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"How many banners?" Topic


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JSears08 Feb 2016 2:59 p.m. PST

When you paint up a "unit" of medieval cavalry knights (say a unit of 6 knights and a squire or retainer for each), how many banners do you include?

I assume that historically each knight would fly his banner carried by someone in his retinue that could consist of dozens of loyal retainers, but I think 6 banners in a cavalry unit of 12 is going to look a bit overwhelming.

Medievals are a new period for me, so I thought I'd get some advice from those who've tackled this conundrum before. What looks good? How many banners do you include?

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Feb 2016 3:25 p.m. PST

A knight didn't fly a 'banner', only a 'Banneret' (a knight of slightly greater status, and probably greater military experience too) would do that. Even they wouldn't generally fly anything we would call a 'banner' today – they were fairly small. The big flags were only flown by nobles (barons and up in England, counts in France & Germany).

It does depend very much when in the 'Medieval' period you are discussing but the assumption that almost everyone with a horse and a lance flew a 'standard' isn't in any way realistic. True, plenty of flags were flown, but not as many as Hollywood would have you believe.

I'd stick with a single large flag per unit (of a major noble) with a few smaller lance pennons or similar on about a third to half the others. These would usually be a rectangle (about 2ft tall, 1ft wide) with the long side fixed to the lance (a banneret) or a pennon (similar size but triangular, point upwards).

MajorB08 Feb 2016 3:26 p.m. PST

When you paint up a "unit" of medieval cavalry knights (say a unit of 6 knights and a squire or retainer for each), how many banners do you include?

1 at the most, but usually none.

I assume that historically each knight would fly his banner carried by someone in his retinue that could consist of dozens of loyal retainers, but I think 6 banners in a cavalry unit of 12 is going to look a bit overwhelming.

It is not clear from your post which medieval period you are referring to, but from your reference to retinues I assume you are talking about the late medieval period.

In that context, the most important thing to point out here is that every knight did not necessarily have a retinue. The leader of a retinue would probably have a standard rather than a banner.

Lewisgunner08 Feb 2016 3:27 p.m. PST

Knights don't have banners, they have pennons. Banners were carried by contingents and by nobles licensed by the king. So it would be likely that if there were a large unit composed of several small units then you could have several banners in the same unit, given that the units were likely to be the Vanguard, Main Battle and Rearguard. It is also very likely that, if you were a top chap such as a duke you would have your banner anyway even if you were not leading a contingent.
So your unit of 12 knights and men at arms would only have one banner, that of its commander. On a general's base you might well have his coat of arms , a possble national flag ( in the Late Middle Ages and maybe that of a duke or prince, Infantry might have town banners if they were town contingents, and or the banner of a knight who had been deputed to lead them.

Lewisgunner08 Feb 2016 3:27 p.m. PST

Knights don't have banners, they have pennons. Banners were carried by contingents and by nobles licensed by the king. So it would be likely that if there were a large unit composed of several small units then you could have several banners in the same unit, given that the units were likely to be the Vanguard, Main Battle and Rearguard. It is also very likely that, if you were a top chap such as a duke you would have your banner anyway even if you were not leading a contingent.
So your unit of 12 knights and men at arms would only have one banner, that of its commander. On a general's base you might well have his coat of arms , a possble national flag ( in the Late Middle Ages and maybe that of a duke or prince, Infantry might have town banners if they were town contingents, and or the banner of a knight who had been deputed to lead them.

MajorB08 Feb 2016 3:34 p.m. PST

Banners were carried by contingents and by nobles licensed by the king.

Banners displayed the coat of arms. So banners would only be carried by those entitled to do so (i.e. having a coat of arms to display). Contingents would not therefore have a banner unless the leader of the contingent had coat of arms. Not sure what you mean by "licensed by the king".

given that the units were likely to be the Vanguard, Main Battle and Rearguard.

Those are battles and would usually each consist of several contingents, retinues etc.

Khusrau Inactive Member08 Feb 2016 5:27 p.m. PST

At the scale I use (DBMM) each element may contain several knights or others entitled to bear arms and so I use multiple flags in many of my armies.

Yesthatphil08 Feb 2016 7:10 p.m. PST

Verbruggen seems to argue that each banner is a tactical unit (although the banner/units themselves might be of greatly differing size so variable in durability) – so each unit or, say, DBA base might be a banner led unit.

Or, perfectly possible, as Khusrau has suggested, each figure might be such a unit.

The size of a battle (generally a third of the army) might be defined by how many banners it had. Typically, of course, this gives no idea in itself of how many soldiers are in the formation but it does define how many separate bodies there might be when the battle charges, retreats or, most importantly, rallies.

Phil

maverick2909 Inactive Member08 Feb 2016 10:31 p.m. PST

I just based and bannered my Scots Common 15mm. Every base of Knights had one banner and if I had a Lennon I added that as well. I took it as each base being a contingent of Knights so I felt one knight having a banner per base was ok. Also I have the Osprey Bannockburn 1314 book which is quite nice and it has a page for all the Scottish noblemen who fought there and their coat of arms so I had something pretty solid to go by. I'd say what ever strikes your fancy, I just wouldn't put two different banners for different Knights on the same base, but that's just me.

mashrewba Inactive Member09 Feb 2016 3:10 a.m. PST

Now this is a nice sheet -who would fly all these?
The different shapes -are some of these banners for a group of archers or bill men?
I have absolutely no idea but I want my toys to have pretty flags.
Would the Lord have a number of people holding these in his immedeate vacinity?
I'm wondering how many I could sprinkle through my Wars of the Roses armies?

picture

uglyfatbloke09 Feb 2016 3:20 a.m. PST

The Osprey book really is n't a very good guide to either the battle or the Scottish army it's better on the English army though.
A good rough guide for a major army would be that each of the major units would have the banner of it's leader and a royal banner there were stiff penalties (in England at least) for 'riding before the king's banner' and thereby disrupting the integrity of the unit – so a good bet would be for (say) Gloucester's division at bannockburn to have his own device and the the king's banner as well. if your units are big it might be an idea to have a Cross of St. George banner too, so that'd give you three flags. I'd say that'd look good on a unit of 20 or 30 figures, but a bit silly on a unit of 6. Incidentally, for 13/14th Century (British Isles) wargame purposes it's best not to get too concerned about retainers. Infantry was largely recruited/conscripted through instructions from the crown to local sheriffs and cavalry on the basis of land obligations. A lord might owe the service of 'X' knights, but the numbers are never that great – though it was not unknown for a lord to provide more than his formal obligation. A great many of those who owed knight service (many were not, of course, knights) were 'in capite' tenants of the crown rather than tenants of greater lords – though that was much more the case in Scotland than in England.
'Scots Common' armies are a bit of an army list nightmare. Game designers try to put an element of everything they've read about Scottish armies into the list, the problem being that their research does not usually go any deeper than Oman/Gardiner or subsequent writers who relied on them. A good rough guide to major Scottish armies would be something around 15% men-at-arms, 10% archers, 85% heavy infantry with pikes/long spears. A Scottish army in France in the 1400s would be more like 30% archers, 20% men-at-arms and 50% heavy infantry.
Small forces are a very different kettle of fish and would almost invariably consist of men-at-arms and nothing else.

MajorB09 Feb 2016 4:31 a.m. PST

Now this is a nice sheet -who would fly all these?

They are all (with one exception) banners and standards associated with Lord Clifford, a senior Lancastrian in the WOTR.

The different shapes -are some of these banners for a group of archers or bill men?

No, but see below.

Would the Lord have a number of people holding these in his immediate vacinity?
I'm wondering how many I could sprinkle through my Wars of the Roses armies?

The square ones with the coat of arms is a banner and would be flown by a man close to Lord Clifford. It marks his position on the battlefield.

The square one with a red dragon is neither a banner nor a standard so probably would not have been flown on the battlefield at all.

The large long one is Lord Clifford's personal standard and would be flown by a man close to Lord Clifford it marks the command position for his retinue. The smaller long ones are smaller versions of Clifford's personal standard and would be flown by elements of his retinue.

mashrewba Inactive Member09 Feb 2016 5:36 a.m. PST

Thank you Major -exactly what I wanted to know.

Which is the one not associated with Lord Clifford?
I'm assuming the the square one with the dragon.
Where would this be flown or is it made up!!?

Would the same conventions hold for a royal personage such as Edward himself?

picture

Sorry -lots of questions!!!

MajorB09 Feb 2016 8:13 a.m. PST

Which is the one not associated with Lord Clifford?
I'm assuming the the square one with the dragon.

All of them are associated with Lord Clifford. I meant that one of them (yes, the square one with the dragon) is neither a banner nor a standard.

Where would this be flown or is it made up!!?

It would probably not have been flown on the battlefield at all. I have no idea as to its historicity.

Would the same conventions hold for a royal personage such as Edward himself?

Yes.

Great War Ace Inactive Member09 Feb 2016 8:53 a.m. PST

Flags are a pain in the butt to store. So I don't have very many of them. And none on the order of size that we wee nowadays.

Personal preference says that one flag per "unit" or command is enough. Visually, of course, the more flags you have the more like eye candy the unit is….

JSears09 Feb 2016 9:44 a.m. PST

Thanks for all the advice gents! Mashrewba looks to be working on War of the Roses, but I'm concentrating on 13th and 14th century wars of Edward I/II (2nd Barons, Welsh, Scottish, etc.)

I have the fireforge mounted Templars and Teutonics that I am modifying for various common knights, earls, etc. I've become interested in Antony Bek, Bishop of Durham. There's some sort of large cross in the Fireforge sets that I think can be used at the end of a lance as a standard. (See it featured in this photo:

What is that? Is that something a bishop like Bek could be expected to carry into battle?

MajorB09 Feb 2016 10:17 a.m. PST

What is that? Is that something a bishop like Bek could be expected to carry into battle?

Given that the good Bishop Antony was neither a Templar nor a Teuton, the big cross may or may not be appropriate for him. Ecclesiastics might well carry a banner of a saint into battle. In the case of the Bishop of Durham that would likely be St Cuthbert:
link

Note that a banner such as this is designed to be hung from a transverse bar affixed to a vertical pole thus:

picture

uglyfatbloke09 Feb 2016 11:28 a.m. PST

Also the figures are completely inappropriate for Edward I's Scottish war you need men-at-arms for both sides and none of the guys or horses in the photo are adequately equipped…and where are their lances?

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2016 11:42 a.m. PST

The Caerlaverock poem link is a great source for Edward I. Bek wasn't with the army then, but did send his own banner (with his arms, not the banner of St Cuthbert). For this particular expedition, flags of St George, St Edmund and St Edward were carried.
The Painted Chamber at Westminster had what look like pictures of the banners of the two St Eds – they are the same size and shape as the royal banner so don't seem to have been like the ecclesiastical banners such as St Cuthbert's

uglyfatbloke09 Feb 2016 3:22 p.m. PST

Yup: the Caerlaverock roll is a great resource.

maverick2909 Inactive Member09 Feb 2016 10:08 p.m. PST

Eh, the Osprey guide is good enough for what I'm doing. It's well written and has plenty of illustrations to go by. The page where it lists the individual Knights on the side of the Scots is nice because it illustrates their coat of arms on a shield, although I do wish it would have been in color.

As far as lists go I think DBM did a pretty good job with the ratios of unit composition given that the army list spans 400 years. I'll probably pick up the Otterburn book next and paint up some Knights for them.

But back to the OP. I'd go with what you think looks most appealing to you. After all, they are your miniatures and they will be what you'll be using to fight with! You'll want something that inspires you! Best of luck!

uglyfatbloke10 Feb 2016 3:18 a.m. PST

Yup; it's nicely-written (and Pete is a lovely chap), but the history is errrr…..weak, shall we say…and a number of the illustrations are not really appropriate. I may have a sheet of Scottish devices in colour; mail me …
thathistorybloke@btinternet.com ….and I'll send it to you along with some better info. I'm a bit of a nerd (OK – total nerd) about these things, but it's worth the bother to get it right where we can. A couple of years back I saw a medieval Scottish army for c1300-1320 with truly beautiful paintjobs, but no historical rationale at all…braveheart figures, light cavalry, shortbow archers, slingers (seriously…slingers…) and a raft of guys with axes, claymores, pitchforks and tartan frocks.

Lewisgunner10 Feb 2016 3:46 a.m. PST

The dragon is Lord Cliffrd's livery badge. It may have been flown with a group of men who were Clifford's retainers, but brigaded with thers without Cliffird being directly present. So , if the archers were brigaded together then Clifford's men might be indicated by the dragon.

Licensed by the king is when the king , or in the piece we have in Froissart, the Black Prince grants a knight the right to display his banner as a commander in the field. I suggest that the importance of this is that knights of higher or equal status may have to take orders from the appointed commander and the delegated royal authority made it clear that there was no affront to social standing in obeying him.

A. glance at the banners displayed at Grunwald-Tannenberg in 1410 will show many contingent banners that are not coats of arms that flew above contingents. The banners of orders such as the Teutonic knights are banners Major B, though they are not personal arms. Similarly the banners of towns and guild contingents within town forces from the Low countries and Italian cities were not personal arms. At a battle such as Montepertino the likelihood is that town knights fought under a town banner or a quarter as well as the banner of a commanding knight.

Gildas Fecit is right that knights nit oeading a contingent should stil have pennons of their heraldry, but its a pain to do, so it might make sense to paint them the same colour as the field of his arms.
Major B is mostly rght but wrong to be so certain in his statements. Heraldry in the mediaeval period develops rules, but the application if just about any rule then is uncertain. Rolls of arms which list and often give pictures of ciats of arms to aid in identification often show different colours or symbols for the same man or family, even the rule that no two men can have the same heraldry is only firmed up much later, though it would not be a good idea to turn up with the same coat as some duke. The rules give way to practiclities on the battlefield and troops benefted from having a banner to rally around. Thst might mean that contingents of infantry were given a knight to lead them, with his banner or that several groups fought under the banner of one town and were told on the day to follow that particular banner or that, as in the Crusades , there were non heraldic Christian banners such as the cross of St George for England, Or as soneone said earlier troops from a district following a religioys banner. Didn't one master of the Teutonic irder fly his iwn arms whreas by the rule of the Order he should only have used the grand master's banner. Its the Middle Ages so whilst its not a case of everything goes, it is a case that there are weak rules with many exceptions.

MajorB10 Feb 2016 4:52 a.m. PST

The dragon is Lord Cliffrd's livery badge. It may have been flown with a group of men who were Clifford's retainers, but brigaded with thers without Cliffird being directly present. So , if the archers were brigaded together then Clifford's men might be indicated by the dragon.

The illustration has what appear to be loops at the top. This implies it was hung from a tramsverse bar. I am not aware of the use of any such on the battlefield in the WOTR.

The banners of orders such as the Teutonic knights are banners Major B, though they are not personal arms.

I did not make any comments about the use of banners by the Teutonic knights.

Major B is mostly rght but wrong to be so certain in his statements.

My statements apply specifically to the WOTR. I admit that the comments about Lord Clifford's banners and standards are generalisations in the sense that what I said does not apply rigidly in all cases. There were always variations on the theme and there were no hard and fast rules.

If you are disputing my comment that "Banners displayed the coat of arms", you will find that I also talked about the banner of St Cuthbert. Perhaps I should have said "Banners generally displayed the coat of arms".

maverick2909 Inactive Member10 Feb 2016 5:47 a.m. PST

Hey thanks! I am just getting into Scots Common as I just finished up my army a week or two ago. I have been reading some literature but have been looking to expand. I will shoot you an email.

Correct me if I am wrong, but from what I have read so far, the biggest problem with the history behind it all is that we have very limited sources, and the main source we do have (Barbour) is thought to be somewhat bias. I don't really know how to get around this other than to take what he says with a grain of salt and if there is a portion that doesn't seem plausible come up with my own conclusion of what might have been. Thanks again for the help!

P.S. if you have or know of a translation of Barbour's work I would be highly interested.

uglyfatbloke10 Feb 2016 7:51 a.m. PST

There's plenty of source material really and nothing very challenging. Barbour is biased, but so is everything else – compared to most of the others he's an absolute paragon of honesty, clarity and fairness.
If you're struggling with a bit of Barbour just say the lines out loud in the most Scottish accent you can muster and it'll mostly become clear enough, but in any case Professor Duncan's edition has a translation on facing pages. Duncan is great on politics etc , but not at all good on military matters – either for minutiae or an understanding of combat, but that's normal among academic historians I'm afraid.
Terms of the day are the crucial thing; men-at-arms, archers, spearmen, hobilars….that's the lot for troop-types.. Hobilars are not light cavalry (though might be used to intimidate civilians); they are mounted infantry. Men-at-arms are what wargamers might call 'knights' – armoured cavalry on barded horses. Archers and spearmen are self-explanatory, but avoid (absolutely) guys with no armour – they have no place on the medieval battlefield.

Primary narrative sources….Scalacronica is the most significant; written by a career soldier who spent decades fighting the Scots….just ignore the earlier part where he's just trying to impress the reader with his (rather fine) classical education – Barbour does the same thing for the same reason. The Lanercost Chronicle is good for politics, but has precious little military info, same with Fordoun, Trokelowe, Bower, Baker etc.

Primary record sources…absolutely buckets of material, but not easy to get at and not always available in translation, however 'Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland '(vols 2,3 and 5)has a lot of material if you're willing to look for it. Ignore Bain's foreword or introduction to each volume; they are dreadful. CDS can be purchased as a PDF, but your local library should be able to get it for you.

Secondary material…a great deal is derived from Oman and Gardiner;ignore it. The worst book is probably Nusbacher; it's abominably bad, though Cornwall is not all that far behind. There was an issue of 'Medieval Warfare a while back that focussed on Bannockburn…for pity's sake, don't seek it out – the central article (Toby Capwell) kind of flutters between ignorance and racism and the illustrations depict…errrr…frankly, I've no idea what they depict.
Part of the issue with Oman (and therefore everyone who has plagiarised him since) was an eagerness to find a place for every romantic thing he'd ever read about matters Scottish (plus a few things he just made up) into his book, thus for Bannockburn we find shortbows, caltrops and pits being dug in swamps on slopes and such like.
Don't know if you've ever tried to dig a pit in a swamp, but it's not a promising undertaking. Come to think of it, swamps on slopes are few and far between.

A nice thing about this period is that troops (in N. Europe anyway) are interchangeable – make a few different command bases and the same guys can serve as Scots, English, French and what today we'd call Dutch, Belgian, etc.
There are some nice figures – any early HYW stuff will do the trick (we use a lot of Claymore spearmen and archers) but by and large if something is labelled as 'Scottish' or 'Highlanders' or 'Islesmen' it's probably not desirable.
You will, sadly, toil to find dismounted men-at-arms with long spears or with open hands, but if you have even half-decent modelling skills (unlike me) that may not be so much of a challenge.
Anyway – send me an email and I'll see what I can find for you.

MajorB10 Feb 2016 8:03 a.m. PST

the central article (Toby Capwell) kind of flutters between ignorance and racism

Now that's interesting. Is the article really that bad? Toby Capwell is supposed to be a leading expert on medieval arms and armour. (NB I'm not defending him, just interested in what he got wrong in the article.)

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Feb 2016 8:32 a.m. PST

UFB – you criticise others for generalising yet you do just that in your latest missive.

Unarmoured men would have been seen on many a battlefield, particularly in Britain. Ettrick and Welsh archers are described as 'almost naked' in more than one source and an Irish kern wore a leather cloak at best – if he was lucky enough to be able to afford to kill a cow !! In the larger armies of the 'Anarchy' period there would have been locally levied men with no armour. Brought along mostly to help as labourers in sieges but they must have fought in some of the battles.

The term 'Hobilar' is much misused, that I'd agree with. It can and does cover men who fought primarily mounted and were used as raiders and scouts (e.g the Border Horsemen) – in that respect you could reasonably call them 'light cavalry'. I'd prefer to use other terms for those men but they are often lumped in under 'Hobilars'.

Men at Arms didn't always ride barded horses either. Granted, it depends on WHEN in the medieval period you look at but for a significant proportion of it, many did not.

uglyfatbloke10 Feb 2016 10:19 a.m. PST

Gildas perhaps I should have been clearer that I was referring specifically to the 14th C and to Scotland/England I have no background in Welsh history ad thus have nothing to say, though I would expect that any chronicle material suggesting the Welsh were unarmoured for battle would be highly suspect to say the least. I can't think of any medieval source that refers to 'Ettrick' archers at all, though it is a common description in historical novels and in wargame rules. I'd be interested to know where the suggestion that any Scottish archers would have been 'almost naked' might come from. The tradition that rafts of unarmoured Galwegians and Highland types fought at Northallerton (Battle of the Standard) is , to say the least, highly suspect.
Beyond that, one should be wary of narrative sources written by people whop were far from the battlefield and/or with an ace to grind and/or writing long after the event. The 'Border horseman' does not make an appearance until rather later in history though has been conflated with the 'mounted infantry on sturdy ponies' referred to by LeBel though again, one has to be very careful about LeBel, he most definitely had an axe to grind! I'd be interested to know of any material showing the practice of Hobilars going mounted into battle it may, for all I would know, be the case in Ireland or Wales, just not in Scotland though (as I said) they were certainly quite capable of intimating the locals whilst foraging etc. The exception would be the Constable of Berwick who wanted to pay his hobilars the same as his men-at-arms because they were as just as well armoured and as well-mounted, but that was exceptional and really a matter of payscales. In essence, he's saying that his hobilars (and it's clearly an exceptional case) were, in effect, men-at-arms in everything but name.
In order to get his 12d per day the man-at-arms had to have a barded horse. It is certainly the case that barding was something that was not common in the 12th C or the by the 1400s, but we're talking about the 14th C when it was undoubtedly standard practice.
Major B Toby is indeed an expert on the construction and individual application of medieval arms..if I had a query about jousting for example he'd likely be the first person I'd approach…but his understanding of Scottish society in the 14th C is simply dreadful you need look no further that the deleterious influence he has had on the (awful) new Bannockburn centre. His assertion that Scottish troops had poorer armour than their English counterparts is not supported by any evidence whatsoever and his assertion that Scots were dirtier than the English is simply offensive. My guess is that it's a product of his assertion that medieval Scotland was 'poverty stricken ' again, there's no evidence to support that…indeed Edward I's trip to Scotland at the time of the 'great cause' showed him that Scotland was well-worth 'acquiring' as an economic asset; he did n't invade in order to put further strain on his pocket.

MajorB10 Feb 2016 10:23 a.m. PST

Major B Toby is indeed an expert…

Thank you, most informative!

uglyfatbloke10 Feb 2016 10:35 a.m. PST

Very welcome. If you're interested in this sort of stuff more generally (and I warn you it's pretty dull for all but the most geeky) I can send you a list of useful record material sources and reputable scholarship…
thathistorybloke@btinternet.com

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP10 Feb 2016 11:56 a.m. PST

UFB

I wouldn't expect much light cavalry to appear in battle – that was not their role or what they were equipped for or skilled at. For battle many may have dismounted to fight but that doesn't make them just mounted infantry. Their effect mounted in formal battle would have been minimal and they were more useful dismounted.

Border Horse isn't a title, it is a description of where they come from. I have no doubt that contemporary sources had many other ways of referring to them. Most of them would not have been printable.

I hadn't realised from the text of your message that your scope was anything like as restricted as you state, hence my comments.

'Ettrick' is a more modern geographical term (forest of …) so I probably should have made it clearer. Generally it refers to those Scots (mostly from forested regions) who came to battle armed with a bow.

The Welsh were used extensively in English armies and I'm sure that many of those had some protection but the native Welsh had limited resources and most certainly did not all wear even jack or metal caps.

I think you limit yourself too much to the formal battles of the period. Many smaller conflicts had a wider variety of troop types involved.

We can't always be sure what a medieval writer (writing mostly in Latin) actually meant and then that gets translated (often badly or out of context) into a word that, to us, has a specific meaning – it may have had a much broader or biased meaning originally that is lost. In this context an English commentator may be describing poorly dressed Welsh captives insultingly as 'near naked' – implying lack of status compared to the English army.

manchesterreg Inactive Member10 Feb 2016 1:30 p.m. PST

As many banners as you want. Fly what you think looks good, banners or pennants, Ive dozens of them, i wasnt there in the 1400s, and no one really knows what was flown, may have been a couple of dozens, so dont sweat the small stuff, enjoy the game.

uglyfatbloke10 Feb 2016 3:55 p.m. PST

Gildas…you are certainly correct about 'near naked' being a derogatory term bear in mind that narrative evidence always has an agenda in fact usually several agendas and an important part of that is telling the reader that the'enemy' are barbarians.
Scottish archers they could and did come from all parts of Scotland and the term 'forest' in medieval texts does not mean a 'forested'area as in trees. The term Ettrick Archers was certainly never a medieval term for Scottish archers.
Latin….
I'm pretty good at reading medieval Latin and although I'm slow at palaeography (very slow) I do get there eventually. I'm not aware of any 14th C. record or narrative material relating to Scotland that I'm not familiar with or I would make a point of reading it. I've read all that I have been able to find in Latin or Scots or English and those that are in French as well all of which are, of course French or English in origin. I've read most of them just as the scribe wrote them that's what Kew is for.
Knowing what a medieval writer means is not, as a rule, that hard to ascertain once you have a good working knowledge of the nature of the society and the political persuasion of the writer and/or their patron.
It's not universal. I would struggle to get the best from Spanish material even if it was written in the clearest Latin possible simply because I really know virtually nothing about the laws and practices of Spain…but I'm on pretty solid ground with medieval Scotland and so far as it is connected medieval England. There again, teaching medieval history has been a pretty significant part of my life, so that's to be expected I suppose.
Smaller actions…small actions in the WofI were virtually all (offhand I can't think of an exception) conducted exclusively by bodies of men-at-arms on both sides.
Border Horse…There is no evidence for light cavalry from Scotland so far as I'm aware. If you know a medieval text that tells us something different then I'd be very happy to hear of it, but I rather think that it would have come up at some point in my reading or that of colleagues or students or have been a matter for discussion at some conference or other…. I'm confident that it would have been the subject of numerous scholarly papers looking at how such troops were raised or paid.
They certainly never appear in demands for military service, pay rolls, plea rolls, garrison provisioning costs or restauro rolls or charters with military obligations which is very strange indeed if they existed. In fact, since they don't appear in record or narrative material you'd have to wonder what other evidence there would be? There's nothing so far as I'm aware amidst the archaeological data.

Druzhina10 Feb 2016 6:29 p.m. PST

Come to think of it, swamps on slopes are few and far between.

One term used for these is a hanging swamp.

Druzhina
Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

uglyfatbloke11 Feb 2016 12:27 a.m. PST

True, but they are few and far between and I don't think there are any in Stirlingshire. Most particularly there certainly are n't any in the Bannockburn battle area.

Lewisgunner11 Feb 2016 3:45 a.m. PST

I am fascinated by the proposition that unarmoured men do not appear on mediaeval battlefields in Scotland or in Scots armies. UFB is right to go back to the sources and what they say, on the basis that ofen a position is established and then accepted because there is no concrete evidence against it. Its rather like the matter of Anglo Saxon cavalry. I think it was Prof Guy Halsall who pointed out that if we looked at the evidence for Carolingian cavalry the battle descriptions do not say specifically that the Franks are mounted (well not often) and the references to the supply of horses mean the same if they were horses for mounted infantry. BTW There is the evidence of iconography, the Anglo Saxons are not shown fighting mounted, the Franks are.
On the matter of the naked Scots isn't the near contemporary evidence of the Battle of the Standard referrring directly to the men of Strathclyde suffering from the Norman archers because of their lack of armour. Isn't it also likely that the Irish in Edward1s sevice in Scotland are unarmoured? I recall them being described as poorly equipped.
As to Scotland being poor, parts of it are and so are parts of Wales and Ireland (and even England:-)). However, we cannot avance an argument that poverty is a disincentive to having your neighbour conquer you because the Normans were quite happy to acquire Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and Ireland are certainly relatively poor in terms of wealth per square hectare, being mainly mountain, firest and bog. That is probably because the system of lordship that they practised only needed islands of agricultural wealth sufficient to support a lird, his castle and garrison and also that honour was a huge motivatir, so being lord of some relatively poor place was sufficient motivation. Not that there are not places in Scotland with really good agriculture, only that there are more waste places proportionately than in England south of the Severn Trent line. One clue as to Scotland's realtive wealth is the number of cavalry that it supports vis a vis England.
As to hobilars, the difficulty of arguing that they or the overlapping Border Horse are mounted infantry is that, in most cases in the British Isles and Ireland men at arms are a dismountable feast. Hence at the battle of Otterburn both sides whack at each other with polearms on foot, at night I think and at Halidon hill the English dismount as is their normal practice. So if the knights and men at arms dismount then lets expect the hobilars to dismount too and lets akso expect that knights could fight mounted and that likely hobilars did too. Indeed that brings us back to those anglo Saxon cavalry, if your normal opponent fights dismounted by choice then it isn't surprising that you do to, but it does not make you mounted infantry or not cavalry as well. I think UFB is right though that hobilars are not light cavalry following wargames 'light cavalry' tactics.

uglyfatbloke11 Feb 2016 4:59 a.m. PST

Unarmoured troops are not really 'a proposition' so much as an observation. Naturally absence of evidence is not at all the same thing as 'evidence of absence', but we should look for 'evidence of presence' beyond suspect entries in chronicles written by men far from the battlefield. Robert I's legislation requiring padded jackets, armoured gloves, helmets and spears is pretty certainly a repeat of earlier legislation from Alexander II/III and earlier – that's a pretty normal thing in medieval administrative traditions. It is certainly the case that those requirements applied to the 'middling sort' – separate rules applied for very poor men – but these are exactly the men called upon to fight in a general way – the poorest might be called out to react to an unexpected incursion. I can't offhand think of an example where they were, but leave that with me…let it percolate. It's maybe worth bearing in mind that the level of wealth that required the helmet/jacket etc was not very high – £10.00 GBP pa in land (produce) or £40.00 GBP pa in goods (turnover) was not a very demanding threshold by the standards of the late medieval Scottish economy.
Sources are where we have to start obviously, but we do need to examine them with a critical eye and narrative sources should be seen in the light of record material.
Poverty-stricken areas…naturally this is a relative thing and all medieval kingdoms had poorer and richer areas. Edward I's experience of Scotland prior to the wars was of the richest areas and he very probably made a mistaken judgement on that basis, but what other basis did he have?
Battle of the Standard…not really contemporary to the WofI by more than 150 years, additionally the narrative material is both scanty and highly-questionable.
The acquisition of Wales and Ireland has a lot to do with baronial 'private enterprise' and was largely focussed on the better agricultural areas and on the desire to provide career opportunities for younger sons, but in both cases the military activity was seen as an opportunity to advance family fortunes – whether there really was a genuine opportunity is a different question.
All round, 13/14th C Scotland was not a poorer place than contemporary England – bread cost a lot more (and I do mean a lot) and meat and fish cost a good deal less, but overall there was little difference between the richest parts of each country and the poorest parts of each country; pretty much as things stand today.
One significant difference was the smaller population of course. Scotland may have had less in the way of top-grade agricultural areas, but also had many fewer people to feed – hence there is no great degree of 'land hunger' compared to England or France. As a proportion of population the provision of men-at-arms available in Scotland in 1296 was smaller than in England, but that is, in part at least, a matter of demand – Scotland had n;t been at war for many decades so there was not the pressure on the crown to encourage knight service, and such service was not a route to social mobility as it was in England. By the 1330s (if not before) this was no longer the case and the proportion relative to population was not, so far as we can tell, radically different.
Halidon Hill…was n't the first time English men-at-arms fought dismounted, but it had yet to become a standard practice. At Boroughbridge MAA fought on foot and were described as deploying 'in the Scottish fashion'.
System of lordship…no different between southern Scotland (to as far north as Inverness in the east – not so much in the west)and England or France, and the WofI was almost exclusive conducted by men from south of the Don, so that's not really an issue.
It is not clear that lordship in Highland areas was significantly different, though there may still have been more of an agnatial element to inheritance. What impact that may have had is impossible to say, other than the fact that certainly some northern lords (and possibly a lot of them)owed ship service rather than knight service.
Border horse…simply not a feature of Scottish or English societies in the 14th C as far as we can tell from the evidence. Does that mean that either Scottish or English MAA necessarily always conducted operations in their full kit? Perhaps not; there's no evidence to support that possibility, but personally I suspect that 'patrol'/'showing the the flag'/'demonstrating governance' operations on a very hot day might lead to individuals choosing not to don every scrap of ironmongery they had…especially if there was nothing to indicate the presence of the enemy.
Irish troops in Scotland…not to any great extent in he 14th C. Not that they were n't called for on occasion (Edward II in 1314), just that they don't seem to have turned up. Some Irish lords/knights did come to Scotland, but essentially as individual men-at-arms, indistinguishable from their English (or Scottish) counterparts.

Lewisgunner11 Feb 2016 10:15 a.m. PST

Thank you for some fulsome responses UFB. The Wikipedia article on hobilars has them appearing in Ireland and being introduced into Scitland and England early in the XIVth century and it does appear well , f secondarily, sourced.

uglyfatbloke11 Feb 2016 2:45 p.m. PST

Actually, it's really not a bad article at all – you'd get no better from reading general secondary texts. Robert I's 'high speed raiders' were really more positively mounted infantry and we should expect their mounts to be less valuable than the general run of actual hobelars, but that's about it.

Druzhina11 Feb 2016 9:13 p.m. PST

Wikipedia does not allow the use of primary sources, so articles have to be, at least, based on secondary sources.

Druzhina
14th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

MajorB12 Feb 2016 3:26 a.m. PST

"Unless restricted by another policy, primary sources that have been reputably published may be used in Wikipedia; but only with care, because it is easy to misuse them."
link

Oh Bugger Inactive Member13 Feb 2016 5:56 a.m. PST

"The tradition that rafts of unarmoured Galwegians and Highland types fought at Northallerton (Battle of the Standard) is , to say the least, highly suspect."

Always interesting stuff from you UFB can you expand on this at all?

BTW we had a series of scholarly articles in Slingshot from a lad called PV Walsh in which he drew upon an epic poem Fergus of Galloway. Walsh believed the Galwegians pretty much were armed and equipped in the Irish fashion meaning in this context largely unarmoured. Can you shed any light on this?

Personal logo rampantlion Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2016 9:12 a.m. PST

I am not nearly as well read on the subject as any of you probably, but wasn't there (during the Scottish Wars of Independence) a lack of quality horseflesh (destriers) available in Scotland compared to England? If this is the case, wouldn't some of the mounted contingents be riding lighter horses which might allow one to term them as medium cavalry which I could see being equated to the generic term of "hobilar" from contemporary or near contemporary sources. Alas, as a person who cannot read latin, I am forced to read translated sources which might or might not be completely accurate or unbiased.

I have a question to the experts. At Bannockburn, was Keith's contingent of horse mounted knights on barded destriers or were they possibly nobles on lighter horses which might allow them to be classified as medium horse or hobilars/mounted sergeants for comparisons sake? This is a question and not a statement, so would love an answer on this.

Thanks – Allen

uglyfatbloke14 Feb 2016 7:09 a.m. PST

Crivvens…big questions.
The Galwegians & sources…when you only have sorce material from one side you have to be very wary about what the source says and so much the more so if the source is someone a long way from the battle, probably with little or no military experience and as mentioned above- an agenda which includes a desire to portray the opposition as barbarians. There may be a similar issue applying to colonial powers and their descriptions of the 'natives'. Dashing illustrations of 'our brave chaps' from 19th Century periodicals are often not especially valuable as source material. Consider the famous 'Thin Red Line' print from the Crimea; does it show a deep and narrow chasm between the opposing forces? Nope. Was that considered a crucial element by two every experienced Scottish soldiers who took part? Yup.
Same applies to Fergus de Galloway. Written by a Frenchman who in all probability never left France about a society of which he had zero knowledge. It's a much less useful historical source than 'Gone with the Wind'. It might and stress 'might' be a fair guess that the 'middling sort' of Galwegians had a lighter-armour tradition, but it's equally possible that one could make the same assertion about Vikings.
Horses… a quick gander at horse valuation rolls which include the modest numbers of Scottish men-at-arms discharging knight service obligations in English-held castles or serving for wages kind of suggests a very minor difference in average prices, but there are a few things to consider. One is that 'average price' includes the mounts of the more senior officers, for who an expensive charger is a status symbol, but there's not necessarily a great distinction in the quality of the beast as an instrument of war. think in terms of the difference between a Maserati and Jaguar. Both fine things and the Maserati probably has a faster top-speed if you pit it on a race track. Is it any better for taking you to shops or on a trip around the country? Not really, but it's an awful lot more pricey (I'm guessing about his insofar as I don't drive, so I'm pretty ignorant about cars). Additionally, some Scots serving in English garrisons lived close-by and may not have chosen to expose their best animal to bugs and ailments in a big stable and left the better mount at home.
Destriers…hardly anyone owned destriers, just chargers. Again, it's the difference between a Maserati and jaguar. Overall, if Scots rode lesser mounts, it's be safe to assume that someone might have mentioned it in source material. Since they did n't and since Scots all-in-all had the better of it in the multitude of small-scale cavalry actions that were the mainstay of the two wars of independence, it's safer to assume that the quality of mounts was negligible or non-existent.
Keith and Bannockburn one word(really, just one word) in Barbour's epic is the root of the 'light Scottish knights' thing. Barbour says their horses were 'lecht' , but that most likely just means 'mettlesome' or that it is a cheville. The very next line says the Scots were 'armed (armoured) well in steel.' Of course it's always possible that Scots did n't bard their horses for that day, but you'd have to wonder why, but even so the horse is still the horse.
The evidence for 'light' Scottish MAA and mounts is negligible and questionable, the evidence for them being the same as anyone else is, to say the least, abundant. If anyone is really keen (also known as 'a sad nerd') to know more I can send you a 300,000 word Ph.D. thesis & field work that covers the ground. Alternatively you could always buy it in the rather shorter (100,000+) book form….

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