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General History Questions thread

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Skot the Sanguine

Sergeant Knight
WBNW
Vermin said:
Sir William the Brave said:
Wow.. :shock: Not to mention the weapons and tools along with his horses, I heard that a knight requires two horses; one for fighting and one for carrying his stuff, is this true?

According to surviving English warcontracts they were required to have two warhorses and actually expected to have three.

Yes, I have read that as well, though I think it was rare to have more than two.  I am not sure if that is for all of the Medieval period or just the late Medieval period.

Sir William, it should also be noted that the classification used for horses is depicted in Mount and Blade as well.  For example, the horse used for traveling and the like were called Palfrey's while pack horses were Sumpters.
 

Hengwulf

Sergeant Knight
During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, which type of cavalry would be used mostly for scouting/ commando tasks. I am looking for different nations, the cavalry equivalent of rifle/ jäger regiments. Scouting ahead of the army, briefing command of the situation, courier tasks, protecting the flanks.

Of course there are the horse jägers, and for Russia probably cossacks. I am not sure if Hussars were used for these tasks, as I always thought they were mostly rich aristocrats and more about looking sharp than being the workhorse of the army.

For Napoleon I read his vanguard had a very large proportion of dragoons, but they might be used more as true line infantry rather than small semi-independent groups.

Also pictures would be greatly appreciated.
 

Captured Joe

Marquis
Hussars; Light Dragoons and occasionally 'normal' Dragoons (which were classified as heavy cavalry so often didn't do light cavalry jobs); the French equivalent of Light Dragoons = Chasseurs a Cheval, Germans = Chevauxlegers; Cossacks for the Russians; occasionally Lancers.
 

Captured Joe

Marquis
Hengwulf said:
Also pictures would be greatly appreciated.
:idea:
saxon_hussar__1805_by_capturedjoe-d5ohqe5.png
 

Almalexia

Her Flamboyance, the Calipha
Duke
M&BWBNW
Hengwulf said:
During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, which type of cavalry would be used mostly for scouting/ commando tasks. I am looking for different nations, the cavalry equivalent of rifle/ jäger regiments. Scouting ahead of the army, briefing command of the situation, courier tasks, protecting the flanks.

Of course there are the horse jägers, and for Russia probably cossacks. I am not sure if Hussars were used for these tasks, as I always thought they were mostly rich aristocrats and more about looking sharp than being the workhorse of the army.

For Napoleon I read his vanguard had a very large proportion of dragoons, but they might be used more as true line infantry rather than small semi-independent groups.

Also pictures would be greatly appreciated.

Look up General LaSalle and that might change your perception a little bit.
 

PotatoKat

Knight at Arms
Can anyone explain why shields went obsolete apart from the invention of plate armour please? Was it because the change of warfare in Europe? Or because the invention of pikes?
 

Oskatat

Squire
M&B
My guess is the invention of gunpowder weapons

most 'cheap' shields are ineffective against muskets and such, your infantry needs two hands to fire anyway and they're conscripts, why waste effort in giving them an expensive heavy shield? Which leaves them at a niche use for cavalry units that didn't carry pistols or carbines they'd want to reload. Still, those probably too are better off being more mobile and agile than carrying around a heavy piece of metal.
 
Basically agree with Oskatat.

With spears getting longer to repel cavalry, and firearms able to punch through sheilds at a greater range than a crossbow, they were essentially redundant for line infantry... and plate reduces the need for them with the highvalue persons front rankers,  heavy infantry and heavy cavalry.

Bucklers hung around for a bit courtesy of being much easier to carry around(and could be worn with a lanyard so you could just drop them whenever you wanted), and as such did not get in the way of shooting/ reloading your pistol etc.

That said shields came back again for crowd control purposes.
 

PotatoKat

Knight at Arms
Were there any record about plate armors in that time? Like who invented it and where were they first made?
 
It's an unanswerable question, sort of like "who invented the internet". It slowly evolved from small plates protecting the joints and coats of plate in the 1200s. It was adopted at different times by different military classes in different places. And plate armour wasn't exactly an invention, either. For example the ancient Romans just ditched it in place of lamellar and chainmail.
 

rapier17

Baron
Sir William the Brave said:
Were there any record about plate armors in that time?
Absolutely! Plate armour was rather popular during the Ealy Modern Period amongst the nobility, particularly when they were painted onto canvas. It was a display of wealth, style and martial prowess. There were, in Northern Europe at least, two distinct forms;

Herzog_Christian_von_Braunschweig-L%C3%BCneburg.jpg
II.65.JPG

The three-quarter plate harness, as with a c15/c16 full plate harness, was only really available to the wealthy. This is where iron plate armour had reached it's peak, really, as the armour had to face off against not only melee weapons and bows/crossbows but also against soft lead balls fired from firelocks yet also be light & well articulated to move around in. Fantastically beautiful pieces of armour and tributes to the artisan skill of armourers.

However, on the other end of the scale, the plate cuirass (also referred to as 'pikemans plate', 'souldiers plate/armour' and any number of other names) of the period were what is known as 'Munition armour'. This is armour bashed out in large numbers and stockpiled to equip a force. As European forces were taking the steps towards unified, uniform fighting forces, rather than the crown essentially hiring their army from the nobles, it was important to be able to equip large numbers of troops as quickly as possible and 'Munition armour', as well as 'Ordnance weapons'* were the answer. They were often forged from materials that were alright for the job but not particularly high quality, had the protective qualities required but were not really light or comfortable. Whilst most sets, in times of peace, would have tassets (the plate pieces that protect the thighs) & a gorget, in times of war souldiers would discard these due to their weight, keeping only what they deemed essential - back & 'fore plates and a helmet.

*Like 'Munition armour', an 'Ordnance weapon' is one issued to a souldier as a means of personal defence, often in the form or a short 'hanger' sword, also known as 'Tuck' swords, an abused form of the French word 'Estoc'. They were often nicknamed as 'knucklebreakers' or 'bonebreakers' as their poor quality meant they lost their edge quickly and were essentially steel clubs. However 'Ordnance weapons' could take many forms - it was mainly whatever weapon could be supplied in large numbers to troops as a sidearm.

Regarding shields - the demise of the shield came from a number of different reasons. Firstly there is the whole plate armour being more useful thing (better protection, therefore needs more powerful weapons, thus the two-handed pole weapon came to prominence which you couldn't use a shield with, etc., etc.). Secondly, as mentioned, firelocks rising to prominence as a ranged weapon. Gunpowder weapons were great for several reasons; firstly a man can be trained to be proficient in the use of a firelock within months rather than the years required for a weapon such as the longbow. They're also very powerful weapons and cause devastating injuries - soft lead balls could and would deform in flight and, upon impact, punch horrible holes in people! The sound of them will scare unschooled horses and raw troops whilst they're quite a morale-boosting weapon to use - hearing that roar of an explosion, feeling the scraps of burnt powder slapping up into your cheek, the butt pushing back into your shoulder, the smell of burnt powder - it's rather intoxicating and certainly filled me with a manic glee when I first fired one. Blackpowder weapons were also fashionable and fascinating, leading to their rise from an inaccurate muzzle loaded tube strapped to a piece of wood and fired with a lit cord to todays firearms.

Next on the list is cavalry. As the numbers of horsemen fielded by armies continued to increase more and more troops were needed with 'anti-cavalry' weapons, namely the pike. As musketeers were rather vulnerable it made sense to pair them up with pikemen so they would complement each other. However it's rather hard to carry a shield when carrying a pike as they're not really a weapon you can use with a single hand, certainly when they're 16-18 foot long (or longer!). Thus a shield becomes deadweight slung over your shoulder/across your back and when you're on the march carrying a long pike, back and 'fore plates, tassets, gorget, morion helm, sidearm, blanket, leather sack, satchel(s) & whatever you've put inside them, not to mention a water bottle and the discomfort of wearing latchet shoes, the weight of a metal shield on top of all of that would have been intolerable and would have been jettisoned early on, much as tassets & gorgets were.

Now the shield didn't just disappear overnight - the Spanish Tercio saw to that. The Tercio, for those who are unaware, was formed of large blocks of infantry - pikemen, musketeers and swordsmen, working together to create a mobile 'fortress' which was almost impenetrable to cavalry, a nasty obstacle for infantry to stand against and rather vulnerable to artillery. However it ruled the battlefield for a good few decades and even up to the 1640s, as it adapted to more modern means of waging war, it was still a horrible formation to face. The swordsmen in the Tercio would carry either a small iron buckler, as a means of deflecting weapons, or a round metal shield and be a means of defence against anyone who got past the musketry or the long pikes or as a group of 'shock troops'.

Bucklers continued to see service amongst civilians particularly in Italy during c16/c17 - it was light, compact and could be hung from the belt* and offered an excellent defence against the rapier or as an offensive weapon in its own right (as an extension of the fist) - rapier17's personal recommendation is a square buckler made from iron and with sharpened corners - there are quite a few manouvres (both offensive & defensive) that can utilise those sharp corners for 'discomforting' your opponent, whether it's hammering them down onto or behind the patella or punching it into your opponents face or neck or using them on any 'soft' part of the body. Shields, however, only saw limited use as they're a bit too big and heavy to carry around in the streets when going about your daily business. They still appeared in treatise of the period and I would assume that their use was taught in case one might need to know how to use one in the future (such as on a battlefield or as part of a militia) or perhaps just as martial tradition.

*This is one of the ways in which we get the word 'swashbuckler'**, as the buckler would rub against the rich materials of the wealthy and go 'swish-swash'.
**There are also claims that it comes from longbowmen carrying bucklers that rubbed against their clothing.
 

djogloc02

Sergeant Knight
jacobhinds said:
It's an unanswerable question, sort of like "who invented the internet". It slowly evolved from small plates protecting the joints and coats of plate in the 1200s. It was adopted at different times by different military classes in different places. And plate armour wasn't exactly an invention, either. For example the ancient Romans just ditched it in place of lamellar and chainmail.

Who invented the internet? I heard stories that it was USSR...
 

Untitled.

Count
I'd guess it grew out of different solutions, like most other things have. I'm not much familiar with this part of history, and certainly know nothing compared to  those of you who were still alive during the era that other data-sharing phenomenons existed.
 

Jhessail

Panzervixen
Grandmaster Knight
Internet was invented by American propellerheads in universities, and it was partially funded by the US military, who wanted a sturdy communications network in case of nuclear war, one that can automatically re-route or flood messages through different servers and so on. But this was way before WWW, who was invented by a British dude, if I remember correctly.
 

PotatoKat

Knight at Arms
Ahh.. That's help alots thank you. I believe steel plate armor is for a noble/wealthy person while iron plate armor is for infantry, am I right?
 

Orchid

Grandmaster Knight
M&BWBWF&SNW
rapier17 said:
[...]
Now the shield didn't just disappear overnight - the Spanish Tercio saw to that. The Tercio, for those who are unaware, was formed of large blocks of infantry - pikemen, musketeers and swordsmen, working together to create a mobile 'fortress' which was almost impenetrable to cavalry, a nasty obstacle for infantry to stand against and rather vulnerable to artillery. However it ruled the battlefield for a good few decades and even up to the 1640s, as it adapted to more modern means of waging war, it was still a horrible formation to face. The swordsmen in the Tercio would carry either a small iron buckler, as a means of deflecting weapons, or a round metal shield and be a means of defence against anyone who got past the musketry or the long pikes or as a group of 'shock troops'.
Very interesting post rapier, thank you for that! I wondered though, why exactly did the tercio grow outdated? When executed well it seems like a much more effective formation than what came immediately after? Were the Spanish the only ones able of instilling a formation as complex as this?
 

rapier17

Baron
The end of the tercio didn't really happen until the late 17th century. It was a powerful formation even up to that point but the increased use of musketeers and more 'linear' battle lines amongst those the tercios faced meant they were facing ever increasing amounts of musketry from lightly armed units that could outmanouver the slower, more cumbersome tercios. When the supporting cavalry were defeated the tercio would be in a dangerous position, such as at Rocroi (1643), although they did give the tercio did give the French forces a run for their money. The other problem was the increase in use of field artillery, with the slow, plump tercio formations ripe for plucking.

Prince Maurice of Orange was the first to find an effective counter to the Tercio with his reforms - smaller blocks of shotte with a broader frontage than before, working in concert with pikemen. The Swedish compounded this with their reforms of the 1630s and as battle lines became more and more linear the tercio, despite changing to meet these newer threats, was not the invincible force it had once been. It proved vicious for decades after Rocroi and still did well but it had had it's day.
 
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