Mongols vs medieval knights

Aug 2014
4,049
Australia
the term light or heavy cavalry usually refer to the type of horses being ridden and as a consequence the amount of weight they can carry
Only by people who have no idea what they are talking about. A military person uses the terms as I described. They refer to the roles played in battle and have nothing at all to do with equipment.
 
Nov 2010
7,419
Cornwall
the term light or heavy cavalry usually refer to the type of horses being ridden and as a consequence the amount of weight they can carry
Only by people who have no idea what they are talking about. A military person uses the terms as I described. They refer to the roles played in battle and have nothing at all to do with equipment.
Dan - Surely the equipment is relevant to the role played? It's a bit different charging into people than firing arrows and javelins from a distance? Take the point about infantry though. But not so much the horse. Visigothic heavy cavalry had small horses! It's what they had.
 
Aug 2014
4,049
Australia
The equipment is irrelevant. The terms relate to the role played in the battle. The same trooper can be classed as both heavy cavalry and light cavalry in the same battle wthout changing any of his gear.
 
Apr 2018
274
USA
Dan - Surely the equipment is relevant to the role played? It's a bit different charging into people than firing arrows and javelins from a distance? Take the point about infantry though. But not so much the horse. Visigothic heavy cavalry had small horses! It's what they had.
I prefer to think of the horse and equipment moreso an element of min-maxing. there isn't any sort of universal rule for "a soldier has to wear this much armor in order to fight as heavy cavalry and conduct shock charges." If against a slower enemy armored knights can definitely spread out into small, loose groups and conduct light-cavalry style hit and run attacks which each one carefully watching for openings, especially towards the flanks and rear, where they might have the chance to quickly dash in, strike once with their lance or sword, and then dash back out before the enemy can respond. Similarly, if mongol horse archers ever find themselves against much quicker and less organized opponents, then it might be beneficial for them to join together into a very dense, square formation so that they can concentrate their strength on breaking the enemy's center and fight off attacks to the flanks or rear with volleys of arrows without having to worry about any stragglers being cut off and surrounded.

In general a horseman can usually ride and maneuver more quickly with less armor and it's usually easier to conduct hit and run attacks if you can shoot from a distance, however there is a strong caveat depending on troop quality. If a knight happens to be a very skilled rider and has a very expensive horse while the mongol happens to be not very experienced and using a cheaper horse that day, then the knight might have no problem chasing him down even in full armor. Similarly if a squadron of unarmored mongol horse archers happened to be the ones with stronger horses, better cohesion, better discipline, and better morale then they might be able to mass together and charge knee in knee, causing the knights' formation to shatter through their shear moral and physical shock. This is probably not what the "average" matchup looked like, but it was definitely plausible.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,850
Sydney
the term of Heavy and Light is used in the European terminology from the 17th century onward
it got even more complicated with the introduction of the Mounted infantry of the "dragoons" Type
supposed to move on horseback but fight on foot
as for weight the winged Hussars of Poland would be "light" cavalry but they did carry a lot of armor
 
Jan 2019
1
NYC
To everyone who thinks the Mongols main advantage over a "plated knight" are their bows and arrows, I've got news for you. Genghis Khans armies, and the Mongol Armies that came after it knew how to fight in melee, and they were REALLY good at it. In addition to archery, a mongolian back then practiced with the bow, sword and lance in order to survive; hunting in the steppes. In addition to that, the Mongols were experts at wrestling from horseback, and so were pretty good at transitioning from horseback to foot melee much better than most other people. Even with a horse running while in the thick of melee. The armor they use aren't all that unique, as they're traded all over Asia. They're mostly of chinese design and innovation, and range from metal to cloth to leather. But Asiatic armor is quite a bit more flexible and lighter than the armor European knights are famed for, and is much more all-encompassing than plate armor. I would say the European Knight has the initial advantage if it ever comes to a pitched melee battle, but I would also say overall, the chances are stacked against them. The Mongols embodied the idea of firepower and mobility during the Middle Ages, which everyone should know, are traits/tenets that all modern armies do their best to live by.
 
Likes: sparky
Jan 2016
570
United States, MO
To everyone who thinks the Mongols main advantage over a "plated knight" are their bows and arrows, I've got news for you. Genghis Khans armies, and the Mongol Armies that came after it knew how to fight in melee, and they were REALLY good at it. In addition to archery, a mongolian back then practiced with the bow, sword and lance in order to survive; hunting in the steppes. In addition to that, the Mongols were experts at wrestling from horseback, and so were pretty good at transitioning from horseback to foot melee much better than most other people. Even with a horse running while in the thick of melee. The armor they use aren't all that unique, as they're traded all over Asia. They're mostly of chinese design and innovation, and range from metal to cloth to leather. But Asiatic armor is quite a bit more flexible and lighter than the armor European knights are famed for, and is much more all-encompassing than plate armor. I would say the European Knight has the initial advantage if it ever comes to a pitched melee battle, but I would also say overall, the chances are stacked against them. The Mongols embodied the idea of firepower and mobility during the Middle Ages, which everyone should know, are traits/tenets that all modern armies do their best to live by.
You are right that the Mongols were highly proficient in all forms of combat, but East Asian armor is not really lighter or more flexible than European armor. Lamellar is somewhat flexible, but mail armor is undoubtedly more flexible. Likewise, lamellar tends to be quite heavy. I'm not saying that lamellar is at all bad. Actually it is quite good because it has some flex but also retains more shock absorption than mail. Lamellar can also be quite good at resisting projectiles.

It is also important to point out that late medieval plate armor was definitely the peak of armor development. The entire body would be encased in tempered steel. However, early plate armor during the period of the Mongol conquests would not be as protective. There were still gaps of exposed mail and the heat treatment would be less consistent in armor manufacture. Some early plate was not heat treated at all.