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Sub-Roman Britain (Cavalry etc)
#46
Very interesting.

Thank you.
"Fugit irreparabile tempus" (Irrecoverable time glides away) Virgil

Ron Andrea
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#47
Hi Alan,

Quote: "... but in a moment his procurator Guengarth, coming up on horseback with shield and sword and lance, hurled himself into the river..." (Saint Cadoc Records, Cottonian MS., Vesp. A. xiv, B.M.) This sounds pretty much like the same stuff used by the Roman cavalry.

True, but it's a also very basic description of arms carried by almost every European cavalryman from the later Bronze Age down to the Midle Ages. A bow, that would have ben surprising. Or a couched lance. But simply "lance, sword and shield" does not tell us whether the man was a heavy cavalryman or a mounted infantryman. Or a common cavalryman fighting with a spear from horseback.
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Robert Vermaat
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THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
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#48
Even more interesting is the quote from Ammianus, as it describes actual tactics, though--to be honest--that too reflects fairly standard procedure for long-distance calvery manuvers.

"They run over very great distances, pursuing others or themselves turning their backs, being mounted on swift and obedient horses and leading one, or sometimes two, so that an exchange may keep up the strength of their mounts and that their freshness may be renewed by alternative periods of rest.' (Ammianus XVII, 12, 3).

Ammianus wrote late enough in the Empire that his observations may fairly be taken as reflective of the practice of his day, though as noted before ancient standards of objectivity were flexible.
"Fugit irreparabile tempus" (Irrecoverable time glides away) Virgil

Ron Andrea
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#49
Hello gentlemen,

Robert does have a point. I certainly wish we had some reference to bows, but have found nothing as yet. There is a drawing of a syah found in Britain (in Webster, I think) which is an exact match to the syahs on my Roman bow built by Csaba Grosier. But I think it's early and might not pertain to post-Roman Britain.

By giving the quote about King Morgan's procurator, I was simply trying to point out the reference to the "lance." In this case or context, we know that Guengarth was not an infantryman on horseback. He was from the noble class in post-Roman Britain's most powerful southern dynasty, and described as a "procurator." Such a man, in the social structure of the time, would be a cavalryman. What is more interesting is the context (which I failed to mention). Morgan was falconing at the time, yet we find an armed man riding in his company... which could mean vigilance and the possible treat of enemies.

Guengarth saves Morgan's falcon from an eagle; and for this act, Morgan gives Guengarth a villa. The tale ends was a donation of the sword Hipiclaur to the Church of St. Cadoc; which in turn for the villa's food-rents, the Church gives the sword to Morgan. Most interesting-- Hipiclaur had a value of "70 cows," which by modern value equals $47,000.

I wish you all well,
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#50
Development of the lance in the Medieval sense, of course, depended on the introduction of the hard stirrup. Without it, the rider had to use the lance as a spear or risk unseating himself. (Introduction of the stirrup is discussed here somewhere.)
"Fugit irreparabile tempus" (Irrecoverable time glides away) Virgil

Ron Andrea
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#51
Quote:Development of the lance in the Medieval sense, of course, depended on the introduction of the hard stirrup. Without it, the rider had to use the lance as a spear or risk unseating himself. (Introduction of the stirrup is discussed here somewhere.)

That's true. In the context of the story of Guengarth, he carries a "sword, shield, and lance." I recall it as "lancea," not "pilum." To me, that indicates a 12-foot lance as now carried by the revived Equites Taifali. In the sub-Roman period it was probably used two-handed, as it was earlier, and not couched in the Medieval style. We should remember that the wooden-framed saddle was a reality of the period under discussion. It is mentioned in the mountain of saddles that Attila created to immoliate himself; and such a saddle was an improvement over the four-pommeled model. Reenactors who are using both styles are coming to realize that the importance of the stirrup, as oft described by 20th century authors, has been overrated. This is an observation of others. I do not own a horse and shoot "horsebows" on foot. Recently, I saw a home-video of a guy shooting a steppe bow from a moving lawn-tractor. Big Grin

Whatever suits? Wear it.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#52
Someone may correct me, but I think I have read somewhere that lancea refers in fact to a throwing weapon, not to a spear neither a contus.
"O niurt Ambrois ri Frangc ocus Brethan Letha."
"By the strenght of Ambrosius, king of the Franks and the Armorican Bretons."
Lebor Bretnach, Irish manuscript of the Historia Brittonum.
[Image: 955d308995.jpg]
Agraes / Morcant map Conmail / Benjamin Franckaert
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#53
Got me. It's a new concept. I'm familiar with pilum and contus, but not lancea.
"Fugit irreparabile tempus" (Irrecoverable time glides away) Virgil

Ron Andrea
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#54
Quote:Development of the lance in the Medieval sense, of course, depended on the introduction of the hard stirrup. Without it, the rider had to use the lance as a spear or risk unseating himself.

That's highly debatable.
Persian cavalry seemed to manage using the lance at the charge without stirrups, thanks in part to their high backed saddles and also because their lances (described as 'great pointed staffs, bigger than a spear) were fixed to horses, as descirbed by Heliodorus (who gives a splendid description of the equipment of the Persian Heavy Cavalry) in the 3rd century.

Quote: When the time of battle comes, he gives his horse the reins and spurs him with his heels and rides upon his enemies at full speed like a man made of iron or a statue fashioned with hammers. His great staff at its pointed end is tied with a cord to the horse’s neck and the hinder end is made fast to its buttocks, so that in the conflict it does not yield but helps the horseman’s hand, who does but guide the same aright. Thus it gives the greater blow and runs through every man it hits, and often carries away two men together pierced by one stroke.

Strirrups were essential in turning cavalrymen into effective melee combatants, heavy lancers could do without them.
"Medicus" Matt Bunker

[size=150:1m4mc8o1]WURSTWASSER![/size]
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#55
Good. Thanks.
"Fugit irreparabile tempus" (Irrecoverable time glides away) Virgil

Ron Andrea
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#56
Quote:
Ron Andrea:2lcz5fsx Wrote:Development of the lance in the Medieval sense, of course, depended on the introduction of the hard stirrup. Without it, the rider had to use the lance as a spear or risk unseating himself.

That's highly debatable.
Persian cavalry seemed to manage using the lance at the charge without stirrups, thanks in part to their high backed saddles and also because their lances (described as 'great pointed staffs, bigger than a spear) were fixed to horses, as descirbed by Heliodorus (who gives a splendid description of the equipment of the Persian Heavy Cavalry) in the 3rd century.

Quote: When the time of battle comes, he gives his horse the reins and spurs him with his heels and rides upon his enemies at full speed like a man made of iron or a statue fashioned with hammers. His great staff at its pointed end is tied with a cord to the horse’s neck and the hinder end is made fast to its buttocks, so that in the conflict it does not yield but helps the horseman’s hand, who does but guide the same aright. Thus it gives the greater blow and runs through every man it hits, and often carries away two men together pierced by one stroke.

Strirrups were essential in turning cavalrymen into effective melee combatants, heavy lancers could do without them.


Heliodorus said that? (slaps forehead) All this time I've been saying it was Ammianius Mercellius
Ben.
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#57
Quote:
dux bellum:2ktwtv9d Wrote:How expensive would it be for a late Vth/ealry VIth Century British king or warlord to keep and maintain even a small contingent of heavy cavalry? Hard but possible, or out of the question?

Heavy cavalry requires strong horses as opposed to our native ponies. As you need a constant supply of fresh blood if you're going to prevent your war horses devolving over just a few generations, how would you maintain suitable breeding stock?

If there were a Dux Bellorum operating a succesful body of cavalry in the late 5th/early 6th century, it could be this decline in horse-power that drastically reduced or even totally eliminated his military advantage by the mid 6th century.

I've been talking to some horse breeding friends recently...amazing what you mull over when fuelled by beer and good company.

Rosemary Sutcliffe talks about this in Sword at Sunset. One of my favorite books. it is fiction, but plausible.
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#58
This discussion is like a bad itch to me. I want to scratch it, but suspect I will only make things worse.

There seems to be a wish, even a longing, for post Roman British cavalry to mirror Roman cavalry. I have no such romatic idea. I'm going to brush over the issues around professional armies, centralised supply and training, compared to "tribal warbands". Instead I would just like to make a few basic comments.

You can melee riding in the four horn saddle.

[attachment=2:1u9hdgzm]<!-- ia2 Kinneil 2008.jpg<!-- ia2 [/attachment:1u9hdgzm]

I suspect Attila was prepared to throw himself on a potential pyre of steppe saddles.

Small native breeds were prefered by the Roman cavalry. They were more likely to be disease resistant. And they can carry great weight. This is a cob of just over 14 hands. And I'm a great weight.

[attachment=1:1u9hdgzm]<!-- ia1 DSC_8181.JPG<!-- ia1 [/attachment:1u9hdgzm]

Without quoting chapter and verse a lancea can be described as a slender javelin or light spear. Although there is little evidence for the length of Roman spears, the length of the weapon seems to remain remarkably constant through time at somewhere between 2.4m and 2.7m. The blades were designed to penetrate and cut, while the butt of the shaft was capped with a ferule. Evidence suggests the shafts were predominantly made of ash, a wood well suited to withstand shock. My reconstruction is 2.4m long with a weight of 1.5kg. It can be used couched or over arm.

[attachment=0:1u9hdgzm]<!-- ia0 CIMG5038.jpg<!-- ia0 [/attachment:1u9hdgzm]

Recurve bows, probably asymetrical, were specialised enough in the late Western Empire to be produced in a state run "factory" in north Itlay. I'm not aware of any evidence of horse archery in the imediate post Roman period.

The cost of cavalry armour was considerable. Post Roman British cavalry do not have to face horse archers or other specialist units, so basic weapons and equipment would suffice. A pad or wooden saddle with low cantles, shield, javelins and perhaps some form of armour and possibly a sword would suffice. Comitatus represents the Equites Taifali, a unit based in Britain. We use the kontos and other equipment not because it was found in Britain, but because it was used by the Roman cavalry. So please don't assume the kontos was used in Britain.
John Conyard

York

A member of Comitatus Late Roman
Reconstruction Group

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#59
Excellent, especially the photographs.

Thank you.
"Fugit irreparabile tempus" (Irrecoverable time glides away) Virgil

Ron Andrea
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#60
Quote:Rosemary Sutcliffe talks about this in Sword at Sunset. One of my favorite books. it is fiction, but plausible.
That's Sutcliff. And yes, it's also one of my favorite books. Big Grin
_________________________________
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR: Forum rules
FECTIO Late Roman Society
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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