Monday, May 24, 2010

Landing Ship (Horse)

Then began the mariners to open the ports of the transports, and let down the bridges, and take out the horses; and the knights began to mount, and they began to marshal the divisions of the host in due order.

Geoffrey de Villehardouin [b.c.1160-d.c.1213]: Memoirs or Chronicle of The Fourth Crusade and The Conquest of Constantinople, trans. Frank T. Marzials, (London: J.M. Dent, 1908)

So the fleet came to land, and when they were landed, forth came the knights out of the transports, all mounted; for the transports were built in such fashion that they had doors, which were easily opened, and a bridge was thrust out whereby the knights could come forth to land all mounted.

Robert of Clari's account of the Fourth Crusade

Those sources called the horse transports uissiers. Other names included chelandium, tarida and dromon. They were big galleys capable of carrying 12-30 horses. The big thirty horse taride of Charles I of Sicily shipped 108-110 oars. The doors and ramps were at the stern between two sternposts, so the vessels backed onto the beach to unload and load. They were shallow draft: in Villehardouin's account the knights jumped from the transports into waist-deep water.

The vessels are covered in more detail in: Bull, M. (2003). The experience of crusading. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

More on the ships and the landing here.


Hugh Knight said...

That's a long way from the WWII-style landing craft in Robin Hood.

Steve Muhlberger said...

Are you sure?

Hugh Knight said...

HI Steve,

Yes, I'm sure, for the simple reason that every time I've seen someone attempt a recreation of a medieval artifact by focusing on a modern object, it's been wrong.

I didn't (and won't) see the movie, but the landing craft in the trailer were obviously taken directly from WWII movie clips by the set designer.

Will McLean said...

We know they used shallow draft, oar powered, specialized vessels equiped with ramps to land horses during this period.

Given a bigger budget and a free hand, I probably could have come up with something more like the actual Middle Ages.

I don't know if the art director had that budget.

Hugh Knight said...

Well, if you two gentlemen believe these to be accurate representations of the medieval machines, I will have to bow to your superior knowledge.

I remain surprised beyond words that a medieval artifact so closely resembled one from WWII.

Thank you for the correction.

Steve Muhlberger said...

I actually don't know what they looked like -- whether similar to WW II craft or not. I am curious about the state of the evidence.

Will McLean said...

Steve: see above for an update on the state of the evidence.

Hugh. I'm not saying they're entirely accurate, but a lot of the features shown in the trailer are perfectly medieval: shallow draft, ramps, use against a defended shoreline, oars.

Getting it right would have been a lot more expensive than what they used in the scene: life size reproductions of 100-oar galleys don't come cheap. And if they paid for the extra accuracy, how many would know or care? And what would they have to have cut elsewhere to pay for it?

Hugh Knight said...

Maybe they could have goitten the extra money by not putting maid Marian into armor!