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Gary Teuscher




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Nov, 2008 11:46 am    Post subject: Shield usage         Reply with quote

Have a question, regarding Kite and round shields from the 9th-11th senturies and their usage.

The kite was common strapped on as opposed to the round which was hand held, correct?

I would assume for easier usage on horseback a strapped on shield is a lot handier.

Any indication Kites were able to be used hand held afoot as opposed to strap on?

Does not sprap on or hand held make a difference in usage? I'm just thinking here, but it would seem to me a hand held shield is better offensively - not just for strikes, but also for offensive manuvers to open the other party up, such as levering the other shield out of position. Also it seems it would be tough to deliver an effective strike with a strapped on shield, other than a barging type of attack.

Interested if anyone has used the two varieties and what the +/- of each are.
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David Huggins




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Nov, 2008 1:40 pm    Post subject: Shield usage         Reply with quote

Hi,

I have used both types of shield in re-enactment style combat, and this is only my own observation for what it is worth Laughing Out Loud

On foot ,a kite shield is still utilised strapped on to the arm and not by any method of holding a grip behind the what appears to be a mainly ornamental and small shield boss then those on a round shield.

The kite shield held close to the body with the narrow end down is a great defense, but apart from sweeping the bottom of the 'kite' to strike an opponent or used to deliver blows from a side sweep to an an opponent I find it's use in an offensive nature severely curtailed by the strapping method when compared to the offensive nature of a round shield, by using the boss to strike directly face forward ,or the use of the the shield edge to strike forward to the top or sides of an opponents shield, or as you say use to entrap an opponents shield
To use the kite shield in a more offensive manner, using the the shield edge of the broader end of the kite, I use the shield worn strapped with the broader end pointing down.

No doubt there are more proficient users of the kite shield who will have there own observations on its use on foot., but I find them a bit of a pain!!

best

Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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Gary Teuscher




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Nov, 2008 2:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Were the "heater" type shields strapped on as well?

I would think in mass formation a strapped on would be fine (Hoplon for instance), but not as good for 1 on 1 or similar.

Maybe that is why the buckler was a popular dueling option for knights and others even after the age of the round shield had passed?
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Nov, 2008 2:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my experience, kites and heaters give much better controll of the shield. While you can move the round shield more, the shield is prone to tipping when hit or moved quickly.
The strapped on shield, however, stays in place even when pushed, and you can strike or push with your body weight.
It is also easier to carry the straped on shield in the ready position for extended periods of time.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Nov, 2008 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The shields with enarmes I call a passive defense. Because it is held solidly, it protects the users simply by it's presence. An opponent would naturally seek a target that isn't behind a layer of wood, would he not? The curve allows it to protect more surface area of the body as opposed to a flat shield, which only actually protects a small tangent of the body.

An active defense involves moving the shield, and the large round shield can do this easily. The center grip allows it to be rotated around the handle and used to leverage your opponents weapon and shield.

See this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8SRaa33otU

M.

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2008 2:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Remember that enarmed kites obsoleted round shields more or less completely after their introduction. This would lead us to asume that they where actually (if nothing else considered) better than the round shield.

To answer the question of center griped kites/heaters, there are several sources on shields that are hand held. This is however in adition to the regular arm straps, and is done by gathering the straps in one hand, or having a strap on the centre of the shield.
My late 13th/14th c. cavalry heater has one of these "center straps". It is copied from a manuscript dated ca 1250. Occationally, you can see pictures or effigies where knights have their shields hanging from the belt. This wold be done by passing the "centre grip" loop over the top of the scabbard similar to how you carry a buckler.

However, the shield is quite unstable when used like this.

Most of the sources on kites/heaters held in centre grip is from sieges or similar situations, where they are used to cover the head from missiles.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Gary Teuscher




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2008 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Remember that enarmed kites obsoleted round shields more or less completely after their introduction. This would lead us to asume that they where actually (if nothing else considered) better than the round shield.


My only concerns with this statement - better at what? Set piece formation fighting, one on one, or what? As the buckler survived as a dueling tyoe shield, I wonder if the round's strengths were more in one on one situations.

The other thing is that obsoleting another does not always mean better, could very well mena the predominant style.

For horse I would agree that a strap on shield was better than a hand held one though.

Is it just coincidence that the heater became the "en vogue" shield style as leg protection became more common?
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2008 8:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Remember that enarmed kites obsoleted round shields more or less completely after their introduction. This would lead us to asume that they where actually (if nothing else considered) better than the round shield.


The round shield existed long after the kite shield was no longer used. Round shields were a mainstay in Italy and Spain, and probably several other countries, throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, and to some extent even the 18th century (the Scottish targe being only one example).

The problem with discussing shield techniques is that there is only a small amount of historical evidence on what was actually done. Speculation based on experimentation is fine, but we should be careful that we don't assume this speculation is fact.

The video from the Hammaborg guys demonstrating Viking shield combat that is linked above is quite good, but even they fully admit that the techniques are based off of extrapolation from later medieval styles (15th century German duelling shields) combined with study of period art. That's an excellent step towards reconstruction, because it is based on techniques used when swordsmanship was still a living art (and in my opinion leaps and bounds better than just sparring and "figuring it out"), but even this method holds a level of speculation, since we still don't actually know for certain if this is how Vikings actually fought.

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--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2008 9:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my experience, infantry kites and heaters do a better job at defending the legs than a round shield. Round shields are more vounrable to high/low feints and similar tactics, because they have no corners with which to stop a blade sliding around the side of the shield.
Small heaters, of course, have the same problem: My 60x60 cm heater (the one in the picture in my last post) is quite vounerable to high lows as well. My 60x90 heater is pretty much high low resistant.

If the shield is your primary defence, you want it to cover as much of you as practically posible. The viking/migration age round shields that have been found where all 80 cm in diameter or larger, often as large as 110cm.
Now, since most people are not 100cm across the shoulders, quite a lot of this shield will be sticking "left over".
If you take your fighting stance, face the enemy, and remove everything but the bit that is actually covering YOU, you will be left with something quite similar to a kite; It covers you from the leg to the eyes with a minimum of "surplus" wood.
This means that you have a more optimized, and a lot more handy shield, that is lighter, more controllable and easier to carry than a round shield with a similar amount of coverage.
The heater basically adds more safety margins. It is broader at the top, to protect the face better, and at the botom, to stop low blows from the sides more easily.
This kind of heater is still quite large, and still very much an infantry shield.
Then, in the 13th century, shields start to shrink, as professional, heavily armoured feudal troops start to relly on two handed polearms to defeat armour, and the shield becomes an acessory rather than a primary defence.

The kite is often described as a horsemans shield. However, it originated as a byzantine infantry shield, and is just as common in the hands of infantry in depictions. For cultural reasons, there is a huge increase in the persentage of cavalry in depictions from the 11th century on, so most of kites seen will be used by cavalry, but that is because most of the PICTURES show cavalry.

Cavalrymen usually have their shields hanging on their shoulders by the guige (carrying strap), with their hand free to hold the reins. They may or may not have an arm strap in place as well. If you have the guige placed corectly, it will follow the movement of the body quite well. An arm strap, like the one on my shield, will let you lift the shield to cover you face as well. (I am currently experimenting with using the cavalry shield on foot, in conjunction with a twohanded spear or polearm; it seems to be working ok.)

Bucklers are really a class of shields to themselves, and fit in a different bracket. They are made as an acessory to you personal sidearm, and meant to be carried in your day to day life. They are round because it is practical, not because it is better. Later period bucklers are frequently of differnt shapes. (square, asymetrical...)
The Targe and the similar small islamic round shields fall in the same category. They are carried for self defence in a civilian or semi-civilian setting, where the main threat is raiding, and having the shield with you at all times is more important than its size.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Gary Teuscher




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2008 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The video from the Hammaborg guys demonstrating Viking shield combat that is linked above is quite good, but even they fully admit that the techniques are based off of extrapolation from later medieval styles (15th century German duelling shields) combined with study of period art. That's an excellent step towards reconstruction, because it is based on techniques used when swordsmanship was still a living art (and in my opinion leaps and bounds better than just sparring and "figuring it out"), but even this method holds a level of speculation, since we still don't actually know for certain if this is how Vikings actually fought.


Yeah, I've seen that video before. Shows some real interesting ways a round shield could be used offensively, though as you mention it is somewhat of an educated guess. It does show more versatility offensively than a strapped on shield, though I'm not sure if some of the techniques would have been as effective against a kite armed apponent. as it would seem tougher to lever the shield out of position, though IMO binding a kite shield could still be effective.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2008 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
It does show more versatility offensively than a strapped on shield, though I'm not sure if some of the techniques would have been as effective against a kite armed apponent. as it would seem tougher to lever the shield out of position, though IMO binding a kite shield could still be effective.


Actually, the 16th century Bolognese material with the rotella (a round, strapped shield) shows quite a lot of similarity with only a few biomechanical differences. I'm not the most well versed in that, but you can find some excellent information on the website for The Order of the Seven Hearts. This is the page on Bolognese Swordsmanship: http://www.salvatorfabris.com/SectionBolognese.shtml

On that page you'll find an excellent PDF by Steve Reich that distills down the actions of sword and rotella from that system. You'll probably need to do a little more reading in order to understand the terms, but most of the information is in the articles on that site.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2008 10:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You should read my post the following thread if you have not already:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=14733

The basic approach that I find most useful to shield use is to consider what it covers while on guard and what it does not. Then you have to consider how you will defend those areas not covered.... shield movement, sword blocking, distancing...

When a shieldman is well trained in the use of a particular shield it seems to an opponent like almost everything is covered. Likewise when a shieldman lacks experience the shield seems to cover almost nothing and is in the way of his own offense.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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