11 November 2020

Considerations re ancient warfare


I remember decades ago playing D&D, we used to argue whether someone in armor could outrun an orc.  The video above seems to have been created to dispel the notion that armored warriors were poorly mobile.  

I found the video at Medievalists.net in an article that asked Could a Peasant defeat a Knight?  Short answer: not really.  

That argument applies to the 14th century, but the opposite occurred in the 1st century in the Teutoberg Forest, when German peasant forces used the unique topography of their homeland to entrap and slaughter Roman legions (see the next post).


  1. The rather brilliant BBC podcast "In Our Time" did a show on this battle. It's downloadable as an MP3 here:


  2. Thanks for posting this. There's a video clip out there's a college athlete swimming across a pool (short distance) in a suit of armor similar to those in this video but I haven't been able to find it recently. Armor can cause fatigue but it should do little to hamper mobility over a short span of time for someone physically fit and trained to use it.

  3. "If two walls are separated by one ell", i.e. less than a metre, this suggests that the knight was actually 'chimneying' up between two walls. 'Back-and-footing' is a slightly more archaic, but evocative term for the manoeuvre. Generally practiced by climbers with a masochistic bent, and much less common than the straight-on climbing you see in the video, largely because rock with chimney-sized cracks are relatively rare. The guy in the video is still impressive, although I doubt knights had access to sticky rubber climbing shoes :-)

  4. I think it's important to remember that these exercises were used in training for tournaments, not for battle. Most of the impressive-looking suits of armour we see in museums these days were presentation pieces, not military equipment. At best they'd have been used in tournaments (the professional sports of the age). It's also important to remember, I think, that Boucicaut was a commander of the losing side at the battle of Agincourt in 1415... when the armoured French knights weren't mobile enough to escape attacks by club- and dagger-wielding English yeomen. As to whether "peasants" could defeat armoured knights, see The Battle of the Golden Spurs at Courtrai in 1302.


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