Lance (military association)

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The lance - named after the chief's main weapon - was the smallest organizational unit in the knight armies of the Middle Ages . Led by a knight , the lance included six to ten armed riders. In addition, foot soldiers were not uncommon. Lances were not used as fighting units, but at the latest before a battle, they were divided into the respective branches of arms, i.e. armored riders , riflemen and the like together.

In France in the early 14th century , a lance ideally consisted of the following: the knight on his tent and his squire who carried the warhorse , the thrust lance and the heavy pot helmet (from the 15th century alternatively the visor helmet ). Furthermore, a professionally hired (and therefore paid) swordsman and spear fighter (French coutiller ), as well as two to six bow and / or crossbowmen. The lightly armed (horse) servant and the cupbearer were considered non-combatants .

Occasionally one or more fully armed noble horsemen joined the contingent when they themselves (e.g. as servants ) could not - or did not want to - raise a military retinue.

Several foot soldiers (armored to different degrees) could join the lance. Their weapons were crossbows or bows , hand pipes , spits or any other cutting weapon .

The French army was the model for most of the European knight armies. That is why the composition of the lances was similar at least in Western and Central Europe. The knight had to equip and / or pay his followers at his own expense. The number and quality of the fighters united in the lances - and those of the horses - could therefore vary considerably. In the High Middle Ages up to 20 warriors belonged to a lance, in the late Middle Ages the number of riders required by the king or emperor dropped to five to six.

The next larger unit of a knight's contingent formed the banner , which often had four to six lances under.

See also


  • Liliane and Fred Sparks: Historical weapons and armor . Orbis Verlag, Niedernhausen / T. 2001, ISBN 3-572-01308-9

Individual evidence

  1. Contents: Part 1: armor and military equipment in the Middle Ages . Pp. 10-159. Part 2: Knights and Landsknechte . Pp. 160-308.