1. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    Health symbol/weapons room...two different questions

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Stormsong07, Jun 12, 2017.

    Working on my description of my medieval-style fortified camp. My story is set in a fantasy world similar to medieval Europe. A couple questions:

    1. What would be a good symbol to be on the sign outside the clinic/infirmary? I was using the Rod of Asclepius, but now I'm thinking that's too Earth-specific and I want to come up with a fresh idea. Any suggestions welcome.

    2. What is the building called where people train in combat techniques? I have the "training yard" of course, which is outside, but I thought the building itself, where you train inside, was called a "salle"? Or am I wrong? If I start talking about a salle, what comes to your mind? Anything?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    The yard is where the garrison usually trained. What kind of practice are they performing inside? Real estate is limited in a medieval city because they're completely walled in.

    For medicine, the only thing I can think of that would be universal would be a simple geometric symbol. A Red Cross is common on Earth. Icons would not be complicated because dye for fabric is not easy to make and complex symbols are hard to make with a physical medium.
     
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  3. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    The red cross is our symbol for 'medical' because of Switzerland being neutral and establishing the Red Cross in (IIRC) the First World War to look after prisoners etc. Their flag was literally just the inverse of the Swiss flag; a red cross on a white background. This helpfully also indicated that they weren't fighting; flying a white flag and all that which no decent military unit would do. There's some argument that the symbol is older, dating back to the knights hospitler in the middle ages but their flag was a reverse cross of St George; a white cross that extends to the edges of the flag on a red background so I don't buy that. But the cross itself does matter here. In everything medieval the cross is always a Christian cross. While there's not a super cut and dried link between the church and medical care (in fact I'd cynically suggest the opposite) we do culturally associate gods and priests with healing and it comes from out of this era. While a prayer isn't the best medicine, back in the day a prayer was the best you were likely to get.

    So yes, that's very earth specific. The Red Cross matters because it's a Christian symbol, and that became a Swiss symbol then inverted to combine the two meanings; neutral and looking after you. So that isn't going to fit for your world as such. You can do the same thing for them easily enough though; find a nice simple shape for their religion, put it on a white background and there you go. But... I'm not a huge fan of that to be honest. Yes, it's very humanocentric to just copy what we use, but there's something to be said for symbology that the reader can decode. If you have to stop and explain why their symbol is that symbol then you sort of miss the point of having a symbol at all. You may as well just have a doctors tent with a sign that says 'doctor' over it. At least a red cross says it without words.

    This is the reason why in the Disney Hercules movie her gets down on his knees and prays to Zeus even though a good Greek lad would, you know, murder livestock. He's praying like a Christian because in our heads that's what praying looks like and we accept that symbol as meaning that even if that's not what we should be seeing. It's showing not telling, and when you have to stop and tell why what your showing means something then you've out-thought yourself.

    So, I say a red cross is fine. There's some logical sense to it; red for blood, white for 'not fighting'. Shape of some cultural significance; cross, crescent, star of david, whatever.

    As for the second part - I'd say barracks. No, that's not strictly perfect but it gets your point across. In reality soldiers mostly trained wherever there was space to train and it wasn't really formalized because there weren't really formal armies. Even in places and times where people did seriously train to fight on a regular basis they did so in 'the yard next to the barracks'. The Roman's probably have a specific word for the yard gladiators trained in but that's what it boils down to; here's the place the soldiers sleep, here is the place next to that with lots of space that is convenient to swing edged weapons around in.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
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  4. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Contributor

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    Perhaps a stylized image of some medicinal plant? Like the leaf of a holy basil or coriander. Or a yellow image of a fennel flower with its stem?

    I think I'd just say 'the yard'. 'Salle' makes me think of a hall or a big-ish room, except for some reason you want to say it in French instead of English.
    If it's fantasy, you can also come up with your own term. Maybe they have some word in their culture, similar to dojo?
     
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  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Romans called the area where legionaries trained and other sword contests or wrestling bouts were fought the Campas .. (Latin for field, and also the origin of modern day campus)... the campas was a designated area outside the castra or camp which was often lightly paved to give better footing.... gladiators would have trained in their Ludus (latin for school) but again the area in which they actually trained would either have been a campas or an arena

    In more generic terms - 'parade grounds' would also generally double as training areas in most camps
     
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  6. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    I like these ideas. I'll do some research into common medicinal herbs.
    Also, I think I must have gotten "salle" from Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series. I just assumed that was what they were commonly called. It wasn't until I was starting to write when I was like...hmm...maybe I should Google that....

    They'd be working on hand-to-hand combat in there. It's a school-like camp, with trainees and such, so lots of classes, hence my idea for an indoor/outdoor facility. I'm thinking an area kind of like a dance studio, with mirrors on the wall so they can watch their form. And yes, I know that in a medieval setting, mirrors would be outrageously expensive. This is a royally-funded camp, so I think I can work it in feasibly.

    Thanks all for the input. @big soft moose , @LostThePlot the history bits are informative, thanks. I'll think about those as I keep brainstorming.
     
  7. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    By "fortified camp" i am guessing you mean something at least somewhat mobile, semi-fixed, not a fort per se.

    Medical care such as it might be, would be handled in some sort of tent, perhaps with some kind of banner (or rag) to denote it, perhaps red for blood. Remember, hardly anyone could read then! What kind of care would they get? Rudimentary: horse hair stitches for sword and lance wounds, removal of embedded arrows (press through until the head comes out the other side, then break off the head and pull it back out), setting of broken bones, probably handled as best one can, given the circumstances. The Romans used vinegar as antiseptic, that might have carried on to medieval times, especially if the people in charge are priests with some education. Otherwise look to sear open wounds with hot irons. Compound fractures would be amputated, with low chance of surviving even the operation. Anything penetrating the body cavity would almost certainly be fatal.

    Illnesses (typhoid, dysentery, etc.) would treated by letting the sick person stay in his tent. More serious ones like smallpox, they would isolate or send to the nearest village church. Keeping sick people together would probably not be a good idea, and there would not be enough people to care for them in a group.

    Since the camp would probably be just a few hundred to a thousand or so, everyone would probably know where everything is.

    I think in a camp or in a fort, training would be outdoors. Group tactics would be handled in a large field where they could form up to do basic maneuvers, defend against a cavalry attack, turn to face a flanking attack, etc. This open area would also be good for archery practice out to a hundred yards. Did your soldiers hurl lances? I think that Roman practice died out in the middle ages, too expensive to lose or worse yet, get thrown back at you. But they might do slinging with rocks on a big field, out to perhaps 20 yards or so.

    Most medieval combat quickly disintegrated into a one-on-one melee, and training for that might be handled in some sort of compound. This might include a heavy post set in the ground for sword-hacking, or a swinging heavy leather bag for sword thrusting. Otherwise, multiple individuals would pair up for one on one drill. The Romans used wooden weapons for this kind of training, so the trainees did not inadvertently learn to pull the thrust at the last minute, and also weighed more than the real ones. I would expect that this might carry through to medieval times.

    I don't see why a camp would have anything in the way of a permanent structure for inside training. Everyone was pretty inured to weather, and though winter was not the fighting season, they might have to fight in snow, mud, rain and ice, so why not train in it? They aren't going to be learning anything really sophisticated requiring indoor classes.
     
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  8. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    [​IMG]
     
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  9. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I'm not so sure about that. Not to say that it didn't happen or that men didn't train to do that too, but serious battles are fought in formation and that's a whole other skill. It's very slow and steady and that's why there weren't huge casualties during the actual combat in a battle, typically it was the rout afterwards where most of the people died. It was more like people all lined up just about a spear's length apart, jabbing and poking and looking for weaknesses and, when found, charging in close to break the enemy formation. All formation fighting was done with spears or something spear like. In fact the Romans are almost unique in favoring the Gladius over the spear, relying on missiles to break the enemy shield line. At the very least men need to learn how to fight in formation, and that means enough room to cluster a couple of hundred guys and march them around, make sure they trust each other, because formation fighting is all about defending your neighbor's shieldless side for him.

    I suspect that many men did train very hard at their one on one fighting skills, both as a piece of soldierly pride and because it has practical value. At some point in your career the metal is going to meet the meat and you need to know you can do that; that you have the chops to just stick a sword in another man. That comes from long practice until swinging a sword at another guy doesn't phase you, and knowing how to use your body and your feet and your surroundings. You never know when the guy you are chasing will turn around and try to stick you, after all. But it was definitely really important for guys to keep their formation and I suspect that much of the formal training for men was about this aspect of fighting; working as a unit, building trust, learning to maneuver; and that last one is perhaps most important because turning a flank is the key military tactic to this day.

    Anyway, suffice to say that you do need a mix of things; you do need space to practice with personal arms, to really know and feel them and what they can do. But you also need space to work as a big unit together. These are almost certainly different places though. Every platoon in a home camp probably has some space they made or were given to do individual drills in, but I doubt that every battalion-sized unit has a big field to meander around in. Probably one big field and every takes turns and the local farmers get to survive by not complaining.
     
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  10. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Good assessment, @LostThePlot, agree with all. What I meant about spears is that I don't think in medieval times they threw them at the enemy as the Romans did with a pilum. They did that just as the enemy was about to charge the Roman formation , at about 10 to 20 yards. The pilum was a specialized weapon with a head easily bent so it couldn't be reused. It either hit meat, made people start dodging and running into each other seconds before closure, or lodged in someone's shield, and the press of people behind meant it couldn't be dislodged. The poor guy was just swept along up to the Roman formation with a useless or discarded shield.

    Yes, most casualties come after the rout!
     
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  11. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Yeah, the pilum is a javelin, not a spear. A proper spear you shouldn't be throwing and even if you could you shouldn't. The Romans are a bit of an outlier for lots of reasons. They knew about bows but didn't seem to like them for some reason; sticking with slings and javelins even though they are much worse weapons. I suspect that this is because they wanted the max number of legionaries. Archers take a lot of training while javelins are much less hard to get tolerably good with. Also unlike an arrow, a javelin will disable a shield with one hit and since that's the only goal it makes sense.

    But really we're talking about the medieval world and that's it's own thing. It's strange to me that no-one really tried to appropriate the Roman method of war into the middle ages. I don't see any particular reason why roman legionaries couldn't have beaten medieval men at arms. Sure, legionary armor didn't cover as much of the body but the Romans had those shock infantry tactics down to a fine art; small maneuver units able to turn flanks and avoid bad ground, and every unit has it's own organic missile ability to get the really nasty shock effect as they charge. And that's where the one-on-one skills of your legionary comes to the fore of course, essentially seeking to turn every enemy contact into a rout immediately, forcing the enemy to deal with not fighting the way they practiced.

    Anyway; tangent!
     
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  12. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Shield walls would have got shot to shit once the crossbow was invented though... a roman line would have been perforated by quarells punching straight through their shields (or for that matter against an English Longbow)

    The small unit maneuver thing did carry on though - that's essentially how the English archers operated in the french wars
     
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  13. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    One major reason was brought to Europe by Attila the Hun: the stirrup. Without stirrups, cavalry does not have a big disadvantage over infantry, as it is to easy to unseat a rider. The rider may even unseat himself, if his lance gets stuck in his victim, and then it is all over but the killing of the dismounted horseman. That is why the Greeks and Romans did not use heavy cavalry, though the Persians had "cataphracts" and the Romans may have tried that.

    With the stirrup, heavily armored cavalry with powerful offensive lances become more like tanks, capable of plowing through the Roman formation.
     
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  14. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Contributor Contributor

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    Lot of good information here @Lew , thank you for that.
     
  15. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Glad to help... I am more of an expert in things Roman, @big soft moose seems to have a handle on things medieval as well.
     

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