Cavalry

.. s agianst the cavalry created a larger threat to it, the largest threat came from its own effectivness. The Cavalries ability to route enemies so quickly, grew to such stature that it became almost the only type of unit on the medeival battle field . This over usage of Cavalry allowed for opposing commanders to make good guesses of what tatics his oppenent was going to use and to plan counter messures. It is these counter messures that allowed the oppurtunity for the newly designed weapons to come into play and be put to work.

The two countries who used these new defensive tatics the most effectively, were the Swiss and English . Although their defenses proved effective an easy way to counter this cavalry assualt, it would have failed if the attackers had used strategies similiar to that of the Byzantine empire. Although the cavalry was the focal point of the Byzantine empire’s tatics they always made sure it was only a portion of a well rounded assualt by all types of units . This diversity in attacking units would not allow the defending commander the easy one way solution to countering the attack. Even with all of these adverse effects the cavalry continued to remain the most important unit in an commanders army.

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In dealing with the increases in weapon development the cavalry was constantly being suited up in always improving armour. These upgrades in armour led to the development of Plate Armour which eventualy would replaced chain mail as the armour of choice in northern and western Europe . What made plate armour so appealing to the cavalry was it offered a defense agianst the English longbows and some European crossbows. As more time went by the armourers continued to become more and more skilled, and learned how to make better custom-built suits of armour. These suits fitted the knights so well that the weight of the metal would hardly be felt by its wearer .

Not only was armour being developed too protect the rider better but it was also being designed too better protect the horses of the medevial cavalry. The horses of the these early cavalries would have had little to no armour, protecting them. Just as the knights faced an ever growing threat from new weapons so did the horses, and since a cavalry man is best suited for fighting from on top of his horse, it became crucial to keep his horse alive so he could stay on top of it. At first the horses were equipped with chain mail slips, similiar to that of a soliders chain mail but molded to fit a horses body. Then just as the knights switched from chain mail to plate armour so did the horses .

One of the first places that was fitted with plate armour was the horses head. This piece of armour called the chanfron covered the horses entire head and sometimes had a spike protruding from its forehead . What real purpose this spike served is not sure but what it defenitly did was strike fear in the hearts of a cavalrymans enemies. This use of fear by the cavalrymen proved to be one of its biggest reasons for success. It was through this use of fear that many cavalry charges were able to disperse their enemis before they even met the opposing lines.

This dissertion most often occured in unhardened soldiers who had been drafted to fight in a countries army and had never heard the thunderous clomping of a full cavalry charge. It was this exact use of fear that Count William Clito of Flanders used in sending Walram’s forces running back home with . The major reason for most opposing armies panic was their ussual lack of disicpline. With most national levies filled by conscripted soldiers from the general public, it is know wonder that when faced with the charge of a fully mounted cavalry that panic and disorder would take hold and they would flee the battle . Commanders facing an army with a fully trained cavalry came to accept the fear they caused, and would usually stand by as their national levies became fodder for the opposing armies mounted units .

This use of fear worked great agianst armies with bad morale and who were unorganized, but agianst a vetran army of infantry the cavalry could face stiff resiestance. The easiest way around this resistance was the use of a well balanced attack, and not just the one pronged attack of the cavalry. It was the Romans who came up with this multipronged attack plan but it was the Byzantine empire of the fourth century that first used this technique the most effectively . These multi-pronged attacks consisting of infantry, archers, and cavalry proved to be very succesful agianst any army using only one or two of these type of units. The key to the success for this three way attack style still lied heavily in an armies cavalry because they were the only units capable of delievering an offensive blow strong enough to defeat an enemy . Even with all the changes being made to the cavalry’s armour and weapons one last reason that it was able to maintain its position of stature for so long was because of the prestiouges postion a cavalry man held in the courts of western and northron Europe .

It was this prestige that turned the knights of Europe from ordinary men into revered icons of medeival society. So even if the total effectivness of the cavalry decreased over time, it was able to maintain its stature due to the position it held in so many of the peoples hearts . So from its birth at the hands of the Romans in the 400-500s the cavalry made many changes of its own to help sustain its effectivness on the battlefield . It was then soon after its first appearence on the battle field that the Byzantine empire also took up the usage of cavalry in its armies. It was here that the true effectiveness of the cavalry finally became known.

Used by the Byzantines to such an effectiveness, it was no wonder that the cavalry was soon adpoted by the westren Europeans . It was then under the western Europeans that the cavalry grew to become the center piece of medeival warfare. Although it faced many difficulities throughout its usage during the middle ages, the cavalry was able to overcome almost everyone of them. As bow strengths increased so did the strength of a knights armour and that of his horses . These advancements in armour construction turned the normal horse and rider into the tank of the middle ages.

And just like the tanks of today, the cavalry of the middle ages instilled fear and panic into the hearts of its oppenets. It was this useage of fear and panic that allowed the cavalry to be as effective as it was during the middle ages. This effeciency of the cavalry allowed it to maitain its postition of importance in any commanders tatics for an unsurpassed amount of time. With its first usage by the Romans in 400s, the cavalry was still in use into the begging of the 1900s. It was in WWI that commanders on both sides of the battle lines were still sending cavalry charges over the top.

It was then during WWI that the new and upcoming weapon of choice, the gun, claimed its final dominace over the once glourious and illustrious campaign of the cavalry. History Essays.

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