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 Medieval Soldier's armarments

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PostSubject: Medieval Soldier's armarments   January 19th 2015, 9:11 am

Between information distorted due to rumor and exaggeration or lost over time or random crap Hollywood made up because it looks good most people have no idea how Medieval/Ancient cultures really fought. My apologies if knowing the following information ruins any movies you have seen/see in the future.

Primary combat: Is done with a spear (or any weapon with a metal blade mounted on the end of an 8 foot pole) and shield. Dual wielding bladed weapons is primarily done by peasants who do not own/can not acquire a shield or for single combat duels. In any kind of fight where you are taking fire the Phalanx or Shield wall formation is massively important to survival.

This setup was favored by the most successful armies of all time including the Romans, Spartans, Mesopotamia, and even to an extent Napoleon. I mean just look at those pictures. As long as no one drops their shields the soldiers inside can just thrust out from far more safety than one can normally expect on a battlefield under fire and mow down anyone foolish enough to charge them. The damn formation alone looks intimating as hell too.

In summary an 8 foot spear is about the most you can wield easily in one hand so that is why it was the standard size. Spears were carried underhand for the widest variety of thrusts and to make choking up easier in case you needed to make a short thrust. Spears also were fire hardened so they could not simply have the tips cut off by a sword, odds are the sword would get firmly stuck in the wood or at least not go all the way through and have wood on both sides of it making it easy to disarm anyone that tried it. Also the further away you can kill your opponent from the better so obviously an 8 foot spear beats a 1.5 to 5 foot long sword. Additionally the spear can simply be dropped if an opponent rushes you and gets past the point where you can choke up on and stab them with at which point you can switch to another weapon.

Secondary combat: If the spear has been thrown or an opponent gets in closer than the spear can stab and there is not enough time to choke up on the spear the spear can be dropped and the secondary form of combat can be used. The secondary form of combat is a short to mid length 1 handed sword. The Romans (widely considered the most advanced and efficient army of all time for their day) used a sword only 18 inches (1.5 feet) long. Why? because if you want to kill something from far away you have an 8 foot spear and sometimes you don't have the room to swing an 8 foot weapon so at that point it becomes important to have a small weapon you can swing in a cramped spot. The swords were drawn with the right hand from the right hand side so you wouldn't have to draw across your shield.

And their primary function WAS NOT cutting. Hacking and slashing cuts against an opponent wearing chainmail or plate armor are never going to hurt them and just going to dull your edge. The point of swords was that of glorified crowbars.

They were used to wrestle armored opponents to the ground so you could invoke the tertiary form of combat. That is why ancient manuscripts tend to focus more on wrestling with swords than swordfighting. Which surprises people that think that swordfighting was a huge deal in ancient combat and slicing someone with a sword was the only way to kill someone.

Other than wrestling (the primary focus of a sword in battle against an armored opponent) swords can also be used as a mace in an effort to do crushing damage which is what will ultimately kill an armored opponent. (other than piercing damage but slashing is useless). Some swords were specially designed for thrusting damage (rapiers to name one) so they could go through the small gaps on an opponents armor and poke into the soft squishy human center.

Other useful info on swords:

Tertiary combat: If an opponent makes it past the spear and gets wrestled to the ground with the sword they then need to be finished off by crushing their armor and damaging their vitals, piercing through their armor and damaging their vitals, or stabbing between gaps in their armor and damaging their vitals. So the third weapon will either be a mace (crushing), pick (piercing), or dagger (narrow + stabbing). Sometimes sword fighters would work in teams and have a buddy back them up with a halberd to finish off their opponent.

There is also armor and ranging I'll go into at a later time because this was already hours of research lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Medieval Soldier's armarments   January 21st 2015, 6:11 pm

Dammit, Wolfie, I had things I wanted to do this week...
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PostSubject: Re: Medieval Soldier's armarments   January 21st 2015, 10:54 pm

Once I got caught up in it this turned into just a massive project that involved something like 400 youtube videos in my watch later list lol. I both hate and love the suggested videos at the end of every video that always have like 3 or 4 more I want to watch. It is just like a hydra... watch one video and 4 more take its place Sad
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