Why would heavier lances be more effective?

Apr 2018
281
USA
True.

IMHO, it exactly why the Polish lances had a particular design and they were breaking extremely easier than "classical" lances. (lance breaking should be the "little give somewhere")

They weren't exactly designed (nor used) as "classical" lances.

Actually, the leather strap wasn't there for the purpose of of increasing the mass. The role was to liberate hussar's right hand of the weight of the lance (as it was extremely long, the gravity point was far in front of the arm) and give the hussar the ability to easily aim the point of the lance (as the lance had a practically fixed/steady point in the rear).

Stories say that it wasn't uncommon that hussars impaled not one but two infantrymen in one trust.

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Edit: I've forgotten to precise: the Polish lance was a light lance, not a heavy one and a very rigid one.
I'm not sure that the Polish Lance was really "intended" to break. I think it's more that the winged hussars' heyday was in the 17th century, when armor was becoming much less common and it would have been more import to have a Lance long and light enough to compete with infantry pikes than to worry too much about strength and power.

I'm a bit unclear on how often the leather cup was actually used by lancers in the 1600s. Sir John Smythe gained experience fighting around Hungary in the 1560s or 70s and does mention that some Eastern horsemen would use a leather cup attached to the saddle, but he only associates it with light cavalry, which suggests perhaps to me that maybe it began as a way to brace the Lance in lieu of a solid breastplate, or as a way to put a bit more power behind their light lances or spears if they ever needed to charge. For the most part though the lances/spears used by light cavalry in eastern europe at the time were supposed to more flexible weapons and good at thrusting, turning or spearfighting rather than just couched charges. The way Smythe explained it the stradiots/hussars/turkish light cavalry/etc. compared to western heavy cavalry would prefer to fight in a much looser formation in sort of a half-moon. If a dense squadron of enemy heavy cavalry tried to charge into the middle then the light horsemen would split in two to let them pass through the middle and then ride around the flanks and rear of the enemy, stabbing at and wounding the unarmored parts of their horses.

The Polish hussars towards the start of the 17th century though became something very different to most hussars of the 16th century and kind of hard to compare the two.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,768
Australia
Somewhat of a strong statement, do you have evidence to support this? Although I agree that knightly cavalry continued to follow a general trend of diminishing effectiveness in this period, it is possible that innovations such as heavier lances and better plate armour may have slowed the trend to some degree, although overall they didn't halt it.
There is no relation between the weight of the lance and the effectiveness of the knight. Some lances continued to be no heavier than the ones used in earlier periods. The length of the lance was more important than the weight. As time went on the knight needed to increase the length of his lance to compete with lengthening infantry polearms.
 

deaf tuner

Ad Honoris
Oct 2013
14,533
Europix
I'm not sure that the Polish Lance was really "intended" to break. I think it's more that the winged hussars' heyday was in the 17th century, when armor was becoming much less common and it would have been more import to have a Lance long and light enough to compete with infantry pikes than to worry too much about strength and power.

I'm a bit unclear on how often the leather cup was actually used by lancers in the 1600s. Sir John Smythe gained experience fighting around Hungary in the 1560s or 70s and does mention that some Eastern horsemen would use a leather cup attached to the saddle, but he only associates it with light cavalry, which suggests perhaps to me that maybe it began as a way to brace the Lance in lieu of a solid breastplate, or as a way to put a bit more power behind their light lances or spears if they ever needed to charge. For the most part though the lances/spears used by light cavalry in eastern europe at the time were supposed to more flexible weapons and good at thrusting, turning or spearfighting rather than just couched charges. The way Smythe explained it the stradiots/hussars/turkish light cavalry/etc. compared to western heavy cavalry would prefer to fight in a much looser formation in sort of a half-moon. If a dense squadron of enemy heavy cavalry tried to charge into the middle then the light horsemen would split in two to let them pass through the middle and then ride around the flanks and rear of the enemy, stabbing at and wounding the unarmored parts of their horses.

The Polish hussars towards the start of the 17th century though became something very different to most hussars of the 16th century and kind of hard to compare the two.
Yes, probably it was wrong to say "intended to break".

As for the Polish hussars, I think that they were a bit of a category of their own.

Tho they are an "offspring" of hussars (the "tubular" lance was used by Hungarians and Turks for example), they weren't light cavalry but an "all purpose" cavalry, heavly armed, able to use and light and heavy cavalry's tactics. They had two sort of lances, one of some 5,5 m long (the one we're talking about) for charges and a short one (some 3,5 m) for close combat.

As for charges, I thing they had maybe the closest formation used in cavalry: their ideal was that each other hussars' knees should be touching when charging.

IDK if it was only them, but they didn't charged "through" infantry formations: the horses were trained to be able to suddenly stop, so the charge was about trusting, not breaking trough blunt mass impact. It's why if the infantry formation didn't break, they were repeatedly charged (in multiple waves, as Polish splitted their formation in two-three formations, a bit like how musqueters have more lines-one shooting while the others were charging their firearms), until infantry formation was "worn down" (there from having more lances per hussar that squiers carried for them).

They were also able (and using) typical light cavalry tactics too.

I suppose that because of the location (between East and West) they adopted and adapted all the different tactics, being able by that to confront from light Tartar cavalry to heavy Swedish infantry.
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,682
Cornwall
I thought the lance rest on armor was only used for jousting in tournies, not combat armor.
I was sort of thinking this author's analysis suggests the 'knight' just leaves his fireside, pops out for the afternoon, engages in said battle and then returns home for supper.

Carrying great heavy lances hundreds of miles across country, sometimes at high pace, struggling for horse fodder, sounds at best impractical