Q&A: Historical Research

Hi! First of all I love your blog ! So i’ll try to say this as clearly as i can: basically how to write accurate and realistic fights scenes, with miedeval weapons in my case, and develop fighting strategy when you have 0 notions in these domains? My characters are knights , they master specific weapons and strategies of battle. But i have no idea how to put it with words. Sorry for my english. 🙂

Depending on your native language, that may be an asset. There are a lot of surviving training manuals out there, and most were written in languages other than English. Being able to read German, Italian, Spanish, or even French can be a huge boon to studying how these weapons were used historically.

If you want to get a look at this stuff, Wiktenauer is an open source wiki focused on collecting, and digitally preserving, surviving primary sources. Expect to do a lot of reading. Understand that what you learn won’t be 100% correct. Keep an eye on things you’re warned not to do, because it means people did that often enough to piss off the author.

You may also want to do some basic reading on the exact timeframe you’re looking for. Weapons and armor were constantly changing and evolving.

There’s a lot of good literature on historical battlefield tactics and strategy. I can’t make recommendations for your native language, but I am sure the material exists. Nothing will give you better examples of how people fought in history than studying how actual battles played out. Detailed battlefield maps which track troop movements, is a major plus. This will help you see how the forces were arrayed and fought.

A slightly oddball suggestion would be Medieval II: Total War. I haven’t played that entry, but the Total War series present semi-realistic battlefield strategy playgrounds. This can teach you basic concepts, and let you experiment with strategies. The downside is (if later games are anything to go by) some of the systems are going to be poorly explained. The game doesn’t force “proper” deployment structures, so you would be free to make mistakes without learning from them. The game is focused on the entire army operating together, so you couldn’t focus on just your knights. It doesn’t do small scale skirmishes between a couple units, it’s focused on full armies clashing. If you’re zooming in on the units, don’t expect to learn a lot about how to use a weapon, the animations are fairly primitive. Finally, you might want to verify your language is supported.

Even video games are not your thing, there is a lot of potential in tabletop wargaming. This is going to be somewhat dependent on finding a game that fits the time and place you’re focusing on. Normally I’d suggest checking Avalon Hill’s back catalog, but the translation issue makes that a bit tricky.

For strategy, I’m certain The Art of War has been translated to your native language, and even if the book itself would be anachronistic, it is something worth reading to help with the mindset you’re looking for.

I hope this helps get you started.

-Starke

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