Combat Examples from historical sources

History and Historical European Martial Arts in the Codex Martialis

Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby Galloglaich » Wed Nov 23, 2011 6:00 am

I don't know, a couple of hundred i guess? I read it on a kindle ...

which I think I have since lost recently...


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Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby Galloglaich » Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:37 pm

From the Chroncicles of Henry of Livonia

Check out this excerpt:

In the sevennth year [1205], about Lent, when thesee tribes are more accustomed to engage in war, the Lithuanians moved against Esthonia with a force of almost two thousand men. They descended along the Dvina and passed by the city [the at that time - very small town of Riga, little more than a fortified trading post] A certain one of them, a rich and very powerful man named Svelgate, turned aside to the city with his companions. The men of the city went out to meet them in peace, and a certain citizen named Martin offered them a honeyed drink. When he finished it, Svelgate followed the army which was going ahead, and spoke as follows to his companions: "Did you not see the Germans offering us mead with a trembling hand? They had known of our arrival from fama volante [rumor / reputation] and the fear which then struck them still causes them to shake. At the moment, however let us defer the overthrow of this city, but if we conquer the places to which we are going, let us destroy this town and capture and kill its men. For the dust of this city will scarcely satisfy the fist of our people." After a few days, Viesthard, a noble of the Semgals [another Baltic tribe which was at this time allied with the Germans], hearing about the Lithuanian expedition, came hurriedly to Riga and spoke in admonition to the Germans for having permitted the enemy to cross their boundaries peacefully. For now that they had learned the location of the place, they might possibly in the future destroy the city with it's inhabitants. "

[the Germans and Semgalls then make preparations for war... which I've skipped for brevity]

"At length the Lithuanians returned with numerous captives and indescribable booty in flocks and horses, entered Livonia, and proceeded gradually from village to village. At peace of the Livoniains, spent the night among them. The scouts of the Germans and Semgalls inquired discreetly about their return and announced this to their own army."

[The Lithuanians, with over 1000 Estonian prisoners in tow, sense danger and combine into a single group. The Germans and Semigalians wait in ambush, but the Germans are few in number and the Semigalians are fearful. The Lithuanians are by far the dominant tribe in the region and very tough, unaccustomed to challenge let alone defeat. But they have never encountered German armor before]

"When the Semgalls saw their great multitude, many of them trembled and, not daring to fight, wished to seek safer places. Thereupon certain of the Germans approached the knight Conrad and begged insistently that they go first into battle with the enemies of Christ. [It's not entirely clear here but I believe these Germans in question are members of the fanatic military Order of the "Sword Brothers" who were referenced a bit earlier in the text. Conrad is probably a Free Knight or a Crusader / mercenary] They asserted that it was better to go to death gloriously for Christ than, to the confusion of their tribe, to take flight dishonorably. Conrad, with his horse and himself well-armored, like a knight, attacked the Lithuanians with the few Germans who were on hand. But God sent such fear into the Lithuanians and they were so dazzled by the brightness of the German arms that they turned away on all sides. The leader of the Semgalls, percieving that the Lithuanians were so terrified through the mercy of God, exhorted his men bravely [!] into batttle with them. Thus the army was assembled and the Lithuanians were dispersed on all sides of the road like sheep. About twelve hundred of them were cut down by the sword.

A certain member of the bishop's household, Theodoric Scilling, came upon Svelgate, who had said that he would overthrow the city of God, saw him sitting in a cart and pierced his side with a lance. Certain of the Semgalls saw him quivering, cut off his head, and put it on one of their wagons which they had loaded only with the heads of Lithuanians, and went into Semgallia. They killed a great many of the Esthonian [Estonian] captives with the sword, since they too were enemies, working at all times against the cultivators of the Christian name. Thus the Christians, joined with the pagan Semgalls, obtained a full victory over both countries, namely Lithuania and Esthonia.

After the slaughter of the Lithuanians and Esthnosians, the Germans and the Semgalls turned to the spoils of each tribe. They took untold loot, both in horses and flocks, likewise in clothing and arms, and then all returned to their homes safe and unharmed, and having been saved through the grace of God, they blessed God. A certain priest named John who at that time was held captive in Lithuania reported that fifty women had hanged themselves there because of the deaths of their husbands, without doubt because they believed that they would rejoin immediately in the other life."



Imagine that scene with a setting something like the Last of the Mohekans. Awesome imagery! That guy Conrad sounds like a bad dude... so do the Lithuanians who would be back with a vengeance in spite of this initial setback.



Neat stuff... begging for a novel or a short story

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Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby drkguy3107 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 10:28 pm

Where'd you find this?
http://www.myarmoury.com ~ The most enlightening community on the web.
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Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby Galloglaich » Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:51 am

I just started reading it, just found out last week there was an English translation in print, the Wiki said there wasn't any. Goes to show you how much you can trust wikipedia.

So far it's full of great stuff, I'm about half way through.

http://www.amazon.com/Chronicle-Livonia ... 0231128894

I was hoping to find it in English in the public domain but no such luck so far. If you run across it anywhere in English from a pre 1940 translation please let me know!

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Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby Galloglaich » Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:43 pm

Another excerpt from the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia
“When morning broke they came down from the mountain and saw the fort and the pagan army, and the valley was between them. Immediately they beat joyfully upon their drum and enlivened the spirits of their men with their musical instruments and their song. They called down God’s mercy upon them and swiftly hurried toward the pagans. After crossing a little stream they halted for a moment to collect themselves in a group. When the pagans saw them, they were terrified by the unmistakable prospect. They ran, got their shields; some of them rushed to the horses, others leaped over the barricade, and they all assembled in one group. They troubled the air with their shouts and came out in a great multitude to meet the Christians, throwing a shower of spears upon them. The Christians caught the spears wit h their shields, and when the pagans had run out of spears, the Christians drew their swords, marched closer, and commenced the fight.

The wounded fell and the pagans fought manfully. The knights saw the strength of the pagans and suddenly charged through the center of the enemy. Many of them fell to the ground, the others turned to flight, and the Christians pursued those who fled. They caught them and killed them on the road and in the fields. The Livonians from the fort when out with the balistarii [Crossbowmen] and met the fleeing pagans . They scattered them, up to the German lines. They pursued the Esthonians so that few of them escaped and the Germans even killed some of the Livonians as if they were Esthojnians. Some of them, it is true, fled by another road which goes around the fort,, toward the Aa. These came to another section of their army and escaped. More of them, however, were pursued by the knights as they descended the mountain, and were killed. Everhard, a Brother of the Militia, was killed there and certain of our knights were wounded. The other section of the Esthonian army, meanwhile, saw the destruction of their men and gathered on the mountain which lies between the fort and the Aa. They prepared to defend themselves. The Livonians and the Christian infantry, however, ran toward the loot. They seized the horses, of whom there were many thousands there, and neglected the war against the remaining pagans.

The knights and ballistarii, however, fought with the men who were located on the mountain and killed many of them. The Esthonians, therefore, sought peace and promised that they would receive the sacrament of baptism. The knights, believing their promise, made their words known to the bishops so they might come to receive the Esthonians. The Esthonians, however, fled by night in their pirate ships and wished to go down to the sea, but the ballistarii on both sides of the Aa hindered their descent. Other pilgrims came with Bernard of Lippe to the Aa from Riga. They made a bridge over the river, built wooden structures on the bridge, caught the pirate ships as they came by with arrows and lances, and completely cut off the pagans escape route. In the still quiet of the night, therefore, the Esthonians secretly disembarked from their pirate vessels, leaving all their things behind, and fled. Some of them perished in the forests and others yet died of hunger on the road; only a few of them escaped to their own land to announce the news at home.”


Got two more really good ones but I need to take a break from transcribing...

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Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby Galloglaich » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:48 pm

More from Henry of Livonia, a small but dramatic battle on a Baltic river bank between the Germans from Riga with their Baltic vassals and Russians from Novgorod with their Estonians allies.



================================================
The Germans gathered on a litttle knoll by the river, awaiting the arrival of their men who were following. They arranged their army a second time, so that some on foot, some on horses stood opposite the Russians. Whatever Livonians and Letts came up the little knoll by the river, where the battle lines were formed, when they saw the size of the Russian army, immediately drew back, as if struck in the face by a mace, turned their backs and fled. Each one of them fled after the other one, seeing the Russian arrows coming at them. At length all of them joined the flight together. The Germans, of whom there were only two hundred, stood alone. But some of these also withdrew, so that barely a hundred remained and the whole weight of the battle was turned against them. The Russians began to cross the river and the Germans allowed them to do so until a few had come across.



Then, all at once, they drove them as far as the rier and killed some of them. Some others again crossed over the river to the Germans and again were driven back by them. A certain very powerful man from Novgorod crossed the river to explore. He circled the Livonians from a long way off. Theodoric of Kokenhusen encountered him, cut off his right hand, with which he held his sword, followed him, and struck as he fled. Others killed others. Whoever crossed the river to the Germans was struck down. The Germans fought with them around the river in this manner from the ninth hour of the day until nearly sunset. The king of Novgorod, seeing about fifty of his men killed, forbade his army to cross over to the Germans thenceforth.



The Russian army retired to their fires. The Germans returned singing on the road, all safe and unharmed save for one of Henry Borewin's knights, who fell, wounded by an arrow, and another, a lett, a certain Veko, who fought alone with nine Russians for al ong time with his back to a tree. He was finally wounded from behind, fell, and died. All the other Livonians and Letts returned without any wound. Many of them came again to the Germans from the forests to which they had fled, as the Germans returned by the road. They enjoyed with them that so few out of such a multiude of Russians had escaped. They all praised the clemency of the Saivor Who brought hem back and freed them from the hands of the enemy, or rather, Who had allowed so few of them to kill about fifty Russians and carry off their weapons and loot.
Last edited by Galloglaich on Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:45 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby Galloglaich » Wed Dec 28, 2011 5:34 pm

From Henry of Livonia, details of a siege assault against the very tough Oeselians

The Christian army rejoiced, shouted, and implored God. The enemy also cried out rejoicing in their Tharapita. They called upon their sacred groves, the Christians upon Jesus. In His name and in praise of Him they went up bravely and reached the top of the rampart, but they were very strongly repulsed by the enemy. The first man who went up was overwhelmed with the threats of many lances and the blows of many stones; for surely only God kept him unwounded among so many raging enemies. As he went up, he was immediately thrust back by the enemy horde. He climbed up again and again and was repulsed by the enemy each time that he tried to reach the top, until at last that same German, beating off the hostile spears with his long sword, was lifted up, as if by an angel of God. he got up on top of the battlements, above the heads of the enemy, and lest he be wounded by the lances of the enemy, he placed his shield beneath his feet. He stood aalone upon his shield and fought with the enmy until God sent a second and a third man. The third man, alas, was pushed and fell back from the heigh. The two of them, nevertheless, defended themselves agaainst the mutltiude of the enemy. Five of the Oeselians climbed up against them, behind their backs, mounted likewise to the top of the fortification, and threw their lances at them. The first of the enemy was struck by a lance, a German smote him with his sword, and he perished; the others turned to flight. Other Germans followed and climbed up bravely to come the aid of the first ones. Though they were very fiercely repelled by the savagery of the enmy, and many of them were hit and wounded, and others were killed, they had confidence, nevertheless, in the Lord; with great labor they drove back the enemy multitude and at last they reached the top of the battlements. The ascent was, however, extremely difficult, because the hill was high and icy, the wall was on top of the hill and it was made ot stones as smooth as ice, so that there were no footholds. Some of them, however, got there by a ladder, some by clinging to a rope (or rather, they were lifted up by an angel of the Lord). They pressed upon the enemy on all sides and the latter turned their backs and fled. The Christians' voice of rejoicing and salvation! A voice in Rama! Lamentation and great mourning of the pagans over their confusion and ruin. The Germans entered the fort and killed the people. They could not spare the Oeselian pagans: some they killed, others they captured . The Livonians and Letts surrounded the fort and allowed none to escape. When the enemy was defeated the victorrs rejoiced and sang praise to God. He Who always defended David from the Philistines freed His people and gave them victory over the enemy. They took the town, sseized the loot, plundered the goods and fine possessions, drove away the horses and the flocks, and burned what was left with fire. Fire devoured the Oeselians' fort, but the Christians rejoiced and snatched up the loot."
Last edited by Galloglaich on Mon Dec 30, 2013 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby Galloglaich » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:41 am

Another from Usamah Ibn Munqidh

“By this time the vanguard of the Frankish horsemen had reached me, so I retired before them, turning back my lance in their direction and my eyes toward them lest some one of their horse should prove to quick for me and pierce me with his lance. In front of me were some of our companions, and we were surrounded by gardens with walls as high as a sitting man. My mare hit wit it’s breast one of our companions, so I turned it’s head to the left and applied the spurs to it’s sides, whereupon it leaped over the wall. I so regulated my position until I stood on a level with the Franks. The wall only separated us. One of their horsemen hastened to me, displaying his colors in a green and yellow silk tunic, under which I thought was no coat of mail. I therefore let him alone until he passed me. Then I applied my spurs to my mare, which leapt over the wall, and I smote him with the lance. He bent sideways so much that his head reached the stirrup, his shield and lance fell off his hand, and his helmet off his head. By that time we had reached our infantry. He then resumed his position, erect in the saddle. Having had linked mail under his tunic, my lance did not wound him. His companions caught up to him, all returned together, and the footman recovered his shield, lance, and helmet.”

-An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the period of the Crusades. Usamah Ibn-Minqidh, 12th Century AD


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Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby Galloglaich » Mon May 29, 2017 3:22 pm

Not a combat example but an interesting quote nonetheless, from Machiavelli:

"German cities are completely independent, don't have much territory around them and obey the emperor only when it suits. They are not afraid of him, nor any other powerful rulers in the area. This is because these towns are so well fortified that everyone realizes what an ardous wearisome business it would be to attack them. They all have properly sized moats and walls; they have the necessary artillery; they have public warehouses with food, drink and firewood for a year; what's more, to keep people well fed without draining the public purse, they stock materials for a year's worth of work in whatever trades are the lifeblood of the city and whatever jobs the common folk earn their keep with. They hold military exercises in high regard and make all kinds of arrangements to make sure they are routinely practiced."
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Re: Combat Examples from historical sources

Postby Galloglaich » Mon May 29, 2017 8:01 pm

I have another account from the 15th Century in this article here with some good battle details, but the site is giving me a harder and harder time posting lately:

http://hroarr.com/chivalry-east-of-the-elbe-part-i/
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