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Thread: Research Article: British Forces

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    Hengest's Avatar Dominion of the Sword
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    Icon10 Research Article: British Forces

    Just a personal contribution to the community. A lot of mods in recent years have purposefully moved away from western Europe as their historical focus, and placed great weight of research on the more obscure regions of medieval history. Yet it seems that when western Europe appears in these mods, these researchers and their mods are making the same mistakes as were charged against the original Kingdoms game and the early mods that -they said- misrepresented their history. So for the record, I wanted to present a proper overview of the character of British and Irish medieval militaries to contrast with the assumptions and amateur research of other mods.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Medieval warfare in Britain and Ireland has been greatly championed in the English language for obvious reasons -mainly nationalistic- not only on the part of the English historically but in recent decades on the Celtic part. Most of the popular ideas on the weapons, tactics and units -even the famous victories- are complete rubbish. There are even a set of alternative theories which are supposed to turn the original ideas on their heads and again these are typically nationalistic rubbish.

    The longbow for instance is a key instrument in English victories and conquests over Wales Ireland and successful campaigns in France and Scotland. But its origins are usually considered to be Welsh, however their is absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever neither archaeologically nor historically. During the Norman invasion of Ireland welsh archers were used significantly and to great effect but the bows found in archaeology are a little more than half the length of a longbow. Simply put the welsh archers were just archers, what was so devastating was their use in large units.

    The longbow was a weapon used by the Norse in Ireland to a great extent, both historical and archaeological sources abound with evidence of its use. We assume it was a feature of Anglo-Danish equipment too, but the fact was they seem to be skirmish weapons and were not deployed with the later strategic mass. Both the French and Scottish opponents of the English fighting companies can be read in the historical accounts repeating with dread the sight of black rain from the masses of archers.


    Early English archers practicing on shooting ranges.

    On the one hand it is argued that the longbow had no armour penetration value but this seems to be only relevant when placed in context. English longbows during wet weather and long distance shots against armoured professional Frenchmen in the 1300s had little punch, but were still instrumental in wiping out thousands of French knights. Equally the first Norman forays into Wales were met with powerful Welsh shots such that a single missile pierced a lord's armour, his leg, his saddle and his horse.

    It was the use of cheap horsemen in Wales that were the real key in the Irish theatre since they could chase down and harass the skirmishers on foot through rough terrain. This tactic was learnt by the Normans in Wales and brought victory in Ireland, it was this adaptability that allowed the English to develop their warfare and create an elite attitude to its techniques.

    After the Irish conquest, the Irish combined three arms-light skirmishers with javelins, light pony cavalry, and heavy infantry. Kerns, hobilars and gallowglass were three prongs of a combined force that was possibly native to the Irish in defence against the Normans. Yet no notable Irish victories are recorded using these troops, we must therefore surmise that only in the hands of Norman organisation were these troops fully effective. All three were key to success in France and Scotland in later centuries, in that they were professional soldiers but cheap and as peasants could therefore be kept as prolonged campaign forces, similar to the cheap and effective English longbowmen we see at Crecy and Agincourt.


    Irish gallowglass and kern, by Albrecht DŁrer, 1521.

    Scotland on the other hand was no more backward savages of painted blue than any other European nation. In fact the Scottish dynasty was intermarried with England, Scandinavia, Russia and Hungary, and a great deal of the gentry were drawn from France and Flanders. Interestingly, there are several references to Scottish archers on the field however, in each case they were typically successful only as raiders in the vein of the early Welsh bowmen that resisted the Normans. While there is some reason to believe that Wallace was a bowman and that his raiding base in the gaming forest of Selkirk brings attractive images of Robin Hood to mind, the Scottish archers are always outranked by English longbows. At victories such as Stirling Bridge however they are used alongside large shieltroms and flanked by shock cavalry. The archers were more fluid and it is possibly this resemblance to the old Anglo-Nordic style of free fighting that made the Scottish use of bow inefficient. The Scottish victory at Stanford Bridge was a fluke due to the landscape since the bridge collapsed drowning most of the English, the rest bottlenecked on both sides, Scottish arrows then decimated the English supported by skirmishes of heavy infantry and cavalry.


    Scots drive English from the field, at Otterburn 1388


    Yet subsequent and continual losses by the Scots reinforce indeed the the classic idea of the inferiority of the Scottish forces, despite the clear capabilities of the much lauded Scottish longspear defensive formations. By the 1400s many European armies were well equipped with the longbow. The Scottish archers at Homildon Hill were repulsed by the English because they couldn't match their range however. Yet Scottish archers like so many soldiers from Britain and Ireland were highly experienced in the continual conflicts there and in respites of peace they served as far afield as Alsace, Iberia and Lithuania as mercenaries. In addition to Scottish archers we have the Irish javelin-throwing kerns which are well-attested, but there are even examples of other military arms such as Welsh knights like Owain ap Thomas ap Rhodri heir of Gwynedd who served in the Gugler War of 1375 in Switzerland for the French. Irish kerns and gallowglass served in the forces of the Irish Earls of Ormonde and the Butlers in the first half of the 1400s against the French at the Siege of Rouen and continued to campaign for the continuing decades.


    An Irish horseman circa 12th Cent.

    Irish hobelar cavalry were used by the English and Scots on both sides of the Scottish Wars of Independence, yet within a single generation most hobelars were not Irishmen but Englishmen. We can therefore infer that hobelars were characterised by the hobby horse and their fighting style which meant that the English could quickly adopt the feature to become its own. By the time of the Siege of Calais in 1346 the hobelars were joined by a new phenomenon: the mounted archer.


    Contrary to amateur historians the English used mounted archers and it is extremely well-evidenced: mounted longbowmen are documented from the early 1330s. The northern county of Cheshire provided over a quarter of the English longbowmen in Edward IIIs Flanders campaign of 1338, all were mounted. Later under John Ward, serving in Scotland, the Cheshiremen formed both mounted units and units of 'King's Archers' whom we can assume were elite marksmen. In all cases the Cheshiremen formed units of 50, 150 and 200. These units are contrasted specifically with the infantry longbowmen of Essex and London. It is these highly paid King's Archers that are an interesting event, since their pay was sixpence a day on campaign, as much as a lancer. We see from Froissart's accounts that the English deployed mounted longbowmen in full plate armour attacking the French lines at full charge. In the 1400s it seems that the French, Burgundian and possibly smaller Italian or German contingents were also capable of fighting in this style.


    Froissart showing armoured mounted longbowmen charging the French

    Despite the apparent inferiority of the Scots forces, during the Hundred Years War the French allied with Scotland were sent aid in the form of no less than 15,000 troops in the year 1420, roughly 15 years after the disastrous Scottish defeat at Homlidon Hill. We have to wonder then, what was the nature of the Scottish military that within less than a generation and a loss of thousands of men at Homildon, that the country could still provide 15,000 men and transport them over sea? At the Battle of Baugť in 1421, the Scots outnumbered the English almost 2 to 1 and destroyed them on French soil; over ten percent of the English were slain, and dozens of English nobles taken captive. The French king even formed an elite and loyal bodyguard: the Garde …cossaise, formed by knights and their 'lance' retinues which were mainly archers under the name Archiers du Corps. Despite the Scottish and French defeats in the following Battle of Cravant and Battle of Verneuil, which saw the Scottish reinforcements dissolved, they were mainly absorbed into the wider French Ordinances forming new companies and squadrons. The Garde …cossaise organisation continued for centuries.


    Due to the English invasions of Wales and Ireland, war with Scotland and the Scots' own internicine wars -all compounded with the Welsh, Irish, Scots and English fighting on both sides of the Hundred Years War: the British and Irish soldiers were some of the most experienced and technically expert in Europe; as is shown by their expansive employment as mercenaries. This pattern was not a new novelty however, Englishmen had fled Britain in the wake of 1066 and joined the Scots, Danes, Hungarians and even made their way to Constantinople where the Varangian Guard was so swelled with English numbers for the next century that it became known as the English Guard.


    An English knight, Sir Geoffrey Luttrell circa 1340

    Last edited by Hengest; February 19, 2013 at 02:29 PM.

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    Gaelstrix's Avatar Vexillifer
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    Good work Hross. Interesting and well put together.
    The only thing is I think you meant the Battle of Stirling Bridge rather than Stanford.
    England definitely liked to throw it's weight around, Scotland was a survivor, great victories on both sides; I'm very much looking forward to a more accurate representation of our histories.

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    Hengest's Avatar Dominion of the Sword
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    Doh! Cheers for that

    Not neccessarily the English though, most of these conflicts they were led by French-speaking nobility. As for Scotland, many of their leaders were also French-speakers and not Scots speakers or Gaelic speakers. Ethnically, culturally, liguistically, politically it's always been more complex. I don't see the Scots as survivors so much as an important European power, like any other. Calling them survivors a la Braveheart infers that they were any less of a nation than any of the northern European kingdoms. People don't realise that Scotland was far from an underdog, it was Scotland that formed the united kingdom of Britain when James VI inherited the English throne as James I.
    Last edited by Hengest; February 19, 2013 at 02:35 PM.

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    Gaelstrix's Avatar Vexillifer
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    Yes, I just meant that we have a history of coming up against larger countries and winning; Rome, Denmark-Norway etc (which managed to conquer all of northern England). I didn't mean like Braveheart haha, you can see it being demolished by me and others on the England thread; http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showt...=575977&page=2
    Yes, while being founded by Celts, or rather, a continuation of Pictish Alba that took Gaelic kings, some of the most influential families were of mixed Scottish and Norman descent, e.g. Bruce and the Toom-Tabard Balliols!
    Then again all the royal families are related, like you said.

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    Coldfire88's Avatar Hastatas Posterior
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    Great work , hope this translates to great units ingame with super-interesting historical backgrounds

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    Richard of Gloucester's Avatar Death Knight
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    The Scottish used the old clan system until David I who came to the throne in 1124, who had been raised in England. He invited lots of Norman and French knights to Scotland and introduced feudalism to the country.

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    knight of meh's Avatar roghnaithe sciathŠn bŠn
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    just read through a couple of paragraphs and i noted you saying this without offering up explanation

    On the one hand it is argued that the longbow had no armour penetration value
    the explanation for this is that the effectiveness of a longbow is not only determined by its pull but also by which arrow type you use , Bodkin arrows (which i believe were Introduced to England by the Normans) were long and thin and had great armour piercing but they also had a reduced kill rate , so the normal arrow head the "broadhead" was not completely phased out . Didn't know if i should post this or not because i just don't see how you could represent this in game

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    Hengest's Avatar Dominion of the Sword
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    The problem is that bodkin arrows didn't have armour penetration value at all. They would do if they were made with tempered steel but none have been found, it seems like the bodkin was a quick cheap counterweight more or less. The broadhead had a specific purpose since it made a mess once it penetrated flesh. As you can see, the Welsh bows used against the Normans didn't use steel tips obviously and yet a single one of their arrows could pierce a Norman knight's armour thigh (mail, coif, and a good leg of French pork) his thick leather saddle and into the horse. Now that arrow was certainly not of the quality of the armour piercing munitions later made for the French campaigns, and from what archaeology tells us, the Welsh bows may not have even been true longbows at all.
    Clearly there were a lot of things that could effect armour penetration, and clearly the French knights' armour of the 1300s was like a tank compared to the Norman cavalry of circa 1080. What modern experiments cannot replicate is the actual battle-field conditions and their effects in combat. The fact that thousands of cheap, non-penetrating English arrows could indirectly wipe out thousands of French knights within a few hours, says something about the tactics the English used. It may have been due to the wet ground, and the bottle-neck of the landscape as TV historians like to point out, but the dozens of other English victories which clearly also relied on the longbow again- are not explained. From what I've researched, the English were a unified military force with generals having guerilla warfare experience from fighting in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The French were not a unified force and had extreme difficulties in command and competition within their ranks, which is seen consistently throughout almost all French battles for centuries either side of Agincourt, both in Europe and the Middle East. This is something we can replicate in the mod, England is a much more centralised faction and France although much bigger, richer and more powerful has serious issues with rivals, rebels and general bad behaviour from those pesky provincials!

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    knight of meh's Avatar roghnaithe sciathŠn bŠn
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    i hope you don't mind .. you got me thinking

    it's true that very few bodkin's of any kind have been found the royal armories only have two if iirc

    http://www.royalarmouries.org/what-w...ing-arrowheads

    i hope you didn't base your theory on this ^ because they only tested two bodkins not a significant number for analysis really.

    i don't dispute that the French knight's became the biggest fish in the sea at the battle of Agincourt the french vanguard was made of these knights ad it's a common misconception it was just for chivalry but the french in steel plate in the front remained relatively unhurt by the English archers .

    http://www.currentmiddleages.org/art...ry-Testing.pdf

    check ^ this out if you haven't already its a test of the english 110b longbow circa 1400 published 2006
    if you have the time it shows penetration and it approximates if the subject lives or not

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    Ikko-Ikki
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    I always get the feeling that disproving well known facts makes for better articles and tv shows, i think that's why the history channel has gotten into the dire shape it is now. If there are 100 research projects into the effectiveness of longbowmen in battle and 99 agree with common thought but 1 says "Actually...", the one controversial article is going to be the one that is going to be made into a tv show. But that's enough of my cynicism

    The Scientific testing i seen confused me because they used a well made breastplate, arguably the thickest part of a knights armour and likely to be impenetrable to arrows unless one makes absolute perfect contact with it, but some of the french knights retinues armour is not going to be the most expensive and well made either so it may be effective poorer men at arms. But even if the arrow hits the breastplate, it sure as hell is going to knock the wind out of the bloke it's protecting because of the sheer power of the bow.

    The analysis also neglects the archers ability to aim, the guys that have been wielding a longbow all their lives and have deformed their skeletons just wielding it so they are are not going to have the aiming ability of an imperial stormtrooper, they are going to aim at the weakest points of the armour such as the visor.

    Another thing is the sheer mass of arrows being fired at the unlucky sods on the opposing end, so even if you have an army of one eyed longbowmen who couldn't hit water even if they were on a boat, they are going to hit something against packed infantry such as the french battles or the Scottish schiltons. The only downside to this is that they could go through all their arrows pretty quickly so if you are able to withstand the barrage effectively then archers on the would be a bit useless after running out. Also it shouldn't be underestimate the archers melee capability, thinking logically a guy used to the heavy draw of a longbow should be pretty handy with a hammer, as seen at Agincourt facing tired, ragged men at arms on terrain that suited agility rather than armour, but they are still have limited training compared to knights and other infantry and should be ineffective against well drilled infantry and cavalry.

    This post probably comes across as pretty nationalistic thinking about it but i have tried to take off my rose tinted glasses. But the longbowmen must have been hated for a reason by opposing forces and i'm guessing it must be because of their effectiveness in battle and not because they had poor table manners But in fairness my knowledge about this is miniscule compared to you guys which is why you're making the mod and i'm waiting like a child for Christmas. Game wise i think the recruitment pool must be pretty small for them reflecting the amount of specialized training they would have to go through, and even smaller recruitment pools for the Scots and french. Maybe make the player think about withdrawing them from battles rather than just throwing them into a meat grinder. The thought of heavily armoured mounted longbowmen charging into battle behind a screen of lancers makes me feel all warm inside. It's just a shame that the naval aspect of warfare can't be properly implemented well in m2tw as competing for the channel with the french, Breton and Flemish fleets would be vital to successful English campaign or Scottish. Brilliant post by the way Hross

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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    Excellent work Hross. Yep the Longbow was the primary weapon of its day for the English and it was relied on more than swords and Pole axes etc! Infantry were mainly their to protect the Bowmen.
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    Briareos's Avatar Tiro
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    nice article... i really enjoyed reading it!

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    Mighty_Matt's Avatar Discens
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    Awesome article Hross!

    Do you have any more info on mounted Longbowmen loosing from the saddle? That was totally new to me!

    As you pointed out, I am only a casual historian but the concensus I had heard was that 'mounted lonbowmen' were referenced due to the fact that, when marching, the whole army was mounted... I didn't think you could fire a Longbow effectively while actually mounted, but then, what are the good reasons why not? Except the space needed for a full draw?

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    ΔriŽl's Avatar Princeps Prior
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    Really Nice Article Hross really interesting.

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    napoleonic's Avatar Pili Posterior
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    The analysis also neglects the archers ability to aim, the guys that have been wielding a longbow all their lives and have deformed their skeletons just wielding it so they are are not going to have the aiming ability of an imperial stormtrooper, they are going to aim at the weakest points of the armour such as the visor.


    but what did you mean by that paragraph? seem like a contradiction to me.

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    Sunseri's Avatar Ikko-Ikki
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    Liked the effort in this, good job

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    simbow's Avatar Munifex
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    Default Re: Research Article: British Forces

    Where is Stirling Castle
    Stirling is the most strategically important of all the castles in Scotland. Hence it has been fought over and changed hands more than any other Scottish castle. It is at the landward end of the Firth of Forth, and controls movement across the Lowlands and into the Highlands. He who controlled Stirling, effectively controlled Scotland

    History of Stirling Castle
    The Picts may have had a fort here, the Romans certainly did. The Romans built their Fort on castle rock. It was later replaced by a new castle commissioned by the Scottish King Alexander I, who died at the Castle in 1124 and his body was taken to
    Dunfermline for burial.

    When William the Lion was captured by the English at Alnwick, he was forced by Henry II to sign the Treaty of Falaise in 1174, which ensured the six most important castles in Scotland, including Stirling, should be garrisoned by English soldiers. In 1189 the castle was returned to Scottish hands.

    During the Wars of Independence Stirling really came into prominence again. After capturing Berwick in 1296, Edward I of England took Stirling Castle without a problem. But the next year the Scottish forces of William Wallace, "Braveheart", beat the English army in battle at Stirling Bridge.

    Within a year it was back in English hands, but they soon had to surrender to the Scots. In 1304 the castle was the last stronghold in the Scottish rebels' hands and in April of that year King Edward I of England besieged Stirling, who were forced to surrender when their food ran out.

    The English then held Stirling until 1313, and following Robert the Bruce's victory at Bannockburn, the Scots resumed control of the castle. In fact Robert Bruce tried to destroy the fortifications at Stirling to prevent it being used as an English garrison. But in vain, as after defeating the Scots at Halidon Hill, the English returned and strengthened the castle
    1342 saw the English yielding in turn to the Scots. And with the accession of the Stewarts as the Scottish Royal Family, Stirling
    once more became a Royal abode.

    In 1452 Stirling was the site of the murder of William, 8th Earl of Douglas by King James II. Douglas, had been invited to dine at the castle under safe conduct from the King. The safe conduct was not respected, and Douglas was slain

    On the 9th of September 1543, the young Queen Mary (Mary Queen of Scots) was crowned in the chapel royal at Stirling. In 1566 Stirling was once again chosen as the refuge of a royal infant when the two month old Prince James, son of Mary (later James VI) was moved there by feuding Scottish lords.

    In 1651, the Cromwellian General Monk, lay siege to Stirling and the Governor was forced to surrender after a mutiny by his Scottish garrison.

    After the restoration, the castle reverted to the Earl of Mar and his heirs, but after the then Earl was accused of being a Jacobite, King George I removed him from the castle
    The Crown then was the keeper of Stirling Castle until in 1923, when King George V restored it to the Earl of Mar.


    http://www.scotland-calling.com/forts/stirling.htm

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