Friday, June 24, 2016

The Temple's Dirty Dozens

Fighting over a shield wall rather than between the shields

There are too many holes in the history of the original Knights Templar aka “The Temple” to account for their combat effectiveness or of their operations planning and training.  We have detailed instruction in the Rule for the order, but those do not deal with combat operations, and given the theoretical time usage of the Rule, there would be not enough time to train for the operations they were so good at.

There are records of the details of the training of Byzantine troops which, to the modern eye, are consistent with training rigor required for combat excellence.  That must include individual and collective tasks, plus those of command and control.  Just the formation of shield walls, and the opening of them to allow cavalry to make passages of line out and in return, is the highest order of collective competence.  This done at Arsuf by Richard I, by the Knights that counter attacks Saladin’s encircling forces, and drove him from the field.

There is also a popular perception that the Templars were uptight and religious today emulated with pomp and circumstance of which I have enjoyed.  But as a combat veteran and long serving solder of 33 years, those don’t fit.  The Anal Retentive is the default standing army preferred personality type, but which in combat tend to freeze in indecision or stick to a stupid one regardless.  Likewise the default Anal Retentive is obsessed with neatness, while the original Templars were filthy in accordance with the notion that filthy is faithful piety.   Something that many monks followed.

It was a matter of pride and practice that the garb of the Templars were hand repaired and often tattered and torn.  Yet the complaints against them was often that they were arrogant and offensive to others.  Such is the manner of elite troops forever more.

Likewise there is a popular notion that the Temple was religiously fanatic in accordance with (Catholic) doctrine.  As a matter of fact, Cathars were welcome. The last we hear of the order after the burning is of Cathars in possession of important artifacts of the order.

The first real clue as to the nature of the knights real makeup is found in St Bernard’s presentation in which he condemns the disreputable nature of those who are about to turn their lives around. 

Praise of the New Knighthood
Liber ad milites Templi : De laude novae militae
Chapter 2

What then, O knights, is this monstrous error and what this unbearable urge which bids you fight with such pomp and labor, and all to no purpose except death and sin? You cover your horses with silk, and plume your armor with I know not what sort of rags; you paint your shields and your saddles; you adorn your bits and spurs with gold and silver and precious stones, and then in all this glory you rush to your ruin with fearful wrath and fearless folly. Are these the trappings of a warrior or are they not rather the trinkets of a woman? Do you think the swords of your foes will be turned back by your gold, spare your jewels or be unable to pierce your silks?

As you yourselves have often certainly experienced, a warrior especially needs these three things--he must guard his person with strength, shrewdness and care; he must be free in his movements, and he must be quick to draw his sword. Then why do you blind yourselves with effeminate locks and trip yourselves up with long and full tunics, burying your tender, delicate hands in big cumbersome sleeves? Above all, there is that terrible insecurity of conscience, in spite of all your armor, since you have dared to undertake such a dangerous business on such slight and frivolous grounds. What else is the cause of wars and the root of disputes among you, except unreasonable flashes of anger, the thirst for empty glory, or the hankering after some earthly possessions? It certainly is not safe to kill or to be killed for such causes as these.

The recruits here addressed are being dressed down for their lethal egotism and in view of the Popes desire for a Peace of God to cut down on rampant petty warfare.  St Bernard established the desired goals of the “New Knighthood’ in Chapters 3 and 4 of his treatise.

CHAPTER 3 - On the new knighthood

. But the knights of Christ may safely fight the battles of their Lord, fearing neither sin if they smite the enemy, nor danger at their own death; since to inflict death or to die for Christ is no sin, but rather, an abundant claim to glory. In the first case one gains for Christ, and in the second one gains Christ himself. The Lord freely accepts the death of the foe who has offended him, and yet more freely gives himself for the consolation of his fallen knight.

 The knight of Christ, I say, may strike with confidence and die yet more confidently, for he serves Christ when he strikes, and serves himself when he falls. Neither does he bear the sword in vain, for he is God's minister, for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of the good. If he kills an evildoer, he is not a mankiller, but, if I may so put it, a killer of evil. He is evidently the avenger of Christ towards evildoers and he is rightly considered a defender of Christians. Should he be killed himself, we know that he has not perished, but has come safely into port. When he inflicts death it is to Christ's profit, and when he suffers death, it is for his own gain. The Christian glories in the death of the pagan, because Christ is glorified; while the death of the Christian gives occasion for the King to show his liberality in the rewarding of his knight. In the one case the just shall rejoice when he sees justice done, and in the other man shall say, truly there is a reward for the just; truly it is God who judges the earth.

 I do not mean to say that the pagans are to be slaughtered when there is any other way to prevent them from harassing and persecuting the faithful, but only that it now seems better to destroy them than that the rod of sinners be lifted over the lot of the just, and the righteous perhaps put forth their hands unto iniquity.

In addition to the details in  Liber ad milites Templi : De laude novae militae, the Rule of the order addresses behaviors in detail to keep order in the close confines in collective life of the Brotherhood.

There is reference to meetings of the knights of the order in their commanderies in which only knights were to attend.  Given the amount of time necessary for training and planning for an active military force,  I suspect that these  had a military  and political orientation.  The training should have involved war gaming, staff coordination, and exercise in specific techniques.

Changing spear from spear point up to out for fighting over the shield wall

There remains the question of field exercises which are absolutely necessary for collective training, as well as drills for mounted and massed formations.  In addition to fighting mounted and dismounted as needed, the Temple was used as advisors like Special Forces to train and lead formations of otherwise less capable forces. 

Since the Temple fought in consistent fashion, a consistent doctrine should have been available for use in coordinating the effectiveness of the forces.  No documents have been surfaced to date that indicate what they said, but the content can be partly deduced here and there.  This doctrine would have been treated as classified. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Convert or Cut a Deal


Convert or Die is a Waste of a Good Axe.

Convert Or Die is a waste of a good axe.  Those who convert are unreliable, and the rest are worth more sold as slaves.  Those who must die are those whose death sets an example, one will do.  Better convert or Cut a Deal.  Machiavelli:

Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or

crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge. Machiavelli, The Prince


Machiavelli also warns that one must kill all of those in need, executed all at once by one of their own, whose body is displayed as an apology once done.  Chicago style.

The act of conversion (or surrender) must be credible and readily recognized by the capturing force.   In WW2, the Germans would surrender only with a duly signed certificate and delivered with specific places, times and manner of surrender. 

WW 2 Surrender Leaflets/ Safe Passes


In order to facilitate surrender or conversion of non-Muslim forces and places facing a Muslim force, only the Shahada need be pronounced:


These words are central to the faith that in various forms of calligraphy are found everywhere.   It is a commitment to the rules and regulations of Islam.    One sentence. 

This facilitated the imposition of what we call today “Stability Operations” which includes Civil Affairs and Military Governance.   Islam grew as either a religiously motivated army or a militarily motivated religion.  The two are inseparable.  As well as religion and the state. 


Conquests of the first Caliphates

This undoubtedly facilitated the rapid expansion of Islam under Mohammed, and his immediate successors from Arabia to Kabul to Spain.  In addition was the ability of the Commanders of Islamic forces to negotiate with those who might have resisted or remained as a hostile presence in the rear.  This allowed those “conquered” to maintain that part of their culture most commonly known in the West as family law, and the customs of the village. 

This is particularly noted by Khalid ibn-al Walid on his conquest of Damascus in 635 AD:

“In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful. This is what Khalid ibn al-Walid would Grant to the inhabitants of Damascus if he enters therein:


He promises to give them security for their lives, property, and churches. Their city shall not be demolished, neither shall any Muslim be quartered in their houses. Thereunto we give them the pact of Allah and the protection of his Prophet, the caliphs, and the believers.


So long as they pay the poll tax, nothing but good shall befall them.”11



This was particularly applied those whose religion is “of the book” of Abraham. Christians and Jews were able to rise to positions of wealth and power within the realm of Islam, particularly with reference to Arab Muslim polities (nations are a recent development).  When the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1500, they either went to Protestant nations (Holland, England) or to Ottoman Turkey.  There they served as valuable intelligence assets. 

 The Napoleonic Wars marked the he reversal of these accommodations by extreme nationalism or by extreme religious oppression, a process that began to be expressed in the face of the growth of Western Imperialism in Africa and the Middle East.   That villages and communities of other faiths and customs that are now being destroyed lasted over a thousand years under a far more amendable rule.  If Islam was inherently intolerant, these would have disappeared centuries ago. 


Places where tolerance was officially observed in the Ottoman Empire

The Crusades and the Crusader states existed in a Muslim world under these rules of tolerance, give or take a massacre or two. 

Massacre, Pillage and Plunder.

The use of excessive violence as part of military or political execution comes under several reoccurring circumstances:

Richard I leading the counter attack at the Battle of Arsuf
A Rout of Retreating Forces.  The fled became the dead in most battles fought at close quarters. This included the not so ancient practice of bayonetting the wounded.  The key to success is to keep the enemy running unable to form a defense and urgently in need of getting away.  This is where the cavalry is let loose. 


The Turks break into Constantinople in 1451

The Sack of a City.  This occurs when the walls of the city or main defenses have been penetrated allowing the assault force full or rage and blood lust had their way in most messy a fashion.  The plunder taken was traditionally a part of the wage and benefits package in olden days.  Shown: The Fall of Constantinople 1451.



Execution of the Usual Suspects.  These are those on the other side for whom special enmity is bestowed plus those whose mere presence is a clear and present danger, less those who can be turned to advantage. 

After the Battle of Hattin, Saladin had all the Knights of the Hospital and the Temple executed, save for the Templar Grandmaster Girard de Rideford whose incompetence lead the Army into the valley of death.  Along with him was the King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan whose incompetence as King broke the Kingdom as a major player.  Saving the dud can do good works.


Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem surrenders to Saladin

Blackmail.  This is the threat of massacre, pillage and/or plunder to achieve a political or military objective.  Sometimes one has to make one’s point, give a head or two.


Massacre at Acre under Richard I's orders

Richard I executed the population of Acre in retaliation for what he thought was stalling on ransom by Saladin. 

Saladin established a reputation with the Crusaders as an upstanding and honorable man, right or wrong. This respect in terms of the rules of war, migrated back to Europe to found the basis of what later became Chivalry.

There was a specific punishment for Templar Knights who said the Sahada consisted of a year of the silent treatment and eating on the floor like the dogs.  Some other knights stayed on in Muslim forces to be heard of now and then.

The Crusader cities had commercial and political alliances with each other which alliances were often wrecked by outsiders full of piss and vinegar.  Tiberias and Ibelin of the Army of Jerusalem were on the verge on signing an alliance under the protection of Saladin.  This was wrecked by the Grandmaster, and the Templars up to the Horns of Hattin.

Since then, much has been made of the bloody passages in the Koran and other Muslim books as “proof” of inherent Islamic bloodiness. Likewise are found the same in the Old and New Testament, from which traditions the Koran was written.  Like the Ten Commandments, they are applied as much in the breach as the observation. 

Students and practitioners of the profession at arms must objectively assess the circumstances lest the subjective swallow them whole.  The Romans did at the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 against Khalid and the die was cast.


Gordon S Fowkes, LTC USA RET, KCTJ





Sunday, August 23, 2015

Vale Cento - 12th Century Oars at War

Oars at War, XII Century
La Nave Vale Cento
Galleys, Dromons, and Triremes are not row boats.  They are propelled by oars, and therefore it is more appropriate to call the ships with oar propulsion systems as “oar ships”, like in ‘steam ships’ or ‘sailing ships’. 
There is more than one way to oar a boat than just pulling an oar one way to make the boat go in the other.  Sometimes this is called “sculling” but that name has at least two meanings, that of the boat, and that of the method of rowing.  Instead of sitting or standing facing aft (rear), the oarsman faces forward.
Fig 2

Regata a Cannaregio - Carnival Venice

In order for a gondolier to be certified, one of the tasks required is to move the boat sideways. This gives rise to a series of alternate combinations of rowing and “voga” on an oar ship for tight maneuvering in battle.  It also reduces the width of a ship and since the oars often stay in the water, are not as adversely affected by waves as in the normal face aft rowing.

Historically, one viewing images done back then should note which way the oarsmen are facing or in which the oars are at too steep an angle to be rowed.

The Venetian Regatta shows the variety of voga sculling:
Fig 3

This is how it is done, under the description as “sculling” as a rowing style:
Fig 4

While the artwork of the Crusade Era was crude, it often was very accurate, despite problems of scale. In those days, people were more important than the things.
Fig 5

There is a popular academic theme that the default method of oaring a galley required the oarsman to stand and sit.   Just doing this without the oars, is enough to wind a horse.

Fig 6

 While placing one’s weight on the bench in front, the weight of the body in recovery must have the center of gravity in front of the center of mass.  Once the oarsman sits down, the inertia to get up again at the same time as the oars exit the water by clever twist of the wrist is overtaken by gravity. 
Fig 7


The “Boys In The Boat”, 1936 Berlin Olympics

Unlike modern rowing on sliding seats, the ass still must move to move the center of gravity and strength fore and aft.  That means standing is the best option to push and drive.
Fig 8

To be Ergonomically Correct and remain within OSHA guidelines, lifting and/or pulling requires that the weight or resistance of the object to be lifted or pulled (Oar), be focused at the gut or lower. 
Fig 9

The Angle of the blade in the water (BIW) depends upon how much weight is carried by the ship, which makes the draught deeper (better for rowing) or shallow (not better). 
Fig 10

The Ship “VALE CENTO” (worth 100)
Fig 11

This is a model I constructed in the 3D application known as PoserPro2012 consisting largely of “primitives”, some parts of other models (oars and sails) with a crew of 45 using the low resolution characters made by EPIC1 available at Renderosity:

Fig 12

Navigation equipment includes a sand dial, an Arabian “Kamal” (Search), and an Astrolabe, a late addition to the navigation tools available to a well-equipped Templar ship to determine latitude. Longitude had to wait for another five hundred years for a decent clock to be invented.
Fig 13

The Vale Cento main weapons systems are located on the forecastle (front bow) which is raised and covered with raw hide to retard flames.  The main armament consists of a Tension Trebuchet and a Greek Fire Projection System.  The tension trebuchet predates the dead weight gravity system.

In addition to your usual rock, spear and arrow suite, the projectiles thrown by tension trebuchet and free hand and stick methods included grenades containing caltrops, Greek Fire, lye (to burn the eyes), and grease to make the decks slippery. In addition to the Greek Fire Projection System, chemical warfare dominated naval ordnance.

The defense against Greek Fire, which burned on water, was to pour a mix of stale urine and vinegar. This gives rise, obviously, that the term “full of piss and vinegar” meant ready to fight.
Fig 14

The exact composition of Greek Fire is unknown.  What is known is that it was short range system, that fired in short ball shaped blasts with trail and roaring noise.  The recent detonation of Sodium Cyanide in Tientsin in China caused by firemen’s water hoses trying to put out a fire, suggests that Greek Fire could be mixed in varying degrees of volatility that include instant ignition in contact with water.
Fig 14 Dragon

Fig 15 Sling


The best technology readily available to project a mix of water and Greek Fire is the same system to make large fountains, by force of water pulled by gravity through tubes and projected out of nozzles.   The simple solution on board a ship is connecting a barrel of water through pipes to a place where the Greek Fire could be mixed. This had to be well forward.  And at the point of mixture, the pipes will heat up, hence best to shoot once the mix is mixed. 

 The higher the water source, the farther the fountain will shoot.  The technical problems extant at the time was that hoses and pressure pumps were not invented until about 1650.  Pressure vessels secure enough for boilers had to wait for the train.   Water pipes were made of copper, lead, and wood from then until fairly recently. Valves to control water go back to Roman times. “A foot of height generates 0.43 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure, so a cistern does not have to be that tall to develop enough pressure to give a fountain a reasonable display” (wiki)
Fig 16 pipes

The Vale Cento places the source of water on wooden pipes that are fastened to the mast and just behind so as to not interfere with tacking.  That requires a fairly long pipe to stay clear of the yards and make its way to the syphon (nozzle).  Dromons and other Galleys of the era also carried a supply of lead sheets, which would facilitate making or repairing joints.   
Fig 16 GFPS

The GFPS crew has at least two operators, one who pours the tube of Greek Fire (all reports say that Greek Fire was handled in tubes) into the GFPS Breach. The Operator below,

1.       Makes sure that first both the Water Pipe and the GF Pipe are closed
2.       Waits for command that water is being loaded, and confirms by touch.
3.       Waits for alert that the Greek Fire is loaded, by signal
4.       On the command to fire, the Operator opens the GF pipe until it fills the chamber with the right amount of fuel,
5.       Shuts off the GF valve, and
6.       Opens the Water Valve, until the Greek Fire is cleared from the nozzle
7.       Shuts off the Water
Fig 17 GFPS

Great care must be taken in the storage and movement of munitions which, except for sharp or blunt objects react to water.  Thus any leakage in storage will require frequent inspections, as well as the urine inspector to ensure that the right stench is in order.
Given the extreme dangers of chemical weapons of this era, it is essential that battle is best done with the weather gauge.   As in up wind.   There are a lot of stories about Greek Fire being dropped from barrels and boats onto the decks of ships, which, given Murphy’s Law, will be one’s own. 
Fig 18 Grenades

Sailing the Vale Cento, like all with Lateen sails, tacking requires turning around, raising the main yard arm high enough to swing the lower (forward) edge of the sail across in front of the mast. This requires letting loose the sheets and catching them on the way back.

Fig 19 tacky
Then there is the problem of the six month cycle of winds and currents, but that is another story.
Gordon S Fowkes,

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Drakkar & Dromon - Oars and War

Dromon and Drakkar, Oars at War.
Gordon S Fowkes, KCTJ

Both Viking ship and Mediterranean Galley played major roles in the Crusade as together they gained a few centuries of naval and maritime superiority until the Ottomans picked up where the Arabs had left.  These war vessels were often modified and expanded for commercial purposes and complemented the rise of the short fat sailing ships that was the life blood of the 12th Century Renaissance. They represented two distinct design and construction plans but which intermingled and married in the shipyards north and south.


Drakkar (Longship) and Dromon (Galley)

The Viking Long Ship was an exceptional sailing ship, with good to excellent rowing capabilities.  It was not long before Viking ships were shortened, the deck in place, and oars were stowed.   The Dromon was the standard Byzantine warship in the Mediterranean which became the warship of choice for all colors and creeds well into the gunpowder age.  Both ships were fast under oars and while it is now accepted that Dromons and other Medieval galleys were rowed with the oarsmen standing up.  Since the Vikings and Byzantines fought with and against each other including service on Dromons against Byzantium’s enemies, it is more than likely that rowing tips and ship design intermingled.

These ships had a high length to width ration in excess of seven to one.  Even as high as ten to one.  This high ratio plus the low angle the oars had to have lowered the freeboard to the point that rowing in rough waters was pointless.  The distance between rowing station (tholes, benches, thwarts, oars) on Viking ships was 32 inches, while on the Dromon it was a foot longer.  Therefore there is likely a wide variety of rowing techniques.  The paper Is  intended to muddy the differences.

Crusade Era crews were made up of free men already organized in fraternal, commercial, and military roles.  In fact the use of galley slaves is a rare exception in history and unsatisfactory when used. The collective skill sets required of oarsmen as shown here requires drill team precision and football ardor


The Boat Races

1959, I was a coxswain on the University of California (Berkeley) Crew, then consisting of the 8-oared shell.  That’s the little guy at the back (aft) of the boat with a big mouth with eight really big guys on the oars.  We used to race up and down the Alameda estuary for races and practice. 

In order to see what these ships and crews were capable of, one can look at You Tube:
“Holy Smokes, they are flying!”  An eight oared shell


Modern racing shells (solo to eight oars) use seats that slide, and so far as we know today, rowing seats had to wait the 19th Century.  More than likely.

Imagine one of those dromons with as many as a hundred oarsmen would look like in a final drive to close with the enemy.


The “balance of power” of the oarsmen exerted between port and starboard, and between fore and aft is critical or the ship will heel and wobble. 

Angles of Oars to Water.


In order to get maximum power between the oar and the water, the angle must be very low.   This was a major design feature of all galleys and Viking ships which also produced a very low distance between gunnel and water.  This made sailing any long and low ship in troubled waters short and wet. As a consequence oar powered vessels avoided rough water, hugged the shoreline and came on shore for bad weather and/or night.


The Galleys of the Mediterranean (later large galleys were used in the Wool trade to reach northern waters were built frame first.  They, like the Romans and Greeks before, drove through the waver rather than over. Unlike them, the ram had been removed and replaced with a prow.  The tactics changed from ramming to boarding.


 The Viking Long Ship was clinker built (hull built before framing), and had good sea keeping capabilities as it could bent and twist in rough seas.  Since the water far at sea was likely to have higher waves than on rivers, Viking traders and raiders shortened the length to width ratio to under five to one.  This modification together with decking the thwarts and relying on sail is what is depicted in the arts of the time.  They could not have raided across the North Sea to the Bosporus with a ship too long.

Therein lies the mystery, which is where were the oarsman’s hands, feet and fanny relative to the gunnel, oar, thwart and thole (oarlock).  The purpose of this article is to let in more dark to confuse certainty.  The short answer is that more serious rowing required standing, not sitting.  But more before that:

Oars vs Rudder

If the power of the port (left) is greater than starboard (right), the ship will turn to the right (starboard).  This requires the helmsman to steer to port (left) which throws the ship off balance, by leaning away from the turn;  the ship rocks to the outside of the turn which further unbalances the ship.  Been there, done that.
The selection and placement of oarsmen and their oars with a mix of the skinny, round, tall and short to keep that balance is essential.  While in modern rowing, the person has to fit in the boat, while that choice was not as popular back then.


Recovered oars at the same site often differ in length.  Some plans and pictures of the multi-decked ships show the outboard oarsmen with the shorter oar rowing closer to the hull.   More common are the images of two or more banks of oars, regardless of number of oarsmen per oar, having all blades paddle in the same row of puddles.


Most oar ships of the day normally had a flat deck from bow to stern, but not always.   Some ships placed the higher benches and longer oars towards the stern.  In order for the oars to synchronize, the bow oars (men) were shorter with the taller and longer, the higher. It also provided a commanding view of the crew for those on high.  That and the guys closest to the boss are tall by mutual assent.

When I was a private (E-2) short in stature I marched in the rear, and as is the effect of short last, the column marched like an accordion with the short on the run.  When I was a Captain commanding an Engineer Company, the tall came last, and the formation got short.   On the galleys of the day, the short came first, albeit backward.

 Gearing Ratio

The relative length and gearing ratio (balance) between handle, thole (oarlock) and blade affects the amount of leverage the oarsman can exert in pulling the boat across the water.  The ratio of oar inside the ship versus outside, defined by the location of the thole (hole, oarlock) as a fulcrum.   In the Medieval Era, that ration ranged between 1:3 (one third inside) and 1:4 (one quarter inside).   1:3 favors getting underway faster, while 1:4 favors speed once underway.


Catch and Release

All oars must enter and leave the water exactly the same time and angle cleanly to retain the balance of power.  Splashing slows the boat and the race is won on the run, not the drive.  In short when the oars are out of the water.   Catching occurs when the oar goes into the water, and the release….


The oars today are feathered on the run in order to evade snagging the blade on the water (ripples and waves).  This reduces how much the oarsman has to raise the blade/lower the wrists on the run versus lowering the blade/raising the wrist.  This distance must be changed as the seas get rougher.

In modern racing boats, this is all in the wrists.  No kidding.  The blade is turned by rotating the oars forward for the catch and back for the release.  The latter uses the rush of water to flip the oars out of the waters, in lieu of yanking against the water.


The historical evidence supporting this use of the wrists to make a clean catch and release is indicated by this old piece of statuary. 


The Run

The Perfect Stroke (Boston)



The race is won on the run not the drive.  A sloppy but powerful crew will be beaten by a precise albeit weaker crew.

 The essential difference between modern crew rowing and of the good old days is that today the oarsmen (oarswomen) is the modern sliding seat which allows full extension of the legs.  Since the upper body has about a third as much power as the whole body, the big mystery in scholarly studies of rowing has been to ignore that the legs were used in rowing in order to go faster than the other guys. Be they close ahead or astern.

Stand and Row

The short answer is that back then they stood and rowed, stepping forward to plant a foot or two against a load bearing member of the ship.  Those include other benches or steps for the purpose. The only time these oarsmen rowed sitting down was in port. This particular example is of a chained oarsman.  At best this shows that standing and rowing was not sitting down.
Later rowing systems based on Italian designs including rowing arrangement of more than one oar to a station, and/or more than one oarsman to an oar.  Crusade Era ships were one and one. 

These diagrams show illustrate the difference in height relative to rowing stand up or sitting. It is about 3 feet from the deck to the elbows and if sitting.

The basic issue of whether to stand or sit relates to the skeleton and muscular makeup of the body.   The sliding seat likely did not exist, and the amount of stroke an oarsperson sitting down is less than one standing up and moving. Key to this is the difference between seats whether bench or thwart (longitudinally) 


 The best ballpark figures I have, show that the distance between thwarts, tholes (oar locks) and oars on Viking ship are about 32 inches (.8 meters) and those on the Galleys were 47 inches (1.2 meters). The oars and tholes in Viking ships were exactly half way between thwarts, with the shield even with the thwart.   



Load Bearing Members Carry the Load of the Members
There is stress wherever the boat, the oar, the water and the oarsman meet and the net result of this stress is a boat in a hurry.  These occur in a sequence from where the foot and the boat, butt and bench, oar and thole, blade and water.  Anything but the strongest materials will cause the boat to stop running.

Leather padding or gaskets reduced the friction of oar on thole.  Some galleys do not have a round thole but a peg or more between which takes up the friction which allowed more than one oar to a thole.   

A standing oarsman on a Viking type ship such as the Knarr could get his weight and body strength stepping on the thwart forward or the smaller one under that thwart.  A galley oarsman normally had a step in front of his bench which was also a load bearing member of the ship.  This is what is shown in the Russian sample.


Precision, Decision, and Synchronization.

The subject of oaring boats is huge, with larger variations of equipment and technique.  This treatise shows only show a few combinations.   The drawing in Russian drawing above is one of a ship rowed by slaves (note chain).  The bulk or and primary choice of crews, however, were professional crews of volunteers often chartered by the maritime powers of the world. These ships and oarsmen were often rented out for cash, alliance or privateering.



Templar light galley- 40 oars, monoreme, crew of 45. Armed with Tension Trebuchet and Greek Fire Projector