July 10, 2020, 02:24:35 PM

Author Topic: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons  (Read 15484 times)

Offline Yora

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #45 on: April 22, 2015, 10:57:11 AM »
I found this article on a study about the amount of energy it takes to run in heavy armor.
Which they concluded is pretty high. You can run and jump around in plate armor, just not very long.
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Offline Raptori

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Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #46 on: April 22, 2015, 11:11:19 AM »
I found this article on a study about the amount of energy it takes to run in heavy armor.
Which they concluded is pretty high. You can run and jump around in plate armor, just not very long.
Interesting article. It definitely seems to be a common theme that the things that often happen in tv shows/films/books are semi-realistic at best, and one of the most unrealistic aspects is the length of time the characters spend doing those things.
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Rostum

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #47 on: April 22, 2015, 12:16:13 PM »
Interesting that they are running in cavalry armour.
Without knowing the weight of the harness and how used to wearing it the test subject was the test results give you no more than armour is heavy and your performance over a measured distance is better without it.
The same could be done with running in modern military kit and Bergan which is of comparable or heavier weight.

If you are going to wear armour to fight you train wearing it to acclimatize and condition your body to the use of it. Most of the big battle re-enactment I have done the issue with armour hasn't been charging round in it which you do over very short distances but actually wearing it for hours on end hurts your feet and joints. Adrenalin counters a lot of fatigue when you are actually fighting and you are rarely fighting continuously for more than a few minutes at a time and resting between. Overheating is a bigger issue and getting enough water into a body as they are sweating it out due to the additional weight of the armour and weapons into non breathable layers of padding.

Offline DDRRead

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #48 on: April 22, 2015, 12:21:25 PM »
Someone in my G+ RPG circle pointed this out . . .

Swordfighting for Writers, Game Designers, and Martial Artists



. . . thought it might be of interest. Going to put it on my to buy list. His other books look interesting too.

Offline Elfy

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Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #49 on: April 23, 2015, 12:45:24 AM »
Even chainmail is quite heavy. I've felt a length of it and it would take significant strength to wear an entire garment of it. Then there's the padding you have to wear underneath it, which may not be that heavy, but would increase the heat inside it.
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Offline Yora

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #50 on: April 23, 2015, 10:24:08 AM »
And if you want to be pedantic, it's mail. Not chain.

Though in German we don't even have any word like "mail". It's all chain.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

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Offline Rostum

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #51 on: April 23, 2015, 10:57:32 AM »
Quote
Even chainmail is quite heavy. I've felt a length of it and it would take significant strength to wear an entire garment of it. Then there's the padding you have to wear underneath it, which may not be that heavy, but would increase the heat inside it.

A Norman style mail hauberk is as heavy as plate harness. You alleviate the weight by the gambeson that is worn underneath and by pulling it up over your belt so some of the weight comes off your shoulders. Should you be inclined you can do cartwheels in both. As a rule of thumb armour that restricts your movement will get you killed in battle. Jousting plate was much heavier and designed to make smashing pointy sticks on it safe was not designed to be mobile as you are sat upon a horse and not expected to use it on foot.

Offline Yora

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #52 on: May 02, 2015, 02:58:21 PM »
Since I just read something related and it reminded me of this:

Shields are not usually made of metal.

At the very most you have a thin layer of metal that covers the main body of the shield, which is made from wood or wicker. It's also not as thick as a table or door. Since the shield is held at the end of the arm, you want it to be light and making it out of metal would be too heavy, making it slow and very exhausting. Also, since the shield is at the end of the arm, the arm acts like a large spring and on an impact with a weapon the shield will be pushed away instead of absorbing the full force of the blow, so it does not actually have to be very strong. If you put a shield on the ground and hit it with a heavy blow and it shatters, that's not a problem because that's not going to happen in an actual battle.
You also might have noticed that many later shield designs are slightly curved or very low cones, which greatly increases their stiffness and ability to survive impacts. Fantasy shields (like all fantasy armor and weapons) usually don't get it right and are very impractical. Boromirs shield from the Lord of the Rings movies seems like a pretty good example of a real shield, though.

Also, shields are absolutely super awesome! A naked guy with just a weapon and a shield might actually be better protected than a guy with a weapon, full armor, and no shield. (If he's good.) Few fantasy characters have shields, but they are almost certainly the single best piece of armor anyone could possibly have. Having a really big sword or axe can be useful in some situations (though those were few and they were specalist weapons for elite professionals), but usually you either want to have the protection of the shield or the reach and speed of a spear. Sometimes a shield is impractical to carry around all day, but when someone gets ready to go into battle, they should pick up a shield. (Well, if you're writing a story that attempts to have a considerable degree of realism.)

Since we're already here: Helms!

Helms are also super awesome. There are very few (and alomost no good) reasons to go into battle without head protection. Since your head holds your brain, even relatively minor hits to the head can still be lethal or cause severe permanent damage. Not only might you get hit by a weapon, it's also easy to slip and bang your head on something in the heat of battle, especially when there's blood and corpses all over the ground.
It does not necessarily have to be some kind of metal hat. Even a padded turban or fur hat can still make the difference between serious injury and lethal injury or reduce a medium injury to a light one.
Having your long blonde hair flow in the wind during a battle is not worth it. (It's also a convenient handle to grab your head and pull it around. Braid your hair and put it into a knot or something like that.)
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

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Offline mesmithcity

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #53 on: May 07, 2015, 05:13:42 PM »
I'm totally new here, so please feel free to disregard all of this but...

Two things:
One - the specifics of the sword type used: do you really need to describe it in detail? I don't, generally, as a reader, care a whole lot about the shape of the pommel or the length of the blade. Too much detail starts to be an "As you know, Bob" moment for me...

Secondly, I've put in about thirty years as a martial sports person, using both basic long swords and Dane axes. It's the description of the movement, pacing and flow of the fight that most writers get wrong, as well as the psychological aspects from the fighter's point of view. The description of the mechanics will tell the reader a whole ton more about what kind of weapon it is than any jargonized and detailed paragraph about the actual weapon.

Those kinds of essentially irrelevant detail will just derail the whole fight if you are the reader. What you can do with a particular weapon or weapon style depends a lot more on the fighter than anything else. I spent years (literal years) trying to perfect a specific move until somebody smarter said "You're too short to do that - here, try this instead" and the whole world pretty much changed, after that.

Offline Rostum

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #54 on: May 09, 2015, 12:39:52 PM »
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I'm totally new here, so please feel free to disregard all of this but...

It's a forum, hopefully we will all gain wisdom from what’s posted. There is rarely a right and wrong when discussing fantasy and even with the historical stuff much of it comes down to interpretation.

Quote
One - the specifics of the sword type used: do you really need to describe it in detail? I don't, generally, as a reader, care a whole lot about the shape of the pommel or the length of the blade. Too much detail starts to be an "As you know, Bob" moment for me...

That would be entirely up to you as the writer how descriptive your writing is. As a reader too much certainly grates. You will know the difference between a scramseax and a scimitar, not every reader will. A fight scene is not the place to descibe gear in any detail it breaks the flow.

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Secondly, I've put in about thirty years as a martial sports person, using both basic long swords and Dane axes.

Likewise through re-enactment. Although I gave up a decade or so ago as my hands don't work anymore and I decided this retiring disgracefully was better than growing old and fat wearing silly clothes. Are you a re-enactor or a fight interpretor?

Quote
It's the description of the movement, pacing and flow of the fight that most writers get wrong, as well as the psychological aspects from the fighter's point of view. The description of the mechanics will tell the reader a whole ton more about what kind of weapon it is than any jargonized and detailed paragraph about the actual weapon.

I agree with you. I would look to describe someone’s gear a long time before combat. If the reader knows that the character has a bossed round shield and a short axe tucked through their belt because it has already been described then no description is required beyond a line such as.

"They pulled the shield over their head from the shoulder strap and gripped the centre while simultaneously freeing the axe and raising it in their right hand"

when what is needed to make a fight flow are the emotional and mechanical actions that are taking place.
It is hard to do well and really easy to do badly. Plenty of threads on the forum covering writing fights and some really good perspectives from members here.

Offline mesmithcity

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #55 on: May 09, 2015, 04:32:32 PM »


Likewise through re-enactment. Although I gave up a decade or so ago as my hands don't work anymore and I decided this retiring disgracefully was better than growing old and fat wearing silly clothes. Are you a re-enactor or a fight interpretor?


I did both, actually, beginning with re-enactment, but I became an archaeologist, and the martial arts/sports stuff kind of merged. I found it really good for community archaeology stuff (people really are pretty bloodthirsty, as long *their* ass isn't on the line.)

I just get a bit worried when I see people obsessing over the minutiae of weapon styles and the idea of the "one true way" to throw a blow. I know there are lots of manuals (I've studied them) but what people *say* they do (and teach, as a form) and what they actually do when fighting are often wildly far apart.

Offline Rostum

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #56 on: May 09, 2015, 08:24:37 PM »
There really is "one true way" it's whatever leaves you on your feet when the other guys aren't!

The reason to practice, repeat and learn any move is to develop the strength to carry it out well and the muscle memory to make it fast and instinctive whether armed or unarmed. Doing the right thing in the right way is never foolproof and if your opponent has a different style or no style at all fights can get very random and potentially more dangerous very fast.

Way back near the beginning of this thread (don't know if you have read all of it) I posted up a description of how axes can be used. I would welcome your full and forthright thoughts and any additions you would make if you have the time? My thoughts are two opinions on this are of more use than one.

Offline Roxxsmom

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #57 on: May 11, 2015, 01:49:47 AM »
I've found some nice sites about arms and armor, including some that dispel common myths. Most particularly, medieval swords were not ridiculously heavy or unwieldy.

http://www.thearma.org/
http://www.thearma.org/essays/TopMyths.htm#.VU_61pOJLE1

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htm#only_b

Also, a link to a treadmill study that suggests that overheating and restriction in breathing might have been an issue for armor wearers (hardly surprising, as a suit of metal probably doesn't breathe very well).

http://news.sciencemag.org/2011/07/heavy-armor-gave-knights-workout


Offline Yora

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #58 on: May 11, 2015, 02:34:40 PM »
One of those mentiones poisoned blades. And yeah, those are fantasy. Poison really only makes sense when you think that you might only get one try to injure your target and you want to make sure it will die eventually. Hunting with poisoned arrows is a good example of poisoned weapons, as often the prey will flee after the first hit and you won't get a second one. It can take hours until the prey dies from the wound and poison can speed that up, reducing the chance that you lose its trail.
Poison on a dagger might make some sense if you want to make a kind of suicide attack and expect to get stopped after getting only a stab or two against your target and you might not even get a good one. The poisoned sword in Hamlet is one good example (spoilers?).

But I am not aware of any cases where people used poison to win a regular swordfight. There are some really nasty animal venoms that can cause paralyzation or crippling pain within a few minutes, but that is injected into the blood and directly from the animal. Old venom on a blade is unlikely to act that fast and except for duels it's unlikely for a swordfight to last more than than two or three minutes, often a lot less than that.
Better to try to take out your enemy through blood loss when you have a sword or something similar.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline Rostum

Re: Ancient and medieval fighting and weapons
« Reply #59 on: May 11, 2015, 03:29:26 PM »
Arma are a cool bunch if a little strange they differ from re-enactors in that they don't try to portray the lifestyle but just keep the fencing and fighting techniques alive. They fight full contact and tend to break each other a lot.
If you play with swords you tend to meet lots of ex members.

In one of the 3 musketeers films the female antagonist tries to kill D'artagnan with a pair of acid filled glass daggers. These were a thing (at least in Italy) I have come across French account of the English poisoning arrows due to the mortality rate from festering wounds, but this is put down to standing them in the ground in front of you ready for use while suffering the effects of dysentery. No English account exists of arrows being poisoned.

If you are hunting large prey hunting with broad heads and then chasing with dogs to work the arrow in the wound seems to be method. Poison used with blowpipes in both Africa and South America certainly happened
but there are plenty of frogs, spiders and snakes to extract poison from , something we lack in Northern Europe.

Duelling the idea is to hurt and  humiliate your opponent. Killing them was frowned upon and often led to murder charges. In Italy between 1680 and 1800 over 2000 official duels were fought resulting in only 45 deaths.