Find one on line as notice how the shield is being held by the Norman Knights on horseback. It looks like the Corporate Coat Clutch except that the shield is controlled by the left forearm.
The handles on shields intended for use in the Norman, Viking, and Western European shield walls are horizontally aligned with the ground, snug inside the curve of the shield, where the clench fist is a few inches from the edge to hold the shield close to the chin. The elbow is directly under the left fist with the left forearm tight against the biceps. This is true during the 11th and 12th Century and most of the 13th. The exception to the vertical forearm is on mounted knights later where an angle was necessary for the rider to hold the reins.
|Arn the Cuman shows the Cross Gut Grip vs the Stong Arm Grip|
Throw, Stab or Stick?
Another item to note is that the Mounted Norman Knights are holding their spears in what looks like they are about to throw the spear. That option was used during this time frame, but that is not what the Normans are doing here. This is a standoff overhand stab.
The spear is being held in the last quarter of it’s’ length too far back to control the throw. In other sources, I found a few examples of the rider stabbing a foot soldier, hang onto the spear and let the forward motion of the horse pull the spear out. This is also found in the Middle East and Eastern Europe where the couched lance is rare. This calls for considerable skill in being able to stab someone or horse or foot with a grip that allows two thirds of more of the weight of the spear in front.
The Shield Wall
|Copied from Images from Wargaming games|
Battles of Hastings and Stamford Bridge 1066
The Saxon line on Senlac Hill show overlapping shields which reoccur in war like the Greek Phalanx, and the Roman Legion who locked shields together. They had just defeated Harald Hardrada, last of the Viking Kings at Stamford Bridge almost to Scotland, and speed marched down to meet William at Hastings. Despite the fatigue that Anglo Saxon army was, the shield wall on Senlac hill held for twelve hours. Then someone started to chase what looked like a retreating Norman force, but wasn’t.
|The Saxons held Senlac Hill for Twelve hours in an era where less than an hour was the norm|
Notice the array of spears in the Saxon position, they look like quills on a porcupine, no sword or spear goes between overlapping shields. Therefore, how did warriors behind a wall fight the enemy charging at then? Answer: they fought over the shields with spears held in a stabbing down position. Swords were a sidearm and limited to periods where the wall wobbled. There are a few examples in the art of the time where a single swordsman nails and opponent who got too close to the wall and was stabbed like a volleyball close return.
The Eye-Hands Principle
Or in the case of stab and retract, the Double Elvis Pelvis Swivel applies. Elvis had a Black Belt in Karate. The stab is the same as a same side strike applied to the right side with a whiplash from right foot to right arm, twisting the hips to counter-clockwise. The retraction is an opposite side whiplash, with the dynamic from left foot to right arm by twisting the hips clockwise.
|The Tactical Operating Environment in the Renaissance had replaced most shiels sith thicker armor and the |
double handed sword where fancy handwork with a longer two handed handle was
the symmetry of the day
The Crowded Battlefield
Zulu - Volley Fire
Panic - the Startle Respose that destroys nations.
The cacophony of clash of arms, shouts, screams of men and horses made verbal commands from within a basked helmet somewhat problematic. Drums were a common means of giving fairly complex commands, but used less in the West than in the East.
A few days after this, he gave his famous speech ICH BIN EINE BERLINER
The idea of a mob of that size attacking in a tight shoulder to shoulder formation is tempting fate, that of Murphy's Laws. Anything that can go wrong will, and in the worst possible time, and place. The commanders of the day knew that and avoided open battle unless the odds or fate says otherwise. The greatest casualties of Medieval warfare up to WW 1 was, unlike popcorn, the cavalry was the wind.
Command and Control on an Unruly Battlefield
|This is B Company, 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry (Dragoons) of the 3rd Armored Division |
in Gelhausen, Germany 1963-64. I'm the skinny one at the extreme low left.
The Shield Wall was one of the two big tricks the West brought to the Levant. The other “trick" was charge of Heavy Cavalry with couched lance. The West rode on large stallions which are spirited while the East preferred smaller mares for ease of management. Cavalry is covered in another chapter.
Not only did Knights Templar have standardized individual and small unit tactics, the knights also provided the same kind of assistance to other groups of Christian and Crusaders. This is similar to the mission of the Military Assistance and Advisory Group, Vietnam by providing advisors, services and support and when needed actual combat forces.. The Knights were assigned the most difficult tasks as in the Battle of Arsuf where they were in a position to preclude panic and maintain formations while under a constant barrage from Saladin's forces light and heavy.
During the Second Crusade, Knights Templar assigned to support that effort were critical in training and coaching the forces through some very hostile terrain, and the Turk as well. Thus, the training received by a typical Templar Knight has to have included individual and small unit tactics common throughout the order, and receive command and staff training the results of which form the Gold Standard of combat troops of that Era.
|A collage of bits and pieces of my tour in Vietnam 1968-69 with the 1st Infantry Division |
and the 1st Air Cavarly Division.
The only records found around the campus are those of the Rule which accounted for every minute of the day. So where are the programs of instruction, the training schedules, lesson plans and manual? Given the uniformity of tactic and technique throughout the Order, there had to be something like "doctrine". With several centuries of close order combat and high specialization in certain geographic areas, the capabilities of different forces were likely common knowledge.
There is little found in the documentation including paintings and statuary of medieval war in any event. This article is an effort to fill some of those gaps.
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