Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Muscle vs. Armor: Throws, Part 1

In all-out armored combat, putting your opponent on the ground is very advantageous. You can strike down at him when he has limited or no ability to defend himself. Alternatively, you can fall on him with the aim of pinning him beneath your armored body. As an added bonus, he may be injured when he hits the ground.

Wrestling throws are one way to do this. When a team of seven French fought against seven English in 1402, one of the French champions was selected mostly for his skill at wrestling.
There was some difficulty made over Champagne, because he had never been at war nor at such work, but he was one of the best wrestlers that you could find. And because of this the Lord of Barbasan said to the Duke of Orleans: "My lord, let him come because as soon as he holds his enemy in his hands and comes to grips with him, he will, by wrestling, throw him down and discomfit him."And so leave was given to Champagne like the others...

And as for Champagne, it was as they said it would be. When he joined with his man, he gave him a wrestling fall so that he fell beneath him and so surrendered.

Jean Juvenal des Ursins Histoire de Charles VI, Roy de France in Nouvelle Collection des Memoires pour Servir a l'Histoire de France Paris 1836 Vol. 2 p.421-423 Translation copyright Will McLean 2003

The bastard of Glarains also threw his opponent beneath him in his 1375 combat:
But the bastard of Glarains drove his adversary Perrot de Lignais back a good six paces while fighting with the sword. And the strong bastard threw down his sword and went to seize the Englishman Lignais with his hands. And holding him strongly the bastard carried him to the ground and threw himself upon him, and lifted his visor, and gave him three blows in the face with his gauntlet. And when the Englishman felt himself struck and in a bad way, he surrendered, shouting so loudly that he could easily be heard. Nonetheless, Glarains drew the Englishman's sword, and wanted to kill him, when the duke of Bourbon said that it was sufficient, and he had done enough.

Orronville, Jean d', and A.-M. Chazaud. 1876. La chronique du bon duc Loys de Bourbon. Paris: Renouard. Ch. 34, p.99 Translation copyright Will McLean 2012

When three Frenchmen fought against three Portuguese in Paris in 1415, the Frenchman la Roque put his opponent on the ground with a sort of European jujutsu.
It happened by fortune that Rumaindres who was held to be the most powerful of the six was fighting with his axe and pushing with the spike with all his force against la Roque to make him retreat. When la Roque felt that Rumaindres was putting forth all of his strength to make him recoil, he stepped back a pace and with this move Rumaindres fell on one knee. Then la Roque struck him and stretched him out on the ground.

Jean Le Fevre, Seigneur de Saint-Remy Chronique Paris 1876 I. 208-211 Translation copyright Will McLean 2003
And when they came to their axes the one who fought la Roque pierced him beneath the top of his piece, and when he felt that the iron of his axe was taken within the harness, he began to push strongly, seeking to open up the harness. And when la Roque perceived this, he held himself firm, with the intention of doing what he would do next: when he perceived that the Portuguese leaned forward to push more strongly, all of a sudden with the swiftness of his body with which he was most skillful, he stepped back so that the Portuguese fell, carried away headlong. La Roque gave him two strokes with the axe on the head, so that he was thoroughly stunned, and drew his sword to thrust him in the behind: others said that he lifted his visor and that he wanted to strike him in the face. Anyway, whatever he did, the Portuguese surrendered, and was discomfited, and taken by the guards.

Jean Juvenal des Ursins Histoire de Charles VI, Roy de France in Nouvelle Collection des Memoires pour Servir a l'Histoire de France Paris 1836 Vol. 2 p.503 Translation copyright Will McLean 2003

Herves de Meriadet, fighting with Jacques and and Simon de Lalaing in Scotland in 1449 against three noble Scotsmen, also threw his opponent to the ground.
And on the other part came Herves de Meriadet and the Scotsman came to hit Meriadet with a push of the lance; but Meriadet turned aside the blow with the handle of his axe, so that the lance fell out of the hands of the Scotsman and Meriadet followed up so vigorously that before the Scotsman was able to unsling his axe he entered within, and with a throw carried him to earth. And Meriadet stepped back to let the Scotsman rise who was quick, light and of great courage, and he lifted himself quickly and ran under at the said Meriadet for the second time, and Meriadet who was a man who was one of the most redoubted squires of his time, strong, light, cool and dextrous in arms and in wrestling, received the Scotsman coolly and with great watchfulness and soon after made an entry on the Scotsman. And with that entry he gave such a great blow that he carried him to earth with a stroke of the axe, and quickly the Scotsman sought to lift himself, but Meriadet put his palm and knee against the back of the Scotsman, and again made him fall and kiss the sand. And despite the request that Sir Jacques de Lalaing had made of him, the said Meriadet, seeing the two knights wrestle together, went to aid the said Sir Jacques, but the King of Scotland threw down his baton and had them parted with the said Meriadet free in his battle to rescue his companions at his pleasure.

Oliver de la Marche, Memories Paris 1884 II. 105 Translation copyright Will McLean 2007

Georges Chastelain, Lalaing’s biographer, adds that when Meriadet’s opponent was on the ground:
…if he had strived to destroy his body, he could well have done so, and lightly done it, as the arms were à outrance, but he did not wish to hit him either of the times he saw him on the ground, which was nobly done, and he deserves a reputation of great honor.

Georges Chastellain, Chronique de J. de Lalain ed. J. A. Buchon (Paris, 1825) p. 205

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