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Author Topic: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry  (Read 2443 times)

Offline LouieN

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Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« on: March 29, 2023, 02:54:11 AM »
Hello,

I have been doing some reading on the Crusader Era.  I often come across statements like the one below...

"There Bohemond became familiar with various Byzantine and Muslim strategies, including an encircling strategy used by Turkish forces at the siege of Nicaea. Mounted archers would encircle the crusader force, who would be unable to retaliate using close combat weaponry. Bohemond's familiarity with this Eastern strategy allowed him to adapt quickly, leading to crusader victories through Antioch"

My question is.  What was the counter to the fluid mounted archery found in Eastern armies at this time.  Are there any good books to read up on the tactics?

Just curious

Thanks


Offline Sheikdjerboutiy

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2023, 07:38:02 AM »
They'd form a hollow square, with infantry forming a shieldwall, crossbowmen shooting through the gaps, and the cavalry in the middle. The main danger from the horse archers was not to the knights, but to the horses. Once they judged the horse archers were tired enough, and close enough, and had expended enough of their arrows, the knights would attempt a charge. The turks themselves would take heavy casualties from the crossbowmen, and would usually rout if caught by the knights. They also became more familiar with the feigned retreat, not that this was an unknown tactic, but the turks almost exclusively and constantly used it, knights compared them to flies. The turks werent able to do much to a disciplined army organised in this fashion, as they werent willing or able to fight on even terms, although maintaining discipline and maintaining horses were both isses for the crusaders. The Templars would later be very helpful in maintaining neccessary order in later crusading forces, and would arrange crusaders into Roman style 'centuries', and even adopt testudo formation, as a counter to horse archers on the various marches through anatolia.

Offline DivisMal

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2023, 07:41:32 AM »
They'd form a hollow square, with infantry forming a shieldwall, crossbowmen shooting through the gaps, and the cavalry in the middle. The main danger from the horse archers was not to the knights, but to the horses. Once they judged the horse archers were tired enough, and close enough, and had expended enough of their arrows, the knights would attempt a charge. The turks themselves would take heavy casualties from the crossbowmen, and would usually rout if caught by the knights. They also became more familiar with the feigned retreat, not that this was an unknown tactic, but the turks almost exclusively and constantly used it, knights compared them to flies. The turks werent able to do much to a disciplined army organised in this fashion, as they werent willing or able to fight on even terms, although maintaining discipline and maintaining horses were both isses for the crusaders. The Templars would later be very helpful in maintaining neccessary order in later crusading forces, and would arrange crusaders into Roman style 'centuries', and even adopt testudo formation, as a counter to horse archers on the various marches through anatolia.

Very interesting! I’ve been curious (as LouieN), but lacking a specific project never followed this.

Offline pws

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2023, 08:48:27 AM »
I may suggest:  Steve Tibble | The Crusader Armies: 1099–1187
Nice book
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Online Michi

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2023, 09:37:55 AM »
Wow, that's interesting indeed and a challenge for a trial on the gaming table that could easily be tested with different rule sets.

Table is square according to scale, I suggest 3ft for 20-28mm.

Set up would be a line of crusaders on one table edge from corner to corner - composed of sergeants on foot with mail, helmets and shields locked in a shield wall that provides cover for crossbowmen with helmets between/just behind them (their gambesons will likely not protect from piercing projectiles of horse archery). Both types will add shield/cover to their respective armour of course.

Points wise the attacking archers should be double to quadruple (mind that this experiment is only one side of a square/a quarter of defenders). They should set up on either left or right table edge in range of their bows (well, surely in range of crossbows as well) and move in a radius increasing range towards table center and decreasing again towards opposite edge (they ride in a circle around a square). Once a model leaves the table it shall be replaced on the starting edge again.

I wonder how many rounds it will take to reduce either attackers or defenders to a third of points. This is when I would consider the crusader cavalry to break out and hunt down the attackers ending the experimental game.

Did anybody do that already? I'd be keen to try! God wills it!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2023, 09:46:23 AM by Michi »

Offline DivisMal

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2023, 09:52:32 AM »
Very good idea, Michi! Now I just need to buy and paint a couple of hundred models to try it ;)

Seriously: it is a good idea, maybe even better for smaller scales? Can someone point me to a good source for 15mm crusaders?

Sorry for hijacking this thread…

Offline Osmoses

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2023, 09:59:15 AM »

Seriously: it is a good idea, maybe even better for smaller scales? Can someone point me to a good source for 15mm crusaders?


Blue Moon (via Old Glory) do a very nice and large range in 15mm.

Offline DivisMal

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2023, 10:26:08 AM »
Blue Moon (via Old Glory) do a very nice and large range in 15mm.

Thanks, will have a look!

Edit: very nice range indeed! I also realized that Khurasan has by now an absolutely huge medieval range in their assortment.  :o so it’s rather being spoiled by choices!
« Last Edit: March 29, 2023, 10:30:14 AM by DivisMal »

Offline Maniac

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2023, 03:18:36 PM »
They'd form a hollow square, with infantry forming a shieldwall, crossbowmen shooting through the gaps, and the cavalry in the middle. The main danger from the horse archers was not to the knights, but to the horses. Once they judged the horse archers were tired enough, and close enough, and had expended enough of their arrows, the knights would attempt a charge. The turks themselves would take heavy casualties from the crossbowmen, and would usually rout if caught by the knights. They also became more familiar with the feigned retreat, not that this was an unknown tactic, but the turks almost exclusively and constantly used it, knights compared them to flies. The turks werent able to do much to a disciplined army organised in this fashion, as they werent willing or able to fight on even terms, although maintaining discipline and maintaining horses were both isses for the crusaders. The Templars would later be very helpful in maintaining neccessary order in later crusading forces, and would arrange crusaders into Roman style 'centuries', and even adopt testudo formation, as a counter to horse archers on the various marches through anatolia.

We have reports that still endure of crusaders at the end of a battle being completely unharmed but covered in arrows.  Heavier armor/shield made a square a tough nut to crack, coupled with equivalent range and high armor piercing potential of a crossbow vs a lighter armored horse archer.

If you did run such a scenario, a saving throw of 5+ on a six sider is clearly insufficient.  The crusaders were typically out-maned in almost every battle, and really only tended to loose because they lost discipline/cohesion.  So some way to mimic a that self control would be key as well.
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Offline Sheikdjerboutiy

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2023, 07:50:35 PM »
We have reports that still endure of crusaders at the end of a battle being completely unharmed but covered in arrows.  Heavier armor/shield made a square a tough nut to crack, coupled with equivalent range and high armor piercing potential of a crossbow vs a lighter armored horse archer.

If you did run such a scenario, a saving throw of 5+ on a six sider is clearly insufficient.  The crusaders were typically out-maned in almost every battle, and really only tended to loose because they lost discipline/cohesion.  So some way to mimic a that self control would be key as well.

I actually think that modified WHFB 8th edition rules would work, with its morale rules, and giving the crusaders morale traits where you have to roll to see if they charge every turn, and just giving knights a 2+ armour roll but their horses and serjeants a 3+, if they fail morale while in formation then they charge, and the initial charge gets an additional distance bonus (on the roll of 1 or 2 d6), but if they fail it out of formation then they rout. You might have to give the horse archers multiple attacks to balance it though, and think of a way to represent the fatigue/ability of the horse archers to get out of cqc range. Thats the main problem really, simulating fatigue and a feigned retreat, as its hard to simulate horse archers trying to keep distance (and fatigue) on the table top. Perhaps they get to roll in response to a charge to see how far they can run away, and they get to roll for a penalty to this at the start of every turn to simulate fatigue, it might require keeping close tabs on a lot of units though, which may be too difficult.

Offline Tim Haslam

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2023, 09:41:04 PM »
Or better still, modified WFB 6th edition, otherwise know as WAB!

Military Order knights fail their impetuous test on a roll of 1 or 2.
Perfect!
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Offline Ethelred the Almost Ready

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2023, 02:07:50 AM »
They'd form a hollow square, with infantry forming a shieldwall, crossbowmen shooting through the gaps, and the cavalry in the middle. The main danger from the horse archers was not to the knights, but to the horses. Once they judged the horse archers were tired enough, and close enough, and had expended enough of their arrows, the knights would attempt a charge. The turks themselves would take heavy casualties from the crossbowmen, and would usually rout if caught by the knights. They also became more familiar with the feigned retreat, not that this was an unknown tactic, but the turks almost exclusively and constantly used it, knights compared them to flies. The turks werent able to do much to a disciplined army organised in this fashion, as they werent willing or able to fight on even terms, although maintaining discipline and maintaining horses were both isses for the crusaders. The Templars would later be very helpful in maintaining neccessary order in later crusading forces, and would arrange crusaders into Roman style 'centuries', and even adopt testudo formation, as a counter to horse archers on the various marches through anatolia.

I have only just read a book about the Crusades and this is essentially what I read there, too.  Much of the problem was keeping (Crusader) troops disciplined.  From the little I have read, neither side was really able to inflict many casualties on the other unless one side was taken by surprise, lacked discipline, was hopelessly outnumbered or did something really stupid. 

Offline LouieN

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2023, 05:40:46 PM »
Thank you for the great replies.  Good information. 

I would highly recommend Legio Heorica minis, but I am unsure if they are taking orders. 

Just as a note the Eastern armies were not 100% mounted so there is a some back and force there with the Western units. 

"Egyptian armies of the period relied on masses of Sudanese bowmen supported by Arab and Berber cavalry. Since the archers were on foot and the horsemen awaited attack with lance and sword, an Egyptian army provided exactly the sort of immobile target that the Frankish heavy cavalry excelled in attacking."

Smail, R. C. (1995) [1956]. Crusading Warfare, 1097–1193. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. ISBN 1-56619-769-4.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2023, 05:45:52 PM by LouieN »

Offline OB

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2023, 07:04:46 PM »
I may suggest:  Steve Tibble | The Crusader Armies: 1099–1187
Nice book

Tibble is good, he has a second book too.  Throughout his works he punts the idea that the Turks were just as alien as the Franks to the natives of the Middle East-I don't buy it at all.  That said, on military matters Tibble is very good and up to date in his scholarship.

Blue Moon, Legio Heroica, Outpost and Museum Miniatures work nicely together.  There's a fair bit of Crusades stuff on my blog should you be interested.


Offline DivisMal

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Re: Question: Crusader Era tactics against Eastern Cavalry
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2023, 09:06:56 PM »
I would highly recommend Legio Heorica minis, but I am unsure if they are taking orders. 

Blue Moon, Legio Heroica, Outpost and Museum Miniatures work nicely together.  There's a fair bit of Crusades stuff on my blog should you be interested.

Thank you gents, I will certainly have a look!

 

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