Book Review 3. Samurais & Knights.

Discussion in 'Articles' started by dmach, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. dmach

    dmach Martial Archivest

    The Samurai.

    This section of Gladiators introduces us to the Samurai through Miyamoto Musashi. We are provided with a brief account of his exploits and in particular shows how Miyamoto personified many of the attributes of the Samurai.

    The way of the Warrior - Bushido - has been basically broken down into the following attributes... Loyalty; Respect; Courage; Benevolence; Obedience; Honesty; Duty; Filial Piety & Self-Sacrifice. If you compare these to the virtues held dear by Ancient Rome, rather than demonstrating a will to win at any cost, the Samurai code is more about the qualities that he should display towards others. And rather than talk of strength and firmness, these are implied qualities rather than actual written ones.

    While it was a long time before Bushido was actually written down, Daiymo Kiyomasa Kato (1562 - 1611) did supply his Samurai retainers with a set of house rules. These rules are paraphrased below...
    1. One should not be negligent in the ways of retainers. He should rise at 4 in the morning and practice sword technique, eat a meal, then train with bow, the gun and the horse. A well developed retainer should become more so.
    2. If you want a hobby - they should be outdoor pass-times such as falconry, deer-hunting and wrestling
    3. A retainer should wear clothes made from cotton or silk. If he squanders money on clothes, bringing his finances in disorder, he should be punished. A retainer should spend his money on armour and Martial affairs.
    4. When meeting with one's companions, the meeting should be limited to one guest and one host.
    5. During Campaign, one should remember that he is Samurai. Any Beautification where it is unnecessary will make him fit for punishment.
    6. Noh Drama is absolutely forbidden. A samurai who practices dancing, which is outside the martial arts - should commit seppuku.
    7. One should put great effort into learning. One should read books concerning military matters. Books such as Chinese Poetry is forbidden. One will surely become womanized if he gives his heart knowledge of such elegant and delicate refinements. Having being born in the ways of a warrior, one's intention should be to grasp the long and short swords and die.
    8. If one does not investigate the code of Bushido daily, it will be difficult for him to die a good and manly death
    9. These conditions should be adhered to day and night. If there is any who finds these conditions difficult to fulfil, they should be dismissed immediately.
    The book goes on to give several examples on ways the virtues have been adhered to, such as loyalty to ones' lord. The most famous of these is the story of the 47 Ronin. Another, lesser known tale is that of Kusunoki Masashige - a Samurai retainer of Emperor Go-Daigo. When the Emperor attempted a military coup to wrest power from the Shogun 1331, the Emperor ordered Masashige to launch an attack on the shogun's army that both knew was suicide. Rather than refuse the order, Masashige said that he wished that he had seven more lives to lay down for his emperor and rode away to his death.

    Unique among samurai were their rules with regards to women. A samurai was allowed to marry a woman fro the Samurai class and under Confucian law she was required to be loyal to her family, showing respect to her husband and elders and care and love for her children. She was also required to be proficent with the naginata (Japanese Polearm) but there are also tales of Female Samurai. One such tale was that of Tomoe Gozen.

    In her final battle - in 1184 Gozen was one of Daiymo Yoshinika's last remaining riders. Knowing that the day was lost, Yoshunika ordered Gozen to leave him. Rather than go against the code of Bushido, Gozen decided to ride out in search of the enemy. She came across a group of 30 enemy warriors and laid an ambush, surprising one of the warriors, she "twisted his head off" before riding back to her master.

    Samurais are known to this day as the quintessential warrior, one who - if he adhered to the code - would give his life for his cause, never shirk his duty and while he was expected to be a powerful and skilful warrior, the expectation was that he would not abuse that power.

    The Knight.
    Rather than expect his bride to be able to fight, the knight was seen as the champion of the weak and would defend the rights and virtues of his lady most fair.
    Rather than concentrate on their conduct in battle, the Tournaments and the Joust is the focus of the knight in Gladiators. One of the most successful of the Tourney knights was Lord William Marshal (the role played by William Hurt in the 2010 movie Robin Hood) was notorious around the tournament circuit. In the early days of the tournament, rather than the pomp and pageantry that we are used to (thanks to Hollywood) it was better described as melee - or a free for all, where if one knight was able to defeat another, the winner would get the loser's armour, his horse and was able to get the loser's family to pay a ransom before he was released.
    Unlike the Japanese Samurai - who during times of peace were basically unemployed, the European knight created the tournament in order to keep their skills sharp and for them to remain in practice. What also makes the knights unique and in particular why they were looked at in this light is that they represent a unique cross-over between the Gladiators of Rome - in so much that they gained the equivalent of Rock star status and they "performed" for a crowd and the Samurai, as in these were not Trained slaves - being made to fight - but trained from birth as warriors, to live by a code - not slaves, but nobility.
    The medieval tournament was also the first way where a warrior could practice his skills against other fighters like himself and not put his life at risk - but accidents do happen. :)
    There were several different ways that a knight might test his mettle and increase his notoriety and wealth. First was mentioned above the melee. A free for all where knights, squires and men-at-arms would do battle...
    While this is a modern day reenactment - it is a good approximation of the melee.​
    Another option was the Pas d'armes the ever so classic knight defending a piece of ground from all-comers... quite literally none shall pass.​
    The medieval tournament continued on into the fifteenth century, among the last of the great tourney athletes was King Henry VIII. It is easy to think of Henry VIII as the over weight despot who was so big before he died he actually needed a "royal wiper" because he could n't actually reach to do it himself. But many forget - or just don't know, that Henry was quite the athlete in his youth and actually a very good jouster.​
  3. love the samurai stuff
  4. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    A bit of a tangent here, but did the book discuss why the shield was never adopted among the Samurai like it was by every other warrior class I can think of throughout history?
  5. dmach

    dmach Martial Archivest

    Not in so many words... But one theory is that because Samurai were originally mounted archers rather than swords men (the katana becoming their primary weapon later) having a shield would have been (obviously) impractical.

    Another clue may be seen in the Samurai attitude towards firearms. In 1543, a Portuguese ship was ship wrecked in Japan, among other things the survivors brought ashore two things that would change the social and military landscape of Japan - Christianity and the match-lock rifle! Now like most men, the Samurai know an advantage on the battlefield when they see one and quickly adopted the match lock into their arsenal (the Japanese quickly figuring out how to make their own).

    BUT many Samurai were very disdainful of the rifle. It was considered offensive and dishonourable that such a clumsy weapon could anonymously kill a Samurai warrior. A Samurai devoted his life to the ritual of warfare and trained in the weaponry of one-on -one combat.

    Now if that was their attitude towards firearms, one could also say that the use of a personal shield would be considered dishonourable as you would be "hiding" from your opponent. Thats my theory anyway - based on evidence in "the book"
    Enkidu likes this.
  6. Gone

    Gone Guest

    Bows can anonymously kill. They didn't have any problems using those.

    Knights and Samurai.. A fight for the ages.
  7. i can deciding against bow and arrow vs. crossbow right now......crossbow iswinning out right now
  8. dmach

    dmach Martial Archivest

    That depends on your views on combat and how you value the skills of a warrior. The crossbow is generally more powerful, but depending on the draw strength of the longbow, that difference is negligable. An archer equipped with a longbow can fire 10 arrows to a crossbowman's 1. Economically, its easier and cheaper to equip an army with longbows than with crossbows and longbows are easier to maintain. On the other hand, it takes years of practice to become proficient with a longbow, much shorter time to train in crossbows.

    There must be a reason that the longbow was the mainstay of the English Army for Centuries. even after the advent of Gun-Powder, the longbow stayed on. When the British exumed the wreckage of the Mary Rose, they found evidence that bowmen would work side-by-side with riflemen.
  9. the long bow is for the hobby, crossbow is for the kill
  10. Gone

    Gone Guest

    Rate of fire and the effectiveness on the weapon varies upon the design. There are lots of different kinds of bows, as there are as many different kinds of crossbows. This also applies to all the different kinds of early black-powder rifles and pistols.
  11. Dave76

    Dave76 Deheuol Gwyn Dragon

    I don't think so.
    You've obviously never had the privilege of using a genuine Yew hardwood / softwood long bow.

    At a medievil fair I got to try my hand at a 120 lb longbow. After just hitting the outer circles of a target only 50 ft in front of me.
    The guy running the demonstration then showed us how at that range, the long bow could easily pierce 1/4" steel plate.
    1/4".....that's over twice the thickness of standard plate armour!

    I suggest you study the 'Battle of Agincourt' before saying the long bow is a hobby wepon.
  12. let me clarify...,both are for killing obviously....crossbow takes longer to load.....then just point and shoot

    long bow faster to liad but harder to im my opinion longbow is for someone that wants to enjoy the process of learning how to use it
  13. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    Or the battle of Crecy.
  14. Caneman

    Caneman Test all things.

    For a good Netflix plug... go watch War of the Arrows...
    Great movie.
  15. Dave76

    Dave76 Deheuol Gwyn Dragon

    I'll download that when I get back home..........korean historical pic eh (google on my phone:)) .....better be good, or I'll be sending intercontinental ballistic chi balls your way;)
  16. Dave76

    Dave76 Deheuol Gwyn Dragon

    So easily forgotten in the face of a Shakespearean play....;)

    A little history for us all, not from a poet or playwright.

    Note the firing times for both long bow vs crossbow and why the long bow proved superior at this time.

    Edit - No I'm not going to tell you where to look.......mwhahahaha:sneaky:

    The Battle of Creçy 1346

    King Edward III’s crushing English victory over the French; where the Black
    Prince won his spurs and acquired the emblem of the Three White Feathers

    Froissart’s magnificent representation of the Battle of Creçy: more imaginative than accurate
    Date: 26th August 1346.
    Place: Northern France.
    Combatants: An English and Welsh army against an army of French, Bohemians, Flemings, Germans, Savoyards and Luxemburgers.
    Generals: King Edward III with his son, the Black Prince, against Philip VI, King of France.
    Size of the armies: The English army numbered some 4,000 knights and men-at-arms, 7,000 Welsh and English archers and some 5,000 Welsh and Irish spearmen. The English army fielded 5 primitive cannon.
    Numbers in the French army are uncertain but may have been as high as 80,000 including a force of some 6,000 Genoese crossbowmen.
    Uniforms, arms and equipment: The power of the medieval feudal army lay in the charge of its mass of mounted knights. After the impact delivered with the lance, the battle broke into hand to hand combat executed with sword and shield, mace, short spear, dagger and war hammer.
    Depending upon wealth and rank a mounted knight of wore jointed steel armour incorporating back and breast plates, a visored bascinet helmet and steel plated gauntlets with spikes on the back; the legs and feet protected by steel greaves and boots, called jambs. Weapons carried were a lance, shield, sword and dagger. Over the armour a knight wore a jupon or surcoat emblazoned with his arms and an ornate girdle.
    The French King commanded a force of Genoese crossbowmen, their weapons firing a variety of missiles; iron bolts or stone and lead bullets, to a range of some 200 yards. The crossbow fired with a flat trajectory, its missile capable of penetrating armour.
    The weapon of King Edward’s archers was a six foot yew bow discharging a feathered arrow a cloth metre in length. Arrows were fired with a high trajectory, descending on the approaching foe at an angle. The rate of fire was up to one arrow every 5 seconds against the crossbow’s rate of a shot every two minutes; the crossbow requiring to be reloaded by means of a winch. For close quarter fighting the archers used hammers or daggers to batter at an adversary’s armour or penetrate between the plates.
    Battle of Crecy
    While a knight was largely protected from an arrow, unless it struck a joint in his armour, his horse was highly vulnerable, particularly in the head, neck or back.
    A French illustration of the Battle of CrecyThe Welsh and Irish infantrymen, carrying spears and knives, made up a disorderly mob of little use during battle, being mainly concerned with ransacking the countryside and murdering the inhabitants or pillaging a battlefield once the combat was over. A knight or man-at-arms, knocked from his horse and pinned beneath its body, would be easily overcome by the swarms of these marauders.
    The English army possessed simple artillery; improvements in the composition of black powder reducing the size of guns and projectiles and making them sufficiently mobile to be used in the field. It seems that the French had not by the time of Creçy acquired artillery.
    Winner: The English army of Edward III won the battle decisively.
    Edward III, King of England, began the Hundred Years War, claiming the throne of France on the death of King Philip IV in 1337. The war finally ended in the middle of the 15th Century with the eviction of the English from France, other than Calais, and the formal abandonment by the English monarchs of their claims to French territory.
    On 11th July 1346 Edward III, King of England, with an army of some 16,000 knights, men-at-arms, archers and foot soldiers landed at St Vaast on the peninsular of the Contentin on the north coast of France, intent on attacking Normandy, while a second English army landed in South Western France at Bordeaux to invade the province of Aquitaine. One of the King’s first actions on landing in France was to knight his 16 year old son Edward, Prince of Wales (known to posterity as the Black Prince).
    Edward then marched south to Caen, the capital of Normandy, capturing the town and taking prisoner the Constable of France, Raoul, Count of Eu.
    Marching on to the Seine, the English Army found the bridges across the river destroyed, whilst news came in of an enormous army gathering in Paris under the French King, Philip VI, bent on destroying the invaders.
    Edward’s army was forced to march up the left bank of the Seine as far as Poissy, approaching perilously close to Paris, before a bridge could be found, damaged but sufficiently repairable to allow the army to cross the river.
    Once over the Seine Edward marched north for the Channel coast, followed closely by King Philip.
    As with the Seine, the English found the River Somme an impassable barrier, the bridges heavily defended or destroyed, forcing them to march down the left bank to the sea. They finally crossed at the mouth of the river at low tide, just evading the clutches of the pursuing French. Exhausted and soaked Edward’s troops encamped in the Forêt de Creçy on the north bank of the Somme.
    Edward III crossing the Somme before the Battle of Crecy by Benjamin West
    On 26th August 1346, in anticipation of the French attack, the English army took up position on a ridge between the villages of Creçy and Wadicourt; the King taking as his post a windmill on the highest point of the ridge.
    Edward, Prince of Wales, commanded the right division of the English army, assisted by the Earls of Oxford and Warwick and Sir John Chandos. The Prince’s division lay forward of the rest of the army and would take the brunt of the French attack. The left division had as its commander the Earl of Northampton.
    Each division comprised spearmen in the rear, dismounted knights and men-at-arms in the centre. In a jagged line in the front of the army stood the army’s archers. Centred on the windmill stood the reserve, directly commanded by the King.
    The battlefield of Crecy showing the windmill at which King Edward III positioned himself and the English reserve.
    At the back of the position the army’s baggage formed a park where the horses were held, surrounded by a wall of wagons with a single entrance.
    Philip’s army came north from Abbeyville, the advance guard arriving before the Creçy-Wadicourt ridge at around midday on 26th August 1346. A party of French knights reconnoitred the English position and advised the King that his army should encamp and give battle the next day when concentrated and fresh. Philip agreed, but it was one thing to make such a decision and quite another to impose it upon the army’s top level of arrogant and independent minded nobles; all jealous of each other and determined to show themselves the champions of France. Most of the army’s leaders were for disposing of the English army without delay, forcing Philip to concede that the attack be made that afternoon.
    It was the role of the Constable of France to command the kingdom’s feudal army in battle; but the English had taken the Constable, Raoul, Count of Eu, at Caen. His authority and experience was sorely missed at Creçy, as the King’s officers attempted to control the mass of the army and direct it into the attack.
    The Genoese formed the van, commanded by Antonio Doria and Carlo Grimaldi. The Duke D’Alençon led the following division of knights and men-at-arms; among them the blind King John of Bohemia, closely accompanied by two of his knights, their horses strapped on each side of the old monarch’s mount. In D’Alençon’s division rode two more monarchs; the King of the Romans and the displaced King of Majorca.
    The Duke of Lorraine and the Court of Blois commanded the next division, while King Philip led the rearguard.
    At around 4pm the French moved forward for the assault, marching up the track that led to the English position. As they advanced, a sudden rainstorm swirled around the two armies. The English archers removed their bowstrings to cover inside their jackets and hats; the crossbowmen could take no such precautions with their cumbersome weapons.
    The charge of the French knights at the Battle of Creçy
    As the French army advanced the chronicler Froissart describes the Genoese as whooping and shouting. Once the English formation was within crossbow range the Genoese discharged their bolts; but the rain had loosened the strings of their weapons and the shots fell short.
    Froissart portrayed the response: “The English archers each stepped forth one pace, drew the bowstring to his ear, and let their arrows fly; so wholly and so thick that it seemed as snow.”
    The barrage inflicted significant casualties on the Genoese and forced them to retreat, exciting the contempt of the French knights coming up behind, who rode them down.
    The clash of the retreating Genoese against the advancing cavalry threw the French army into confusion. The following divisions of knights and men-at-arms pressed into the melee at the bottom of the slope; but found themselves unable to move forward and subjected to a relentless storm of arrows, making many of the horses casualties.
    King Edward III and the Black Prince some years after the Battle of Creçy.
    At this time a messenger arrived at King Edward’s post by the windmill seeking support for the Black Prince’s division. Seeing that the French could make little headway up the hill, Edward is reputed to have asked whether his son was dead or wounded and on being reassured said “I am confident he will repel the enemy without my help.” Turning to one of his courtiers the King commented “Let the boy win his spurs.”
    The French chivalry made repeated attempts to charge up the slope, only to come to grief among the horses and men brought down by the barrage of arrows. King Edward’s five cannon trundled forward and added their fire from the flank of the English position.
    The emblem and motto of King John of Bohemia; blind and elderly at the time of the Battle of Creçy, King John rode into battle flanked by two of his knights, his horse strapped to their’s. All the members of the King’s party died in the battle.
    In the course of the battle John, the blind King of Bohemia, riding at the Black Prince’s position, was struck down with his accompanying knights.
    The struggle continued far into the night. At around midnight King Philip abandoned the carnage, riding away from the battlefield to the castle of La Boyes. Challenged as to his identity by the sentry on the wall above the closed gate the King called, bitterly, “Voici la fortune de la France” and was admitted.
    The battle ended soon after the King’s departure, the surviving French knights and men-at-arms fleeing the battlefield. The English army remained in its position for the rest of the night.
    In the morning the Welsh and Irish spearmen moved across the battlefield murdering and pillaging the wounded, sparing only those that seemed worth a ransom.
    King Edward III greeting the Black Prince after the Battle of Creçy
    Casualties: English casualties were trifling, suggesting that few of the French knights reached the English line. French casualties are said to have been 30,000, including the Kings of Bohemia and Majorca, the Duke of Lorraine, the Count of Flanders, the Count of Blois, eight other counts and three archbishops.
    Follow-up: Following the battle King Edward III marched his army north to Calais and besieged the town. It took the English a year to take Calais due to its resolute defence.
    The disaster at Creçy left the French king unable to come to the aid of this important French port.
    Anecdotes and traditions:
    • The Battle of Creçy established the six foot English yew bow as the dominant battlefield weapon of the time.
    • The French army followed the Oriflamme, a sacred banner lodged in times of peace in the church of St Denis to the West of Paris, but brought out in times of war to lead the French into battle.
    • After the battle, the Black Prince, according to tradition, adopted the emblem of the King of Bohemia, the three white feathers, and his motto “Ich Dien” (I serve); still the emblem of the Prince of Wales.
    • Stone cannon balls were found on the battlefield in 1850 confirming the use by the English of the 5 pieces of artillery in the battle.
    • The French went into battle with the cry “God and St Denis”. The English battle cry was “God and St George.”
    • The English took 80 French standards in the battle. On the following day the display of standards was taken by the French country folk as indicating that the French army had prevailed. They gathered at Creçy only to be pillaged and murdered by Edward’s foot soldiers.
    • Raoul, Count of Eu, the Constable of France, spent several years in captivity in England. During that time he took an enthusiastic part in the festivities at court, particularly the jousting. Word got back to the French king. On his return Raoul was tried for treason and beheaded.
    • The Hundred Years War by Robin Neillands.
    • British Battles by Grant.
    Enkidu likes this.
  17. Mr.Bond

    Mr.Bond Big Ass Dog

    The power of the long bow.
  18. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    While Henry V is my favorite Shakespeare play (I mean really, who doesn't love the St. Crispin's Day speech?), and obviously it recounts the tale of the Battle of Agincourt, I actually think I was aware of the battle of Crecy first. Indeed, even with Henry V, reference is made to the Battle of Crecy:

    Act II, Secene VI:

    KING OF FRANCE Think we King Harry strong;
    And, princes, look you strongly arm to meet him.
    The kindred of him hath been flesh'd upon us;
    And he is bred out of that bloody strain
    That haunted us in our familiar paths:
    Witness our too much memorable shame
    When Cressy battle fatally was struck,
    And all our princes captiv'd by the hand
    Of that black name, Edward, Black Prince of Wales;
    Whiles that his mountain sire, on mountain standing,
    Up in the air, crown'd with the golden sun,
    Saw his heroical seed, and smiled to see him,
    Mangle the work of nature and deface
    The patterns that by God and by French fathers
    Had twenty years been made. This is a stem
    Of that victorious stock; and let us fear
    The native mightiness and fate of him.
    Dave76 likes this.
  19. Dave76

    Dave76 Deheuol Gwyn Dragon

    They controlled the power of the bow by the ratio of hardwood to softwood. Having 'tried' to fire a 120lb bow and only hitting a stationary target 15mt or just shy of 50ft away on the extreame outer edge I can testify to the difficulty of handling one of these bad boys. But in saying that, common sense says that you obviously wouldn't have started at that weight setting to learn and that most of those medievil archers would have grown up shooting and progressivly adjusted to heavier more powerful bows.
  20. Dave76

    Dave76 Deheuol Gwyn Dragon

    Ok, that's just showing off.

    One day, I will find something he doesn't allready know of.......
    Oh crap!
    I'm still typing....:eek: arghhhh!:eek:
    Enkidu likes this.
  21. Enkidu

    Enkidu Destroyer of your martial arts fantasies

    I still remember being like 11 or 12 and being at the library with my dad. He ran into the dad of friend of mine. The dad was a bit of a douche and considered himself a genius. He and my dad got into one of those "the kids these days" discussions. The douche dad tried to prove his point about how little kids these days know about history by asking me whether I knew the importance of the year 1066. I answered yes, and didn't expound upon it. He then made the mistake of trying to push me to make me prove it.

    So I told him it was the Battle of Hastings and then explained the tactical errors made by the English. I then turned the questioning on him and asked if he knew the significance of various years in which important historical battles were fought (including the Battle of Crecy). When he could answer none of them, I told him the answers and finished up with "don't fuck with me on military history." My dad was actually quite proud, lol.
    dmach likes this.

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