Have folks who bash Hollywood tactics for Medieval Warfare actually seen much cinema? I seen many films, a lot esp old ones are historically accurate!

Bullshidog

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I watched Lancelot and Guinevere starring Cornel Wilde yesterday and i the first major battle show....... The armies of King Arthur led by Cornel Wilde as Lancelot hid their entire army in the forest behind trees and bushes covered in cut down leaves..... By the time they attacked they had fully placed their troops n strategic positions and the first few barrages of arrows had thron the enemy barbarians in panick.

By the 6th volley, it as over for the barbarians because cavalry suddenly came out of nowhere to attack the aggravated and impatient barbarians as they attempted to follow the direction of the arrows. Followed by infantry suddenly coming from concealments and holding of the barbarians eyeing for the lines of archers.

One more hidden formation of cavalry charged and hit the barbarians from the side. The barbarian army gets slaughtered in the first contact and a lot of the army flees in terror.

The final battle of the movie has Lancelot attack Morderd's army. The battle starts out with the cavalry attacking each other. Lancelot's troops win the cavalry skirmish due to being more armored and having lances over Morded's spears which were at the size for hunting........

What surprised me most was rather than chasing Morded's army in the manner people always criticize Medieval movies or showing chaotic combat, Lancelot instead orders his archers to shoot down a lot of Mordred's retreating cavalry. Mordred tries to react by sendig archers to counter attack. But Lancelot sends n heavy infantry with shields in front of the archers. They form a whole turtle from top too bottom out of shields and ere basically immune to the arrows of Mordred's archers. By sending the infantry in front, Lancelot blocked the locaton of his archers rom Mordred and Mordred could not accurately aim to hurt Lancelot's archers. IN addition Lancelot's archers had placed in stakes, some wooden blocks including a few palisades, etc prior to the battle and these seem to protect them from the arrows esp when combined with the turtle of sword and shield infantry in a phalanx.

Eventually Lancelot orders his infantry to advance like a turtle n the phalanx and they get unharmed while marching on from range attacks. They meet Mordred's infantry and clash while Lancelot sends in his cavalry to attack the archers and then hit the infantry from behind. He then chases the remnants o Mordred's army including the heavily battered cavalry unit with his still fresh knights and demolishes them killing Mordred in the process.

This is one example but I seen too many to list. From the opening battle of Lion In the Winter where a cavalry charge was done against a marching square block of troops with shields and long spears that results in a clash where the spear and shield troops thought victory was guaranteed........ Until suddenly out of nowhere they get hit by an unseen cavalry formation that suddenly comes from a hill at their unprotected backs and thus get slaughtered!!!!! Dragonheart's penultimate battle was won by luring knights into a forest where suddenly they found themselves surrounded by the newly trained spearmen by Bowen and most of them get squashed by a pincer movement while also getting shot by archers Bowen placed on top of trees prior to the battle with only the evil antagonist king escaping with a few bodyguards. The 1950s Ivanhoe basically showed the Normans shieldwalls trying to attack Robin Hood's archers but forced back into a retreat into their castle as nonstop barrage of arrows became overwhelming in a panick despite suffering no casualties. Because they were far too few in comparison to the troops Robin Hood had gathered. Some obscure movie about the Mongol invasion of Europe ith Anita Ekerg as top billing showed European armies attempting to fight in combined arms and square blocks with organization even though the Mongol army slaughtered them in a counter attack during the siege right after the Europeans breached the fortress walls by creating an opening with Siege equipment and were sending troops to enter in. The Europeans ultimately won by using Mongol overconfidence and luring them near a lake where they used scare tactics like burning the nearby woods to cause a panick that led to lots of the Mongol army to drown to death or get burned alive followed by a cavalry counterattack to finish of the remnants.

Not to mention Alexander Nevsky showed the Teutons fighting like the Romans with advance stuff like rotating worn troops with fresh ones and surprise ambushes at marching Russians, thrown javelin volleys, etc The Russians won because they themselves were using walls of pike blocks and after prolonged fighting they attacked from the sides with fresh reserve. The Teuton army wasn't even destroyed from the Russian flanking movement but because they were pushed back to a part of the frozen river that had thin ice surface (which was a calculated move by Lord Nevsky planned days before the battle).

So I really have to ask if all the criticism towards Hollywood in general about showing Medieval Warfare as chaotic melees and never showing organized battles like square formations on he march or more complex use of the environment is really unwarranted? Considering in Robin an Marian the Sherrif refused to enter the forest to fight Sean Connery as Robin Hood because he felt they'd be easy pickings for Robin's archers and in another Robin Hood move Errol Flynn had to sneak into the castle disguised as priests because the Men of Sherwood lacked the siege equipment needed to take the capitol (as well as to show King Richard who accompanied the attack was alive so most defenders wouldn't fight the Sherwood archers)............

Are the makers of cinema far more knowledgeable about accurate tactics like Pikemen combined with crossbowmen and archers internet circlejerk give them credit for? Not just Hollywood but it seems esp in European cinema like the Cornel Wilde Lancelot movie, they seem aware that Medieval Warfare was not primarily individualistic fighting despite all the criticism frequently posted online esp at reddit!

I mean the fact Alexander Nevsky shows the Teutons dong Roman era stuff like rotating fighting troops with fresh troops and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (the Kevin Costner one) showed the Sheriff actually wiping out the Sherwood fortress in the only major battle shown onscreen by combining disorganized barbarian mercenaries with organized infantry tactics including appropriate use of fire to burn down the woods............

Why is there so much angry rants online always bashing cinema for portraying Medieval warfare as individual duels and chaotic? It seems the opposite esp when you see organized warfare and complex tactics in forgotten titles like Robin and Marian!
 

Buka

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I'll see your Hoo boy and raise you a wow
I'll see your wow and....

The thing is, "history", as we know it, is how it's reported. The people reporting it are usually writing it.

When you add the subject of history as shown in the movies.....it starts with a monetary green light for the film. Then the hiring of a screenwriter to pick and choose the reported sections of said history, and write them in a somewhat entertaining fashion.......which will usually be rewritten by another writer - or, at the director's say so, be tweaked for either the sake of story (story, NOT history) or for ease in filming and editing.

In battle/action scenes, unless they are THE major battle scenes, the assistant director and his crew are going to be filming the smaller ones, so there's more hands in the pie.

Then ship it to the editor. Really good editing can make or break a film. The whole business of movies is enormously difficult.

And when you cut corners or hire idiots, you get the tragedy that befell the recent Alec Baldwin film. And people damn well better be drummed out of the business and go to jail for that tragic horror show.

I'll see your wow and raise you a yikes.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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So I really have to ask if all the criticism towards Hollywood in general about showing Medieval Warfare as chaotic melees and never showing organized battles like square formations on he march or more complex use of the environment is really unwarranted?
Are you referring to a specific criticism here? Without knowing what criticism you're referring to we can't really respond to it. Or we can just bring up specific movies that are different than the movies that you mentioned, which have historically inaccurate battles, but that wouldn't get anyone anywhere.
 

Xue Sheng

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I'll see your wow and....

The thing is, "history", as we know it, is how it's reported. The people reporting it are usually writing it.

When you add the subject of history as shown in the movies.....it starts with a monetary green light for the film. Then the hiring of a screenwriter to pick and choose the reported sections of said history, and write them in a somewhat entertaining fashion.......which will usually be rewritten by another writer - or, at the director's say so, be tweaked for either the sake of story (story, NOT history) or for ease in filming and editing.

In battle/action scenes, unless they are THE major battle scenes, the assistant director and his crew are going to be filming the smaller ones, so there's more hands in the pie.

Then ship it to the editor. Really good editing can make or break a film. The whole business of movies is enormously difficult.

And when you cut corners or hire idiots, you get the tragedy that befell the recent Alec Baldwin film. And people damn well better be drummed out of the business and go to jail for that tragic horror show.

I'll see your wow and raise you a yikes.

Every time I see or read someone using a movie as historical evidence I think "Krakatoa, East of Java"..... Krakatoa is actually Northwest of Java
 

lklawson

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I watched Lancelot and Guinevere starring Cornel Wilde yesterday and i the first major battle show....... The armies of King Arthur led by Cornel Wilde as Lancelot hid their entire army in the forest behind trees and bushes covered in cut down leaves..... By the time they attacked they had fully placed their troops n strategic positions and the first few barrages of arrows had thron the enemy barbarians in panick.
Real melee tactics for lines are boring to watch and, though documented, not necessarily easy for fight choreographers to implement or for actors to get right, and even harder for viewers to follow and make sense of.

There's pretty much no incentive for large unit combat scenes to be depicted accurately and lots of reasons not to.

Outside of Cavalry or Bayonet charges, I don't think I've ever seen large unit tactics accurately depicted in any movie or TV show.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

caped crusader

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There is Escrima schools which teach in their weapon systems Middle age weapons. Bill Newman (EWTO) teaches it.
 

drop bear

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Real melee tactics for lines are boring to watch and, though documented, not necessarily easy for fight choreographers to implement or for actors to get right, and even harder for viewers to follow and make sense of.

There's pretty much no incentive for large unit combat scenes to be depicted accurately and lots of reasons not to.

Outside of Cavalry or Bayonet charges, I don't think I've ever seen large unit tactics accurately depicted in any movie or TV show.

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk

Vikings?
 

lklawson

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There is a great deal of evidence that this is a misunderstanding of what a "Shield Wall" was supposed to be. It seems that most of the time a Shield Wall left spaces between the front line. This allowed for a formation which had regular "pockets" which could be used to pull enemy fighters in and then people behind the shield wall would attack them from 3 sides. There were other configurations which set up the front line as sort of a "zone defense" with groups of fighters ranging from 3-5. The Scots (and I guess the English) were apparently fond of this approach because it would allow the matching of shorter and longer weapons by different men in the formation to isolate and chew up enemy fighters (they seem to have liked to pair a man with a Lochaber Axe along with men using the Broadsword and Targe). There were also front line formations which would have those 3-5 men moving through a pattern, rotating men from front to sides to back, and attacking enemy fighters almost like gears turning with the men being teeth on the gear, apparently it was described as similar to a grinder.

And it's not like these sort of complex front line formations were "secret sauce" that no one else knew about. Any sufficiently organized and experienced "army" was going to use it. Here's an example of Native Americans doing so:

"By this time the Navaho began to come nearer and the Hopi drew up in line ready to meet them. The leader of the Navaho, being mounted on a pony and dressed in a large piece of bayetta (a red European cloth), with not only his but also his pony's body covered, rode up to the Hopi. After saying something to them, which, however, history has failed to record, he shot the first arrow into the crowd of the Hopi, without hitting any of them. Hereupon he swung around his pony and (lashed back to his people, who now rushed towards the Hopi, and the battle was opened, The sun had not yet risen. The battle at once became very fierce; the Agave, Snake, Lizzard, Burrowing Owl, and Squash clans took the lead. They were armed with shields, war clubs, tomahawks, etc. They were followed by those fighting with bows and arrows. While the first line served with their shields as a protection, striking, of course, their assailants with their war clubs wherever they had an opportunity, the archers shot into the enemy through the spaces between the warriors in front of them."
-The Traditions of the Hopi by H.R. Voth, 1905; 107, THE LAST FIGHT WITH THE NAVAHO

With the advent of reliable firearms, these tactics began to be replaced with Bayonet methods, and as reliable repeating firearms were introduced the knowledge of these front-line tactics slowly disappeared from common knowledge until now we, ignorant of the earlier tactics, read "shield wall" and assume that it was a bunch of people standing together with shields interlocked. But most of the time it apparently wasn't. And I think you can see why I wrote that it's not necessarily easy for fight choreographers to implement or for actors to get right, and even harder for viewers to follow and make sense of.

From what I've seen, modern reinactors have re-learned a lot of these old tactics (probably from old books at a guess). The Dagorhir and SCA type folks who actually attempt to engage in reinacted large scale melee line combat.

That said, I enjoyed the History Chanel's "Vikings" series, even with all of its many, many inaccuracies. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

caped crusader

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There is a great deal of evidence that this is a misunderstanding of what a "Shield Wall" was supposed to be. It seems that most of the time a Shield Wall left spaces between the front line. This allowed for a formation which had regular "pockets" which could be used to pull enemy fighters in and then people behind the shield wall would attack them from 3 sides. There were other configurations which set up the front line as sort of a "zone defense" with groups of fighters ranging from 3-5. The Scots (and I guess the English) were apparently fond of this approach because it would allow the matching of shorter and longer weapons by different men in the formation to isolate and chew up enemy fighters (they seem to have liked to pair a man with a Lochaber Axe along with men using the Broadsword and Targe). There were also front line formations which would have those 3-5 men moving through a pattern, rotating men from front to sides to back, and attacking enemy fighters almost like gears turning with the men being teeth on the gear, apparently it was described as similar to a grinder.

And it's not like these sort of complex front line formations were "secret sauce" that no one else knew about. Any sufficiently organized and experienced "army" was going to use it. Here's an example of Native Americans doing so:

"By this time the Navaho began to come nearer and the Hopi drew up in line ready to meet them. The leader of the Navaho, being mounted on a pony and dressed in a large piece of bayetta (a red European cloth), with not only his but also his pony's body covered, rode up to the Hopi. After saying something to them, which, however, history has failed to record, he shot the first arrow into the crowd of the Hopi, without hitting any of them. Hereupon he swung around his pony and (lashed back to his people, who now rushed towards the Hopi, and the battle was opened, The sun had not yet risen. The battle at once became very fierce; the Agave, Snake, Lizzard, Burrowing Owl, and Squash clans took the lead. They were armed with shields, war clubs, tomahawks, etc. They were followed by those fighting with bows and arrows. While the first line served with their shields as a protection, striking, of course, their assailants with their war clubs wherever they had an opportunity, the archers shot into the enemy through the spaces between the warriors in front of them."
-The Traditions of the Hopi by H.R. Voth, 1905; 107, THE LAST FIGHT WITH THE NAVAHO

With the advent of reliable firearms, these tactics began to be replaced with Bayonet methods, and as reliable repeating firearms were introduced the knowledge of these front-line tactics slowly disappeared from common knowledge until now we, ignorant of the earlier tactics, read "shield wall" and assume that it was a bunch of people standing together with shields interlocked. But most of the time it apparently wasn't. And I think you can see why I wrote that it's not necessarily easy for fight choreographers to implement or for actors to get right, and even harder for viewers to follow and make sense of.

From what I've seen, modern reinactors have re-learned a lot of these old tactics (probably from old books at a guess). The Dagorhir and SCA type folks who actually attempt to engage in reinacted large scale melee line combat.

That said, I enjoyed the History Chanel's "Vikings" series, even with all of its many, many inaccuracies. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
done your research .. yeah us Scots kept the Roman Legionnaires out...haha we are just too savage !
 

caped crusader

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plus when Roman soldiers went into their tactics it did not really help them in thick woodland areas of Britain. The marshes and vegetation caused massive problems & cold. The primitive natives used what would be termed Gorilla tactics and wiped out Roman Legions.
Of course a fight in an open field would be different.
 

Tez3

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plus when Roman soldiers went into their tactics it did not really help them in thick woodland areas of Britain. The marshes and vegetation caused massive problems & cold. The primitive natives used what would be termed Gorilla tactics and wiped out Roman Legions.
Of course a fight in an open field would be different.
They used guerrilla tactics too..........as gorillas were in short supply in Scotland, weather too cold and wet.
 
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