Ethnographic Arms & Armour
 

Go Back   Ethnographic Arms & Armour > Discussion Forums > European Armoury
User Name
Password
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 23rd January 2009, 12:23 AM   #31
katana
Member
 
katana's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Kent
Posts: 2,653
Default

Agreed, very eloquently put Gene

It is all too easy for political talk to get out of hand ....especially events that are still in 'living memory' for a number of people.

We had a discussion on the forum regarding the 'effectiveness' of Tulwars against British steel in battle. If memory serves, references suggested that the Indians ensured their swords were well maintained, razor sharp and housed in wooden cored scabbards. The British seemed the opposite, complacent about their sword care and using metal scabbards ....which helped to blunt the sword when withdrawing/replacing.

Also, the British expected to swordfight with their 'drilled', practiced techniques...expecting their opponents to do the same........however, their technique was different and alien, and caused problems because of the unpredictability (to the British) of the Indians sword use.

I'll try and find the thread.

Regards David
katana is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd January 2009, 12:45 AM   #32
Atlantia
Member
 
Atlantia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: The Sharp end
Posts: 2,928
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by katana
Agreed, very eloquently put Gene

It is all too easy for political talk to get out of hand ....especially events that are still in 'living memory' for a number of people.

We had a discussion on the forum regarding the 'effectiveness' of Tulwars against British steel in battle. If memory serves, references suggested that the Indians ensured their swords were well maintained, razor sharp and housed in wooden cored scabbards. The British seemed the opposite, complacent about their sword care and using metal scabbards ....which helped to blunt the sword when withdrawing/replacing.

Also, the British expected to swordfight with their 'drilled', practiced techniques...expecting their opponents to do the same........however, their technique was different and alien, and caused problems because of the unpredictability (to the British) of the Indians sword use.

I'll try and find the thread.

Regards David



Thank you David!
Your example of Tulwar Vs Sabre is exactly what I was hoping for to start this discussion.

There is an ancient Indian expression 'There is nothing so shameful as a blunt sword'.

No two fencing styles are more alien (and more refined) than European and Indian.

From fencing myself I can imagine how how the close style and rigid wrist of tulwar fencing must have been a revelation to European opponents.

Gene
Atlantia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd January 2009, 05:02 PM   #33
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,583
Default

Thanks David and Gene! I think the example of tulwar vs. British regulation sabres is a great one to follow the thesis of the topic here, and using the weapons as our focus, which is exactly what places this in the theme of our forum.

I recall the great discussion that David refers to, and it was a thread by Pukka Bundook (Richard, Feb. 24, 2007, "Tulwar vs. Sabre"). In the discussion was reference to the key importance of sharp blades, noted by Louis Nolan (an enthusiastic young British cavalry officer known for his attention to improving many aspects of military thought, before his death in the immortal charge at Balaklava October, 25,1854). He was a cavalry officer in India prior to that event, and spent keen attention in studying the effectiveness of the deadly swordsmanship of native Indian warriors, with special interest in Nizams Irregular Horse. He had read reports of an engagement against a force of Rohillas describing horrendous results to the British troopers. When he looked further into the weapons these Rohilla forces had used, he was astounded to find they were old British M1796 blades discarded by the British and cut to razor edge, kept in wooden scabbards. When asking one of the British allied troopers of Nizams unit about what was unique about the skill of these warriors, and was struck by the simple reply, "...we never teach them any way Sir, a sharp sword will cut in anyones hand". Nolan never forgot the lesson of the importance of the sharp blade.
"Nolan of Balaklava" H.Moyse-Barnett, London, 1971, p.121

It was clear that maintaining the servicability of ones weapon, was most certainly a key factor in effectiveness in battle. With regard to this aspect, I will note that the quality of the weapons is obviously important as well. It is noted that these 'old' discarded blades were from the M1796 pattern cavalry sabres, which had wide, heavy blades with heavy 'hatchet' type points which radiused into widened slashing tips. The British blades of the end of the 18th into early 19th century were also largely products of intense scrutiny in the competitive conflict between English bladesmiths and German imported blades in what became known as the 'sword scandals'.

The blades produced in this period in England were profoundly sound, and only found obsolescence with the familiar advent of 'improved' commerce.
I have known many examples of Indian tulwars with both M1796 and M1788 light cavalry blades. In his post in the previously mentioned thread, Richard cites a book titled "Sahib" by Richard Holmes, noting (p.351) that a young British officer had a sword custom made by Wilkinson to regular pattern, and honed to razor edge, polished to mirror finish, but that it would not effectively cut.
While this would seem to defy the previous discussion noting the use of British blades to new effect by simply sharpening them, I would point out that by the time Wilkinson was producing swords, it was much later in the century. The custom making of swords by Wilkinson was not unusual, most of thier swords for officers were, and polishing and decoration were more the norm, as swords for officers were more traditional accoutrement. Times had dramatically changed with the advanced technology of firearms, and the sound blades of earlier swords were roughly comparable in analogy of the construction of vintage autos opposed to modern production examples.

I think the next point of focus would be as noted by David, that of technique. While it is previously noted that the Indian warriors did not receive any special training with thier weapons, it is important to note that the weapon was an instrumental part of thier culture. They became personally involved with thier own weapons, from iconic symbolism with manhood and strength to sometimes spritual and religious perspective. The weapon was afforded respect, and treated accordingly, almost lovingly cared for, and seldom ever drawn out of its protective scabbard except for use in action or obviously maintainance.

As has often been shown, the standing military, in this case of Great Britain, were often reluctant participants simply complying with orders and mundane existance. They were not typically empassioned in following a particular ideal and seemingly in most cases regarded their weapons impersonally as assigned tools, used as necessities in accomplishing thier compliance in battle while simply hoping to survive. This is of course a rather bland assessment of the business of warfare that in no way is meant to diminish the courage, and acts of heroism that often evolve out of it, nor the integrity of the sturdy men who fulfill thier duty regardless of personal view or acceptance of circumstances.

They were trained in repititious, mechanical drill that was of course not possible to factor in the unexpected variables encountered in many cases of actual battle, and using such structured techniques in order to be effective, required specified and expected techniques from the opposing participants.

I always think of the humor noted regarding the American Revolution, where the British marched in line wearing red uniforms outlining them as perfectly lined targets for the virtually camouflaged colonists attacking from the underbrush surrounding. Another instance I read concerned a British cavalry trooper who encountering an enemy cavalry trooper, struck at him with the prescribed drill manuever in number, and was outraged when his opponent responded with a cut entirely out of order, knocking him off his horse!

Before allowing this post to enter Tolstoy proportions, I'll end here

With all best regards,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd January 2009, 05:06 PM   #34
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,266
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
... rigid wrist of tulwar fencing must have been a revelation to European opponents ...

I thought the revelation was more in the contrary direction .
Rigid wrist sword handling wouldn't proprerly be called fencing
Wasn't the advantage of malleable wrist fencing (recazo, thrust and all that) a score against talwar and scimitar rigid moves?
Oh, why should i, such an ingnorant, interfere in this discussion ?
Just forget it .
Fernando
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd January 2009, 05:57 PM   #35
Atlantia
Member
 
Atlantia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: The Sharp end
Posts: 2,928
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
I thought the revelation was more in the contrary direction .
Rigid wrist sword handling wouldn't proprerly be called fencing
Wasn't the advantage of malleable wrist fencing (recazo, thrust and all that) a score against talwar and scimitar rigid moves?
Oh, why should i, such an ingnorant, interfere in this discussion ?
Just forget it .
Fernando



You are certainly not ignorant, nor interfering Fernando, and as usual you make a good point.

LOL, I didn't word it very well I'm afraid.

I was envisioning battles on foot only, rather than from horseback as well.

I have often wondered how the two styles would 'clash'
In European fencing the correct distance is critical and the the wrist is key to many moves (in the up/down motion which is restricted by a sword with a large disk pomel). Being engaged by an opponent using a semi-rigid wrist style would (I assume) mean they would be constantly trying to move into 'your space' and in those circumstances the automatic response is to lunge for the kill, slash with the front third of the blade for a disabling wound or step back to maintain distance.
Sooooooo, if the Indian warriors defence is good, and an opening is not clear, then the British soldier would be constantly 'on the back foot' seeking to maintain distance and stab/slash, while the Indian Warrior would constantly be moving in to close the gap to their effective 'kill zone'.

I meant that (if my assumptions are right) having skilled opponents using these tactics which must have seemed both alien and very aggresive would have been a huge shock to the Brits (a revelation!).
I am of course assuming that both combatants are skilled with their weapon and using a practiced technique.


Hopefully someone can comment further on Tulwar fencing techniques, I've probobly got it all wrong!

Last edited by Atlantia : 23rd January 2009 at 07:54 PM.
Atlantia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd January 2009, 06:18 PM   #36
Atlantia
Member
 
Atlantia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: The Sharp end
Posts: 2,928
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
Thanks David and Gene! I think the example of tulwar vs. British regulation sabres is a great one to follow the thesis of the topic here, and using the weapons as our focus, which is exactly what places this in the theme of our forum.

I recall the great discussion that David refers to, and it was a thread by Pukka Bundook (Richard, Feb. 24, 2007, "Tulwar vs. Sabre"). In the discussion was reference to the key importance of sharp blades, noted by Louis Nolan (an enthusiastic young British cavalry officer known for his attention to improving many aspects of military thought, before his death in the immortal charge at Balaklava October, 25,1854). He was a cavalry officer in India prior to that event, and spent keen attention in studying the effectiveness of the deadly swordsmanship of native Indian warriors, with special interest in Nizams Irregular Horse. He had read reports of an engagement against a force of Rohillas describing horrendous results to the British troopers. When he looked further into the weapons these Rohilla forces had used, he was astounded to find they were old British M1796 blades discarded by the British and cut to razor edge, kept in wooden scabbards. When asking one of the British allied troopers of Nizams unit about what was unique about the skill of these warriors, and was struck by the simple reply, "...we never teach them any way Sir, a sharp sword will cut in anyones hand". Nolan never forgot the lesson of the importance of the sharp blade.
"Nolan of Balaklava" H.Moyse-Barnett, London, 1971, p.121

It was clear that maintaining the servicability of ones weapon, was most certainly a key factor in effectiveness in battle. With regard to this aspect, I will note that the quality of the weapons is obviously important as well. It is noted that these 'old' discarded blades were from the M1796 pattern cavalry sabres, which had wide, heavy blades with heavy 'hatchet' type points which radiused into widened slashing tips. The British blades of the end of the 18th into early 19th century were also largely products of intense scrutiny in the competitive conflict between English bladesmiths and German imported blades in what became known as the 'sword scandals'.

The blades produced in this period in England were profoundly sound, and only found obsolescence with the familiar advent of 'improved' commerce.
I have known many examples of Indian tulwars with both M1796 and M1788 light cavalry blades. In his post in the previously mentioned thread, Richard cites a book titled "Sahib" by Richard Holmes, noting (p.351) that a young British officer had a sword custom made by Wilkinson to regular pattern, and honed to razor edge, polished to mirror finish, but that it would not effectively cut.
While this would seem to defy the previous discussion noting the use of British blades to new effect by simply sharpening them, I would point out that by the time Wilkinson was producing swords, it was much later in the century. The custom making of swords by Wilkinson was not unusual, most of thier swords for officers were, and polishing and decoration were more the norm, as swords for officers were more traditional accoutrement. Times had dramatically changed with the advanced technology of firearms, and the sound blades of earlier swords were roughly comparable in analogy of the construction of vintage autos opposed to modern production examples.

I think the next point of focus would be as noted by David, that of technique. While it is previously noted that the Indian warriors did not receive any special training with thier weapons, it is important to note that the weapon was an instrumental part of thier culture. They became personally involved with thier own weapons, from iconic symbolism with manhood and strength to sometimes spritual and religious perspective. The weapon was afforded respect, and treated accordingly, almost lovingly cared for, and seldom ever drawn out of its protective scabbard except for use in action or obviously maintainance.

As has often been shown, the standing military, in this case of Great Britain, were often reluctant participants simply complying with orders and mundane existance. They were not typically empassioned in following a particular ideal and seemingly in most cases regarded their weapons impersonally as assigned tools, used as necessities in accomplishing thier compliance in battle while simply hoping to survive. This is of course a rather bland assessment of the business of warfare that in no way is meant to diminish the courage, and acts of heroism that often evolve out of it, nor the integrity of the sturdy men who fulfill thier duty regardless of personal view or acceptance of circumstances.

They were trained in repititious, mechanical drill that was of course not possible to factor in the unexpected variables encountered in many cases of actual battle, and using such structured techniques in order to be effective, required specified and expected techniques from the opposing participants.

I always think of the humor noted regarding the American Revolution, where the British marched in line wearing red uniforms outlining them as perfectly lined targets for the virtually camouflaged colonists attacking from the underbrush surrounding. Another instance I read concerned a British cavalry trooper who encountering an enemy cavalry trooper, struck at him with the prescribed drill manuever in number, and was outraged when his opponent responded with a cut entirely out of order, knocking him off his horse!

Before allowing this post to enter Tolstoy proportions, I'll end here

With all best regards,
Jim



Ah Jim!

Of course!!!! LOL, You have given me a 'DOH' moment!
You make a great many fantastic points there!!!

But the one that made me blush with embarrasment is that of course you are right and a great many of the combatants would be 'average joes'.

I think I was assuming everyone wouold be at least 'quite good' with a sword!

A little training and a poorly maintained weapon would be a disaster for the Brit troopers under those circumstances!

But a little training and a razor sharp Tulwar would give the Indian 'joe' a big advantage!
Atlantia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd January 2009, 07:08 PM   #37
katana
Member
 
katana's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Kent
Posts: 2,653
Default

katana is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd January 2009, 08:02 PM   #38
Atlantia
Member
 
Atlantia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: The Sharp end
Posts: 2,928
Default

Brilliant! Well thats certainly fleshed out that Vs match somewhat!!!


Fantastic thread.


Its a little dissapointing to see how big a role poor training and maintenance played in the examples documented.
But of course thats a symptom of the sword already being in decline in Europe and regarded as a secondary weapon.

Thanks
Gene
Atlantia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd January 2009, 10:11 PM   #39
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,266
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
... I was envisioning battles on foot only, rather than from horseback as well

I was actually referring to infantry.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
I have often wondered how the two styles would 'clash'

According to certain sources, they didn't actually clash; that was precisely the aledged advantage of European swording.
Well i wasn't properly thinking Brits swords versus talwars, but more in line with the generic subject of the thread.
I was thinking of the discoveries period Portuguese (and immediate European followers) using swords provided with the ricasso, handling them with a 160š angle (second half XV century) and later rapiers opening at 180š (second half XVI century), able to blow a direct stab against the open chest of the 'Moor', busy brandishing his 'terįado' (talwar, scimitar) up in the air, for the viable slash.
In any case, we all know that actual fighting wasn't at all a swording procedure like they do in schools ... with all the catalogue gestures. In the heat of battle, if you could avoid clashing with all imaginable evasive moves and stab your foe by the side door, you would sure do it ... the hell with the catalogue.

Enough of bs.

Fernando

.
Attached Images
   
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2009, 12:48 AM   #40
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,583
Default

I'm glad you joined in Fernando, and nicely presented description of the earlier swordsmanship, which certainly does fall within the scope of this thread.....except the bs note The valued information you always provide is anything but! and as I have noted many times, your knowledge and sharing of historical material with keenly applied and important Portuguese perspective is outstanding. Thank you.

Thank you David, for the links to those threads, which really were interesting and apply nicely here.

Gene, I have more 'doh' moments than I can recall, and my little knowledge of fencing was more years ago than I care to admit, there was a guy named Cyrano hanging around
Regarding the military, again way back when, from what I can recall, in the other ranks, carrying out drill, inspections and all manner of military daily humdrum...guys did what they had to to avoid discipline or conflict, and avoided whatever they could get away with. In the times we are discussing, the 19th century, it was certainly the same from most accounts. The swords issued to troopers were an issued encumbrance, and were likely used in the field in all manner of utility as a matter of convenience, with little thought of dulling the blade as chopping a bit of firewood etc. They were then slid back into the unprotected iron scabbard, probably not oiled or especially cleaned off from whatever use they had been subjected.

Leaving for a moment, the complacency being described toward issued swords in the British ranks, we can look to the use of the sword in America in the 19th century. The cavalry tried to maintain the tradition of the sword, but firearms had established their superiority. One of the primary regulation troopers swords, though other forms had existed earlier, was the M1840 cavalry sabre. It is a well known collaquialism that these became termed 'the old wristbreaker'. The reason for this is that the men were so poorly trained in the use of these heavy sabres, that when they did try to use them, in the presumed fashion, they did not properly understand the dynamics, and thus probably did injure themselves.
During the Civil War, the few recorded wounds resulting from sabres were actually blunt force trauma, as the swords were so dull they seldom ever penetrated skin in the slashing blows.
The only reason for including this along with the European theme here, is to show that the regulation military apathy toward the issued swords in the 19th century was quite widespread.

All best regards,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2009, 05:15 AM   #41
Gonzalo G
Member
 
Gonzalo G's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Nothern Mexico
Posts: 458
Default

I am under the impression that you give much importance to the swords, which I believe were not a primary weapon in those times, nor they decided the result of the battles. I also think cavaly and infantry used more the lance in this period. Also, you have to take on account that tulwars or shamshir were used in combination with shields, and fencing was not made mainly as among 19th Century european troops, or as in a civil fight with rapiers. I donīt believe a classic rapier is capable to stop heavy weapons without been seriousy damaged.
Regards

Gonzalo
Gonzalo G is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2009, 01:08 PM   #42
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,266
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzalo G
I am under the impression that you give much importance to the swords, which I believe were not a primary weapon in those times, nor they decided the result of the battles...

Lances, classic swords, two handed swords (montantes), rapiers and even halberds, according to chronicles; each one was a primary weapon ,depending on the circumstances.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzalo G
... Also, you have to take on account that tulwars or shamshir were used in combination with shields ...

Correct.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzalo G
... and fencing was not made mainly as among 19th Century european troops, or as in a civil fight with rapiers.

I guess the concept of troops was rather distinct in earlier days .
I may be mixing things, but it seems as combat fencing (manouverable sword and rapier) was schooled among nobles, a lot much earlier than that .



Quote:
Originally Posted by Gonzalo G
... I donīt believe a classic rapier is capable to stop heavy weapons without been seriousy damaged.

I guess they wouldn't stop them with the rapier, but with their left hand dagger. Besides, warlike rapier blades were not so fragile as those from street fighting.

But don't hit me hard, Gonzalo; i wouldn't resist a serious test in the subject

Fernando
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2009, 01:40 PM   #43
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,583
Default

[QUOTE=Gonzalo G]I am under the impression that you give much importance to the swords, which I believe were not a primary weapon in those times, nor they decided the result of the battles. I also think cavaly and infantry used more the lance in this period. Also, you have to take on account that tulwars or shamshir were used in combination with shields, and fencing was not made mainly as among 19th Century european troops, or as in a civil fight with rapiers. I donīt believe a classic rapier is capable to stop heavy weapons without been seriousy damaged.
Regards

Gonzalo[/QUOTE


I think that the lance was indeed a key weapon in European vs. European warfare, and the rapier was certainly a primarily civilian weapon from what I understand. In military context, the heavier bladed arming swords were used, as combat with armoured combatants would find little use for the more delicate blades of the rapier. The deadly estoc, was the sword emplaced in these situations.
The lance was, if I understand correctly, used in primarily shock action, and typically was either broken, or thrown down as the melee ensued following initial shock action. It was of little use in close quarters combat with its typically extensive length.

I believe the Spaniards used the lance differently in most cases, particularly in colonial settings. It seems that in New Spain, the primary use of the lance was more a result of lack of ammunition and servicable weapons in many locations of the frontier regions. These lances were shorter than their European predecessors, and were used as thrusting and stabbing weapons to extend reach from horseback. The Comanche tribes and soon other American Indian tribes adopted the use of the lance from thier contact with Spanish using them.

With the Portuguese in India, I'm not sure that the lance would have had the same employment as in the more standardized inter-European combat. It would seem that battles were likely more often defensive with Europeans dismounted in many of the battles and combat interactions.
In the case of most colonial powers entering native environments, it was presumed that they had superiority over what were thought to be simpler and savage populations with little understanding of warfare. In addition to the presumption of superiority in the sense of warfare, the Europeans were typically also driven by religious concept, considering themselves intrinsically more powerful than the populations they perceived as merely heathen in nature.

These perceptions of course became quickly reconsidered as it was realized that these native populations were far more advanced than imagined, and their spirit far more powerful as they defended themselves from incursions into thier lands.

I think much of this is described in a number of titles which focus on the concept of 'the noble savage'.

In sum, I would say that the lance was not typically the key weapon in European vs. Native warfare, with the exceptions noted in Colonial New Spain.

I would also include, in just recalling, the instance of the lance by the British cavalry in India, with one of the premier episodes being the charge of the 16th Lancers against the Sikhs at Aliwal, I believe 1846. There were of course the famed 'Bengal Lancers' as well, but trying to use these examples would seem to throw the discussion of course, as these were native regiments in the service of the British during the Raj. The focus here is on European weapons and use opposed to native weapons in kind.

All best regards,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2009, 01:58 PM   #44
Atlantia
Member
 
Atlantia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: The Sharp end
Posts: 2,928
Default

HI Gonzalo,

I understand your point.
I wish to discuss comparisons of like with like. My primary iterest is the sword, but I would happily try and add to discussions of lancers Vs Lancers etc.
What I do want to do if possible is focus on engagements where combat was in some way restricted so that close quarter weapons and individual comabt can be reasonably judged.

Is there a particular aspect of this discussion that interests you?

Regards
Gene
Atlantia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2009, 03:40 PM   #45
fernando
Lead Moderator European Armoury
 
fernando's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Portugal
Posts: 6,266
Default

Hi Jim, my i dare making some coments?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... In military context, the heavier bladed arming swords were used, as combat with armoured combatants would find little use for the more delicate blades of the rapier. The deadly estoc, was the sword emplaced in these situations...

As already mentioned, rapiers used in -India were not those with a sissy blade. Forget the term rapier; estoc is not a bad name for the thing ... thrusting was the business.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
... The lance was, if i understand correctly, used in primarily shock action, and typically was either broken, or thrown down as the melee ensued following initial shock action. It was of little use in close quarters combat with its typically extensive length ... With the Portuguese in India, I'm not sure that the lance would have had the same employment as in the more standardized inter-European combat. It would seem that battles were likely more often defensive with Europeans dismounted in many of the battles and combat interactions....

It appears that, in a general manner, at the first stage you had fighting starting from aboard ships where, apart from artillery (let to another issue), men used mainly crossbows, whereas locals used the bow and arrow. Amazingly the bow and arrow was never carried by Portuguese, to some extent a circumstancial handicap, whereas such thing in locals hands was the most responsible weapon for wounds inflicted to Portuguese during conflicts in India. Once landing, ranks used lances and their variants (pikes and so), while officers (nobles) used in the first impact the two handed sword and one or two used the halberd; the side sword later acting as close quarters resource.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
In the case of most colonial powers entering native environments, it was presumed that they had superiority over what were thought to be simpler and savage populations with little understanding of warfare....

More than one race was involved in battles in India, not just locals; plenty of Turcs, as also many other... and some sure knew how to handle weapons.
Also the Naires from Malabar were no sweet pear; Pyrard de Laval considered them the best in the world.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
In addition to the presumption of superiority in the sense of warfare, the Europeans were typically also driven by religious concept, considering themselves intrinsically more powerful than the populations they perceived as merely heathen in nature. ...

Yes, they seemed to have used such trick; but then again, the efectiveness of such 'hipnosis' depended on who you were facing each time.

Fernando

.
Attached Images
 

Last edited by fernando : 24th January 2009 at 03:51 PM.
fernando is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th January 2009, 09:25 PM   #46
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,583
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Jim, my i dare making some coments?


As already mentioned, rapiers used in -India were not those with a sissy blade. Forget the term rapier; estoc is not a bad name for the thing ... thrusting was the business.



It appears that, in a general manner, at the first stage you had fighting starting from aboard ships where, apart from artillery (let to another issue), men used mainly crossbows, whereas locals used the bow and arrow. Amazingly the bow and arrow was never carried by Portuguese, to some extent a circumstancial handicap, whereas such thing in locals hands was the most responsible weapon for wounds inflicted to Portuguese during conflicts in India. Once landing, ranks used lances and their variants (pikes and so), while officers (nobles) used in the first impact the two handed sword and one or two used the halberd; the side sword later acting as close quarters resource.



More than one race was involved in battles in India, not just locals; plenty of Turcs, as also many other... and some sure knew how to handle weapons.
Also the Naires from Malabar were no sweet pear; Pyrard de Laval considered them the best in the world.



Yes, they seemed to have used such trick; but then again, the efectiveness of such 'hipnosis' depended on who you were facing each time.

Fernando

.




Nicely noted Fernando!
As you say, the rapiers did not have the narrow blades that became popular with civilian fencing in later years, though the often intricate hilt guards were becoming very developed. Thrusting was indeed the 'business', quite contrary to the slashing and draw cuts of oriental swordsmanship. The estoc was of course used primarily as a heavy thrusting sword in European warfare where heavy armour was used. Its premise became profoundly employed in the heavily reinforced armour piercing blades of many edged weapons in Persia, Central Asia and India.

The deadly bow and arrow certainly had become the primary weapon of many of the nomadic Turkic tribes of the steppes and influenced the warfare of India as certain of these tribes entered the subcontinent. The use of this weapon was certainly not confined to native warriors as obviously its use in medieval European warfare is well established.

The embarkation of the Portuguese into these deadly weapons would likely best compare to the landing of forces onto beachheads in Normandy into emplaced machine gun batteries. Once ashore the European use of thier conventional weapons against the Indian forces, and how this interaction would compare, is pretty much the goal here.
In most cases, contemporary narratives may describe the overall outcome of the event, but aside from descriptions with attention to individuals or action seldom address details on the weapons. What we look for is of course, the instances where the weapons are specifically noted, such as the accounts of the British against the Sikhs in the 19th century.

India has always been known as one of the most diverse continents in cultures, language, ethnicity and so on, and as noted, there were indeed many groups incorporated in the ranks of the forces there. Naturally these would vary widely depending on time, place and so on, and it takes very deep study of Indian history to truly understand these assimilations and alliances.

Moving forward again to 18th-19th century

Getting back to Genes topic, in trying to compare the effectiveness of European weaponry against native, and in doing so trying to remain in kind, in many cases it is difficult to do. The concept is well placed as it is interesting to consider how weapons from industrialized cultures stood against those of 'native' cultures.
It is well known that the beauty and excellence of wootz in the swords of the Middle East was highly desirable, and was never truly duplicated in the west. But it is my understanding that these blades were not particularly suitable for sword to sword combat, or against armor obviously. They were used along with a shield to parry, and not meant to use in the sense of European sword combat. With the Mahrattas, the thrust was unheard of, and slashing was the style dictated in thier combat.
While the katar was often perceived as a thrusting weapon, in thier use it was for slashing cuts. In Mughal India, it did become a thrust weapon or 'punch dagger'.


All best regards,
Jim

Last edited by Jim McDougall : 24th January 2009 at 10:26 PM.
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th January 2009, 01:05 AM   #47
Gonzalo G
Member
 
Gonzalo G's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Nothern Mexico
Posts: 458
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Lances, classic swords, two handed swords (montantes), rapiers and even halberds, according to chronicles; each one was a primary weapon ,depending on the circumstances.


That is correct, Fernand. Excuse me, but I was writting about cavalry, but latter edited my words and the meaning changed inadvertly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
I may be mixing things, but it seems as combat fencing (manouverable sword and rapier) was schooled among nobles, a lot much earlier than that .


No, you are not mixing. It was schooled much earlier. I was trying to say that fencing encounters sword vs. sword like those on the 19th Europe were not the rule in colonial fighting, though they were also used. It is only my impression, as I have noted the presence of shields and lances, and yes, also bows and crossbows, in those fights. This, would change the meaning of the fencing analysis you have previously made, as the defenders would no use their swords to parry or thrust in the way europeans did with their swords.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
I guess they wouldn't stop them with the rapier, but with their left hand dagger. Besides, warlike rapier blades were not so fragile as those from street fighting.


I donīt believe a left hand dagger would stop a serious blow given with a heavy sword. Too short to make an efective lever aginst it. I was referring to a classical rapier because it is mentioned in previous posts in relation with the fencing style. But as you say, colonial european armies did not used the classic rapier (sissy blades? hahahaha).
Regards

Gonzalo

Last edited by Gonzalo G : 25th January 2009 at 01:34 AM.
Gonzalo G is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th January 2009, 01:32 AM   #48
Gonzalo G
Member
 
Gonzalo G's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Nothern Mexico
Posts: 458
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
HI Gonzalo,

I understand your point.
I wish to discuss comparisons of like with like. My primary iterest is the sword, but I would happily try and add to discussions of lancers Vs Lancers etc.
What I do want to do if possible is focus on engagements where combat was in some way restricted so that close quarter weapons and individual comabt can be reasonably judged.

Is there a particular aspect of this discussion that interests you?

Regards
Gene


Atlantia, I think your comparison is very valid and interesting, since those encounters among local and european blades existed. I only tried to put those encounters in perspective, not to infere conclussions like "the superiority of european weapons and their fencing style caused the defeat of the locals". Or "the blades of the europeans were better than the localīs". In any case, I think the decisive element of superiority in those fights was the human element and his doctrine of war, the way he used his weapons and his resources, his political movements in the area among the locals, his spirit and sense of union, his motivation, etc. Not because the europeans had an inherent superiority due to their race or place of origin, but because they were more advanced in this way. It happens then and again along all history. Arabs were not culturally more advanced or had a superior civilization than bizantine or iranians, or had better weapons to decide any battle, but they stamped out everybody in their irrestible conquest of an empire. Neverthless, the comparison you have proposed is truly necessary and valid from a military and technological point of view, taking on account the relative importance of the sword among all the arsenal used in those battles. Not as the sword (and itīs fencing) being the king of battles and the decisive element of superiority.
Regards

Gonzalo
Gonzalo G is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th January 2009, 02:12 AM   #49
Gonzalo G
Member
 
Gonzalo G's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Nothern Mexico
Posts: 458
Default

Jim, using your word, I believe the sword "was not typically the key weapon in European vs. Native warfare", but only an element in the whole european arsenal. Also, we must notice wootz was used against armour and european swords during the crusades, and we donīt have any reference from this times that this metal was unsuitable to figh against armour and other swords. There are many speculative elements in the analysis of wootz, as the blades made from it are not well studied. But I recall findings of wootz blades being too soft in terms or comparison with modern blades. Just as the european blades were in this time. Tough I donīt kow if the hardness was measured over the wootzīs perlite matrix, or if the hardness of the carbon dendrites was also measured. This last comment is only a speculation from my part and I donīt know if my point is valid from a metallurgic point of view. Furthermore, I donīt believe the european conquerors fought in the old fashion of armour made of single plaques, as shinning knights, but maybe for exceptions. And also, at least until the 16th Centiry they were also using shields, just as the defenders.

And I think we cannot speak about "industrialized" Europe until very late in history. Industrialization commenced in England and then diffused in different degrees to the rest of Europe. My belief is that swords were made in Europe the same artisan way than in the indian subcontinent, although with different methods. I donīt believe that Spain or Portugal were "industrialized cultures", but to the end of the 19th Century. No offense intended. And they were great colonist powers.
Regards

Gonzalo
Gonzalo G is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25th January 2009, 05:43 AM   #50
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,583
Default

Well noted points Gonzalo, and indeed the sword was but one element of the European arsenal in combat against native warriors, but probably the best way to define the key weapon in either of these contexts would be to distinguish place, period, and cultures involved. I'm pretty much on the same page regarding metallurgy, and cannot specify whether wootz would have been as effective as it has been said in battle, or whether it had inherent brittleness.t would seem that if it were that fragile, the Europeans would not have sought reproducing it for so long, and unsucessfully until relatively recent times.
I think 'industrialized' might better be termed commercialized, as you are right in that industrialization and machines were indeed much later.

In looking further for examples following the theme of the thread, I found the following in "Arming America" (Michael A. Bellesiles, N.Y. 2000, p.48):
"...the Spanish battle tactic was simple and effective, taking advantage of the psychological impact of a few guns to fire a single volley and then pursue their fleeing enemies with swords and pikes. The Spanish appreciated the advantages of thier metal weapons in trained hands. For instance, in 1694, a Spanish contingent in New Mexico was surprised by a large group of Ute, who attacked with arrows and clubs, quickly wounding six Spanish. But the Spanish fought the Ute off with thier swords, killing eight Ute and driving the rest into full retreat. Spanish metal was the technological advantage, thier poled weapons with metal tips and thier strurdy swords overwhelmed the Indians in the sort of battle where firearms were useless".

While the Indians were originally certainly frightened by the firearms, it seems clear they quickly learned to work around them, and though thier weapons were admittedly inferior, thier warrior spirit drove them to still attack. Even though they were defeated ultimately in many such instances, they did not stop attacking, and thier intent defense of thier way of life remained relentless for centuries. While intrigued by the firearms, and eventually acquiring them and learning thier use, they never adopted the sword, but certainly did the knives and axes which became the tomahawk.

In a notable irony, recalling the initial fearsome exposure to the firearms of the Spanish in the early contact, centuries later at a place called Little Big Horn in 1876....Col. Custers troops were decimated in a battle where they were not only outnumbered by American Indian warriors, but hopelessly outgunned. The single shot rifles of the soldiers maintained by austere military regulations were little match for the much advanced repeating rifles used proficiently by the ever spirit driven warriors.

I thought these were interesting instances in accord with the idea for discussion originally posed, and perhaps other parallels in other colonial context might be found as well.

Best regards,
Jim
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd June 2012, 01:49 PM   #51
Stasa Katz
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 18
Default Developing a modern army in Afghanistan

Another way to examine this is see how Adur Rahman, the late 19th century ruler of Afghanistan tried to create an army united in loyalty to not only himself but to the idea of a unified Afghanistan. He had to find ways to use old and familiar concepts to create framework to support an idea and create an army that would be modern, not old at all, and in an area split along clan and regional boundaries.

http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpress...3&brand=ucpress

All of this lies behind the weapons designed for and issued to soldiers and officers in this newly formed Afghan army--an army that was to serve an entire nation-kingdom, an army whose soldiers were to be paid through salary derived from a tax base.

In return, the soldiers and officers were to be content with this pay, not look or extort, and all were to remain primarily loyal, first and foremost to the head of state.

To see themselves as subjects, not as clansmen with local loyalties.
Quote:
Please be cautious! Think wisely and listen carefully to my words and sayings, I who am the king of you people of Afghani- stan. Listen, obey, and weigh well what I am saying to you, for no use can come from lamenting later if you do something wrong now. This advice is for all of you, from the commander-in-chief down to the common soldier and also for the subjects who are inferior to all. It has been said that a common soldier who stands with a gun on his shoulder to fulfill his duty has the lowest rank in all the military, but he shall look downward to the common subjects [ra‘iyat] who are even lower in rank than him. He shall think to himself that once he was one of them, but now because of the grace of God and due to the kindness of the king he has obtained this rank. You should sympathize with the subjects, who are your own tribesmen and who are continually employed in cultivating their lands, in cutting their crops, in thrashing their corn, in gathering in the harvests, and in winnowing the wheat from the chaff.

They are also occupied in commerce and undergo hardships and troubles by night and by day and only enjoy a portion of the produce themselves after they have paid the taxes which are necessary for the expenses of the state. Whatever money and goods I, the king of Afghanistan, take from the people is spent every month for you the people of the army.

It therefore behooves you all, whether you are high ranking commanders, soldiers, or subjects, to be grateful, because all that you pay to your government is given back to your brothers, sons, and tribesmen. It is as if their own money is spent by their own government for their own brothers and their own sons.

By doing so, God is pleased, religion prospers, and our dignity and honor are preserved. In a like manner, the subjects should also be grateful, so that God's blessings may increase day by day


One can read the whole chapter and see that this dream was not fully realized at the Emir's death in 1901.

That dream, as expressed in the proclamation quoted above, lies behind the swords some here have acquired, swords issued to officers and soldiers in the New Model Army of Abdur Rahman and his successors.
Stasa Katz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd June 2012, 04:25 PM   #52
Jim McDougall
EAA Research Consultant
 
Jim McDougall's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Posts: 6,583
Default

Interesting, especially in rereading the great discussions we had here on these topics several years ago. Its good to see old threads long forgotten brought up, and revisit old friends, some of whom have long left these pages.
the phantom
Jim McDougall is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 22nd June 2012, 04:51 PM   #53
kronckew
Member
 
kronckew's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: CSA Consulate, Rm. 101, Glos. UK: p.s. - Real Dogs Have Feathering.
Posts: 2,414
Default

getting back on track, for discussion:

karl martell - tours - 732 stopped islam from advancing north into france.


i particularly like that yataghan the grey bearded one is using.

siege of vienna 1529, battle of vienna 1683. kept the turks from advancing thru more of europe & eventually turned them back. dracula (vlad the impaler) fits in there somewhere too.

and spain (and the other colonial powers) conquered the new world mostly by biological warfare. smallpox wiped out 90% of their opponents. interbreeding with the survivors was also noted in earlier posts here, so i will leave that bit alone.
kronckew is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24th June 2012, 01:37 PM   #54
christek
Member
 
christek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 52
Default Ottoman Turks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlantia
Now obviously there are some rather famous examples where 'modern' European/western armies underestimated their oponents and came to a sticky end, but these are often more historical 'blips' than anything else.
What really interests me is where European armies have faced non-european opponents with different martial traditions and 'technology' and found it to be an equal.
I often wonder when looking at some of the marvelous ethnographic weapons on this site how they would fare in combat against European steel and tactics?
I can think of a few good examples of this, mostly from when the British Empire reached India and Afghanistan, but I wondered if anyone (as I'm sure those reading this are collectors of both Euro and Ethnographic weapons) have any great examples of their favourite ethnographic weapons proving themselves against European armies?


Hello,

A fascinating discussion, thank you everyone for such an interesting read.

The Ottomans won some pretty impressive campaigns against Europeans in the early 18th Century, I feel these may be worth a mention as this was a period when their technology and tactics were said to be in a state of decline. While it is arguable that the post 17th Century military technology of the Ottomans never quite matched that of the Europeans; it is commonly understood that great military reform efforts begin with Selim III (1789-1807) who made the first major attempts to modernise the army along European lines. Taking this into account, let’s have a look at some pre-reform victories that could perhaps be labelled a more than simply 'historical blips'. I won’t go into their 16th century victories in this post, but the Turks certainly enjoyed many of them. Although in regards to military victories, the 18th century would not be as successful for the Ottomans, there were some important successes.

During the 18th century, Europeans found themselves opposed by large armed forces of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. The Ottoman armies consisted of many different peoples who had an array of different arms and of course these arms differed both in quality and sophistication. The soldiers of these armies ranged from well-trained professional soldiers and semi-nomadic horseman etc, to armed peasants. Of course the European armies they faced were not always completely different in terms of quality, but one can perhaps suggest that they were most often better trained and armed. Nevertheless, the Turks won some important and noteworthy campaigns; in 1711, fast moving Turkish cavalry outmanoeuvred the Russian army under Peter the Great, the Russians had found the local peoples not as supportive as they had hoped and compounded their already poor logistical position by advancing as a huge singular force. The Turks found it quite easy to surround them and the Russians under fire from Turkish guns and being constantly skirmished, had to accept humiliating peace terms.

In 1715, the Venetians were driven from southern Greece by the Ottomans in what was arguably one of the most decisive campaigns of the century. In 1739 the Austrian army was driven back into Belgrade by the Turks in such a decisive campaign the Austrian generals surrendered in fear of more losses. While the Ottoman Turks would lose many campaigns due to poorer weaponry (and other reasons), particularly at sea, the size of their empire enabled the movement of resources and men in order to focus strength on a particular opponent, thus increasing their military effectiveness.

To fast forward history now, I have noticed there has been some discussion on Vietnam here: This has made me think about the Allied loss at Galipolli in 1915/16- I wonder if this may be a viable addition to this discussion.

Regards
Attached Images
 
christek is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



All times are GMT. The time now is 12:26 PM.


Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.0.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Posts are regarded as being copyrighted by their authors and the act of posting material is deemed to be a granting of an irrevocable nonexclusive license for display here.