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Gothic horses

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  • 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 1 of 5 , Apr 5, 2002
      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 2 of 5 , Apr 6, 2002
        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 3 of 5 , Apr 6, 2002
          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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