Author Topic: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise  (Read 1820 times)

Erpingham

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #105 on: August 07, 2020, 12:37:41 PM »
Thanks - though I do wonder, does 'four deep' etc really imply a conception of ranks? In modern English we routinely talk about 'crowds n deep' (where n = whatever) where it just means roughly that many deep (and where for example 'ten deep' really just means 'lots of people quite tightly packed'). Is the Agincourt usage likely to be more formal or more like modern English?

Is there evidence of drill in these armies? How would Henry form his men four deep? For Hellenistic armies we know exactly how (form 16 deep in open order, double by men, double by frontage (if necessary), double by men again, double by frontage again (if necessary)). Would Henry's army be more along the lines of 'you lot fill this space'?

31 deep is a mighty odd number. Why 31?

In truth, I have my doubts about the formality of ranks in any medieval formation before the mid 15th century (when ranks and files are clearly there in Swiss pike keils).  There are occassions when we have a profile through the ranks (a front, maybe a second then the middle bit and the back).  As to how they drew up, something drawn up in English indentured retinues positioned their standards and the men fell in behind and to the sides.  They probably ringed the standard with close protection, so a rank before , the rank the standard was in and at least one behind . Then others conformed to that.  But that is a bit of a guess.

The 31 deep comes from Tito Livio Frulovisi (as does the 4 deep, which I mistakenly said was from a different source earlier).  He wasn't an eye witness but he was in the service of Humphrey of Gloucester and is thought to have written down his recollections.  Personally, I think we are dealing with that favourite medieval technique of making up precise numbers to make your text look accurate - he may have in fact been told that the English were in four ranks and the French were a lot deeper (maybe 7 or 8 times?).  Interestingly, the French men-at-arms outnumbered the English by a similar ratio by modern calculations.  Also, this is all the men-at-arms , so this is the combined depth of the van and the main battle. 
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Andreas Johansson

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #106 on: August 07, 2020, 01:26:40 PM »
In games terms you'll be astonished to hear I'd favour bundling disorder, demoralisation, casualties etc all up into one status.

Simon MacDowall is your man - or at least his rules tend to track attrition by the accumulation of "death, disorder and demoralization points" (abbrev. "DPs"). They can be incurred from complex manoeuvres or unnerving experiences such as seeing friends defeated, as well as from direct enemy action.
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Erpingham

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #107 on: August 07, 2020, 01:35:47 PM »
Simon's rules also allow the rallying off of DPs, to represent the idea that some damage is temporary .
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #108 on: August 07, 2020, 04:19:03 PM »
Roy,

  I certainly like your suggestion below ... have you a source or sources that you particularly note in this regard?

Quote
In Vking and Saxon armies of tge tenth and eleventh centuries I would see the relationship between spearmen, axemen  and indeed archers as a drilled and trained method.


All,

  More generally I wonder what service we do to the memory of our ancestors when we invoke the notion that they were an untrustworthy bunch, not working to modern standards as decent folk surely would have, then use this notion as a heuristic and slap it all over our view of that which we seek to study.  What is in it for us to 'colonise' perceptions of the past in this way?

  Clearly we need to work to understand what our ancestors meant by what they said and we need to understand why we believe what we do and the extent to which we believe such a view to be 'safe', so that we can spot contrary evidence when we see it and adjust our view ... because.  Just a thought.

 
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #109 on: August 07, 2020, 07:52:44 PM »
Paul,
I would cite :
the battle of Aarhus which is described in the Battles section of this Forum.
The Bayeux Tapestry where the Front ranks with spear  and bundled javelins are shown operating with the axemen who plausibly are coming through the shield wall to strike at stalled cavalry.
The Courtrai chest which shows ( in my view) front ranks of spear, tgen godendag men, then falchion wielders.

Finally, tge simple logic that mixed weapons impose, so the Scots deploy spears frontally against tge English knights and then have men with lochaber  axes to deal  with horsemen who force their way through the ranks.  If we look at another way, what would be the point of a front ranker with the axe when the arrows are whizzing i.  That’s when you need the overlapped shiels. Then the spears face and halt the cavalry attack.  When the hose has lost impetus, the axes step forward to hack at the stalled  riders.
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #110 on: August 08, 2020, 01:11:33 AM »
Roy,

  I quite agree.

  I was just becoming concerned that the tenor of the discussion shifting in favour of a view that was starting to sound to me like an argument for the operation of semi-organised mobs rather than military formation, E.g.

Quote
doubts about the formality of ranks in any medieval formation before the mid 15th century

and I picked on a counter-example that had been offered, hoping to hear a response like the one you have provided.  It is also what I believe to be true.


  Indeed a suggestion similar in my mind to the one that you make:

Quote
The Bayeux Tapestry where the Front ranks with spear and bundled javelins are shown operating with the axemen who plausibly are coming through the shield wall to strike

was first made in the following form by Horace Round (1893, p92), referring to the depiction in the Bayeux Tapestry:

"... The second group is that which follows immediately on Harold's death.  It may possibly give us the clue to the way in which the two handed-axe was used in connexion with the shield wall.  Two of the huscarls are using that weapon, while two others seem to be protecting them by standing in front of them with shield and sword."

which is to me consistent with the coming through the shield wall that you suggest, but at an earlier stage in that process.  Round (1893 p92-93) then goes on to differ from you by suggesting that:

"The front rank then may have used their swords and formed the shield-wall, while those behind them may have wielded their axes, enabled to do so by their great length.  This, we believe, is a novel suggestion, but it does not profess to be more"

personally I suspect the truth to be somewhere between the two views with axemen sometimes fully stepping out and sometimes using their axe somewhat closer to their colleagues when it did the necessary job, but for this not to lead to incidence of 'fratricide' would have required considerable practice on the part of what from its barracks, such as those at Wallingford could properly be thought of as a standing force.

My point of interest not being if people knew of this but if it were still in the corpus of things which at least some other than me, such as you, still believe to be true.


Reference

Round, H. (1893).  ART. III. - Poème adresssé à Adele, fille de Guillaume le Conquérant par Baudri, abbé de Bourgueil.  Edited by L. Delisle ('Mémoires de la Société des antiquaires de Normandie,' vol. xxviii.). Paris, 1870.  Quarterly Review, John Murray, 1893 pp 73-104
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #111 on: August 08, 2020, 10:40:13 AM »
Quote
  I was just becoming concerned that the tenor of the discussion shifting in favour of a view that was starting to sound to me like an argument for the operation of semi-organised mobs rather than military formation, E.g.

Quote

    doubts about the formality of ranks in any medieval formation before the mid 15th century

With respect Paul, I think you are taking the wrong meaning from what I wrote.  What we are looking at here is a contrast between the "classical" style, emphasised by Justin, of strict ranks, files, intervals and what we can evidence from the Middle Ages.  I cannot see this strict approach in medieval records and, I might suggest, it is a presumption based on other periods of history that makes us assume it existed.  This does not mean I feel that Medieval armies were organised mobs, because they they clearly weren't from the evidence we have. 

For examples from the Early Middle Ages, we can choose a couple of examples from St Olaf's Saga describing the Battle of Sticklestad in 1030 (but written in the early 13th century)

So when the farmers had been assigned to detachments, then the landed men spoke, telling the men in the army to take note of their positions, where each was placed and under which banner each was now supposed to be and in which direction from the banner and how close he was placed to the banner. They told men to be alert now and quick to get into formation when the horns sounded and a war call rang out, and then to advance in formation Chapter 223

Then the farmers’ troops attacked from all sides. Those that were standing furthest forward hewed, while those that were next thrust with spears, and all those that were further back shot spears or arrows or threw stones or hand axes or stone-headed shafts. Chapter 226  (this last might remind folks of the Bayeux Tapestry)

This isn't a professional army, but a levy one, but even so we don't see a semi-organised mob.  Note the orientation isn't about ranks and files but spacial relationships to other men and crucially, the banner.

Roy's speculations on Flemish formations are essentially those of Verbruggen Art of Warfare in Western Europe, who also applies them to the Scots with their spears and axes.  The interpretation of the Coutrai Chest is evidence for the former but Verbruggen is taking a flyer on the Scots. 
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #112 on: August 08, 2020, 12:23:35 PM »
Anthony,

  My apologies, you have a wonderful 'knowledge hoard'.

  It is great to have everyone here share what they know and the basis from which they build their thinking.


  I genuinely was wondering if 'the world' had changed its baseline understanding, but you leave me reassured.

  I am just starting to read Carman and Carman (2020).  They are working to establish an Ontology for the study of Battlefields; so for any work on a Battle, showing understanding in relation to this book, to be shaped by it or disagree is important if considering academic publishing.  What piqued my interest and created for me a connection when I read your words is part of their definition concerning their research agenda, which they describe in the following terms:

  '... [to] ... understand those places where people came together to indulge in organised mass violence'

  This in my mind created images of the violent gangs amongst football crowds, contacting their rival gangs and arranging to meet up around the time of a match in order to 'indulge in ... [at least a little, small scale] ... organised mass violence' ...  and I wondered if the views of the wider world were drifting in that way.

Concerning:

Quote
St Olaf's Saga describing the Battle of Sticklestad in 1030 (but written in the early 13th century)

So when the farmers had been assigned to detachments, then the landed men spoke, telling the men in the army to take note of their positions, where each was placed and under which banner each was now supposed to be and in which direction from the banner and how close he was placed to the banner. They told men to be alert now and quick to get into formation when the horns sounded and a war call rang out, and then to advance in formation Chapter 223

Then the farmers’ troops attacked from all sides. Those that were standing furthest forward hewed, while those that were next thrust with spears, and all those that were further back shot spears or arrows or threw stones or hand axes or stone-headed shafts. Chapter 226  (this last might remind folks of the Bayeux Tapestry)

What I note is something that at least reminds me of the possibility of roles and irregularities of how part of such a line would behave, not to its detriment but to its benefit, allowing the fighting distance that best served the different parts of the line to prevail, the only stipulation being to remember those who are around you ... with for me the implication that they are not valid targets of your weapons ... and roughly keep your place in relation to each other and your banner.

This is against a wider back-drop of increasing specialisation and replication of things that were 'the same' ... so the beginnings of craft specialism, which I would suggest became what I might call a 'moulding vibe that shaped all thought in an age or time' ... there is a wonderful German word which says just this ... but I have forgotten it just now.

The point being that you move from people arriving with the weapons that they have and personally prefer ... where they are combined into an assigned place in a formation; to a rather different world in which troops are of a type with the same equipment and a regular place in rank and file.  If you take the view that 'the same' is the only thing that could be considered 'good' ... in weapons and in spacing and regularity of ranks ... it is possible to miss the wonderful possibility of a battle line of the St Olaf Saga type as a vibrant living organism with many rather different parts, but one carefully envisioned effect, which is very different from much of the more recent military tradition, but a magnificent thing to behold in one's minds eye.  Being someone who much prefers to hear musicians improvise around a theme, rather than replicate an album track note for note in perfect replicated time, the possibility of such a wild self organising kinaesthetic mass of warriors as potentially something even better, is something I respond to.

Concerning bladed weapons as part of a formation, to restore prior order on a formation having been broken in, I am reminded of this pattern continuing in more regular form into the C17th ... so would see no problem with an earlier origin.

Reference

Carman, J. & Carman, P. (2020).  Battlefields: from Event to Heritage.  Oxford University Press
« Last Edit: August 08, 2020, 12:34:35 PM by Paul_Glover »
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #113 on: August 08, 2020, 01:27:52 PM »
Best of luck with Carman and Carman.  I have their earlier "Bloody Meadows", which I found deeply disappointing.  Seemed more interested in long words than systematically understanding battlefields.  Maybe they've got it sorted in the last 15 years :)

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #114 on: August 08, 2020, 01:51:20 PM »
Quote
  I was just becoming concerned that the tenor of the discussion shifting in favour of a view that was starting to sound to me like an argument for the operation of semi-organised mobs rather than military formation, E.g.

Quote

    doubts about the formality of ranks in any medieval formation before the mid 15th century

With respect Paul, I think you are taking the wrong meaning from what I wrote.  What we are looking at here is a contrast between the "classical" style, emphasised by Justin, of strict ranks, files, intervals and what we can evidence from the Middle Ages.  I cannot see this strict approach in medieval records and, I might suggest, it is a presumption based on other periods of history that makes us assume it existed.  This does not mean I feel that Medieval armies were organised mobs, because they they clearly weren't from the evidence we have. 

For examples from the Early Middle Ages, we can choose a couple of examples from St Olaf's Saga describing the Battle of Sticklestad in 1030 (but written in the early 13th century)

So when the farmers had been assigned to detachments, then the landed men spoke, telling the men in the army to take note of their positions, where each was placed and under which banner each was now supposed to be and in which direction from the banner and how close he was placed to the banner. They told men to be alert now and quick to get into formation when the horns sounded and a war call rang out, and then to advance in formation Chapter 223

Then the farmers’ troops attacked from all sides. Those that were standing furthest forward hewed, while those that were next thrust with spears, and all those that were further back shot spears or arrows or threw stones or hand axes or stone-headed shafts. Chapter 226  (this last might remind folks of the Bayeux Tapestry)

This isn't a professional army, but a levy one, but even so we don't see a semi-organised mob.  Note the orientation isn't about ranks and files but spacial relationships to other men and crucially, the banner.

Roy's speculations on Flemish formations are essentially those of Verbruggen Art of Warfare in Western Europe, who also applies them to the Scots with their spears and axes.  The interpretation of the Coutrai Chest is evidence for the former but Verbruggen is taking a flyer on the Scots.

I'm no expert on Mediaeval warfare so these are just my impressions. The text seems to imply at least files as the men are obliged to take note of their positions and where each was placed. So individual placing is important, not just the approximate position in a group. Ranks and strict intervals probably didn't matter that much in the Middle Ages but I think files did. In this case of composite troop types a file would determine who supported who: the front man hews, the second man thrusts with a spear, the men behind throw spears or other weapons. Certainly you will need decent spacing to throw things, and the file is the simplest way of ensure the men get that spacing: the men behind you back off to allow you to cast your weapon and the men on either side are in separate files and hence not in the way.

Ranks would matter only if the formation needed them for manoeuvring, such as turning right or left to confront enemies on the flanks, but that wasn't an issue until the arrival of late Mediaeval pike blocks. Variable spacing probably wasn't a thing as open or close order were rather specialised dispositions not required by Mediaeval infantry. So long as each man had enough space to fight - approximating to the intermediate order of the manuals - that was all that was needed.

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #115 on: August 08, 2020, 05:12:58 PM »
I beg to suggest that you may be missing  something Justin.
The ranks in a unit are not continuous for the whole width of the front. They are capable  of opening to allow cavalry in and out, such as at Bouvines  and Arsuf  where the infantry open to allow the knights to charge the Turks. At the Golden Spurs battle the Flemish  open ranks to allow their crossbowmen to retire into the formation. Byzantine armies  are certainly expected to open and close gaps. Procopius even expects Goths to do it.  These are drilled manoeuvres. It would  be wrong to see the battle line as a series of blobs around a leader and banner as Anthony seemingly suggests.  Is it possible to open and close gaps without sub units of the battle line being able to wheel in order and then retake their position , in order?
I take Richard’s point about the Scots. Its a matter of logic and form following function, mo
aybe a bit if Burnsianism, but then again we are only going to get occasional glimpses of the wotrkings of small, subsidiary units because Western sources do not find them of interest.

How does a Flemish ‘crown’ operate?

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #116 on: August 08, 2020, 05:54:25 PM »
How troops passed through formations is an interesting question.  Did Flemish militia open gaps at Courtrai, or had they left gaps for their crossbowmen to fall back through?  Or did the crossbowmen fall back through the open ranks of the militia, which closed behind them?  I don't think we are told.

Were gaps in formations to let cavalry through covered by "doors" of infantry, which wheeled back and forth or men who parted like the Red Sea on command and then flowed back again?  The Byzantines, as I recall, left gaps for cavalry to enter and exit and if these needed to be blocked, took the rear ranks of adjacent infantry and filled in - no wheeling required and these were armies with definite ranks, files and drill.

It would  be wrong to see the battle line as a series of blobs around a leader and banner as Anthony seemingly suggests.

I didn't say blobs.  It is fairly common from my reading for an army to form round its standards - their leaders know the other leaders and their standards and who they are supposed to be next to.  They know how many men they have and the ground they need.  The men know where they are in relation to the standard and their role (e.g. close protection of standard and leader, front rank on right or left of banner, behind front rank ready to step forward, at the back shouting encouragement and throwing things).  They know who they usually stand with (friends, relatives, people from their village).  Quite quickly, you form a set of organised sub units which coalesce into a battle line.

Quote
How does a Flemish ‘crown’ operate?

I'm not sure anybody knows.  My guess would be they were quite like the description of the Norwegian army at Stamford Bridge in Harald Hardrada's saga. 

Then King Harald arranged his army, and made the line of battle
long, but not deep.  He bent both wings of it back, so that they
met together; and formed a wide ring equally thick all round,
shield to shield, both in the front and rear ranks.  The king
himself and his retinue were within the circle; and there was the
banner, and a body of chosen men.  Earl Toste, with his retinue,
was at another place, and had a different banner.  The army was
arranged in this way, because the king knew that horsemen were
accustomed to ride forwards with great vigour, but to turn back
immediately.  Now the king ordered that his own and the earl's
attendants should ride forwards where it was most required.  "And
our bowmen," said he, "shall be near to us; and they who stand in
the first rank shall set the spear-shaft on the ground, and the
spear-point against the horseman's breast, if he rides at them;
and those who stand in the second rank shall set the spear-point
against the horse's breast."
  Chapter 92






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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #117 on: August 08, 2020, 06:55:06 PM »
But IIRC, crowns move.  Now I can see Harald’s formation Which may well be a thirteenth century deployment,  standing to  fend off Harold until the men from the ships cone up. However, if it can move or if tge later crowns can move then they  beed to be using a system in which subunits can turn, move off and turn back as happened at Arsuf.  I just don’t think they made up such abilities on the day, rather that tgey must have practised. I could  believe tgat when the march  started out Richard had the infantry moving more slowly and getting used to starting, stopping and opening the ‘doors’ . However,, to do this they must have a chain of command that can work together to  get everyone marching, stopping turning and wheeling together,
I suggest that allowing the crossbowmen back is done by closing and then  opening ranks.  In which case the sub units must know which file to close in on from both sides and be able to command it.  I don’t know if you have ever drilled the new squad, but people are all over the place, so I  suggest that these chaps must practise and that  they  would have to be pretty good  at reforming the line firmly, because those crossbowmen could be followed up by enemy cavalry very quickly.
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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #118 on: August 09, 2020, 11:23:24 AM »
Crowns might move.  I've only read the basics (Verbruggen, deVries) on Flemish warfare but the only reference I've seen to a potential moving crown is at Arques in 1303.  Here the crown is attacked by French cavalry who eventually begin to withdraw.  The Flemings follow.  The French turn and threaten to charge and the Flemings resume a defensive formation.  The French withdraw. Repeat several times.  Do the Flemings move in crown formation?  Or do they reform a defensive formation when the French stop?  Do they reform in a crown formation, as the French are now in front of them?  Never enough detail when it gets down to it. 

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Re: Missile weapon ranges in WoR Terry Wise
« Reply #119 on: August 09, 2020, 11:39:20 AM »
I beg to suggest that you may be missing  something Justin.
The ranks in a unit are not continuous for the whole width of the front. They are capable  of opening to allow cavalry in and out, such as at Bouvines  and Arsuf  where the infantry open to allow the knights to charge the Turks. At the Golden Spurs battle the Flemish  open ranks to allow their crossbowmen to retire into the formation. Byzantine armies  are certainly expected to open and close gaps. Procopius even expects Goths to do it.  These are drilled manoeuvres.

There are two fairly easy ways for an infantry line to open gaps for horsemen to pass through: the first is for the files of a subunit to contract from intermediate to open order, opening gaps between the subunits which can be as wide as the subunits themselves.

The second way, which allows the infantry to reform a continuous line more quickly, is to convert files from intermediate to open order, i.e. one file inserts itself into another file, leaving the space it originally occupied free for horses to pass through. The subsequent open order formation will have file gaps about 4 feet wide, quite adequate for the passage of a horse. Once the horses pass through the files can instantly double from open back to intermediate order, ready to receive the enemy.

The second way also has the advantage in that the horses don't have to bunch together to reach subunit gaps of the first method. Their own files, already in the equivalent of infantry open order, can just stream through the infantry file gaps with the minimum of fuss.
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