60 knights paused a war to fight a battle royale

106
7
4 days
(historynet.com)
by drdee

Comments

seizethecheese
2 days

I found this link to be much better for understanding what happened:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat_of_the_Thirty

kipchak
2 days

The seeming after the fact politicization of the battle hundreds of years later interesting. On the "French" side it turns from a fair fight between good men to honarable nobles defending the peasants from foreign mercenaries, and on the "English" side it's remembered as a loss inflicted partially due to dirty tricks by the "French".

jcheng
2 days

> According to the visitors' guide to the Chateau de Josselin "As evening fell that day, the victor, Captain de Beaumanoir, returned the prisoners to Josselin and had them executed."

Yeouch

Edit: Or maybe not? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=32956302

squeaky-clean
1 day

I'm guessing the visitors' guide is a placard at the castle or something? Can't find any notes about it online, and googling the quote only brings me the wiki article and this comment. There should be a better citation for that quote.

Brittanica also states the article was purchased and not fact checked yet, but at least it has an author who seems credible. Still wish original sources of info were mentioned in either case.

Earliest thing translated to English I can find is wiki's [16], a translation of a 14c poem. It mentions capturing them and some parole, but not execution or ransoming (unless ransoms were part of their parole. Looking it up, at the time parole would have meant an agreement to be let free but never again engage in combat).

Either way it looks like Sir Robert Knolles went on to lead an assault on Northern France 19 years later. so that's at least one who wasn't executed.

> But few upon the English side the combat now sustain,

> For some are captives on parole, and others have been slain.

> Sir Robert Knolles and Calverley are in great jeopardy, And so is giant Bélifort, despite his bravery.

> Vainly they struggle on. -- Tis o’er with every squire and knight

> Who came that day in company with Pembroke to the fight.

> John Plesington, Helcoq, Repefort, and Richard de La Lande,

> With more to Josselin now are ta’en by Beaumanoir’s command.

Also this bit is neat. We are indeed talking about it more than 300 years later

> Three hundred years hereafter -- nay, a thousand! -- they shall hear Of this Combat of the Thirty, which, I ween, was without peer.

[16] https://web.archive.org/web/20121105020628/http://www.nipiss...

Comment was deleted :(
arcticbull
2 days

It's also playable in Age of Empires 4 heh.

apetresc
2 days

I played through that mission and was thinking "Wow, they must be taking huge liberties with the historical accuracy these days. There's no way this actually happened."

Well, shows what I know.

hprotagonist
2 days

the combat of the thirty is indeed quite famous in some circles.

Reenactors, in particular, love it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amm1gFbfPN0

jasonjamerson
4 days

I don't think I understand how they were going full out and so few died.

gkfasdfasdf
2 days

It seems from the wiki article that the loosing team was executed - or am I reading it wrong?

> As evening fell that day, the victor, Captain de Beaumanoir, returned the prisoners to Josselin and had them executed.

nibbleshifter
2 days

The Britannica (encyclopedia) website claims they were well treated and returned for ransom.

So its disputed I guess.

reidjs
2 days

Armor

somenameforme
2 days

It also would not have been chivalrous to kill an opponent who yielded, so the only ones dying are those who were killed in short order on the battle field, or those who refused to yield in hopeless circumstance.

telchior
2 days

Probably much more important than chivalry: you can't ransom off a captive who is dead.

Ransoms were really, really large in that period. Five years after this battle, the English captured the French king at Poitiers. His ransom was 4 million gold coins plus, I think, various concessions. The French ended up having to pay a lot of ransoms through the whole war, and as a result, the nobility and crown were so poor they couldn't prevent banditry and famines.

Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century is a very engaging account of this period.

greesil
2 days

My takeaway from reading that book was that if I was a time traveler I'd avoid that place and time. I thought the banditry may have served as inspiration for the middle books of Game of Thrones.

MomoXenosaga
2 days

I think the religious wars of the 16th and 17th century were worse. Even high nobility was not immune from torture and gruesome executions.

You can't bribe a fanatic.

hprotagonist
2 days

"you can't ransom the dead!" and basically all the combatants were noble.

varjag
2 days

Weren't they all executed in the end?

henryfjordan
2 days

>All the prisoners were treated well and were released promptly on the payment of a small ransom.

https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-the-Thirty

birdyrooster
2 days

Tis but a scratch

User23
2 days

In today’s age of firearms it’s easy to not realize just how effective medieval armor was against the weapons of the time. An armored knight was basically a terminator tier threat to lightly armed footmen until the longbow and later weapon advances.

WalterBright
1 day

The recent movie "The Last Duel" featured a duel to the death by two knights. I thought the fight sequence was good, but was amazed to learn it was historically accurate. Observers at the time had actually documented the fight blow by blow, and the movie hewed to it.

So if you want to see a best effort recreation of how two heavily armored knights would fight, watch it!

rightbyte
2 days

You underestimate how ceremonial battles were.

Tuna-Fish
2 days

That's not it at all. Armor and tight ranks are really, really good at keeping people alive right up until gunpowder weapons.

It was entirely normal for armies of several thousand people on each side to clash and have <1% casualties for an hour or more. And you can tell this is not because of some ceremonial reasons because of what happens when ranks of one side finally break, because then the side that manages to hold cohesion will absolutely slaughter the losers.

towaway15463
2 days

Go watch some videos of modern melee tournaments where the participants are in full armour. Armoured combat essentially turns all weapons into blunt objects unless you manage to get a point of a sword into a gap which is hard to do while being pummeled over the head.

Comment was deleted :(
renewiltord
2 days

A bit confusing. The challenge was:

> Armed at all points, and on our steeds—and Heaven defend the right!

The battle was decided by

> Breton squire Guillaume de Montauban leapt on his charger and rode straight into the English ranks

The outcome was

> Though his mounted charge may have represented a breach of etiquette, the outcome proved such a crushing blow that the English could not carry on and effectively capitulated.

Why is that a breach of etiquette if you're on the horse and you all agreed to be on your horses. But assuming for whatever sake, that this was a breach, that makes the whole story absolutely hilarious. It is reminiscent of the Indiana Jones scene where Harrison Ford pulls out a gun to shoot a guy who does sword tricks.

Hahaha, what a bunch of suckers.

anigbrowl
2 days

The elaborate formalities of historical combat probably evolved as a way to minimize casualties. It's a pattern that appears over and over in military anthropology, where the goal of most conflict was to command good territory or carry off women. Going all-out to annihilate your enemy tribe completely was the equivalent of nuclear war.

Wohlf
2 days

It's also much deadlier for the winners to not let the opposing side retreat/surrender, if people feel trapped they'll fight to the death.

WalterBright
1 day

Exactly.

I suspect that WW2 went on for an extra year because the Allies announced they wanted "unconditional surrender", which meant death for the leaders.

The Germans had a saying, "enjoy the war because the peace will be hell".

RalfWausE
1 day

Also a german saying: "Der Soldat der beizeiten flieht, der kämpft auch noch im nächsten Krieg"... if you flee in time you can be able to fight in the next conflict.

renewiltord
21 hours

An old saying from early in the first Millennium at least, through Menander apparently, but common in many cultures.

kevinventullo
24 hours

FWIW, the length of time between D-Day and the German surrender was less than a year.

WalterBright
21 hours

The Germans knew long before D-Day that they were going to lose.

towaway15463
2 days

Ransom money and family relations or treatment of the hostages the enemy had were probably the big motivators.

WalterBright
1 day

The reason for minimizing casualties was the armies consisted of paid mercenaries. Mercenaries had no interest in dying in combat, so it was maneuver to get the other side into a bad position, then they capitulate.

This all changed with conscription. Now, commanders could command vast armies of conscripts who were forced to fight, and the slaughter was/is tremendous.

nazka
1 day

That’s interesting. Do you know where I can find more stuff about this? And the etiquette of war back then?

WalterBright
19 hours

The period was the middle ages in Italy with its warring city-states. I don't have a reference handy, as this was told to me by my father (who had a PhD in history).

anigbrowl
18 hours

*A History of Warfare' by John Keegan is a readable introduction to the combined history and anthropology of warfare, with a good bibliography.

suoduandao2
2 days

'leapt on his charger' implies that he attacked very quickly, perhaps after the battle had officially started but both sides were still in fact glaring at each other and getting ready. I imagine it being a bit similar to a boxing match which begins when the bell rings, but opponents will typically touch gloves as a sign of respect before actually fighting. Sometimes a fighter will use this moment to sneak in an unexpected attack and catch his opponent off guard - well within the rules, but considered poor sportsmanship.

anigbrowl
2 days

They had already fought for several hours earlier in the day and then paused for lunch. After resuming, the English lost one of their leaders but kept fighting and bunched up tightly. As far as fighting on foot goes goes, this made it impossible for them to win but also impossible to defeat given the number of fighters available.

The modern equivalent would be ending a gun battle by driving an armored truck through the enemy group.

towaway15463
2 days

Combat like this without reserve cavalry likely devolved into dismounted melee immediately after the first charge. They would have started mounted, charged with lances, became embroiled in close combat, eventually dismounting or being pulled off, then melee combat on foot.

The squire in question probably broke ranks and ran off and mounted his steed and then flanked his opens at full charge and just ran them over. That’s usually the job of reserve cavalry to smash formations of foot soldiers but they agreed to not have any reserves so it could be considered against the terms they agreed to even if he was taking part in the fight from the start.

david422
2 days

Harrison Ford was originally supposed to do a giant sword fight. But then for several reasons, it was shortened and the outcome was much better:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/general-news/raiders-...

bombcar
2 days

I wonder if the breach of etiquette was that it was a squire who charged, not a knight.

peteradio
2 days

> Guillaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaume ... de ... Montauuuuuuban!!!!!

> Goddamnit Guillaume...

01acheru
2 days

What are you citing? My brain kind of lights up but cannot figure it out.

aegis4244
2 days

Leroy Jenkins. :)

peteradio
2 days
beckingz
2 days

He had his chicken it was time to go!

rascul
2 days

Is it unchivalrous to attack someone on foot while you're on a horse?

andirk
2 days

Is it true the knights mostly fought the peasantry and rarely other knights?

some_random
2 days

This might be the lamest nitpick I've ever written, but isn't a Battle Royale an individual/small team fight to the death? This is just a small fight between two teams.

blendergeek
2 days

I clicked the link really curious to learn why 60 knights engaged in a Battle Royale Death Match (every man for himself, fight to the death). I was disappointed to learn the click bait title had taken me in and all I would get to read about was a 30 on 30 arranged battle.

mkl95
2 days

Yeah this is a Last Team Standing.

taskforcegemini
2 days

team deathmatch?

Nowado
2 days

Deathmatch tends to focus on frags.

mkl95
2 days

Can you respawn?

lapetitejort
2 days

That is to be determined. I'll try to let you know if I respawn.

fsckboy
2 days

people try to nail down definitions of words that are only loosely defined. You know the fight scenes in movies where a fight breaks out in a bar, and before you know it, everybody is fighting everybody? That's a battle royale. Is it a fight to the death? not usually. Have some people used that phrase to refer fights to the death? yes.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/battle_royal#English

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_royal

books.google.com search "battle royale" in the 19th century, you'll see talk of ladies squabbling and how to conduct a mass cock-fight

blendergeek
2 days

A Battle Royale is when multiple combatants fight each other and they are not organized into teams.

Here, the title qualifies Battle Royale with "Death Match" implying that this Battle Royale is to the death.

fsckboy
2 days

lower case, battle royale is just an expression in English that anybody is free to use to describe a conflict that had some aspect of getting out of control.

> ...and they are not organized into teams. Here, the title qualifies Battle Royale...

but in this incident they were organized in teams

blendergeek
1 day

> lower case, battle royale is just an expression in English that anybody is free to use to describe a conflict that had some aspect of getting out of control.

Anybody is free to use any word in way they want. However, using words in common ways will help prevent confusion. For example, "battle royale" (or "battle royal") is mainly used to refer to "A fight involving three or more individuals, teams, or factions; fought until one person, team, or faction is left standing" (from Wiktionary). Using battle royale to mean something else will lead to confusion among most English speakers.

> but in this incident they were organized in teams

And this particular discussion about the article was about the misuse of the term Battle Royale, specifically the use of term to describe combat with two teams instead of many.

Archelaos
2 days

Yep, and it requries computers. It is clearly a use avount la lettre. The title is to be understood as a play on words: "Battle Royale" == "Fight in the most royal manner possible". -- Whether it's a good play on words is for the reader to judge, though.

troutwine
2 days

> Yep, and it requries computers.

Does it? Wrasslin' has had Battle Royals as long as I've been alive and conscious and I'm sure -- although I can't find the reference now -- that English bare-knuckle boxers used to have Battle Royals in the mercantile period for non-trivial money.

Archelaos
2 days

This is not essential for my main point. I did not want to be exhaustive. I only wanted to stress the avount la lettre aspect. As long as we have no medieval source for the term, you may choose whatever more or less contemporary meaning that seems fit as the modern scopus of the word play.

troutwine
2 days

Fair enough.

otikik
2 days

If all the members of both teams are kings or queens, then it’s a Royal Battle.

jovial_cavalier
2 days

Its recent usage is largely an allusion to the film from 2000. The title refers to a contest where members of a graduating high school class are pitted against each other to the death.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Royale_(film)

_dain_
1 day

it's france, they call it that because of the metric system

Kiro
2 days

Not lame at all. You wrote what everyone except lamers immediately thought of.