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Old 21st July 2009, 06:45 AM   #31
TVV
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Gonzalo, no problems. There was nothing wrong about your note, and Vasary is one of the best accepted authors on the subject of Eastern Nomads and their influence on the Balkans in the 12th to 15th centuries.

But we should get back on topic. Manuel, I am afraid the inscription is not in Romanian, but in a Slavic language which is quite similar to Russian. I can only read the last part, which says "and with charriots". I also think I can see the name "Israel" there as well, and I suspect the crowned figure says Pharaoh. Of course, Romanian was influenced by Slavic languages, so the inscription might be in Romanian, though I doubt it. I suspect the fresco represents a scene from the Exodus.

It is interesting that the charriots look similar to wagenburgs, which as we know were used by the Bohemians in the army of Vladislav III of Poland at Varna in 1444. It illustrates how artists painted what they were familiar with themselves, and so this fresco is probably a good presentation of armament and costume from the times.

After staring at the fresco, I can see a lot of maces and hammers, but the only sword I see is found on a foot soldiers behind the Pharaoh, and it looks curved.

Thank you for sharing these pictures, Emanuel.

Regards,
Teodor
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Old 21st July 2009, 11:54 AM   #32
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Thanks Teodor,

Sucevita is in Romanian Moldova, where Russian influence was strong. I assumed it was still Romanian because at the time the liturgy used the Cyrillic alphabet and Slavonic. I've also seen Romanian written in cyrillic.

I have a number of other devotional paintings with scenes from the lives of saints which also depict characters in what seems like period clothes. Perhaps I'll scan those as well.

I've looked closer at the fresco and you're right about the lack of swords. To me it looked like the soldiers on the bottom left carried swords, but I can see axe-heads and maces now.

All the best,
Emanuel

Last edited by Emanuel : 21st July 2009 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 21st July 2009, 05:41 PM   #33
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Hi gents ,
wow a pretty interesting discussion we have here
Im gonna add some points to your contributions.
Just like Teodor and Gonzalo (great posts by the way guys I am learing a lot from you here, as always) I have to mention Vasary’s book, that is a "must-have" when one is interested in the history of those medieval nomadic people that inhabited parts of europe.

Emanuel thanks for your exhaustive reply. The splendid picture labelled " Ein Reuter aufs der Walachi" looks very , very (almost exactly) like the "Rac"serb-hussars from the Orsa painting http://www.myarmoury.com/images/fea...ic_hussar01.jpg , note the "winged" shield , which Turks called "Rumelian" and westerners "Hungarian" (IIRC, the shields are also represented in Ottoman/German art. Fechtbucher "gladiatora" shows two fencers armed with it , but in a smaller "target-like" scale. The turkish miniature painting of Mohacs Battle also shows Hungarian troops/cavalry armed with such shields as well).

As for the other painting (the fresco) , could you determine the author of the piece? I suspect that because of the "cyrilics" it might have been inspired by similar pieces from Muscovy (or the other southern Russian principalities, not sure which one bordered with Romanian Moldova) and Russians were quite fond of wearing Conical helmets , which were by no means only reserved to Turks (AFAIK , central asian "steepe" nomads, such as the various tatar khaganates ; Mamluks and Byzantine troops wore them as well)... anyway just speculating. If you have more scans of some such frescoes please do post them , I would be very interested in seeing them.

Going back to the overall picture, until recently I was somewhat unaware of the military structure of the medieval Balkans. I have always assumed that the military technology/tactics were very similar and somewhat mirrored the armamament and tactics of the "Latins". As it turned out I was (very) wrong. What suprised me was Heath’s osprey book on the Byzantine later period (that covers 13-14 and 15. century). Not only were the "native" Balkan people (of non-nomadic stock) armed in a similar fashion to nomads (composite bow, both sabres and straight swords , lances, shields of various designs etc.) but served for the emperor in units in which they were grouped together with nomads themselves. Whats even more interesting is that the further "subjugation" of Balkans by Ottomans seemed to be so "smooth" because of the fact that the Byzantine military style of troop commanding was very similar to that of Ottoman (parralles can be seen for example in etymology: "ottoman voynuks" - "balkan slavic vojniks" , or "byzantine greek Allagator" - "Turkish Lagator" etc.) AFAIK, The partial "latinization" and western men-at-arms seemed to have been more present in the western parts of balkans (like serbia , that according to Heath responded to Ottoman threat by fielding italian style arms and equipment.) The "Saxons" in Wallachia are an exception indeed. I dont remember however reading much about Saxon cavalry, or men-at-arms.
A query at the end: was the sword of Stephen the Great produced by local (moldovian) blacksmiths or was it a saxon/hungarian import?

Cheers,
Samuel


Edit: A note on the topic of similarity betwen Serbs and Vlachs that I have (somewhat) touched upon earlier. A splendid article (sadly) written in Czech http://www.livinghistory.cz/node/28 , that muses about the wagenburg tactics also mentions a piece of writing from late 15th century Order of Vlčkov : „A což byste Rácuov jměli a Vlachuov, té zběři, ješto by se k šikování nehodili, ty pusťte všecky na harc a jednomu poručte rozumnému, aby jimi potiskal nepřátel…“

It is written in old Bohemian and says something in the lines of avoiding in giving a free hand in command of the hired Vlach and Rác (Serbian) horsemen (presumably to counter the turks) because of their behaviour (they are literally named "zběř" , similar to modern Czech "sběř" which means rabble/riffraff; which is hardly suprising as light cavalry was always accussed for lack of morals) and instead to hire someone "reasonable" to command them instead (presumably a countryman I guess). As you can see the passage pretty much treats them as a similar/same style of unit (which mayhap points to the common Balkan/Byzantine military heritage).

Last edited by Samik : 21st July 2009 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 21st July 2009, 10:15 PM   #34
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Hi Samuel,

The shield did bring images of hussars to mind. They certainly look graceful. There is no info on Stefan's sword, AFAIK. Being a princely sword, we can assume a high quality smith and craftsman. Whether from a local or foreign production centre, who knows A stylistic study of the pommel and its incription might however identify whether it was produced in Moldova or elsewhere. I've ordered a book on the crafts and manufactures of Valahia and Moldova in the middle ages. It's in Romanian, but I will translate and post any relevant bits.

It's also impossible to determine the painters of the frescos, but the style is associated with "Ioan the Painter" and his brother "Sofronie from Suceava". The monastery was built in 1581 by Gheorghe Movila. The fresco need not have basis on Russian exampla...rather both Russian and Vlach/Moldovan styles are heavily influenced by Byzantine ones.

Slavonic was adopted as the liturgical language upon the conversion of Vlachs to Orthodox Christianity. It was used in most church writings, often along concurrently with Latin. Due to proximity, I imagine it was used more frequently in Moldova.

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium's entry on Vlachs mentions their presence on Byzantine territory. They subsist on goat and sheep herding, and as mercenaries. The herding aspect, at least, is still part of Romanian mythos and identity. The shepherd in the mountains, armed with axe and staff.
Apparently there is uncertainty on whether the reference "Blachoi" (the v and b are interchangeable) refers specifically to Vlachs, or Bulgarians, who shared characteristics and lived in the same area. This attests to the further ethnic mixing that happened in that time. One point of particualr interest to me is the latinization of Dacians/Vlachs. There is no answer to the debate on whether Dacians were latinized by the (very limited) Roman occupation, or during their temporary migration south of the Dabune into Byzantine territory, or even whether they already spoke a form of vulgate latin before Roman conquest. Somehow the latin persisted to the present day despite massive bastardization with slavic, turkish, greek, hungarian, german and french

To get back to the topic at hand though - 15th century Vlach swords - I will scan more paintings tonight.

All the best,
Emanuel

Last edited by Emanuel : 21st July 2009 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 12:18 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emanuel
Being Romanian does not imply being knowledgeable about Romania, Gonzalo
Emanuel



Of course, Emanuel, but having your passion over this subjects, and the knowledge of the romanian languaje, you can access many sources many of us can´t. Thank you for the images, very interesting material!!
Regards

Gonzalo
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Old 22nd July 2009, 07:31 PM   #36
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in the book, vasary put forward the three most common theories about the brother's ethnic identities and he seemed to favor the theory that the brothers where vlachs who had some cuman/kipchak ancestry as evidenced by one of the brothers having the turkic name "asen" (and that some sort of ethnic connection was one of the reasons the brothers found ready support from the kipchaks/cumans north of the danube) and that the vlachs, if i remember right, where to a degree ethnically integrated with the bulgars.

anyways its one of the more fascinating locations/periods of european history, where europen and asiatic steppe cultures where constantly in flux.


on a semi related note, ive been wondering how the kipchak/cumans became heavily armored cavalry as mamelukes when they had no tradition of it on the crimean steppes??? was this a tradition handed down from the ayyubids/fatimids and the kipchak/cumans where trained to adapt to it or did the kipchaks actually have a tradition of havily armored cavalry that im not aware of? sorry if this is a dumb question, ive been on a quest lately to find good historical reading material on the mamelukes (mainly the bahri dynasty, it seems the circassian burj dynasty was an era of decline for the mamelukes) but havent had much luck.
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Old 22nd July 2009, 07:46 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pallas
on a semi related note, ive been wondering how the kipchak/cumans became heavily armored cavalry as mamelukes when they had no tradition of it on the crimean steppes??? was this a tradition handed down from the ayyubids/fatimids and the kipchak/cumans where trained to adapt to it or did the kipchaks actually have a tradition of havily armored cavalry that im not aware of? sorry if this is a dumb question, ive been on a quest lately to find good historical reading material on the mamelukes (mainly the bahri dynasty, it seems the circassian burj dynasty was an era of decline for the mamelukes) but havent had much luck.


The Cumans, as evidenced by archaeological finds, had a tradition of fielding armored cavalry. There are some good studies on Cuman arms and armor by Russian authors - Kirpichnikov, Gorelik and Khudyakov are some names that come to mind. Gutowski's book in Polish and English on Tatar Arms also has examples of Cuman armor and helmets.
Regards,
Teodor
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Old 5th August 2009, 09:53 PM   #38
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Hi all ,

I came across a pretty neat website dealing with orthodox iconography / fresco's and the like http://www.orthodoxphotos.com

There is a number of wall paintings and fresco's from Romania that depicts warriors armed with swords. I may be shooting a bit blind here as unfortunately most of those pieces are not given a date (and one cannot be sure if they are relevant to 15th century). Any help from you guys in dating those marvelous works of art would be helpful

Here we go :

Stills from the life of St. John the New - Voronet Monastery Fresco - Romania :



Note both the sabre and hand-and-a-half sword with somewhat unique looks (i.e. The "green" part on the sword ; the "sword-like" hilt on a sabre + the somewhat strange/intriguing shape of the yelmen)






Blade grabbing here , do however note the somewhat shorter lenght on the crossguard (not that it would be out of place in the "latin" world but nevertheless..)






Here we have an interesting figure armed with both sabre and a composite bow; take note of his somewhat "fancy" hat. Could this be one of the infamous Kipcak/Cuman people ?

......to be continued
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Old 5th August 2009, 10:33 PM   #39
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Part 2 :


Moving onto Sucevita Monastery Fresco - Romania



Unfortunately this one is a bit smaller. Note the Turks, that are apparently slaughtering some folks. Two of them are seemingly from the Jannisary corps , as their pointy headwear indicates. The man in the middle seems to use a straight sword in a two handed way (?) , whereas the Jannisary on the right uses what seems to be a sabre-proper.




Probably a "Warrior Saint". His sword bears a great resemblance to another one drawn in a fresco from Pec, Serbia. (The one i posted in the "Volga Bulgarians" thread)


Next comes

St. Dimitrie Church Frescoes, Suceava, Romania





I am guessing probably another one of those "warrior-saints" ; his sword however is very interesting ; note the slightly curved crossguard and slender blade, that shows a striking resemblance to some of the more wester late medieval/early renaissance cut and thrust swords



No swords shown , but the picture is rich on polearms and armour. Note the man-at-arms at the front that carries a composite or even a longbow?(!)


The last (but not least) duo of pictures comes from

Probota Monastery Frescoes, Romania




A scene of beheading. Note the gilded hilt and the following cleaning of the sword blade.




A beautiful fresco. This one containts both the "Romanesque" armour , circular ( similar to kalkan-turkish) shield, spears but most importantly swords. The military figure in the center seems to carry ,judging from the somewhat canted hilt a sabre (or if you take into consideration the lenght of the hilt it could even be a long/hand n a half sword?). The last thing to note is the angel under Christ's left arm , that is definately holding a sabre (unfortunately the picture is a bit small , but one can see the gilded crossguard and a dark hilt/pommel)

Enjoy folks , there is much more at http://www.orthodoxphotos.com/Icons...oes/index.shtml , its a pity though that no dates are given.

All the best ,
Samuel
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Old 5th August 2009, 10:37 PM   #40
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Haha I was going to scan pics from this monastery. Voronet was built during the reign of Stefan the Great, and the frescos are contemporary, so end 15th century.

The second picture you show Samuel, is from the life of St. Nicholas.

Here are two from the martyrdom of St. Stephen. It represents the trial and stoning of Stephen in Jerusalem, but the authoritative figure, Saul of Tarsus, is dressed in Ottoman fashion. The mob that "stones" Stephen is here shown with clubs. The hat that sort of falls to the side is actually Romanian/VLach/Moldovan. Another hat type is conical slanting backwards. That also has quite a bit of history in eastern Europe.





Emanuel
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Old 5th August 2009, 10:46 PM   #41
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I found a number of studies on mediaeval arms in the Romanian principalities. They corroborate that the peasant army was armed with axes, maces, bows and polearms, and only the boiers had swords. One author mentions that these were produced in Brasov and that they had a "distinctly Romanian look" but the fool neglects to include pictures of said swords .

Another study on arms and armour in Transylvania demonstrates that weapons were most strongly influenced by western Saxon tradition and were of the straight double-edged variety. Only much later did curved sabres catch on in Transylvania. This leaves out Valahia...again I'm inclined to think that both sabres and straight swords were equally available to Vlad III and his contermporaries.

I'm waiting on another book on 15th century crafts and manufacturing.

Emanuel
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Old 11th August 2009, 02:02 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pallas
on a semi related note, ive been wondering how the kipchak/cumans became heavily armored cavalry as mamelukes when they had no tradition of it on the crimean steppes??? was this a tradition handed down from the ayyubids/fatimids and the kipchak/cumans where trained to adapt to it or did the kipchaks actually have a tradition of havily armored cavalry that im not aware of? sorry if this is a dumb question, ive been on a quest lately to find good historical reading material on the mamelukes (mainly the bahri dynasty, it seems the circassian burj dynasty was an era of decline for the mamelukes) but havent had much luck.



I agree with Teodor. Furthermore, we must be careful to define the kipchaks, or other nomad warrior people, in base of exclusively ethnic considerations. Usually the nomad warriors were grouped as confederations of tribes of diverse origins. Attila´s warriors were not only huns, but also alans and goths, among others. In the introduction of the Codex Cumanicus it has been said that ‘…the question of Cuman-Qipçaq ethnogenesis has yet to be completely unraveled. Even the name for this tribal confederation is by no means entirely clear.’

‘A variety of sources equate them, in turn, with the Qangli, one of the names by which the easternmost, Central Eurasian branch of the Cuman-Qipcaq confederation was known….These tribes included Turkic, Mongol and Iranian elements or antecedents. ‘

Some tribes of the kipchak confederation probably came from the border with China and had a wide contact with chinese military inventions, and also had relations with the Gökturk Khaganate, which unified in a single confederation almost all the nomad tribes of eastern Central Asia. Since old times the turks used lamellar ‘heavy’ armour, as it can be seen in some representations of turkic warriors from that period. Turks were also known for their specialty in iron working. The first bugar capital, Pliska, with strong turkic presence and mostly, but not exclusively, due to it, was an important armory production center.

Kipchaks occupied a great territory of the eurasian steppe, and also had contact with the kazars, another confederation integrated with turkic elements, among others, which used to wear helmets, maille hauberks and lamellar cuirasses. Contacts with the military technology of Bizantium also should be taken on account. Members of the Bahri dynasty, the first dynasty of Mamluks in Egypt, were Kipchaks, which gives us an idea of the armour used by them.

Yes, they knew very well and used the arms and armour of the heavy cavalry, though the light mounted archer still was important in their ranks.
Eurasian-Central Asian nomads were not as primitive as we can think. In fact, they were very sophisticated in many ways. Ways related with war and survival in a very competitive environment. Many arrived to the occident because they were the less apt and were expelled from the steppe by the best, and even so many times they seemed invincible before the eyes of the occidental peoples. They carried more than few military inventions much time before the europeans knew about them, including siege machines, military technologies associated with the cavalry and the horse, suspension systems to carry the sword and an the unsurpassable techniques related with the bow and the military use of the archery. It has been questioned if the nomads made their swords. The turks made them, very aptly. Central Asia also seems to have been one of the old and few producers of wootz in the world.
Regards

Gonzalo
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Old 12th August 2009, 10:38 PM   #43
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Default Moldovian footsoldiers armed with curved blades

Hello again ,

Not really Wallachian but perhaps its interesting to point out the Thuroczy chronicle (dated circa 1490) , that shows a scene from The Battle of Baia
(Moldvabányai csata in hungarian) that pitted Stefan cel Mare against Mattias Corvinus.






Note the men-at-arms on Hungarian (left) side armed mostly with poleaxes (dismounted) and lances (mounted).

The Moldovians have mounted boiers (?) armed with lances (note the pointy helmets that contrast with the more "germanic" sallets of the hungarian soldiers) and straight (long)swords (the cavalryman on the rightmost side).

The most interesting is the Moldovian foot , that is armed in a sword and shield/target fashion. The blades on the weapons are curved (and it also appears that they have crossguards , hence they cannot be considered "short polearms" and the like) , that could indicate they might be .. well sabres ??

Cheers ,
Samuel


P.S: Im going on holidays for a week and a half , so have fun without me ; I also hope for and look forward to see more Fresco pics and info from you Emanuel
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Old 13th August 2009, 04:44 AM   #44
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On the left side the arms and armour looks very german-ish to me.
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Old 11th February 2010, 04:14 PM   #45
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Default Dracula's sword on display

I visited Romania in the mid 1970's, toured all around the coutry in a car and on the way back to the capital I remember climbing a small mountain in the Transylvanian Alps north of Bucharesti...it was a total ruin except for one small building in which sat a government official. On the wall was a portrait painting of Vlad the Impaler (Draculea) and in the center of the room was a glass case containing what was labeled as Vlad's sword. I forgot my camera in the carpark at the bottom of the mountain...and I don't remember what it looked like except that I have a vaque memory of it being a sabre type.

St. Stephen of Hungary's sword is obviously a Norse import.
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Old 3rd April 2010, 06:53 PM   #46
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Apologies for the thread necromancy but I stumbled upon this painting of Dürer titled "Die welsche Trophäe" . Its a part of the famous Triumph of Maximilian, in which other "trophies" are also included (e.g. equipment of a Bohemian pavisier or an early Hungarian hussar etc)
I have only recently came to a realization that "welsche" actually means Wallachian in German!

The piece is dated 1518:




I recommend checking the original in high-resolution
http://www.zeno.org/Kunstwerke/B/D%...5D?hl=w elsche

(just click on the picture to enlarge)

Its arguably an "exotic" take on a fairly standard European man-at-arms kit. Yet the addition of the strange closed-helmet as well as the round shield makes it somewhat more original. The lance appears to be of the classic western knightly type. The sword has a huge pommel as well as strangely curved quillions, but nothing that would be out of place in south-eastern Europe (there are similar arming swords in both Kingdom of hungary , Balkans as well as northern Italy; see my post in the "genoese/pisan/venetian weapons" thread ), note however the two big "ears" that the bollock-dagger has on its pommel (again a typical feature on weapons coming from SE-europe; Rumelian Yatagans as well as Daggers "ala stradiota" feature them as well).

Overall a splendid painting and very close to the period in question, I can't understand how is it possible that I haven't came across it earlier.

Regards,
Samuel
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Old 9th April 2010, 10:39 AM   #47
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- 15th century flail and crossbow from Sibiu


Hi Emanuel,

Could you please give the full bibliographic data of the book that you got that picture from?

Thank you in advance,
Michael
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Old 21st April 2010, 01:05 AM   #48
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Hi Michael,

My apologies for the late response, I havn't been very active on the forum and I didn't see your post.
The source of the images is a small picture book called "Mileniul Romanesc, 1000 de Ani de Istorie in Imagini, Editura Litera, 2004". This is not a historical book and I'm weary of its accuracy. It doesn't contain much information.

Regards,
Emanuel
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Old 13th May 2010, 12:58 AM   #49
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Lightbulb The "peacefull" Romanians

Hi to all of you,
it looks like now we are two Romanians on this.
I have seen that you had a lot of comments and also shared a lot of information.
History it is one of my hobbies for the last 25 years.
I just want to make a few points here.
The Cumans (especially the Black Cumans) were having some impact in Wallachia. Negru Voda (Negru means Black and voda is a shorter form of the voievod), one of the first known rullers in Wallachia is coming from the area of the Fagaras which it is a known area where many Black Cuman settled and as you can see in the map, some villages still keep some interesting names like Comanestii and Voievodenii.

The Cuman contribution to the establishment of the Wallachian state it is a topic extremely debated between the historians even today (during the communism era it was a taboo subject). In the battle of Posada between Basarab's Wallachian army and Charles's Hungarian army appear a ... recurved bow or Tartars bow as it is known in Wallachia. Also the Byzantine chronicler Laonic Chalcocondyl is mentioning that the shields of the Valachians were similar to the shields of Tartars.

Also, regarding the armors used in Wallachia. I think we can say it was a mix, but Wallachia and Moldavia were excellent customers for the ringmails sold by Venice (Italy). Mircea the Old it is known that he inherited an army of 10000 knights in ringmails made in Venice. Those knights were also mentioned during a jousting in Buda 1412. Two things to be highlighted here:
1) The size of the professional army is huge compared with the size of the country.
2) We are talking about knights here, which means a specific and very expensive warrior of the Middle Age. Something it is not right here with image of the peasants army!
As you probably have seen already, in Romania the best place to see something like armors is only on the gravestones or churches frescoes.
For Mircea the Old era (XIV century) weaponry, we must check the church made in his day, the church of the Cozia Monastery, where we can see the ringmails and a lot of spades.





Regarding the passivity and the peace loving Wallachians/Moldavians that would be correct if we refer to it starting only with 1711 in Moldavia and 1716 in Wallachia when are imposed leaders of foreign nationality (Greeks) named Fanariot. Their first action was to make a law forbidding the weapons for all people. Till than the situation was totally different because both voievodes in Moldavia and Wallachia were known for asking that all people (at least the free ones, so forget about Gypsy warriors because they were slaves) to have weapons.
Stephen the Great provided a list of equipment what the people should have when are called under arms (Polish chronicler: saber, bow and arrows) and Vlad the Impaler (Dracula) had impaled (what would you expect?) one of his soldiers because of the poor status of his shield and sword.
A good idea of the sword type used by Wallachians it is given by the old names for some administrative functions and by ... Polish chroniclers.
Mare Spatar (Grand Spade Bearer) : majority of Romanians do not know today but "spata" is the archaic form of "spada" = spade (in german would be spatha). So the nobility was using spades (remember the frescoes from Cozia).
Unfortunately not too many people can speak Romanian because this study could be interesting regarding the evolution of the weapons name during the centuries.
Later, http://www.scribd.com/doc/29788274/...scu-Elena-Roman LINK
And finally, in the following link you may see some of the Moldavian weapons used during the Stephen the Great. Also a sabre from the XVth century in Fig3 unearthed near Suceava.
LINK
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Old 13th May 2010, 07:02 PM   #50
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Excellent post Lucian!!! and welcome to the forum!!!
Its great to have another here from Romania, as this history is both complex and incredibly fascinating, and your insight is most valuable. Beautiful illustrations also, thank you for posting them.

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 17th May 2010, 07:07 PM   #51
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Great post Lucian and thank you very much for the splendid info!

Those beautiful frescoes are very similar (I dare to say almost identical) to those found in Kosovo and other places of former Yugoslavia. It appears Serbs similarly (as well as other adjacent ethnicities) to Wallachians used a mix of western and eastern military equipment. For example you'll find a military saint depicted with classic heater shield , lance and a sword on one hand but also a composite bow with a Kipcak/Cuman style quiver as well (in which the arrows are pointed arrowheads up):



Monastery Decani, Kosovo 1330-1350



Church of Saint Kliment , Macedonia cca. 1295

Sabres of both the classic steppe style (riveted hilts and small pommel caps) as well as "paramerions" (essentially weapons with sword hilts and curved blades) are present as well (furthermore Maces are common secondary weapon depicted, instead of the more western European war-hammers).
There are two great websites that host a big number of photographs of the aforementioned "Yugoslav" frescoes
http://www.srpskoblago.org/Archives/ and
http://sankire.narod.ru/Balkani.html

I have looked through most of the wall-paintings on the Srpsko Blago website so if anyone's interested I can point-out the relevant ones (with respect to arms and armour).

Lucian in case you have some more info on the arms and armour from Wallachia/Moldavia etc. feel free to post it , id be very interested myself. It seems there were many similarities between the various south-eastern principalities and kingdoms.

Kind Regards,
Samuel
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Old 17th May 2010, 08:35 PM   #52
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It is debatable whether the warriors on the frescoes are Serb or Greek or Bulgarian. In fact, at 1295, Macedonia was not part of the Serbian Kingdom.

Given the common state entity and close ties between Walalchians, Bulgarians and Cumans in the 12-13th centuries, it is not surprising that the arms and armor were shared as well.

When looking at frescoes, we also have to remember that the equipment depicted is also based on church cannons and on the artist's own images of how a warrior should look like. Some of the equipment may have been copied down from earlier frescoes, so pictorial evidence alone cannot be completely relied upon, and has to be examiend combined with archaeological finds, written sources, etc.

Regards,
Teodor
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Old 17th May 2010, 11:21 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TVV
It is debatable whether the warriors on the frescoes are Serb or Greek or Bulgarian. In fact, at 1295, Macedonia was not part of the Serbian Kingdom.

Given the common state entity and close ties between Walalchians, Bulgarians and Cumans in the 12-13th centuries, it is not surprising that the arms and armor were shared as well.

When looking at frescoes, we also have to remember that the equipment depicted is also based on church cannons and on the artist's own images of how a warrior should look like. Some of the equipment may have been copied down from earlier frescoes, so pictorial evidence alone cannot be completely relied upon, and has to be examiend combined with archaeological finds, written sources, etc.

Regards,
Teodor


Splendid observation Teodor ,
the depiction of armour in particular seem to have had a great deal of anachronism (e.g. the continuous portrayal of scale/ lamellar armour).As to the ethnicity of the warriors saints I personally think its negligible as for example the Bulgarian 14th century version of manasses chronicle has illustrations with similar figures. Furthermore you'll find very similar/identical portrayal of warrior saints in Kosovar/Serbian frescoes. Coming back to the accuracy of the depiction of arms and armour, some pieces however do have novelties in them, especially in terms of weapons. You can see yelman-less sabres and "paramerions" as well as the cuman-style quivers in the first half of the 14th century , whereas the early 15th century fresco of a trio of warrior-saints (cca. 1408-1420) presents an interesting "development" ( manasija monastery)




Note the bow-case of the central figure , he has two arrows in it with its fletching pointed upwards , which is more characteristic of Anatolian Turks (there is an article on a similar matter by Russ Mitchell in volume 4 of journal of medieval military history). The rightmost figure of St Nikita sports a sabre with a quite visible yelmen, which is again more typical of later weapons.

You can compare those with earlier depictions (such as the one in my earlier post) and with the depiction of St. Nicetas from Gracanica (1321-22)


Note the lack of yelmen as well as the "habaki" part between the hilt and the blade.. again a feature more characteristic of earlier sabres. Swords are sometimes presented in anachronistic way (some appearing even after two centuries e.g. you'll find an identical depiction of a sword from a 12th century fresco in a 14th century one etc.) but some are "modern" in their appearance ,e.g. pieces that have semi-curved cross-guard and even hand and a half grips. Those examples of sabres/quivers as well as swords are in my opinion a sign that not all of those fresco depictions are necessarily "outdated" or entirely fantastical. Some are filled with immense attention to detail that can in fact rival the art from Western Europe.

Regards,
Samuel
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Old 18th May 2010, 12:21 AM   #54
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Default Samik, you are right!

Actually a lot of very old churches, but especially the Cozia's church frescoes, are in the Serbian style. Mircea the Old had many relations and alliances with the Serbians. The style we can name it Serbian but I think it would be more correct to name it Byzantine.
Talking about Kossovo, Mircea the Old provided some troops (around 3000 soldiers it is mentioned in several recent articles an even in some history books but I found nothing from that era and I have no idea if were infantry, archers or light cavalry) for the Battle from Kossovo Polje in 1389. I suppose were light cavalry because were supposed to move really fast for a long trip.
In that battle were so many nations that I am almost not surprised about the outcome whom everybody said that is their victory. I am even amazed that they made a cohesion between so many groups.
Coming back to the Wallachian and especially the Moldavian swords, I found an interesting work related to the representation of Saint George on stove tiles from the fourteenth century and also an interesting conclusion:
"One can also note the character of weapons depicted. Sabers appear on
the tiles with St. George mostly in Wallachia (9), while there are only 2 from
Moldavia and 1 in Transylvania. Unlike the sword, the sabre was hardly known
in the medieval west. It was a more oriental type of weapon, re-introduced in
South-Eastern Europe during the fifteenth century due to the conflicts with the Turks. This indicates that in Wallachia such oriental weapons were much more familiar in those times than in Moldavia or Transylvania." The study is at this LINK .
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Old 18th May 2010, 12:49 AM   #55
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Samuel,

Good points, supported with perfect illustrations. The blade on St. Nikita's sabre is actually very similar to some swords captured at the second siege of Vienna, more than 2 centuries later - certainly an example of a type that was just starting to appear in Europe. The grip with the forefinger over the crossguard is also remarkable and further shows that the painter must have had a good amount of exposure to warriors of the time, maybe even having some military experience himself.

The second fresco shows the habaki-like plate at the base of the blade, while the garment is conviniently left open to reveal what looks like mail sewn inside. This is where the problems with frescoes start - reenactors tend to see things on some frescoes, which are more the product of conjecture. For example, if that really mail sewn inside, and if so, how about the trousers (same pattern on the outside) with those strange plates on the knees? And then the wild speculation starts.

Overall though you are correct - frescoes provide valuable insight into the arms and armor in the Balkans in the Middle Ages, but they have to be examined with caution to discern what the artist copied from his surroundings, what he copied from older images and what was completely his imagination. And we should be careful to restrain our own imagination somewhat as well.

Thanks for the nice images,
Teodor
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Old 21st May 2010, 07:22 PM   #56
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Since I cannot edit my previous post and seeing that the second picture somewhat disappeared I'm re-uploading the depiction of St. Nicetas from the Gracanica fresco (1321-22)



Thank you both Teodor and Lucian for your knowledgeable (and much needed) insight !

Regards,
Samuel
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Old 25th October 2020, 03:50 AM   #57
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We must be just a week from Halloween, since I found myself reading an article on this topic. Even sportier is that, as I finished the article, I noticed the author's name looked familiar. I'm quite sure she is a fellow forumites.
Anyway, I wanted to link to the article in this thread for reference.

Also, why not resurrect a zombie thread during this witching season?

https://heritagearmssa.com/2017/11/...ad-the-impaler/
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Old 25th October 2020, 05:32 AM   #58
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Having read the linked article, in conjunction with this thread, I find a number of her conclusions a bit over-simplified. An example, The conclusion the Kilij was the ancestor of the sabre instead of the other way around. The statement that the short kilij was used by Cavalry instead of a longer shamshir/sabre, not Infantry seems a bit odd to me as well. The UK general's mameluke-like sword has a noticeable and long 'yelman' but does not require a scabbard with an open spine as the blade is not parabolic and is not highly curved. It was adopted after the french invasion of Egypt by Napoleon when the french generals liked them, and the English liked the French version. (UK one below - earlier versions had a brass scabbard, and came with an orderly to keep it polished) It's fairly stabby too. generals of the period would of course never actually need to use a sword in actual combat unless it got really desperate, which would not be often, if they were a good general.

P.s - I thought Shamshire was a county in the UK, not all that far to the southeast from me in Gloucestershire,the other side of Wiltshire, and just south of Berkshire .
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Old 25th October 2020, 04:44 PM   #59
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More than you wanted to know about Vlad III:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY82EpsvbQ8
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Old 1st November 2020, 05:08 PM   #60
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Most interesting to see this old thread again Wayne! Its been over a decade, and indeed how appropriate to 'revive' the thoughts of good old Dracula on Halloween!
Actually the article from Heritage arms was I believe by Stuart Bates, Cathey Brimage is the editor of the publication.

While a bit tenuous, the topic associating the notorious Vlad with the mameluke saber is of course viable in certain remotely connected facts in some degree.
However in most cases such likelihood is about as plausible as the much debated connection between Vlad III (1431-1477) and Bram Stoker's famed vampire. Naturally there are certain possibly connected elements, again in degree.

The evolution of sword forms is mostly speculative chronologically, and that of the 'saber' is pretty well veiled. It seems generally held that curved blades evolved somewhere in Central Asia, probably Turkmenistan to give some sort of geographic reference, keeping in mind that the nomadic tribal people of the Steppes were the likely users of them, and around 9th century.

It is unclear exactly when this design arose with the Turkic tribes that formed the Ottoman empire, but these were not of course in the manner exactly of the later shamshir types, nor the stout shorter blades with yelman known as 'pala'. It seems that some sort of curved saber (as with falchions in Europe) was in use, but these may have been as with many falchions, straight backed with radiused edge to the point.

By the time of Vlad, while there were certainly some type of curved blade swords contemporary, there is no evidence I have ever seen of his using one. I have seen apocryphal sources noting him having a 'Toledo' blade , which in this time would have been of course, a 'knightly' broadsword. We know that straight broadswords were in use in Eastern Europe in these times, but there was a slightly curved version with a kind of 'S' shaped crossguard in use as well.

The 'Ottoman' style shamshirs and the similarly hilted 'pala' did not evolve until considerably later, though we know such sabers were in use by 17th century, and the East Europeans, adopted Ottoman styled swords.
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