Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

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Snotgurg
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Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Snotgurg » Sat Dec 14, 2019 8:27 pm

Helle everyone,

With "Infamy, Infamy" on the way, I'd like to recommend some literature concerning the hairy bunch from beyond the Rhine for anyone that might be interested.

"The Early Germans 2nd edition" by Malcolm Todd
Not without faults, but a reasonably good entry level book.

"Die Germanen" by Ernst Künzl
Another entry level book, more "compact" than the first title, in German. Pretty pictures.

"The Spoils of Victory - The North in the shadow of the Roman Empire"
Great book brought to you by the Danish Nationalmuseet. Thought-provoking articles and stuffed with pretty pictures.

"Das Heer des Arminius - Germanische Krieger zu beginn des 1. nachchristlichen Jahrhunderts" by Strassmeir and Gagelmann
Think Osprey, but better. (Sorry Osprey...) Good, condensed information about equipment, tactics, etc. In German, but don't let that deter you.

"Antike Germanenbilder" by Karl Reinhard Krierer
Another German book, filled with mostly Roman depictions of your favourite trouserwearing barbarians. Might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I thought it should go on the list anyway.

Last, but definitely not least:
"Studien zur Germanischen Bewaffnung - Waffenmitgabe und Kampfesweise im Niederelbegebiet und im übrigen freien Germanien um Christi Geburt" by Wolfgang Adler
Yes, another German title. But, if you're anywhere near interested in Germanic grave inventories and therefor how warriors might have been equiped... Learn German and get this awesome work!

(Edit: "(...) might have been equiped." Here I have to emphasize might because the archaeological findings might not be representative for the whole of "free Germania". They are, however, very suitable to draw some decent conclusions about armament and warfare in the region of the Lower Elbe in the period of approx. 50BC to 150AD.)

(Edit II: I don't like to say it, but I feel obligated: I do NOT recommend Speidel's book "Ancient Germanic Warriors".)
Last edited by Snotgurg on Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:56 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Snowcat
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Re: Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Snowcat » Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:26 am

Is there much/anything in those books about the light infantry runners with the cavalry?

I mentioned it with a reference from Caesar in the ANCIENT SHARP PRACTICE - INFAMY INFAMY thread, but no response there.

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Snotgurg
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Re: Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Snotgurg » Sun Dec 15, 2019 1:25 am

As both Caesar and Tacitus refer to infantry fighting alongside cavalry:
Yes, it's mentioned in, at the very least, the works of Adler and Strassmeir & Gagelmann. I can't remember if it's mentioned in the other books, I'd have to look it up.

The problem is that it always comes down to the, dare I say 'mere', words of Caesar and Tacitus...

Beware, personal opinions, speculations and educated guesses below.
I don't think there is good reason to heavily(!) doubt the observations of Caesar and Tacitus, whether made through personal experience or not... But I have yet to see any solid proof for those types of tactics. In all fairness, providing hard evidence might not even be possible at all.

Edit: It's fair to note that the Boeotians apparently used 'mixed units' at the battle of Mantinea in 362 BC.
In Adler's work there's mention of Galatians and Bastarnae employing the same tactic.

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Snowcat
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Re: Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Snowcat » Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:26 am

Hmm, interesting.

Here's a link to what I posted in that thread:
viewtopic.php?f=18&t=11782&sid=3dd59505 ... 150#p79740

It would certainly make an added visual and tactical element to a Germanic force in the game (if historically demonstrable)...
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Snotgurg
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Re: Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Snotgurg » Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:50 am

Ah yes, I came across your post while I was still lurking.

I agree it would certainly add a sort of iconic element, even if only based on literary evidence. (Written by those perfidious Romans! PAH!)

I'm still more concerned with the lack of nice Germanic models, to be completely honest.
Oh, and maybe the interpretation of the word cuneos/cuneus...

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Snowcat
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Re: Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Snowcat » Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:53 am

Nothing in the Wargames Foundry line for you?
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Captain Reid
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Re: Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Captain Reid » Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:08 am

Roman Horsemen Against Germanic Tribes. The Rhineland Frontier Cavalry Fighting Styles 31 BC - AD 256, by Gawronski (Warsaw 2018) discusses German cavalry at length (and also gives an excellent discussion of ancient cavalry equipment and tactics in general). He is of the opinion that the 'mixed' formations of cavalry and light infantry existed basically to facilitate the re-supply of the cavalry with javelins (whereas, for instance, Danubian horsemen tended to use quivers of javelins). Certainly, it's extremely hard to see how a mixed formation could have been very effective actually fighting intermingled (or even with the light infantry in close support).
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Snotgurg
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Re: Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Snotgurg » Sun Dec 15, 2019 12:44 pm

Snowcat wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:53 am
Nothing in the Wargames Foundry line for you?
They are relatively good. Just not good enough for me. :roll:

Snotgurg
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Re: Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Snotgurg » Sun Dec 15, 2019 2:32 pm

Captain Reid wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:08 am
(...) light infantry existed basically to facilitate the re-supply of the cavalry with javelins (...)
Thanks for mentioning the article, I wasn't aware of that one. (And I'll sure as hell will be reading all of it!) Having now only read chapter seven, I can't fully comment on the entire article. Even though Gawronski wrote an interesting piece with the help of many credible sources, I'm of the opion that he missed the mark a couple of times.

The part you mentioned is one of those baseless assumptions made by Speidel, whose book isn't worth much outside of the collected literary references. It may be harsh criticism, but it is well earned.

As another example:
The interpretion of the throdden down warriors on Roman (funerary) art as 'horse stabbers' "diving beneath their foes' mount" is a wrong one, in my humble, but dare I say educated, opinion. The image of the victorious, heroic single cavalryman or army trampling their (often terrified) foe is such a common and unambiguous concept in Roman art that this interpretation is almost baffling to me. Even the images used as supporting evidence are highly debatable.
Why is the trampled figure in fig.38 interpreted as a 'Germanic horse stabber' with a single-purpose weapon, and not as a Dacian or Thracian armed with a Roman interpretation of either a sica, falx or rhompaia?

It's a shame to see Speidel being mentioned so many times as a reference, though it definitely explains some of the misinterpretations...

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Re: Ancient Germanic reading recommendations

Post by Captain Reid » Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:53 pm

I agree, it's not perfect by any means. Though because of the extraordinarily limited and time/place-specific evidence we're not going to get anything that is. In fairness, many of the references to Speidel are contradicting him or pointing out he has an 'alternative view'.

I certainly struggle with the concept of anyone diving under a horse in order to stab its belly other than in extremis. However given that the 'horse runners' are mentioned in several cultures, I'd tend to presume that they hung back when cavalry engaged other cavalry and then 'hunted in packs' any enemy cavalryman who emerged on the 'wrong' side of the swirling melee. It might also allow for them dashing to the rescue of a dismounted cavalryman. But however agile and swift, it's very hard to see them actually intermingled with the cavalry when the cavalry were conducting any sort of combat manoeuvre - and given they'd have nowhere to dodge to, virtually suicidal for them to be intermingled when the cavalry were charged bu or charging other cavalry.
The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change. - Greta Thunberg

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