The things one learns by actually doing things…

Well, over the weekend I went to Huntsville to participate in an event for the SCA(Society for Creative Anachronism), a medieval reenactment group that has quite possibly the largest amount of active memberships in the world. We’re talking like 30,000 registered members and about two to three times that number in “fringe” or unpaid members. We so all sorts of things, from recreating gold-leafed scrollwork to beating the living daylights out of each other in full-contact, unchoreographed combat that at times can involve thousands of people at one time.

There are many styles of combat that we do, but today I’d like to express some of the insight I’ve gotten from fighting with the rattan version of a short handle, long-bladed two-handed sword normally referred to as a flamberge. Fighting with one of these swords is an entirely different animal than using a single-handed arming sword(what one usually sees in movies with a shield or a torch.) One can do a quick search and find out the opinions of historians on this type of weapon, but it is a whole ‘nother manner to actually go out and try the techniques you see illustrated in 500-year-old fencing manuals on real people. It is a delight to do things from these fechtbuch manuals and see they actually work… and work well!

My favorite moment from this weekend was in a heated exchange of combat between me and my noble opponent at the time who was armed with the SCA bread and butter combo of sword and shield to my flamberge. I strung my opponent along after me(I’m pretty quick on my feet) waiting for the perfect moment to strike. The moment came as I remembered the fighting manuals in my mind…parrying the incoming blow of my opponent, I reversed directions, closing the distance between us. Bringing my sword up to my cheek, I used both hands to drive the pommel into the helmet of the fighter and snapped the head back like a punch, ending the fight.

The fluidity of this sort of attack is something that the sword seemingly wants to do when you are wielding it. It wants to move in the directions illustrated in the manuals, and it is up to the fighter to enable it.

Until next time!

-Jordan McRae

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Quick Review: Hungarian Hussars

Renaissance Hungary’s military circa 1450-mid 1500s was known for two things: Mercenaries and Light Cavalry. The premier light cavalry of the region were what is now referred to as Hussars(derived from the Hungarian word gusar, derived from the word corsair, essentially meaning ‘bandit.’) This will be a quick and dirty overview of their general effectiveness.

Weapons:

Outstanding. Hussars were armed to the teeth when riding into battle, generally carrying: a light lance, a horseman’ pick, a mace, a koncerz(4-5ft stabbing sword), and a sabre along with whatever else the rider wished to take along with him. This huge assortment of weapons guaranteed having the right tool for every kind of killing that would be necessary on the battlefield. The predominance of mass weapons in their arsenal clearly shows us what these light horseman were expected to do, and that is run down infantry in full gothic plate armor and kill them. The exceptionally long 15ft hollow fir lance allowed the Hussars to be effective against the early pike square formations then being fielded by both the Swiss and German Landsknecht mercenaries.

Armor:

Horrifyingly little. The early Hungarian Hussars (not to be confused with the later, plate-armored Polish winged Hussars) went into battle with little more than a heavy coat, top hat, and a peculiarly-shaped targe-style shield that had its rear top-most edge kicked up to protect the riders’ neck from sword slashes. Faced with heavy cavalry head-to-head, the Hussars would crumple.

Agility:

Outstanding. Not having all the armor of the typical period heavy cavalry allowed the early Hussars to be exceptionally mobile on the field. This mobility allowed the Hussars to completely destroy an enemies’ supply lines and hen run down the starving knights and men-at-arms at their leisure.

Overall Effectiveness:

Very High. The Hussars literally changed the way cavalry was done from the renaissance onwards. The heavy cavalry that once dominated the medieval battlefields were no longer effective, thanks not only to lighter cavalry, but also to pike formations and gunpowder weaponry beginning to shine. The Hussar formula for light cavalry endured all the way up to the second World War, where the last of the major European light mounted cavalry saw their end.

So there you have it! If you want to know more, feel free to ask or go research for yourself…there is plenty of information out there just waiting to be discovered!

Squee!

P.S.- There is an illustration of a typical Hussar from the Osprey publications down below in the Gravatar section!

Digital Vengeance

Or maybe not…Hi, my name is Jordan McRae, resident of New Braunfels, Texas, and I decided to start a blog today. I enjoy hitting people with sticks as well as more cultured affairs like the raising of saltwater coral and the study of Gothic armor. This blog will be reviews of random stuff and things that are around me and part of my life. Sound boring? You might be surprised…

Off into the digital high-grass!

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