How to tell who is a Knight.

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Marcus Woodhouse
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

A falchion is useful in the same way as the grosse messer was in germany (and both esentially mean "big knife"). There were lots of places Dijon, Milan, Rome, Florence, Turin, Venice to name a few that had strict rules about carrying swords, a falchion however is not a sword, its a big knife (has only one edge see) and so it is a good weapon to carry about town. Italian armies relied on heavy cavalry and cannon (mercenaries) backed up by milita foot. macheavelli was oppossed to the condorttii system as he felt it had been the downfall of Milan. In fact Italian armies had beaten Turks, germans, Swiss and French forces both before and after fornovo in 1492. he has greatly distorted the image of these troops, many of whom were no more mercenary than say those who served as "fee men" in the rest of Europe. The Company of St. Maritius were "mercenaries" in so far as they did not all come from the Duchy of Savoy (most were exiles from Scicily and naples) but they only served the Duke of Savoy ( and after the duchy was absorbed the French). And in Burgundian service (following the French costume) household archers were equipped with glaives and hand and half swordss. Its all laid down in the Ordiannances if you wish to look further.
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Post by lidimy »

Ah, see I have only read Mach. as a source from the period so I didn't know how an argument could be formed to oppose his views (him being such a persuasive chap and all.) Do the advantages of mercenaries outweigh the disadvantages?

BTW thanks for clarifying the difference between a knife and sword - didn't know that :D
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Post by gregory23b »

"You mean after spending half a life honing his ie. shooting skills he would decide to take up a bill a change his career? I don't think so, cause his life depended on skill to kill:) "


Seeing as there is mention of archers using mauls, why would using a staff weapon like a bill be so odd? What training did they have for leaden maul use?

Given that the majority of the English armies were made up of archers how do you think that battles were resolved once the shooting stopped? hand to hand, with weapons of choice.

Also, archery was rarely a career in normal circumstances (long running wars excepted), it was primarily an obligation, some did make careers out of being good, but the vast majority had normal jobs like making shoes, digging pits etc.
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Post by Hraefn »

Falchion/hanger/backsword/sabre/cutlass lalalalalala..... we tend to try and catagorise stuff alot more than was done in history. For falchion read single edged up close and dirty fighting hacking type meat cleaver. Cheaper to produce, will work against most forms of body protection as long as you know where to hit it/poke it, does the job. There's a whole section of on fighting with a 'falchion' in Talhoffer inc some very nasty moves
You use what you can afford, feel comfy with or does the job soooooo if'n all you's got is great great great great grandaddys rusty ol' langseax then thats what you use,if you've scavanged a nice sword from a corpse ditto, if you've managed to ransome some french nob after the last scrap you were in and decided to invest in a custom made 'hand and a half/bastard/etc(pick your own prefered terminology) sword in the burgundian style complete with knobs whistles bells flashing lights an' sirens.....well you get the idea.
There were minimum requirements listed for troops, archers turning out would be expected to bring f'instance a bow, spare strings, a sheaf of arrows, a helm, a jack or mail shirt and a knife. I'm sure Mr 23b will have links to various commissions of array.
Whilst we're on the wotr thing most troops (not all) by then were at least semi pro soldiers payed by the lords rather than the indentured troops of the earlier periods.

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Post by narvek »

gregory23b wrote:"You mean after spending half a life honing his ie. shooting skills he would decide to take up a bill a change his career? I don't think so, cause his life depended on skill to kill:) "


Seeing as there is mention of archers using mauls, why would using a staff weapon like a bill be so odd? What training did they have for leaden maul use?

Given that the majority of the English armies were made up of archers how do you think that battles were resolved once the shooting stopped? hand to hand, with weapons of choice.

Also, archery was rarely a career in normal circumstances (long running wars excepted), it was primarily an obligation, some did make careers out of being good, but the vast majority had normal jobs like making shoes, digging pits etc.
The mauls were used to break a formation too close to shoot at, or defended by shields. When talking about taking a bill, i meant a "pro" bill-staber, used to walk in formations, etc...
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Post by gregory23b »

What is a 'pro-bill'?

Where are the mentions of billmen? other than as someone without a bow who happened to have a:

bill, glaive, langue deboef, spear? all contemporary terms and used alongside each other

What are these 'bill' formations?, where are they mentioned?
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Post by Hraefn »

Do the advantages of mercenaries outweigh the disadvantages?
Hawkwood did okay out of it and apparently there is no record of him ever being knighted(although I've been wrong on many occasions)........
sorry dealing with a puking 11mth old a stressed and sleep deprived Mem sahib and post op drugs where was I going with this

summat to do with 'Needle John' Hawkwood and mercenarys..... no gone completley
In medieval Italy and Spain the term Inglese mean Mercenary or robber
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Post by lidimy »

So the only reason Mach. is so strident is because of the effect of mercenaries on his locale (so to speak)? I mean, he really is quite determined to put any prospective Prince off the use of them isn't he! Yet they were obviously quite extensively used none the less! What a predicament :lol:
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Post by Hraefn »

The mauls were used to break a formation too close to shoot at, or defended by shields.

Maul is a big mallet/beetle and methinks they are using them coz it's the nearest thing to hand that will hurt the guys in front of them rather than any preplanned tactical thing.

bill, glaive, langue deboef, spear?
Nasty sharp thing on a stick used for hurting people, terminology varies from country to country writer to writer and has been made worse by the huge tables in the D&D rules assigning each type different damage.
Legend has it the the English liked things up close and personal so tended to use staff weapons of around 6ft (nigh on 2m in new money).

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Post by narvek »

gregory23b wrote:What is a 'pro-bill'?

Where are the mentions of billmen? other than as someone without a bow who happened to have a:

bill, glaive, langue deboef, spear? all contemporary terms and used alongside each other

What are these 'bill' formations?, where are they mentioned?
pro(fessional) bill....and bill is anything with is long ans spikey and/or cutty and nasty
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Post by narvek »

narvek wrote:
gregory23b wrote:What is a 'pro-bill'?

Where are the mentions of billmen? other than as someone without a bow who happened to have a:

bill, glaive, langue deboef, spear? all contemporary terms and used alongside each other

What are these 'bill' formations?, where are they mentioned?
pro(fessional) billmen (guy with bill)....and bill is anything with is long ans spikey and/or cutty and nasty
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Isn't semi pro just another way of saying amature. Taking a condorta was a professional move in italy. you had mercenary "schools" attached to the big companies. It meant it was a full time job, which meant you trained at it, that you became specalised. Everywhere else you only came out to fight if and when you needed to. You were a farmer, who happened to be spend Sundays at the butts, you were a knight who spent most of his time managing an estate or attending court.
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Post by narvek »

I guess I'm to old (my period) for you guys...droping out.
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Post by gregory23b »

"pro(fessional) bill....and bill is anything with is long ans spikey and/or cutty and nasty"

That does not answer the question, merely states a weapon type and is totally applicable to 1350 btw.
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Post by Dave B »

I think it is also fair to say that some men who were common soldiers such as archers, made quite a lot of money fighting abroad and moved up the social ladder, either to be leaders of groups of men, or bringing home the booty and setting themselves up as landowners etc.

Fastolf started as a faily ordinary sort of gentleman and became a very important one, but I think there is a well documented example of a low-born chap who became an important gent, starting with a stint in the calais garrison perhaps. the name escapes me at the moment but I'll look it up when I get the chance.
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Is he the fella who was killed by a handgunner defending some drawbridge in Spain or a different guy? If it is, he was Edward Platter. He served under Talbot, Warwick, then Hastings and then Dorset and was killed by Moors in the 1480's. He made quite a lot of money, sent his son off to become a squire but never managed to rise to that status himself. Although he began a proper military career as a common archer he certainly died wearing full plate and fighting with an pollaxe and seems to have been given some commander type title. There was also that other guy whose name i can look up who after fighting for Lancaster joined the Burgundian army, raised a company of English archers for the Grand Bastard, and saw them nearly wiped out at Nancy in 1477 (he brought back about 30 of the 100 or so he originally raised). The porblem the duke of Burgundy created for himself was in trying to create a "perfect" mercenary army. He had English archers, German gunners, Spanish miners/sappers, Italian heavy horse, Hungarian light horse, all mixed in with local milita, levied men at arms and the households of the Burgundian nobility. On paper it meant he had the best of the best but in reality it was a command and control nightmare (with the English and Italians being amongst the worst). It's quite clear from the actual battles he fought that in nearly every instance not one contingent knew what the rest were doing, Morat being the best example when his "planned" retreat that was meant to lure the Swiss onto the "horns" of his his toughened flanks (taking his cue from Hannibal) turned into a total route because those wings had not been told that was going to happen and saw his feighned retreat as the real deal. Charles the Bold would have been an excellent general if he had stuck to writing Ordinnances that banned women from camps, clearly laid out what equippment and terms of pay and service were and kept himself busy designing flags and banners.
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Post by Hraefn »

"were at least semi pro soldiers "
Sorry bad phrase! should be half (no thats too much of a definate for history how 'bout) There was a core of professional soldiers retained permenantly by the 'lord' and paid an annuity. This household troop of professional soldiers/retainers were supplimented in time of conflict by calling up the TA (Levys, indentured troops etc). The 1450s suffered a similar glut of soldiers returned from fighting in France with the end of the 100YW to the late 14thC and the lull caused by the 1360 Treaty of Bretigny.
These guys are payed serious money for the time, in 1467 Sir John Howard hired an archer to his household he was paid £10 a year(knights wages!) given 2 gowns and a house for his wife, 2shillings and 8d, two doublets worth 10s and a new gown(livery coat?) and later 4 bows @ 5s 11d each, bow case, shooting glove and a sheaf of arrows @ 5s. You don't tend to lash that much cash on a part-timer. Or mebbe summat was going on that Mrs Howard should have known about :)
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Post by Colin Middleton »

Hraefn wrote:"were at least semi pro soldiers "
Sorry bad phrase! should be half (no thats too much of a definate for history how 'bout) There was a core of professional soldiers retained permenantly by the 'lord' and paid an annuity. This household troop of professional soldiers/retainers were supplimented in time of conflict by calling up the TA (Levys, indentured troops etc). The 1450s suffered a similar glut of soldiers returned from fighting in France with the end of the 100YW to the late 14thC and the lull caused by the 1360 Treaty of Bretigny.
These guys are payed serious money for the time, in 1467 Sir John Howard hired an archer to his household he was paid £10 a year(knights wages!) given 2 gowns and a house for his wife, 2shillings and 8d, two doublets worth 10s and a new gown(livery coat?) and later 4 bows @ 5s 11d each, bow case, shooting glove and a sheaf of arrows @ 5s. You don't tend to lash that much cash on a part-timer. Or mebbe summat was going on that Mrs Howard should have known about :)
Can you point me to any sources on this? The more I've looked into it, the more convinced I've become that the 'Household Troops' aren't the professional soldier that I had envisaged, but instead they are the household staff (stable boy, cook, steward, etc), given weapons and armour from the armour house and taken with the lord. This means that they are better equiped than most, better motivated (they loose everything if their lord dies) and tend to be used lots, so get experience quickly. Indentured men appear to be something separate, men with a lifetime commitment to a lord, that can be called up with their household when required. They will be more like the lord's "sub-knights". Then I guess that you hire up the local tennants and any militia you can find to fill up the numbers. I'd love to pin this down closer, but most books seem to look at either the military side or the civilian side of households, and completely ignore the other as though it didn't exist.
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Post by Colin Middleton »

I'm very wary of using the term Falchion as an 'archer's sword'. Acording to Miles & Padock, the Falchion was fashionable with knights (and others) in the later 13th C and the 14th C as the wide blade gave it a heavy punch against improving armour. They claim that it fell out of favour in the 15th C, though a few knights started using it later in the period. I have seen a few picutes of these broad bladed falchions in the 15th C manuscripts, but I can't remember any in the hands of archers.

Another weapon that is often described as a falchion is a straight bladed, single edged sword with the knucklebow. This seems synonimous with the german 'messer', the 'long knife' used in hungary and other weapons across the continent. I am inclined to refer to this weapon as a 'hanger' or possibly it is the 'tuck' which was a long knife used by the English in war for centuries.

Lots of pictures of archers appear to show them with 'arming swords' (I'm using the Capwell definition here of a short, double-edged straight blade, that can comfortably be worn with armour). This backs up the Bridgeport muster where there is almost no mention of falchions, but almost 50% of the 'troops' carry swords.
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Post by Colin Middleton »

And finally, an archer is a man with a bow who can use it. A billman is a man who can't use a bow (either through lack of skill or lack of bow). If an archer can use his bow and be safer (?) and better paid, he will, if not, he'll do what he has to.

An interesting side note is that billmen seem more likley to have harness than archers. Presumably because they're going to be in the thick of it, while archers can run. Similar to the pike-man and musketeer of the ECW?
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Although those mentioned in Burgundian and French service seem to have pretty near to full harness. Brig, arms and legs (and were mighty p*ssed off when they only got issued with Jacks). In Italian service the crossbowmen run from being fully harnessed to having nothing to protect them at all. Nor does this have anything to do with being rich or poor. Some seem to like to have been able to run away and avoid trouble, others to feel as if they could shrug off nuclear bombs. Id totally agree with the way you are looking at "household" men "retained" men and so on. The only full time soldiers were mercenary ones. You don't see many pictures of archers, or any other soldiers with falchions do you. I guess they must be more of a civilian weapon. There are lots of German peasents carrying them and lots of references for Italian street thugs carrying them though. Maybe they aren't much good against armour?
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Post by Phil the Grips »

Long knives were far more common on the continent in a civilian context- it seems. Though this is skewed by a paucity in fencing tretises ( ie virtually nil) in the UK. However its use as a self defence tool was common for centuries in Europe.

Certainly for the C14th in England it was the baselard (distinct in having two edges and a clear thrusting blade, yet stil relatively long when compared to a rondel or bollock) that had exemption from city weapons laws as it was viewed as a tool so valid for everyday carry (much as the curious distinction in modern law where a machete is a tool yet you can have a "combat knife" banned).

Falchions have always been a minority weapon and curio at that- at first by the C13th elite for "armour cracking", then as a variant of hunting weapons at all levels of society, and therefore quality, in the form of the hanger, and in art often a shorthand symbol for "foreign" , "mythological" or "olden days".

I can think of far more images of archers carrying swords than messer type weapons- so I alway feel this "archers' sword" thing is reenactorism.
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Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Just in case you only have caught the end of this, i have never said the falchion was the weapon of the english bowman, I also understand it to be a very civilian weapon.
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Post by gregory23b »

i have never said the falchion was the weapon of the english bowman, I also understand it to be a very civilian weapon.

arguably the same thing...archer/civilian.
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Post by lidimy »

Because we all know, ARCHER is not a class.

Not so? :D
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Post by gregory23b »

In that case, citizens were soldiers, a bowman is a civilian with a bow - not the class issue as such - class being the wrong word too.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Have you decided to become an archer or attempt at portraying a squire yet Lidi? It's been two years and I just have to have a final answer?
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by teutonic knight »

with our order it is easy to tell a knight, if the man is wearing a white surcoat and a full black cross he is a knight brethren, if he is wearing a grey surcoat with a black T rather than a cross he is a half brother or sargent. also knights are the only ones wearing the full chain and transitional helm. we portray the brethren of the german hospital of st mary, we were classed as the knights of god and given our power by the pope rather than a king. we were in fact classed as holy warriors.
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Post by Ghost »

but I need to do the washing up.
In my experience that would rule you out being a Knight in most groups :wink:
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Post by Adam R »

gregory23b wrote:In that case, citizens were soldiers, a bowman is a civilian with a bow - not the class issue as such - class being the wrong word too.
Citizen being the wrong word too :P
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