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Warhorses, not so big?


sardaukar
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There are loads of these. The things we don't immediately grasp is that the weight is distributed all over the body and doesn't affect balance and mobility and that the wearers were professional warriors and trained constantly, just like modern soldiers. They were fast, strong, athletic veterans of a thousand practice battles. I see no reason for them to fight on anything other than the biggest, fastest, meanest horses that could get. The horse was a weapon too!

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One aspect not mentioned; wearing armour is very claustrophobic.  I have mild claustrophobia and even wearing chainmaille sent me into a mild panic. What helped, and you cannot see in my photo because of the surcote, is my chainmaille byrnie is split down the front and held together with buckles & straps and lacing.

 

And make sure you've gone to the bog before you are in your armour. No chance of going for a pee afterwards

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On 14/01/2022 at 20:17, Black Knight said:

 

And make sure you've gone to the bog before you are in your armour. No chance of going for a pee afterwards

"Let those who go to don  armour tomorrow, remember to go before they don armour tomorrow" (Richard, Duke of York  in The Black Adder) 😉

 

John

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When my son was at Leicester Uni, we went to see him when they were moving Richard III's remains. They had a fair few re-enactors, including guys arming up, which as commented was a surprisingly quick process. They also explained a lot about late medieval warfare. I live not far from the site of Towton, reputedly the bloodiest battle in English History, and the explanation boards there give a lot of information about the weapons and wounds they inflicted, not nice. 

When I did archery, I pulled a long bow. I am not a strong chap and it was hard, although not as bad as I thought it might be, technique is important. It didn't half go through the target though. Sheffield made bodkins apparently had the best armour piercing qualities due to their shape and steel quality. 

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I too remember seeing the re-enactors at Warwick Castle.  The chap on the horse as a knight jumped on and off doing forward rolls pointing out that they were mobile while in full armour.  He also said that knights did not charge as seen in the Henry V movie.  Rather they rode the horses towards the opposing mass at walking pace until quite close.  Just distance left to get up the horse to full gallop.  Also each horse was hard up against the flanks of its neighbour to it was one solid wall of charging horse meat coming at you.  Finally a neat touch was that the guys on the reciving end of this did not get to see the knights faces.  Their visors were kept open until the charge started when a quick nod on the head brought their visors all crashing closed in unison - just for effect on the opposing peasants.

 

Same trip an archer down by the river shot his first arrow while moving on a turning movement and took out a water melon on a stick on the other side of the river.  I say "took out" but rather it went straight through the water melon which exploded in small bits and the arrow then buried itself in the earth banking on the other side in a cloud of debris.  I'd hate to see what it would have done to a human being at that range.

 

I went away with a revised notion of the medieval warrior.

 

Mind you even guys who trained day in and day out would have found 20 minutes on the battlefield exhausting.  I've heard it said that medieval battles were usually not of long duration for that reason though some did go on all day.  

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The other impression I get from reading about medieval battles as that they were very difficult to control when large numbers were involved. 

Also thinking about peasantry armed with billhooks, how common were they in reality? Most surviving financial accounts from across Europe tell of money being spent on mercenaries, for example, the French bought in a fair number of crossbowmen in battles against the English (and in at least one case rode them down when things were going badly). 

Having used a billhook for its intended purpose, it is quite a dangerous piece of kit and I can see why billhook shaped weapons found in museums were not to be trifles with. 

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1 hour ago, Mr T said:

Also thinking about peasantry armed with billhooks, how common were they in reality?

 

It's always seemed to me that peasants with billhooks are not likely to have been rounded up and shipped to foreign parts for extended periods of time. I think it's more likely that such (unwilling/impressed?) temporary militia were a product of local skirmishes and civil wars/unrest. They were 'domestic' rather than 'expeditionary' forces, especially as they were fundamentally unskilled and unreliable. Add to that the constant need to spend time and resources to prevent them melting away on a daily basis.

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I thought as much from my reading. The gravepits found at Towton seemed to belong to 'professional soldiers' as several showed signs of old, healed injuries. 

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On 1/17/2022 at 7:44 PM, Mr T said:

I live not far from the site of Towton

Same here and am ashamed to say i've never visited the site! It's only about 30 to 40 mins from me so i've no excuse really. 

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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6 hours ago, Mr T said:

I thought as much from my reading. The gravepits found at Towton seemed to belong to 'professional soldiers' as several showed signs of old, healed injuries. 

 

Is this one of the chaps? 

 

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I remember the tv programme that showed the facial reconstruction.

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21 hours ago, fatfingers said:

Same here and am ashamed to say i've never visited the site! It's only about 30 to 40 mins from me so i've no excuse really. 

 

Regards,

 

Steve

Well worth a visit. Obviously not much to see on the ground, but is a nice walk if the weather is OK and you have a good view, especially to the South. It takes us about 20 mins from Rothwell. Up the M1 to J47 and then take the road that goes past Lotherton Hall. Sign boards are quite informative and apparently the landscape hasn't changed that much (eg no housing or diversion of watercourses). It can be muddy though. 

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