User:Montanabw/Gwinva-Medieval Sandbox

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This is the archive/sandbox for all things that are equestrian AND medieval:

See also User talk:Gwinva/Horse info

HIW spat[edit]

I really don't appreciate your attitude on this at all. I did not start this problem; you did by having a substandard article listed as a GA. As I said to Dana, I will provide a further review and give my opinion when I have the time but as I also mentioned, it is not my place to close the review - in fact to do so would be a pretty severe conflict of interest. As I think I mentioned to you at the start of this process, assuming an aggressive attitude and being impatient with other editors will get you nowhere.--Jackyd101 (talk) 11:14, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

Jacky, I've answered elsewhere. The lack of appreciation for attitude is mutual. And your personal attack here is unwarranted. The article was awarded GA status by the same process that all articles supposedly go through now. "Substandard" is really pretty over the top. To say that standards have tightened up is fine. Insulting the work of previous editors and GA reviewers is not. Montanabw(talk) 01:10, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Hi Montanabw, I just reread the article. It looks good from an MoS and sourcing standpoint. I still think it's a bit unfocused in areas; however, those issues are not sufficient to remove the article's GA status. I reversed my delist so that another editor can close the review. Best, epicAdam (talk) 16:45, 10 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks Adam, you're a gem.
From the GAR page history, it appears that User:Geometry guy is the main person who opens and closes reviews and discussions. I'm unsure as to weather or not users can close GARs on their own. Best, epicAdam (talk) 01:31, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

I'd like to point out that the article was listed as a GA back in December 2006, when standards were different than they are now, they have tightened considerably. So while the article did need updating, calling it substandard is probably a bit of a stretch. It's more that the standards have improved (as they should, I personally believe). Ealdgyth - Talk 01:34, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Absolutely right. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 01:49, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Works for me. I have relatively few issues with tighter GA standards. But that aside, can we just close the GAR somehow, some way, any way? I just read WP:GAR and putting the article up for a community reassessment was an abuse of process in the first place. The GAR article says, "A community reassessment is used when there has been a breakdown in the processes of nomination, review and individual reassessment..." There never WAS communication about the article at all. The request for a community reassessment came like a blast out of the blue. I'm still pissed off about this, it was not very well handled. Montanabw(talk) 01:59, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Epicadam is going to close the review now I believe. These GA reassessments do come like a bolt out out of the blue, and they do need to be handled with some sensitivity. --Malleus Fatuorum (talk) 02:27, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
OK, I'm happy enough now. Yeah, an individual GA reassessment is sort of a jolt, but that's the way they have to be, I suppose. Nonetheless, now that I see what the GAR guidelines are, a community reassessment with no prior warning was pretty poor form. But now everything appears to be tucked in, I'm (mostly) over it. Montanabw(talk) 02:43, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
As the GAR has now been correctly closed as keep, let that be an end to this. Congratulations to everyone who put in hard work on this (including you Montana); the article is now vastly improved, not far indeed from FA standard. By the way, if you take a look at the top of the GAR you will see that I brought it to a community GAR because I felt the article was too long and complicated for me to personally decide in an individual reassessment whether it was good enough for GA. I therefore took it to community GAR, perfectly correctly, to generate wider community interest and comments. This has resulted in both increased interest in and large-scale improvements to the article, and was thus the correct procedure. I think it would be better if you and I avoided one another for the forseeable future.--Jackyd101 (talk) 06:38, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

The sloth speaks[edit]

Sorry, I kept promising to look at Horses in warfare, but have not yet made it, despite your crisis. Are there still page nos and other refs outstanding, or have you sorted everything despite my slothfulness? Let me know if you still need anything, and be as rude to me as I deserve for not doing anything I promised. My mind's still on holiday, I think. Gwinva (talk) 02:00, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

I think we weathered the crisis and are finished, but if you see any "citation needed" tags or "needs page number" comments in there (do word search) and they are to one of your books, can you help? Also, check the stuff linked to the Keenan work; I have issues with some of it, but no ammo to back up my thoughts (basically on the development of light cavalry after the demise of the knight). Montanabw(talk) 02:15, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Hmm,if you mean Keegan, then yes, I see your point re: firearms-armed infantry, especially where combined with pikemen, were able to counter cavalry with relative ease throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. – try telling that to the poor musket-armed infantry standing up to the cavalry during the napoleonic wars. The Infantry square was quite effective, but in line or column, the infantry were destroyed by cavalry. Thus, European cavalry moved from a central, "shock combat" role to a flanking role, used mainly to harry and to disrupt artillery from being deployed freely. – well, kinda true, but not the full story: plenty of effective mounted shock charges by cavalry well into the 20th century. Will have to have a think about that. I had heaps of Nap wars (plus some American and colonial wars) stuff floating around the house a while back, but most have found their way back to their respective libraries. So, something else to add to my "to do" list: Cavalry in the 18th & 19th C. Gwinva (talk) 02:52, 12 August 2008 (UTC)
Keegan, yes, Precisely. Having just survived GA review, I hate to bring this up over there now, but I think it needs to be fixed. When you have a chance to shoot me a bit of rewording, with citations, holler, or just put it over on the HIW talk page as something to add and we can play with it from that point on. By the way, I discovered that HiMA is missing a couple of page citations, found out the hard way when I swiped them for HIW. Montanabw(talk) 03:00, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

O great copyeditor and general clean-uperer[edit]

Thanks for sorting the HiW stuff: the format is much better (I couldn't quite get my head around how it should go) and the prose flows a lot better too! Feel free to toss anything if you think I went overboard, or yell at me if I've neglected anything. Fully intend to fill in some of the holes, but I've also in the midst of a GA review for the 52nd Foot, so I'd better work on that too.

You're right about the euro-centrism (blame my books). I plan to do India, and some of the British colonies, but we also need a little more on America: war of independence, civil war etc to offset the British bias. Sounds like your area, Professor. (Oh, and apologies for the UK English take over: don't blame me. I even made a very painful sacrifice earlier, before the decision was made!) Gwinva (talk) 21:31, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

My thinking on the article is that we want to focus on major trends in tactics and technology rather than nations. (Though a spinoff of horses in 19th century European warfare would be cool as well!) Hence, the stuff added on horse artillery was much needed. For example, I'm not so much interested in horses in either of the big American wars other than in the context of whether there was anything new in how they were used, otherwise they can just be lumped in with the other stuff happening in the 18th and 19th centuries. Likewise, the stuff on American Indians and horses really needs little additional detail unless the Cheyenne, Comanche or whomever cooked up something new for use of horses by nomadic people on lightweight horses that was significantly different from what the Scythians were doing 3,000 years earlier, which I can look into. (What was remarkable about American Indians is how FAST they developed a horse culture after not having any at all for 10,000 years!) As for India, take a look at the India and China section of the existing article, which covers more early history, but maybe there is something more recent you can pop in there. (Like, how did they fight against elephants??) At least that's my thinking. Maybe we should run this past the rest of the gang on the article talk page too???Montanabw(talk) 03:51, 8 September 2008 (UTC)
Sorry I haven't been at HiW the last day or so. As mentioned, I'm in the midst of a GA review. If you (O great copyeditor, etc) have a spare moment which you want to waste on my behalf, then you could look at the review comments (with particular attention to the concerns regarding the Peninsualr War section), and then the article, to see if I've met the concerns, or if it's still a confusing and poorly-written piece. (Oh, I know it's not scintillating prose, but I only want competent GA not super flashy FA at this stage.) Don't worry if you're busy, though. Gwinva (talk) 10:23, 9 September 2008 (UTC)


I don't know why these people started editing, however, you can check their contributions (Wandalstouring (talk · contribs)) and find out their fields of interest. Military history reviews aren't tough in the sense that people confront you with lots of criticism, they have adopted a policy of constructive criticism. I'm quite open for edits by multiple persons in my sandbox because we do have to create a version people agree upon. Wandalstouring (talk) 09:45, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

I'm a bit more busy than I expected. Still, I have finished the new layout in my sandbox. I made remarks in the form of chapters suggesting for relocating parts, but moving most of the article to a new article about history of horses in warfare that can be further subdived in regional and time specific articles. Wandalstouring (talk) 13:40, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Medieval horse[edit]

Hello. Just to let you know, I've not given up on the revisions and research discussed at Talk:Horses in warfare. I've got a stack of books beside me, and too much in my head. I'm throwing everything down in my sandbox as a way of sorting through it. I can note things as they occur to me, then format it into something appropriate. Saves me flicking from book to book, too. If you want to drop in sometime to see what I've got, then feel free. There's more in my head than there is on the page, but I'll get there. Oh, and I know much of the info is on the various pages in one form or another, but noting it down helps me think it through. Gwinva 21:16, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your advice; I've begun expanding and referencing the quick framework you saw. As a point of interest, I've got some excellent references that put the medieval war horse at 14-16 hands. One question: Your discussion about hot-bloods and cold-bloods put me in mind of the four humours of classical medicine (outlined at Humorism). In medieval times, men were considered hot and therefore good warriors (the hot blood ascended in battle) whereas women were phlegmatic (cold). I've read a reference to a medieval text where the writer scorns the cold-blood horses of one country, preferring his own hot-bloods for war. Has the terminology crossed over, or am I misunderstanding? Gwinva 14:49, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
I really appreciate your prompt, detailed answers -they really are a big aid to my understanding. I hope I'm not trading on your good-will too much by bringing you another question. What do you know of rounceys? Every book I've read seems to categorise them differently. I've seen them described as: horses of little worth; riding horses; all-purpose horses; trained war-horses for men-at-arms or poorer knights; swift, sturdy horses for raids... Are they the same as the German textual runcini ("beasts of burden or to pull wagons")? As for my draft.. I've plugged in a few more references, but haven't had much time today. Gwinva 17:30, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the links. The second ( actually references the glossary of one of my books "Rouncey: An ordinary horse. (Prestwich, Michael. Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience, 348)". The full reference is on p 30:

"Destriers were not common; of the twenty-seven horses lost by members of the earl of Derby's retinue in Flanders in the late 1330s, only two were of this type. By the later middle ages, the destrier was known as a great horse; the type appears to have vanished from England in the seventeenth century, and is most unlikely, as is sometime suggested, to have been the ancestor of the modern carthorse. Coursers were another highly prized type of horse. More ordinary animals were described as rounceys, or simply as equi, or horses. All of these were suitable for use in war; in general, warhorses were clearly quite distinct from palfreys, or riding horses, and from various types of farmhorses."

Ewart Oakeshott (A Knight and His Horse, p 12) says: "The rounsey was as strong as the war-horse, or nearly as strong, but of no particular breeding. He served as a cavalry horse for non-knightly men-at-arms...or a as a riding horse simply to get about on." But, as I said above, I've got references that define them otherwise. And I did hope you would provide the definitive answer (sigh).

Siobhan ni Seaghdha's article is interesting. I've got Ann Hyland's book somewhere (yet to be unearthed) plus the Museum of London's analysis of their London finds (The Medieval Horse and its Equipment, ed. John Clark) which discusses horseshoes, amongst other things. It refutes the claim made by historians (such as RHC Davis, referenced in Siobhan ni Seaghdha's essay) that the great horse was 17-18 hands, and comes out with a figure of 14-15 hands for military horses (p25). It also discusses the difficulty of assessing horse size from horseshoes and bits (which you would understand much better than me), although it provides a lot of figures and compares these to the horse skeletons. One interesting point raised was the suggestion that "early measurement by 'hands' followed the contour of the horse's body, rather than being taken vertically" (p 23). This book, of course, deals with more than warhorses: it lists pulling weights of carthorses, hire rates for hackneys, a comparison of spurs...etc etc.

Why am I spending hours on this? I'll have to blame you: too much encouragement. (grin).Gwinva 14:19, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

I've pretty much finished the warhorse stuff in my sandbox, just a couple of references to go (nice to have, rather than essential; I know I've got them, just need to find them). I've got more info on riding and work horses, and also horse transports (ie. how they got horses across the channel, etc). Also horse tack, feeding etc etc if it seems relevant. Anyway, warhorses: anything good for Horses in warfare? I was looking at Destrier again: pretty useless (what a nonsense last paragraph). Thing is, most of the information applies to medieval warhorses in general (as in my sandbox) not destriers particularly. Should I improve destrier, or make a medieval horse article out of what I've got and redirect destrier there? And, by the way, I haven't been here all day. Gwinva 22:11, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Your theory sounds good. I think I even have a reference somewhere to Friesians...somewhere in the stack of books surrounding me. Yeah, I've heard the longbow/gunpowder arguements, but that's too simplistic. 1. longbow arrows (even bodkin) couldn't penetrate plate (and mail withstood most of it, too). 2. range of guns too short to impact mounted knights much: galloping horses don't give you much chance to shoot. The heavy chivalric charge disappeared before that as a major tactic, anyway. I think it was because of its effectiveness: no opposing army wanted to fight that way. eg. Scots refusing to meet English in field, English chauvauchees during 100 yrs war, etc etc. If you know a mounted army's coming you: 1. run away, 2. head for the hills, 3. dig lots of trenches and put up spikes that the horses can't get through. 4. choose your own ground. Anyway, I must go. Gwinva 22:42, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
I've copied all the warhorse stuff across to Talk:Horses in warfare, so see what you can make of it. If you think anything needs expanding or more references, I'll have another look through my books. I've done a quick overhaul of Destrier, removing the obvious nonsense, and reformatting it so we can work with it. Also created Rouncey and Courser (horse). Initially, I wasn't going to make a separate courser page (keeping the information at Destrier), but a search through wikipedia unearthed a few links there already, so I went with that. I've also linked the Charger disambig. page to those three, and Horses in warfare, and each of those to each other. I'm not sure how much to break off into the separate articles, and how much should stay with Horses in warfare. Palfrey needs work, but I'll get to that eventually (if I'm not driven mad first). And that's just the horse wouldn't believe the nonsense, misinformation and poor writing that abounds throughout the medieval warfare pages...
One last thought (well, probably not the last), my wikisearch brought me to Horse breeding again. It'll need to be made consistent with any changes to Horses in warfare. Gwinva 17:00, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Medieval horse 2[edit]

The pages look brilliant. Yesterday was hectic, but I logged in for five minutes to see what you'd made of the info; sorry I didn't have time to get back to you. I've read through the text, which looks good. When I get time I'll work through it more carefully and add those references etc. I'll outline my thoughts about name and scope at Talk:Medieval horses. By the way, I had a return email from one of the interpreters at the Royal Armouries, which was generously detailed. I put a summary on the Talk:Horses in warfare page, but it probably got lost amongst all the text there. So here's a copy:

I've had a reply from the Royal Armouries, which was very informative. A few facts and figures:
man's armour (25 kg) plus mail and 'foundation garments' (7kg) = 32kg
weapons: sword and scabbard (3kg) plus lance (7kg) = 10kg
rider (5'8") = 70 kg
saddles (modern, based on British army SU02) = 14-19 kg (hard to determine what original weighed)
caparisons (horse barding) = 10 kg
total load approx = 71 kg
Compares that with 19th century cavalry horses expected to carry 28 stone (including rider) reduced to 21 stone in Boer war. Horses expected to carry that load for 25 miles a day.
Other comments: variety of breeds used as warhorses during middle ages, some of which became draft breeds. Bayeaux tapestry shows horses of 12-14 hh; 15th century horses 14-15 hh. None of this can be classed as a citation, but bear in mind that this information is provided by those who work with the original artifacts, and interpret using modern replicas.

I'll just head off to Talk:Medieval horses, and add my bit there. Hopefully I'll get time to come back later. Many thanks for working on my stuff. Gwinva 07:49, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

I've gone over the stuff you've added at Horses in warfare and tweaked it slightly. It looks good. I don't have time right now to work through Medieval horses and add those references and expansions you suggest, but I'll work on that (and the rouncey, destrier and courser pages) as and when I get time. I've got an ever-growing list of things I want to look at/revise... this wikipedia-thing is dangerously addictive!Gwinva 22:19, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

I prmoised you a reference for the Frisian horse, regarding its descent from warhorses. From Ann Hyland, The Warhorse 1250-1600 UK:Sutton Publishing, 1998, pp 2-3

"The Emperor Charles (reigned 1516-56) continued Spanish expansion into the Netherlands, which had its Frisian warhorse, noted by Vegetius and used on the continent and in Britain in Roman times. Like the Andalusian, the Frisian bred true to type. Even with infusions of Spanish blood during the sixteenth century occupation, it retained its indigenous characteristics, taking the best from both breeds. The Frisian is mentioned in 16th and 17th century works... a courageous horse eminently suitable for war, lacking the volatility of some breeds or the phlegm of vey heavy ones. Generally black, the Frisian was around 15hh with strong, cobby conformation, but with a deal more elegance and quality. The noted gait was a smooth trot coming from powerful quarters. Nowadays, though breed definition is retained, the size has markedly increased, as has that of most breeds due to improved rearing and dietary methods."

I don't know if that's useful for your Frisian page. As you've said (somewhere) the question of what has descended from the destrier is probably impossible to answer, as the destrier was a type not and covered many breeds. On the same pages, Hyland mentions France imported Castilian, Aragonese horses, plus "warstock from Gascony, Hungary and Syria", also (in 16th century) Mantuan and Andalusian. Spain received Mantuan horses. She goes on to analyse Leonardo da Vinci's 15th-C anatomical sketches of warhorses showing short coupling, high head carriage, heavily crested, upright necks with pronounced underneck muscling. Most are high on the leg showing much daylight; hooves are deep and not overlarge; limb joints are large, cannons rounded; heads are mostly long and narrow, profiles straight or slightly convex. Bone mass and flesh are similar to a middleweight cob, but with more quality. None is cold-blooded...Most show clear Spanish influence, but not marked definitions of the purebred. (p4), which is all meaningless to me! And I am rambling on... Gwinva 21:57, 10 March 2007 (UTC)

Horseshoes and horse size[edit]

Ann Hyland relates the development of the horseshoe to breeding for increased size and heavy warfare. Rather than summarising, I'll copy the quote, so you can follow the argument:

"According to archeologists using bone deposits from Avar, Magyar and Germanic burials, it was amongst the Germanic and also some Avar peoples that selective breeding for heavier conformation began in the ninth and tenth centuries. Simultaneously horseshoes also began appearing in central Europe. The shoeing lends force to the size augmentation. In a climate damper than that of their original steppelands horses' hooves would have become softer; with an armoured man to carry, plus the equipment of use in war, the combination of damp, weight and pounding impact with the ground meant hooves had to be protected from splitting, cracking, laminae deterioration and sole bruising. The heavier body mass means that most hooves would have had a shallower and overall larger construction and the softer horn that goes with that. I have had experience of the adverse effect that climate and underfoot conditions cause. Two horses I owned in the USA and brought to Britain underwent significant hoof changes. One, a mare on which I had competed in 100-mile events without having her shod, and which finished sound, needed constant shoeing in our damper climate. The other, a horse weighing 1200 lb with weaker hoof laminae, needed constant shoeing in Britain." Ann Hyland, The Medieval Warhorse: From Byzantium to the Crusades, UK: Grange Books, 1994, pp 58-59

ie. horseshoes weren't found prior to the 9th century because they weren't needed. John Clark (The Medieval Horse and its Equipment), notes research by Lynn White which puts the first documentary references in the late 9th/early 10th by Byzantine and Frankish authors. As I've mentioned somewhere before, Clark's archeological research suggests horseshoes are an early medieval invention. Gwinva 15:02, 12 March 2007 (UTC) ps. You need Suggestbot?! I'm obviously not demanding too much of your attention! (grin).Gwinva 15:05, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

I'm just a glutton for punishment! And the Gelding article DID need serious work! (Why they gave me "Lundy" is a mystery, though) I think the material on horseshoes that you quoted here is pretty accurate. There is also the impact of stabling; horses standing in their own excrement also weakens hoof structure, and not moving around a lot other than when working has the potential to cause some problems -- the hoof is quite fascinating; the frog structure in the sole actually plays a major role in circulation, every step essentially helps boost blood flow back up the leg.

The Arabs of the 19th century did shoe their horses -- poorly -- but that may have been due to the impact of roads as much as anything.

Had another thought about horseshoes. Hyland published Equus: The Horse in the Roman World in 1990. I have never read it, but she can't have found any reliable evidence for Roman horseshoes during her research if in her later book she dates them to 9/10th centuries. She seems a safe bet for accuracy: neither Euro-centric or Medieval-centric, plus she's a horse-expert (according to my dustjacket, she is an equestrian consultant for OED). I think this provides reliable dating for the horseshoe page. Gwinva 20:50, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

Page move[edit]

I had grown to like 'Medieval horses', and wasn't impressed with the new name, until I remembered it was my suggestion in the first place!! Bit miffed at the move, as it happened when I was mid-edit and had to cut and paste all my new references. However, I guess it's not too bad!!! (grin) Gwinva 16:47, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, probably best to check the Medieval style preferences at Wikipedia:WikiProject Middle Ages. Unless you decide its a WikiProject Horse (new invention?) article, and design your own style guide!! I wouldn't rush to move it back, given it's something we had considered. Can always do it later, when we're not so irritated...Gwinva 16:55, 13 March 2007 (UTC) BTW, our page mover is from WP Middle Ages, so perhaps he does represent the establishment view. Perhaps we should leave it while under review? Gwinva 17:23, 13 March 2007 (UTC)
Well, the WP:Middle Ages preferred style question is now answered at Talk:Horses in the Middle Ages, and since that title fits with Horses in warfare and the recently renamed Horse transports in the Middle Ages, I say keep it where it is. As I think I said at the original discussion, you can now write 'Horses in Ancient Rome' and 'Horses in the Arab states' or whatever...(!):-) Gwinva 19:04, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

GA review[edit]

What have you unleashed?!? Someone reminded us we had left a few statements uncited, so I parked them on the talk page. Now we are questioned about over-citing. !help! (smile). Gwinva 20:59, 13 March 2007 (UTC)

Things seem to have got a bit heated there for a bit! (grin) I felt compelled to add my twopence worth earlier, and explain the rationale for referencing. I hope it's a fair representation. Feel free to renounce me if it's all gibberish!! Gwinva 16:19, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

Me again[edit]

I can't keep away! This time my question has little relevance for any article, and is purely for my own interest. In trying to establish the speed and distance covered by mounted parties in the middle ages, I've taken Barbara Tuchman's figures as a guide. (ie. average day's journey 30-40 miles; messenger 40-50 miles; good horse, road, no load = 15 miles an hour; urgent messenger, with change of horses 100 miles in a day; pack trains 15-20 miles a day; armies about 8 miles a day). Hyland's reference to Robert the Bruce's guerilla campaign had him travelling 60-70 miles in a day, although presumably he couldn't use those horses in any skirmish at the end of it. I'd imagine he wasn't riding over easy country, either. I read the Endurance riding article you directed me to; obviously, they can cover more ground than could normally be expected (working alone, trained for the event, no need to repeat it the following day!). Presumably, a large party travels slower than a small one. Leading extra horses would slow you down as well? (By which point you're probably wondering what on earth I'm getting at). I think I mentioned once that I only strayed onto your horse pages because I was trying to confirm which horses were used for mounted raids. I've read all sorts of articles here (eg about wars in France or Scotland), plus all the books I've got piled up here, but I can't get seem to find these details! Basically, if you wanted to cover 60-odd miles quickly, anticipating there might be a skirmish (not a battle) at the end of it, would you ride one horse, and fight on it, or bring a second (which would slow down any pursuit of the enemy)? How much slower would 200 men be than 50? Also (these questions keep mounting up!) how fast could you realistically travel at night? (like the Border reivers, or other details of armies being surprised by their enemy's night movements). Like I said, this is for my own interest. If you haven't the time or inclination to answer, I won't be offended. Oh, btw, thanks for polishing up my hobby addition, which was badly needed. I stared at it for ages, but all my understanding of the written language seemed to vanish! Collaboration's good: all the hard work seems to get done magically! (grin). Gwinva 14:50, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

We've made the main page (via Horse transports DYK)! Gwinva 16:19, 16 March 2007 (UTC)
Thankyou! :) Enough there to keep me going for a while! (grin) Gwinva 17:12, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Horses in the Middle Ages: GA![edit]

It's passed. Yay!! Many thanks (again) for your help! Good timing: I'm heading off on holiday in a few days and will be off-line for a month. Gwinva 17:22, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Medieval horses[edit]

We once discussed (at length) the type of modern horse most resembling a medieval one. I was back at the Royal Armouries the other day, and checked out the stables there. Their research suggests medieval horses were most like a modern cob or light draught. They had a handful of Irish Draughts, including a 15.1 gelding, which they reckoned had the appearance of a medieval riding horse, although they thought it a bit small to use regularly in their jousting displays, prefering their 15.2 hh horse. Their largest was 16.2. Also had a 16.1 Irish Sport which was particularly suited to their WWI cavalry displays. Thought you might be (vaguely) interested. Gwinva 14:22, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

Hey, thanks for reply. My pursuit of accuracy in a reference, which first brought me on to the horse pages, has developed into a bit of an interest, and I find our discussions quite fascinating... Anyway, what brings me now is our new friend Xaa, who has taken offence at the Palfrey and Rouncey pages. I've replied to him there, but one comment at Talk:Rouncey I have no answer to:"What's worse is the article attempts to claim that the 'rouncey' is a general-purpose horse. There's no such thing - never has been. No domesticated horse has ever been bred as a "general purpose" animal, all horses throughout history were always bred with a specific purpose in mind." True? Not? I have no idea, but figured you would!! :) Gwinva 14:48, 13 May 2007 (UTC)
Ah, that would be me. I referred to you as 'he' (but in a generic kind of way!) Sorry. :) Gwinva 09:56, 17 May 2007 (UTC)
By the way, I once recommended Ann Hyland to you. Might be useful for your work on the history of equestrianism, horse tack etc. Her medieval books, at least, cover the Orient, India and Americas. I'll have to see what she says about riding styles. I've made a page, so you can check out her books. Gwinva 09:58, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Interesting medieval reference[edit]

I've just discovered an interesting work by Margaret Wade Labarge about travel in the Middle Ages. (Medieval Travellers: The Rich and the Restless). A certain Bertrandon de la Broquiere set off on extensive travels in the mid 15th C. Spent some time in Damascus: described the small horse he bought there, "shod in the Damascus fashion" (what's that?), which stood up well to a seven week journey onwards. Then: "He mentions that the Moors are not interested in trotting horses, for their own only walked and ran and had the stamina to run for a long time, even when fed only with a handful of barley and of hay in the evening. It surprised him too that the mounts were constantly kept bridled, even in the stables at night when their rear foot was nobbled." Discusses the Arab preference for mares, even great lords riding them, with the foal following. Incidentally, she backs up our definitions for palfreys and rounceys. Gwinva 16:22, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Middle Ages[edit]

Hi! Been a while since I dropped in to see you...Hope things are going well. I've successfully moved, although I'm still waiting for all my stuff to arrive by ship, so I feel I'm camping a bit (and missing my books). Anyway...I noticed you added "though in actual combat, a well-trained war horse was largely controlled by the rider's legs" to the Barding section on warfare. I'd got the impression from my reading that the armed rider couldn't control the horse with their legs, due to their own armour, the high war saddle and the stirrup position (see some photos of saddles and position at, and this is why they used such vicious spurs and bits. Would this make sense, or do you reckon they'd get enough control anyway? Just wondering... Gwinva 04:29, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Hi G, welcome back!

Well, if knights could walk or fight in armor, they could use riding aids, perhaps not terribly subtle ones, but definitely they could give leg commands. You can't ride if you can't move--you'd fall off the horse as soon as it moved faster than a walk! Obviously they had control with legs, because legs give the "go fast" commands. Horses are sensitive to weight and pressure, thus a heavily armored rider would actually have a tremendously obvious use of weight-- If you turn your head on a well-trained horse, that is enough shift of your weight to cue them to begin a turn. After riding for 40 years, I am still being reminded that if I look down while riding I will throw my horse onto the forehand, so if 10 pounds of human skull moving six inches affects a horse, 250 pounds of armored rider most certainly does! As for the phrasing in the article, you can sure tweak it if you want, as "legs" in the broader sense does include "legs with really obnoxious spurs." I kind of wonder (just me speculating) if the obnoxious spurs weren't in part a result of needing something to get through the barding??

Now, the images you use as examples aren't all that extreme, many western riders today have a similar "backward" seat, the leg aids may not be terribly subtle and far from the riding aids of classical dressage, but one-handed neck reining can only accomplish so much too (and many medieval bits were even more horrendous than the spurs). Bottom line is that a horse had to be pertty quick to respond to very little rein cue, and be trained to work off of legs and seat (the classical masters insisted upon it) whatever weapon they used, there would inevitably be times when they'd have to drop the reins and use both hands for something, so a horse would have to be trained to respond to legs and weight shifts.

Now, there are also modern examples we can look at. For example, riders in the Arabian horse competition called "Mounted Native Costume" (more like "Hollywood costume," but I digress) have to control a horse through several layers of heavy fabric, usually lined with felt or vinyl. If it isn't the modern equivalent of basic barding, I don't know what is! (Here is an example: ) I know from having ridden in this type of competition myself, you can control a well-trained horse just fine with simply a little stronger leg aid (basically squeezing with the calves), you don't even need to add spurs. And they usually ride some of the most high-spirited horses in these classes because they are all about flash and drama, a horse with high action places higher-- but they still have to behave. Now, if I rode a horse into combat with leather barding or something, I'd definitely add spurs to be on the safe side, but they definitely can feel your leg close against their sides through even heavy fabric. You couldn't put metal armor UNDER the rider's legs, as just sitting on the horse would make plate armor irritate the horse so bad they'd probably buck rather than be of any use in the battlefield.

Ok, so now I wrote another book. Welcome back to the fray! And yeah, things coming by ship take at least half of forever. Montanabw(talk) 20:01, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, that all makes sense. It gives me a better understanding. I think there's a lot of nonsense talked about knights in battle; common sense tells you that if you're riding a horse into battle (where your life is at risk) you'll want as much mobilty as you can and as much control of the horse. The really solid saddles, where the armour and reinforcing extended down to protect the legs, were used for jousting rather than war, I think. Fully encasing plate armour (for knight) which covered all the leg was used for foot combat in tourneys, ratherthan mounted. Back/inner leg of war knight probably free of much plate. Yes..I've heard the long spurs were to get through the barding, also, but perhaps some of it is a fashion statement, too (?). I've often wondered how practical barding was in battle... Reins were held in shield hand: shield strapped to arm, reins gripped in hand, so arm position dictated by defence, rather than control of horse. I think horses were probably trained in the charge and did a lot of it themselves (stories of horses who've lost their rider joing in the charges anyway), although the rider would dictate things more in the melee. Alright for the wealthy knight with a well-trained horse, but I wonder how many poor men-at-arms cursed their cheap horses...!
On a separate note, I've been reading a bit lately about the Napoleonic wars (culminating, of course, in Waterloo). Cavalry, light or heavy, was tremendous against infantry arraigned in line or column, no matter what guns they had. Only way to survive against cavalry was to form square, using bayonets in the way the medieval soldier used pikes. Reading it again, it confirmed in my own mind my ideas about the transition away from mounted knight. It was certainly not caused by the invention of gunpowder (even nineteenth century guns weren't effective against charging horsemen). Range of a musket was too small, and reloading too slow. Horsemen on to them too quickly. I'm convinced heavy cavalry were responsible for their own destruction: ie. too good, too hard to defend against, pitched battles didn't occur much. Skirmishing, ambushes etc much more common. Way of fighting changed...Pitched field battles only came back in 18th/19th C, with trained infantry, but cavalry remained essential. Speculation, anyway... Gwinva 03:49, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Glad you followed my illiterate garble above: I was in a hurry and just threw my thoughts down. Yes, I wonder if we’ve discovered something that’ll turn traditional interpretations of history on their head (!!!)…what a shame Wikipedia does not allow original research. (It's just that some of the stuff I see trotted out again and again in histories doesn't make sense to my layman's mind. Perhaps I'm missing something). Fascinating thoughts about the Bedouins and American Indians…not history I’m particularly familiar with, but interesting to see smilar things enacted in different contexts.

Conventional thought holds that the downfall of the mounted, armoured knight came about due to the use of longbows and the invention of gunpowder. For the first, certainly, the example of the Battle of Crecy is regularly brought out (and the English have always used it as proganda to scare the rest of their enemies). But while the longbow was significant, the French loss is more complicated than that...after all, battles don’t come down to ‘my weapon is better than yours’… the terrain, training, morale, tactics, supply train, sleep-patterns, idiot officers etc etc etc will all impact on a victory. Panic is the main cause of death in a battle: witness the collapse of the Scots cavalry at the Battle of Falkirk. I mentioned Crecy, as that article itself claims the arrow pierced the armour of the knights, but that no longer stacks up...research at the Royal Armouries shows that arrows couldn’t penetrate mail easily, and certainly not plate. Short of shooting into the un-armoured face, or other parts of bare flesh, the archer had to be extremely skilled to get it through armour chinks. Poorer men-at-arms without full armour were also at risk. Basically, armour was exceedingly good protection, even the early mail, (witness modern butchers who still use mail gauntlets) and the arrow head, bodkin or otherwise, was never made of hardened steel (how could any army afford thousands of them?) Soft iron will bend in impacts against hardened steel. (see Talk:Bodkin point). Unarmoured infantry, moving slowly, are a target for arrows, and a mounted soldier is exposing his horse as an easy target. But place the men on flat ground (at Crecy the French were clambering through a bog and up a hill…who do you think is going to win, arrows or no arrows?), with heavy horses able to travel at speed, then I wouldn’t want to be an archer, unless they were present in overwhelming numbers, and able to fire off enough arrows in the charging time…be worth sitting down & doing the maths: (ie. fire rate per archer, number of archers needed to impact on line of cavalry travelling at x speed through the ‘target zone’). But of course, horses can outflank, break a line. (And such warfare would encourage full armour, not sound its death knell, I would have thought). Anyway, armoured knights surrendered at Crecy and were murdered afterwards (not died under the arrows). It's just that most of the army weren't armed knights, but poorly-armoured soldiers.

That said, it’s amazing the longbow was ever ditched in favour of muskets. Arrows could be shot at tremendous speed, had a long range and, in the hands of an expert, were extremely accurate. A musket had a short range (even in the early nineteenth century it was not effective beyond 100 yds), appalling accuracy, and was slow to load. Admittedly, a man could be trained to fire a musket in an hour, allowing the use of untrained men (compared with a longbow, where a man needed to be trained from his youth), but realistically, how much good is an untrained man with a musket? Line them all up, facing another force of infantry or cavalry, and they’re not going to stand. One shot, then they’ll be dead, or have run away (unless, of course, their opposition is as untrained). A constant problem for the Spanish and Portuguese during the Peninsula War). It took much training for musketmen in the British army to fight well with muskets: learning speed (needs continual practice with live ammunition, something no other army did) and, as importantly, positioning: forming line, turning, wheeling, forming square etc etc without breaking formation. As soon as formation is broken, any advantage is lost. Skirmishers were highly trained, and were most effective once the rifled barrel was invented. So where am I getting at? Basically, what is there in the above to terrifying a mounted knight? He has speed, protection and superior height. For most of his charge, he’s beyond the reach of fire power. It was combined forces warfare which really advanced the pitched battle: send your cavalry in, the opposition forms an impenetrable square. So use your cannon or infantry to break the square, enemy forms line, and you’re able to use your cavalry again quickly. Again, look at Battle of Falkirk, where the English won by panicking the Scots cavalry, forcing the infantry to form schiltrons (by threatening with a cavalry charge), which were eventually destroyed by arrows (equivalent of a Napoleonic carronade).

OK, another belief is that armour stopped being used with the advent of gunpowder; but if you are charging at a line, and one shot might get you, would you give your armour up? No…because after that one shot you’re going to be hitting the line of men in traditional close combat, when you do want your armour, especially if (as you say) the armour doesn’t impede your control of the horse. I guess speed might have something to do with it, but over the short distances, would weight of armoured knight effect the speed of the charge enough to counteract the effect of a solid armoured line?

No, armour just got too expensive. Especially since the fashions of war had changed years earlier, knights regularly dismounting to fight in the 14th century, not because the mounted knight was ineffective, but because it was so effective (especially when combined as above) no enemy would stand on a field. Better to nullify the shock troops by seeking ground impassible for heavy chivalry. Witness the French knights having to fight on foot at Crecy. Skirmishing, chevauchees and other light cavalry was more important.

The infantryman’s only defence (other than better choice of ground) was a schiltron or the excellent bayonet squares of the Napoleonic wars where the cavalry forced to swerve away from impenetrable points, and run obliquely down the side of the square, where they remain in range for too long to be safe. But when a square is broken, cavalry have immediate advantage. (and these formations are basically defensive unless you have extremely well-trained troops and a genius commanding, as at the Battle of Bannockburn.

As for guns changing the way cavalry themselves fought, I’m not sure…the sabre or sword was the cavalryman’s main weapon, his pistol having a short range, accuracy no doubt impeded by the movement of the horse (and then how do you reload?).

Cannon against horses: again, compare with the Napoleonic wars…cannon great on infantry square or column (men massed together make an easy target) but against line of infantry or line of cavalry…you’re only going to pick off two or three with each shot (if you’re lucky). Then time to reload… Not much chance against men advancing in numbers. The rapid fire Gatling gun was needed to make much impact.

OK, so when did the armoured knight become obsolete? Not as early as historians claim. I would have liked to see a troop of them at Waterloo… Certainly at that stage the heavy cavalry (a wonderful resource for both sides) still wore some armour (like a lightly armed man-at-arms, probably). Would they have worn full plate if they’d had it? I wonder!!

Ah, but now I've rambled on far too long and your page has turned into an essay. Sorry! I'll stop now. Gwinva 02:37, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

Scrolling down to add this message, I realised just how much I rambled on last time...seemed to cover a lot, but I'm not sure where it all went. Yes, I think you're right in your analysis of economic and social changes affecting the status of the knight. Feudal society was breaking down by the thirteenth century, soldiers (and knights) expected to be paid for war service (rather than the old feudal due), armies became increasingly professional. The inventions of the nineteenth century, as you say, rendered traditional cavalry obsolete (although they were used a little in WWI). No, I've no qualifications relevant to the discussion, so my thoughts/conclusions might be totally ill-founded! Anyway, I've enabled email, if you're interested in pursuing the discussion. Gwinva 04:38, 24 September 2007 (UTC)


I'll see what I can find regarding references; my monologue on the subject must have been inspired by something. Secondly, on the domestication front, my knowledge of ancient cultures is fairly general, so I can't offer much there. See you, Gwinva 02:47, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Further thoughts. I think it's not a simple arguement (Does it call for a page on economics of armies and their composition and development? Is there one already?!). There's lots of economic factors involved. Yes, the cost of armour is high. Does that stop you wearing it? Let's look at who did wear it: the knights and nobles. Early on, under feudalism, they provided the bulk of the army. They owned land, bought their armour and horses from the proceeds, and did their 40 days duty. But feudalism expired, and by the 13th C it was much more retainer-style: the king paid his nobles to attend the campaign. I was reading something the other day about the pay received by the army at Agincourt: the knights were paid more than the archers and men-at-arms, but not comparatively more. The cost of their campaign (in terms of armour and horses) exceeded that wage, and approached their annual income. As the army switches to much more mercenaries and paid armies, rather than those that own land, then men will be equiping themselves with what they could afford. Meanwhile, armour's getting more sophiticated: not the one-size fits all mail hauberk, or even the odd piece of shaped plate, but fully articulated made-to-measure, perfectly sized harness. Even fewer knights can afford those. Landed nobles are liking their pleasant peaceful life (with the odd sporting tournament) and don't want to turn up to battle, and thus send other men in their stead. Armies are increasingly being trained (not individually, but as a unit), another thing the rich are not keen on! So, knights are great but they're becoming increasingly unavailable, plus even if you get them the enemy sit on a hill or in a swamp so they're no good anyway. Hey, it's not just the cost of armour, but the horses too...and if you've just spent a fortune on it, do you want to risk it in battle? Anyway, as I said, I'll start investigating some of those threads and see what I can come up with. Gwinva 03:39, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Don't you hate it when you google for references and find your own Wikipedia stuff (even quoted on sword and armour forums). Even worse when it brings up one's own speculation on talk pages... (Which is how I got here). Gwinva 05:03, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
I think I'm going to have to write my own article and find some journal to publish it! I can find references for heaps of statements (including some which are wrong), but to tie them all together in one conclusion might be stretching OR. I've been through some really good stuff though, including a fascinating chapter denying a modern military revolution (saying its more of an evolution) but impossible to summarise in a sentence! (Specialists tend to get a bit carried away by lengthy analysis). However, all is not lost. My best reference is from a generalist work rather than a specialist, who has done the summary for us. Hooray! (even if it dismisses armour as "increasingly cumbersome"). Here's the quote:

"By the end of the 15th century, knighthood was being transformed by major changes. The rising cost of equiping and maintaining oneself as a knight limited the number of individuals who undertook its rigorous training. Pillaging and booty became inadequate as a reimbursement, and the practice of scutage, in which vassals were levied a tax in lieu of military service to finance specific campaigns, drained resources. Those that did become knights increasingly expected to be paid. Knighthood underwent a professionalism that resulted in a more disciplined, consisitent service...Once contracts for military services came into existence, knighthood underwent a democratisation, since the greatest leaders no longer necessarily came from the nobility."(Robards, Brooks; The Medieval Knight at War, UK: Tiger Books, 1997, ISBN 1855019191, p 152

So, construct a sentence from that and add in something to the effect that "by the sixteenth century the concept of a combined-arms professional army (with improved infantry tactics) first developed by the Swiss had spread throughout Europe" (Carey, Brian Todd; Allfree, Joshua B; Cairns, John. Warfare in the Medieval World, UK: Pen & Sword Military, 2006, ISBN 1844153398 pp 200-2). Of course also put something to the effect that it wasn't a decrease in the concept of heavy cavalry (still used to effect in the Napoleonic wars) but the knight himself was lost (that's what scutage is about: send money or other men to battle rather than go yourself). I've got references (somewhere) for the fact that it's not long bow or gunpowder that did them in, if you want. Does that cover your suggested sentence? Gwinva 08:15, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Haven't forgotten, just been a bit busy. I'll put something together and get back to you. Gwinva (talk) 08:35, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Right. Let's see what we can do with this. Longbows:

  • rise of the English longbowmen during hundred years war led to increase in and sophistication of plate armour; full harness worn by beginning 15thC. (Carey et al, 149-50)[ie. longbows didn't signal the end of the heavily armoured knight, but the beginning: plate was developed because it was effective]
  • there is, apparently, research published by the Royal Armouries which shows the arrows can't penetrate plate, but I can't access it without paying an expensive subscription. Mentioned on sword forums, but we can't cite those. sigh.
  • of course, what we can't deny is that arrows did kill horses, so knights often dismounted against archers (but that wasn't essential against other infantry, and, to be frank, only the English had decent numbers of archers, and when they fought each other (eg wars of the Roses) the archers cancelled each other out and they were back to slogging it out in the old ways


  • early firearms revolutionised siege warfare but made little impact on the field (Carey et al p 194)
  • trials of 15thC handguns show they were hard to fire; failed to penetrate 2mm steel plate at 30 yards! However, 16th C aquebus could penetrate 6mm plate at 30 yds. [but see below]. ( Edwards, JC; "What Earthly Reason? The replacement of the longbow by handguns." Medieval History Magazine Is. 7, March 2004) [I'll try and find a reference for thickness of good armour]
  • 19th C musket: in orderly trial accuracy at 100 yds: 40-75% (depending on make); at 200 yds: 25-37% (Bull, Stephen; An Historical Guide to Arms and Armour, London: studio Editions, 1991, p 131, ISBN 1851707239 [how fast will a charging horse cover those dangerous 100 yds?]
  • 19Th C: musket: in battle, effective only at 50-100yds, when fired in volley (not individually) (Bluth, p 23)
  • 19th C musket: rate of fire 3-5/min (Bluth p 35)

Continued use of heavy cavalry:

  • Napoleonic wars: Infantry were vulnerable to cavalry; only safety was in forming square, which relied on firm discipline and tight formation to maintain wall of bayonets [note blade held them off so they could fire; musket not sufficient on their own]; slightest break in formation and men at mercy of cavalry. Heavy cavalry, such as French cuirassers, wore steel helmets and breastplates. (Bluth, BJ; Marching with Sharpe, p 127, UK: HarperCollins, p 2001, ISBN 9780004145372)

general notes: Not having any decent Napoleonic references at home (excepting my son's children's books, which probably can't be cited on Wikipedia, even when they're written by a leading expert), I've checked the local libraries. The Bluth book's great (if generalist), shame the title makes it sound a bit dodgy: no doubt named to raise sales amongst Sharpe fans. Still, I'm a bit of a Sharpe fan myself, along with Hornblower and other Boy's Own stuff.

(later). Other than the general comment that each piece of plate differed in thickness (within itself, also), I can't find any specific measurements. But I do have the following:

  • full harness of 17th c musket-proof armour weighed 70 lb, less than 16th C tournament armour (p 104, Oakeshott, Ewart. A Knight and his Horse, Rev. 2nd Ed. USA:Dufour Editions, 1998 ISBN 082312977)
  • records show that from (at least) 14th C armour was 'proved' before sale, and stamped to show it could resist handweapons (eg axe and sword) and missiles from short range (longbow and crossbow bolts, and later aquebus and pistol). (p 75, Embleton, Gerry; Medieval Militray Costume, UK:Crowood Press, 2000, ISBN 1861263716)
  • plate armour first developed to resist crossbow bolts; in 14th C most of the large plate is made of hardened steel. (pp 51-2) infantry were the first to abandon armour; their mass-produced cheap armour was not greatly effective; however, quality armour was increasingly being improved to resist threat from firearms. (p 54) (Williams, Alan; "the Metallurgy of Medieval Arms and Armour" in Companion to Medieval Arms and Armour, ed by Nicolle, David; UK: Boydell Press, 2002, ISBN0851158722)

so, there are the elements. I think we can make a paragraph or two from that. I'll have a think about how to word it. Gwinva (talk) 23:43, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

Suggested paragraph[edit]

Ugh! Hate it when that happens. I've just spent half an hour constructing a paragraph from all that, only to delete it rather than save it!! Have to start again. How tedious. It was a rather long paragraph, too...perhaps too long and detailed. We could put it in the knight page or something, and summarise and link it on the horse pages. Anyway, feel free to muck about with it and change word order, grammar etc.

The reason behind the decline of the armoured knight have been a source for much debate, and are likely to be due to a number of contributing factors. However, it is unlikely that developing tecnology rendered them obsolete; instead, it contributed to their development. Plate armour was first developed to resist crossbow bolts of the early medieval period;[1] the rise of the English longbowmen during the Hundred Years’ War led to the increase in and sophistication of plate armour; culminating in the full harness worn by beginning 15thC.[2] Quality plate was chosen by wealthy knights for its effectiveness; records show that from at least the 14th century armour was 'proved' before sale, and stamped to show it could resist handweapons and missiles (from crossbow and longbow and, later aquebus and pistol), fired at close range.[3] By the 14th C most plate was made from hardened steel and quality armour was increasingly being improved to resist threat from firearms.[4] This did not render the plate increasingly impracticable; a full harness of musket-proof plate from the 17th century weighed 70 lb, significantly less than 16th C tournament armour.[5]

While infantry abandoned their cheap mass-produced armour in the late 16th C , good armour continued to be worn by horsemen.[6] Even in the Napoleonic wars many hevay cavalry divisions, including the French cuirassers, wore steel helmets and breastplates.[7]

Early firearms revolutionised siege warfare but made little impact on the field.[8] Modern trials using 15thC handguns demonstrate that they were hard to fire and were unable to penetrate 2mm steel plate at 30 yards.[9] Firearms improved over the centuries, but by the early nineteenth century muskets at an accuracy of 40-75% (depending on make) at 100 yds; at 200 yds it was only 25-37%.[10] In battle they were effective at 50-100yds when fired in volley.[11] Loading was slow, producing a musket fire rate of between three and five rounds a minute.[12] This offered little defence against charging cavalry, when an infantry division’s only defence was to form square, an manoeuvre which demanded firm discipline and tight formation to maintain the protective wall of bayonets to hold off the charge. A slightest break in formation left the men at mercy of the cavalry.[13] [we need to reach some conclusion here that an armoured knight would not be out of place].

It seems likely that changing army structures and economic factors led to the decline of knights, rather than a lack of use for them. [bad sentence]. By the sixteenth century, the concept of a combined-arms professional army (with improved, trained infantry tactics) first developed by the Swiss had spread throughout Europe.[14] With the rise in professional armies, with its emphasis on training and paid contracts -rather than ransom and pillaging which reimbursed knights in the past - and the high costs involved in outfitting and maintaining knights’ armour and horses led many of the traditional knightly classes to abandon their profession. [15]

I never did apologise for using your talk page as a sandbox. If it's in the way, move it to the article in question (I just wasn't quite sure which that was) or I'll take it to one of mine. Hope it's some use; feel free to take a snippet out, if that's more appropriate. 9You know I get carried away sometimes!) Gwinva (talk) 18:40, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Knights (decline of)[edit]

Have you seen the references and suggested paragraph I added above? The prose is a bit poor, but I wasn't going to bother tightening it up too much until you'd looked at it. Any good? Too much detail, or not on the right track? Feel free to grab what you want from it or toss it back to me if it's no use. (And, as I said above, thanks for the use of your page as a sandbox!). Gwinva (talk) 09:24, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Right, I've had bash at the stuff at Horses in warfare; see what you think. I'll have a go at creating something from it all for knight and Horses in the Middle Ages when I get a chance...this week seems to be getting away from me a bit, and I've had hardly any time at the computer. Gwinva 21:01, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Middle aged horses, springing spring and other matters[edit]

Enjoying a lovely warm spring?!

Real Life has calmed down for me, so I'm now doing too much here. I've had a look at Horses in the Middle Ages and jotted down a few thoughts of what needs to be done to FA-it, if you're still interested. If you're sitting there really bored, then have a look at James Graham (soldier) and tell me what needs doing to it to bring it up to GA. I'm also still planning to go for FA for Early thermal weapons. As you've seen, Wandalstouring has a few ideas, but I'm not sure I'll wait around the months he suggests before he can read up! Ah well, others seem to like it (see A-Class review). Gwinva (talk) 05:43, 21 April 2008 (UTC)

Ah, yes, the lead section. I can never write them, and begin to hate them with a vengeance! Why am I so inept? In fact, that goes for the whole "sparkling prose" thing. Give me paper and a pen and I can write anything; stick me in front of a computer screen, with a few facts and I end up rather stilted and dull. I wonder if I should write things out on paper first?! Wandalstouring calls my writing "stubby", but I heard some refer to it as "concise", whcih I like better! Ok, so more context for Waterloo and a grabbier opening so you don't get bored. How about big flashing lights and "this guy saved the world!"? Gwinva (talk) 05:07, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

He stood alone against Napoleon, bravely claiming VICTORY when all others failed

?! Gwinva (talk) 05:31, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

EXACTLY!!!!! Except! That more exclamation points also help! LOL!! Montanabw(talk) 21:51, 23 April 2008 (UTC)


Thanks for all the bit stuff! Still getting my head around it. I've added a section on tack at HitMA: just the bare bones so far, but a place to start working. Do check my caption! Gwinva (talk) 06:02, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Didn't notice you pop in to HitMA: I'm wandering around a bit randomly. Yep, "chariots" was the word, although they're not the roman type: "a queen's chariot was originally a large, rather lumbering vehicle of wood and iron" and shows a picture of a large, lumbering four wheeled wagon. I'll explain; but it made me laugh, anyway (I was too deeply medieval to think roman)! Gwinva (talk) 04:37, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
I'll leave you to it. I was about to throw in some more trade and professions stuff, but as I'm supposed to be somewhere else right now, it's no bad thing to be sent away! Yes, camels! Don't laugh...! As to dates..I'm sure I have sources somewhere which show the breast collar at the earlier date, but the rigid collar at ≈ 9th C. So we'll start a little edit war between us??!! Anyway, as we did with horse sizes, we can "teach the controversy". Anyway, I must go. But first I need to fight my way past the mountain of open books scattered across desk and floor. If I never return, you'll know I've been buried alive. Gwinva (talk) 05:04, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Horse riding styles[edit]

Seen the work you've done at HitMA: I am around, just can't seem to settle! Anyway, further to discussion about riding styles, and possibly right the realm of OR, (unless you have a source somewhere?) but can the change in riding style be seen in the changes in horse preferences, or am I way off? Anyway, Clark makes ref to a 12th C source who describes amblers as lovely horses and trotting horses as "those which suit esquires, moving roughly and speedily". In further discussion, amblers remained the most popular type for rest of the middle ages, but by 17th 18th C, trotters are now more popular, and the preference for amblers is seen as old-fashioned. Clark then refers reader to "discussion of gaits and riding styles" in this book, pp. 61-7 Don't suppose you've access to a copy? Gwinva (talk) 02:07, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

The assessment of the photos is probably OR, but we can use captions if one of them demonstrates something we need to illustrate. As for the riding style, the images you had up were all long stirrups, longer stirrups and yet longer stirrups, all based on la brida style riding for security in the saddle. If you want me to compare any two in particular, just holler. A modern la jineta rider is someone like in the show jumping or jumping position articles -- shorter stirrups, forward position. Montanabw(talk) 03:00, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
ok. But what I was wondering was whether there is a connection between the change in riding styles, and the increased preference for trotters over amblers? Seemed to happen about the same time. Gwinva (talk) 03:28, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
Ah! Deb Bennett answers this very question. I'll have to look up what she actually says, but the short version from my memory is that the preference for trotters over amblers was based on multiple factors. Truth is, in Europe, the la brida seat with the deep-seated saddle, later adding long stirrups, was probably a bit older than the la jineta seat, which arrived with the Arabs (and probably other invaders from the east as well, as I shall explain below).
Before I go further, check out this painting: Image:Higueruela.jpg, Moors versus Europeans, the Moors, on horses withhigh-carried tails (i.e Arabian type) are riding la jineta, short legs, etc., the Euros are riding la brida on the horses with low-carried tails, which looks like me to include at some plain rouncey types, a lot of charger-looking horses (in the line) and a couple desterier/Baroque horse types (the ones on their hind legs, mostly behind the front lines). You can see all sorts of things to compare: weapons, riding styles, shield style, use of the lance, etc...
First off, amblers are not fast horses at the gallop. There is a conformation tradeoff between a smooth intermediate ambling gait and the ability to just run like hell, or, for that matter, to really coil and spring or jump. Thus, Amblers are great for traveling long relatively slow=paced distances with the army or on a pilgrimage, when your average pace is a walk or trot, but they are neither good racehorses at any distance (neither sprints nor marathons) nor good at the powerful hindquarter turns and springing movements of warfare, now part of classical dressage. Thus, (expanding beyond Bennett a bit) I am guessing that the Destrier probably was not a natural ambler; modern Andalusians, Friesians and Lipizzaners, all descendants, usually do not naturally amble, though I suspect they could be artificially trained to produce it. Likewise, the distance speed horses, like Arabians and Thoroughbreds, do not amble. (A few Arabs can be trained to amble, but it isn't something they do naturally out in the pasture the way a Paso Fino or Tennessee Walking Horse does). So even at the beginning of the period, the Islamic invaders came into Spain on horses that trotted and galloped. To ride these horses effectively, you need to get off their backs at bit, plus they had a different style of saddle, and thus they had to ride with shorter stirrups and the la jineta seat. (The Koran also has one of the earliest reference to use of horseshoes, too, by the way).
Second, the demise of the knight (see horses in warfare) gave rise to the Thoroughbred-y or Warmbloodish cavalry horse -- Rounceys, Hobbies, Chargers and such lightened up a bit an came into their own, assorted crossbreds developed by crossing in more Arab blood on existing types, or even using purebred Arabians, like this guy: Image:Evstafy Sangushka.jpg The need was for an officer's horse to just go all day long, back and forth on the battlefield, as fast as practicable, which meant a long trot or gallop. An ambling horse would physically break down in such conditions (Today, endurance riding is dominated by Arabians, followed by assorted tough, small, lean breeds like the Appaloosa, Mustang (horse) and the occasional mule. Gaited horses (amblers) lack the stamina and also are more prone to break down, particularly in the stifle joint (see horse anatomy) for a parts chart) and they are a bit long in the back and get quite sore by the end of the day.) Put bluntly, if you can ride the trot and not tire yourself out, a trotting horse will outpace an ambler by the end of the day (though the rider on the ambler will certainly be less tired and will be able to kick the butt of the rider on the trotting horse in a fight at the end of the day! LOL!)
Third, the roads got better, wheeled vehicle suspension got better, and hence fast-moving carriage horses came into in greater demand. Again, the physics of horses dictate that they can pull harder and longer at a trot than an amble, which is unneeded for pulling a wheeled vehicle. Thus, the heavy horses in demand for carriage work had to trot too, especially if you wanted some speed. See, for example Cleveland Bay or Dutch harness horse. So, by the 16th or 17th century or so (must check exact dates), the main market for amblers was in the new American colonies, where plantation agriculture made them handy for the owners and overseers to travel the fields all day, checking up on their workers (usually slaves). Thus most of the ambling horses in Europe got shipped over to the western hemisphere, which is where you still see the biggest population today. (See gaited horse).
Oh yeah, and the official word (which may be not wholly accurate, as we have discovered before) was that posting to the trot was invented by the "post boys" who had to ride on the lead horse of a carriage team (they helped direct and control larger teams, etc., need to research more details). Now I personally think posting is so natural that it had to have been invented prior to the Renaissance or Enlightenment, (though possibly outside of Europe) but officially it was not until then that riders of trotting horses had the need to ride a trot for long periods, before then, the trot was just a few steps taken between the walk and the gallop.
So take what of that is useful, cite to Deb Bennett if you want (or just cite tag) and I'll find the pages and tweak the details as I can. Montanabw(talk) 05:22, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for that explanation! By the way, check out this: Arrivée des croisés à Constantinople.jpg Gwinva (talk) 22:34, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
I am working on it, so don't think I've ignored all your helpful's just that I've become side-tracked by creating 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot. Makes a change from medieval horses, anyway! Gwinva (talk) 04:57, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
  1. ^ Williams p51
  2. ^ Carey et al, 149-50
  3. ^ Embleton, p 75
  4. ^ Williams pp 52, 54
  5. ^ Oakeshott, p 104
  6. ^ Williams, p 54
  7. ^ Bluth, p 127
  8. ^ Carey et al p 194
  9. ^ Edwards, p?
  10. ^ Bull, p 131
  11. ^ Bluth, p 23
  12. ^ Bluth, p 35
  13. ^ Bluth p 127
  14. ^ Carey et al, pp 200-202
  15. ^ Robards, p 152