Stratclyde spear

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Andreas Johansson
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Stratclyde spear

Postby Andreas Johansson » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:43 pm

Just out of curiosity, why are the bulk of a Strathclyde army classed as Spears? Their neighbours and enemies (Scots, Picts, Bernicians, Norsemen) are mostly footsloggers, so it seems slightly unexpected they'd be especially good at resisting cavalry, and in a history-based campaign or theme they'd be better off with cheaper Heavy Foot.

Also, absent the historical notes, it's hard to guess exactly who are encompassed by the "etc", but given the allied contingents it evidently includes Armorica before the the Breton list starts, so one assumes that at minimum it includes the rest of the Old North. It accordingly ought be keyworded "Armorican", as well as "Rheged" and "Gododdin"; also "Elmet" unless that counts as Welsh.

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Bill Hupp
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Re: Stratclyde spear

Postby Bill Hupp » Thu Sep 07, 2017 4:34 pm

It is interesting how these armies have been interpreted over time, the Scots going from Spear to Pikes. I'm just starting into reading in this period to figure out how to match our figures (Picts, Welsh, and Scots) to the to types.

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FanatiChris
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Re: Stratclyde spear

Postby FanatiChris » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:52 am

As to why the Brits of Strathclyde are classed as spear is an interesting question to which I've seen several theories posited.

The first theory links the soldiers of the 9th-10th C kingdom to the descendants of the settled Roman limitanei, whose doctrine involved fighting in regular formations. Several of the "nativized" wall garrisons are recorded as still being in place as late as the 6th century. This seems to be the rationale adopted by Phil Barker in the early WRG rules, that carried over into DBA/DBM army lists..and is also reflected in his early treatment of Sub-Roman pedyt. In response, critics site the lack of historical or physical proof, point out that Strathclyde was "beyond the wall" (Hadrian's Wall) and that the true ancestors of the kingdom were the untamed celtic Brits of Alt Clut.

The second theory assumes that the Brits of Strathclyde could ambush, skirmish and wildly charge much like the Scots of Dalraida, the Picts, etc., but since cavalry was also fairly prevalent in the northern British kingdoms and historically among the former Roman frontier forces...they had also learned to form tight defensive formations or "shieldwalls" as a defense against mounted. So the spear classification reflects their ability to fight in close order "shield wall" formations. Critics of this theory suggest these defensive formations were also known to the Scots and Picts (e.g. schiltrons)...so why classify them differently? They also wonder why, if cavalry was such a threat, that the Strathclydes didn't resort to "long spears" like their lowland Scots neighbors.

The third theory denotes that fact that by the 9th/10th century, the Vikings seem to have integrated themselves into the nobility of Strathcylde and that somehow that translated into greater reliance on spears and shields, and tighter, more "shieldwall" like formations among the rank and file of the army...which is interesting given the recent "scholarly" article disclaiming the theory that Vikings fought in shield wall as a standard formation. A variation of this theory is that by the 9th/10th century, Strathclyde had been subject of heavy raiding by the Scots, Picts and Saxons for hundreds of years, and being forced into a defensive mindset, had evolved toward more defensive (i.e. shieldwall) formations.

The common denominator of all the theories seems to be they fought in close formations or "shieldwalls" for defense and let their cavalry do the charging....hence they're more like spears than warband/warriors or other light foot.. But as best I can tell, its all based on surmise and little real evidence.

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David Kuijt
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Re: Stratclyde spear

Postby David Kuijt » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:18 am

Andreas Johansson wrote:Just out of curiosity, why are the bulk of a Strathclyde army classed as Spears? Their neighbours and enemies (Scots, Picts, Bernicians, Norsemen) are mostly footsloggers, so it seems slightly unexpected they'd be especially good at resisting cavalry, and in a history-based campaign or theme they'd be better off with cheaper Heavy Foot.


Hey Andreas,

Sorry, I had missed this post -- I was in Boston (MIT) at the Robotics Science and Systems conference that week and way busy.

Your arguments make sense; we'll take a look at it next time we get a chance. There is a grey area here in that Strathclyde foot would know a lot about how their strong mounted arm fought, and could be expected to know quite a bit about how best to resist them -- so even though Strathclyde opponents are mostly footsloggers, their own foot might be more effective against (and tuned to fighting) mounted due to experience training with their horsemen. But I take your point regarding the campaign/theme issue as well (it seems like points wasted).
DK

Andreas Johansson
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Re: Stratclyde spear

Postby Andreas Johansson » Mon Sep 18, 2017 6:07 am

Thanks for the reply. 8-)


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