Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby mrinku » 19 May 2015, 17:26

puster wrote:Generally the Swiss were more famous for wearing feathers, including the ostrich (no idea where they got these).

Africa, I'd imagine :)

Less flippantly, they were luxury trade items and wearing them was very much a form of 16th C bling. Arab traders through Venice would be a likely pathway.

In Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver one of the characters basically loots an ostrich in preference to other loot because of the value of the feathers. Fiction, but not unlikely.
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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby bvandewalker » 20 May 2015, 04:20

Kind of figured it would be something like that. :lol:


How about we shake up the thread a bit and talk about kerns and Gallowglass from Ireland, this is the place to bring them up since they are famous mercenary troop types from that time frame. ;)
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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby 1classybadger » 20 May 2015, 09:28

yes lets, Kerns and Gallowglass actually fought in many of the same engagements, usually on the same side against the english.

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the Gallowglass actually are a blend of scottish Irish and a bit of norse, and served the irish kings in exchange for money titles and land. though once that dried up its logical to assume they went to work for other european powers.

EDIT: no less than thirty seconds later and I am proven wrong, they were recorded as fighting for the swiss, french, swedeish and the dutch
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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby Jack007 » 21 May 2015, 02:51

I think many, when they think of England even more the term, UNITED Kingdom, think England is "one" nation. I know I made that mistake for many years in my youth and today have to pause and recall "No, its 3.. England, Wales and Scotland".
And that the english were often involved with border clashes with both. Also if IIRC, the Scot 'highlanders' and 'lowlanders' didnot always fight united. I seem to recall some Lowlander clans (as refered to by History channel) sided with the english from time to time.
And as for the Irish, it seems they were torn between fighting against or for the English crown, depending the times and who the leader was at the time.

Ironically.. that sounds like world politics still today.
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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby Lord_Bryon » 21 May 2015, 07:36

I love the name gallowglass. I'd buy a box of them simply because they sound cool.
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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby 1classybadger » 21 May 2015, 09:12

they'd make a good set mainly due to their long carreer (active from the 13th century to the 17th century) their visual appeal, and just a cool name
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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby mrinku » 22 May 2015, 01:05

England vs Scotland was often a lot more than border clashes. It came and went, but both sides took part in full scale invasions of the other. Plus the whole Jacobean business a bit later on.

The Irish largely just got beaten on by the English and Scots. Occasionally the French got involved, usually on the Scottish or Irish side.
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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby bvandewalker » 22 May 2015, 01:14

1classybadger wrote:they'd make a good set mainly due to their long carreer (active from the 13th century to the 17th century) their visual appeal, and just a cool name


yeah, gallowglass are cool and they would do well. They and the kerns did serve Irish nobles for the most part but they both also fought in foreign wars for 2 reasons:

1. not all kerns and gallowglass served lords, some formed mercenary companies that fought all over Europe.

2. quite a few Irish nobles were mercenaries themselves (which was not at all uncommon in Europe at the time) and brought their gallowglass and kerns with them to foreign theaters.

I have heard that gallowglass often wore mixed armor like chain mail shirts with one arm in full plate mail arm but I can't find any pics of that, just chainmail. But I do know that they used claymores and big two handed axes as their main weapons. I think they would work really well with the fantasy boyars and the current Viking sets as kit bashed parts in addition to being awesome in their own right.

mrinku wrote:England vs Scotland was often a lot more than border clashes. It came and went, but both sides took part in full scale invasions of the other. Plus the whole Jacobean business a bit later on.

The Irish largely just got beaten on by the English and Scots. Occasionally the French got involved, usually on the Scottish or Irish side.


Quit frankly, the only reasons the English held onto Ireland as long as they did (they had control over it since the dark age Norman invasions) was that the Irish never really had a real strong, charismatic, centralized leadership (which is the only reason Scotland was freed, they had Wallace and Bruce) and the British committed war crimes like killing unarmed civilians and burning crops to starve the Irish rebellions to death, if either of those two things had been altered in anyway the British would have been kicked out Ireland a long time ago (the British certainly weren't still around due to love and friendship with the native populace). :x

As it stands the fact that England kept having to "reconquer" Ireland practically every 20 years or less for a long time and always resorting to war crimes to do so is telling in its own right. :evil:

Also a lot of Irish rebel armies where greatly reliant on Scottish mercenaries called Redshanks from the Highlands in addition to the gallowglass (many of whom were also Scottish) and Kerns, so the Scots got beat on just as much as the Irish by Brits and Lowlanders in those fights. Plus Kerns and gallowglass where on many battlefields in many wars all over Europe including the War of the Roses and other British island civil wars, where they made both Scottish and British troops shake in their boots with fear and admiration (go read Macbeth if you don’t believe me). :twisted:

The Irish also had noted armored noble and light cavalry, something the mountain dwelling Scots aren't real famous for.
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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby 1classybadger » 22 May 2015, 09:35

actually the appreance of gallowglass in macbeth is an anachronism, as they were first reported in the mid 13th centruy and macbeth is based on an 12th century king
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Re: Medieval and renaissance mercenaries

Postby bvandewalker » 22 May 2015, 16:33

1classybadger wrote:actually the appreance of gallowglass in macbeth is an anachronism, as they were first reported in the mid 13th centruy and macbeth is based on an 12th century king


Yes, but it was Shakespeare who wrote it, likely reflecting a popular view held by many at the time he wrote it and the passage was actually more about a particular Kern leader and his band of followers, probably a reference to someone from the time Shakespeare was writing rather than anyone from earlier period.

edit:

Anyway gallowglass, kerns and Irish knights would be good line starter, WGF could do some Scottish Redshanks or Genoese crossbowmen as will than maybe later on some Stratioti and black riders.
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