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muck's comprehensive list of medieval-ish stereotypes debunked

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  • I think I have a good example for a medieval castle that was upgraded in the "cannon age" 14 / 15th century and also outfitted with strategic round bastions to house their own guns and the typical star shaped fortifications. I know it quite well because I studied in Bielefeld and quite regularly visit the medieval fair in summer that is held on this castle:




    The gun bastions point to a narrow gap in the Teutoburg forest by the Way, so that any enemy wishing to cross without having to climb over the mountains could have been put under fire.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparrenberg_Castle


    Some pics from wiki commons:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...rrenburg_2.jpg

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    • Originally posted by JimHPTN View Post
      For all of the falchion/messer fans here, Shadiversity posted a whole series of videos on these weapons talking about James Elmslie's typology for these weapons. I'm sorry that I can't post the YouTube links, but I'm traveling and working with my cellphone. I would suggest looking them up as they are worth the time if you don't already know much about the subject.

      https://youtu.be/7WaE9AqrIAU

      Edit: I just learned a little more about my phone and have learned how to copy links.

      Thanks for the link to this very informative video series. I might not have been a fan of falchions/messers, but I am certainly one now
      I quite like the proposed convention of referring to both of these inter-related sword types as medieval backswords or single swords.

      On a related note - here is an interesting video on single vs double edged swords:



      Honestly, given the added ease of manufacture, improved cutting potential, and higher resilience of single-edged swords, I am surprised that these swords did not force the double edge swords into obsolescence, at least as a personal sidearms (although I can see why it would be advantageous to have double edges on larger blades such as zweihanders). Additionally, once you account for the facts that the best type of hilt possible (the basket hilt) makes it rather unwieldy to utilize the back edge, and the fact that many single edge swords have a false back edge at the very top of the blade in case it is ever needed - it is only logical to ask why double edged arming swords persisted for as long as they did.

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      • Originally posted by Aradan View Post


        Thanks for the link to this very informative video series. I might not have been a fan of falchions/messers, but I am certainly one now
        I quite like the proposed convention of referring to both of these inter-related sword types as medieval backswords or single swords.

        On a related note - here is an interesting video on single vs double edged swords:



        Honestly, given the added ease of manufacture, improved cutting potential, and higher resilience of single-edged swords, I am surprised that these swords did not force the double edge swords into obsolescence, at least as a personal sidearms (although I can see why it would be advantageous to have double edges on larger blades such as zweihanders). Additionally, once you account for the facts that the best type of hilt possible (the basket hilt) makes it rather unwieldy to utilize the back edge, and the fact that many single edge swords have a false back edge at the very top of the blade in case it is ever needed - it is only logical to ask why double edged arming swords persisted for as long as they did.
        From what i remember its because Messers were less efective vs armored enemies not that you should even be using either.

        As for the rule of first night i read something that there was indeed such custom but it had not involved actual sex at all or anything of such thing.

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        • Originally posted by Asheren View Post

          From what i remember its because Messers were less efective vs armored enemies not that you should even be using either.
          I believe that is correct from what I have read and seen from people knowledgeable about the subject. Both the messer and falchion are optimized for use against unarmored opponents but would make them useless against armored opponents. The preferred weapons would be polearms such as halberds and projectile weapons such as handgonnes and crossbows.

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          • Originally posted by JimHPTN View Post

            I believe that is correct from what I have read and seen from people knowledgeable about the subject. Both the messer and falchion are optimized for use against unarmored opponents but would make them useless against armored opponents. The preferred weapons would be polearms such as halberds and projectile weapons such as handgonnes and crossbows.
            Actualy crossbows were supprisingly not that much effecive compared to what we are lead to belive at least early designs. It was due to low draw lenght on them.

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            • Originally posted by Asheren View Post

              Actualy crossbows were supprisingly not that much effecive compared to what we are lead to belive at least early designs. It was due to low draw lenght on them.
              This is very true. To be effective, it required the versions with very high draw weights, in other words with the various gear and pulley type draw systems. Even the early gonnes may not have been all that effective. In a side note, it appears that there are many more handgonnes than crossbows by the middle to end of the 15th century, at least in Southern Germany. I'll try to confirm some numbers when I get back home. I'm reading a book on the armed aspects of early modern Southern Germany that ranges from~1400 to ~1700. It should have a lot of useful information about the social structure of the time.

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              • Just a correction on one of my previous posts but studies about knight horses have emerged more precise recently
                It seems that hyper heavy cavalry horses like assessed previously was not the norm
                In fact there seems to be a misunderstanding
                What we call high horse today is any horse with a height > or = to 170 cm
                The only races reaching that are the draft horses
                According to horse armor analyses (admitely not very numerous) high horses in medieval times were more around 150 to 160 cm
                Remember that a savage horse height is only around 135-140 cm

                So to summarize medieval horses were probably closer to the Lusitano in height with probably a stronger body (selected for "heavy " lift rather than speed race) so a weight around 500 kg

                Something looking more like that : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9rens_horse than that : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_horse

                In any case they wouldn't be arab or angloarab type of horses made for speed, not for lifting heavy weight (even if any horse can carry up to 30% of his own weight easily)

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Asheren View Post

                  Actualy crossbows were supprisingly not that much effecive compared to what we are lead to belive at least early designs. It was due to low draw lenght on them.

                  Yep. It seems that although crossbows performed well-enough against chainmail and gambesons, plate armour was all but impervious even to the heaviest of crossbows.

                  Some interesting test videos pertinent to this topic:


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                  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EszwYNvvCjQ



                    Something i'd never thought about before, the medievil way of walking in smooth soles without heels and how it affects your walking style, distance and how you fight.

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                    • Medieval people misrepresented in fiction

                      Richard III, King of England (1452–1485) – Shakespeare
                      Ever since his appearance in the eponymous Shakespearean play, this last king of the House of York on England's throne became globally accepted as one of the worst human beings to ever bear that title. He's blamed for the deaths of his young imprisoned nephews Edward V, King of England and Richard, Duke of York among countless other crimes which he'd committed (according to Shakespeare) merely out of bitterness about his disfigured body and unsightly appearance.

                      However, recent studies have found that Richard cannot have been responsible for the vast majority of the crimes attributed to him: His steward's accounting shows that in most cases he wasn't even present to do the deed but resided elsewhere instead. It is quite possible that he actually ordered the murder of the Princes in the Tower (whose true fate as of yet remains unclear) even though his successor and rival Henry (later Henry VII) also had to have an interest in their disappearance.

                      The study of his recently-unearthed remains showed that Richard neither had a hunchback nor was half a cripple. He'd have suffered from scoliosis, which is a malalignment of the spine. It can't have been a very serious case though for otherwise he would not have been able to participate in mounted combat. Foreign ambassadors to England described him as a decently-looking bloke, a man unlike the hideous creature of Elizabethian drama.
                      Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino (1422-1482) – Da Vinci's Demons
                      Portrayed in the American-British hit series "Da Vinci's Demons" as a mindless thug with a strong liking for the abuse of his subjects (especially those who happen to have two x chromosomes), the real 15th century Italian nobleman and mercenary was anything but a fiend.

                      A humanist through and through and valuing knowledge and competence above nobility or even gender, the real Montefeltro was beloved by the people of his small duchy. As a capable ruler and a just man, he won the respect of friend and foe alike and made it a lifelong habit of his to weed out administrative corruption wherever it reared its ugly head. It is reported that Montefeltro would often stroll about the streets of Urbino without any guards whatsoever to have a chat with common folk, learning about their situation or offering to arbitrate in disputes.

                      His territory was the only medieval state that forbade the use of torture on crime suspects. His soldiers were said to love him, as he was known for rather risking his reputation than their lives. As a general rule he never let his troops lay hands on the people of a conquered city. In his later years, Montefeltro created one of the biggest libraries of the Renaissance and spent much of his considerable fortune on the advancement of arts.
                      Joan of Arc (1412-1431) – Joan of Arc
                      Portrayed by Milla Jovovich as a veritable madwoman in Luc Besson's 1999 rendition of the French national heroine's tragic life story, the real Joan was the diametric opposite to this depiction. So keen-witted as to stand her ground against twelve Catholic bishops which (unlike her) were trained in rhetorics and tasked with finding reasons to condemn her to a fiery death no matter what, the real Joan was so astute the English actually needed to rig her process on every turn to be able to justify a death sentence.

                      Unlike her movie alter ego the real Joan wasn't known to throw a hissy fit either, relying on the persuavive powers of logic and faith instead. In fact her nature must've been so compelling that all her companions soon agreed that Joan was in fact sent by God. Even ice-cold Gilles de Rais – a man who later turned out to be one of the most prolific and cruel serial killers of all times – became a close friend of Joan's and risked her life for her six ways from sunday.
                      Barisan (Balian), Lord of Ibelin (114?-1193) – Kingdom of Heaven
                      A France-born artisan and bastard son becomes a renowned knight in service of the benevolent but dying King of Jerusalem Baldwin IV, a lover of the king's sister Sibylla, a defender of common folk of all faiths and commander of Jerusalem during its last days of glory, all while resisting the fanatism of his fellow crusaders… the protagonist of 2005's "Kingdom of Heaven" sounds too good to be true? That's 'cause he is.

                      The historical Barisan, son of Barisan (Balian is an Old French spelling) was an Outremer-born knight and a legitimate son of a major noblemen in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. He was no artisan nor engineer, having gained his knowledge about siege engines like any other man of war at the time instead: by watching them in action. A nobleman with appetites befitting a nobleman, the real Barisan was not Sibylla's lover but the rightful (second) husband of Baldwin's mother Maria Comnena, niece of the Byzantine Emporer. Boosted by his wife's power and importance, he had no qualms about involving himself in politics and intrigue and supported various great lords in their struggles for power.

                      At least the movie stays true to Barisan's reputation as a skillful commander, though; it is said that Saladin, Sultan of Egypt and Syria and Barisan's rival in the struggle for control over Jerusalem prior to the battle exclaimed words to the effect of "Why *him* of all people!". A funny detail downplayed by the movie: The real Barisan's nickname was "the hirsute one" and Teutonic knights in Jerusalem's service referred to him only as the "hairy troll of Ibelin". Apparently Barisan wasn't quite as handsome as Orlando Bloom.

                      We know that in his days Barisan fought in every major battle in Outremer, including the Battle of Hattin from where he fled in shame according to some sources. While the movie portrays him as not even marching with the army due to his bitter feud with Sybilla's husband, the newly-crowned king Guy of Lusignan, the real Barisan actually swore fealty to Guy and became an advisor of his. They didn't like each other, but it is said that Barisan felt compelled by his honor to serve Guy and fight alongside him.
                      Last edited by muck; 08-02-2018, 05:27 PM.

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                      • Could someone explain to me how a Czech fencing school with dudes who by no means live off their work is able to outclass Hollywood studios that have all the dollars? That's a proper longsword duel right there, ladies and gentlemen. The fencing techniques, the grappling – that's Talhoffer's treatise put to work.

                        "Realism is boring." Say again, Hollywood?

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                        • Originally posted by muck View Post


                          Could someone explain to me how a Czech fencing school with dudes who by no means live off their work is able to outclass Hollywood studios that have all the dollars? That's a proper longsword duel right there, ladies and gentlemen. The fencing techniques, the grappling – that's Talhoffer's treatise put to work.

                          "Realism is boring." Say again, Hollywood?
                          These are some great videos.

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                          • Very cool, thanks for posting that.

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                            • You're welcome. Yeah, it sure is fun watching enthusiasts at work.

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                              • A video about forests in the Middle Ages in the UK.

                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVPUFMwm73Y

                                Edit: I should point out that it covers forests throughout the range of human history in Great Britain, not just the Middle Ages.

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