"... Anglo-Saxon Lords
killed and maimed each other
barbarous stone axes "
killed and maimed each other
barbarous stone axes "
With a light hand uncritically perceived realities of the Middle Ages, historian Viktor Prishchepenko, the popular 1980's popular literature spread around the sensational news: “It is noteworthy that the Islamist anonymous author considered it useful to use the Slavic terms“ knight ”,“ chivalry ”without translation, and his work belongs to those times in the language of the Germans, there were no “ritters” and “rhetorians”, and the Anglo-Saxon lords killed and maimed each other with barbaric stone axes (1).
We will not go into the details of the most absurd assertion about the Slavic origin of the terms "knight" and "chivalry", arising from the use of V. Prischepenko translated text into English, where in the original "Story about the Country of Rus and its Cities" of the 10th century Muslim work. "Kitab Hudood al-Alam Min al-Mashriq Il-l-Maghrib" is the Arabic word muruvvat - "generosity, nobility, humanity." Let us touch upon a no less glaring error, stating the presence of Anglo-Saxon warriors of the 11th century in the weapons complex. stone axes.
The source of such a radical statement about the use of stone axes by the Anglo-Saxons for the Soviet historian 1970-1980-ies was the work of F. Engels “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State”, where in the chapter “Barbarism and Civilization” the founder of Marxism spoke literally the following: “Stone weapon therefore it disappeared only slowly; not only in the Song of Hildebrand, but also under Hastings in 1066, stone axes were still used in the battle ”(2).
However, such a categorical statement, even if made by one of the founders of the Marxist ideology, cannot be taken on faith without analyzing the sources. Therefore, we have undertaken a search for both the original text of the Song of Hildebrand and an essay telling of the use of stone axes by the Anglo-Saxon warriors in the Battle of Hastings.
As it turned out, the information about the use of stone axes by the Anglo-Saxons was “borrowed” by F. Engels from the work of the chaplain (3) Guillaume from Poitiers “Gesta Willelmi, ducis Normannorum et regis Anglorum”. In other sources, no hints of such an amazing element of the Anglo-Saxon warrior's panoplia are found.
Consideration of primary sources
1. "Song of Hildebrand"
“The Song of Hildebrand” (Hildebrandslied) refers in its content to the cycle of legends about Dietrich of Bern, whose events take place at the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 6th centuries. The only extant list of "Song of Hildebrand" is the manuscript from Fulda, dating from the beginning of the 9th century. An analysis of the text of “Songs of Hildebrand” gives a good idea of what the soldiers of the Dark Ages armed themselves with - the legend mentions the quite usual for the VIII-IX centuries. weapons - swords, spears, chain mail, shields:
Two people of the same blood
son and father prepared their equipment,
armor, and girded swords,
heroes armed when they were going to battle.
And now my own child should fight with me,
hit me with a sword
either I'll be his killer.
Which of the two will get hold of clothes today
and armor will take possession of the enemy?
Then they threw ash spears in a grave battle;
spears thrust into shields.
And they fought, shields crackled,
and they hit again
so until they are left without their fake shields,
torn by swords ...
In the original text of the song, which lists the types of melee weapons, there are only the words "suert" - the sword, and "billi" - a type of halberd:
nu scal mih suasat chind suertu hauwan,
breton mit sinu billiu, eddo ih imo ti banin werdan.
The word "stein" (stone) in the "Song of Hildebrand" is not mentioned even once. And, given the possible form of the warhead of the weapon “billi” (4), in no way makes it possible to interpret this weapon as made of stone. The translation of “Songs of Hildebrand” into modern German in this passage indicates the word der Klinge (blade), and into English - Axe (ax). In both cases, the authors of the translation did not specify the type of weapon, but simply replaced the archaic billi with something similar. It is not known which of the translations F. Engels used when writing “The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State” (1884), but there is no reason to say that the weapon owned by the old warrior Hildebrand was made of stone, based on both translations, no .
Thus, the material “Songs about Hildebrand” in no way gives us reason to talk about the practice of using stone axes in Europe in V-VI (when the events described in the cycle of songs about Dietrich of Bern) occur, or in VIII-IX ( when this song was recorded) for centuries.
2. "Chronicle" of Guillaume from Poitiers
More difficult is the case of the second source - the Chronicle of Guillaume of Poitiers. Most likely, F. Engels did not use the Latin text of the chronicle, but applied its free English-language translation, which states the following: "The English ... threw spears and weapons of every kind, murderous axes and stones tied to sticks".
In any case, only these “stones tied to sticks” could become the basis for the statement that Anglo-Saxon soldiers had stone axes in service. “If a stone is tied to a stick, this is a stone ax!” - apparently, the logic of F. Engels was just that.
Due to the fact that information, sanctified by the authority of F. Engels, was perceived by many historians as absolutely true, a completely absurd situation arose - the long-forgotten stone axes in the second half of the 11th century. they re-enter the battlefield, but they leave only once, with Hastings, to sink into oblivion again.
This obvious discrepancy is many lovers. stories they tried to explain for themselves roughly as follows - they say, they meant not Paleolithic masterpieces - polished, drilled, sharpened, but ordinary clubs, to which some Anglo-Saxon militiamen crammed cobblestones for gravity.
Indeed, the army of King Harold was divided into 2 unequal in their combat skills and armament of the part - tenov and khuskarlov, forming the elite of the troops, and the mass militia - fyrd. However, even about members of the fyrd, no one ever said that they were armed with stone axes. For example, in the description of the battle of Brunanburg (937), during which the army of the united Anglo-Saxon kingdoms crushed the combined forces of the Vikings and the Scots, the word "stone" is used only as part of the complex epithet of the sword "stone-pointed blade":
... Wesseaxe forð
ondlongne dæg eorodcistum
on last legdun laþum þeodum,
heowan herefleman hindan þearle
... Wessex mowed down
horsemen are primordial until it is dark,
pursuing the enemies of the hated,
runaway hacked, killed many
With 799, a precedent appears - Kenevulf, the king of Mercia, gave one of his tenns an investiture in the form of an estate in the 30 guide with the duty to put 5 soldiers from the allotment. In the future, it is fixed in the Norman "Book of the Last Judgment" (Domesday Book, 1086) - 1 soldier was exhibited from the five guide (5) of the land plot, significant money was spent on the maintenance of the soldiers: "... if the king sent an army somewhere, one soldier is sent from five 5 guides, and each guide provides for its maintenance and subsistence for two months in the amount of four shillings ”(6).
Those. the maintenance of a 1 warrior's warrior required 20 shillings per month. Responsibility for evading service in the firm was also provided for - according to the laws of Ine, the King of Wessex, who paid great attention to the organization of the firm (694), who did not come to the service, was fined: “If a person of noble origin who owns the land, neglected military service, he must pay 120 shillings and lose their land; a person of noble birth who does not own the land [in such a case] is obliged to pay 60 shillings; a community member is obliged to pay 30 shillings for neglecting military service ”(7).
According to this law, the gradation of the members of the fyrd according to the property principle, and, accordingly, according to armament, is traced. Tena and khuskarly constituted the elite of the Anglo-Saxon army - according to the laws of Knud the Great (1016-1035), when entering the inheritance, the teng's son was obliged to transfer four horses to the king, two swords, four spears, four shields, a helmet, armor and 50 gold mancus (8).
At the time of Knud the Great, Huskarl was obliged to have a “double-edged sword with a gold-coated handle” (9).
To say about the tenov and khuskarlov that they “maimed and killed each other with barbarous stone axes,” as V. Prischechenko did, does not turn the tongue. The rest of the warriors of the fyrd, recruited from ordinary members of the community, were much worse armed, but it was never said about them that they were armed with stone axes. Thus, in the chronicle of William of Malmesbury, about the Fyrd warriors who fought at Hastings, it was said: “All the infantrymen, armed with double-edged axes, closed the connected shields in front of them, forming an impenetrable wedge. ... Having taken possession of the hill, they dumped Normans into the hollow when they, enveloped in flames [fighting], stubbornly climbed to a height, and exterminated every single one, easily letting the arrows coming from below and rolling stones on them (10).
So, from the "Chronicle" of William of Malmesbury, it becomes clear that in battle the fyrd formed the so-called. "Wall of shields". Ahead, often tenes and hozarly dismounted for battle, as more experienced warriors, with better armament - a “wall of shields” could only be built from those with whom they were an indispensable part of the armament. In battle, they could use improvised means - for example, stones - but not a word was said about the use of stone axes!
In this regard, the description of the battle of Hastings, left by Guillaume of Poitiers, is of considerable interest: “[The Anglo-Saxons] threw spears (cuspides) and various kinds of projectiles (tela), the worst of which were axes (secures), and blocks of stone ( saxa), imposed (imposita) on the tree (lignis) ”(11).
Thus, it becomes obvious that the “wall of shields” led an active throwing battle, which involved attacking the enemy with “various kinds of missiles”, among which spears, axes and stones were specifically indicated. This does not contradict the “Chronicle” of William of Malmesbury, and makes it impossible to accept the interpretation of modern English translation of the combination lignis imposita saxa as stones tied to sticks - the word imposita stands for the process of imposing something, but not fixing it with a rope or belt.
It is worth paying more attention to the throwing battle of the fyrd - for example, Guillaume of Poitiers mentions throwing axes. This finds a parallel with the use of the Franks in the 5th-6th centuries. francis (francisca or francesca). In continental Europe, Francis was used at least until the reign of Charlemagne. At the same time, the warfare of England was somewhat more archaic and retained some features that had disappeared on the continent for a longer time. So, recently reported the discovery of several francisok in England (12).
The method of application of the Francis on the islands is unlikely to be very different from how it was applied on the mainland. Judging by the words of Guioma from Poitiers, the "volley" by throwing axes during the descent of the lines was an essential moment for successfully repelling the enemy's attack.
What was meant by "blocks of stone laid on a tree"? In our opinion, this is a fustibal - sling attached to a long pole. Vegetius mentioned in his “De Re Militari” fustibal (fustibalus) as a weapon that was used in the late Roman legion by the warriors of the back rows. Warriors with fustibalami called fustibalatorov (fustibalator). The first images of fustibals appeared no later than the period of the early Byzantine Empire, the latter - not earlier than the 13th century. In favor of this consideration, we propose the following arguments:
1. The nature of the first stage of the battle at Hastings, judging from the description in the "Chronicle" Guillaume of Poitiers, throwing. Why should the soldiers throw some “clubs with tied stones” when just throwing a stone is easier and easier? Why do you tie stones to a club at all? By the way, technologically it is far from easy - to get a secure bond of a stone with a baton without processing it.
2. Fustibal, recommended by Vegezius for arming the rear ranks of the legion, fits perfectly into the firda throwing battle - the system doesn’t break when throwing from the Fustibal, the stone flies much further, and you can throw stones weighing up to 0,5 kg, which you can’t throw far . At the same time, it was possible to throw not only stones, but also small vessels with incendiary mixture, which can be seen on the miniature “The death of Estash Inok” at the naval battle of Sandwich (1217) between English and French fleets.
Why did not Guillaume of Poitiers use this Latin word? In our opinion, the word fustibal is quite specific and Guioem from Poitiers could not have known him, therefore he gave a descriptive translation. “Overlaying” (not tying! - note by A.P.) of a stone on a “tree” is a description of the process of loading a stone into fustibal.
In this case, we get a holistic and consistent picture of events - the fyrd keeps the formation on the hill from which stones, axes, arrows, spears and darts are thrown at the Normans. Warriors Fyrd are armed in accordance with the era. Moreover, they are armed with even the simplest mechanical devices, allowing to increase the range and force of throwing a stone - fustibaly.
Thus, the statement of F. Engels that on the battlefield at Hastings by the Anglo-Saxon warriors stone axes were used, picked up by E. Razin and developed to the point of absurdity by V. Prishchechenko, has no basis.
1. See V. Prischechenko. "... And armed with zelo." Youth Technique # 12, 1980, page 49
2. See F. Engels. The origin of the family, private property and the state. - K. Marx and F. Engels. Works, ed. 2, T. 21, M., 1961, p. 163.
3. In this case, the chapel means the office of William the Conqueror. See “The History of the Middle Ages in its writers and the studies of the newest scholars”, volume II. SPb, 1864, p. 892.
4. In modern English, billhook is synonymous with poleaxe / poleax, i.e. "halberd". In Novoye Vremya, auxiliary weapons of this form were known in Russia as the “fashinny knife.” In the Middle Ages, billhook or simply bill could also be used in the pole version.
5. Gaida (born Hide, Anglo-Saxon. Hϊd or hiwisc) is a unit of land area, traditionally a component of allotment, considered necessary to provide for one man and his family. Hovered from 40 to 120 acres.
6. See “The Big Book” in the “Book of the Last Judgment”, materials on Berkshire, 1086.
7. “120 he shipment and forfeit his land; a nobleman who holds no land land pay 60 shillings; a shillings for a neglecting military service
8. Mancus was originally the name of an Arab gold dinar (was equal to 30 silver denarius) in Western Europe, and then - a monetary unit and a gold coin of several European countries. As a counting unit known since the end of the VIII century. and was used until the end of XI century. in England, Italy, Spain, France. As a silver coin Mankus appears in Italy in the IX-X centuries. In Catalonia in the XI century. Gold Mankus was produced with an Arabic inscription and a cross. The weight of the coin was 1,9 - 1,95 g. In most cases, it was lighter than the synchronous Arabic gold dinar. See Numismatic Dictionary, 4-e Edition, Zvarych V.V., Lviv, 1980.
9. See M. Nechitaylov. Khuskarly, bootscarly and litmeny: the XI century guard. XLegio, 2001.
10. See William of Malmesbury, "The History of English Kings" // Medieval Latin Literature, 4th-9th Centuries. / trans. T.I. Kuznetsova, M., 1970, p. 396-397.
11. "Jactant cuspides ac diversorum generum tela, saevissimas quasque secures, et lignis imposita saxa".
12. See Richard Underwood. Anglo-Saxon Weapons and Warfare. Stroud, 1999, p. 35-37.
Examples of images of fustibal from European manuscripts XII-XIII centuries.
Biblia Sancti Petri Rodensis, Catalonia, approx. 1050-1100 (Ms. Lat. 6, fol. 134r, Bib. Nat., Paris)
Eustace "The Black Monk" dies at the Sandwich Battle of 1217
"Big Chronicle" by Matthew of Paris, England, ca. 1240-1253 (Ms. 16, fol. 52r, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)
Siege of Damietta in 1219 during the Fifth Crusade
"Big Chronicle" by Matthew of Paris, England, ca. 1240-1253 (Ms. 16, fol. 55v, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)
The battle between the troops of Salerno, Tancred and the Empire in the castle "Turris Maior", on the one hand, and those who are on the mountain "Torus", now called "Tuoro" or usually "Mazzo della Signora", on the other.
Peter ad's Liber ad honorem Augusti from Eboli, southern Italy, ca. 1195-1197 (Cod. 120, II, fol. 111r, Burgerbibliothek, Bern)