Combat Examples from Usamah Ibn Munqidh

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    Jean Chandler

    “By this time the vanguard of the Frankish horsemen had reached me, so I retired before them, turning back my lance in their direction and my eyes toward them lest some one of their horse should prove to quick for me and pierce me with his lance. In front of me were some of our companions, and we were surrounded by gardens with walls as high as a sitting man. My mare hit wit it’s breast one of our companions, so I turned it’s head to the left and applied the spurs to it’s sides, whereupon it leaped over the wall. I so regulated my position until I stood on a level with the Franks. The wall only separated us. One of their horsemen hastened to me, displaying his colors in a green and yellow silk tunic, under which I thought was no coat of mail. I therefore let him alone until he passed me. Then I applied my spurs to my mare, which leapt over the wall, and I smote him with the lance. He bent sideways so much that his head reached the stirrup, his shield and lance fell off his hand, and his helmet off his head. By that time we had reached our infantry. He then resumed his position, erect in the saddle. Having had linked mail under his tunic, my lance did not wound him. His companions caught up to him, all returned together, and the footman recovered his shield, lance, and helmet.”

    -An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the period of the Crusades. Usamah Ibn-Munqidh, 12th Century AD


    Usamah also has a good example of parrying with the blade of your knife resting on your forearm going horribly wrong because of preindustrial steel

    Jean Chandler

    That’s a wonderful anecdote. I don’t remember that one. I wonder if it’s the “pre-industrial steel” or maybe Usamah had a wootz blade, or it’s just physics. I’ve seen modern steel blades snap more than once at HEMA tournaments. I’ve broken a few just at regular sparring practice.

    I had transcribed several anecdotes from that amazing book and I thought I had them on my old website but this one up above was the only one I could find on there. I need to pull the book down and go through and transcribe a bunch more.

    This other cluster of anecdotes about the ‘strangeness of the Franks’ that you linked is also quite good

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