Talk:Heavy cavalry

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Globalize[edit]

Badly needs better coverage of:

- Later European periods
- Mamelukes
- China & Japan
- India
- Africa

I have done what I can, but it's not really my field. Also there's too much stuff duplicating knight & chivalry, given the length of the article.

Johnbod 14:13, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

I have added what I can about Japan, though, as I say in the article, it is difficult to say what counts as "heavy" cavalry. Feel free to do whatever you wish with this section, as it is obviously more attuned to arguing that Japan never had "heavy" cavalry. The Mongols, Jurchens, Manchus, etc obviously need to be expanded on somewhat, though I am no expert in those fields. (If you'd like, I'd be happy to take a stab at it just using the main articles on those groups as reference). China I honestly do not know about, in terms of their formal army and the organization, tactics, and equipment used. I'm fairly certain that India and Southeast Asia, if they had organized cavalry at all, were likely less numerous, less organized, and less heavily armored than European knights. Places like Australia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Islands, I would think it highly unlikely that they even had horses at all prior to European contact. (Interestingly, I just read yesterday that in Okinawa's early tribute missions to Ming China in the late 14th century, horses, brought to China from Okinawa, were highly valued. I wonder if these were native horses of the smaller Japanese type, or where they came from...) Anyway, I'm sorry I could not be more help, but I wish you luck, and am eager to see this article grow and improve. If you would like me to write something about early samurai archers as light cavalry, I'd be happy to, but as of right now it doesn't look as if that article is just defining the term and not looking for global examples and such. LordAmeth 15:15, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
No that's great - I left a note on the Chinese MH talk page also. Thanks for so prompt help!

Mongols light C only I think, but the chinese guys will know. Johnbod 15:18, 5 January 2007 (UTC)

Picture at top doesn't show heavily armored soldiers[edit]

They are wearing only chainmail. Not plate armor WITH chainmail. Plate armor is key. That would be heavily armored. I'm removing the picture, and replacing with the one at the bottom. 64.236.121.129 16:15, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Misnomer line[edit]

I believe the current first line of the article needs better consideration and some discussion at talk before being accepted. Thus I´ve placed the accuracy notice. Buckshot06(prof) 08:00, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

I would support this, whatever the source is of this idea it is demonstrably wrong. In Rennaisance times there was a noted differentiation between "heavy horse" (men at arms) and "light horse" (stradioti, hobilars etc). In the Napoleonic period the British army for one had pattern weapons (swords, carbines and pistols) officially called "heavy cavalry ..." and "light cavalry ..." Just because the titles of heavy cavalry regiments (dragoons, cuirassiers, carabiniers, horse grenadiers etc.) did not explicitly say "heavy cavalry" does not mean that contemporary useage did not regard them as "heavy cavalry." I would certainly assert that such cavalry were far more often referred to as "heavy" rather than "battle" in contemporary accounts.
User Mrg3105 seems to have an agenda to replace all references to "heavy cavalry" with "battle cavalry" this is a minority view at best, and is misleading for any readers coming to the subject with little prior knowledge. Urselius (talk) 11:21, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

The term "heavy cavalry" was always relative and changed over time.

In Elizabethan England "light horse" might wear plate armour for the torso and even the arms, the main differentiation from contemporary "heavy horse" (men at arms and demilancers) is that light horse used a "Northern staffe" which was a lighter lance than that used by the heavy horse.

Later, during the English Civil War, the differentiation between heavy and light horse is blurred as the major distinctions were between "cuirassiers" (complete armour to the knee), "harquebusiers" (lobster-pot helmet, back and breastplate and often buff coat) and dragoons (unarmoured mounted infantry).

By the Napoleonic period the heavy cavalry of Britain had discarded all armour (except for one regiment, briefly in 1793) but they, in theory at least, rode larger, heavier horses than the did the light cavalry (light dragoons and hussars). Though they were armourless they were still heavy cavalry because that was how contemporaries regarded them.

In 1792 only one French cavalry regiment wore armour (the 8th Cavalerie) though all the rest of the regiments termed "cavalerie" were regarded as heavy. Napoleon converted regiments of cavalerie to cuirassiers (wearing metal armour) from 1802 onwards. However the Carabiniers remained heavy cavalry without armour until 1810. The elite Grenadiers a Cheval of the Imperial Guard were never armoured but were always regarded as heavy cavalry. Indeed it is recorded that they distained armour because they thought wearing it would be a slight on their courage. Urselius (talk) 12:27, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

I think rather than starting a forum, it may be useful to cite some contemporary sources. Aside from the British Heavy Cavalry Brigade, which country's armed forces had "heavy" cavalry? Aside from some popular literature, which military officers wrote about "heavy" cavalry? Is there any mention of "heavy" cavalry in Europe between the renaissance when cavalry of the battle (knights) begun to discard armour, and the First World War?--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 12:52, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
PS. Has anyone asked themselves why I had not tried to rename the article "battle" cavalry?--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 13:17, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

The Political and Military History of the Campaign of Waterloo; General Baron De Jomini, mentions "heavy cavalry" (using it for both French and Prussians), Jomini was one of Napoleon's generals. The French of the time of Napoleon recognised three broad classifications of cavalry: cavalerie légère (light cavalry) cavalerie de ligne (cavalry of the line) and cavalerie lourde (heavy cavalry - a literal translation). A Voice from Waterloo by Edward Cotton, Cotton was in the 7th hussars at the battle, he makes many mentions of "heavy cavalry." Hay, Captain William. Reminiscences under Wellington (Ed. Mrs SCI Wood, 1901). Hay talks of "the heavies" meaning the heavy cavalry (he was a light cavalryman) the term "heavy cavalry" was in such general use that a universally recognised abbreviation was in existence. I could go on, essentially endlessly. Could you cite even one pre 1850 source for the precise construction "battle cavalry?" Strangely you don't seem to have any problem with the concept of "light cavalry" and like 'black and white,' 'up and down,' 'in and out' 'light' does call out for its antonym 'heavy.' The conjunction light and battle just doesn't work linguistically.Urselius (talk) 13:58, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

I think you will find that in the original French Jomini makes no mention of Cavalerie lourde
Just because everyone does it, is that why its called "heavy"? The simple truth is that reference of "heavy" was always made to horses, and not cavalry as such. Similarly a heavy cavalry sword was so because more metal was used in its manufacture and not because it was carried by someone riding a heavy horse. In that age a heavy horse was a type in the same way a station-wagon is also differentiated from a sedan now. All orders of battle speak of cavalry in their respective languages and not heavy cavalry. Even if British make this distinction, a cavalry man means heavy in the purely weigh class way and not as a type of cavalry. I had inserted battle because if I had left it as just cavalry people just would not understand that the mounted arm consisted of three types only cavalry, dragoons and light cavalry, and that each had specific and very distinct roles to play in the armies of the day, until the Napoleonic wars that is. Up until the French Army suffered catastrophic loses of cavalry, the type that decide outcome of battles, no one had really considered using dragoons in that role, and light cavalry had duties that mostly excluded them from the role of either a dragoon, and certainly that of cavalry. Not that there were not exceptions, but they were exceptions. However, I know that the vast majority of modern authors are ignorant of these facts, and insist on calling everything that is not light cavalry or dragoons, "heavy cavalry" not realising that this referred to: the price paid, the bone structure, the height (and therefore the rider's height), the amount of feed required, the extra expense of larger horse furniture, the lesser endurance (why Napoleon called then Cavalry of the Reserve), but not a type of cavalry--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 14:54, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
This is an English language encyclopedia, therfore usage in the English language is paramount, and the overwhelming majority of military history sources in the English language recognise the concept of "heavy cavalry." So there is absolutely no argument that can be put forward to avoid using it, encyclopedias always reflect majority usage.
French sources do occasionally use the construct "cavalerie lourde," though contemporay Napoleonic usage favoured "grosse cavalerie" which is equivalent in meaning, and "large cavalry" would sound perfectly silly in English ("grosse cavalerie" occurs many times in contemporary French military letters see: Foucart, La cavalerie pendant la campagne de Prusse 7 oct 7 Nov 1806). Just because 'grosse' literally means 'large' and not 'heavy' it doesn't alter the fact that the French did use a descriptive term for their "heavy cavalry;" they did not merely call them 'cavalry.' No, "heavy cavalry" referred to a type of cavalry, albeit generally characterised by large mounts and large soldiers, with a certain battlefield role. If "heavy" merely referred to the weight of a sword then one would expect heavy swords to be given to large soldiers and light ones to smaller soldiers regardless of what unit they were in. But no, smaller than average heavy cavalrymen got heavy cavalry swords and larger than average light cavalrymen got light cavalry swords. The sword pattern went with the type of cavalry it was issued to, not the physical size of the cavalryman. The British government officially named patterns of sword, carbine, pistol, horse harness, saddle, uniform and headgear "light cavalry pattern" or "heavy cavalry pattern." This was official, and was recorded on official documentation and even on sealed labels physically attached to items sent out to manufacturers to use as a "pattern." These documents and sealed objects still exist, no room for argument about the situation is possible.Urselius (talk) 20:51, 1 September 2008 (UTC)
History, and its constituent data, are always studied in context. One does not pluck out the "heavy cavalry" from the text, as many modern authors do, and declare that there was a type of cavalry called "heavy cavalry". Large cavalry horse means just that, literally. One has to understand the horse market of the time to understand that many different types of horses were for sale, and armies chose specific types for specific purpose. The usage was identical in all European countries. In England the translation of European terms was used because stallions and horses were purchased on the continent also. The same situation exists today for example with Passenger Cars -- All sedans, coupes, and station wagons can be said to be "family vehicles", but coupes are probably the "light horse" of our time, sedan being the all-rounder "dragoon horse", and the station wagon with the increasingly mini-buses being the "heavy horse". There were also the artillery horse, the cart horse, the pony, the field hunter, etc. So far as the army was concerned it purchased three types of horses used in mounted combat, the light horse, the dragoon horse, and the heavy horse. The French light horseman was a chasseur, mounted on what the English called a "hunter", because that is the type of horse more suited to riding "in the field" which included woods and all manner of irregular terrain requiring what is now a sport. There are several memoirs I have read that describe French "cavalry" being issued what woudl ordinarily be considered artillery horses in 1813, and one memoir recalling a chasseur I think riding a Russian cart horse on the way out of Russia. For the contemporaries telling a difference between horse types was as natural as for you and me being able to tell a hatchback from a station wagon. Apparently the effort is too much for many "historians". If you doubt this, you can always ask on the napoleon-series website. Officers rode their own horses, often what in England became known as the Thoroughbred, and these horses were sometimes called "officer's horse", not because of the rider, but the suitability of quality in breeding. The ability to tell one type of horse from another was known as horse sense
The heavy cavalry pattern sword should really be written "heavy, cavalry pattern, sword" as the US Army would write it these days. It was of course different from the light, cavalry pattern, sword in that it was used for thrusting and the light was used for cutting. The cavalry and the light cavalry had different manuals of sword exercises. However, there was not yet a concept of materials science, and ways of describing rigidity or elasticity or density of materials. Quite simply in order to go through a man's chest, a sword had to be very rigid, and therefore use more steel, and therefore be heavier. It was as simple as that. One paid for it by the pound with labour added.
Horse harness was only used on carriage horses. On riding horses it was called horse furniture--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 22:23, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

I can't really believe that we are still discussing this.(arb.)[edit]

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to the Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State. MY LORD, ' Madrid, 13th August, 1812. '

"He moved forward on the morning of the 11th, from the neighbourhood of Galapagar, and supported by the heavy cavalry of the King's German Legion from Torre Lodones,..."

What do you think Wellington meant by this? It is a random selection from many such instances throughout his dispatches. Is it likely that: a) he meant that the KGL cavalry he was referring to was a particular class of cavalry (distinct from the light cavalry of the KGL), or b) that Wellington had weighed all their horses and swords?

Personally, I would go with a)!

If a type of cavalry is characterised by large horses and large men, weilding large swords and it is called "heavy cavalry" by contemporaries, arguing that the word heavy referred only to the weight of large horses and large men and large swords is a futile exercise. Heavy cavalry were so called precisely because their equipment was percieved as heavy but also because they were, to a greater or leasser extent, specialised for a shock role on the battlefield. The term "heavy cavalry" was both descriptive of appearance and also of function. It was the term used to define a type of cavalry.

During the 18th century the effectiveness of cavalry in a set-piece charge was directly related to the "weight of the horse" by military commentators. Heavy horses, it was reasoned had more impact when charging than lighter ones. It then follows that "heavy cavalry" were the ones who rode heavy horses and were therefore specialised for conducting shock action on the battlefield. By 1800 it was increasingly realised that momentum (weight plus velocity) was what really mattered so that a slightly lighter build of horse at a higher speed could have an equally good effect in a charge. However, by this time the term "heavy cavalry" was in widespred use as a way of indicating cavalry whose major role was battlefield shock action, rather than skirmishing, the pursuit, scouting or screening.

Minor points. The British army had only one sword exercise for all cavalry (1796 Rules and Regulations of the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry). All horses used by the British cavalry were "of the hunter stamp," light hunters for the light cavalry, heavy hunters for the heavy cavalry.

Harness in English is a word with rather a wide meaning, it can even mean armour ("in complete harness" meant fully armoured), and basically means any construction involving straps. Horse furniture includes the saddle, which I was mentioning separately. Urselius (talk) 10:38, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Urselius, cavalry are not defined by Wellington. It is not even defined by the Napoleonic wars. Look wider afield in your research and you will see that the usage of "heavy cavalry" is confined to the later 19th century English, and dates from the Napoleonic wars, so it may be that Wellington is responsible. I would not be at all surprised because, dependent as British were on the meagre cavalry support, the cavalry itself proved to be difficult to support in the Peninsula, and larger horses of the Heavy Brigade more so. It was named after all not by the cavalry officers, but by the Quartermaster Corps to distinguish its larger needs.
No, to "During the 18th century the effectiveness of cavalry in a set-piece charge was directly related to the "weight of the horse" by military commentators." This needs to be qualified that "cavalry" rarely charged "light cavalry" which would usually effectively evade such a charge. The weight of the "heavy" cavalry only mattered when charging other "heavy" cavalry, which is why one often sees comments that a unit was "well mounted" meaning the mounts suited the unit's purpose. A charge by "light cavalry" against infantry was as effective given a "light" horse in mass x speed equation offers a negligibly lesser impact. This is why all mounted troops were distinguished by distinctive uniforms aside from their "heaviness"; the commander had to know in the confusion of battle precisely which unit is available for combat, and it is virtually impossible to distinguish a unit mounted on 16-hand horses from those mounted on 14-hand horses at a distance of 1000 yards. Hence the polished cuirasses of the French cuirassiers, and the gaudy hussar uniforms. It was a tactical expediency based on the visual nature of the combat environment and not the size of the horse that identified them as "heavy". I am fairly sure that the Netherlands Zware Cavalerie carabiniers were so named simply to distinguish them for allied commanders because the six squadrons were not issued with a cuirass, included many troopers with previous service in the light cavalry, and were mounted on any horses that were "deemed suitable" in the rather denuded European horse flesh market after 1812-1814 campaigns.
The General Regulations and Orders for the Army make no mention of "heavy cavalry". The 1796 Rules and Regulations of the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry were produced for a much-reduced mounted arm of the British Army that had yet to be expanded by the Duke of York, however, the nature of the sword use substantially differed between that of the light cavalry and the cavalry, with the dragoon sword being a compromise in all armies of Europe. I'm sure you know this. A cavalryman was a weapon system, and can not be understood just by reference to the mount alone.
If indeed Wellington considered the "heavy cavalry" to be a type of cavlary, than surely he would use capitals to write it so as in "All the Dragoons and the greater part of the Hussars and Chasseurs are already in Spain ; and there remain only the heavy cavalry in the other dependencies" (1810) and in describing tactical disposition of British cavalry "The heavy cavalry will be in the plain between this and Celorico, and the light cavalry in front, and on the left of this." (1810)
Consider also the use of weight qualifiers in other Arms, the infantry and the artillery. Light infantry were so known not due to employing smaller individuals, but because of their lighter equipment which allowed them to move more rapidly; heavy artillery were so called not only because of the weight of shot, but primarily the need for extra horses to move it. Russian called it "position" retaining the 18th century qualifier that saw heavy guns virtually immobile once in place not because of the weight, but because of the sighting of the guns given their range performance and the expected appearance of the enemy in their field of fire
"Heavy cavalry" is therefore an unfortunate misinformed popularism, maybe based on misreading Wellington's dispatches out of contemporary tactical context, and not paying attention to use of capital letters--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 02:39, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

You give Welligton too much credit he didn't coin the usage he merely used the phrase because it was in general use at the time - and the time is not late Victorian - but Georgian.

Another Georgian useage:

“The affair was altogether conducted, on our part, with such a total absence of skill, that the French secured the retreat of their infantry and guns, sustaining indeed a loss, but a loss very little heavier than our own. Our fine brigade of heavy cavalry was never brought up to the enemy, and our columns of infantry followed slowly in the rear.”

Recollections of the Peninsula by Joseph Moyle Sherer, London (1825), pp. 198-200 (5th Ed. London, 1827).

You said that this usage was a late nineteenth century misconstruction. I have given you two examples of Georgian usage by soldiers describing actual events and using language to accurately convey what they intended. I could go on indefinitely giving such examples, but it is simply not worth the effort.

"My lord" was the superscription in the letter I quoted, and referred to 'Lord Bathurst' the letter's recipient, I didn't notice it was in upper case.

By your reckoning the quote: "The heavy cavalry will be in the plain between this and Celorico, and the light cavalry in front, and on the left of this." (1810) would also mean that light cavalry were not a 'type of cavalry' as they are not given an upper case treatment here either.

The endpoint of this is that you seem to be in a minority of one in expressing the view on this subject that you do. As such you should not be altering encyclopedia entries in the face of the overwhelming weight of opinion of the military historians who have written on the subject away from this received opinion. Urselius (talk) 13:01, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

There are three usages of the word "lord" in English, that of the title, As in Lord Bathurst, and that of respect, as in "My lord". The third was reserved fro use in the Bible and prayer books for God, as in "And the Lord said".
Likewise, there capitalisation of Infantry refers to the Corps, while lack of it, written as infantry, refers to the infantry troops in general.
What I am trying to point out, seemingly in vain, is that a troop type is associated with a specific identity of the troops. In the case of Cavalry, this identity comes from the Cavalry of the Middle ages. Any Cavalry other than the armoured Cavalry was the Light Cavalry, that is not armoured. Later a new type of mounter troops were created known as the Dragoon, which were not considered either Cavalry, or Light Cavalry. Cavalry, by the virtue of their lineage to the knights, were seemed "battle deciders" or "battle" Cavalry to be held in Reserve until a critical moment in battle (hence Napoleon's Reserve Cavalry Corps), though the term was only used rarely. For much of the period from the Renaissance to the First World War the term Cavalry was applied when addressing orders of battle of armies, which would list Cavalry, Dragoons and Light Cavalry.
It doesn't really matter how many "military historians" have the wrong opinion. Weight of opinion is equivalent to 0. Facts would be nice though. The quotes you found refer to descriptive opinions of individuals. However, I do not dispute that the differentiation existed given the existence of the light cavalry. Most specialist in the field, Muir, Black, Rothenberg, Nosworthy, all agree. However, it was not Heavy Cavalry, but heavy cavalry that was found in the armies. The heavy cavalry primarily included Cuirassiers and Carabiniers, and in case of the British Army some Dragoon regiments, although on the continent Dragoons were uniformly a compromise sometimes erroneously referred to as "medium cavalry" by those military historians who fail to understand their tactical role and employment.
In referring to the late-19th century I referred tot eh actual naming of units. So far as I know only in Germany after 1871 Cavalry regiments (formerly cuirassiers) were renamed Schwere-Reiter-Regiment, by which time the use of "heavy cavalry" in literature in all European languages had become common-place even if the role and equipment of the cavalry was changing drastically, and the Arm would disappear as such during the First World War, with cavalry of all types being essentially identical in mounts, equipment and duties.
This is the reason I had left the name of the article as Heavy cavalry, and changed mention of heavy cavalry to battle cavalry although it should just say Cavalry, as this is essentially what it means. It may have been better in hind sight if I had saved myself the time and explained all this in the article, but at the time I didn't think so. I may do so now--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 01:48, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

The term 'dragoon' changed over time and geographically. In 1650 all dragoons in Europe were mounted infantrymen, they rode horses to battle then dismounted to fight. However, this changed and by 1750 in all Europe except, perhaps, France the dragoon had become just another name for a medium to heavy cavalryman. The dragoon had 'bettered himself' into becoming a cavalryman whilst the "Horse" (ie the original heavy cavalry) had become effectively no different from the dragoon due to their gradual loss of all armour (as I have said before, by 1792 only one regiment in the French army wore a cuirass, and none in the British).

This situation was recognised in Britain when a parsimonius government converted its "Regiments of Horse" into "Dragoon Guards," because as dragoons they received a pay-cut. They were allowed the honorific "guards" as a sop to their pride as it cost nothing. Therefore, Britain entered the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars with a heavy cavalry establishment of 7 regiments of Dragoon Guards and 6 of Dragoons. The two classes of heavy cavalry received the same uniforms, weapons and horse furniture only the titles differed.

The primary definition of "cavalry" or "Cavalry" is a soldier who fights on horseback. In the armies of the Rennaisance and after it was recognised that two major classifications of cavalry could be identified: heavy cavalry, whose primary function was shock action on the battlefield, and light cavalry, whose primary function was screening, outpost work, scouting, the pursuit of broken enemies etc. Some light cavalry could also perform shock action when required. If light cavalry charged on the battlefield and were used for shock action (as happened countelss times in practice) then they are also, from the first principles of logic, "battlefield cavalry" and, therfore, the terms "cavalry" and "battlefield cavalry" are fundamentally a less useful descriptor than the term "heavy cavalry."

The 'heavy' and 'light' cavalry distinction is a straightforward system of description used by virtually all modern commentators and is found in the vast majority of historical primary sources. It is simple, it is straightforward, it minimised confusion for the reader and should be applied in the wikepedia context.Urselius (talk) 11:12, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure why you think I need a lecture on dragoons, or why British usage of mounted troops in general should be given particular weight in this article.
Just be there was a light cavalry does not necessarily mean there has to be a heavy cavalry, just like the existence of light infantry in the same period did not see employment of "heavy infantry" despite 6'2" Russian grenadiers.
I left this article titled "heavy cavalry" since redirection from cavalry is not possible owing to the larger cavalry article. Strictly speaking the Cavalry article should be called the Mounted troops which would also include everything from Rumanian mule-mounted infantry to elephant-mounted troops
No one called any mounted troops "heavy cavalry" in Renaissance; those that counted were called Cavalry. Light cavalry barely existed at this time. Even in the early 18th century light cavalry were considered reconnaissance and skirmishing troops only as most were irregular.
More to the point, I didn't call any cavalry "battlefield cavalry", but battle cavalry. This is owing to the type being battle deciders. I also added this to differentiate from the general term. However, referring to this type of mounted troops as "heavy" is tantamount to referring to any armoured unit of today by the type of their tank, that is not the Royal Tank Regiment, but the Royal Medium Tank Regiment. And yes, I know this was the practice in German and American armies during the Second World War.
My point is clear and simple. Wikipedia need not repeat every mistake made by the large number of authors thus enshrining error into history courtesy of Wikipedia. Just because the British Government chose to name a brigade Heavy Cavalry in the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars does not mean that "heavy cavalry" actually existed as a type regardless of how many late 19th and early 20th century amateur historians misread Wellington's dispatches, or Oman's for that matter. The vastly greater number of troops in Continental Europe mounted on larger horses went by the name Cuirassier, and the only reason this article has not been merged is because there were exceptions, notably the British dragoons, but also various other exceptions like the French mounted Grenadiers, the units that wore cuirass but were not so named, the Spanish Horse regiments, and some guard units
I would therefore suggest that this article be edited to reflect this in the hope that generations of misconstrued expressions be righted. This is because there is not a shred of evidence outside of exceptional mention in England (yes, we do not write history based on a few quips from the Duke of Wellington) that heavy cavalry actually existed in Europe until the end of the 19th century--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 13:49, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

It is entirely pointless talking to you, it has taken overlong for me to reach this opinion. One person cannot dictate correct usage, this is arrived at by precedence and consensus, neither of which are on your side.

BTW, the English and other Renaissance European powers recognised a distinction between "The heavy horse" (and in this period the word "horse" as used in this context meant "cavalry" not merely an equine animal) and the "light horse." The heavy horse were the men-at-arms (gens-de-armes), and demilancers. The light horse were stradioti, mounted crossbows, jinetes, hobilars, or "Border Horse." The concept of heavy and light cavalry was well established. Urselius (talk) 14:12, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

If by "one person" you refer to Wellington, I entirely agree.
I had clarified in the article that the horse breed used before end of the Renaissance were the breeds known as the draft horses, entirely different to the Cavalry horses of the 17th century. Since that article was not written by me, and makes no mention of these breeds being used for Cavalry, it may suggest to you that I am not the only one who knows something about horses and their use. The heavy Cavalry breeds were the first attempt at true cavalry mount breeding, and only specific breeds were used, usually crosses with the lighter drafts.
Rather than arguing, please cite sources not written by recent authors who tend to repeat each other, but sources contemporary to the periods under discussion.
Your appeal to consensus is simply an appeal for a vote where no sources are available to support your claims. However, Buckshot06 will help you there as he loves to gather together editors to vote errors into Wikipedia. He rarely provides references in articles though.
Page 41 here [1]will explain that the pre-modern Cavalry were all mounted on whatever horses were available, and the first "heavy Cavalry" were the Austrian cuirassiers, mounted on specially bread horses. There was no "light cavalry" from Renaissance until 18th century, and even lancers were lance-armed reiterei, or horsemen using undifferentiated mounts--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 15:19, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

The book you link to mentions "heavy cavalry" a dozen times. I don't see how this helps your case.

The idea that the horses used by men-at-arms were in any way related to heavy draught breeds is entirely erroneous. Go to the Royal armouries in Leeds or Les Invalides in Paris and look at the horse armour and what horses they would fit, not draught horses. The type of horse used by cavalry in the early 18th century was called "the black horse" and was the descendant of the "knightly destrier" it fell out of use due to the emergence of hunter-type horses which had an infusion of warm-blood. Have a look at illustrations of Marlborough's wars, the horses are largish and very square-built with substantial well curved necks and relatively small heads and are rather short coupled - these are examples of the "black horse."Urselius (talk) 08:53, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

The breeds used for heavy cavalry in the post-armoured period were significantly lighter still in muscle and bone structure to the earlier breeds used in mounted combat. They had to be, given the final charge was delivered at a canter over last few hundred yards, and not a (final) gallop of the cuirassiers.
Sure the book I linked to mentions heavy cavalry a dozen times, but its the context in which it is mentioned that matters. Light and heavy cavalry were broad classifications based on tactics and not a type in its own right, i.e. "species" as this [2] book says, and which on page 88 identifies same reasons for not using heavy cavalry as a synonym for all cavalry mounted on large horses. The lager horse had its limitation, namely endurance, "which is the reason that cuirassier are never employed on any other occasion than a regular battle", and when they were employed, it was as a reserve
What is it exactly that you do not agree with in my edits? The removal of "heavy"?--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 04:21, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

Warnery, the book you link to, uses the term 'heavy cavalry' in its widely accepted sense, the sense I am supporting here, and it's pre-1800. I am objecting to: (a) your apparent attempt to eradicate the term 'heavy cavalry' from wikipedia articles, and (b) your erroneous assertion the the term was either a late 19th century misnomer or an invention of the Duke of Wellington.Urselius (talk) 13:31, 19 September 2008 (UTC)

I don't see how there can possibly be any doubt that Napoleon & his contemporaries, both allies & opponents, distinguished between light & heavy cavalry units & formations. Napoleon formed not just brigades but entire divisions of heavy cavalry (grosse cavalerie), composed of cuirassier & carabinier regiments, along with dragoon (dragon) & light cavalry (cavalerie legere) divisions. The combat roles of each type of mounted unit & formation were clear & distinct, reflected in their mounts, tack, armor (or lack thereof), arms & other equipment. Although light cavalry could & did attack formed infantry & cavalry on the battlefield, their main missions were scouting, screening & skirmishing. Napoleon attached lancer units to heavy cavalry formations to conduct such tasks as reconnaissance for the "battle cavalry", big men on big horses, whether armored or not. (Jagiellonian (talk) 22:22, 30 March 2009 (UTC))

Re:Knights: "Unlike other forms of heavy cavalry, the medieval knights did not operate as a true military unit. Their mode of fighting (with the exception of chivalric orders such as the knights Templar and the knights of St. John) was essentially a 'free for all' of individual warriors." Isn't a massed lance charge a textbook formation deployment? Also, the repeated use of mounted knights for tactical purposes (such as the horse deployed by the French at Agincourt with the aim of running down the English archers) is in the historical record. Someone want to edit this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.158.136.166 (talk) 21:47, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

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Question[edit]

What's the difference between knights and cataphracts? A difference in which geographical areas used which terms & the fact that the term cataphract came 1st? Or are there any other differences? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.202.211.214 (talk) 08:42, 21 February 2013 (UTC)

Indo-European Genesis of Cavalry, including Heavy[edit]

I see, per custom here on Wiki-land, history is portrayed weirdly and the fact that these culturally creative, in terms of history, early Proto-Indo-Europeans responsible formatively for the whole "heavy cavalry" innovation is barely mentioned -- except in a passing, I am sure, painfully endured, reference to the equally Iranian and Germanic "Massa-Getae" -- let's stop fooling ourselves, Jewish academia, the early Aryans have the credit here, in which the division between Iranian and Germanic and Celtic was meaningless because all inter-fused... PLEASE OBJECTIVITY, gosh almighty! The Scythians and Persians (likewise Indo-Europeans, but intermingled) are INHERITORS of a more ancient, "UR-ARYAN" (dare I say?) source... Please, the Hamitic Middle East DID NOT INVENT EVERY SINGLE PART OF CIVILIZATION. Gosh, this PC-Zionist soft-peddling of so-called "racially charged" issues is NAUSEATING, UGH — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.52.186.148 (talk) 23:48, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Poor article[edit]

This is a very poor article that I would class as "start" at best. It has few citations, there are erroneous statements and it's English style is poor and not encyclopaedic.

Specifically, it has confused the social rank of 'knight' with the type of heavy cavalry called 'men-at-arms' (ie a European fully armoured cavalryman c.1150-1600). Also all the present content on knights is about their social aspects and is irrelevant to the military function of "fully armoured cavalryman". Throughout the article is the repeated expression that "heavy cavalry = armoured cavalry", this is erroneous. The distinction between light and heavy cavalry was based on battlefield role, not possession or absence of armour. Light cavalry scouted, raided enemy communications, screened and provided outposts for armies, heavy cavalry were reserved for making formal battlefield charges. The amount of armour was relative and depended on the historical context. The Scots Greys at Waterloo were heavy cavalry, they wore no armour at all. In contrast the light cavalry of Queen Elizabeth I's time wore steel helmets, back and breastplates, a plate gorget, and mail sleeves, or complete plate arm and shoulder defences. Urselius (talk) 08:50, 14 September 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, good point, I reassessed it for WPEQ. I see no reason not to work to improve it. We have Horses in warfare and Horses in the Middle Ages at GA-class. Horses in the Napoleonic Wars is at least sourced, and Horses in World War I, is a FA. I think Horse artillery is in OK shape too. I don't really have the time/motivation to do the work on this, but I'd be glad to keep an eye on things and give a heads up if something gets added that might be wonky from the horse side of things (I'm not terribly up on weaponry or armor stuff, my own issue is the "draft horses were Destriers" myth). Feel free to dive in with good source material. Montanabw(talk) 18:44, 16 September 2014 (UTC)