Normans

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Fenton
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Post by Fenton » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:41 pm

I was at Senlac Hill in 2000 at the big hastings reenactment, and I have to tell you Senlac Hill is bloody steep, it doesnt look like it when you start up it but by half way it really starts to take its toll, I was a Saxon that day so I didnt have to go up it in armour thank god, but I can imagine why the Cav had a hard time of it, what the Norman horse did on the day and this is no way meant to be an indication of what they did in 1066 was almost zig zag up the hill to the battlelines, now I dont know if this was because the ground was a very wet and modern safety standards required it, or because it was the ony way to traverse the hill quickly on on horseback

Quintus
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Post by Quintus » Fri Mar 14, 2008 7:14 am

I have never been there. I ought to.

If it is so steep then it is little wonder that many Englishmen were tempted to charge down upon the invaders.

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Post by hazelbark » Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:00 pm

Fenton wrote:I was at Senlac Hill in 2000 at the big hastings reenactment, and I have to tell you Senlac Hill is bloody steep, it doesnt look like it when you start up it but by half way it really starts to take its toll,
Most modern people ascribe hills as very shallow. But that is partially the dynamic of us being used to wheels and motor vehicles.

The great ridges of military history seem gentle from a car, but having to go up them versus people waiting at the top with evil thoughts or pointy sticks or even muskets. Shudder.

Fenton
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Post by Fenton » Sun Mar 16, 2008 12:28 am

Its the same when you walk up Messines Ridge the others round Ypres, you think at the time is that it?, but when looking back you can see how far you are actually up above Sea Level

spike
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Post by spike » Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:54 pm

nikgaukroger wrote:The top of Senlac hill is, apparantly as I have never been there, quite steep and I recall some horse riding gamers saying that it was enough to mean that the Normans charge would not have been at full effect - esentially I think they said that massed horsemen would be reduced to pretty much a walk at that stage.
Steep is an understatement- I did the reinactment in 1992 and walking up in Armour/shield, Spear and Sword and was a struggle in authentic footwear. 7 times we climbed it on the Sat afternoon rehersal, on a balmy warm October afternoon, as the Saxons "forgot" to persue us Norman's down the hill - Never trust a Saxon with a sense of humour.

Ps
Apparently it was landscaped in the 18th century so it's less steep now than it was in 1066!

Spike

Fenton
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Post by Fenton » Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:16 pm

Hi Spike

As your probably aware theres two fields at Battle, the official one and the one where the reenactments take place, when we were there they were saying that the one where the reenactment takes place is actually the battle site and not the one where thay have believed it was

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Post by spike » Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:19 am

Fenton wrote:Hi Spike

As your probably aware theres two fields at Battle, the official one and the one where the reenactments take place, when we were there they were saying that the one where the reenactment takes place is actually the battle site and not the one where thay have believed it was

We had the Plastic camp on the "real one" as it was back in 1992, and that's no less gentle than the bit we walked up and down on it (its just one a big steep ridge with the modern town sat right on the top), and from memory its also v.boggy at the bottom.
Had a nice view of the Orionid meteor shower on the Saturday evening too.

They used the one nr the abbey as it had better access and view for spectators, as it had been "landscaped".

Ed...I've just been reminded it was 1990 not 92, definatly not '91 as that was Malden

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Post by Ironhand » Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:44 am

Hazelbark has a good point. Terrain can get a whole lot tougher when you have to walk over it or ride horse over it, especially if you're carrying any amout of weight.

On the other hand, people back in those days walked everywhere unless they were knights or nobles, so were more used to it. Likewise, a Norman knight who had been trained from a young age to handle horse, shield, and lance, might have less trouble negotiating some terrain than a modern reenactor.

I hadn't realized that the Hastings battlefield had been "landscaped". Thanks for that info Spike.

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Post by korvus » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:15 pm

The re-enactment comments are very interesting, and its worth pointing out to the quite agressive poster that the Saxons lost to Normans charging up that hill... Its also hard to tell this far down the line whether all 18 of those charges went straight into the Saxon lines, or whether the Normans skirmshed with thrown lances as shown in some places in the Bayeux tapestries for some time first.

Two things worth considering.

First, the length of lances is not a strictly linear increase over time. They get longer and shorter, depending on fashion and situation, and there are some interesting primary source comments on the subject. In particular, Jehan de Wavrin, who wrote the only eyewitness account of Agincourt, describes the French knights deciding to shorten their lances on the morning of the battle so that they would be "stiffer at the impact". This is very important; clearly they believed that their shorter lances would be more effective against their dismounted opponents.

Other sources in this vein is a description of Fornovo, where the Marquis of Mantua, the Italian Captain-General, charges into the French lines, hurling his lance to knock down an enemy knight, then rides into their formation through the hole he's created. A shorter lance is required for hurling. Liberi's depiction of lances for war depict a much shorter lance as well, not much more than a glorified spear.

There's also an interesting tale in Osama's chronicle of the crusades in which he states that, "he's never seen a hauberk pierced by a lance." and even relates a tale where despite everything being in his favour (charging downhill, catching his opponent by surprise, and generally smacking the Frank a good one) he fails to penetrate his opponents hauberk with his lance.

That said, there is another key consideration. Something that often isn't when discussing the rise of the medieval knight is the horse. Not all horses are created equal, and there has been some fairly convincing argument that the success of the Normans has to do with the quantity, quality, and training of their horseflesh, and perhaps little to do with the couching of the lance at all. Bigger, stronger horses hit harder, and well trained ones will run right onto the point of an enemy spear and keep going, smashing holes in infantry formations, knocking down enemy horses, and generally wreaking mayhem of a sort never seen before. And one only has to look at the few surviving medieval warhorse breeds to see that they are monsters, and realize why they were so devestating.

Have fun!
Cole

Fenton
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Post by Fenton » Thu Mar 20, 2008 12:05 am

FRom what I can tell most of the horses in the HYW period seems to have been a Shire type horse rather than the riding horses we see today, so te would have been a lot stronger,but probably not as fast

Interestingly, in the Braveheart all the English Cav were actually the Irish Womens Cav unit, they used them because they were better riders and they would make the horses look bigger

Well thats what they said when I was hanging about anyway

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Post by shall » Thu Mar 20, 2008 8:02 am

That was just Mel practicing for what women want ..... :wink:

Si

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Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:48 am

Fenton wrote:
FRom what I can tell most of the horses in the HYW period seems to have been a Shire type horse rather than the riding horses we see today, so te would have been a lot stronger,but probably not as fast
I thought the shire horse myth had been killed off as well :?

korvus
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Post by korvus » Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:28 am

The shire horse theory has been fairly well debunked. Analysis of horse armour indicates they were in the 15-16 hands range, and other measures indicate this was a fairly consistent size at least back to the 13th century. The prevailing opinion is that the horse was stronger and stockier than we're used to seeing (think Frisian).

Have fun!
Cole

korvus
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Post by korvus » Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:33 am

Oops, I hit post a little quickly there.

So, at that size, the horse can still weight between 3/4 to 1 ton...

Have fun!
Cole

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