Chapter 1-36 “Crossed Spears”

“In battle, if you you make your opponent flinch, you have already won.”
― Miyamoto Musashi

A note on ancient shields – We’re mostly used to shields being metal or wooden, sometimes covered in leather hides with some device painted upon them.  Metal shields are extremely rare throughout the history of warfare.  Hoplites used them (the bronze shield called a hoplon) and some knights used smallish steel shields to counter lances for jousting.  I’m sure there are other examples throughout history, bucklers and whatnot, but they’re pretty rare.  Metal shields had the benefit of being extremely durable, but were also very heavy and ludicrously expensive.  A hoplon was a family heirloom worth more than their home.  Wooden shields were also pretty common.  They’re durable, able to turn all but the most powerful attacks, and are considerably lighter than a fully metal shield.

The one seen here is perhaps the most commonly used type throughout history.  It’s a woven wicker shield.  The persians used them across their empire.  Some Greeks used them, they were used throughout Africa and even the Saxons and Angles used them.  They were lightweight, able to stop arrows, sling stones, and pretty much anything.  They were, however, somewhat prone to falling apart after a few whacks with a sword and because they were so lightweight, they weren’t the most effective defense against heavy blows from axes and the like (they would stop any cutting but the heavy bashing is another matter altogether.)  Their one great benefit was that they were cheap and easy to make.  Anyone who could weave a basket could make one.  So… anyone.  It was just woven grasses.  While stopping for the night on a march a warrior could gather grasses and start a new shield.  I can imagine a bunch of warriors getting together and comparing patterns like a modern knitting circle.


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