It may be my personal view only, but tell me please, who is the one
named Nicolle, from Sofia la Rus's article?
Don't want to say anything really harsh, but will you treat as a
serious scholar somebody who claims flint lock muskets to be really
weapons of the World War II? Or claiming that 13th century was met by
the Russians with _oriental_ maces.
Also, knowing not much of your bibliography (sorry, it's hard to order
anything from Moscow, & there's not much available online), I dare
offer some clearance on Russian military terms.
- "a wooden one", "an oaken one". A staff of a slight conical shape,
usually no longer than a man's hand (exceptions are no longer than up
to man's waist). Usually it is confused with the word "oslop", that
means not a thing, but a measure of thickness, about an average man's
forearm. There exist both "oslopnaya zherd'" (oslop-thick pole)
& "oslopnaya dubina". No evidence of thicker bludgeons for battle
ever exists, neither does any need in ones.
- a bludgeon, a heavy staff of oak, ash etc, by 14 cent,
following an all-European trend, started bearing long thick nails. In
Western regions (Lietuva & Buelorussia now, Principalities of Polotsk,
Litva etc then) it bears the name machouga, that remains in modern
Buelorussian. All in all, late-period Palitsa is the same as Western
- "a big pin", or a pin (bulavka) is "a small bulava". Actually, a
battle hammer with rounded hitting part of metal or stone. Russians
started using them since Khazar times, first copying the Khazar
four-pin models, but in 12th century having invented greatly elaborate
mpdeks of their own design. By the 13th century there came 2 more
models, "brus" (squared beam), which has the squared head, and a mace
with a hook (resembling hawk-beak warhammers of Western europe)
protruding from the round head with short pins. By end of period
another term evolves, "bouzdygan", (a Russian-pronounced title of the
Bogdy-Khan title of asian states), a really Oriental mace with spherical
head, sometimes with
small pins, much smaller than of the Swiss Morgenstern (when that word
meant not a nail-bearing bludgeon but a small iron ball with pins on a
- you may call it a flail, though it's not. You may call a crossbow a
slingshot, with same reason. A kisten' is a kisten'. It has
proportions of a lash - forearm-long handle, forearm-long flexible
part. That proportion enabled maximum strike force & precision of the
blow, depending very little of the head's weight. The European devices
had to grow in size to regain what they lost by violating the rule of
correct proportion - remember "Braveheart". The heavier the head, the
slower it moves. Russian kisten's heads were no more than half a
pound, be they horn or metal. And at the beginning of the XX century
they still hunted wolves using lashes with a much lighter weight,
woven into the flexible part's edge. That thing split the wolves head
in two, when the rider used it from the saddle. Kisten's are found in
many escavations dated since 10th century, and in the XVI century they
were described in Gerberstein's book of the Russia.
- "a mint", a nomad axe for a single-hand combat, usually on no more than
a hand's length shaft, and - always - with a hammer-shaped butt end,
characteristic of all the nomad's axes (making a more precise blow
than a "Dutch Ax"). Existed for a very long time since Scythian times,
at lest until 14
century, when they really prefereed blades to axes.
- a hunting spear, relative to Saxon Boarspear, but with the
proportions of a partisan. At least since 12th century it was present
as hunting or battle weapon.
-a javelin. Never used as a spear. It was mounted on a shaft rather
like an arrow than like a spear.
- a pike. A nomadic-type spear with a narrow head, designed to
penetrate armor.The word isn't Russian, and appears rather from the
"Foreign Style" regiments of 17th century, so is OOP, though the
horseman's pike is period, appearing at least in 12 century.
Sabers & swords
Yes, they really preferred sabers to swords in about 14th century, but
the saber was introduced earlier than the 11th. The famous Zbruch
idol of the 10th century, uninamously considered as Russian (Slavic),
bears an image of a warrior god on one side, who is symbolized by a
horse & a Hungarian-type saber. The Hungarian word Szablya came into
Russian very early & is often considered as Russian. Though, ALL the
types of European swords were present in Russia. Only during small
period of about 10-11 century they invented their own designs, that
was forgotten later. They used same swords as their neighbors all the
And they NEVER used saexes, or whatever you call it, later than 10th
century. They simply didn't need to - the center of the battle moved
from two armed packs' butchery to a regular battle of spears & arrows.
They simply didn't need the distance of a saex any more!
bows & crossbows
Crossbows are mentioned in the chronicles at 1159, arrowheads are
found in l;ayers of same century.
one of the earliest belt hooks for a crossbow in Europe was found in the layer
of 1240 in the ashes of a Russian town Izyaslavl on Volyn (now
western Ukraine) burned that year by you know whom. That doesn't make Northern regions,
Small flags on helms
"Shlemy Yalovtchatiye" are mentioned in many Russian chronicles. But - when
the chronicler belongs to the 14th century & no earlier. This fashion
is common with the whole Europe. Just compare it with a picture from
the Osprey's "the Burgundian Army of the XIV century" (Men-At-Arms
series), that shows same
type of flags on small shafts - but mounted on Sallets of the
Burgundian men-at-arms. The book comments on it rather well - they
show what party the warrior belongs to.
As well as Danish Vendel age helms, visored helms also resemble much
more models from various places. All in all, many helms of the 13
century have not visors but full masks, borrowed from the east,
following the Kipchak fashion. Western principalities, of course, used
more of the European armor than, say, Kiev/Chernigov region. Of
Russian/East European helms much is said at Red Kaganate
(www.geocities.com/kaganate), so just come & see.
They didn't divide the shields into oriental & European ones. They used
them all. Even kites were of different size, as well as round ones.
they used different types of armor, but mainly it was either
"plate/scale/lamellar armor over chainmail" type or simply full
chainmail armor in 13th century. No quirasses until Renaissance.
Russkoye Oruzhiie Blizhnego Boya (scientific work for a degree of a
kandidate of history, Moscow, 1963)
Warrior to soldier 640-1640 - London, 196*
Voiny Kievskoy Rusi
in the magazine "Zeikhhaus" (Moscow) 1993 (? don't have at the moment)
Moscow & Muscovites - Moscow, any edition since 1900s
my personal research on arms & armor inter-relations since 1993.