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"Vikings Vs. Cavalry" Topic

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Tgerritsen Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2021 9:37 a.m. PST

Of course Vikings didn't use Cavalry in warfare as discussed in this recent great topic.

TMP link

However, it brought up a question for me as I put together my own armies for that period. Vikings certainly faced cavalry, and Normans (being descended from Vikings) existed at the same time as Vikings- so is there a good source of info for how Vikings fought against Cavalry? Anyone have recommendations on the tactics of both the Vikings and the Cavalry they faced?

William Warner13 Sep 2021 10:54 a.m. PST

Although Saxons were not Vikings, they employed the same tactics and used the same weapons. The Battle of Hastings would be an ideal example of shield-wall vs. cavalry.

Really Rampant13 Sep 2021 1:17 p.m. PST

Didn't they fight the Franks a lot? Maybe theres some accounts of their battles.

GurKhan13 Sep 2021 1:18 p.m. PST

"Now the battle began. The English made a cavalry charge on the Norwegians, who met it without flinching. it was no easy matter for the English to ride against the Norwegians because of their arrows, so they rode around them in a circle. There was only skirmishing to begin with, so long as the Norwegians kept their formation. The English cavalry kept charging them and falling back at once when they could make no headway.

The Norwegians observed this, and thought the enemy assaults rather half-hearted; so they launched an attack themselves on the retreating cavalry. But as soon as they had broken their shield-wall, the English rode down on them from all sides, showering spears and arrows on them."

That's Snorri Sturlusson describing Anglo-Saxon cavalry against Viking infantry in 1066. You may of course choose not to believe it – many do.

William Warner13 Sep 2021 2:22 p.m. PST

From 772 to 1804, Charlemagne conquered and converted the Saxons. This extended the border of his empire to the border of Denmark. In retaliation, the Danes began raiding the Carolingian Empire by land and sea, sailing far up the French rivers. Charlemagne's successors were unable to control these attacks, and for a hundred years Vikings ravaged France on a regular basis. Some Viking raids had been intercepted and several land battles had been fought. Raids against the Franks ceased in the early 900's after a Viking army was bought-off by Charles the Simple who awarded them the fief of Normandy in return for their aid in discouraging other Viking raiders. So yes, they could have fought mounted Franks during the 800's.

Tgerritsen Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2021 5:59 p.m. PST

I'm aware of some of the battles, but not the tactics involved. Anyone have sources and analysis of the tactics employed?

doc mcb14 Sep 2021 5:49 a.m. PST

Forget battles. Vikings were raiders. Imagine a shipload of Vikings on their way back to the boat, carrying captive womena nd pigs. Two mounted Franks appear. What good does a shield wall do? They have to get back to their boat. The Franks can choose the place and time of an attack, as the Vikings are strung out in movement.

Korvessa14 Sep 2021 5:00 p.m. PST

I kind of recall reading somewhere that Vikings didn't like riding into battle (especially leaders) as it was too easy to run away if things went badly. No honor.

That being said, I am including a small mounted contingent for a Viking army I am working on. Albeit slightly after the Viking age: Western Scotland 1150s.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine15 Sep 2021 2:45 a.m. PST

I don't think Scandinavians where ignorant of horses or cavalry. The Vendel culture that proceeded the Viking age seem to have included mounted combat and cavalry were a feature in later medieval Scandinavian armies.

Tactically the Anglo-Danish at Hastings are probably borrowing on Scandinavian Military tradition.

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