Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Sunday, 11 September 2011
Thursday, 1 September 2011
Sunday, 21 August 2011
Monday, 15 August 2011
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment
Tuesday, 9 August 2011
Monday, 4 July 2011
Friday, 1 July 2011
Monday, 27 June 2011
Thursday, 23 June 2011
Thursday, 16 June 2011
A Royal Engineer has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his charity work with ‘Toe in the Water.’
WO2 Lloyd Hamilton (37) is one of the founding members of Toe in the Water, a tri-service charity that uses competitive sailing to re-inspire injured servicemen and women to see beyond their injuries.
A member of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Group Royal Engineers, he said “I was absolutely shocked when my Commanding Officer phoned me to tell me the news. I just never expected it.”
Founded in 2008, Toe in the Water works hand in hand with the clinical teams at Headley Court who identify servicemen and women who would benefit from competing in a race with Toe in the Water.
“The servicemen and women join us for a few days before the race to get to know one another and learn about the yacht and their role. They are then straight into the competition,” explained WO2 Hamilton.
WO2 Hamilton, physiotherapist Holly King and Tanya Brookfield first discussed the idea for the charity in 2008. “We decided to trial it at the 2008 Cowes week. It was a great success and it grew from there.”
Many of the servicemen may never have sailed before. It offers a challenge and gives them an opportunity to see what can be achieved. WO2 Hamilton sums it up by saying: “Toe in the Water re-inspires, re-engages and re-integrates.
"It gives servicemen and women the opportunity to test themselves; it helps to give them back their motivation when they see what they can achieve. We work as a team, there are no passengers, everyone has a job to do.”
There is no preferential treatment on board the yacht, nor is there any special treatment during the race. The crew are treated the same as their competitors.
The charity enters eight competitions a year during the racing season which runs from April – October. The next race will be during Plymouth Race Week, from the 5 -11 July.
'Realise their own capabilities'
“Some of the guys have really enjoyed their time at sea and got the sailing bug, some are now training in the hope of becoming a member of the GB Paralympics team. For others it has made them realise what they are capable of doing, it's helped them to regain their confidence and motivation and some have gone on to run marathons or climb Mount Everest,” said WO2 Hamilton.
WO2 Hamilton who has always had a passion for sailing, having first set sail on the water at just 11 years old is married to Liz, herself an accomplished yachtswoman. He continued: “The unfamiliarity of sailing and the return to a team environment means that the guys have little time to think what they are actually achieving; goals that perhaps prior to the event they didn’t think they would be able to do.
“We are simply helping the injured servicemen to realise their own capabilities and be part of a team, often for the first time since their injury.
“Sailing remains one of the few sports where the injured servicemen and women can compete against their contemporaries on a level playing field. Seeing the difference the charity makes to the men and women, many of whom I have served with, never fails to move me and it is this which drives me and the team of volunteers to continue to carry out the work we do.”
The charity is hugely dependant on donations. If you are an experienced racer and would like information about volunteering contact email@example.com. For further information about the charity and about how you can make a donation visit www.toeinthewater.org
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Soldiers in Jackal 2 All Terrain Vehicle on Patrol in Gereshk, Afghanistan | Flickr – Compartilhamento de fotos!
Soldiers from D Squadron the Household Calvary Regiment (HCR) are pictured manning a .50cal Heavy Machine Gun and a GPMG on a Jackal 2 All Terrain Vehicle (ATV). This was during a patrol based at the Kandak in the middle of Gereshk in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
The HCR are operating the Jackal and Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (CVR(T)) including both Scimitar and Spartan.
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Monday, 23 May 2011
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Thursday, 5 May 2011
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment have completed rehearsals in Hyde Park, and are now commencing rehearsals specific to the Royal Wedding escorts, working with The Royal Mews’ carriages, and learning to cope with large crowds.
You can follow the Household Cavalry’s progress with blogs and posts at www.facebook.com/hcmr
Monday, 25 April 2011
Thursday, 21 April 2011
Friday, 15 April 2011
Thursday, 14 April 2011
Monday, 11 April 2011
Thursday, 7 April 2011
Friday, 1 April 2011
The mortally wounded knight from Auvergne who dragged himself to the chapel to die
MARCH 31, 2011
Levée du siège de Malte by Charles-Philippe Larivière
When Mustapha finally called off his troops, it was estimated that he had lost nearly 2,000, most of them the cream of the Janissary advance guard. The defenders had lost only ten Knights and seventy soldiers….
It was at the close of this day that a Knight of Auvergne, Abel de Bridiers de la Gardampe, was shot and mortally wounded. As his friends ran to help him, he motioned them back with the words: “Count me no more among the living. Your time will be better spent looking after our other brothers.”
While the cannon thundered, and the fire rained down from the walls, and the Janissaries came on in wave upon shouting wave, La Gardampe dragged himself to the chapel of St. Elmo. In the afternoon, when the Knights of the Order made their way to the chapel to give thanks for what seemed almost a victory, they found the Knight of Auvergne stretched dead at the foot of the altar.
Ernle Bradford, The Great Siege: Malta 1565 (Hertfordshire, UK: Wordsworth Editions Ltd., 1999) pp. 103-104.
Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 62
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Their fighting force had been reduced to 1,200 knights and 10,000 foot soldiers, with a similar number of noncombatants who proved to be quite useful in carrying water, wood, and other supplies. A small fleet of Genoese ships arrived at a nearby port with more supplies and wood for the building of siege engines. An Egyptian fleet followed behind and destroyed the vessels, but fortunately the sailors, all trained workmen, salvaged the woodworking tools. They built three huge wooden towers, the third story of which consisted of a drawbridge that would provide an avenue of attack when lowered on to the ramparts.
In spiritual preparation for the attack, the Christians marched barefooted in solemn procession around the wall over to the Garden of Olives. From the height of the ramparts, the Moslems ridiculed the piety of the warriors and blasphemed Our Lord. From below the Crusaders vowed to avenge the honor of Jesus Christ. On the last day of the assault, Godfrey climbed one of the towers. The drawbridge came flying down onto the north wall. He and Eustace, his brother, led the Rhinelanders and Tancred’s Normans against the defenders on the wall and down into the city. The remaining Crusaders broke into the city at other points. They overcame a spirited resistance that ended in a general massacre.
Jeremias Wells, History of Western Civilization (n.p., n.d), pp. 236-237.
Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 60
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Unlike [Frederick II of Germany], Louis frequently ignored a practical course of action that would derive a benefit for himself and chose instead one that entailed suffering for the benefit of the Church and Christendom. Of all the problems that beset Christian life, the continual harassment by the Saracens of the Holy Places, the pilgrims and the few hundred knights that protected them troubled Louis the most.
In 1248 he embarked on an extremely well planned crusade against the Sultan of Egypt since Palestine at that time was under his control. Once again the crusaders stormed and captured Damietta on the eastern branch of the Nile. Proceeding up the river on the right bank towards Cairo, they arrived at the fortress of Mansourah. Robert of Artois, the King’s oldest brother, crossed the protecting channel, routed a detachment of guards and rode on to an enemy encampment outside the wall where they killed everyone they found. Instead of returning to guard the bridgehead and allow the main body of Louis’ army to cross and reinforce him, Robert impetuously invaded the fortress. That blundering imprudence cost him and 280 knights, most of them Templars, their lives.
The advance had been stopped. The Christians lost control of the river and when they attempted to retreat were picked off in small groups. Louis, who became quite ill, was captured along with his two surviving brothers. With the threat of torture and death hanging over his head, the embattled saint carried himself with such dignity that the impressed Moslems agreed to release him and many other prisoners upon the surrender of Damietta and the payment of a large ransom.
After his release, Louis went to the Holy Land where he directed the fortifications of several coastal fortress cities and returned to France in 1254 at the death of his mother who had been regent for the second time. There he inaugurated a period of justice and peace not only in his own realm but also among his once-hostile neighbors for which he is justly renowned.
Jeremias Wells, History of Western Civilization (n.p., n.d.), pp. 269-270.
Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 59
How to Deliver a Cavalry Charge
By Matthew Bennett
From: Studies in Medieval History presented to R. Allen Brown (1989)"
`In the charge against both cavalry and infantry each man will ride at his opponent at full speed with the fixed determination of running him through and killing him.... In the melee, if both sides are equally determined, success depends on the handiness of the horse and the skill of the soldier as a man at arms.' (Extract from Cavalry Training (Horsed) (1937))1
No one who has heard R. Allen Brown lecture could doubt that he was once a cavalry–man. In any display of slides, usually depicting castles, his Army sword is brought into play to point out important features.2 Also, it has long been his contention that medieval soldiers were as professional as during any age.3 This brief investigation of the Old French Rule of the Knights Templar is designed to show how a well-organised medieval cavalry regiment worked. For that is what the Knights of the Order formed on campaign; up to 300 lance-armed heavy cavalrymen with all the additional personnel and logistical support such a body needs. La Regle du Temple provides an unique insight into medieval military professionalism.
It is exceptional because of its format, contents and date. As edited by Henri de Curzon the OF Rule is a compilation of the mid-thirteenth century. It predates the first vernacular translations of Vegetius by a generation.4 In addition, it is probable that the military instructions it contains were drawn up at least a century earlier, when the Templars first took on their (self-imposed) task of protecting the Holy Land against the infidel.5 It is important that it is composed in the spoken language of the brothers, because this brings us closer to their actual drills. But this is not a drill manual, although it reads like one in parts. Nor is it a military manual after the style of the De re militari or the Strategikon of Maurice, in the Roman and Byzantine tradition.6 If it shares the pedantry of a modern training manual, in listing the equipment each brother must have, it is for a different reason. For the Templars were monks, living in communal poverty and so must give up the luxurious trappings of their knightly caste - except for the military essentials. Monastic rule and military instructions fit uneasily together. It is significant that the original Latin Rule contains (almost) nothing of use to the practical soldier. The OF Rule, on the other hand, is the empirical product of the largely French-speaking warrior class that made up the Order. There are none of the references to classical authority so beloved of military treatises.7 This is its great value.
Of the Regle's 686 articles the first seventy-two are translated from the Latin Rule adopted at the Order's official foundation at the Council of Troyes in1128. There follows a series of seventy-five statutes describing, in great detail, the pieces of equipment, animals and retainers that accord to all the ranks down from the Master to the brother knight. The next twenty articles describe the organisation of a campaign and the rules for conduct in camp, on the march and on the battlefield.8 Another thirteen statutes deal with the officers of the sergeants. There are further sections on meals, punishments and the ordering of the conventual life, before, barely half-way through, the work becomes a list of revisions or expansions of previous statutes (315ff.). The last articles deal with historical examples of infringements of the Rule and their punishments, and finally the ceremony for receiving a new brother into the Order.
It is worthwhile considering where the Regle fits into the tradition of military instruction manuals. Unlike every other book of advice for military men produced in the medieval West it contains no reference to Vegetius.9 This late Roman commentator was the vade mecum, and more than that, a touchstone providing authority for any statement on warfare.10 His general precepts and advice on strategy and tactics are excellent; but he says almost nothing about the use of cavalry.11This should have been a serious defect for an age where the horseman played such a great role in society and war. Certainly, in the mid-ninth century, Hrabanus Maurus was very selective in the excerpts he sent to King Lothar II.12 The Carolingian scholar recognised that strictures on the qualities and skills of the young warriors were of more use than a dissertation on the long-gone Roman legion. It is not the size of the army that counts, he urged Lothar, but the skill and courage of its milites. He also anticipates the Crusaders' prejudice against soft southerners, whom he derides as `wilier but lacking in spirit'.13 In contrast to such an erudite and shrewd commentator, the earliest OF translations are but sad and slavish imitations of the original. Writing within half a century of our copy of the Regle, neither Jean de Meun nor Jean de Vignay make any attempt to adapt Vegetius to the world of the knights.14
This is exactly the ground that the Templar Rule occupies. In fact there are no references to the organisation or tactics of the infantry who made up a large part of Templar armies. The Regle is concerned with the socially elite world of the cavalryman; with how he is to be equipped, maintained and employed on campaign and on the battlefield. The number of horses each Templar is allowed is a sure guide to his status. The ordinary brother knight is entitled to have up to four: one or two warhorses, one riding animal (a mule or a palfrey) and one packhorse. He has a squire to tend and ride each warhorse, and this small group of men and animals make up the basic military unit of the Templar host (138-40).15 This increases in size up the hierarchy until the Master has a household of a dozen men and horses (74).
So much for those of knightly rank. In contrast, the ignoble sergeants have only one mount each, although their officers are entitled to two. In addition the sergeants are more lightly armoured than the knights. For example, their mail hose are to be without feet, enabling them to serve as infantry (141). One other group of combatants remains: the Turcopoles. These seem to have been troops equipped with the bow, capable of fighting in the Eastern manner. They occupy a position between the knights and sergeants, but are not subject to the Order's discipline, probably being recruited for each campaign.16 Their chief officer, the Turcopolier, is a man of importance with four mounts, including a fine `turcoman'. He may even command knights whilst on reconnaissance, which implies that the Turcopoles' main role may have been to act as scouts (169-173).17
The Hierarchy of the Order
A study of the command structure of the Order shows how carefully the Templars had thought about organising their cavalry regiment. The language is that of the professional military men who drew up the regulations. It may be significant that another vernacular work, the Anglo-Norman Hospitallers' Riwle, was also produced for a military Order. Only literate monks thought to write down what would normally have been transmitted verbally, in the vernacular military culture.18
The Templar hierarchy accurately reflects the secular military structure with certain differences. The Master had overall control of strategy, but he was elected by Chapter and required its assent on occasion. These included declaring war or arranging a truce, alienating land or taking over the defence of a castle, appointing provincial commanders and chief officers and receiving a new brother into the Order (85, 87 & 97). Beneath him stood the Seneschal, whose duties were concerned with the administration of the lands, houses, food and pack train of the Order. He also held the `confanon baucan' (Piebald Banner), both the symbol of the Templars and their battle standard (99-100). The description of his activities is very brief in the Rule, but he was a senior official who was sometimes elected Master on the incumbent's death.
In contrast, the `retrais' concerning the Marshal's duties are long and detailed (101-9). He was responsible for the collection and distribution of all military equipment, not just for the knights, but also crossbows and `Turkish arms' for the sergeants.19 He also supervised the allocation of mounts, and received into his charge animals sent overseas by the houses in Europe. Brothers were forbidden to request particular horses from him, and if they did so were given the worst animal. If they had trouble with their mounts (the Rule describes 'pullers', ‘stoppers' and `throwers') they could appeal to the Marshal for a replacement. Once he had agreed to the deficiency the brother received another mount and the trouble-maker was returned to the `caravanne' or train. The same applied when horses were lost in battle.20
The Commander of the City of Jerusalem fulfilled the duty of the original Templars; that of guarding pilgrims on the route to the Jordan. To assist him in this task he was assigned ten knights. In war-time they formed his bodyguard never leaving him by night or day'.21 He was also responsible for collecting the secular `confreres', who rode under his banner when on campaign, and all brother knights resident in Jerusalem, in the Marshal's absence (120-4).
The Commander of the Kingdom of Jerusalem acted as treasurer, and had authority over the goods of the Order. He was also responsible for the supervision of horses and herds and flocks of livestock, which he handed over to the Marshalry, as required. This included horse breeding, for there is a reference to the `polains' (foals) cared for on the `canals', or farms. He took charge of all livestock and pack animals gained in war, but handed saddle horses over to the Marshal. Finally, he distributed the brothers between the Temple in Jerusalem and houses and castles in the countryside, so that they might best be supported in time of peace (110-19).22 The Commanders of the Lands of Tripoli and of Antioch had similar responsibilities. Special reference is made to their obligation to equip the castles of their commands. They were to ensure that these were provided with wheat, wine, iron, steel, leather and leather equipment and sergeants to guard the door' (125-9).Below them in the provincial structure came the commanders of houses, and finally the commanders of knights. The duties of these last included acting as officers on the battlefield (132-5, 137). Together with all higher ranks they were permitted to carry standards, both as marks of status and rallying points in battle.
Then came the brother knights. By the mid-thirteenth century, only a man whose father and grandfather were knights was eligible for the honour, and anyone born outside marriage was automatically disbarred (337). They were distinguished from ignoble brothers by their white robes, while the sergeants were allowed only black or brown; and the Rule makes several references to the importance of this distinction.23 The officers of the sergeants were headed by the Turcopolier, whose role has already been reviewed. He commanded all the sergeants when they were `under arms' (171). Beneath him the Undermarshal was responsible for 'le menu hernois' (the lesser gear). This included the repair and distribution of horses' harnesses, the padding for saddles and various arms (173-6). He was also responsible for distributing barrels to hold, and buckets to draw, water. He was the subordinate of the Marshal in matters concerning the equipment of the brothers, and all serving brothers of the Marshalry were at his command.
The office of Confanonier (Standard Bearer) was an important one (177-9). He directed the activities of the squires, who played a crucial role in caring for the Order's horses and assisting their masters on campaign and in battle. He was their paymaster for their term of service, directed their chapter and was responsible for disciplining and punishing them.24 When they were required to do their duties communally, whether working with the pack train, or watering, feeding or grooming their masters' mounts, the Confanomer was to lead them, carrying the banner at their head. This he also did on the battlefield.
Here we have evidence of an impressively comprehensive military structure. It was a disciplined body, the warrior monks having given up their free will in the same way as a modern soldier. Even those of lower social rank were expected to obey detailed rules of behaviour whilst on campaign and in battle. I shall return to examine these activities later. First though, what were a brother knight's duties in peacetime? The Rule has little to say on this. As a monk he was obliged to observe the daily Hours (e.g. 146-7). It is likely that most knights were illiterate, however, and chaplains were appointed, with special privileges, to conduct the services (268-78). In any case, a brother was excused attendance at Nones or Vespers for a number of reasons. One, which shows that he had personal responsibility for maintaining his mounts, was if he had taken a horse for re-shoeing (300). There is unfortunately little evidence as to how he spent the rest of his spare time. Before meals in morning and afternoon he was expected to repair his gear, or failing that, and following the adage that `The devil makes work for idle hands', he was to carve tent pegs (285). The ordinary pursuits of secular knights were largely forbidden. No hunting, except of the lion, was permitted, and shooting with crossbows was to be restricted to target practice. In such contests wagering was to be strictly curtailed (317). Horse racing was allowed only with the express permission of the Master, and riding anywhere too impetuously was condemned. There were the same restrictions on practice jousts (`bouhorder'), which were only permitted in the Master's presence (95, 126 & 315).25
Now this raises a real problem. A glance at other cavalry manuals, from Maurice's Strategikon up to modern times, shows how much importance is laid upon practice with weapons and movement in troops and squadrons. `A troop should only execute before the enemy such manoeuvres as it has been accustomed to in times of peace', affirms an influential Prussian treatise of the last century.26 How did the Templars learn to do this? The Regle is mute on this point although the description of how to deliver a charge implies that some such training must have taken place. Certainly detailed regulations are laid down for behaviour on campaign: on the ordering of the march, the making and striking of camp, foraging, and responding to attack. These will be considered next.27
The Templars on Campaign and in Battle
At the beginning of a campaign the brothers were mustered from their various quarters, bringing with them horses, pack animals and livestock which were organised into a caravan, or possibly separate caravans, by the Marshal. His permission was required for their distribution, but when fed or grazed communally they were under the charge of the Confanonier, as commander of the squires (178).
Each brother knight had a tent and in camp these were set up around the chapel, but only after the Marshal's order: `Herberges vos, seignors freres, de par Dieu!' (148).28 The knight chose a place outside the guy-ropes of the chapel, with enough space for himself and his retainers, and, putting all his gear within it, pitched his tent. The order was then given for the squires to go out foraging, taking a horse and saddle, and to collect water and firewood. It was forbidden to set off without permission, and at no time should anyone stray out of earshot of the camp bell. The crier (of orders) and the `granatier', or distributer of fodder were to camp with the Confanonier, who organised the squires in feeding and caring for the horses (149).29 Rations for the men were distributed communally, but graded according to status and the brother knights ate apart from the sergeants, in pairs (150-3). It was forbidden to buy food, and any given or found had to be handed over for distribution, as did fodder.30
If the alarm was raised for an attack on the camp, those nearby were instructed to take up shield and lance and rush to repel it; while others were to go the chapel to await the Master's orders (155). An example of Templar discipline in practice took place on the Fifth Crusade. When the Egyptians attacked the Crusader camp on 31st July 1219, their swift response saved the day.31 Camp was to be struck quietly and in an orderly manner. No one was to mount or load his gear until the order was given. If a brother wanted to speak to the Marshal he had to go to him on foot, and then return quietly to his place. On the order, the knights mounted, and at the walk or amble took up positions to form a line of march, their squires following behind with the baggage. It is not clear if they formed up behind the Commanders of Houses and Commanders of Ten Knights, although this seems likely. Once in position they set their squires before them with their lance, shield and led horses. This matches descriptions in the `chansons de geste', where the boys are depicted as bowed down under the weight of all this equipment.32 On the march they were instructed to go quietly and in good order, keeping silence at night-time, until Prime (157).33 Any movement by individuals along the line of march had to be made downwind, so as not to discomfort the others with their dust. Groups were forbidden to travel away from the column, and all must keep to their places (158). Also, despite the tradition of the poverty of the Order's founders, it was expressly forbidden that two brothers should ride on one horse (379). During peacetime the brothers might water their horses at a running stream, without permission, but in war, or when scouting (`en terre de regart'), only when the gonfanon at their head halted. If the alarm was raised, they acted as in camp. Those nearby were permitted to mount their destriers and take up shield and lance to await the Marshal's commands, while the rest rode up to him for orders (159).
The impression of a well-organised force, where every man knew his station, is striking. It is not surprising to find this good order carried onto the battlefield. A first principle of the Rule was that a brother should obey any other set above him. The section on riding `en eschielles' - in squadrons - talks of `nominated' leaders, each with a gonfanon and ten knights to guard him. It is difficult not to believe that he was their superior in peacetime, and that the brothers fought alongside those with whom they normally lived (166).34
When the knights were armed they took up their position in line, placing their squires with their lances and shields before them. They were expressly forbidden to break ranks or charge without permission, and even turning their horses' heads to the rear in order to fight, or in response to an alarm, was not allowed (161). For two reasons only could a brother leave the ranks. He might ride his horse a little way to check that it was sound, and whether his saddle or harness needed adjusting, and then return to his place. With permission he could take his lance and shield. Or, if he saw a Christian straggler attacked by a Muslim and in peril of death, he could, `if his conscience reproached him', ride out to save him and then return to the ranks (162). If he should charge or break ranks for any other reason he suffered the humiliating punishment - for a chevalier - of being made to go on foot on the march and in camp (163).
The Confanonier was to arrange the squires also in squadrons. When the Marshal led the brother knights in the charge, the squires who rode the spare destriers were to charge after them. This animal provided a remount if their master's charger was wounded or blown. Meanwhile, those with the palfreys or mules which the knights rode to battle, were to follow the Confanonier's banner, well-ordered and at the amble.35 (This supposes, of course, four mounts and two squires.) The Turcopolier, who commanded the sergeants when under arms, drew them up too. Sometimes each group had a knight assigned to lead them, `in closely ordered ranks', behind the knights, in case they had need of assistance or rescue (172).36 Armoured sergeants were expected to fight like the brother knights. Those `unarmoured' could join in `for the love of God and their brothers' but if they were wounded, or could not resist the attacks of the enemy, might retire without permission (172).37
Every precaution was taken to ensure that the charge was delivered under the Marshal's orders. When he took the Piebald Banner from the hands of the Undermarshal he appointed a guard of ten knights, under a commander, to protect him. This commander carried a rolled banner, so that if, `God forbid', the Marshal's banner should fall, he could unfurl it and the knights could rally to him. He led the charge if the Marshal was wounded or forced to retire (165).
Delivering the Knights' Charge
`The real sphere of action for cavalry, its decisive influence on the enemy, in short the very life and soul of our army, is the charge.' Von Schmidt.38
At this point, just before the charge is released, I feel I must explain something about cavalry. I turn to George Bernard Shaw to do this for me. In his playArms and the Man, the heroine, Raina, learns about war in conversation with the enemy soldier she discovers in her room.
The Man: `You never saw a cavalry charge, did you?'
Raina: `How could I?'
The Man: 'Ah, perhaps not - of course! Well it's a funny sight. It's like slinging a handful of peas against a window pane: first one comes, then two or three close behind him, then all the rest in a lump.'
Raina: (her eyes dilating as she raises her clasped hands ecstatically) `Yes, first One! -the bravest of the brave!'
The Man: (prosaically) `Hm! you should see the poor devil pulling at his horse.'
Raina: `Why should he pull at his horse?'
The Man: (impatient at so stupid a question) `It's running away with him, of course; do you suppose the fellow wants to get there first and be killed... ? Then they all come. You can tell the young ones by their wildness and their slashing. The old ones come bunched up under number one guard; they know they're mere projectiles, and that it's no use trying to fight. The wounds are mostly broken knees from horses coming together.’39
This marvellous piece of debunking nevertheless makes the point clear: the impetuosity of cavalry can be its downfall.
Every cavalry manual from Maurice's Strategikon onwards supports Shaw's view:
A charge, even on good ground, is seldom executed by the whole line at once; the enemy is reached in succession by different points in the line more advanced than others. It is therefore of the greatest consequence that those detachments which reach the enemy first shall be compact, and go at him as one man, to burst through.
So said Louis Edward Nolan in 1853. He is chiefly known for his part in the Charge of the Light Brigade (not the most notably successful cavalry action) in which he carried the disastrously misunderstood order, but his treatise on Cavalry Tactics is valuable for its concise lucidity.40
No distance can be laid down at which to charge, it depends on so many different circumstances. When the ground is favourable and your horses in good condition you can strike into a gallop sooner; but the burst, the charge itself, must always be reserved till within 50 yards, for in that distance no horse, however bad, can be left behind, nor is there time to scatter, and they fall on the enemy with the greatest effect.41
Hence the emphasis in the Regle on the Marshal, the most experienced knight in the line, choosing the exact moment to charge home. Hence, also, the ten knights, all around the Banner, and as close to it as they may, and they are not to leave it or move away'. The other Templar knights were instructed to ride to right and left, before and behind, so they might do most harm to the enemy and come to the Banner's aid if need be (164).
Nolan also draws attention to what should be done after the charge.
If you have succeeded in overthrowing the enemy's line, your own will be in disorder. The melee which ensues, soon, however, turns into a pursuit, and this affords the opportunity of destroying those who have turned; for the charge and the melee do not last long enough to inflict or sustain heavy loss in men or horses ... The pursuit must be kept up with vigour ... This is not the time to stay the slaughter, but watch over the safety of the pursuers with your cavalry reserves till the flying enemy is entirely dispersed.... Then rally.
Reserves must always be at hand to follow up steadily any success achieved, or, in case the first line is brought back.... The reserves should follow closely and be ready to act whenever and wherever their action is required.... Innumerable reverses are attributable to the neglect of these rules about reserves.42
These instructions explain the duties of the sergeants, outlined above. That is, to hold back a victorious enemy with their `closely ordered ranks' and give the knights time to recover, or to follow a pursuit in good order in case of an unexpected reverse. The squires with the fresh horses add another dimension, as they enable the better-equipped knights to return to the melee if their first destrier was wounded or blown.
Once the charge was launched, and the melee begun, no brother could leave his squadron for rest or because of his wounds without permission (though he might send another to seek it) (166). Should he be unable to return to his banner, he was to rally to one of the Hospital, or, failing that, any Christian banner (167). The importance of banners on the battlefield cannot be overstated. In the geste of Girart de Roussillon a divine thunderbolt destroys the gonfanons of both the rebel and Charlemagne; the battle is immediately brought to an end in confusion.43 So, each Templar commander carried a banner to lead the way and form a rallyingpoint. As Nolan explains: `Once a line of cavalry is hurled against the enemy, all orders from the commanding-officer must necessarily cease for a time. The men of each troop look to their leader . . .' and after the charge: `Each troop rallies for itself, and, when formed, is led into line'.44
What better way of signifying this than a banner waving above the dust of battle? At no time was it permitted to lower a banner in order to strike a blow at an opponent. Any Templar guilty of this offence, if any harm came of it, was open to the severest punishment. That is, to be banished from the Order. It was one of the nine great crimes, on a par with heresy, killing a Christian, desertion to the Saracens, or sexual offences. The punishment might include life imprisonment (232, 241-2). Should the Marshal's banner fall, and the Christians be thrown back -'which God guard against!' - a brother was to rally to another banner. If all banners turned in flight he might escape to a garrison, wherever he thought best (168). It only remains then to show the Templars as successful on the battlefield by following their Rule. In truth this is difficult to do in the same sort of detail that the `retrais' give us. One might mention the defeat of Nor al-Din in 1163 and Saladin in 1177, where Templar knights provided an important proportion of the Christian host.45 In Egypt, the episode at Damietta in 1219, already mentioned, or at Mansourah in 1250, showed Templar discipline as most effective in battle, though often at great cost to themselves.46 Perhaps the most famous example of the value of Templar expertise was on the Second Crusade. Only when an inept Louis VII allowed the Templar Master to reorganise his column of march, were the undisciplined French Crusaders saved from certain annihilation.47 But then chroniclers pay less attention to victories, which were God-given, than to defeats, where someone was to blame.
The Christian defeat at Gaza in 1244 is a fine example of what could go wrong if the Rule's precepts were not followed. According to the Estoire d'Eracles,written in OF, like the Regle: `The Christians began to hurl themselves after (the enemy). The squires and footsoldiers became mixed up with the squadrons, and the knights were unable to charge or come against the Turks ... Folly, greed and pride,' as they rushed after booty, were the Christians' downfall. If we may believe the figures the Patriarch of Jerusalem gave in a letter, the losses amongst the Military Orders were especially heavy as a result of this disaster.48
It is impossible to talk about Crusader defeats without mentioning Gerard de Ridefort. At the Springs of Cresson in 1187, he led ninety Templars, tenHospitallers, including their Master, Roger de Moulins, and forty secular knights against 7,000 Saracens. When his Marshal, Jaques de Mailli demurred, Gerard is supposed to have accused him of being too fond of his blond head to risk it. Only Gerard and two other brothers survived this encounter. As a happy postscript, however, the squires who guarded the gear, when they saw their masters disappearing into the massed ranks of the enemy, turned and fled. Now, it is a commonplace that after a battle the defeated side loses all its gear. The squires, who must have been following at a moderate pace, as the Rule dictates, were able to make off in safety: - `and of the Christian gear, none was lost.'49
Gerard de Ridefort has come down to us as a notoriously proud and head–strong character. To him, also, is accorded the responsibility for persuading King Guy to march across waterless lands to the Horns of Hattin, the battle that lost the Kingdom. Once more Gerard escaped, spared by Saladin, who personally ordered the execution of all the other knights of the Temple and Hospital, as his most dangerous opponents. Like Lord Cardigan, de Ridefort was a survivor. But he had not followed the guidelines laid down in the Regle for the proper conduct of warfare. No set of regulations, however thorough, can entirely dictate human behaviour, least of all in the confusion of battle. As Captain Nolan was to discover at Balaclava - there can be a fatal gap between theory and practice.
* I would like to thank Roy Boss for providing me with the idea for this paper, Prof R. H. C. Davis for reading an earlier draft, Drs Malcolm Barber and Jinty Nelson for help with it, and RAB for inspiring my research in toto.
1. See page 30: Fighting with the sword (22); The use of the sword in war (1 & 2). (HMSO 1937).
2. RAB's love for his sword was such that he carried it strapped to the turret of his armoured car during active service in WWII. It is also worth noting that the 1909 pattern cavalry sword was designed to be used in exactly the same manner as the medieval knight's lance - that is to combine the impetus of man and horse behind its point!
3. The Normans and the Norman Conquest, 1969, 49 `As soldiers, the Norman knights of 1066 were as professional as the age could make them.'
4. Ed. H. de Curzon, SATF, Paris 1886, repr. 1976. L. Dailliez's edition, Dijon 1977, was consulted but is open to criticism. See K. Hiestand's review in Deutsches Archiv xxxiv, 1978, 641.
5. References to events in the Holy Land date the text to the 1260s. See Curzon, Intro. iv-v.
6. Vegetius ed. C. Lang, Leipzig 1885, rpr. Stuttgart 1967; G. Dennis (a) ed. Das Strategikon des Maurikios, Corpus fontium historiae byzantinae xvii, Vienna, 1981, Greek text/ German trans (b) Maurice's Strategikon, Pennsylvania UP, Philadelphia 1984, English trans.
7. See John Cruso, Militarie Instructions for the Cavall'rie, 1632 ed./facs. P. Young, Kineton 1972, for lavish references to Vegetius, Frontinus etc. to support his every assertion.
8. Much of this has been summarised by J. F. Verbruggen, The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages, Oxford 1977. See also M. Jahns,Geschichte der Kriegswissenschaften vornehmlich in Deutschland (Geschichte der Wissenschaften in Deutschland xxi, Miinchen u. Leipzig 1889) 3 vols., i, 212-16. The references in R. C. Smail, Crusading Warfare 1097-1193, Cambridge 1956, 129, to articles in the Regle, first encouraged me to study the source.
9. Cf. Jahns i, 186-7, where he claims that medieval warfare exactly followed the late Roman pattern! Smail, 121 and fn. criticises H. Delpech, La Tactique an XIIIieme siecle, 2 vols., Paris 1886, and other nineteenth-century writers, for the same reason. Another valuable military manual in the OF vernacular, Les Enseignements de Thiodore Paliologue, is also ignorant of Vegetius, but then its author was a Greek writing in the Byzantine tradition. See Christine Knowles, ed., MHRA Texts and Dissertations xix, London 1973, 7, and a useful summary of the source by D. J. A. Ross, `The Prince Answers Back: "Les Enseignements de Theodore Paliologue", in The Ideals and Practice of Medieval Knighthood, Papers from the First and Second Strawberry Hill Conferences', ed. C. Harper-Bill & R. Harvey, Woodbridge 1986.
10. E.g. John of Marmoutier's story of Geofrrey, count of Anjou, taking a castle in the Loire valley (1147), after referring to a Vegetius and using its recipe for Greek Fire (which it does not contain); see: Historia Gaufredi, in L. Halphen & R. Poupardin, eds. Chroniques des comes d Anjou et des seigneurs dAmboise, Paris 1913, 218. The story is cited by A. Murray, Reason and Society, Oxford 1978, 127-30 & 446-7, as part of a discussion of Vegetius' medieval popularity, during which he emphasises that the text may well have been augmented in this way.
11. Nor is this surprising, since Vegetius is writing in praise of a return to the standards of the earlier Roman infantry legion. Cavalry is portrayed in a purely auxiliary role.
12. Ed. E. Dummler; Zeitschrift fur deutsches Altertum xv, 1872, 443-50.
13. Ibid. ch. 2. Hrabanus' actual words are: `At contra qui septentrionem incolunt minus sapiunt sed fortiores sunt animo'. The idea comes from Vegetius i, 2.
14. New editions of both have been recently produced by L. Lofstadt, in Suomalaison tiedeaktemian toimituksia, Series B xx, 1977: de Meun; ccxiv, 1982: de Vignay.
15. The numbers of the `retrais' cited are henceforward given in parentheses in the text.
16. See, however, M. Melville's view, taken from the Catalan Rule, which allowed three bezants p.a., gifts of clothes and `restor' of horses for such troops (La Vie des Templiers, Paris 1951, 98 n. 19). Smail, 111-12 describes their role on campaign and in battle.
17. (170) limits his authority to groups of less than ten knights. A Commander of Ten, carrying a banner, was considered senior in rank.
18. Ed. K. V. Sinclair, Anglo-Norman Text Society xlii, 1984. I am grateful to Prof. Ian Short for bringing this to my attention and for elucidating the need that many monks, not just military monks, had for instructional material in the vernacular.
19. This equipment included anything bought, received in alms or won as booty (102). Turkish arms may mean powerful composite bows, although maces are referred to with this adjective in the Knight's `retrais' (139). Note also that the Marshalcy kept a store of crossbows (103).
20. The emphasis here is probably on the destriers. Cf. a nineteenth-century Prussian manual which warns the cavalryman to be wary of various types of horses: those who stretch their necks, keep their noses in the air or too low and stumblers (Maj. Gen. Carl von Schmidt, Instructions for the training, employment and leading of cavalry, trans. Capt. C. W. Bowdler Bell, HMSO London 1875, 16). See also, Manual of Horsemastership, Equitation and Animal Transport,HMSO London 1937, Ch. 3, sections 77-86, for how such vices were corrected in RAB's day.
21. The Commander of the City of f erusalem has this bodyguard because it is alleged in the Rule that he carried the True Cross in battle; (122).
22. Another important logistical duty was control of the ships of the Order at Acre (119). Also in his role as Quartermaster, the Commander of the kingdom had the Drapier, responsible for all matters of dress, under his command (112). For an idea of what the Templars were capable of, as regards the construction and maintenance of castles, see R. B. C. Huygens ed., De constructione castri Saphet, Amsterdam 1981.
23. (17), (68), (337) and (586), which cites the case of a brother who wrongly claimed the mantle of knighthood.
24. For the paid nature of the squires' work see (67) & (177), and my article, `The Status of the Squire: the Northern Evidence', in Ideals and Practice, (cited n. 10) 1-11.
25. Much useful training in tactics and fighting technique came through the sort of continual skirmishing described by Usamah ibn Munqhid, an Arab nobleman. SeeThe Autobiography of Ousama, ed./trans. G. R. Potter, London 1929, and, as Memoirs of an Arab-Syrian Gentleman, P. K. Hitti, Beirut 1964. I am grateful to Dr Richard Barber for pointing out that bouhorder was only a training exercise, not as dangerous as the real thing. This limitation further supports the strictness of Templar discipline and their desire not to risk a limited manpower.
26. Von Schmidt, Instructions, 10.
27. See also Verbruggen, Art of Warfare, 76-9.
28. Those allowed to establish themselves before the Chapel were, the Marshal, the Commander of the Kingdom and the provisions tent. This was only practical and sensible, as are the orders, which on the few occasions they are reported are in French. Contrast this with the detached, textbook style of Maurice's Strategikon,where they are in Latin!
29. Additional instructions include that the saddle should be covered with a rug to protect it, that the war-saddle should be used only with special permission, and that only one squire should be allowed to go out foraging.
30. Rations and status were also closely connected. (150) and (319) deal with their distribution, (336) states that this should be under the supervision of an older Brother, (386) that this should also happen in every house, and (372) that he was to ensure equal portions and equal quality of food. In (319) we discover that the ration of wine on fast days was scarcely less than normal!
31. Oliver of Paderborn, Historia Damiatina, ch. 28, trans. J. J. Gavigan, as The Capture of Damietta, Philadelphia 1948, repr. Oxford 1980, 39-40.
32. See, e.g. Le Couronnement de Louis, ed. E. Langlois, CFMA 1925, 11. 277-8. 1 use the word `boys' advisedly, in the sense of a servant of any age, a usage now largely confined to `houseboy' etc. of our old colonies.
33.This almost casual reference to marching ut night is a striking example of what medieval armies could achieve. For the difficulties inherent in such a manoeuvre see: Cavalry Training (Horsed) iv, 91, 109-11 (problems of pace, navigation, contact and alarms) esp. 91.3 on the need for training in night movement.
34. The military value of knowing the men around you, and trusting them, is timeless. The modern British Army lays great weight on the `buddy, buddy' system whereby (infantry) men are taught to operate in pairs, just as the Templar knights did.
35. Mounting from riding animals is described in the Chanson de Roland, ed. F. Whitehead, Oxford 1978, 11. 1000-1:
laissent muls e tuz les palefreiz
Es destrers muntent, si chevalchent estreiz.
Cf. Maurice's Strategikon v, 2, doubting the ability of `boys' to handle warhorses in battle.
36. (172): `Se fen met freres por garder les sergens d'armes ... il doivent mener les sergens serres et rengies apres, a plus beau qu'il porront, que se les freres auront mestier d'aye, que les sergens les puissent rescorre'. The passage does not say whether the sergeants should be mounted, although this seems to be assumed.
37. This with the proviso that no Christian should be endangered as.
38. Instructions ch. 4, 71.
39. The Works of Bernard Shaw viii, Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant ii, 1931, 15.
40. Maurice's Strategikon urges cavalry to: `ride on in good order, not too fast but at a trot, to avoid having the impetus of their charge break up their ranks before coming to blows with the enemy, which is a real risk' (iii, 5). An Austrian training manual of the late eighteenth century, cited by G. E. Rothenburg, Napoleon's Greatest Adversaries: Arch-duke Charles and the Austrian Army 1792-1814, 1982, 107, stresses the same point, suggesting an 80 yard `burst'. Finally, in modern times: Cavalry Training (Mounted):
3. The object (of a mounted attack) is to strike an irresistible blow with the maximum impetus. The line therefore, should be well closed up and in good order... 4. The tactical formation must be of the simplest, and be capable of rapid alteration to suit any change of situation. Manoeuvring for position will probably result in the opportunity being lost. 5. In order to retain cohesion and to keep the horses fresh for the actual shock, the attacking troops will remain as long as possible at the trot... 6. The commander will give the command `Line will attack', usually when about 300 to 50 yards from the enemy... 7. The shorter the distance over which the charge is made, the greater will be the cohesion, and the fresher will be the horses for the actual shock. The charge should not be ordered, therefore, until the line is about 50 yards from the enemy.
41. Nolan, Cavalry Tactics, 182-3, 281-2.
42. Ibid., 282 & 283.
43. Ed. P. Meyer, 3 vols. SATF, Paris, 1941-46, ll. 2862-9.
44. Nolan, Cavalry Tactics, 280; Cavalry Training (Mounted), which stresses that `No attempt will be made by the men to take up their original places in the ranks', 133.
45. See Smail, 96 and William of Tyre, Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum, RHC Hist. Occ. i, Paris xix, xxi, repr. 1969, vol. i, 2, 895, 1038.
46. Jean, Sire de Joinville, Histoire de St Louis, ed. N. de Wailly, Paris 1874, ch. 7.
47. Odo of Deuil, De profectione Ludovici VII in orientem, ed./trans. V. G. Berry, New York 1948, 126-7. Everard de Barres, the Templar Master, instituted companies of knights 50 strong, under orders not to pursue harassing Turks, to charge and retire as instructed and to stand as required, and to maintain an agreed order of march, which was to be strictly kept to. Essentially he was applying the Rule's practice to the secular Crusaders.
48. Histoire d'Eracles, RHC Hist. Oce. ii, Paris, 1859, 429 (Rothelin, 564).49. Histoire d’Eracles, 40. Gerard de Ridefort has had a universally bad press for his rashness and impetuosity, and this has influenced historians when thinking about Templar military capabilities in general. Two recent essays attempting to reinterpret the actions of previously criticised Crusader leaders suggest that it may be time to reassess de Ridefort as well. See: R. C. Smail, `The predicament of Guy de Lusignan, 1183-87', in Outremer: Studies in the history of the Crusading Kingdom of Jerusalem, 159-76; B. Hamilton, `The Elephant of Christ, Reynald de Chatillon', in Studies in Church History, Oxford 1978. For an explanation of what Gerard may have been attempting at the Springs of Cresson, on 1st May, 1187, see, Cavalry Training (Mounted) 131: `8. If small bodies (of cavalry) show resolute determination to attack whenever possible, they will establish a moral ascendancy over the enemy, which will prove of inestimable value', although this is in relation to other scouting forces. There was, of course, the complicating factor that de Ridefort's enemy, Count Raymond of Tripoli, had given the Muslim force safe conduct and freedom to take water; which makes the Templar Master's conduct both reprehensible and understandable.
This article was first published in Studies in Medieval History presented to R. Allen Brown, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill, et al. (Boydell & Brewer, 1989). It was republished as an Appendix to The Rule of the Templars: The French Text of the Rule of the Order of the Knights Templar, trans. J.M. Upton-Ward (Boydell & Brewer, 1992). We thank Professor Bennett for his permission to republish this article.