On Jan 8, 2008 2:32 AM, Gavain Sweetman <gavain.sweetman_at_j8l9yZH2-122ocvSGTD-DV39-up82jTKjKWZfhflsGOH6dh5A0HNZjkYfzxv1sAlXaazqsjPDD4IEFuNBu_64hBO1xy6Rg.yahoo.invalid> wrote:
> Probably true but then the peasant would have to expend time and effort to
> make and train (in secret) with the spear.
Sorry. I thought the original taboo was just against swords.
>With a pitchfork or grain flail
> their masters would have to provide them
Grain flails are nunchucks- two sticks tied together with cord. Most peasants would *make* them. If you're making it as a weapon, rather than a grain flail, you might go with a longer handle for more reach. If you had extra cash, maybe upgrade to a chain linkage rather than rope or cord. More expensive, but you don't have to replace it nearly as often. (And chain is less likely to break in the middle of a fight....)
Typical peasant pitchforks are all-wood, either an actual branch found or bent to shape, or wooden parts bound with cord, and not terribly useful as a weapon. A *metal* pitchfork would be more expensive than a spear, because it's got more metal and is slightly more complex to make, and still not all that useful as a weapon. I mean, better than nothing, but not something you'd reach for on your way to a fight, if there was a more appropriate actual weapon available.
> and the peasants are familiar with their use.
Well, familiar with their use as agricultural tools, which doesn't necessarily cross to use as a weapon.
Japanese peasants were generally forbidden to carry swords, principally because the samurai didn't want uppity peasants taking a swing at them when the samurai were obnoxious. After the Japanese conquered Okinawa, rebellious Okinawan peasants learned to use nunchuks and staves and all sorts of other odd things as weapons because the Japanese made it illegal for them to have swords, to make them less effective in the event of a rebellion. But they learned to use these things as weapons because they had no choice, being forbidden to have 'real' weapons.
Of course, in the words of Ani DiFranco, "Every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right."
>Just like I would arm smiths with the hammers of their trade -
> not the best weapons, but their arms know their weight and balance.
Good rational, but normal hammers make rotten weapons. No reach, bad balance, slow recovery. Besides, trained smiths are too expensive an asset to risk in battle unless you're truly desperate. You need them to fix everyone else's weapons and armor...
>In otherwise difficult circumstances something familiar would be of great
True. Me, I'd be more comfy with a 6-8' spear (designed to gack people) than a pitchfork (designed to move hay). Doesn't mean I wouldn't *use* a pitchfork if that's all that was handy, just that if I know I'm heading for a fight, I'd rather take the right tool for the job. It's all in how you spin it...
> If you want to arm them with bladed weapons then I'd suggest sickles and
Again, useful in a pinch, but not designed for combat, and not a good first choice if actual weapons are available.
>I guess that a fair number would be handy with sling or thrown rock
> given that being able to catch a bird / rabbit would be a welcome addition
> to their daily rations.
Or bows. Bows have an advantage in that you can pack archers closer together than you can slingers, and you can 'wait' a bow at ready (arrow nocked but bow not drawn) much easier than you can wait a sling (which needs some wind-up time to swing the sling before you're ready to fire.) Good war arrows take some time and effort to make; that's what the blacksmith is busy with. Slings are cheap and easy to make, and rocks you can pick up at the beach.
(I used to think slings were fairly puny weapons until I saw a picture of some Palestinian kid, maybe 14, swinging a *brick* in a sling. *That* put things in perspective. Ouch!)
> I guess in the end it all depends on if you see any peasant revolt as the
> result of years of secret planning or a spontaneous thing. If the former
> then sure they would be better armed spears and the odd stolen sword, if the
> latter then they would only have their agricultural implements.
I suspect it also depends on whether the higher castes want to use the peasants as levy troops in the event of a war, and how safe the rest of the environment is.
If you need levies, then you make spear training mandatory, have them train with spear-size sticks, and keep the actual spears in the local armory under lock.
If the area is not particularly safe, and you need the peasants armed for self defense against animals or the neighbors, then they keep the spears with them.
-- "A word to the wise ain't necessary - it's the stupid ones that need the advice." -Bill Cosby
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