(no subject)

From: Nick
Date: Sat 10 Jan 1998 - 17:54:26 EET

RE: cataphractic inquiry

> I must admit that Cataphract isn't part of my everyday vocabulary, so
> upon deciding to employ it myself what was I to do other than to think
> to myself in a very Drone's Club sort of way, "Loren, old man, who
> better to check on cataphractic correctness than someone who read
> classics and history at some dreadfully british university and was the
> first and only person I've ever perceived to use the word in question?"=

> Naturally, once I had started that line of thought there was nothing to=

> do but type up this 1st draft wannabe Hazari divine spell and inflict
> it on you before sending it off to the GD. The spell would be gained
> from a Carmanian hero cult of the wargod, Terrible Wossname. =

Looks eminently cataphractly to me, old bean.

A "Cataphract" is (as far as my meagre knowledge goes) essentially a
knight in metal armour riding on a horse with metal barding, but turning
up in the ancient world and not the middle ages. The Sassanid Persians
used them. Wargamers use them lots. Me, I see them in books...

All Hail Terrible Wossname!

        * * *

Here's some more...

=46rom that wargamer's bible, "Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome"
(cataphracts first turn up in the Seleucid Persian army around 200 BC,
but the earlier descriptions are less interesting than these):


"...We know from contemporary authors that the cataphracts were excep-
tionally well protected by iron armour, needed no shield, were armed
with a 12-foot long lance called a Kontos, and charged ponderously at
the trot on horses equally heavily armoured in iron or bronze. The man
illustrated is armoured in a combination of lamellar, mail, and laminated=

plate. He wears a short surcoat and a cloak, and carries a heavy mace as
his secondary weapon. Only the king, great nobles and their dependents
could afford such fabulously expensive equipment and a horse capable of
carrying it easily, so it is likely that surcoat and possibly cloak would=

be richly coloured and ornately embroidered. However, there is a sugges-
tion in one source that the cloak could be used for concealment, implying=

that it was at least less conspicuous than the armour underneath."


"While the foot archer was numerically the most important troop type of t=
Palmyran army, the one that caused the most consternation among Aurelian'=
army was the cataphract cavalryman. Sometimes the Roman cavalry could dea=
with them by keeping out of reach and enveloping their flanks, but on oth=
occasions they rode the lighter troops down. They later formed the model
for the cataphract regiments introduced into the Roman army by Aurelian..=
The man shown wears a long hooded coat of iron mail. A sort of corset of
overlapping iron plates is strapped over this around his trunk. His arms
and lower legs are protected by flexible armour of overlapping iron plate=
His protection is finished off and made nearly total by a helmet with
attached bronze face mask, mail gloves and iron shoes. His horse is prote=
ted all round by armour of iron or bronze scales, one set of each having
been found at Doura. He is armed with a 12-foot long Kontos and a mace.
He needs no shield."


"...This type of soldier does not seem to have been a complete success fo=
the Sassanids. The Emperor Julian taught his men to attack the Sassanids =
a run instead of awaiting their charge, then to dive under the lances and=

try to hamstring the horses. Faced with this threat, the clibanarii [ligh=
cavalry] would try to withdraw to use their bows, leaving the cataphracts=

isolated and handicapped by their poor vision."


"...Late Roman poetry confirms that brass scales were more favoured than
iron, possibly because of the latter being worse corroded by sweat. Armou=
could also be of greenish blue horn scales, red lacquered rawhide scales,=

or of thick felt. Later Persian horse armour of mediaeval times is depict=
as blue, red, white with leopard spots, light green and yellow as well as=

in metallic colours, and the same could presumably apply in this period."=

I find a mention of Persian cataphract camels -- believe it or not! --
being used at the Battle of Nisibis, 217 AD. Camels have soft feet and ar=
particularly vulnerable to caltrops. But any Carmanian officers in Prax
may be looking wistfully at the High Llamas, and thinking, "If only..."

(I pass over cataphract bison, rhino, etc. as an affront to decency!)



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