First Adopters of Warfare Styles, and the "Chivalry" Thereof.:

Total posts: [22]
1 TheEarthSheep14th Dec 2011 07:52:07 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
So, I've noticed that most of the earliest members of new military units tend to be portrayed as incredibly stylish, all through history.

To the best of my knowledge, this list includes:

  • Greek Hoplites, one of the early users of the Phalanx technique, if I'm not mistaken, though honestly I don't know much about the subject.
  • Knights/Samurai, both heavily armored swordsmen on horseback.
  • Fighting Sailors/Captains, between the fall of the Spanish Armada and the Napoleonic Wars, the first cannon-firing ships.
  • French Musketeers, one of the first effective users of gunpowder, again, if I'm not mistaken.
  • World War I Fighter Pilots, the "Knights of the Sky/Air/Whatever".

The question is, Does the popular portrayal of these warriors as stylish, chivalrous heroes stem from the type of person who would do something new like this, or from the perceived novelty of their parent culture?
Still Sheepin'
scratching at .8, just hopin'
Let's go over what "fair play" meant for each of those.
  • Hoplites: Fair play means pointing a literal mass of spears at your opponents, preferably several yards longer than his spears, then marching forward until you pin them to their own city walls. Oh, and don't forget the shield walls to invalidate their archers.
  • Knights/Samurai: Fair play means running down enemies wearing hella less armor than you while your weapons system/armor/mount combination makes you the period equivalent of a main battle tank. Oh, and because of hostage customs in Europe (to a lesser degree in Japan) there's a big incentive to take you alive compared to the poorer people fighting alongside you.
  • Fighting Sailors/Captains: Either by the element of surprise or by superior cannon range, you want to send your foe to the bottom before he does to you. Much naval strategy involved taking advantage of nautical weather to win your fights for you.
  • French Musketeers: I don't know enough to comment on this, but these were the guys dumb enough to try invading Russia in the winter, so they may have been honorable.
  • World War I Fighter Pilots: The first war to see aerial combat was also the first war in which the strafing of ground targets that couldn't fight back was discovered. There was a reason they had to invent fighter escorts for zeppelins and anti-aircraft guns.

Conclusion: honour is very, very subjective. If you want to talk about the style of them, I would avoid the word chivalry or at least acknowledge that making them look chivalrous involves a lot of whitewashing.

edited 14th Dec '11 8:02:50 PM by RadicalTaoist

Well, nobody won a war by fighting fair.
scratching at .8, just hopin'
Yeah, to answer the OP's question, it's gotta be the perceived novelty/portrayal. Each of these elements were the subjects of intense PR campaigns in both directions during their heydays, that wouldn't change in popular media.

edited 14th Dec '11 8:10:13 PM by RadicalTaoist

5 TheEarthSheep14th Dec 2011 08:09:50 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up][up][up] but these were the guys dumb enough to try invading Russia in the winter

Off by just a few hundred years. The Musketeers protected the Louises, France didn't invade Russia until the nineteenth century, under Napoleon.

And so you would say it's the culture they come from that lent them their chivalry.

edited 14th Dec '11 8:10:01 PM by TheEarthSheep

Still Sheepin'
scratching at .8, just hopin'
Ahh, I stand corrected.

In which case, the Sun King was a master at manipulating politics and taking hostages such that he could lose battles and still win wars. I don't know about his Musketeers though. French military history does include a number of examples of devastating loss due to not fighting as dirty as the other guy (see Agincourt).
Well, whatever your stance on war itself, one cannot deny the fact that cowardice is frowned upon in the military, so there would be no shortage of valor. No, I think it's the novelty and the fact that they were pioneering a brand new, highly effective style of warfare that got them their recognition.
8 TheEarthSheep14th Dec 2011 08:18:53 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
Taoist: The thing I think you're missing is that chivalry has to be relative. Sure, Greek Hoplites were dicks, but they were soldiers, it's practically a job requirement. They would call each other out of the battle and have one-on-one battles, though, face to face* . Fighting Sailors were also relatively chivalrous, at the same time as British Longbowmen stood a mile away and killed all of their opponents before they could even see them, British Naval Officers were letting their enemies finish repairing their ships before they dueled. While American Minutemen were jumping out of trees to cut English riflemen's throats out, John Paul Jones was off being a pretty cool guy. While Fighter pilots were bombing trenches, others would duel each other face to face to win glory. Samurai would find the strongest enemy on the battlefield and challenge them to single combat.

It really depends on how you look at it.
Still Sheepin'
isn't stylish chivalrous heroes part just modern invention ? hoplite popularized by 300, musketeer popularized by three musketeer, others popularized by war films and romance novel ? In its age, people would think no differently than modern people think about current soldier.

10 TheEarthSheep14th Dec 2011 08:29:04 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up] Not really. Hoplites were popularized by traditional Greek culture at the time they were still in use, Knights by Chivalrous Romance while they were still in use, the Musketeers have always been seen as incredibly foppish, and Naval Captains likewise.
Still Sheepin'
[up] Not true on Samurai and Knights, Chivalrous Romance popular when use of Knight already declined and tournament become popular. Samurai also idolized by Samurai class on peaceful Tokugawa shogunate.

It also probably chivalry exaggerated because this is elite institution (probably hoplite exception). Samurai, Knight, Musketeer, Captain, and Pilot usually relatively rich and educated gentlemen who can sponsor literature glorifying themselves.

Not sure about this, but Wikipedia seems indicate that Iliad is not about Hoplite, but about past "Heroic Age".

12 TheEarthSheep14th Dec 2011 08:43:25 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
[up] "Knights" as we know them existed pretty much into the sixteenth century, well after the rise of Chivalrous Romance. Don't know much about Samurai.

Samurai, Knights, and to a lesser extent Hoplites* , are certainly elite class, but the others aren't. Naval Officers were barely higher than the sailors they commanded, and were usually one of those sailors to start. Musketeers were basic, enlisted soldiers. Same with pilots.

Hoplites existed in the Heroic Age. If I'm not mistaken, the term basically just means "Greek guy with spear and armor".

edited 14th Dec '11 8:44:21 PM by TheEarthSheep

Still Sheepin'
Hoplite > when Iliad written, isn't Hoplite now fighting with phalanx formation (no longer duelling) and see "Heroic Age" as mythical past ?

Naval Officer > i thought sailor where impressed man, while their officer was gentlemen class ?
14 Barkey14th Dec 2011 10:59:25 PM from Bunker 051 , Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
War Profiteer
The question is, Does the popular portrayal of these warriors as stylish, chivalrous heroes stem from the type of person who would do something new like this, or from the perceived novelty of their parent culture?

With the exception of the Phalanx, I'd like to point out that all of these groups are nobility(with some exceptions to early pilots, Captains are chivalrous and glorious by reputation, not their sailors necessarily)

Because they are nobility, they got the majority of the prestige, respect, glory, and even kills in battle, as the social distance created by being a noble made it easier for them to run down the peasantry that most armies consisted of once they began to retreat after a standoff. Thus these mounted nobility got more kills than anyone else on the battlefield until artillery came around.

Thus that is why these particular groups get so much glory. It's the reason why when Kim Kardashian makes a sex tape, it's instantly a sensation. When I make a sex tape, it's just a sex tape.

I.E. They are rich, and thus their reputation was written by others like them, and envied by those who were not. It is considered desireable and glamorous to be rich, and thus positions and titles that require you to be rich are equally desireable and glamrous to fantasize about.

edited 14th Dec '11 11:01:25 PM by Barkey

The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.
15 USAF71315th Dec 2011 04:10:59 AM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Most of it is simply idealized romanticism. Warfare has always been pointlessly wasteful and viciously bloody.
I am now known as Flyboy.
Chaotic Greedy
I think there were arquebusers before there were musketeers, and I hazily remember anecdotal evidence of someone whose name I forgot being quoted as finding those dishonorable.

Citation Needed of course, but "common" people with guns don't get any of the glamour Musketeers had.
"And as long as a sack of shit is not a good thing to be, chivalry will never die."
17 honorius15th Dec 2011 09:20:49 AM from The Netherlands
Hoplites existed in the Heroic Age. If I'm not mistaken, the term basically just means "Greek guy with spear and armor".
Which would be any Greek participating in combat maybe except for Peltasts (skirmishers) who had just a spear (and a typical shield). But Hoplites are the guys fighting in a Phalanx. The actual combat wasn't anything remotely resembling heroic or chivalrous: it was like a tug of war but instead of just losing you got speared (or knifed, depending on the progress of the battle) in the throat. If you broke the formation to duel with an enemy you would probably become the most hated guy in the entirety of your city state.

IIRC in Greek culture they actually thought standing your ground and not leaving the formation to run forward (thus leaving the guy next to you unprotected) as heroic.
If any question why we died/
Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
19 USAF71315th Dec 2011 01:08:44 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Meh. It's just history as myth. The way we teach history makes it seem like it was all somehow better than the present, and while some of it was (in some ways), most of it... wasn't.

I mean, there are differences. An enlisted person of today is more likely to be principled and non-homicidal than a soldier of the past, or more likely to have good principles (service to others) versus bad principles (war is a way to earn glory), but a lot of that is because society has changed.

More or less, though, war just stays the same, morality-wise.
I am now known as Flyboy.
Princess Ymir's knightess
I agree with USAF on this. I seem to do that a lot... probably because he's almost always right.

And before someone wants to make a Fallout reference... don't do it.
21 Morven15th Dec 2011 02:28:00 PM from Seattle, WA, USA
@USAF: at the same time, there's also the countervailing tendency to assume that people of today are so much better, smarter etc etc. than those of the past — where the evidence generally says humans stay pretty consistent over time. A touch better educated now, is about all you can say there.
A brighter future for a darker age.
22 USAF71315th Dec 2011 03:52:31 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.

Ha! I'm flattered but... no, not really. tongue


This is true. I think it depends, really, but I do know that I don't like "history as myth," and I plan to strive to avoid that when I'm a teacher of history. cool
I am now known as Flyboy.
The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.

Total posts: 22