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Medieval facts

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Aginor, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. LizardWizard
    Carnasaur

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

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    Coins from the middle east have been found in viking burial mounds are well. Trade of goods, ideas, beliefs, and cultures was widespread and pervasive. The belief that the old world was homogeneous is myth.
     
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  2. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

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    Absolutely!
    It surprised me a bit back then, but the more I learned the clearer it became to me. There are many examples for that. That's one of things movies and other media (like computer games) often fail at. Everything is too homogeneous.
     
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  3. Canas
    Skar-Veteran

    Canas Well-Known Member

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    There will indeed have been hoplite formations (or at least phalanxes of their own) in there as well. But a more significant chunk of them were the poor pressed into levies whereas the greeks relied on their richer citizen hoplites. Which left the average persian lighter equiped than the average greek. Admittadly their more professional troops probably wouldn't differ too much in terms of armour and arms, and with how big the persian empire was they had plenty of professional troops as well, especially when taken from areas with a heavy greek influence.

    Weren't there also some middle eastern dynasties or something that were decendents of gallic tribes that migrated there, ended up being body guards to the local dynasty eventually turning into its rulling class? I can't remember which one it was called though.
     
  4. Lizerd
    Chameleon Skink

    Lizerd Active Member

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    I found this thread, and I am here to continue bashing in the knight.
    While the idea that a knight could get up is probable, it still would be extremely difficult. 15th or 16th century armor was around 50 kilograms. Even the lighter forms around 65 lbs would in mobility still be debilitating. While I’m not sure that this is for all knights, discipline among the French was lower than a rowdy band of teenagers hungering for lunch. Battles like Golden Spurs are an excellent example of this. Despite these issues, a cavalry charge, if pulled off successfully, would be unstoppable.

    Provided the easiest way to kill a knight is with a bow. English longbows and Eastern composite bows could shoot with the force of around 60 pounds. However the composite bows had a force of over 100 pounds. Being shot with anything this powerful would simply kill the victim. Can’t really be argued against, as the mongols used bows and took over most of the known world.

    Arguably the deadliest foes of the medieval period were the Romans and the arabs and Turks. The Late Romans made deadly use of cavalry. Their cataphracts, while not as heavy as a knight could still continue to fight after a charge with a variety of weapons as well as the bow. Arabic and Turkish forces had deadly horse archers that most knights could not catch.
    As for eastern coins making their way into Viking graves ; its not surprising. The Vikings had lots of contact with rome (now called Byzantines) who would have had lots of access to these . A famous group of these Vikings were the Varangian guard
     
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  5. LizardWizard
    Carnasaur

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

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    There is also significant evidence that Scandinavian peoples were trading with Turks near the Caspian sea.
     
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  6. NIGHTBRINGER
    Slann

    NIGHTBRINGER Second Spawning

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  7. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

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    Close, but not quite there. Being an archer myself I consider that one of my stronger areas of knowledge, and I am pretty sure you are over generalizing a bit there.
    Like with all other ballistic weapons you just cannot say it that simple. Even a quarterpounder arrow with a Bodkin point, fired from a 15th-16th century 130lbs (!) English warbow (not a composite bow btw, made out of one piece of wood, we know because we found conserved ones in the wreckage of the Mary Rose) would not regularly pierce a good piece of armor unless fired from quite close, at a straight surface (of which good armor had few). There are believable accounts from the 100 years war that describe knights and men at arms being hit by dozens of such arrows to little or even no effect.
    The fact that even at Agincourt quite some French knights and even men at arms (on foot. Like some of the Knights as well) reached the enemy lines despite thousands of arrows fired their way tells us that archers cannot have been _that_ effective against armor. Against unarmored enemies archers were devastating.
    Again, people weren't _that_ dumb back then. If the heavy cavalry charge wouldn't have worked they would have done what they did for many centuries before they had good armor (using cavalry in other roles, not charge head on).

    Heavy crossbows and especially firearms did change that a bit more though. But strong bows were used all along, by all sides, for millenia. Armor was made to withstand them. You can see it in the round shapes some armor has, that's clearly made to create a flat angle of impact, and arrows do glance off that, even at short range. Even if the steel is not up to today's standards.

    Also keep in mind that plate armor wasn't all or nothing. Armor was modular and people wore as much as they could afford and were comfortable with. Many soldiers in that age (even some archers, like the famous burgundian ones) were depicted only wearing a breastplate, a helmet, and some leg armor, and the rest was mail armor or gambesons.
    At enough range even that stops an arrow, and that can be proven quite easily, as bows of that strength and people who shoot them do exist right now.
    So if full plate was too heavy for a Knight, he would use only parts of it. And some did that, for example not wearing a lot of armor in the rear.

    And all the accounts from that time agree that a Knight in plate armor was an immensely dangerous foe. They had been equipped to the best possible standard, and trained in warfare from an early age.
    And that's not only true for European Knights, but it is the same for Asian Knights. Best weapons, best armor, best training. An unarmored commoner on a European battlefield didn't have a better chance against a Knight than some poor Ashigaru against a Samurai.


    Edit: oh and btw the Mongol and Hun invasions were a thing, but hundreds of years before good plate armor and Knights wearing it existed. We are talking 5th century and 13th century there.
     
  8. LizardWizard
    Carnasaur

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

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  9. Lizerd
    Chameleon Skink

    Lizerd Active Member

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    well plate mail may not be as bad as I like to think.
    But the knights that used it were something else

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Golden_Spurs

    I’m not saying plate mail is useless, it’s kinda like a tiger tank. When it works, it works excellently when it works, but when it encounters issues, it seriously bogs down.

    Also Mongol composite bows were vastly superior to the longbow.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  10. Lizerd
    Chameleon Skink

    Lizerd Active Member

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    Reading more I did find a few more things. For the most part, it was arrow proof at long ranges. However if knocked off a horse a knight would die, just like any other soldier.
     
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  11. NIGHTBRINGER
    Slann

    NIGHTBRINGER Second Spawning

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    Full plate armour was a game changer. Before the advent of guns, the knight in full plate armour was the most formidable force on the battlefield. However, its limitation was that is was expensive and time consuming to produce, so you could only have so many knights in full plate armour.

    In some ways yes, in some ways no. Mongol or Hunnic bows could typically achieve a much higher rate of fire. Additionally, these composite re-curve bows could produce a great deal of force relative to their size. This was useful for mounted archers as they could easily fire in 360 degree arcs while moving at great speed. However, in terms of raw power and range, the English longbow reigned supreme. They each had their advantages, but in terms of armour penetration the longbow was superior, but even it wasn't a very good match against full plate armour.

    In the videos I provided above, full plate armour was shown to be virtually arrow proof even in prime archery range, not just at long range. This has been shown via historical accounts as well as modern day testing.

    As for the knight falling off a horse....
     
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  12. Lizerd
    Chameleon Skink

    Lizerd Active Member

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    Sorry but the bow thing is really just wrong. For the same size the composite bow would be much better, with a far deadlier impact than the longbow. The longbows real advantage was that it was cheaper to make and did not fall apart when it rained.

    But yeah, it seems that the bow was practically useless... :(:(:(



    Good thing its the 21st century and now we have tanks
     
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  13. LizardWizard
    Carnasaur

    LizardWizard Grand Skink Handler Staff Member

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  14. LizardWizard
    Carnasaur

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  15. NIGHTBRINGER
    Slann

    NIGHTBRINGER Second Spawning

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    The key phrase there is "for the same size". English longbows were much larger. Even if the composite bow had a power edge at the same size, overall the absolute power of the longbow was superior.

    For example, an ant is much stronger for its size than an elephant, however in terms of absolute strength the elephant comes out on top.

    It was hardly useless. If it was useless, then you wouldn't have seen it used on the battlefield for such a long period of time (just as if plate armour was useless you wouldn't see it on the battlefield either). The largest percentage of an army was made up of soldiers who did not have access to full plate armour. Against a more lightly armoured opponent, an archer was extremely effective.

    Every type of weapon and armour has different strengths and weaknesses. If it showed up on the battlefield for any significant length of time, then it was useful in one way or another. The bow was a potent weapon, it just doesn't fare very well against a knight in full plate armour.
     
  16. Canas
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    Canas Well-Known Member

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    Bow's had a three major advantages for defeating the enemy.

    1) They're extremely effective against lightly armoured troops, of which there'd be plenty in any given army. Only the heaviest armoured Knights and man at arms were imprevious to Arrow fire. The others could still be damaged fairly easily.
    2) Breaking morale. Walking through a storm of Arrow fire is terrifying, even if your (plate) armour makes you virtually impervious to it. A knight in plate might be completly save from that volley of arrows, but that doesn't mean he won't break and flee at the awe-inspiring image of thousands upon thousands of arrows flying towards him. Not to mention that having those arrows smash into you is going to be uncomfortable to say the least, even if your armour protects you from suffering anything worse than maybe some bruises.
    3) Quantity has a quality all of its own If you can just shoot Thousands upon thousands of arrows from a safe distance, you're eventually going to hit something valueable. It's why archers shot in volleys. Chances were at least some arrows would get Lucky and find their way into gaps in the armor or some such.
     
  17. Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl
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    Lord Agragax of Lunaxoatl Well-Known Member

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    Wait what? As far as I know the Romans never used the phalanx - that was the Greeks’ tactic. The Romans used the Testudo, the multi-wedge formation and several others, but they were never that big in spears. Auxiliaries sometimes used spears, but the Legionaries never used combat spears, only the pila (the throwing spear they used that had a very thin tip which bent as soon as it hit a shield or body to make it almost impossible to remove, forcing the target to throw their shield away because it was weighed down by the pilum stuck in it).

    The Romans’ biggest defeat in Germania (Teutoburg Forest) was because some Germanic auxiliaries who had accompanied them turned on them when the Legionaries were building their camp, giving the Germanic tribesmen time to sweep in and massacre them before the Romans had time to react.

    Certainly the Germans were similar to the Celts or other northern tribal peoples in their style of warfare.

    And talking about German/Viking Berserkers, they made Celtic Fanatics look like Victorian gentlemen sipping tea.

    Celtic Fanatics were essentially what Dwarf Slayers were based on - they believed they were doomed to die and that no amount of armour could save them from the gods’ judgement, so they would have a booze-up the previous night, days themselves in woad and then turn up to the battle with no clothes on and just a sword and shield for protection. Pretty mad but sane compared to Berserkers.

    Berserkers on the other hand turned the drinking up to 11 and then would embody some sort of predatory animal (usually a wolf or bear) for the duration of the battle, where they would run around like mad things with nothing but their chosen animal’s skin on and would hack anything that moved within their immediate vicinity to pieces, whether friend or foe, so they were generally steered towards the enemy before being unleashed. Absolutely nuts.

    I thought the Persians had tall rectangular wicker shields with more eastern designs on them, compared to the Greeks’ round shields.

    Indeed - if you want to watch a remotely accurate version of the 300 Spartans, watch the old 50s-60s film. At least there they actually wear armour and there are no battle rhinos or elephants the size of Mumaks.

    Also as @GreenyRepublic says the Spartans were a rearguard for the majority of the Greek army, sacrificing themselves to allow the rest of the Greeks to escape. There were also some Thebans who stayed with the Spartans as well, protecting their flank in the mountains from the Persians, and who ultimately died with them.

    Indeed pikes were still extremely widely used in the 17th century as well, because muskets were pretty inaccurate. The main reason they were used over the longbow by this point was not because they were that much better (longbows had already proven dangerous to even plate-armoured knights since the Hundred Years‘ War because of their far quicker rate of fire, not so much due to penetration power), it was because it was so much quicker to train someone to use a musket as effectively as they could than it was to train them to use a longbow. Archers had to train for long hours since they were 9 or 10 to be able to fire even remotely accurately, while a musketeer could be trained from a peasant to a battle-ready soldier in a few months, maybe even less. Even then, musketeers were still immensely vulnerable to cavalry charges so pikemen were used to counter cavalry. Indeed 17th Century warfare had a rock-paper-scissors feel to it, as musketeers countered pikemen because they were much slower and easier to hit, cavalry countered musketeers because they could charge into them with few casualties because of their greater speed and the musketeers could only use either their swords or their muskets as clubs to defend themselves, and pikemen countered cavalry because horses quite understandably refused to charge into a forest of long pointy things.

    And yes I agree, Swords were handier in confined spaces like on castle staircases (which were designed so that defenders coming down the stairs had more room to swing their swords) but that’s probably the only place where they were more useful than spears.

    Ah, but it depends on what you mean by ‘best’ - if it’s aesthetics wise, I’d say a Celtic shield (nobody had such good craftsmen as the Celts), while if it’s in terms of combat ability I’d say the Roman Scutum (its almost as tall as you are and you can do a variety of things with it).

    Also, the Saxons used kite shields toward the end of the Saxon era too - the main reason they mostly had round shields at Hastings was because they lost a lot of their teardrop shields at Stamford Bridge and took Viking round shields as replacements.
     
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  18. Canas
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    Canas Well-Known Member

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    They did use the phalanx very early on, and the triarii would keep on using (a variation of) it for some time even after the bulk of their army would consist of what would eventually be the legionaires we associate with the romans.
     
  19. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

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    You should refresh your knowledge about Berserkers because based on research it turns out that what you wrote is most likely at least partly wrong.

    Here's Lindybeige about the topic. There are better sources than him saying mostly the same things but he is more entertaining:



    Well... yes and no. A good part of the troops fighting for Persia _were_ Greek.
    There would be no uniform look.
     
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  20. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning Staff Member

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    About the (imperial period) Romans:
    Their fighting style and army composition (as far as we know, like everything in history) is interesting to me because of a few special things:
    - relatively uniform equipment, compared to others we know of
    - using sword and shield a lot. Viewed across pretty much all history, including their enemies, other weapons were used more often
    - almost no "roman" archers, most of the archers were auxiliaries, for example from Crete, Syria, Thrace or Anatolia (in a time where archers were pretty strong because people weren't wearing that much armor)
     

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