Author Topic: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD  (Read 30867 times)

aligern

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Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« on: May 25, 2012, 12:11:49 AM »
Chalons, Catalaunian Fields 452 AD

Protagonists]

Hun Empire

Attila the Hun
Ardaric the Gepid
Sciri, Heruls, Bastarnae
Ostrogoths under Valamir, Theudemir and Vidimer
Numbers , Possibly 20-30,000

Western Roman and Visigothic Alliance

The Patrician Aetius with Roman regulars and federates.
Franks,
Sarmatians (settled as Laeti in Gaul)
Theodered King of the Visigoths
Alans under Sangiban
Armoricans
Burgundians
Saxons



   From Jordanes translated by Charles Mierow. On the University of Calgary Website

Chapter 36 ff.

to the thought of victory and the anticipation of pleasure, and his mind turned to the old oracles
189) By these and like arguments the ambassadors of Valentinian prevailed upon King Theodored. He answered them, saying: "Romans, you have attained your desire; you have made Attila our foe also. We will pursue him wherever he summons us, and though he is puffed up by his victories over divers races, yet the Goths know how to fight this haughty foe. I call no war dangerous save one whose cause is weak; for he fears no ill on whom Majesty has smiled." (190) The nobles shouted assent to the reply and the multitude gladly followed. All were fierce for battle and longed to meet the Huns, their foe. And so a countless host was led forth by Theodored, king of the Visigoths, who sent home four of his sons, namely Frideric and Euric, Retemer and Mimnerith, taking with him only the two elder sons, Thorismud and Theodoric, as partners of his toil. O brave array, sure defense and sweet comradeship, having the aid of those who delight to share in the same dangers!
(191) On the side of the Romans stood the Patrician Aëtius, on whom at that time the whole Empire of the West depended; a man of such wisdom that he had assembled warriors from everywhere to meet them on equal terms. Now these were his auxiliaries: Franks, Sarmatians, Armoricians, Liticians, Burgundians, Saxons, Riparians, Olibriones (once Romans soldiers and now the flower of the allied forces), and some other Celtic or German tribes. (192) And so they met in the Catalaunian Plains, which are also called Mauriacian, extending in length one hundred leagues, as the Gauls express it, and seventy in width. Now a Gallic league measures a distance of fifteen hundred paces. That portion of the earth accordingly became the threshing-floor of countless races. The two hosts bravely joined battle. Nothing was done under cover, but they contended in open fight. (193) What just cause can be found for the encounter of so many nations, or what hatred inspired them all to take arms against each other? It is proof that the human race lives for its kings, for it is at the mad impulse of one mind a slaughter of nations takes place, and at the whim of a haughty ruler that which nature has taken ages to produce perishes in a moment.

XXXVII (194) But before we set forth the order of the battle itself, it seems needful to relate what had already happened in the course of the campaign, for it was not only a famous struggle but one that was complicated and confused. Well then, Sangiban, king of the Alani, smitten with fear of what might come to pass, had promised to surrender to Attila, and to give into his keeping Aureliani, a city of Gaul wherein he dwelt. (195) When Theodored and Aëtius learned of this, they cast up great earthworks around that city before Attila's arrival and kept watch over the suspected Sangiban, placing him with his tribe in the midst of their auxiliaries. Then Attila, king of the Huns, was taken aback by this event and lost confidence in his own troops, so that he feared to begin the conflict. While he was meditating on flight--a greater calamity than death itself--he decided to inquire into the future through soothsayers. (196) So, as was their custom, they examined the entrails of cattle and certain streaks in bones that had been scraped, and foretold disaster to the Huns. Yet as a slight consolation they prophesied that the chief commander of the foe they were to meet should fall and mar by his death the rest of the victory and the triumph. Now Attila deemed the death of Aëtius a thing to be desired even at the cost of his own life, for Aëtius stood in the way of his plans. So although he was disturbed by this prophecy, yet inasmuch as he was a man who sought counsel of omens in all warfare, he began the battle with anxious heart at about the ninth hour of the day, in order that the impending darkness might come to his aid if the outcome should be disastrous.

XXXVIII (197) The armies met, as we have said, in the Catalaunian Plains. The battle field was a plain rising by a sharp slope to a ridge, which both armies sought to gain; for advantage of position is a great help. The Huns with their forces seized the right side, the Romans, the Visigoths and their allies the left, and then began a struggle for the yet untaken crest. Now Theodorid with the Visigoths held the right wing and Aëtius with the Romans the left. They placed in the centre Sangiban (who, as said before, was in command of the Alani), thus contriving with military caution to surround by a host of faithful troops the man in whose loyalty they had little confidence. For one who has difficulties placed in the way of his flight readily submits to the necessity of fighting. (198) On the other side, however, the battle line of the Huns was arranged so that Attila and his bravest followers were stationed in the centre. In arranging them thus the king had chiefly his own safety in view, since by his position in the very midst of his race he would be kept out of the way of threatening danger. The innumerable peoples of the divers tribes, which he had subjected to his sway, formed the wings. (199) Amid them was conspicuous the army of the Ostrogoths under the leadership of the brothers Valamir, Thiudimer and Vidimer, nobler even than the king they served, for the might of the family of the Amali rendered them glorious. The renowned king of the Gepidae, Ardaric, was there also with a countless host, and because of his great loyalty to Attila, he shared his plans. For Attila, comparing them in his wisdom, prized him and Valamir, king of the Ostrogoths, above all the other chieftains. (200) Valamir was a good keeper of secrets, bland of speech and skilled in wiles, and Ardaric, as we have said, was famed for his loyalty and wisdom. Attila might well feel sure that they would fight against the Visigoths, their kinsmen. Now the rest of the crowd of kings (if we may call them so) and the leaders of various nations hung upon Attila's nod like slaves, and when he gave a sign even by a glance, without a murmur each stood forth in fear and trembling, or at all events did as he was bid. (201) Attila alone was king of all kings over all and concerned for all.
So then the struggle began for the advantage of position we have mentioned. Attila sent his men to take the summit of the mountain, but was outstripped by Thorismud and Aëtius, who in their effort to gain the top of the hill reached higher ground and through this advantage of position easily routed the Huns as they came up.

XXXIX (202) Now when Attila saw his army was thrown into confusion by this event, he thought it best to encourage them by an extemporaneous address on this wise: "Here you stand, after conquering mighty nations and subduing the world. I therefore think it foolish for me to goad you with words, as though you were men who had not been proved in action. Let a new leader or an untried army resort to that. (203) It is not right for me to say anything common, nor ought you to listen. For what is war but your usual custom? Or what is sweeter for a brave man than to seek revenge with his own hand? It is a right of nature to glut the soul with vengeance. (204) Let us then attack the foe eagerly; for they are ever the bolder who make the attack. Despise this union of discordant races! To defend oneself by alliance is proof of cowardice. See, even before our attack they are smitten with terror. They seek the heights, they seize the hills and, repenting too late, clamor for protection against battle in the open fields. You know how slight a matter the Roman attack is. While they are still gathering in order and forming in one line with locked shields, they are checked, I will not say by the first wound, but even by the dust of battle. (205) Then on to the fray with stout hearts, as is your wont. Despise their battle line. Attack the Alani, smite the Visigoths! Seek swift victory in that spot where the battle rages. For when the sinews are cut the limbs soon relax, nor can a body stand when you have taken away the bones. Let your courage rise and your own fury burst forth! Now show your cunning, Huns, now your deeds of arms! Let the wounded exact in return the death of his foe; let the unwounded revel in slaughter of the enemy. (206) No spear shall harm those who are sure to live; and those who are sure to die Fate overtakes even in peace. And finally, why should Fortune have made the Huns victorious over so many nations, unless it were to prepare them for the joy of this conflict. Who was it revealed to our sires the path through the Maeotian swamp, for so many ages a closed secret? Who, moreover, made armed men yield to you, when you were as yet unarmed? Even a mass of federated nations could not endure the sight of the Huns. I am not deceived in the issue;--here is the field so many victories have promised us. I shall hurl the first spear at the foe. If any can stand at rest while Attila fights, he is a dead man." Inflamed by these words, they all dashed into battle.

XL (207) And although the situation was itself fearful, yet the presence of their king dispelled anxiety and hesitation. Hand to hand they clashed in battle, and the fight grew fierce, confused, monstrous, unrelenting--a fight whose like no ancient time has ever recorded. There such deeds were done that a brave man who missed this marvellous spectacle could not hope to see anything so wonderful all his life long. (208) For, if we may believe our elders, a brook flowing between low banks through the plain was greatly increased by blood from the wounds of the slain. It was not flooded by showers, as brooks usually rise, but was swollen by a strange stream and turned into a torrent by the increase of blood. Those whose wounds drove them to slake their parching thirst drank water mingled with gore. In their wretched plight they were forced to drink what they thought was the blood they had poured from their own wounds.
(209) Here King Theodored, while riding by to encourage his army, was thrown from his horse and trampled under foot by his own men, thus ending his days at a ripe old age. But others say he was slain by the spear of Andag of the host of the Ostrogoths, who were then under the sway of Attila. This was what the soothsayers had told to Attila in prophecy, though he understood it of Aëtius. (210) Then the Visigoths, separating from the Alani, fell upon the horde of the Huns and nearly slew Attila. But he prudently took flight and straightway shut himself and his companions within the barriers of the camp, which he had fortified with wagons. A frail defence indeed; yet there they sought refuge for their lives, whom but a little while before no walls of earth could withstand. (211) But Thorismud, the son of King Theodored, who with Aëtius had seized the hill and repulsed the enemy from the higher ground, came unwittingly to the wagons of the enemy in the darkness of night, thinking he had reached his own lines. As he was fighting bravely, someone wounded him in the head and dragged him from his horse. Then he was rescued by the watchful care of his followers and withdrew from the fierce conflict. (212) Aëtius also became separated from his men in the confusion of night and wandered about in the midst of the enemy. Fearing disaster had happened, he went about in search of the Goths. At last he reached the camp of his allies and passed the remainder of the night in the protection of their shields.
At dawn on the following day, when the Romans saw the fields were piled high with bodies and that the Huns did not venture forth, they thought the victory was theirs, but knew that Attila would not flee from the battle unless overwhelmed by a great disaster. Yet he did nothing cowardly, like one that is overcome, but with clash of arms sounded the trumpets and threatened an attack. He was like a lion pierced by hunting spears, who paces to and fro before the mouth of his den and dares not spring, but ceases not to terrify the neighborhood by his roaring. Even so this warlike king at bay terrified his conquerors. (213) Therefore the Goths and Romans assembled and considered what to do with the vanquished Attila. They determined to wear him out by a siege, because he had no supply of provisions and was hindered from approaching by a shower of arrows from the bowmen placed within the confines of the Roman camp. But it was said that the king remained supremely brave even in this extremity and had heaped up a funeral pyre of horse trappings, so that if the enemy should attack him, he was determined to cast himself into the flames, that none might have the joy of wounding him and that the lord of so many races might not fall into the hands of his foes.

XLI (214) Now during these delays in the siege, the Visigoths sought their king and the king's sons their father, wondering at his absence when success had been attained. When, after a long search, they found him where the dead lay thickest, as happens with brave men, they honored him with songs and bore him away in the sight of the enemy. You might have seen bands of Goths shouting with dissonant cries and paying the honors of death while the battle still raged. Tears were shed, but such as they were accustomed to devote to brave men. It was death indeed, but the Huns are witness that it was a glorious one. It was a death whereby one might well suppose the pride of the enemy would be lowered, when they beheld the body of so great a king borne forth with fitting honors. (215) And so the Goths, still continuing the rites due to Theodored, bore forth the royal majesty with sounding arms, and valiant Thorismud, as befitted a son, honored the glorious spirit of his dear father by following his remains.
When this was done, Thorismud was eager to take vengeance for his father's death on the remaining Huns, being moved to this both by the pain of bereavement and the impulse of that valor for which he was noted. Yet he consulted with the Patrician Aëtius (for he was an older man and of more mature wisdom) with regard to what he ought to do next. (216) But Aëtius feared that if the Huns were totally destroyed by the Goths, the Roman Empire would be overwhelmed, and urgently advised him to return to his own dominions to take up the rule which his father had left. Otherwise his brothers might seize their father's possessions and obtain the power over the Visigoths. In this case Thorismud would have to fight fiercely and, what is worse, disastrously with his own countrymen. Thorismud accepted the advice without perceiving its double meaning, but followed it with an eye toward his own advantage. So he left the Huns and returned to Gaul. (217) Thus while human frailty rushes into suspicion, it often loses an opportunity of doing great things.
In this most famous war of the bravest tribes, one hundred and sixty five thousand are said to have been slain on both sides, leaving out of account fifteen thousand of the Gepidae and Franks, who met each other the night before the general engagement and fell by wounds mutually received, the Franks fighting for the Romans and the Gepidae for the Huns.
(218) Now when Attila learned of the retreat of the Goths, he thought it a ruse of the enemy,--for so men are wont to believe when the unexpected happens--and remained for some time in his camp. But when a long silence followed the absence of the foe, the spirit of the mighty king was aroused of his destiny.
Thorismud, however, after the death of his father on the Catalaunian Plains where he had fought, advanced in royal state and entered Tolosa. Here although the throng of his brothers and brave companions were still rejoicing over the victory he yet began to rule so mildly that no one strove with him for the succession to the kingdom 



CommentaryIn some ways this is a climactic victory. Supposedly it prevents a Hun conquest of Gaul and transfer of Hunnic power to the West that might have enabled a Hun takeover of the Roman Empire. Actually Hun power was fragile in the long term because it depended upon the life of Attila and the continuing distribution of loot to the kings in his train.
The description of armies as lists of barbarian contingents with some fictional ones added to increase the glory of the general is particular to the Vth century. Sidonius Apollinaris describes a train of barbarian nations attending the emperor Majorian and the army that puts Odovacar into power in Italy in 476 was composed of Heruls, Sciri, Rugi, Goths etc. In this case both armies are alliances. With so many contingents it is likely that  the forces are elite warriors, perhaps all mounted. Aetius Roman  regulars will have been small in number. Some of his list of 'allies' includes semi regular Roman troops such as the Armorici and Olibriones ( a case has been made that these are Roman garrison troops).
In terms of dispositions, Aetius may well have had Thorismud and some Visigoths with him and the Visigoths under Theodered on the other flank. that makes sense of the attack on the hill and that Thorismud , returning to his father at night reaches Attila's camp. The Alans are placed in the middle , a conventional post for troops who are not trustworthy.  Perhaps on Attila's side the Ostrogoths face their Visigoth cousins which would make sense of Jordanes depiction of them being loyal and willing enough to do so and of the story of Andag perhaps killing Theodered.
 It is difficult to imagine that the Huns operate as skirmishing archers, especially as they take the centre of Attila's line, opposing the Alans.  The sense is of a close order battle. There is no evidence here of the Huns fighting dismounted as has been suggested by Ferrill.
As to numbers, Attila is in retreat from Orleans. His army has already suffered from the strategic consumption of a long march and a siege, so it is likely that it is smaller than the allied host, but not so much smaller that the Huns would decline battle because they come to the field and are not forced. Hence the withdrawal is probably to give them a fair field..
The puzzle of the ridge is whether it is on the flank of the battle or across the middle. Having postulated that  Aetius and Thorismud are acting together on a flank to take the ridge it makes most sense if the ridge is on the flank, but the evidence is not conclusive. However, it would be odd for both armies to deploy with a steep ridge to their front concealing the enemy. That area of France has extensive flat, open, chalk plains with good visibility, very likely little changed from the period of the battle.
Jordanes take on numbers is simply incredible. They are probably high for a battle of this period because of the number of contingents on both sides, but given the impoverished nature of Gaul since the invasion of 410 AD it is unlikely that armies much over 20,000 men could hold together for a long campaign and Attila's men had come from Hungary and added allies on the way.
RGB


« Last Edit: June 29, 2012, 08:48:04 AM by aligern »
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Patrick Waterson

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2012, 11:14:08 AM »
Very nice, Roy.  Thoughtful commentary.

The point about Huns (and for that matter their Alan immediate opponents) not fighting as skirmishing archers in this battle is an interesting one.  The overall Hun force pattern seems to have followed the usual nomad configuration of rich chaps in armour using their own bows and lances and poor chaps without it using their own bows and arrows, but in a set-piece battle like this they could well have deployed in a shoot-and-shock formation with the armoured nobility in front and everyone else in supporting ranks behind.

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aligern

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2012, 05:38:33 PM »
I increasingly feel that horse archer armies fight with units in much closer order than we show them on the table top where light cavalry are depicted as at two thirds the density of 'heavy' cavalry.  What descriptions I have seen imply that they can close up to fight quite easily and are not necessarily disadvantaged in hand to hand combat. Whilst I agree that the better off have more armour I suggest that this goes quite deep into the formation if they have the money for the kit and that armoured men are just as happy to skirmish as unarmoured men. I am not at all sure that the model of having separate units of armoured nobles isn't just a wargames rationalisation because we see armoured troops as 'heavy' cavalry. If you take the nobles out of the horse  archer units then are they not deprived of natural units.  Of course an army such as the Parthians would argue against that.

 Of course, if you have a string of spare ponies it is easy for the richer guys to have fresh horses.

I must, at some point do a Slingshot article about armoured Huns.

I am pretty convinced that the Alans are armoured lancer cavalry at this battle. There is a source that refers directly to armoured Alans under Goar in Gaul.
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tadamson

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2012, 10:08:10 AM »
Such evidence as there is for the Huns is that they fought just like any other horse archer army.

Small units that are social-military groups (families, clans, tribes) with mixed equipment (every man has horses, bow and sword, most have lances and armour - leather or metallic -; rich folk have more armour, extra swords or maces, helmets etc).

Start in 'effectively' loose order, riding around, demonstrating horse skills, looking tough, firing off long range shots.
Then small groups (from 2-3 to 100) close up, gallop towards the enemy shooting off heavy arrows. If the enemy stand, they veer across the enemies front loosing accurate shots with heavy arrows at officers, heroes, exposed men etc.  If the enemy look like they are wavering, then the group charge home into melee and the rest of the unit close up and charge in. 

These tactics were also used by heavily armoured troops on armoured horses (eg Liao cavalry) they are not really indicative of 'skirmishers in open order', they are very difficult for non missile cavalry to real with.

As for separate 'units' of armoured nobles. Historically this is only seen occasionally, and has to be pre arranged by a strong (or notably smart)  leader. It is a 'trick' tactic and always has a specific target.

Even Parthians work like this. Roman accounts describe the cataphracts 'hiding' amongst the lighter cavalry, not fully understanding the nature of the mixed units.

Tom..
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aligern

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2012, 03:30:32 PM »
It depends a bit on what you mean by 'Any other horsearcher army'.
 Are Sasanids a horse archer army? are Mamluks?   are Pechenegs? Avars?
I suspect that there are substantial variations in style if we dig deeper. I'd probably also hink that some armies can have several styles of operation because true horsebow armies are  professionally competent.
Belisarius' Huns operate in a small unit, shooting and retreating and then dogging their opponents who only have spear and javelin.  However, that is not an army in operation. I am happy that such Huns can charge in hard if they want to.  As horsearchers they can choose to initiate combat after they have weekened the opponent with missiles.
Belisarius' lasy battle where he fights the Kutrigurs with javelin cavalry  is an example where the horse archers are crowded in so that they cannot operate effectively. That might just be being crowded in in a way that no cavalry could be effective of course.


There's also a difference between being in loose order as individuals and being in loose order as small blobby units that can move fast and , as you say, run along the faceof an opponent in single line shooting, ever prepared to make a half turn and flee any attack and  then retiribg on the main body when they have been across the enemy front.

I'd take Parthians as being an army that did brigade lights and heavies separately. Certainly Plutarch and Tacitus talk of them as separate entities, but that does not preclude specific units of the lighter cavalry operating around the cataphracts. As the Cataphracts also have bows they may well tand and shoot before charging in or may stand shooting giving th lighter chaps a place of safety retire behind.
Do you see Sasanids as different@ To me they are moving around in solid blocks shooting in lines, en masse and with skirishing 'light' horse operating around them.

Roy
Tom, Is there a good description of Huns in battle?  i.e. a whole army of them?
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tadamson

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2012, 10:52:06 AM »
Ok, in order sort of :-)

'any other horsearcher army' -  I was thinking of Central Asian Turco-Mongol or Iranian, 'tribal' army based primarily on horsed nomadic peoples.  There is a very strong similarity in tactics amongst such armies over a huge area and time range. Over time the armour gets commoner and heavier but much else stays the same.   The Alan/Hun -> Hun/Alan -> Hun  group is clearly part of this.  Though later Gothic influence needs deeper investigation.

Parthians - A fascinating army in a tactical sense. Western authors concentrate on the 'cataphracts' and some (but not all) accounts describe them as operating in separate units.  This is new and different (eg compare the acounts of contemporary Armenian troops), and may be the start of the 'Persian' style that is normally assumed to be a Sasanid development (leading to later Mamluke armies). This adds the 'shower shooting' as a mass tactic (though the later also develops, somewhat later, in North China/Manchuria).

Is there a good description of an army of Huns in battle? - Not that I can think of.  Most Western accounts are "there's thousands of em!" or "it was Huns".
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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2012, 01:30:38 PM »
I tend to think of the Sasanian army in the earlier period operating similarly to the Parthians in some respects, but it is clear that in this period they operated in agnatic groupings. The transition is interesting in the reforms of Khusrau, as to me this is very similar to the much later transition in later medieval Europe from a 'noble' based retinue army to one that is much more professional. We know that wages were paid, and postings to remote areas were bemoaned.
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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2012, 01:11:14 AM »
I agree Doug, the reforms that 'professionalise' the Sasanian army mark an important break with tradition, possibly because the Shah is seeking to  remove power from the great noble families and establish a direct relationship between the minor nobility and the throne without the mediation of the noble houses. Do you think that this is directly linked to the move towards units of armoured close order horse archers firing barrages of arrows faster than Byzantine horsebows , but with  less power in the shot?

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2012, 04:30:59 AM »
The interesting part for me is the move to centralised training - which seems to really mark a break with tradition, (and we first encounter the term 'Paladin') - I am not sure whether under the earlier armies there were significant regional variations, but is seems likely that given the feudal nature there would have been real difficulties in coordinating the different capabilities. The later armies were all supposed to have significant training in bow, sidearm, lance etc, so it would have made for a much more uniform combat capability. It is interesting to speculate whether those boys who were schooled together also habitually fought together, and so each of the schools could be viewed as a regimental training depot.

I also think there is good evidence (written, sigilligraphic)  for heavily armoured cavalry until very late in the period, certainly 6th Century. Now early battle accounts suggests that at least some of the very heavily armoured cataphracts were brigaded or habitually fought together. This seems to fly in the face of depictions as a feudal host where the grouping would consist of the most senior noble family plus attached retainers and extended family less well equipped.

One possible explanation may be that there were 'Royal Husehold' regiments (and it is notable that the cataphracts are listed only in relation to attacks by the Royal army), 'The Immortals' etc.. who were exceptionally well equipped even early on, that only small numbers of cataphract armoured horse were available to the noble families, and then later, the noble families were replaced by the new class of Dehquan trained cavalry in 'Royal' armies, with the four quarters generals restricted to a small number of centrally equipped and trained cavalry, but also accompanied by a regional levy of nobles and retainers.

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2012, 08:45:32 AM »
I do think that at least early on the regional armies would have been different. Looking at the Parthians I wonder if the army composed entirely of cataphracts and light horse was effectively an eastern regional army shifted west to cover the front whilst the western troops were deployed in the north.

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2012, 09:17:20 AM »
That fits with my (little) readings on Carrahe, Jim.

Would that we had more information on the composition of that main army though, since the basic Parthian army list is pretty dull.
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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2012, 09:44:21 AM »
Plutarch represents at least the core of the Carrhae army as the familial host of the Suren, presumably his clan. It thus takes no account of the contributions from cities, hill tribes, Indo Parthians  etc.

Contra the idea that the Carrhae army is special is the depiction of the forces used against Mark Anthony and the battle against the Sarmatians. These both accommodate easily to an army of horse archers, light lancers and cataphracts with mail and lance/bow.

Of course that might be because it is the mobile army that we see in contact with the Romans.
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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2012, 09:58:24 AM »
My point in introducing the Parthians and Sasanians as comparanda here was to attack the problem of how Attila's Huns fight at Chalons. Are they  horse archers in the wargaming sense of being light horse , or are they more solid, shooting in volleys and then charging al la Sasanian/Mamluk style.
If they are in loose order  and mainly skirmishing then Attila has his German heavies on the flanks and a very open centre.  Of course that could give the Allies a further reason for putting the armoured Alans in the middle as they could better stand the arrows of the Huns.
My view is that the Huns are operating in 'close order' with shooting as preparation for charges and that is because they are Attila's most reliable troops.

Given our conventional representation of horse archer armies why doesn't Attila put the Huns on the flanks and attempt encirclement. , after all it is a great big flat plain that the battle is being fought on.

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DougM

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2012, 10:12:10 AM »
During the DBMM development phase, I suggested that certain types of Light horse should be able to operate in closed or open formations. Basically one deep, they act as dispersed light horse, riding up to take aimed shots at relatively close range, but largely untouchable by heavy infantry. When massed (represented as two deep) they had closed up and were now acting like cavalry, shooting themselves into close combat. I think this models aggressive, missile armed light horse such as Huns quite well.

Ultimately a close variant was adopted for DBMM2, and this actually works quite well.

I also suggested cavalry interactions should reflect the level of commitment by the cavalry, ride up shoot, not much damage inflicted and virtually none suffered, or 'go for broke' and have a hugely increased risk of damage for both sides. I thought this would reflect a cavalry style combat where it was either a bit of 'handbags at 10 paces' or 'get stuck in'. I think it was a shame it wasn't fully adopted.

I think the 'get stuck in' option would only be used versus unsteady or disordered foot, so at Chalons I can only think that the Huns had a pretty low opinion of the infantry they were facing.
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Jim Webster

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Re: Chalons or Catalaunian Fields 452 AD
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2012, 11:15:58 AM »
That fits with my (little) readings on Carrahe, Jim.

Would that we had more information on the composition of that main army though, since the basic Parthian army list is pretty dull.

Have you seen the DBMM army lists for Parthians, they're less dull than they were  ;D

Jim
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