How to tell who is a Knight.

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Marcus Woodhouse
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Not in Italy. There you can be a citizen, a big citizen or a non-citizen living in the city "cloggi".
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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Italy Mr Woodhouse? Do you mean the area of republics and communi of Europe in the area which is now Italy?
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by glyndwr 50 »

If knights are the ones on horse back ,then where were they a Tewksbury .I saw knights on horse back .And very splendid they were ,but there were only about two or three ,and I was told that they were french ? .So this being the case and what with reenactors going on about being authentic and period correct ,Where the hell are the knights steeds ? or does this mean that all the armour clad foot soliders were not really knights but men at arms .or could it be that this important mode of transport is missing due to the cost .And if this is the case then surley this opens a large question on what is cost affectively accepted .And as is so many times mentioned by so many ,its got to be right !. Or could it be that there were no mounted knights at tewskbury ?. The sealed knot who I belonged to for many years had a really good horse section of mounted roundheads and cavaliers charging about the battle field ,very impressive ,but then again they were getting it right .It seems to be the case that due to the cost of having a steed for a knight and then on top of this theres the transport side of things and livery cost ,it is not financially viable to have a horse ?,This being the case ,the whole concept of the battle scene is not wholly correct from a historical point of view . the point about knights having no horses on the battle field must come over as questionable .If however the reenactment was taking place in a castle then this would be a diffrent matter as far as dissmounted knights would be concerned .
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Adam R »

I agree and disagree in part. Horses in general are lacking in the 'scene' set by re-enactmet. They were so much more prevalent then than now. But you have to accept what is and is not possible in bringing history 'alive'. On the battlefield then there is a fairly sizeable chunk of our history where mounted knights (and lower ranks for that matter!) can get away with being on foot because of the English way of fighting. But typically there are so very very many inaccuracies at an event anyway - from tents and contents up to the numbers and troop types and so on that picking on the lack of horses seems almost churlish. It's inevitable. I think the best you can hope for is honesty to the public ond oneself. To turn up in harness and the fine clothing of a wealthy subject (probably therefore knighted) and say how you are missing a horse and so on is OK, it's being honest. But to turn up in poorly made and ill shaped armour with cheaply made and worn clothes and say you are a knight could be misleading. I have been a MOP far more than a living historian when at events over the last 15 years and it's not the peculiarities of the display that irk me, it's the way it sometimes misleads the public and presents a false history.

How can you tell a Knight? It should be how everyone around them acts towards them, surely?
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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In terms of horses they should be everywhere as most English "infantry" were mounted archers, they did, of course like the knights and men at arms (of France, Burgundy and most of the HRE) dimount to fight, Italy (the kingdoms, duchies, rrepublics-all two of them and papal territories, all the communes have gone by the end of the 14th century Adam) is almost alone in maintaining a tradition of fighting on horseback (at least until the enemy has been defeated and can be pursued).
The reasons horses are not represented as much in WOTR re-enactment is firstly down to expense, I cannot afford a horse or the lessons to learn how to ride, nor can many, myself included afford to realistically portray even a pricker or scorager let alone a full blown knight whose horse would wear as much harness as he did.
The nature of a 15th century re-encatment combat is also quite different from ECWS, most of the time in ECWS re-enactments the horses have been worked together and only go up against other cavalry. They shy away from people upon foot and this makes it hard for them to be encouraged to operate amongst bodies of men in a safe manner. I am with a group that does work with horses at events (one of the few to do so), and I have seen how often the riders make a decision to back off and even leave the battle then press on with a frightened animal.
And as someone who was in the ECWS and grew bored rigid with the inauthenticity and the naffness of their re-enactments (but willing to accept that things may have got infinitely better since I left in the mid 1990's) their having lots of cavalry is no big deal.
If anyone were to ask me where my horse is (and they have not yet) I would give them the same answer I do when they ask which is my tent in the camp that is that a man of my means and station does not sleep in a tent, I am a guest of the nearby abbey/manor/town etc and that my horses (a knight would have at least three) are being cared for there until I need to call for them.
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Post by Sir Thomas Hylton »

gregory23b wrote:In that case, citizens were soldiers, a bowman is a civilian with a bow - not the class issue as such - class being the wrong word too.
The Medieval Soldier Database http://www.icmacentre.ac.uk/soldier/database/search.php makes interesting reading. Especially when you notice the occasional high ranking name is listed as an archer. Something which somewhat surprised me at first.

Infact following certain lists through the references on there & the different conflicts involved in. certain Names are seen to re-appear time & again. Some will also change in listing & Status too. Sometimes a Man at Arms, & sometimes as an Archer. I've even seen a Baron listed as an Archer, which was my initial surprise & led to me looking much deeper & further into the listings.

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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Thats something I find strange. Archery was a past time that went across social divides but I thought most noblemen, if they hunted with a bow would not describe them selves as being an archer.
The Duke of Norfolk took great interest in archery and was reputed to be a decent archer but I don't think that ever menat that he fought as one.
My own feeling is that this may be a surname or the possibly a captain of archery rather than an actual noble born twig twanger.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Colin Middleton »

The guy who's commanding the archers might be described as an archer, even though he doesn't have a bow and is dressed and armed like all the other knights.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

That would be my take on it Colin, though my own research seems to suggest that most "Captains of Archery" were of low born stock with few even being Knights or Esquires. Some do get knighted as a result of bravery or effective leadership. Of course there are documents such as the French and Burgundian ordinannces, lists of "lost" goods and illustrated manuscripts aplenty that point towards archers being as well armed (or at least almost as well armed) as MAA. The pictures of Scotish archers and English archers in Burgundian service has men in full or nearly full harness, some with bows some with pollaxes or glaives. (Which should again warn us about using notions of the amount of armour worn as a sign of status.)
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Chris, yclept John Barber »

glyndwr 50 wrote:If knights are the ones on horse back ,then where were they at Tewkesbury, the whole concept of the battle scene is not wholly correct from a historical point of view. The point about knights having no horses on the battle field must come over as questionable. If however the reenactment was taking place in a castle then this would be a diffrent matter as far as dissmounted knights would be concerned.
Actually, it is pretty realistic. Although many of them would have arrived on horseback, few instances of mounted fighting happened in the WOTR. Those archers are a pretty fearsome prospect when you have a large and poorly-armoured beast between your legs. The armies would have dismounted and advanced to the battle lines on foot, knowing how vulnerable the cavalry are to archers.

To take Tewkesbury for an example: the Lancastrians were there first and chose the ground. They emplaced themselves behind hedges and barriers, facing a 'right evyll' set of terrain obstacles: hedges, ponds, etc. They had no intention of moving, but were planning to let the Yorkists come to them, crossing all the obstacles in the face of the arrowstorm. They had also reconnoitred a sunken lane which they planned to use to hook round and take the Yorkists in the rear, but such a narrow front of advance wouldn't be much good for cavalry, who are best attacking on a broad front and as far as I know never attacked in column. So their horses would have been well behind the lines, out of the way of stray arrows.

The Yorkists, arriving in front of such a position, would have been insane to try and cross such ground on horseback against longbows. Men carry enough armour to stand a chance of surviving such an assault, but few horses would have been armoured at all, let alone well enough to survive an arrowstorm, and would have to be walked over rough ground anyway to prevent them breaking their legs, so there would be little if any advantage in speed. Once in contact, single-handed weapons weren't really used much on the WOTR battlefield: the classic knight's weapon at the time is a poleaxe, which isn't that good for use on horseback.

So the Yorkists dismounted and walked. All except 200 of them who were sent off to the flank to check out some woods which might contain some ambushers, with orders to stay there if they didn't find any and prepare to take whatever action seemed good at the time. That would be expected to mean performing the cavalry's usual function in WOTR battles: chasing down the enemy once they'd routed, or interfering with the enemy cavalry trying to do the same thing if the Yorkists broke.

The Yorkists didn't advance all the way: they had no intention of crossing that bad ground till they had to. They stopped at effective arrow-range and the archers did their stuff. This hit the Duke of Somerset's battle so badly that he couldn't hold them in place without being destroyed, so he was forced to advance over that same bad terrain to take them on. He sent his surprise party along that sunken lane to take the Yorkists in the flank, since they hadn't advanced as far as planned.

That's where the only mounted combat of the main battle took place: when the Lancastrian sneak attack rose out of the lane to engage the Yorkist flank, they fought in a long line with their backs to the 200 cavalry in the wood...
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

And even then we are only assuming that these men are mounted because it seems to make the most sense, the 200 spears could be 200 men on foot with polearms as the expression was interchangeable (and could even be a logistical term though this is highly unlikely in this instance.)
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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Marcus Woodhouse wrote:And even then we are only assuming that these men are mounted because it seems to make the most sense, the 200 spears could be 200 men on foot with polearms as the expression was interchangeable (and could even be a logistical term though this is highly unlikely in this instance.)
Interesting thought, I hadn't considered that before. Although I would suggest it would be tactically sound to have them on horse so they had a wider range of influence - but it might be that they still could choose to dismount to engage. Although 200 horse with lance really shouldn't be underestimated, especially when they can deploy themselves at a target of opportunity (ie not into a prepared position and arrow storm).

@ Chris - yes indeed - although the knights preferred FOOT weapon was a poleax - he was still trained and capable with a lance let us not forget. Aside from that small small point I agree entirely though.

Isn't there a contemporary quote about fighting 'in the English Fashion' - ie with men at arms dismounted?
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Sir Thomas Hylton »

Adam R wrote:
Isn't there a contemporary quote about fighting 'in the English Fashion' - ie with men at arms dismounted?
I've come across that phrase & meaning numerous times. Can't say its right or wrong. But to me sounds up to a point quite logical. But it is as you say a contemporary quote.

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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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Marcus Woodhouse wrote:That would be my take on it Colin, though my own research seems to suggest that most "Captains of Archery" were of low born stock with few even being Knights or Esquires. Some do get knighted as a result of bravery or effective leadership.
I'm not thinking of the "Captains of Archery", so much as that bit in Henry V where his cousin asks to lead the archers (yes, I know that Shakespear's not that trustworthy) or John Howard leading the archers at Bosworth. I'm sure that the really top guy on the archers would still be a knight (or higher), but MAY still be described as an archer.
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Of course there are documents such as the French and Burgundian ordinannces, lists of "lost" goods and illustrated manuscripts aplenty that point towards archers being as well armed (or at least almost as well armed) as MAA. The pictures of Scotish archers and English archers in Burgundian service has men in full or nearly full harness, some with bows some with pollaxes or glaives. (Which should again warn us about using notions of the amount of armour worn as a sign of status.)
I've always wondered about those pictures. Archers are always telling us that you can't shoot in arm harness, so why are these guys archers and fully harnessed?
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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Colin Middleton wrote:
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:That would be my take on it Colin, though my own research seems to suggest that most "Captains of Archery" were of low born stock with few even being Knights or Esquires. Some do get knighted as a result of bravery or effective leadership.
I'm not thinking of the "Captains of Archery", so much as that bit in Henry V where his cousin asks to lead the archers (yes, I know that Shakespear's not that trustworthy) or John Howard leading the archers at Bosworth. I'm sure that the really top guy on the archers would still be a knight (or higher), but MAY still be described as an archer.
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Of course there are documents such as the French and Burgundian ordinannces, lists of "lost" goods and illustrated manuscripts aplenty that point towards archers being as well armed (or at least almost as well armed) as MAA. The pictures of Scotish archers and English archers in Burgundian service has men in full or nearly full harness, some with bows some with pollaxes or glaives. (Which should again warn us about using notions of the amount of armour worn as a sign of status.)
I've always wondered about those pictures. Archers are always telling us that you can't shoot in arm harness, so why are these guys archers and fully harnessed?
Towards the end of one of our groups(Ravencrest/Grey's) local gigs I was quite easily using a bow in my armour, less the Milanese gauntlets. With slightly different gauntlets I'm sure I could have even left that bit of armour on too.

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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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Colin Middleton wrote: I've always wondered about those pictures. Archers are always telling us that you can't shoot in arm harness, so why are these guys archers and fully harnessed?
Because most people nowadays don't wear proper well fitting armour?
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Post by zauberdachs »

lidimy wrote:
- those who have swords, though not necessarily!

Lidi :D
Certainly in the later periods swords were fairly standard items of equipment and low quality items were quite inexpensive.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Tuppence »

Because most people nowadays don't wear proper well fitting armour?
well that's pretty accurate.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

And havn't practised with a bow every Sunday and Feast day since they were knee high to a grasshpper because we aren't really 15th century people.
Anyway Lidi isnae going to do either archery or become a squire so to hea with it.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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Zachos wrote:Because most people nowadays don't wear proper well fitting armour?
You mean I've got to try shooting when I get my new arm harness then. :roll:

Cool! 8-)
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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Colin Middleton wrote: I've always wondered about those pictures. Archers are always telling us that you can't shoot in arm harness, so why are these guys archers and fully harnessed?
partly because Archer guards were fashionable and received nice kit as part of their duties/payment- doesn't necessarily mean they wore the stuff when in active service, or if they did that they still used the bow as a primary weapon.

When not fighting they often had a role equivalent to modern Military police- providing escorts, bodyguarding, close protection work, clearing crowds and generally protecting the bigwigs. It's still the role of the Loyal Company of Archers today when the Queen is in Scotland- I doubt they'd be using their bows to do the job though! Just as Black Rod is unlikly to use the mace to protect the Queen or PM in Parliament- it has become a symbol rather than a tool.

This was the role of Le Garde Ecossais certainly and they are depicted with very nice harness as elite troops.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

That explains the scenes from camps, there are still enough pictures of archers in battle wearing near full harness that would need to be taken into acount.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Adam R »

So what is it that stops you from shooting a bow in an arm harness that you can't do in a padded jack? Where does the string catch? Or is it some other issue?
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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Can I posit a theory?

Can I suggest that any difficulty re-enactors experience about loosing in armour might be related to the type of bows that they use and the way they use them. Most re-enactors use relatively low poundage bows and draw them using a different technique to that used by war bow enthusiasts.

In addition, I suspect very few of our archers have much experience of wearing and moving in harness, let alone shooting in it.

However there are people in re-enactment who should be able to meet the criterea. Does anyone know if they think it's impractical to shoot in harness, particularly arm harness?

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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Trading-Dragon »

I have done so, though I must admit that I have a fairly easy bow (30lbs) which does not compare at all to a warbow.

The string does not catch anywhere and the armour shouldn't impede your ability to draw. Though saying that, I'm very particular about how my arm harness is attached and it makes a huge difference to the fit depending on which squire helps me into it (which says a lot about the delicate relationship between a knight and his squire).

My biggest problem is that I tire out so easily. My arm harness is a bit of the heavy side, being a mix of 16ga and 14ga steel and with that much ironmongery hanging off your limbs even drawing a fairly light bow is extremely exhausting after a few shots. But it's definitely doable, if only I wasn't so much of a wuss. :lol:
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

I am in agreement with you Fox.
Just because "we" find it hard to use a bow wearing harness does not mean that the people who fought with them for real did.
Hence my post about the fact most re-enactors will not have been practising using a war bow every weekend since the age of eight or there abouts. The armour is not as good, well fitting. They lack the stamina and so on.
Now it may be that the artisits who painted the manuscripts were making it up as well but I don't think it should be written off as possible just because we find it hard anymore than I think we should assume "billmen" fought in a line/block together the way we do beacuse that's what we find easiest or makes the most sense to us.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

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Marcus Woodhouse wrote:...anymore than I think we should assume "billmen" fought in a line/block together the way we do beacuse that's what we find easiest or makes the most sense to us.
I suppose it depends on how you define "the way we do", and even who you mean by "we".

But do you have an alternative proposal?

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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Hobbitstomper »

Re-enactors are generally fatter than period archers?

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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by glyndwr 50 »

I agree with what Fox was saying about the way reenactors shoot longbows in the reenactments . Back in the early seventies ,I was a member of a jousting company based in Nottingham ,we fought with a wide range of weapons .In those very early days of reenacting we never had real maille ,ours was knitted string ,but the helms were made of 1/16th steel and all of the weapons were made just like the real thing .But as the years went buy the armour became real as could possibly be made.Putting on real link mallie for the first time was an eyeopener ,the weight took some getting use to but you soon got use to it .Then came the real armour ,no fiberglass just shiny steel which again took some time to get use to but with practice even that became quite easy .And this is my point about what is possible while wearing armour .the first thing that comes to mind is ( How easy is it to move in ?) .an ill fitting suit will hamper movement .But when a person has a really well made to fit suit of armour ,you can do anything without hinderance .I was an extra on many films and I remember being dressed as a man at arms in half armour .We were shooting low powerd longbows but shooting them in armour was strange at first but we all got the hang of it in the end .While making a film at Bodiam castle the stuntmen were doing summersalts to show how easy the armour was to move in .It was just amazing how much movement they had ,but I must admit they were very fit men but after a days filming they admitted that after a while there strenght started to wain.The armour was made to fit each man and only that man ,if you tried to put on someone elses armour you found that it would catch or bind on the joints .Its a real pain when you find you can't raise your arm because of a badly fitted suit .But when right suits were first strapped on and there energy was high they found them no problems .One of the main problems I had was trying to keep cool on hot days ,you know what film making is like ,your standing around more than actual filming and then there's the dry runs and what with all the padding & mallie & armour topped with a closed helm I very often started to melt inside it .And the most important thing was making sure that you went to the loo before fitting the armour on .can you picture the scene ,your just about to start filming a take and you need the loo badly the word Action comes over the airwaves and your breaking your neck Ha Ha .But as I said I am sure that if a person has a really well made suit of armour he should be capable of free movement providing he is fit and has lots of energy.
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Re: How to tell who is a Knight.

Post by Colin Middleton »

I've always thought that the 'problem point' would be the inside of the elbow where the couter wraps round and stands proud of the arm. I may have to try this one out next season (new arm harness) and see if I can shoot in armour (not that I can shoot without it!).

I know what you mean about getting the arm harness to fit properly. My 2 best squires tried a 'time trial' at Fort Paull last year. They managed to get me fully harnessed in just 11 minutes and 20 seconds. They'd have managed it much faster if I didn't insist of pauses to check the fit!
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