Book 2 – Page 72

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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Sieggy » Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:37 am

Yup, at Agincourt, the French made the absolutely fatal error of allowing the English archers to advance to relatively close range and shoot the hell out of them. The French couldn't get any momentum up as the field had recently been plowed for winter wheat (which is planted far more deeply) and it had been raining for several days, which meant everyone could only slog along. And slogging through mud in 60 - 80 pounds of armor & weapons is a slow process which gives the archers time to place their shots where they would do the most good. Also, the French had to keep the visors on their helms closed so they wouldn't catch an arrow in the face, which severely restricted their vision. And since their horses couldn't move faster than a slow walk, a lance charge was impossible

True, bodkin points were not very effective against high end Milanese armor - if you look at the fluting on it that everyone thinks is decorative, it prevented an arrow from hitting a flat surface, thus causing it to glance off. However, bear in mind that *most* armor was at best mild steel, and as the French closed in, the archers could take their time and shoot for the weak spots (the joints were notoriously vulnerable) as well as their horses (there was no PETA back then . . .). Another thing is that while a lot of the bodkin points weren't the greatest metal, some of the more experienced archers had discovered case hardening. They would sharpen the points and toss them into a bed of coals, get them nice & hot, then drop them into oil. Those points would go through damn near anything.

Where the English had an additional advantage was that their archers were barefooted - they took off their boots as they kept getting stuck in the mud, which meant that they could move MUCH more quickly than their armored opponents. For the most part, they carried short swords (more like big trench knives) and heavily weighted pole arms which were particularly effective against armor (if I can put a big dent in your plate, I'm pretty much guaranteed to break the bone under it). Their hand-to-hand fighting ability came as a complete surprise to the French who thought that once archers were out of arrows and close at hand they would be easy meat . . .

Agincourt really wasn't so much a battle as it was the biggest damned mudpit brawl in the world. And one of the few fights where the advantages of an armored and mounted knight were not only neutralized but became liabilities.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Kreistor » Tue Sep 27, 2011 9:44 am

Sieggy wrote:Where the English had an additional advantage was that their archers were barefooted - they took off their boots as they kept getting stuck in the mud, which meant that they could move MUCH more quickly than their armored opponents.


That is false. It was demonstrated that the leather boots they wore did not get stuck in the mud, so it was not necessary to remove their boots.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby sleepymancer » Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:14 pm

Kreistor wrote:
Sieggy wrote:Where the English had an additional advantage was that their archers were barefooted - they took off their boots as they kept getting stuck in the mud, which meant that they could move MUCH more quickly than their armored opponents.


That is false. It was demonstrated that the leather boots they wore did not get stuck in the mud, so it was not necessary to remove their boots.


We have an impasse here. It has been demonstrated that the boots did not get stuck in the mud, and that there was no need to take them off, true. This does not mean that they did not actually take their boots off. While the parameters of possible can be determined, historical contexts cannot be reconstructed on the basis that because a thing could be done it must have been done. Sorry. They may have left their boots on (they probably did), but we can't prove it on those grounds.

A parallel example would be that it has been shown that with an early medieval Scandinavian longship* (and the right conditions) you can circumnavigate the world. However, (to our knowledge) no early medieval Scandinavians actually did.

* not some river barge like the one excavated at Oseberg, but a sensible one :D
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Kreistor » Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:22 pm

sleepymancer wrote:
Kreistor wrote:
Sieggy wrote:Where the English had an additional advantage was that their archers were barefooted - they took off their boots as they kept getting stuck in the mud, which meant that they could move MUCH more quickly than their armored opponents.


That is false. It was demonstrated that the leather boots they wore did not get stuck in the mud, so it was not necessary to remove their boots.


We have an impasse here. It has been demonstrated that the boots did not get stuck in the mud, and that there was no need to take them off, true. This does not mean that they did not actually take their boots off.


There's no impasse. You don't take your boots off in battle unless there's a darned good reason.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby sleepymancer » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:30 pm

Kreistor wrote:
sleepymancer wrote:
Kreistor wrote:
That is false. It was demonstrated that the leather boots they wore did not get stuck in the mud, so it was not necessary to remove their boots.


We have an impasse here. It has been demonstrated that the boots did not get stuck in the mud, and that there was no need to take them off, true. This does not mean that they did not actually take their boots off.


There's no impasse. You don't take your boots off in battle unless there's a darned good reason.


Umm, no. The impasse remains. We can assume that they didn't take their boots off, based on our assumption that they wouldn't take their boots off. However, that is a deductive assumption based solely on the modern context and a hypothetical re-construction, not proof derived from primary evidence of the historical context. At best it defines the parameters.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Kalak » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:32 pm

I came to see what the discussion would be about after 11 pages, and promptly decided that all discussion after the 4th or 5th page is talking for the sake of talking.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Dr Pepper » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:34 pm

Kreistor wrote:
There's no impasse. You don't take your boots off in battle unless there's a darned good reason.


Or if you're Billy Jack. But of course, he had the "Opponents Wait Politely for You to Take off Your Boots" special.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Dr Pepper » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:38 pm

Kalak wrote:I came to see what the discussion would be about after 11 pages, and promptly decided that all discussion after the 4th or 5th page is talking for the sake of talking.


Yeah, usually. But this time it is informative to learn that Agincourt is being reevaluated. But then 700 years if english triumphalism is probably enough.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby sleepymancer » Tue Sep 27, 2011 1:49 pm

Dr Pepper wrote:
Kalak wrote:I came to see what the discussion would be about after 11 pages, and promptly decided that all discussion after the 4th or 5th page is talking for the sake of talking.


Yeah, usually. But this time it is informative to learn that Agincourt is being reevaluated. But then 700 years if english triumphalism is probably enough.


Well, I'm talking for the sake of pedagogy ;)
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Kreistor » Tue Sep 27, 2011 5:57 pm

sleepymancer wrote:Umm, no. The impasse remains. We can assume that they didn't take their boots off, based on our assumption that they wouldn't take their boots off. However, that is a deductive assumption based solely on the modern context and a hypothetical re-construction, not proof derived from primary evidence of the historical context. At best it defines the parameters.


Total rationalization. You can rationalize any belief about anything with logic like that.

Dr Pepper wrote:Yeah, usually. But this time it is informative to learn that Agincourt is being reevaluated. But then 700 years if english triumphalism is probably enough.


Actually, it has never been evaluated. The one contemporary report on Agincourt says that the Archers won the battle, but it doesn't say how. We know they were placed on the flanks in forest, so weren't vulnerable to a cavalry charge, and we know that whatever they did, it angered the French knights into repeated, enraged, uncontrolled charges into the muddy field, but it doesn't actually say the knights wee slain by the bow. There are thousands of arrow heads in the soil, even now, so they shot huge numbers of arrows that missed.

Beyond that, everything else is based on tests and experimentation. There will always be debate, and there will never be a conclusion. Speculation will always surround it, simply because the records of the time were inadequate.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Baron Daguerre » Wed Sep 28, 2011 3:57 am

Oh Titans - you see what happens when we go twelve days without an update? it's like the reanimated corpse of soc.history.medieval on Usenet.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby sleepymancer » Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:46 am

Kreistor wrote:
sleepymancer wrote:Umm, no. The impasse remains. We can assume that they didn't take their boots off, based on our assumption that they wouldn't take their boots off. However, that is a deductive assumption based solely on the modern context and a hypothetical re-construction, not proof derived from primary evidence of the historical context. At best it defines the parameters.


Total rationalization. You can rationalize any belief about anything with logic like that.


Funny, I would argue that your approach is simple rationalisation! What I am proposing is to check the limits of proof and the rigour and applicability of the available evidence.

Kreistor wrote:Beyond that, everything else is based on tests and experimentation.


Sorry for cutting the details. My focus here is on how we study and interpret the past, not the details of the battle itself. We cannot interpret the past on the basis of empirical tests and experiments. There was a brief period in the ~1950s and ~1960s when history and archaeology tried to become scientific disciplines, but that was rapidly disabused. All means of studying the human past are firmly based in the arts/humanities, although this does not mean that they are not informed by the sciences. Ultimately, however, the study of the past is subjective and interpretive. The best a reconstruction, test or experiment can do is say 'this can or can't be done', not whether or not it was. To assume that because a thing was possible or even was just a 'better' alternative, that it must therefore have been done is logical fallacy.

Kreistor wrote:There will always be debate, and there will never be a conclusion. Speculation will always surround it,


Thank goodness!

Kreistor wrote:simply because the records of the time were inadequate.


um... not sure what you mean here. This implies that the records should have been written with our purposes as historians in mind. textual and archaeological records are often better seen as performances, indicative of the way in which the agency of individuals represent and shape themselves, each other and their worlds.

(regarding the potential bare-footedness. If the argument for that is simply that 'surely their boots would have got stuck in the mud so they must have taken them off' then I would reject that too as unsupportable by evidence. So where does that leave is: I will not accept the evidence for them taking their boots of or for leaving them on (assuming they arrived wearing boots :p ). Welcome to the discipline of history, soldier, grab a theoretical-analytical stance and fall in...

Baron Daguerre wrote:Oh Titans - you see what happens when we go twelve days without an update? it's like the reanimated corpse of soc.history.medieval on Usenet.


:p :p :p
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Kreistor » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:23 am

sleepymancer wrote:
Kreistor wrote:Total rationalization. You can rationalize any belief about anything with logic like that.


Funny, I would argue that your approach is simple rationalisation! What I am proposing is to check the limits of proof and the rigour and applicability of the available evidence.


No, you're saying, "If it can't be proven to not have happened, then it might have happened."

Since it is impossible to disprove a negative, you get to believe anything you want. I can't prove space aliens didn't kill the knights, either, so they are equally likely to have done that as they took off their boots. Ultimately, you have no method to reject any of a thosand theories -- they put wood on their boots and skated on the mud, they sat on the mud and slid around, crawled, built daVinci helicopters and fly, strugn ropes from tree to tree and rappelled across...

See, I can do it too! Believe ANYTHING because you can't disprove it? Absurd.

The evidence against your belief is that in on-site testing, leather boots were not hampered by the mud at Agincourt. There was no motivation to remove the boots. So go ahead and believe whatever you want. It's not different from "space aliens done it" in the end.

Sorry for cutting the details. My focus here is on how we study and interpret the past, not the details of the battle itself.


Uhm, you have done nothing of the sort. You have a belief and expect it to be considered historically factual because others can't prove it didn't happen. That's not studying the past, it's inventing a new past.

We cannot interpret the past on the basis of empirical tests and experiments.


You know nothing about being a historian. It is *all* about what you can prove could be done.

There was a brief period in the ~1950s and ~1960s when history and archaeology tried to become scientific disciplines, but that was rapidly disabused.


HAHAHAHAHAHAH! It was 100% successful, but you're wrong on the dates. discovering the past through duplication of the evidence goes back to the late 1800's.

All means of studying the human past are firmly based in the arts/humanities, although this does not mean that they are not informed by the sciences.


Total BS. Re-engineering the past is done with the knowledge of modern science.

Ultimately, however, the study of the past is subjective and interpretive.


Yeah, you try to get accepted as a historian that way. Good luck with that.

The best a reconstruction, test or experiment can do is say 'this can or can't be done', not whether or not it was. To assume that because a thing was possible or even was just a 'better' alternative, that it must therefore have been done is logical fallacy.


And yet they still try, put together the devices to demonstrate their theories, and either they are accepted or not.

Kreistor wrote:simply because the records of the time were inadequate.


um... not sure what you mean here. This implies that the records should have been written with our purposes as historians in mind. textual and archaeological records are often better seen as performances, indicative of the way in which the agency of individuals represent and shape themselves, each other and their worlds.


Only one record of the battle remains. There were almost certainly others, but they simply didn't survive.

(regarding the potential bare-footedness. If the argument for that is simply that 'surely their boots would have got stuck in the mud so they must have taken them off' then I would reject that too as unsupportable by evidence. So where does that leave is: I will not accept the evidence for them taking their boots of or for leaving them on (assuming they arrived wearing boots :p ).


Like I said, if that is your logic, it could have been space aliens. And that is why historians reject your approach. Unless you can at least provide motivation for something, then no one will accept the possibility. You haven't, and you can't, because testing has shown it was unnecessary..Removing boots and making your feet vulnerable to knives and swords in the middle of a battle is simply foolish, when it gains you absolutely no mobility advantage.

If it was included in Cornwell's story, then maybe has a reason for it. I'd love to hear it. But you're not giving it.

Welcome to the discipline of history, soldier, grab a theoretical-analytical stance and fall in...


No, you and your methods fail to reject the Space Alien theory, and so are inadequate as a tool to study science or history. *You* will must never disbelieve any theory that cannot be dis-proven, no matter how absurd, or in doing so, you risk rejecting all of these pet theories.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby drachefly » Wed Sep 28, 2011 9:45 am

Kriestor, holy crow. Certain negatives are very plausible. Others, not so much so, simply due to the amount of information they contain (teapot in orbit kind of stuff). The question of boot removal is one in which neither branch has any credibility issues. If you take a Bayesian approach, which is the right thing to do, you end up with a probability distribution that's not particularly tight on either entry. That's the end of your investigation.

Why are you attempting to dismiss one of those possibilities? The question of boot removal or not is NOT an arbitrarily selected additional fact to be added to a theory, and treating it as one is farcical.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby effataigus » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:07 am

Hmm, I'll post this anyway, even if Drache just presented the same argument in precise but opaque language. I do disagree with Drache's 2nd point though... the question of boot removal seems to be a pretty arbitrary additional detail to me, and should probably remain absent from any historical narrative until there is some evidence for it.

sleepymancer wrote:We cannot interpret the past on the basis of empirical tests and experiments. There was a brief period in the ~1950s and ~1960s when history and archaeology tried to become scientific disciplines, but that was rapidly disabused. All means of studying the human past are firmly based in the arts/humanities, although this does not mean that they are not informed by the sciences. Ultimately, however, the study of the past is subjective and interpretive. The best a reconstruction, test or experiment can do is say 'this can or can't be done', not whether or not it was. To assume that because a thing was possible or even was just a 'better' alternative, that it must therefore have been done is logical fallacy.


I mostly disagree with this, in that the process of historical study I subscribe to is very similar to the process of science. There are observations (arrowheads, first hand accounts, carbon dated scraps of whatever (probably not for this battle), isotope analyses suggesting this iron came from this specific mine), and theories are put forth to account for these observations. Some of these theories can be eliminated through further tests, though likely not all.

The question is what do you do when there are multiple theories remaining at the end of the day... Kriestor is suggesting using parsimony (no need to take off boots, so it probably didn't happen). I agree that this is a good approach when constructing a narrative for a battle as long as you are prepared to abandon that final leap of logic in light of further evidence (Sleepy's point stated more mildly, I think). The best approach is to not mention the boots at all, however. For instance, we are assuming that the English forces were clothed in the first place because nobody has told us that they were naked... we would similarly fill in booted-feet in our imagination as long as nobody told us their feet were bare. In the absence of any reason to believe that they were naked (and I can think of a couple reasons why it might be good to be naked on a battlefield), there is no need to bring in this detail.

Of course, if you want to tell a fun story, then sure, the Englishmen got their boots stuck in the mud, so they took them off... then the English commander kung-fu jump kicked the French commander from a mile away inspiring Godzilla to come to the French forces' aid. This, in turn, inspired the Japanese to... well, the rest is history.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:16 am

drachefly wrote:Kriestor, holy crow. Certain negatives are very plausible. Others, not so much so, simply due to the amount of information they contain (teapot in orbit kind of stuff). The question of boot removal is one in which neither branch has any credibility issues. If you take a Bayesian approach,


*wince*

drachefly wrote:which is the right thing to do, you end up with a probability distribution that's not particularly tight on either entry. That's the end of your investigation.


But agreed. I'd qualify that by saying that it's more plausible, to me, that the Archers didn't remove their boots, on grounds that I know reasons why not to remove and no reasons to remove.

That nuance aside, I think sleepymancer has it mostly right. If some experiment proves something couldn't have been done, then it didn't happen; if it proves it could have been done, it proves it could have happened. And the rest is negociating for belief values as to how plausible it sounds, given competing evidence.

effataigus wrote:Kriestor is suggesting using parsimony (no need to take off boots, so it probably didn't happen). I agree that this is a good approach when constructing a narrative for a battle as long as you are prepared to abandon that final leap of logic in light of further evidence (Sleepy's point stated more mildly, I think).


I think so too.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Kreistor » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:15 am

drachefly wrote:Kriestor, holy crow. Certain negatives are very plausible. Others, not so much so, simply due to the amount of information they contain (teapot in orbit kind of stuff).


So, how do you decide which plausible ideas are reasonable? There ae some that argue that space aliens are plausible in all cases, and no amount of argument will convince them otherwise. Plausible and reasonable are not synonymous.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:21 am

Kreistor wrote:
drachefly wrote:Kriestor, holy crow. Certain negatives are very plausible. Others, not so much so, simply due to the amount of information they contain (teapot in orbit kind of stuff).


So, how do you decide which plausible ideas are reasonable? There ae some that argue that space aliens are plausible in all cases, and no amount of argument will convince them otherwise. Plausible and reasonable are not synonymous.


You're making the question too easy by comparing space aliens with (the absence of) footwear.

For example, to say that Space Aliens killed the French cavalry requires the Space Aliens to exist, for them to have a way of travelling to Earth from God knows where, to have actually made the travel, to have some kind of preference that made them kill the cavalry, and finally leave no trace, including in battle accounts. It's an incredibly convoluted scenario.

As opposed to "the archers may have been barefoot". Seeing as how going barefoot was not unheard of.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby Kreistor » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:32 am

BLANDCorporatio wrote:
Kreistor wrote:
drachefly wrote:Kriestor, holy crow. Certain negatives are very plausible. Others, not so much so, simply due to the amount of information they contain (teapot in orbit kind of stuff).


So, how do you decide which plausible ideas are reasonable? There ae some that argue that space aliens are plausible in all cases, and no amount of argument will convince them otherwise. Plausible and reasonable are not synonymous.


You're making the question too easy by comparing space aliens with (the absence of) footwear.

For example, to say that Space Aliens killed the French cavalry requires the Space Aliens to exist, for them to have a way of travelling to Earth from God knows where, to have actually made the travel, to have some kind of preference that made them kill the cavalry, and finally leave no trace, including in battle accounts. It's an incredibly convoluted scenario.

As opposed to "the archers may have been barefoot". Seeing as how going barefoot was not unheard of.


You're right! And I used Space Aliens for the obvious reason that it's an absurd idea. But you're not answering the question. There is an answer to my question.
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Re: Book 2 – Page 72

Postby BLANDCorporatio » Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:40 am

I'm sure you'll provide the answer you expect, eventually.

The answer I was tempted to provide included a lot of abstract nonsense like evidence and hypothesis and bla bla, but I felt it adequate to illustrate what that bla bla means. So I did answer your question, by highlighting why Space Aliens Idea is too outlandish for its own good, whereas barefoot archers isn't even in the same league.

I don't think the Archers went barefoot, by the way. But there's degrees to which something can be unreasonable.
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