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The Medival European Knight vs a Japanese Samurai

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  • #61
    Originally posted by Galfirdus View Post
    But I am not basing my view of spear/lance over the sword on lab work or any 21st century stuff like that. It takes a minimum amount of training(or even playing around) to tell which is better and to ignore that is dumb not only in the 21st century but would be dumb even under 500 BC standards.
    I never said the spear or lance wasn't superior to the sword under the right conditions. Yeah, when a knight is bearing down on you with a lance, having another lance to fight him with is the best alternative. But in the press of close quarters battle long weapons are unwieldy and that's where the sword comes in. Believe me, long weapons do not work in close quarters. That's why Romans used the gladius, that's why sailors favored the cutlass, that's why the knights switched to smaller weapons after the lance charge (not all used swords, some favored the mace). I don't disagree with you when you say that in some circumstances the sword isn't the ideal weapon. But it seems to me you believe the sword to be an inferior weapon in all cases, to be used only when no other weapon is handy. That, I believe, is not true. There are times in battle when the sword is the best weapon to have. If you are in the press of a close quarters medieval battle and you have a sword and your opponent has a pike it's your lucky day, because he won't be able to bring his weapon to bear under the press of men where as your weapon is maneuverable enough to be used with killing force against him.
    A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

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    • #62
      Originally posted by pirateship1982 View Post
      You misunderstand me. I didn't say knights had anything against the lance and I didn't compare it to the longbow. I said knights scorned the longbow, despite it's proficiency, thus illustrating that practical thought didn't always enter into the medieval mind.
      And the samuraii class outlawed guns under the Tokugawa Shogunate. Not to smart in either instance.
      Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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      • #63
        What is your definition?

        I would be interested to hear your definition of primary and secondary weapons. One reason I don't hold the sword to be a secondary weapon is because I really don't see the lance as a primary weapon. It is a shock weapon. Like the Roman pilum it is used at the outset of combat for shock value before the main weapon is brought into play.

        So what do you mean by primary weapon? The first weapon used in battle or the weapon used most in battle?
        A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

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        • #64
          Originally posted by revans View Post
          And the samuraii class outlawed guns under the Tokugawa Shogunate. Not to smart in either instance.
          Thank you for pointing that out. It had just come to mind.
          A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

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          • #65
            Originally posted by pirateship1982 View Post
            Thank you for pointing that out. It had just come to mind.

            No problem. This thread has been very fun to follow. I hope you guys keep it going.

            One point I would like to make is that someone earlier mentioned Hollywood as portraying the samuraii as unbeatable swordsmen, I can only think of 1 movie that came from Hollywood about samuraii and that was The Last Samuraii starring everybody's favorite life coach Tom Cruise. The guilty party as far as making the samuraii superhuman would be the Japanese film industry. Just wanted to point that out.
            Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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            • #66
              Pirateshp there is a large different between not using a weapon and not using the same weapon you buy, train and fight with in a different manner. The idea of them not using bows makes perfect since to me based on there ideas of chivalry, using a lance on foot however could not possibly be effected by such ideas.. The samurai's banning of the gun again makes sense to me based on their idea of honor but it was done after the civil war and was motived just much by anti-western political ideas(the country did shut them self off from the world). The samurai had the yari spear under there list of weapons and even had the bow so trying to argue them using the sword over the yari based on there ideas of honor is baseless and I don't remember any ban on bows or spears.
              Last edited by Galfirdus; 25 Jan 07, 03:47.

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              • #67
                The samuraii had formations of yari spearman to shield their archers and musketeers from cavalry charges, much as the use of the pike formations in Europe. I don't know if they fought melee battles pushing and shoving as the pike formations did. They also had formations of No-Dachi swordsmen, a longer version of the traditional sword. There was a lot of individual combat in samaurii battles between champions of equivalant rank and lower class samuraii could move up by challenging and beating higher ranked samuraii, if the higher class samuraii took the challenge. The main point of samuraii battle was to behead your opponent and collect the heads to turn in to your daimyo to show your worthiness.

                There was another weapon that saw prominent use in medeviel Japan, the naginata. This was more like a polearm or halberd, an axelike thing on a long pole. It was traditionally used by warrior monks(a whole seperate breed from the samuraii).

                I have a book on how the samuraii fought called oddly enough, "Samurai Warfare" by Dr. Stephen Turnbull. If you guys want me to, I print some of the relevant points in a post if it helps. If I find it later, I do believe he compares the stlyes of fighting which we are discussing and I'll give you his view.


                Wow I just realized I had been misspelling 'samurai' all this time. Sorry.
                Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                • #68
                  Originally posted by revans View Post
                  I have a book on how the samuraii fought called oddly enough, "Samurai Warfare" by Dr. Stephen Turnbull. If you guys want me to, I print some of the relevant points in a post if it helps. If I find it later, I do believe he compares the stlyes of fighting which we are discussing and I'll give you his view.
                  Yes please .

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                  • #69
                    Okay, but it might not be until tomorrow. The wife is coming home and it's family time. Sorry. I'll try to post tomorrow.
                    Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                    • #70
                      Originally posted by pirateship1982 View Post
                      I never said the spear or lance wasn't superior to the sword under the right conditions. Yeah, when a knight is bearing down on you with a lance, having another lance to fight him with is the best alternative. But in the press of close quarters battle long weapons are unwieldy and that's where the sword comes in. Believe me, long weapons do not work in close quarters. That's why Romans used the gladius, that's why sailors favored the cutlass, that's why the knights switched to smaller weapons after the lance charge (not all used swords, some favored the mace). I don't disagree with you when you say that in some circumstances the sword isn't the ideal weapon. But it seems to me you believe the sword to be an inferior weapon in all cases, to be used only when no other weapon is handy. That, I believe, is not true. There are times in battle when the sword is the best weapon to have. If you are in the press of a close quarters medieval battle and you have a sword and your opponent has a pike it's your lucky day, because he won't be able to bring his weapon to bear under the press of men where as your weapon is maneuverable enough to be used with killing force against him.
                      Ok rather then argue against your points one at a time I just state clearly what my stance is, it seemed to work well with the knight vs samurai fight so it may work here. I cover just about all areas, even the ones where you agree on the lance been better just because I would really like to talk about it .

                      Mounted Knights vs Infantry.
                      In the cavalry charge against infantry the knights will aim their lances down at their enemy, with momentum building from the speed and weight of the horsemen and his horse on to the point of the lance doing profound damage along with the enemy's fear at such a scary sight. The charge is the most importance part of heavy cavalry and the goal of a good commander is to employ a knight charge when you are sure the knights will A)go though the enemy line thus then been allowed to attack the enemy's more venerable rear units or after gaining enough distance turn around and hit the enemy again with another charge. B)will rout the enemy from ether the charge or from a quick melee with swords, axes and maces. If the melee isn't quick and deceive it is best the knight formation retreat and rally then go for another charge when the situation arises again. In this form of combat the lance is the primary weapon, been used at the most important time while the sword, axe or mace are ether used for the quick finishing move(because the charge left the enemy weak enough to be finished off) or in an ineffective slow melee that is best just to get out of.

                      Mounted Knights vs Cavalry.
                      A lot of the same rules apply except that a commander can be a lot more tolerant with melee. After all the enemy will suffer just as much from using their cavalry in an area that it is not as effective at as a charge. Now if nether unit mangers to rout or pass though it's enemy from the charge and a melee begins the charge(with lances) was still far more important because mostly one side would have inflicted enough damage on the enemy that it gains a numeral and morale advantage over the enemy that melee becomes one sided. Even if say one side was far more skilled at melee and had better swords, axes and maces the battle after the charge would still very likely be unbalanced enough that the unit that preformed the better charge wins no matter what. If after the charge it was equal enough then the melee with swords, axes and maces would become the most important.

                      Dismounted Knights vs Infantry
                      The Knights should fight dismounted if the terran isn't horse friendly, if the enemy has very effective anti-cavalry capability or the knights are to few in numbers for them to able to mount an effective charge, remember as I pointed out before heavy cavalry warfare is about been deceive, you ether win big or you lose big, dismounted knights fighting like infantry do far better in challenging spots then mounted knights would do. Now to the weapons the knights will use their lances like spears, yes when they get into really close quarters they use shorter weapons like swords however while your at the range where the lance can reach and sword can not it is better to stick with the lance, the fighters who draw there swords early will have advantage over those who drew latter in the close melee but that is a mute point if you get killed at lance range. As long as the knights keep their formation tight the lance damage done to the enemy unit will be enough to make any ill effects from late draws worth it. Lances can be used like that against infantry, you first charge(not a very fast one but a charge none less) then once the points touch the enemy you draw the lance back as much you can with out moving or becoming awkward then thrust it full forward and repeat. Also you have to take in considering the knights armour, as I pointed out in my knight vs samurai fight taking out an armoured foe with a sword(or spear)requires you to accurately attack the joints, the chaos of when two fighters first get into close melee will give the knight enough time to draw his sword before the fight get's stable enough to attack the joints.

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                      • #71
                        Originally posted by pirateship1982 View Post
                        You misunderstand me. I didn't say knights had anything against the lance and I didn't compare it to the longbow. I said knights scorned the longbow, despite it's proficiency, thus illustrating that practical thought didn't always enter into the medieval mind.
                        Unpractical as it may be I can still see where there coming from with there complaint with longbows. A skilled warrior spending all his life training to fight only to be brought down by some archer. Such a warrior wants to die in melee from a foe who cam parry his attacks and attack though his parries. Two soldiers with lances or spears can have their test of skill.

                        Now I just inform you how much a person has to bend their own mind to view a lance on foot as dishonorable, far beyond the capability of simple minded nobles. First one has to dismiss the fact that a dismounted knight armed with a lance will in melee have the enemy's blood spilt on him, he will see the enemy's face looking at him in anger and screaming at him, his allies blood and screams will touch him, he may suffer minor wounds and yet must continue fighting, his allies by his side could fall leaving him to be attacked from the flanks, archers from a far can rain arrows down on him that he is helpless to defend against, and finally he can simply get stubbed or cut down by a nasty sharp weapon or have his bones broken by a blunt weapon. The knight must also only focus his problem with the lance on foot only, on horse he must respect it as a fully honourable weapon. Finally the knight is forbidden from having his problem with long weapons go any further such as using a short sword or dagger over his bastard sword.

                        Having a problem with using a long range weapon far away from the glorious melee against enemies helpless to defend against it is understandable from the point of view of someone who places such importance on honour, doing the same with the lance(on foot) is insane in fact it is beyond insane. It's one thing to calm such idiocy over people but I first ask that you ether offer proof or explain how the possibility could manifest it's self.

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                        • #72
                          The only thing that I could find on the comparision is that Dr. Turnbull says that the samurai were better educated than his counterpart in Europe. Most samurai could read and write. Not really on point, but so what?

                          The only other part that hasn't been covered already was that the samurai were excellent horse archers along with using the yari spear and sword from horseback. He does say that the yari is in no way a lance. The samurai used it two-handed and swung and jabbed with it as the circumstances required. They were quite adept at thrusting and parrying with the yari. It was between 3 and 4 meters long and had a blade between 10cm. and 1.5 meters.
                          Quite a difference. The Dr. says that there were 2 versions of the yari, a hand spear and a 'held' spear. The hand spear usage is described above, but he doesn't really say what the held spear does. It sounds as if it is their version of a lance used for shock charges, but again he doesn't elaborate.

                          The Dr. also states that at the height of samurai warfare in the late 1400s to the early 1600s, the armor that the samurai wore was very effective. And that after the arrival of the Portugese the samurai began wearing a solid metal breastplate over top of their other armor. He says that they looked very much like their European counterparts, the only things different being the head armor and the wearing of the mon on the back. The mon was used as an identifying device for the commanders of the samurai to be able to tell where their troops were fighting.

                          I hope that this helps out for the sake of this argument. It sounds as if the makers of 'Shogun-Total War' and 'Medeviel Total War' need to combine the games somehow. Then maybe we could get a good approximation of how these battles would go.
                          Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                          • #73
                            Very nice information revans. biliev mentioned the samurai cavalry archers before(hope he comes back to the topic as he was quite interesting). I think I buy one of Dr. Turnbull's books on the samurai, which is the best and has the most military?

                            Here is how I see the fighting between the two.

                            Samurai Cavalry Archers will defeat Knights when the Knights lack enough missies support from allied units.

                            The one side that is attacking the enemy's rear or flank, launching an ambush or fighting down hill will win

                            Knights will defeat Samurai in mutual cavalry charges or mutual infantry melee if the Samurai lacks European influenced armour. At same time if the current knights are to poor to afford as much as armour as the Samurai then they lose.

                            If in mutual cavalry charges or mutual infantry melee one side has more of their troops armed with long weapons(lance, yari) then that side will win.

                            If in mutual infantry melee both are equally armoured and one side has more anti-armour weapons that side will win.

                            If one side that is mounted launches a cavalry charge against the other side that is dismounted and of near equal strength the cavalry will be defeated.

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                            • #74
                              I pretty much agree with previous post. I don't see the samurai withstanding a full on knight charge with lances if the samurai stand toe to toe with on horses as the horse in medeviel Japan were smaller than their European counterparts, a fact I forgot to mention earlier.

                              As far as the books are concerned the ones I have are as follows:
                              (all books by Dr. Stephen Turnbull and published by Cassell Co.-whether by Arms and Armour Press or Osprey)

                              Samurai Warfare-probably the best on what you are looking for

                              Warriors of Medievel Japan-very informative and also goes into the warrior monks and ninja of the period

                              Samurai; The World of the Warrior-very in depth but also covers their world and lifestyle off the battlefield

                              The Samurai Sourcebook-this is a encyclopedia of personalities of the samurai world and also covers each daimyo's(lord) standards and flags much like European heraldry. Not really what you are looking for but pretty good on finding out about individual samurai.

                              If you hadn't notice I got a thing for samurai. That damn Shogun RTS game started it along with about the same time watching "Seven Samurai" on DVD.

                              I hope these help.
                              Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

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                              • #75
                                Originally posted by Galfirdus View Post
                                Mounted Knights vs Infantry.
                                In the cavalry charge against infantry the knights will aim their lances down at their enemy, with momentum building from the speed and weight of the horsemen and his horse on to the point of the lance doing profound damage along with the enemy's fear at such a scary sight. The charge is the most importance part of heavy cavalry and the goal of a good commander is to employ a knight charge when you are sure the knights will A)go though the enemy line thus then been allowed to attack the enemy's more venerable rear units or after gaining enough distance turn around and hit the enemy again with another charge. B)will rout the enemy from ether the charge or from a quick melee with swords, axes and maces. If the melee isn't quick and deceive it is best the knight formation retreat and rally then go for another charge when the situation arises again. In this form of combat the lance is the primary weapon, been used at the most important time while the sword, axe or mace are ether used for the quick finishing move(because the charge left the enemy weak enough to be finished off) or in an ineffective slow melee that is best just to get out of.
                                I agree mostly. However the knight may not be the best opening weapon if the enemy presents the schiltron defense. As was demonstrated at Bannockburn (and incorrectly portrayed as the tactic of Stirling bridge in the movie Braveheart), a concentrated pike formation - pikes being longer than lances - makes a cavalry charge ineffective.

                                As for rallying your knights for a second charge this is a good policy in theory but would be difficult under battle unless you are dealing with professional disciplined soldier-knights such as the Templars and Hospitallers. Knights who didn't belong to a military order were individualistic and couldn't be ordered as easy as a regiment. If they were impetuous or, as is said in the south - "got their dander up" they might not listen to a call to retreat. Also given chaotic nature of medieval battle it has been notably difficult to command any medieval unit that has made contact with the enemy. So you have the double problem of first getting the order to your knights and then hoping they obey it.
                                A new life awaits you in the off world colonies; the chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

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