Monday, February 13, 2012

Brantôme and the Barriers

Brantôme described a bloody encounter between two infantry captains at the battle of Ceresole in 1544. Advancing before their troops they engaged in single combat with pikes, stabbing each other in the face. One was killed and the other left for dead. He contrasted their bravery and skill with "the infinity of cavaliers of the court who one has seen and still see at the barriers. Out of a hundred such combatants one can't find a dozen who encounter so well that they don't give most of their blows to the neck, stomach or the shoulders. They have a devil of a time giving a stroke to the visor of the sallade, against the cheek, forehead and the head: for that is precisely where you need to strike"

Brantôme, Pierre de Bourdeille, André Bourdeille, and J. A. C. Buchon. 1838. Oeuvres complètes de Pierre de Bourdeille, abbé séculier de Brantôme et d'Andréa, vicomte de Bourdeille. Paris: A. Desrez.
Vol. 1. p.94-95


Steve Muhlberger said...

Skill? Were they perhaps victims of a gunslinger mentality? Hit the other guy a second before he hits you and forget about blocking or footwork?

Will McLean said...

Well, they could aim well, not a trivial skill with a 16th c. pike. Having a good defense in addition would have been more admirable, but probably less likely to be recorded.