1. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Weapons for a girl

    Discussion in 'Research' started by BFGuru, Aug 16, 2014.

    Time, middle ages.
    Character, female heir to the throne.
    Place, France and a made up kingdom nearby
    What sort of combat training would a female receive during this time? I get women did not get combat training often, but she will need to know how to direct an army and I can't choose which weapons to give her. What I should train her on. Spears seem so cumbersome. Swords are two handed at this point in history needing a lot of strength.

    Archery yes. But this isn't Katnis.
    Maces seem so...well...brutal and almost needing more strength as well.

    Where should I start her? Is there a good reference to look? I know she should learn about trebuchets and turtles and other forms of warfare. I have to teach her how to read first LOL. and probably some geography. But I need some ideas on what I should train her on.
     
  2. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    i remember seeing a documentary on the history channel challenging that 'no combat for women' myth, apparently they were a lot more involved that most think, they were also not as helpless and weak as often portrayed.

    an of what women would do during war http://www.medievalwarfare.info/#women

    list of weapons used, read the descriptions and choose what you think is appropriate i guess http://www.lordsandladies.org/middle-ages-weapons.htm
     
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  3. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Thanks, I did not see the lords and ladies link in my searching. I do have a list of combat weapons I tend to use. I just struggled deciphering which an unmarried queen would use.
     
  4. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    to be honest, i cant see a queen doing much fighting, i'd imagine training or atleast observing in each disciplin would help her command her troops
     
  5. Zelg
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    Zelg Member

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    Have you thought of a crossbow? I know it would seem like cheating, but it's fair game to me.:crazy:
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Poison, of course. It's the middle ages.
     
  7. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    I asked a similar question a while ago here. You might find some of the answers there useful. I'm not an expert but according to some of the answers I received the typical longsword would not be too heavy for a teenage girl so using one with training wouldn't really be a problem.

    I do recall reading somewhere that noble women were often taught archery in the middle ages so it wouldn't be infeasible for her to use a bow. If you want her to use a bow have her use a bow The Hunger Games isn't a good reason to never have a female archer any more than Harry Potter isn't a reason not to call anyone in your novel Harry.

    Depending on the structure of your world I couldn't really see a princess (especially the heir) being expected to fight in a battle. I'd find it much more believable if she helped out with the strategic side of things rather than actually fighting.

    Depending on your world I wouldn't have any problem accepting that she was taught to read and instructed in many of the same skills a male heir would be when it became apparent she was to be the heir.
     
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  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If it's any use at all, I was the best archer in my class in my first year of college, age 19. And I'd never touched a bow before I took the class.
     
  9. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    :crazy: ginger you're just a natural at shooting the riffraff
     
  10. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Actually that's incorrect. Any normal 12-13yo girl is strong enough to wield a longsword. It does need to be the right size for her, but unless it's freaking huge and she's very short, there wouldn't be a problem because longswords are really light and agile weapons. I mean, if they were heavy and cumbersome, they wouldn't be useful as weapons, would they? :p The notion of incredibly heavy medieval swords that clank on the floor when a woman tries to pick one up is a Hollywood-perpetuated myth.

    I'd choose longsword and dagger as her weapons because, unlike movies and video games would have us believe, bows actually take more strength to use effectively and they are nowhere near as versatile as swords. Besides, she'd also look far more badass with a matching longsword and dagger on her belt than a bow slung over her shoulder (and you avoid the bow or crossbow-wielding girl cliché to boot).

    Check out @EllBeEss's thread she linked in her post. It really has lots of good info on the subject. Good luck!
     
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  11. Chaos Inc.
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    Chaos Inc. Active Member

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    I would choose a weapon that reflects the personality of your character if you have given yourself enough creative license that is. Any weapon I would choose to use would reflect mine. If you're going on pure historical research then meh, you're not going to have a lot of options.
     
  12. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    All that emancipated woman in the 12th century speaking American stuff is kind of dishwater dull and needs subverting. My god I am three times heavier than my nearest female rival, I merely need to fall over to secure victory.

    As for weapons my first suggestion might be a long whale bone needle you can stick into your hair or straight through a Viking's eyeball. Otherwise a cute little axe, perhaps boiling soup splashed in the goolies.
     
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If you're setting this in France during the Middle Ages, you need to do research. LOTS of it.

    I don't know for sure, without looking, but as a history buff I'm in the camp that says a future queen would not learn personal combat techniques at all, back then. Or if she did, just for her own amusement or fact-finding, she would not be expected or allowed to use them in battle. While women, especially queens, might have some say in how political events played out, and might well carry a small dagger for personal protection, for the most part they were very sidelined throughout Europe at that time. Just do your research, and base your character's prowess with weaponry on what you discover.

    Part of the fun of writing a historical novel and staying true to the period is to find a way around the story, using what you find in your research. Dig in deeply, and you may discover ideas you've not even thought of. I've always maintained that research doesn't close your horizons ...which right now are limited by what you can think up on the hoof ...but it opens them to all the realities of the time. And the truth you uncover will likely be stranger than fiction.

    Of course, if you are setting your story in a fictional place, based on the model of medieval France, then you can do whatever you want.
     
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  14. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    a pair of matching daggers would be a good option to consider so that is she is attacked by two people at the same time she can pull them both and stab them simultaneously
     
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  15. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure about queens, but those women who did receive combat and military training (such as education in tactics) were often noblewomen. I'd imagine being the queen would be a different matter since it's a far more prestigious position than some random noble, i.e. I'd expect people would be more adamant that the queen should not "lower" herself to deal with such lowbrow matters as combat. But I'm hardly an expert so don't take my word for it. I just know there have been medieval noblewomen with some military training.

    Of course, all this depends on how period accurate and realistic you want to be. If you're creating a fantasy story and only use medieval France as a basis upon which you then expand, you can do almost anything.
     
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  16. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I know there's a joke there somewhere but I'm trying to match riffraff to a straw bale target and I'm coming up short.:confused:
     
  17. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    a pair of long sharp needles..... :D
     
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  18. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Well, she is in France training. This aspect must be historical. She is not a French heiress. She is heir to the throne of an imaginary kingdom near the French border in the Basquelands (which is the perfect setting for a made up kingdom btw). As such...it will be in the middle of the transition from paganism matriarchal societies (which is a wee bit loose since her grandparents only had a single male child LOL) to christianity patriarchal societies. The idea that a queen of this small country would only wield a whale bone needle is silly. Women ruled this region for thousands of years before christianity moved in, historically.

    She would need to know how to use each weapon (I'm assuming) so she can understand placement of her troops. So, for now she is in France, for reasons I'd rather not disclose at the moment, and her godfather is teaching her what he feels she will need to know, in order to lead her country. I'm trying to write a training scene and getting hung up because the emotion and frustration are present in the characters and that comes easily, I'm just working out the finer details. Geography, politics, meeting the French court and blah blah blah.

    It is the 1200s. Henri, or Phillip is on the throne (I haven't decided which, but am leaning toward Phillip) and will eventually be dissolved into Navarre. However, in the meantime...girl is gonna need to know how to direct troops.
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, these are the kinds of facts research will uncover. There might well have been French medieval queens and noblewomen who learned combat and who became very skilled at it. I'm sure many of them would have wanted to, because prowess with weaponry was something that people really respected. But would men of that era have followed them into battle? Not so sure. I would have to dig around to discover if that was true. I certainly can't think of any French queen who did that.

    Okay, so there is Joan of Arc, but she was a religious figure, not a military leader. She was seen as a figurehead, and as far as I know, had only rudimentary training in the use of weapons.

    It's just that if a story is going to be historically accurate, it needs to be researched, and researched thoroughly. The only 'queen' who comes to mind as a warrior who actually led her people in battle was the Roman-era Boudicca, who fought the Romans in southeastern Britain. She is commonly called "Queen" although the heirarchy was probably slightly different from that. I believe some Celtic societies had warrior women as well. But that was some way from medieval France.

    As you say, in a fantasy you can do anything. But if you're writing based on history, you need to do research.
     
  20. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Hence my research LOL. The bigger problem is contriving what her kingdom even looked like before Christianity moved in. And how I am going to deal with that transition.
     
  21. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    The 1200s is too early for the longsword isn't it? They would typically be using the 'arming swords' for nobility. My guess is that is what she would be trained on.

    @jannert : Although I believe after a while her military tactics were adopted by her commanders who started to respect her intelligence and creativity on the battlefield.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014
  22. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    It may be. I'm having trouble nailing down dates, but I'm going to have a nice HUGE gap between classes thursdays...soooooo as long as I don't have homework...I'll be poking around in the library. History of hand to hand combat will be easy to find. History of prechristian basque lands? Well...I've been looking for years and have finally come to the conclusion I may have to make it up and base a lot of it on Celtic traditions.
     
  23. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    She was particularly noted for her application of artillery.
     
  24. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I may be wrong but wasn't that region already Christian after the 3rd Century, a legacy of Constantine and Roman rule? (Way before the Vikings, Visigoths, Vandals and other such bastards came along and caused havoc) A few regions were also Muslim in around the 7th century and later. I think widespread paganism only survived until about the 8th century, with Christianity cemented by Charlemagne. Only pockets of paganism survived until about the 10th century, but probably not as late as the 13th. But I'm more than likely wrong, as I know the region has a complicated history that I haven't studied. However, if what I mentioned is true and your alternate region changed back or avoided Christian or Muslim influences, I would imagine their culture would be more Germanic paganism than Celtic.
     
  25. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    A sword????
     

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