Medieval Arms Armor and Tactics - Science...MEDIEVAL ARMS, ARMOR, AND TACTICS And Interactive...

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Transcript of Medieval Arms Armor and Tactics - Science...MEDIEVAL ARMS, ARMOR, AND TACTICS And Interactive...

  • MEDIEVAL ARMS, ARMOR, AND TACTICS

    And Interactive Qualifying Project

    Submitted to the faculty

    Of the

    WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE

    In partial fulfillment of the requirements of the

    Degree of Bachelor or Science

    By

    Jack Waddell

    And

    Brent Palermo

    Date: December 10th, 2002

    Approved:

    ---------------------------------------------

    Jeffrey L. Forgeng

  • 2

    Abstract

    This project examined and photographed nearly 300 examples of medieval arms and armor in the Higgins Armory collection, and documented the characteristics of armor, weapons, and their associated tactics during the middle ages (approximately 500CE to 1500CE) as well as the historical and technological background against which they were employed.

  • 3

    Acknowledgements

    We would like to thank the Higgins Armory Museum for providing us with access to authentic medieval artifacts and essential research tools.

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    Table of Contents 1. Abstract.................................................................................................................pg 2 2. Acknowledgements.................................................................................................3 3. Table of Contents ...................................................................................................4 4. Introduction (By Brent Palermo) ..............................................................................5 5. Historical background of the Middle Ages (By Jack Waddell) ....................................6

    a. History.............................................................................................................6 b. Feudalism.........................................................................................................35 c. War in the Middle Ages ....................................................................................40 d. Medieval Technology........................................................................................47

    6. Armor of the Middle Ages (By Jack Waddell) ..........................................................55 a. Introduction ......................................................................................................55 b. Armor for the Body ..........................................................................................57 c. Armor for the Head..........................................................................................69 d. Armor for the Legs ...........................................................................................78 e. Armor for the Arms ..........................................................................................81 f. Shields ............................................................................................................87 g. Snapshots of Armor Ensembles over Time .........................................................90

    7. Weapons of the Middle Ages (By Brent Palermo) ....................................................100 a. Daggers ...........................................................................................................100 b. Swords.............................................................................................................105 c. Axes................................................................................................................112 d. Halberds ..........................................................................................................115 e. Glaives.............................................................................................................116 f. Bills .................................................................................................................117 g. Maces..............................................................................................................117 h. Morning Stars...................................................................................................118 i. Flails ................................................................................................................119 j. War Hammers..................................................................................................120 k. Spears .............................................................................................................121 l. Lances.............................................................................................................122 m. Pikes................................................................................................................125 n. Bows ...............................................................................................................126 o. Crossbows .......................................................................................................128 p. Slings ..............................................................................................................132 q. Firearms .........................................................................................................133

    8. Tactics of the Middle Ages (By Justin Therrien) .......................................................136 a. Early Middle Ages: The Dominance of Heavy Cavalry........................................136 b. The Role of Archers .........................................................................................141 c. Late Middle Ages: The Resurgence of Infantry ..................................................145 d. Siege Tactics....................................................................................................148

    9. Conclusion (By Jack Waddell) .................................................................................154 10. Works Cited...........................................................................................................160 11. Appendix................................................................................................................162

    a. Appendix A: Battle Synopses (By Jack Waddell) ................................................162 b. Appendix B: Armor Timetable Spreadsheet (By Jack Waddell)............................176

    12. Artifact Pages ........................................................................................................I

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    Introduction

    The middle ages were a time of relative chaos for Europe. With the collapse of

    the Holy Roman Empire at the end of the 5th century, the countries of Europe were

    thrown into disarray. After a great deal of border-shifting and consolidating, Europe was

    stable enough to work together and begin the first crusade in the late 11th century. 500

    years and three crusades later began the Renaissance, which is considered by most as the

    end of this chaotic era.

    The weapons, armor and tactics of medieval combat evolved simultaneously.

    Arms and armor evolved constantly to negate each other; for instance, the use of plate

    mail in the 12th century caused the addition of spikes to most pole-arms that could

    penetrate it. Tactics were also changed with the invention of a new weapon or a better

    piece of armor. The infantry that could formerly be dispersed easily by cavalry became a

    formidable foe when wielding pikes.

    Overall, the middle ages were a hard time for Europe. Dark Ages may be a bit

    too strong to describe this era, but times were far from easy. Wars and border disputes

    between countries were far more common than they are today. The weapons, armor and

    tactics used during this time were both brutal and effective, which is a fair statement

    about the times themselves.

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    Historical Background

    The End of Western Rome (5th Century)

    At the end of the 5th Century, the Western Roman Empire was left in tatters. The

    Germanic tribes held much of the land that had been imperial lands. The Ostrogoths,

    who had been hired by the Eastern Emperor to reclaim Rome, instead settled there

    themselves. The Franks were moving into what is now France, and the Anglo-Saxons

    had begun conquering what we know as the British Isles, though some of the Britons had

    escaped to mainland Europe to settle Brittany. Vandals were marching through much of

    western Europe and settling into northern Africa. The Visigoths had, by this point,

    conquered the area of Spain (Strayer 1974: 29). Nominally, most of these tribes

    recognized the Emperor in Constantinople as their superior, but to no practical extent.

    The Germanic tribes did not set out to destroy Roman culture, but their own culture

    doomed that of the Latins. Laws were local and rulership hereditary for the most part.

    Delegation of authority, the key to Roman bureaucracy, was impossible to a German

    ruler, who stood to lose too much political strength to an empowered subordinate.

    Taxation, necessary to provide for public services, was viewed with suspicion by German

    eyes. The culture of the Romans was doomed to meet its end as a living culture (Strayer

    1974: 30 32).

    Still, whatever scraps of civilization were left in western Europe, they were still

    descendant from Rome. The Eastern Emperor was nominally the head, and the

    Mediterranean region was still the seat of civilization in Europe. Europe was clearly not

    Arabic, and western Europe had yet to define itself separately, so it was Roman (Strayer

    1974: 35).

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    The Byzantine Empire (6th Century)

    The Eastern Roman Empire, which became known as the Byzantine Empire, was