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Thread: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

  1. #1

    Default Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

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  2. #2
    Ancient Aliens's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    It depends on if the Hussar was armed with a firearm. If he wasn't, the Kataphraktoi would most likely come out on top as it was more heavily armed for melee combat.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    It would depend on morale of both sides, because it was more important than any equipment.
    Anyway, if we take into consideration only equipment, I vote for winged hussars, because:
    - contrary to cataphracts, hussars used stirrups
    - hussars used longer lances (up to 6,2 m)
    - hussars used plate armors
    - hussars had guns (which is important, because cataphracts didn't know them)

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    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Polish Winged Hussar !!!

    by far !!!!
    D I V I D E - ET - I M P E R A

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Someone's bound to say: "Well...if you removed the stirrups, guns, modern weaponry, and plate armor from the hussars, who would win?"

    All of these ancient elite group vs medieval elite group threads get awfully repetitive, and I don't really see the point...

  6. #6

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    The stirrups, longer lances and plate armor would have allowed the hussars to do a lot of damage at the moment of impact while suffering less themselves. In the hand-to-hand combat which would have followed the cataphracts would be slightly better protected but the hussars would be more nimble. So I'd say the winged hussars would win 95 out of 100 encounters.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    In the hand-to-hand combat which would have followed the cataphracts would be slightly better protected but the hussars would be more nimble.
    1. But scale armor and chain mails don't give as good protection as plate armors
    2. Contrary to Cataphracts, who used swords, hussars used sabres, which are better in melee (and apart from sabres they also had pallashes, which are a sort of swords)
    3. Many hussars were armored as much as cataphracts, because they used leg protections too. The only one significant difference was horse armor. Hussars almost entirely didn't use horse armors.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    1. But scale armor and chain mails don't give as good protection as plate armors
    2. Contrary to Cataphracts, who used swords, hussars used sabres, which are better in melee (and apart from sabres they also had pallashes, which are a sort of swords)
    3. Many hussars were armored as much as cataphracts, because they used leg protections too. The only one significant difference was horse armor. Hussars almost entirely didn't use horse armors.
    I gave a 95% success rate to the winged hussars anyway.

    The thing is that after repeated encounters (which would have been the case if say the Tatars would have retained the heavy cavalry Mongol model which was similar to the cataphract) both parties would have developed better techniques for dealing with each other's strengths.

    For instance, the Persian and Byzantine cataphracts were actually heavy archer cavalry, the Tatars (I chose them to make the scenario less anachronistic and close to what the hussars had actually fought) were also adept archers and their composite bow had a greater range than the pistols.

    So we could imagine the cataphracts improving their odds by firing two-three volleys of arrows before clashing with the hussars. They also might develop a fighting technique which consisted in hitting the unprotected horse, arms or the legs of the hussar (just like in the Napoleonic times the light cavalry would fight against the cuirassiers). For the hussars the leg protection was more of an exception, just like the full arm protection was (they covered their upper arms more often, leaving the joints from elbow down armor-free, for better swordplay and less fatigue).

    But let's keep in mind the bigger picture: given a lot of cataphracts would be eliminated at the first impact, such techniques would not decisively tip the balance against the hussars. They would only allow a cataphract victory on rare occasions. In the long run the guys with the better odds would end up eliminating the competition.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    I gave a 95% success rate to the winged hussars anyway.
    I know, I know .
    I only wanted to point out that even in melee, hussars had an equipment which gave them a fairly high chance to beat cataphracts.
    Anyway, I'd like to stress that IMO equipment wasn't as important as were: morale, tactics and the skill of fight. A light cavalry was able to beat a heavy one - if it was better commanded, had higher morale and was composed of better trained men.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    The thing is that after repeated encounters (which would have been the case if say the Tatars would have retained the heavy cavalry Mongol model which was similar to the cataphract) both parties would have developed better techniques for dealing with each other's strengths.

    For instance, the Persian and Byzantine cataphracts were actually heavy archer cavalry, the Tatars (I chose them to make the scenario less anachronistic and close to what the hussars had actually fought) were also adept archers and their composite bow had a greater range than the pistols.
    Yes, it had. But although I know many encounters between hussars and Tartars, I don't know any encounter, where bows caused any significant casualties among hussars.
    And although all hussars had bows (contrary to a sabre which was a sign of a nobility, bows where a sign of a soldier class in Poland ; so nobles-cavalrymen wore sabres and bows to their 'civil' dresses), hussars used them only in very rare occasions in battles. And generally it was really rare phenomenon to see hussars in their 'battle dress' having bows. Partially because bows didn't allow to keep very close order (knee-to-knee formation); partially because hussars had better weapon (pistols, carabines) against the enemy, whose horses were not accustomed to a noise of a fire weapon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    So we could imagine the cataphracts improving their odds by firing two-three volleys of arrows before clashing with the hussars.
    I am skeptical very much about any significant effect of this tactics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    They also might develop a fighting technique which consisted in hitting the unprotected horse, arms or the legs of the hussar (just like in the Napoleonic times the light cavalry would fight against the cuirassiers).
    BTW, it was also in use in hussars' times (also against hussars).

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    For the hussars the leg protection was more of an exception,
    It really depends. There are many primary sources (some of them here and here p.15-16) which indicate that leg protections were really popular among hussars (at least in some battles / campaigns). For example Miron Costin, the Moldavian nobleman, who saw the battle of Beresteczko 1651, stated that hussars were fully armored men and that even some their horses used elements of armors.
    Last edited by Radosław Sikora; July 05, 2011 at 03:38 AM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    hussars used sabres, which are better in melee
    Wrong. A sabre is just a standard-issue slashing sword, it has no capability to penetrate armour [as it makes an awful thrusting weapon]. At least a straight-edged sword can thrust, and the mace carried by some Kataphract units would have been effective against armour.

    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    - contrary to cataphracts, hussars used stirrups
    Some Kataphracts did as well - the Byzantines certainly made significant use of them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    hussars used longer lances (up to 6,2 m)
    Source on those lengths, please. That's a pike.

    Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kontos_%28weapon%29

    Long reach for even a lance.
    Last edited by Rolling Thunder; July 05, 2011 at 04:24 AM.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Wrong. A sabre is just a standard-issue slashing sword, it has no capability to penetrate armour [as it makes an awful thrusting weapon].
    Wrong?
    The assumption that a sabre should penetrate armor to win a melee is wrong. The sabre was used to strike / cut hands of enemy to prevent their use of weapons. Sabres were 'faster' than swords, also because they were attached to lanyards which dangled down at hussar's wrists. Therefore they were a very good choice in melee.
    Swords / pallashes / koncerz swords were a better choice in a second charge, when hussars had already broken lances, regrouped their ranks and charged in a close order.

    At least a straight-edged sword can thrust, and the mace carried by some Kataphract units would have been effective against armour.
    Either sword or mace were used after kontos. They were more or less effective if there was a chance to take them in hands .

    Some Kataphracts did as well - the Byzantines certainly made significant use of them.
    The subject is about Persian Cataphract. Not about Byzantines.

    Source on those lengths, please. That's a pike.
    No. That's a hussar lance, which was longer than pikes.

    Sources on 6,2 m hussar lance – description of Ukraine by French engineer Guillaume le Vasseur de Beauplan, who many years served in Polish army. His book, written in France, in French language, for French reader, stated that hussar lances were 19 feet long. While 'Le pied du Roy de France' was 0,324839385 m, 19 feets gives 6,172 m.
    Another source – captain of Gdańsk soldiers, Johann Jakob von Wallhausen in his „Kriegskunst zu Pferdt” stated that lancers use 21 feet long lances.
    And the third source, published in Zamość (Poland) „Kalendarz polski y ruski”, wrote about 10-elbow long hussar lances. It is almost exactly 6 m.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    I know, I know .
    Yes, it had. But although I know many encounters between hussars and Tartars, I don't know any encounter, where bows caused any significant casualties among hussars.
    And although all hussars had bows (contrary to a sabre which was a sign of a nobility, bows where a sign of a soldier class in Poland ; so nobles-cavalrymen wore sabres and bows to their 'civil' dresses), hussars used them only in very rare occasions in battles. And generally it was really rare phenomenon to see hussars in their 'battle dress' having bows. Partially because bows didn't allow to keep very close order (knee-to-knee formation); partially because hussars had better weapon (pistols, carabines) against the enemy, whose horses were not accustomed to a noise of a fire weapon.
    Horse archers did well against infantry. They did less well against other cavalry because they could only fire a few volleys before they either had to flee or to engage in hand-to-hand combat.

    The winged hussars were a very good compromise between knight-like heavy cavalry and archer light cavalry (Tartar style) or plain light cavalry (Moldavians and Cossacks - though the Cossacks were at that time much more famous for their infantry). They had good protection against a few volleys (the more volleys could be fired, the greater number of casualties so it was important to close up fast with the archers). And they had good speed to catch up with the light cavalry, at least for the distances normal in a battle. Once they were in hand-to-hand combat they were less vulnerable than their lighter protected enemies.

    So what I meant by saying the bows of the cataphracts might have helped is the arrows might have wounded or killed some horses, reducing the number of hussars charging.

    The hussars' best advantage, however, was their armor plates were better suited for impact (even at equal length of the lances and even with both sides using stirrups).

    I'll illustrate what I think would have happened by imagining 100 hussars going against 100 cataphracts.

    1. The cataphracts fire 3 volleys, each with a 3% chance of disabling a hussar (that's a very generous chance);

    2. 91 winged hussars clash with 100 cataphracts. There was a natural tendency to actually avoid contact, hence the tactics of riding stirrup-to-stirrup, so nobody could actually avoid the enemy in front of him. I'd say 50% of hussars would incapacitate their opponent (kill, unhorse, severely wound) while only 30% of the cataphracts would do the same (because their lances might bounce off the armor plate and because some of them would simply avoid the first clash, riding in a less tight formation)

    3. Things happen simultaneously (meaning two opponents might kill each other) so we end up with 30 hussars and 45 cataphracts out of combat. That means 61 hussars would now duel 55 cataphracts. Even if the hussars and the cataphracts would be equally matched in skill, motivation and equipment for hand-to-hand combat, the hussars have a much better chance to win. What made the difference was the hussars were better equipped for the charge.
    Last edited by Dromikaites; July 05, 2011 at 05:59 AM.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    Wrong?
    The assumption that a sabre should penetrate armor to win a melee is wrong. The sabre was used to strike / cut hands of enemy to prevent their use of weapons.
    Sadly, the Cataphracts have gauntlets, so that just isn't going to work.


    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    Sabres were 'faster' than swords,
    Source?




    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    They were more or less effective if there was a chance to take them in hands .
    Again, armoured gauntlets.






    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    No. That's a hussar lance, which was longer than pikes.
    Haha ha ha...No. You hold a lance in one hand, you hold a pike in two. Even with couching a lance, you still can't get the same kind of length as would be wieldy with a two-handed grip. Simple physics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Radosław Sikora View Post
    Sources on 6,2 m hussar lance – description of Ukraine by French engineer Guillaume le Vasseur de Beauplan, who many years served in Polish army. His book, written in France, in French language, for French reader, stated that hussar lances were 19 feet long. While 'Le pied du Roy de France' was 0,324839385 m, 19 feets gives 6,172 m.
    Another source – captain of Gdańsk soldiers, Johann Jakob von Wallhausen in his „Kriegskunst zu Pferdt” stated that lancers use 21 feet long lances.
    And the third source, published in Zamość (Poland) „Kalendarz polski y ruski”, wrote about 10-elbow long hussar lances. It is almost exactly 6 m.
    So, no English-language sources, and apparently Hussars managed to use lances as long and unwieldy as infantry pikes.
    Why do I find that hard to believe? Oh yes, because a 6-metre pole is unmanageable in a couched position.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    The Persian Savaran arguably used stirrups in the 7th century, adopting them from the Turks.

    The savaran would have the advantage of horse armor, though the rear of the horse remained unarmored. The Romans therefore preferred to engage the savaran from the flanks or rear, and the hussars would figure that out as well. The late-period savaran was less heavily armored than some of the savaran units in the fourth century, but the late-period savaran also doubled as a heavy cavalry archer.

    The hussars had the advantage of a longer lance and firearms. Firearms would frighten the savaran's horses, and would probably penetrate the armor, which was made without contemplation of firearm defense. The longer lance would be crucial in the initial charge. The hussars expected their lances to break in the first charge, though I don't know if the savaran had that same expectation. In close combat, both sides were very well equipped, and quite similarly, with axes, maces, and swords.

    Both the hussars and savaran filled the same role, that of elite heavy cavalry used against conventional armies (Romans, Turks) and nomadic armies (Turks, Tatars). It would be a very close fight, but I would give the edge to the hussars, due to the longer lances and the accumulation of minor technological improvements resulting in better equipment.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Haha ha ha...No. You hold a lance in one hand, you hold a pike in two. Even with couching a lance, you still can't get the same kind of length as would be wieldy with a two-handed grip. Simple physics.

    But:

    1) Hussars' lances were much lighter than pikes despite being longer (because they were empty inside).

    2) Hussars did not hold their lances just in one hand, but also in the tok (see here Pic. 22. on page 19):

    http://www.radoslawsikora.republika....ly/Kluszyn.pdf

  16. #16

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Cataphracts would rip hussars to pieces in meelee.

  17. #17
    Ancient Aliens's Avatar Primicerius
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    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    I just want to point out that stirrups and saddles add little benefit to the actual impact of a charge.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolling Thunder View Post
    Sadly, the Cataphracts have gauntlets, so that just isn't going to work.
    Source?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolling Thunder View Post
    Source?
    Simple physics.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rolling Thunder View Post
    Haha ha ha...No. You hold a lance in one hand, you hold a pike in two. Even with couching a lance, you still can't get the same kind of length as would be wieldy with a two-handed grip. Simple physics.
    Ha, ha, ha... no.
    You hold a lance in a tok, which reduced a load of your hand. It's a bit more complex physics (if you want, use google translator to read my article about it here).
    Moreover lances were hollowed, while piks were not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolling Thunder View Post
    So, no English-language sources,
    You know, English language isn't the only one in the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolling Thunder View Post
    and apparently Hussars managed to use lances as long and unwieldy as infantry pikes.
    Why do I find that hard to believe?
    Because apparently you have no idea about technology of hussar lance production and about a manner it was used. Domen has already provided you a link to my article, which explains it in simple words.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ancient Aliens View Post
    I just want to point out that stirrups and saddles add little benefit to the actual impact of a charge.
    Saddles and stirrups are crucial in receiving a blow.
    Saddles and toks are crucial in using 'stronger' and / or longer lances.
    Wielding lances in two hands doesn't allow you to strike an enemy as powerfully as having lance in a tok (which transfers a significant per cent of a power of a blow from a hand to a saddle). Moreover, wielding a lance in two hands doesn't allow to control a horse as well as a man, whose only one hand keeps a lance.
    Last edited by Radosław Sikora; July 05, 2011 at 02:05 PM.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Who would win? Hitler or Khomeini??? Seriously, what are these threads ever going to achieve?

  20. #20

    Default Re: Who would win? Polish Winged Hussar vs Persian Cataphract

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post

    I'll illustrate what I think would have happened by imagining 100 hussars going against 100 cataphracts.

    1. The cataphracts fire 3 volleys, each with a 3% chance of disabling a hussar (that's a very generous chance);

    2. 91 winged hussars clash with 100 cataphracts. There was a natural tendency to actually avoid contact, hence the tactics of riding stirrup-to-stirrup, so nobody could actually avoid the enemy in front of him. I'd say 50% of hussars would incapacitate their opponent (kill, unhorse, severely wound) while only 30% of the cataphracts would do the same (because their lances might bounce off the armor plate and because some of them would simply avoid the first clash, riding in a less tight formation)

    3. Things happen simultaneously (meaning two opponents might kill each other)
    Dromikaites, these things can't happen simultaneously, because longer hussar lances can reach cataphracts earlier. So, remaining 50% of cataphracts can use their lances with 30% success. So, we end up with 15 hussars and 45 cataphracts out of combat

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    so we end up with 30 hussars and 45 cataphracts out of combat. That means 61 hussars would now duel 55 cataphracts.
    76 vs 55

    Quote Originally Posted by Dromikaites View Post
    Even if the hussars and the cataphracts would be equally matched in skill, motivation and equipment for hand-to-hand combat, the hussars have a much better chance to win. What made the difference was the hussars were better equipped for the charge.
    BTW, I have a question. Does anybody know if cataphracts rode knee-to-knee formation?

    edited

    One more question.
    How could a Persian cataphract use a bow, having 2 hands occupied by a lance?
    Last edited by Radosław Sikora; July 06, 2011 at 02:14 AM.

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