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Old April 5th, 2017, 06:02 AM   #11

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Is that actually a group? Not just a still from a bad show, or some CGI wargamer image?.
http://www.battle1066.com/intro.shtml

http://www.battle1066.com/saxpic.shtml

Last edited by Dan Howard; April 5th, 2017 at 06:04 AM.
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Old April 5th, 2017, 07:38 AM   #12

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Ah, I thought I remembered that site! Really awful pictures...

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Old April 8th, 2017, 01:09 PM   #13
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Is that actually a group? Not just a still from a bad show, or some CGI wargamer image?

Nice thing about it is that we can easily run some cables around the whole mess to contain them, then shrink-wrap for safe disposal.

Matthew
Is Dan trying to be funny? That's a scene from the 1969 movie "Alfred the Great". The finally of the movie covers the Battle of Eddington. For the time it was an attempt to more accurately portray the era. To a certain extent it achieves that. Well compared to the bad Hollywood movies of the era, it is a success in something more authentic.
Alfred's followers emerge from the mashes to rally his people and fight the Danes. Seemingly they have poor quality shields due to their desperate circumstances. In this movie Alfred uses a variation of the "hollow square" to the fight the Danes. Which is historically unlikely.
It probably simply came down to Alfred rallying his people to a conventional slogging match with the Danes. And having the greater number, and convincing them to the virulent fight.
The Danes had gambled on their opponents not being so determined. And this had worked so far, but in this case it didn't.
The dichotomy of this movie is a bit different. Usually the Danes are portrayed as hairy barbarians. In this movie they are portrayed as brutally militaristic. Which is a little closer to the truth. In the case of the Saxons they are portrayed as farm boys, who'd rather be milking their cows. This was probably not that far from the truth either.
Overall this movie is good, although it has faults. Today it even looks unique! I wish I had the DVD. In this movie, the dark ages is indeed dark! With some rays of sunshine occasionally.
It also has the obligatory religious argument.
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Old April 8th, 2017, 01:52 PM   #14

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Thanks for the correction. I thought they were pics from the reenactment group.
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Old April 8th, 2017, 08:45 PM   #15
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Thanks for the correction. I thought they were pics from the reenactment group.
Ah I see! A web page comments on the Battle of Eddington, with a number of pics from the movie. And terms the formation a "shield wall". In this case the formation would either be described as hollow square or 'orb'. Only in this case a triangle.
Historically the this type of formation only made a comeback many centuries later. The seminal case being "the battle of the golden spurs", were Flemish commoners routed the flower of French knighthood.
This idea sent shock waves through Europe. That passibly equipped and trained footmen could defeat the heavy mounted knight, which until then had owed the battlefield. And we soon see the use of the orb by Scots footman. The English turning to the bow armed commoner. The rise of the Swiss commoner who seems to have also used the hollow square on occasion.
The French stuck with the knight and the mercenary. Sensibly deciding that their armed commoners, would be more dangerous to the nobility than foreign invader. Next minute the rising wealth and education of commoners would see them in committee meetings, turning the 'feudal' order on its head.
Basically the formation was designed to prevent outflanking by cavalry. And after this, the infantry arm rose in importance in the 14th century.

Interesting movie if you can get hold of it.
Alfred the Great (1969) - IMDb

The hand weapons appear authentic. Unfortunately the Danes are uniformly armored in some type scale armor. With late Roman pattern helmets, with both nasal and nape guard. Which seems to belong to a conical helmet of a later era. Their clothing is dark.
The Saxons wear bright colors. But have some strange useless armor of sparsely fitted scales.
This movie continues with a dichotomy that is historically unrealistic. The theme to illustrate a "clash of cultures". The best arms were being made in Germany for the Franks. And Danes or Saxons either bought these, or contented themselves with cheaper local copies.
However the battle scenes are reasonably good and features vistas of formations moving into battle that appear authentic. This probably owes to the growing British wargamer culture of the time and their magazines.

Today we've gone backwards, with 'Vikings' having the Danes madly maneuvering around the battlefield. In a fashion that would place the most expert light infantry out of puff. Maybe this is due to a decline in literacy? Which is ironic since Alfred began the tradition of the literate English layman!

In the movie while a fugitive, Alfred steals into a monastery. And views manuscript illustrations of the Greeco-Roman use of the hollow square. And then cooks up his surprise for the Danes.
Although historically the surprise for the Danes, was that the English found their backbones. They simply stood up to the bully!
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Old April 9th, 2017, 07:39 AM   #16

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Ah I see! A web page comments on the Battle of Eddington, with a number of pics from the movie. And terms the formation a "shield wall". In this case the formation would either be described as hollow square or 'orb'. Only in this case a triangle.
It's a "boar's snout" formation, a wedge designed to break through an enemy line. Many other cultures employed it, though it is not common, probably because it took some skill and discipline. Isn't there a literary reference to Alfred using this formation at that particular battle? I have seen it illustrated in book from the 1960s or 70s, and the implication was that it was a documented event.

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Historically the this type of formation only made a comeback many centuries later. The seminal case being "the battle of the golden spurs", were Flemish commoners routed the flower of French knighthood.
This idea sent shock waves through Europe. That passibly equipped and trained footmen could defeat the heavy mounted knight, which until then had owed the battlefield. And we soon see the use of the orb by Scots footman. The English turning to the bow armed commoner. The rise of the Swiss commoner who seems to have also used the hollow square on occasion.
Shield walls or phalanxes or simple lines of men were how infantry fought for thousands of years. The Flemings' defeat of the French was indeed a shocker, but they were in fortified positions at Courtrai. It was not the first time infantry had stood against cavalry, by any means, nor was it some innovation in raising armies, which had always included a minority of nobility backed by far larger numbers of commoners, whether levied or mercenary.

As for that Alfred the Great movie, everything I'm seeing in those stills is a travesty. Unfortunately, your description of it isn't raising my opinion of its historical content...

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Old April 10th, 2017, 12:02 AM   #17
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It's a "boar's snout" formation, a wedge designed to break through an enemy line. Many other cultures employed it, though it is not common, probably because it took some skill and discipline. Isn't there a literary reference to Alfred using this formation at that particular battle? I have seen it illustrated in book from the 1960s or 70s, and the implication was that it was a documented event.



Shield walls or phalanxes or simple lines of men were how infantry fought for thousands of years. The Flemings' defeat of the French was indeed a shocker, but they were in fortified positions at Courtrai. It was not the first time infantry had stood against cavalry, by any means, nor was it some innovation in raising armies, which had always included a minority of nobility backed by far larger numbers of commoners, whether levied or mercenary.

As for that Alfred the Great movie, everything I'm seeing in those stills is a travesty. Unfortunately, your description of it isn't raising my opinion of its historical content...

Matthew
Well, I have seen the movie many times. They form a hollow triangle which remains stationary. The Danes then advance downhill at them in some great phalanx. With the Danes flanks enveloping the Saxon formation. Both sides suffer casualties, with the Danes retreating and then charging again.
The Danes receive reinforcements and the Saxons are very depleted.
Two messengers hide under dead bodies and escape the battlefield. These rally peasants and monks to Alfred's cause, who take any improvised weapon. These come and fill up the inside of the hollow triangle.
I don't believe there was any assault formation that was literally a triangle. What is known of the Romans might give some insight. Generally the Roman cohort formed a rank 20 men across with files 4 men deep. There would be a second line of such cohorts.
However in the case of an all out attack each second file of 4 men would fall behind another. Resulting in a cohort with 10 men across and files, 8 men deep. These second line units would then join the front line. This formation would appear deeper than its width. As it advanced the middle men would make the most ground with the flanks falling slightly behind. This would give the wedge appearance. It seems typically, Barbarian infantry adopted the latter formation. And most likely this continued with the Saxons and Danes. But I don't believe it was structurally a wedge.

Well, the Saxons and Danes were behind the Franks in the innovation of cavalry. However with all Saxons and Danes fighting on foot. This meant the better armed and motivated men would be in the front rank, inspiring the lesser men behind them.
With the Franks, the better men would be fighting separately as cavalry. Leaving them with phalanxes purely of peasant men. It was not unknown for Frankish cavalry to dismount and stiffen the foot.
Give the film a break! It was a good effort in authenticity at the time. This was against a background of such hollywood epics as "Prince Valiant 1954", with its horned helmet Vikings. The "Sword of Lancelot 1963". In this the Saxon nobles Hengist and Horsa, join Mordred's cavalry charge. With couched lances of 15th century design. A comical scene of some of Mordred's Saxons standing in rank, pin cushioned by arrows, only to fall down later. Not that I didn't enjoy these movies!
Better to some extent, "The Vikings 1958". "Spartacus 1960". "The Warlord 1965", with Chuck's convincing Norman knight.
But compared with these, I'd still say "Alfred the Great 1969" was an attempt at breaking new ground with some historical authenticity.
Better still was James Clavell's "The Last Valley 1970". A 10 million dollar labor of love, which is hard to fault. And outstanding still to this day.
The bonus with these old movies, is fantastic soundtracks.
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Old April 10th, 2017, 06:20 AM   #18

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... They form a hollow triangle which remains stationary.
That's hillarious!

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...The Danes receive reinforcements and the Saxons are very depleted.
Two messengers hide under dead bodies and escape the battlefield. These rally peasants and monks to Alfred's cause, who take any improvised weapon. These come and fill up the inside of the hollow triangle.
Well, not to be spending my whole day dissing the movie, and NOT trying to say that you should not like it, but that all sounds like the opposite of how things would have been done in reality.

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I don't believe there was any assault formation that was literally a triangle.
Wedges and triangles are well-documented in a number of armies. Also variations like the Roman "saw" formation, apparently a line of smaller wedges made to crowd the enemy, and used to defeat Boudica's army.

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What is known of the Romans might give some insight. Generally the Roman cohort formed a rank 20 men across with files 4 men deep. There would be a second line of such cohorts.
However in the case of an all out attack each second file of 4 men would fall behind another. Resulting in a cohort with 10 men across and files, 8 men deep. These second line units would then join the front line. This formation would appear deeper than its width. As it advanced the middle men would make the most ground with the flanks falling slightly behind. This would give the wedge appearance.
I don't think there is good evidence for ANY of that. We know surprisingly little about the depth of Roman formations, etc.

Anyway, if you like old flicks like that, fine! They just aren't my thing. And they seriously are not history, nor historical.

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Old April 10th, 2017, 11:17 PM   #19
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That's hillarious!
Well no, it is essentially a hollow square. The Danes conveniently charged it, so the Saxons could remain where they were.

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Wedges and triangles are well-documented in a number of armies. Also variations like the Roman "saw" formation, apparently a line of smaller wedges made to crowd the enemy, and used to defeat Boudica's army.
Yes, of course. But to what precisely are they referring to?

Old WRG sported the illustration of a formation with like one in the front rank, two in the second rank, three in the third rank. In the end, Phil Barker began to doubt the concept.
Personally I suspect it is purely ordinary formations charging vigorously. In the case of Boudica, the Romans engaged in an all out attack, with little defensive rear line. It was trained professionals charging amateurs, whose skills had declined in the Roman occupation. Fighting a stand up battle against the Romans tended to prove disastrous.
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Old November 5th, 2017, 01:24 AM   #20
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Well I saw the film, the story was ridiculous in places. It looked good, had a good soundtrack. But ridiculous!!! The film wasn't un-entertaining either, it didn't bore me. And it was a long enough film. But ridiculous!
Near film end, Vladimir and his Viking mercenaries siege Byzantine Chersonesos. They are attacked by Pechenegs led by an opposing Russ chieftain. The viking skiffs for some strange reason are parked on top of a hill. Vladimir is under pressure from the horse archer tactics. Vlad and his Vikings push the boats that slide down hill, and they man them like Elephant howdah's. This defeats the Pechenegs! Novel approach!
The 'Berserkir' scene. The Berserkir is 'armed' with some soma like brew. Joakim Nätterqvist then completes the process with a "Three Stooges" style set of face slaps. The enraged Berserkir then thunders to battle. So this is how they did it?
Another secret viking weapon along with boats that fight land battles and bring horse archers to grief. The horse archer being one of the greatest weapons of pre-gunpowder battle-fields. And even sticking around to do some damage after this.
The nude shots of Irina Demidkina are a definite bonus! A purist might claim, needless sexploitation!
Looks like the director had some good if sometimes ridiculous footage. As if he chewed up the budget and hoped the footage would get him more investment money, which never came.
Some things needed to be re-shot. More scenes to get a better sense of drama.
Ultimately the film looks bizarre. Indeed, among the most bizarre films I've seen on a serious historical epic theme.
"I was a teenage viking". The sin-tally is awesome!
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