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The Lance

The Lance

The "Lance" was the basic tactical unit of the European feudal armies as early as the 10th century. It was still in use well into the 15th century, but it was more strictly organized, as a part of the "compagnies d’ordonnance" raised by the French king Charles VII.

The origins of the Lance are found in the retinues of medieval knights. In all probability, these units would be denominated as "Lances" attending to the close association existing between a knight and his signature weapon: the lance.

This Black Hawk presentation is an accomplished depiction of a Lance commanded by a French knight around 1330. He is shown here riding a gaited or amble horse which is trained to move faster than a walk but usually slower than a canter, resulting in a more comfortable ride on the trail. He is accompanied by his lady, which may suggest they are just in the early stages of the cavalcade and that she should be on her way back shortly, as dames were usually not expected to follow their husbands to war.

Just ahead of the knight is the destrier, a stronger horse used in battles and tournaments, led by a page. Following the knight is the loyal squire, carrying his lord’s weapons and pennant. Behind the squire are various men-at-arms, a loaded supply wagon, and even a monk on donkey back, as well as Irish Wolfhound dogs following the troupe.

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