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Gothic horses

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  • Bertil Haggman
    Relating to the earlier discussion on Gothic horses and the importance of cavalry I wanted to bring to the lists attention a quote from Paul Johnson s _Enemies
    Message 1 of 5 , Apr 5, 2002
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      Relating to the earlier discussion on Gothic horses
      and the importance of cavalry I wanted to bring to
      the lists attention a quote from Paul Johnson's
      _Enemies of Society_ (Swedish edition Stockholm:
      Ratio, 1980).

      This quote concentrates on the agricultural importance
      of the Gothic horse

      "En haest producerar 50 procent mer skaalpundfot energi per
      sekund aen en oxe och roer sig mycket fortare, den har stoerre
      uthaallighet och kan arbeta omkring tvaa timmar laengre varje
      dag...Det var utbredningen av havreodling som gjorde det
      moejligt att foeda stora maengder haestar....Lynn White: 'Oxen
      aer en graesdriven motor, haesten aer en mycket effektivare
      havredriven motor.' Naer det gaellde havre producerade de
      nordliga boenderna oeverskott och de kunde daerfoer haalla
      mer haestar."

      Source: Lynn White Jr-, _Medieval Technology and Social Change,
      Oxford 1966.

      Gothically

      Bertil
    • keth@online.no
      Hello Bertil, I wonder if Lynn White was the same one we quoted some years ago on Medieval water technologies, pumps, dams, mills and things like that. Well,
      Message 2 of 5 , Apr 5, 2002
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        Hello Bertil,
        I wonder if Lynn White was the same one we quoted
        some years ago on Medieval water technologies,
        pumps, dams, mills and things like that.

        Well, in that case Lynn based her research on medieval
        written records, monestary inventories, "earth books"
        and things like that. But if we want to investigate
        the situation in the centuries that are of relevance
        to our present discussion, we do of course not have access
        to written records. (except for the Romans)

        There are however data available from archaeology from
        the relevant period of the Migration Era, since pollen
        and grain analysis allow us to identify the most common
        crops. But I do not know what the scores are for oats.
        (Oats are the kinds of grains that contains more proteins
        than almost any other kind of grain. And in athletics,
        human as well as animal, it is not only carbo-hydrates that
        are important, but also very much proteins, in order to
        build up the muscle subsstance)

        The argument you here wish to propagate, viz. your claim
        that Migration Period war horses could not operate
        without large daily supplies of oats, does however seem
        both undefined as well as contradictory.

        First undefined, because you are not being explicit
        whether it was just the Roman horses that needed this
        daily supply of oats, or whether you also wish to include
        the Hunish horses in your proposition. It is also undefined
        because we do not know what kinds of horses the Goths of
        the Migration Period used. It is clear, however, that the
        Goths, apart from the Huns, were not the only people
        in the Black Sea area that used horses. There were
        for example also the Sarmatians. We can of course assume
        that the Goths, as they settled in their new habitats,
        traded horses of the local Sarmatian type. After all,
        these were adapted to the local conditions, and probably
        the best suited for the area.

        Lynn White's statements obviously relate more to the technologies
        of Medieval farming than to anything else. For, as we
        know - from previous discussions - the invention of the horse
        collar brought with it a revolution in European agriculture
        technologies sometime in the 13th century, resulting in
        the possibility to use horses for plowing the land.
        Before that one had to rely on oxen, where the horns
        were used to affix the goad for pulling the load.

        It is then safe to assume that after the Viking Age
        the kinds of horses in use changed, not least through
        selective breeding, because the efforts now became focused
        on finding horse types that were good at pulling loads.

        What you say is also in obvious contradiction to the
        information supplied by Einar, viz. that Icelandic horses
        live from the foods the horses find through natural grazing
        and are not dependent upon regular supplies of special
        harvests of oats.


        It would also surprise me if the horses used by the
        Asiatic Steppe Nomads are not also pretty much self-supplied
        food-wise.

        Well, maybe your proposition then ought to be reformulated
        to say something like this: "The Romans had difficulty
        in meeting the Hunnic cavalry challenge, because they
        used horse races that were dependent upon regular supplies
        of oats, whereas the Hunnic horses were self-supplied."

        I just read about Attila's campaign, that scholars
        have been debating whether 75 days was enough to move
        from Metz to Orleans and back again to Mets.
        Obviously the scholars think in terms of 10 kilometers a
        day, or something of that order of magnitude.
        They also robbed every farmer and every village that was
        along their route. How they arranged their logistics is
        of course difficult to know exactly. A horse on the move
        will certainly burn a thousand kilocalories an hour
        while on the road. For an army of 100 000 horses, that
        gives a billion kilocalories a day. Now find somebody
        who knows how many hectare of green grass that corresponds
        to.



        >Relating to the earlier discussion on Gothic horses
        >and the importance of cavalry I wanted to bring to
        >the lists attention a quote from Paul Johnson's
        >_Enemies of Society_ (Swedish edition Stockholm:
        >Ratio, 1980).
        >

        >This quote concentrates on the agricultural importance
        >of the Gothic horse
        ^^^^^^
        It is here that I am uncertain how you define a "Gothic horse".
        I think in the quote below, Lynn White is not referring to
        the kind of horse that might be called "Gothic" for the
        purpose of our discussion.

        >
        >"En haest producerar 50 procent mer skaalpundfot energi per
        >sekund aen en oxe och roer sig mycket fortare, den har stoerre
        >uthaallighet och kan arbeta omkring tvaa timmar laengre varje
        >dag...Det var utbredningen av havreodling som gjorde det
        >moejligt att foeda stora maengder haestar....Lynn White: 'Oxen
        >aer en graesdriven motor, haesten aer en mycket effektivare
        >havredriven motor.' Naer det gaellde havre producerade de
        >nordliga boenderna oeverskott och de kunde daerfoer haalla
        >mer haestar."

        Here you are of course quoting outdated units.
        The "skålpund" was however approx. 498 grammes, as far as
        I am able to determine. Hence a "skålpundfot per second" equals
        approximately 0.5 kg * 0.3 m/s = 0.15 kgm/s = ca. 1.5 Nm/s =
        = 1.5 Watt. But you still did not give us the number of
        "horsepowers" that a horse can produce of mechanical work.
        If we however put it at 1 hp, then that equals 75 kgm/s.
        If we can find the calorie content of fresh grass, we should
        then be able to calculate how wide a strip of grass
        Attila's horses ate each day during the campaign.


        >Source: Lynn White Jr-, _Medieval Technology and Social Change,
        >Oxford 1966.
        >
        >Gothically
        >
        >Bertil

        Calorically,

        Keth
      • Bertil Haggman
        Keth, Could not tell you if it was the same White but it seems to have gone unnoticed that we are this time debating the general advantage north of the Alps in
        Message 3 of 5 , Apr 5, 2002
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          Keth,

          Could not tell you if it was the same White
          but it seems to have gone unnoticed that
          we are this time debating the general
          advantage north of the Alps in using
          horses instead of oxen. Also about the
          superiority of agricultural technique.

          Jag citerar igen Paul Johnson:

          "Naer greker och romare plöjde hade de
          använt den laetta traeplogen som koerdes
          tvaa gaanger oever fyrkantiga faelt med
          tunn jord. "(Resultatet av användningen av den
          tunga järnplogen blev dramatisk, den kunde...)
          bearbeta aeven den tyngsta jord, foeraendrade
          bokstavligen jordbrukslandskapet. De fyrkantiga
          faelten foervandlades till laanga remsor som
          gick upp och ner over landskapets konturer och
          gav alltid någon skoerd, till och med under mycket
          torra eller vaata aar." (p. 35)

          So it was the iron plough and the horses that
          were superior to Roman technique. And then
          there was slavery in the empire.

          When the so called 'barbarians' moved inside
          the empire, it had by then declined so that the
          Goths and others regarded the Roman society
          as inferior, even if there was some material
          wellbeing. The society was unfree. Tacitus skrev
          en del om slavar i _Germania_.

          "I de gotiska samhällena var husslavar en okaend
          foereteelse. Naer slavar anvaendes inom jordbruket,
          bodde de i egna bostaeder (de kunde faktiskt ocksaa
          aega egendom9 och var i viss maan sina egna herrar.
          I varje fall var antalet slavar litet, de som fanns var fraemst
          icke-germaner och aegdes enbart av de hoegre
          klasserna. Kort sagt, slaveriet var en marginell foere-
          teelse i det germanska samhället.". (p. 30)

          Besides it was something imported from Roman society.
          The sickness of slavery had poisoned society in the
          Roman empire, there was a development in the other
          direction in Gothic and other societies :the dynamic idea
          of freedom in the end came to influence the whole of Europe
          in the Middle Ages.

          In my opinion the example of the small Icelandic
          horses is not relevant in relation to the large working
          horses or the big war horses. I must admit I am not
          very well versed when it comes to the Icelandic horses
          but it has been my impression that it was not used
          for plowing, but I may be insufficiently informed.
          It is also a little complicated to explain cavalry
          campaigning tactics then and up to the 19th century
          or the beginning of the 20th. Grazing horses during
          campaigning would not have been a very good idea.

          A bit further down you are switching from discussing
          Gothic and Roman cavalry campaigning to that
          of the nomads of the steppe. Horse keeping of
          the nomads? I am sure there are lists for Mongol
          and Hinnic horsemanship and history.

          The White quote serves to illustrate the superiority of
          the techniques for farming used north of the Alps.
          There slaver and wooden tools plus oxen, here horses
          and iron. What a difference !

          Gothically

          Bertil



          The argument you here wish to propagate, viz. your claim
          that Migration Period war horses could not operate
          without large daily supplies of oats, does however seem
          both undefined as well as contradictory.

          First undefined, because you are not being explicit
          whether it was just the Roman horses that needed this
          daily supply of oats, or whether you also wish to include
          the Hunish horses in your proposition. It is also undefined
          because we do not know what kinds of horses the Goths of
          the Migration Period used. It is clear, however, that the
          Goths, apart from the Huns, were not the only people
          in the Black Sea area that used horses. There were
          for example also the Sarmatians. We can of course assume
          that the Goths, as they settled in their new habitats,
          traded horses of the local Sarmatian type. After all,
          these were adapted to the local conditions, and probably
          the best suited for the area.

          Lynn White's statements obviously relate more to the technologies
          of Medieval farming than to anything else. For, as we
          know - from previous discussions - the invention of the horse
          collar brought with it a revolution in European agriculture
          technologies sometime in the 13th century, resulting in
          the possibility to use horses for plowing the land.
          Before that one had to rely on oxen, where the horns
          were used to affix the goad for pulling the load.

          It is then safe to assume that after the Viking Age
          the kinds of horses in use changed, not least through
          selective breeding, because the efforts now became focused
          on finding horse types that were good at pulling loads.

          What you say is also in obvious contradiction to the
          information supplied by Einar, viz. that Icelandic horses
          live from the foods the horses find through natural grazing
          and are not dependent upon regular supplies of special
          harvests of oats. Letting horse graze would have been
          a dangerous.


          It would also surprise me if the horses used by the
          Asiatic Steppe Nomads are not also pretty much self-supplied
          food-wise.

          Well, maybe your proposition then ought to be reformulated
          to say something like this: "The Romans had difficulty
          in meeting the Hunnic cavalry challenge, because they
          used horse races that were dependent upon regular supplies
          of oats, whereas the Hunnic horses were self-supplied."

          I just read about Attila's campaign, that scholars
          have been debating whether 75 days was enough to move
          from Metz to Orleans and back again to Mets.
          Obviously the scholars think in terms of 10 kilometers a
          day, or something of that order of magnitude.
          They also robbed every farmer and every village that was
          along their route. How they arranged their logistics is
          of course difficult to know exactly. A horse on the move
          will certainly burn a thousand kilocalories an hour
          while on the road. For an army of 100 000 horses, that
          gives a billion kilocalories a day. Now find somebody
          who knows how many hectare of green grass that corresponds
          to.



          >Relating to the earlier discussion on Gothic horses
          >and the importance of cavalry I wanted to bring to
          >the lists attention a quote from Paul Johnson's
          >_Enemies of Society_ (Swedish edition Stockholm:
          >Ratio, 1980).
          >

          >This quote concentrates on the agricultural importance
          >of the Gothic horse
          ^^^^^^

          >"En haest producerar 50 procent mer skaalpundfot energi per
          >sekund aen en oxe och roer sig mycket fortare, den har stoerre
          >uthaallighet och kan arbeta omkring tvaa timmar laengre varje
          >dag...Det var utbredningen av havreodling som gjorde det
          >moejligt att foeda stora maengder haestar....Lynn White: 'Oxen
          >aer en graesdriven motor, haesten aer en mycket effektivare
          >havredriven motor.' Naer det gaellde havre producerade de
          >nordliga boenderna oeverskott och de kunde daerfoer haalla
          >mer haestar."
        • Tim O'Neill
          ... It is the same Lynn White, who is a he BTW, not a she . ... Iron ploughs were developed and used by the Romans in heavy northern European soils -
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 6, 2002
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            On Saturday, April 06, 2002 2:56 PM, Bertil Haggman [SMTP:mvk575b@...] wrote:
            > Keth,
            >
            > Could not tell you if it was the same White

            It is the same Lynn White, who is a 'he' BTW, not a 'she'.

            > The White quote serves to illustrate the superiority of
            > the techniques for farming used north of the Alps.
            > There slaver and wooden tools plus oxen, here horses
            > and iron. What a difference !

            Iron ploughs were developed and used by the Romans
            in heavy northern European soils - something which has
            become clear through archaeology in the decades since
            White wrote. And the technological developments White
            details took place centuries after the last Gothic kingdoms
            ceased to exist in area which had never been dominated
            by the Goths.

            I'm wondering what exactly the White thesis has to do
            with the Goths. Nothing at all as far as I can see, and
            I've read 'Medieval Technology and Social Change' and
            subsequent works on the medieval agrarian revolution
            many times.

            Tim O'Neill
          • keth@online.no
            Hello Bertil, ... The reference I had in mind was actually Terry Reynolds. Yet, Lynn White sounds awfully familiar. I am quite sure I have run into it before,
            Message 5 of 5 , Apr 6, 2002
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              Hello Bertil,

              You wrote:

              >Could not tell you if it was the same White

              The reference I had in mind was actually Terry Reynolds.
              Yet, Lynn White sounds awfully familiar.
              I am quite sure I have run into it before, though do not
              have the reference right now.

              Then you have some remark on what our topic is:

              >but it seems to have gone unnoticed that
              >we are this time debating the general
              >advantage north of the Alps in using
              >horses instead of oxen.

              Well, I asked you before, why the subject header says
              "gothic" horse. And I wonderer what "gothic" horses
              have to do with agriculture north of the alps.


              >Also about the
              >superiority of agricultural technique.

              I don't know what you mean by that.
              I'll stick to what the subject header says.


              >Jag citerar igen Paul Johnson:

              Below here you have a quote about the light
              wooden plow used by Greeks and Romans.
              Then further below you mention the iron
              plow as being much better.


              >"Naer greker och romare plöjde hade de
              >använt den laetta traeplogen som koerdes
              >tvaa gaanger oever fyrkantiga faelt med
              >tunn jord. "(Resultatet av användningen av den
              >tunga järnplogen blev dramatisk, den kunde...)
              >bearbeta aeven den tyngsta jord, foeraendrade
              >bokstavligen jordbrukslandskapet. De fyrkantiga
              >faelten foervandlades till laanga remsor som
              >gick upp och ner over landskapets konturer och
              >gav alltid någon skoerd, till och med under mycket
              >torra eller vaata aar." (p. 35)

              I don't recall discussing this topic earlier.



              >So it was the iron plough and the horses that
              >were superior to Roman technique. And then
              >there was slavery in the empire.

              Yes, but the point I was trying to make, was that
              horses were not used for plowing until in the 13th
              century, after the invention of the horse collar.

              I do not see the relevance of your quote to a discussion
              about Gothic horses, except in a roundabout way.
              In fact, it underlines the need to breed horses
              that were good at pulling things, after the horse collar
              came into use for plowing in the 13th century.
              This means that there was a need for bigger and heavier
              horses, and that therefore our present day horses are rather
              different from Migration Age horses.


              >
              >When the so called 'barbarians' moved inside
              >the empire, it had by then declined so that the
              >Goths and others regarded the Roman society
              >as inferior, even if there was some material
              >wellbeing. The society was unfree. Tacitus skrev
              >en del om slavar i _Germania_.

              Are you saying that German tribes of Tacitus had no slaves?
              Doesn't Tacitus talk about slaves being drowned
              in a lake each year after a sacred procession?


              >"I de gotiska samhällena var husslavar en okaend
              >foereteelse. Naer slavar anvaendes inom jordbruket,
              >bodde de i egna bostaeder (de kunde faktiskt ocksaa
              >aega egendom9 och var i viss maan sina egna herrar.
              >I varje fall var antalet slavar litet, de som fanns var fraemst
              >icke-germaner och aegdes enbart av de hoegre
              >klasserna. Kort sagt, slaveriet var en marginell foere-
              >teelse i det germanska samhället.". (p. 30)

              It is quite possible that Germans had fewer slaves than
              the contemporary Romans. But that seems to me like a different
              discussion than "Gothic horses".


              >
              >Besides it was something imported from Roman society.
              >The sickness of slavery had poisoned society in the
              >Roman empire, there was a development in the other
              >direction in Gothic and other societies :the dynamic idea
              >of freedom in the end came to influence the whole of Europe
              >in the Middle Ages.

              Slavery did indeed disappear in the Middle ages,
              and this happened in continental Europe as well
              as in Scandinavia. I think it happened around the
              13th century. It was a gradual process.
              Later it was reintroduced by the British and others.



              >In my opinion the example of the small Icelandic
              >horses is not relevant in relation to the large working
              >horses or the big war horses. I must admit I am not

              The point is that large working horses were developed
              during the late Middle Ages. There were no "working horses"
              in our sense of the word, before the advent of the horse collar
              in the 13th century. The same with the heavily armored
              knights: they are a late phenomenon.

              With the Romans the cavalry was counted among the lightly
              armed. During the Migration Age the mounted soldiers
              did use the lance, but the horse rider was only lightly
              armed and used lightweight leather stirrups, as evidenced
              by the representation on the silver platter I referred to
              earlier.



              >very well versed when it comes to the Icelandic horses
              >but it has been my impression that it was not used
              >for plowing, but I may be insufficiently informed.

              Well, Iceland is probably not like Jylland, covered
              with plowland as far as the eye reaches.
              But perhaps you ought to see the Iceland horse as
              typical representative of what European horses
              may have looked like before they began breeding
              for size.


              >It is also a little complicated to explain cavalry
              >campaigning tactics then and up to the 19th century
              >or the beginning of the 20th. Grazing horses during
              >campaigning would not have been a very good idea.

              That is perhaps a good point. But then again, a campaign
              has several phases. Animals trained for endurance are
              able to burn body fat while running, and thus basically
              only need water, until they are back in a safe area.
              How many days a campaigning horse can live from roadside
              grass and water only, I do not know. But I am quite sure
              that it depends a lot on the kind of horse it is, and how
              it has been trained. The physiological principles are the
              same as for other mammals.

              The Romans were defeated by the Hunnic tactics of very
              fast and light cavalry where the bow was used instead
              of the lance.




              >A bit further down you are switching from discussing
              >Gothic and Roman cavalry campaigning to that
              >of the nomads of the steppe.

              I explained to you that the Goths lived in present day
              Ukraina and Hungary, where the landscape is typically
              "steppe". Hence for a discussion under the subject header
              "Gothic horses", it is quite relevant to take the landscape
              the Goths lived in, into account. I assumed that there is
              a particular kind of horse that is best suited for the steppe
              landscape, and that this may be the same kind of horse that
              is used in Mongolia and Kirgistan today.



              Here you are being ironic:
              >Horse keeping of the nomads?
              >I am sure there are lists for Mongol and Hinnic horsemanship and history.



              It would be much more straight forward, if you simply said
              that you believe the Goths had horses that differed significantly
              from the horses of the other steppe peoples (Awars, Alans, Huns
              and Sarmatians). If you had said it as simply as that,
              I could then have asked you as the next question
              what your evidence is for your assumption.
              As it is, I believe the simplest assumption is that
              all steppe peoples used horses that were somewhat similar
              in their physical makeup. In fact you see the same thing
              in humans, viz. that marathon runners have *their*
              typical look and weightlifters have another.



              >
              >The White quote serves to illustrate the superiority of
              >the techniques for farming used north of the Alps.
              >There slaver and wooden tools plus oxen, here horses
              >and iron. What a difference !

              Yes, but White's book applies to the 12th century and later
              doesn't it?


              >Gothically
              >
              >Bertil

              Quizically
              Keth
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