Lances fournies organization

Apr 2017
1,678
U.S.A.
A Lances fournies was a medieval type of military organization that varied by country/region.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lances_fournies
Many of them were based around an armored horsemen with support personnel but some also included mounted archers. My question being how would these archers function in battle? Did they ride with the armored horseman or did they function in a different unit? If they were part of a missile unit then what's the purpose of them being in the same Lance fournies as the armored troops?
 
Apr 2018
282
USA
When it comes to the French ordinance "archers" anyways, most of them didn't actually use bows in the first place and instead fought as light lancers, many even ended up being pretty well armored themselves.

I suspect that in certain situations a mounted "lance" could fight as a tactical unit as well if it needed to. When skirmishing from horseback the tactics tend to be pretty similar where you're using a lance or a bow: quickly ride up as close to the enemy as possible, then strike with your lance, throw your javelin, or shoot your bow or crossbow, then turn around and gallop away as fast as you can.

Raids and chevauchees during the HYW seem to have generally involve a good mix of knights, lighter horsemen, and mounted archers.
 
Apr 2018
282
USA
They were probably more accurate when shooting on foot, but I highly doubt that they never tried learning to shoot from horseback either.

A longbow would have hardly been the most awkward weapon late medieval Europeans learned how to use from horseback.
 

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
4,529
Japan
I know of no major battle where they fought from horseback. The longbow was NOT designed to be fired from horseback so they would be very ineffective if they tried. Possibly in the chevauchee they may been some small skirmishes in which some individuals tried it but it was not anything they practiced or trained for.

By the late 1300s most proffesional English archers would have had a horse. Accepted view is it was an only important transportation device.

Germans, Danes and Swedes made use of mounted crossbowmen as light cavalry. They did fight on horseback in a more traditional mounted archer role. They would protect the flanks ofvthe army and harrassed Infantry in battle, aswell as foraged and scouted on the March.
 
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Apr 2018
282
USA
During the Hundred years war though major battles were extremely rare compared to the amount of small skirmishing that occurred. That would be pretty odd if the mounted archers never actually tried to train for the type of fighting that they would have encountered most often.


I highly suspect that the mounted archers involved in scouting, patrolling, raiding, etc. would have had to learn to fight from horseback as well as on foot, if not with a bow of some sort than with a crossbow, a lance, or at the very least their sword. And these were the sort of duties which offered a soldier the most opportunities for plunder, so it's not like there wasn't any incentive.








 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,724
Lances were most often a logistical unit as it was the responsibility of a man at arms/knight to provide his own lance most of the time but that lance did not always accompany him into battle- though especially in Italy it seems more common for lances to function in smaller mercenary companies as a tactical unit as well as a unit of account.

I am sure longbows were used from horseback occasionally- there are at least two recorded instances and as shown above more than a couple images that show such things happening. Definitely not as effective as a massed formation of longbowmen but still an arrow from a bow drawn nearly full has more reach than a lance and I'm sure it was used by some men though I've never heard of full formations and special tactics developed for such mounted archers as normally assumed with 'horse archers' in a non-English context.
 
Apr 2018
282
USA
Oh yeah, I don't think there's any evidence for entire "units" fighting with bows or crossbows from horseback in the middle ages (except maybe very late 15th century italy?).

In depictions which do show mounted crossbowmen usually it's just one or two mixed in with other cavalry, even taking part in the charge and melee alongside the lancers.





They perhaps provided a bit of ranged support for the heavy cavalry and seem to have been used for scouting and patrolling. But even in one on one encounters I'm not so sure that the crossbow was necessarily superior to the lance. Shooting accurately while on a moving horse is hard, and it gets even harder when an angry lancer is bearing down on you. Mounted crossbowmen seem to have been popular as light cavalry in germany, switzerland, and italy, but by the Italian wars the most renowned light cavalry were mercenaries from the balkans, hungary, and poland who had honed their skils and tactics in constant skirmishes with the Turks, muscovites, and tartars, but were still best known for their skill and bravery with the lance, not their archery.

 

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
4,529
Japan
German states, Denmark, Italian states and Poland all had units of mounted crossbowmen.
They fought on horseback.
The Stradiots, Balkan Light horse mecanaries also used the crossbow on horseback.


Longbowmen didn’t. Though many would ride to battle.
 
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