Advantages of Using Shield and Full Plate Armor

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
6,866
#31
Getting back to the subject of differently armed troop types working together, it seems to have been done sometimes much earlier as well, for instance this Scottish depiction of a man with a two-handed spear behind a man using only sword and shield.


It does raise the question though of why infantry in antiquity were typically so uniform. Why didn't the Greek phalanx ever get formed out of a mix of hoplites and two-handed pikemen instead of one or the other? Why didn't Roman cohorts include a mix of legionaries and men with pikes or polearms instead of just legionaries?
Maybe because it made formations more complicated and required more training to be effective.
 
Jul 2018
233
London
#33
Getting back to the subject of differently armed troop types working together, it seems to have been done sometimes much earlier as well, for instance this Scottish depiction of a man with a two-handed spear behind a man using only sword and shield.


It does raise the question though of why infantry in antiquity were typically so uniform. Why didn't the Greek phalanx ever get formed out of a mix of hoplites and two-handed pikemen instead of one or the other? Why didn't Roman cohorts include a mix of legionaries and men with pikes or polearms instead of just legionaries?
I don't believe they perceived themselves as uniform. Greeks would have been similarly equipped but every soldier would have looked different from the others (maybe not among the Spartans) and Roman legions had a "grading" system such that the 1st cohort was an elite unit, the 2nd less so etc.
 
Sep 2017
536
United States
#34
I don't believe they perceived themselves as uniform. Greeks would have been similarly equipped but every soldier would have looked different from the others (maybe not among the Spartans) and Roman legions had a "grading" system such that the 1st cohort was an elite unit, the 2nd less so etc.
Yes, it was possible that one hoplite would have a bronze cuirass and the man next to him would only be wearing linen. Though, functionally, they were still the same type of soldier; spear-and-shield equipped line infantry that fought in tight order.

There was also other troop types, like archers, psiloi, and other such non-hoplite infantry.

I believe that Greek states tended to put their 'best' troops on one flank (can't remember if left or right).

The Theban Sacred Band broke this tradition by being placed on the other side when facing the Spartans if I remember correctly.
 
Oct 2013
5,455
Planet Nine, Oregon
#35
The spolas was common form of armour in addition to the cuirasses; it's hotly debated how they were made, but likely made of hide or leather treated in some fashion. Tube & Yoke armour was just a style or configuration of armour that could be made of linen, scale, or leather / hide like the spolas. Some spolioi had combinations of leather / hide and scale portions in certain areas for flexibility. Mentions of linen armour (twined and in layers), are usually mentioned in connection with foreign troops. It is very controversial.
 
Jan 2009
1,179
#36
Something that has been hinted at but not discussed at length is that the fully armored combat often evolves into wrestling (Matthew did mention the example from modern fighting). There is also a question of reach, hitting power and leverage. Not to mention that of you are using a shield, especially a strapped shield, you are in a world of hurt if someone manages to grapple you. Your shield becomes a device to pin your own arm into place, the enemy uses one hand on your weapon wrist, and that leaves him with one hand free to go for his dagger and poke through the eyeslits. Polearm is easy to drop when you need to, and one-handed weapons, swords included, are next to useless at wrestling range. Dagger is the King in those circumstances, and probably accounted for most kills in armored combat.

So your choices are:
Shield and 1H weapon: a bit of added protection you don't really need, an ineffective weapon, and potentially a lethal hindrance in close quarter combat.
Or
Polearm: Great reach, great hitting power (enough to stun a man even in armor or knock him down), versatile in defense and offense (hooking, tripping), easy to switch to wrestling.

Polearm, all the way.
 
Apr 2017
710
U.S.A.
#37
During the 16th century it seems that some armies such as the black army of Hungary did start to incorporate dedicated "shieldbearers" who would wear heavy armor, a large "pavise" or tower shield, and then a one handed weapon of some sort and serve as a sort of mobile wall to help protect the other infantry from missile weapons. In the 1490s Spanish infantry was apparently classified as either "lancers", who cared a small shield and a long lance, and "pavisers" who carried a large shield and a small lance. Presumably shieldbearer infantry started to fall out of favor again as artillery and more powerful handguns became more prevalent and mobility and trenches started to become much more important.
What sort of weapons would these shield bearing troops wield? Also, how were they organized in ranks, was it every other man or were the shield bearers the front ranks?
 
Jan 2009
1,179
#38
What sort of weapons would these shield bearing troops wield? Also, how were they organized in ranks, was it every other man or were the shield bearers the front ranks?
Wikipedia seems to give the gist of it pretty well:
Black Army of Hungary - Wikipedia

The pavise-wielders would make the front line 'fort' with their shields, allowing the rest of the infantry to be protected behind them, just like hborrgg explained.
 
Aug 2014
3,604
Australia
#39
Wikipedia seems to give the gist of it pretty well:
Black Army of Hungary - Wikipedia

The pavise-wielders would make the front line 'fort' with their shields, allowing the rest of the infantry to be protected behind them, just like hborrgg explained.
Yep. It was counterproductive to disrupt the primary formation. Any troops that were equipped differently were nearly always used as a screen along the front or placed at the wings.
 

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