attacker head-first into the wall.

    Quote Originally Posted by jjordan View Post
    Yes. I suggest Wiktenauer as a good source of answers to these kinds of questions. And for this one I specifically recommend Fiore's work. The dagger section in particular, but the sword in armor section has a couple of suggestive techniques.
    I will look into those.


    Thank you, all three.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-06-19 at 12:44 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    In the earlier period, they were mostly free. But I do believe there are later references in North Africa to slave (prisoners of war) being used to row merchant vessels. (I think Cervantes mentions this?)

    However, again, we are talking about different times/places. Spain, which had to maintain a large fleet year round, found it economical to use convicts on their military vessels. The Ottoman Empire, had a complicated way of providing for both freemen and conscripts, and they preferred to avoid using slaves on warships, if possible. (In reality a large expedition would usually have a mix, but slaves seem to have been a minority).

    The smaller galliots and fustas engaged in raiding, couldn't carry an effective number of fighting men, if they relied too heavily on slaves. Etc., etc.
    Barbary corsairs captured LOTS of Christian captives during their raids on European coasts and from captured ships. These were either ransomed (children and young women were usually kept as slaves rather than ransomed) or put into forced labor. They rowed as slave oarsmen in the corsair galleys during summer, and were rented as workers during winter. Merchants could rent them as oarsmen, of course, if there were more than the corsair galleys needed...

    Strong men and skilled sailors and soldiers were pressured into converting to Islam and joining the corsairs...

    Proper Ottoman warfleets relied on peasant levies (usually Christian ones) who were pressed into service as oarsmen, in addition to prisoners of war... Levied oarsmen were contemptuously called "jackals..."

    Not sure about Muslim merchant galleys from the Eastern Mediterranean (Anatolia, Levant, Egypt...etc.). There were lots of cheap African slaves in the Red Sea region (they were bought in East Africa, brought to Yemen and the Red Sea, from where they were distributed to the Mediterranean, Arabia, Middle East and Persia...), so Egyptian and Syrian merchants may find it affordable to rely on them...

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    The Spanish found galleys very useful for anti-piracy action. That's why they sent some to Cuba (apparently sailing them there!), but they also maintained a squadron in Flanders at the end of the 16th and beginning of 17th century. They were very effective against the freebooters, but a galley squadron required an entire "ecosystem" to support and maintain it. In both cases the fleets kind of gradually died out, and weren't replaced.

    The English designed and used some interesting galleys, and some galleases, but it never really "took off." The Scandinavian countries, on the other hand, did manage to get galley fleets going in the 16th century, and continued using them into the 19th century.
    The Jabeque, a sailing vessel/galley hybrid was used by Spain at least until the beginning of the XIX century. It was very useful as an anti-pirate vessel and to protect the coasts. It was so good, in fact, that the French copied it, creating the french Chebec.
    Last edited by Clistenes; 2019-06-19 at 05:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXVIII

    Hello folks.

    I'm sorry if it's not on topic, but this thread was the closest I found.

    My question is: do we know anything about European unarmed martial arts during the medieval period?

    I know that knights and swordsfighters were known for punching/kicking each other and grappling/wrestling when they could, because it's useful in any close-range combat. And I suppose texts like Beowulf talk about heroes brawling and wrestling. But aside from that all the European unarmed fighting I'm aware of was established and widespread either before or after the 400-1600 A.D. range.

    Which I guess make sense as unarmed martial arts tend to be popular either as part of combat sports or when a large group of people are forbidden from bearing weapons. But still, does anyone has info on medieval fisticuffs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    Hello folks.

    I'm sorry if it's not on topic, but this thread was the closest I found.

    My question is: do we know anything about European unarmed martial arts during the medieval period?

    I know that knights and swordsfighters were known for punching/kicking each other and grappling/wrestling when they could, because it's useful in any close-range combat. And I suppose texts like Beowulf talk about heroes brawling and wrestling. But aside from that all the European unarmed fighting I'm aware of was established and widespread either before or after the 400-1600 A.D. range.

    Which I guess make sense as unarmed martial arts tend to be popular either as part of combat sports or when a large group of people are forbidden from bearing weapons. But still, does anyone has info on medieval fisticuffs?
    Many manuals included a chapter about unarmed fighting.

    A couple links:

    http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/unarmedcombat.htm
    http://www.thortrains.com/getright/d...dunarmed1.html


    Also, modern boxing and wrestling are based on old popular versions of the same sports: Boxing was more savage and bloody, while wrestling was in many cases very ritualized, more similar to sumo than to today's Olympic sport.
    Last edited by Clistenes; 2019-06-23 at 07:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Many manuals included a chapter about unarmed fighting.

    Thanks for the answer! Would you know the names of any of the manuals that are notorious for said chapter?


    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Also, modern boxing and wrestling are based on old popular versions of the same sports: Boxing was more savage and bloody, while wrestling was in many cases very ritualized, more similar to sumo than to today's Olympic sport.
    I was under the impression that the old version of boxing was still more recent than the Middle Age. And do you have any source on how wrestling was practiced during that period? I'd like to know more.

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