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 That's some shaolin... 
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Post That's some shaolin...
I'm giving a translation of a passage from "Die Schlacht von dem Kunig von Poln und mit dem Moscowiter 1514" here, regarding the siege of Smolensk. I was astonished to read this stuff - I always thought that tsars usually commanded battles from afar - and certainly didn't behave like blasted shaolin monks! :roll: :D :o

Bear in mind that the passage below was written by a neutral observer, a messenger from the Holy Roman Emperor, who was told to give his emperor an impartial account, and who had no reason to suck up to Vasily III.

"... Tsars of Muscovites learn to handle various weapons from the very childhood, and, to tell the truth, there are very few who could equal them in the lands of Muscovy, as well as in the lands of Tatars, Turks and Poles. I'm telling you the truth, I saw it myself near Smolensk, how the Great Prince rode into a Polish regiment wielding a polearm* with such skill that nobody could reach him at a saber's length. That polearm is a sword or a saber likened to a spear, and Muscovites are extremely skillful with it, whirling it around themselves and landing terrifying blows. When the horse was eventually killed under the Great Prince, he stood on its corpse and fought on, from time to time making great leaps** and uttering a scream so dreadful that Polish horses got frightened. So he fought and killed many, till his bodyguards and squires reached him - all noble and influential princes of Muscovy."

"... I wouldn't believe myself that this deadly weapon can pierce mighty breastplates crafted by Imperial smiths. I stood in awe for some time after the Great Prince cast Polish lancer Swerchkowski - a very skillful warrior - with his horse to the ground by a blow, and then, leaping to his breast, crushed his helmet with the rear end of his weapon. Swerchkowski's squires didn't even have time to realize that their master was gone..."

* - the weapon is unclear to me. It probably was some kind of a glaive, maybe something like this: http://www.adjudant.ru/table/images%5CS ... I%5C28.gif.
** - one has to remember that this was most likely accomplished while wearing a plate mail, something like this:
http://www.adjudant.ru/table/images%5CS ... I%5C12.gif
http://www.adjudant.ru/table/images%5CS ... I%5C08.gif

Great Prince figuring in this document is Vasily III, who is overshadowed in the historical accounts both by his father Ivan III, the Great, and his son Ivan IV, the Terrible (even his wiki article is half the length of both Ivans mentioned). The fact that the guy was actually mediocre at best only added to the surprise for me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasily_III


3 Dec 2007, o 06:39
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Joined: 23 Aug 2007, o 01:52
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Location: Batavia, IL. USA
Post Re: That's some shaolin...
1514 wouldn't he be wearing full plate like http://www.arador.com/gallery/ct1.jpg

Weapon reminds me of a bill or billhook except longer.

Being a Prince he probably got the best combat training in the country. European Martial Arts were just as advanced as Asian when they were useful during war. I know there's several current attempts to resurrect European Martial Arts in the western world are there any in Russia or any of the Ex-Soviet States?


15 Jan 2008, o 13:29
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Post Re: That's some shaolin...
Yep, I think we have some groups in Russia that claim to be practicing "Slavic martial arts". I almost went to one myself, but just didn't get caught up.

And plate armor was almost never used in medieval Russia. Russians always preferred more flexible forms of armor, and cavalry tactics differed greatly from that in the West, placing less emphasis on heavy cavalry charges and more on flexibility and flanking. To achieve that, the weight one puts on a horse had to be much lower than that of a Western knight. By XV century, the heavy armor of choice would be plate mail, made of large armor plates assembled into a shirt, like this: http://www.adjudant.ru/table/images%5CS ... I%5C07.gif

Here's a couple of renderings of typical armor worn in XV-XVII centuries: http://www.adjudant.ru/table/images%5CS ... I%5C29.gif
http://www.adjudant.ru/table/images%5CS ... I%5C30.gif

Armorcraft tradition in late medieval Russia probably has more ties to Ottomans and Persia than to Western Europe.


15 Jan 2008, o 16:25
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Post Re: That's some shaolin...
Scale armor or Lamellar made out of steel. It looks like the plate overlap downwards which would probably be a disadvantage if you were fighting from a horse. (The scales would have edges at the bottom) If it was like the Lamellar here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:SCH1577ac.jpg A stab from below would be less likely to penetrate. The translated passage states he fought from horseback and on foot so he could of worn either.

I'd assume his polearm had a counterweight to make the sharp end quick and make it heavy enough crushing a helmet was possible.

I prefer Civilization to martial arts but it does sound fun.


16 Jan 2008, o 14:47
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Post Re: That's some shaolin...
Yep, you're probably right. :D


16 Jan 2008, o 15:43
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