Friday, December 17, 2010


This is coolbert:

From a previous blog entry:

"This disastrous battle of course was Carrhae. A "high-water mark" of history. Multiple numbers of Roman Legions annihilated by the Parthians, Roman eastward expansion forever thwarted."

Roman defeat at Carrhae in large measure due to the presence on the battlefield of the Parthian heavy cavalry, the cataphracts.

Cataphracts! Heavy cavalry, men and horse both covered with armor, the man-a-horse using the lance as his primary weapon. A massed charged of cataphract almost unstoppable by the infantry of the day, the man-a-foot!

"A cataphract was a form of heavy cavalry utilised in ancient warfare by a number of peoples in Western Eurasia and the Eurasian Steppe."

"The word [cataphract] . . . literally meaning 'armored' or 'completely enclosed'. Historically the cataphract was a very heavily armored horseman, with both the rider and steed draped from head-to-toe in scale armor, while typically wielding a kontos or lance as their weapon."

Men wearing chain mail, the horse covered with scale armor, a cataphract in addition to the lance also being able to wield either sword, mace, or horse bow during battle.

The Parthians also possessing light cavalry at Carrhae as well, those men-a-horse lightly armed, the horse bow their favorite weapon, Parthian light cavalry being famous for the Parthian shot [not parting shot], a horsemen during feigned retreat firing a shot backwards at the enemy.

Cataphracts riding into battle aboard a heavy "charger" type of horse, the Nisean breed, now extinct. A horse breed greatly prized during antiquity, valued for having great strength and endurance, able to carry successfully a ponderous weight of armor PLUS the weight of a fully armored [chain mail] cavalryman. And carrying that weight into battle in a desert climate to boot!

The "heavenly horses" of the Chinese seem to have been the Nisean breed?

Indeed, the entire concept of the heavy cavalry, an armored horseman whose primary weapon was the lance, was embraced in totality by the populations of western Europe during the medieval period, the knight, the man-a horse, the "paladin" of the Crusades being an embodiment of the cataphract!

"they are in part or wholly believed to have given rise to the Age of Feudalism in Europe and the later European equivalents of Knights and Paladins"

"The Romans deployed both native and mercenary units of cataphracts throughout the Empire, from Asia Minor all the way to Britain . . . This tradition was later paralleled by the rise of Feudalism in Christian Europe in the Early Middle Ages, and the establishment of the Knighthood particularly during the Crusades"


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