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Author Topic: Female knights and warriors  (Read 937 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Female knights and warriors
« on: August 24, 2014, 02:08:14 PM »
I considered posting it in my, uh, sexism thread, but I decided to make a separate topic about it.

I was looking at this excellent thread and I noticed all those female warriors and iron-clad female knights. And, as great as they looked, my stupid doubts started kicking in... Basically, is the idea of a female knight believeable?

I know that, across history, women have participated in combat and even commanded armies: Artemisia of Caria and Grace O'Malley come to mind, for once. But is it possible for a woman to be literaly a knight? As in, an armoured melee fighter? Armour is heavy, as are medieval and fantasy weapons. And women are supposed to be weaker, on average, when it comes to upper-body strength? So, are all those cool female knights and paladins really believeable? Or are they pure fantasy?

Or, maybe, if there really was a female knight, she would be someone reminiscent of Brienne of Tarth? Who is a great character, but she doesn't really look like all those beautiful women in fantasy art...

It's not that I'm against female knights. Actually, I like them and I would prefer for them to be possible to exist. Still - doubts... ::)

BTW. Isn't it cool how Artemisia was re-imagined for this year's 300: Rise Of An Empire as a D&D death knight? :)



I am *not* defending the 300 movies, as I know they are awfully inaccurate and quite offensive to Iranian people. I'm just saying that, from the fantasy point of view, female death knight commanding a fleet is cool :D

But again - is it believeable???

Offline Wheeler97

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2014, 03:29:52 PM »
Just as a quick aside, I realize you're using the term "knight" to imply a heavily-armored warrior. Knight is generally a title, and we have decent amount of records of women who were members of various chivalric Orders and given titles equivalent to Knight, though it's difficult to tell by those records if the titles were simply passed to wives of Knights.

One of the big myths from Hollywood regarding Medieval weaponry is that they're heavy and clumsy... The average one-handed longsword from the middle ages was maybe two or three pounds (0.9 - 1.4 kg) at the most, not the outrageous 20+ pounds that even some experts still erroneously claim. A two-handed sword might be four to five pounds (1.9 - 2.7 kg). Fighting with such swords, or the smaller and lighter swords of Greek and Roman eras, was fast and precise, with short cuts and stabs with parries and blocks to defend. Hollywood often exaggerates the movement and weight of their weapons, and we usually see the actors making large sweeping attacks like they need to bludgeon their opponent to death.

Armor was another story. It wasn't until the very late Middle Ages and the Renaissance that we saw "knights" clad in entire suits of armor. Into the Renaissance, however, the heaviest of armors was no longer driven by the need of protection during melee, it was to provide survivability against early firearms. Even then, armor ran somewhere between 30 and 60 pounds (15 to 25 kg). It's no more weight than modern infantry carry in their full gear. In fact, it's often less.

It's not infeasible that women could be capable of being armored warriors. It didn't happen often in the Middle Ages, but it did occur. It's important to realize that armor cost a ton of money. Knighthood was an honor with a heavy pricetag, and that is why it usually only went to men of relatively wealthy families. Records of women wearing armor into battle are usually of wealthy noble women that could obviously afford it (and also had to be important to be mentioned in documents of the time).

Regardless of whether women were capable of battle in heavy suits of armor, there are plenty of examples of women, even groups of women, being capable warriors.

Online Neysha

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2014, 03:45:35 PM »
Artemesia is awesome. I'm so glad that they made a fun film about her. She's easily as impactful a female warrior and leader as Boudicea and Joan of Arc and Eva Greens scene chewing was amazing. Its interesting to see the dynamic of an increase in civilized behavior means a further restraint on feminine roles in society such as with historical figures such as Artemesia, or in regards to the myths and mythologized Scythian and Sarmatian and 'Amazonian' female warriors.

As for the case of female knights, the concept of a female knight is largely fictitious. However the Middle Ages is populated with examples based in history of female warriors. It was often cited by Byzantine and Muslim scholars in the Crusades of how "Frankish" women rode horses and were armed and armored like men. In the First Crusade citations like that were made, of women being outfitted like men and how they "unsexed" themselved with such behavior.

During the Siege of Acre IIRC (posting from phone and don't have the books available) there wad a chroniclr from a Muslim scholar of a Welsh bow woman in a green cloak who defended a tower from numerous attackers and fought to the death when they attempted to capture instead of kill her. They then gave her cloak and bow to Saladin who was supposedly impressed with the prizes considering who it came from.

During King Richards march along the coast that culminated in the Battle of Arsuf, several groups of crusaders, including several who turned out to be women dressed, armed and armored as men were captured and executed according to Muslim chroniclers. There's another account of Muslims who captured a crusader stronghold and found a majority of tge defenders were women to their surprise and congratulated them for "overcoming their inherent feminine weakness."

There's other stories,  such as of female crossbowmen present at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 and so forth, so in European armies of the period,  women were often soldiers but not really knights in the classic sense of being professional soldiers. Its more of a case of being more like Eowyn of Rohan as opposed to Brienne of Tarth. Some women,  ususlly via a combination of necessity,  aptitude and and desire, did fulfill the female warrior example though in actual proper armies, even if only temporary.

Offline Nachtmahr

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Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2014, 04:07:04 PM »
As it's already been pointed out: I think you've got a bit of a warped preconception of what 'knight' really means. In different cultures, and different languages, it means a lot of different things, and it really is more of a title than it is a specific sect or 'class' of warriors. I do believe the crossbow was a favored weapon of some groups of knights that I conveniently can't recall the name of. As for the rest of the topic, it sort of confuses me a bit. I don't know if you mean whether it's realistic for a woman a woman to do battle in realistic body armor from the middle ages, or if you mean women doing battle in general? In case it is the first - There would be nothing really holding back a woman, as most weapons weren't anywhere near as large and unwieldy as we're led to believe.

A little studying into how most medieval weaponry actually functions will reveal that melee combat was generally based on two attributes: Speed and strength, but not at the same time. Some weapons favored in some cultures, like the Vikings and their great axes required rather immense strength and stamina to wield for a prolonged period of time. As anyone who has ever tried chopping wood will know: It's not particularly difficult, but if you had to do it for hours, your life hanging in the balance? You'd want to be ready for the task.
Most commonly though, medieval weaponry - And modern melee weapons for that matter, are based around speed, and maximizing damage from a relatively light blow. Most swords are far lighter than you might think, and you'd be surprised at the amount of damage one can do with with what is simply two sharpened pounds of iron. If you're strong and clad in heavy armor, but you have no idea what you're trying to aim for? Well, you're just rubbish aren't you?

In short, a woman could definitely do battle with the best of them, perhaps even gaining a bit of a benefit in the form of increased agility and spatial awareness. Women are, factually, not as easily distracted as men. (Not true in every case of course, but as a general statistic it is.) And there are plenty of examples of ferocious female fighters and strategical masterminds. The first that comes to mind for me would be Boudica.

There are examples of women doing battle where we wouldn't expect it all the way up to modern history, with the Polish resistance employing quite a number to fight back against the invading Germans during World War 2. And today of course, women joining the military is fairly common.

So in short, without rambling too much: Yes. Women clad in armor doing battle shoulder-to-shoulder with men is definitely realistic no matter what recorded era you're thinking of. And it was quite a minority that did it under a Mulan-guise of being a man as well. I would probably say that the fact that a question like this even exists is just proof of how ancient discrimination has carried on over to the modern day.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2014, 04:37:54 PM »
First of all: guys, I *know* what a knight is :) I realize that, historically, it is a title. But for the purpose of this thread, I'm using "knight" as a shorthand for "armoured warrior". Sorry if it's confusing.

Anyway, thank you for the examples. And to clarify: I'm wondering mostly about the physical feasibility of a woman fighting effectively with a sword / axe / mace, especially when wearing armour. I know such a question might look sexist, but on the other hand: women *have* lower upper-body strength (on average), right? Hence, the question. That's why I brought up the example of Brienne: considering how she's described in Martin's books, I have no doubt she could fight effectively in a medieval / fantasy battle. But she's not really one of those beautiful / sexy warrior women we see in fantasy art, is she?

Anyway, shoot more examples at me :) Especially examples of women participating in melee combat. *Especially* when using swords...

BTW. Nachtmahr, I'm afraid you're wrong about female spacial awareness. Actually, on average, women have *poorer* spacial skills than men. On average, of course.

Online Neysha

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2014, 09:48:47 PM »
In the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, there was a Spanish woman named Maria "La Bailadora" who by profession was a dancer (Maria "the Dancer") who joined her lovers regiment by disguising herself as a man. They both served as Arquebusiers on the galley Real, the personal ship of the commander of the Holy League's, Don Juan of Austria and its flagship. It's said she wasn't just motivated by her affection for her lover but also because she was "burning to avenge the contempt for womanhood" because for centuries since (and after) Muslim corsairs and pirates would prey upon Christian shipping and coastal communities, sweeping up hundreds and thousands of Christians as slaves, the men as galley rowers and manual labor, the women for rape and sex and often killing or abducting the children and slaying all of the others. Great folks generally.  She served alongside almost a thousand other men at arms who along with being equipped with either pikes or arquebusiers, were often also armed with secondary weapons like swords and axes and daggers etc and often wore large a fair amount of armor, including over their faces, due to their Turkish adversaries preference for the use of large amounts of bows with an exceptional rate of fire, and said arrows often being poisoned. During the battle itself, the Real was literally singled out by the Turkish fleet commanders flagship, the Sultana, with the Ottoman Turkish ships bow literally blowing across the the bow of the Real and dozens of soldiers on both sides swarming aboard the other ship in boarding actions.

According to legend, Maria was the first soldier to board the Sultana, which seems unlikely. More certain though was that in combat she slew at least one Turk during the melee, dispatching him with a sword thrust. It's possible during the engagement she incurred more casualties, as the engagement itself between the two flagships likely lasted at least two hours (with the overall battle taking four hours to reach conclusion) and that included three failed attacks upon the Sultana until it was finally captured, and the Turkish commander shot down and beheaded. Also after that titanic battle, the Real then disengaged from the defeated Sultana and helped defend against a flanking maneuver that struck the right flank of their central wing of ships that were locked with the enemy, so it's possible she saw even more combat there as well.

After the battle, she was revealed to be a woman but despite that, she was allowed her fair share of pay and prizes from her participation in the campaign and allowed to remain as a soldier in the elite Spanish regiment alongside her lover. Chances are as a dancer she was likely enmeshed in the martial culture of 16th century Spain, which was almost constantly at war with various powers and thus despite her profession as a dancer, she obviously had to have some aptitude with both the arquebus, which itself is a heavy and cumbersome weapon to operate, even moreso on a galley, as well as possessing enough skill to engage in close combat for at least two hours, if not more, while on the rolling and rocking decks of galleys which were often slick with grease (Turks often fought barefoot and thus would grease their decks prior to battle since Christians often wore armor) and blood.

« Last Edit: August 24, 2014, 09:51:48 PM by Neysha »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2014, 10:09:49 PM »
No one's mentioned Joan of Arc yet?

http://www.history.com/topics/saint-joan-of-arc

Online Neysha

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2014, 11:39:35 PM »
No one's mentioned Joan of Arc yet?

http://www.history.com/topics/saint-joan-of-arc

She was mentioned in the third post. ;)

Offline Kuje

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2014, 12:38:47 AM »
Can't forget Boudica either. She went after the Roman's and handed them their asses for awhile, even burning London and Colchester at one point.

This page is also an interesting read, it's about female knights. http://www.heraldica.org/topics/orders/wom-kn.htm

Wiki has some interesting info on women fighters here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_women_in_ancient_warfare#Timeline_of_women_in_ancient_warfare_worldwide
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 01:19:37 AM by Kuje »

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2014, 01:08:20 AM »
No one's mentioned Joan of Arc yet?

http://www.history.com/topics/saint-joan-of-arc

Joan doesn't need to be mentioned, everyone knows of her :)

Thank you for all the other examples, especially the Lepanto story. I haven't heard that one before...

Offline Oniya

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Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2014, 01:13:35 AM »
She was mentioned in the third post. ;)

Sorry for missing it.  :-)

Offline Letrixia

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2014, 01:41:11 PM »
Through history woman has been a topic of debate especially in War and in combat. Yes although I doubt they could have the same physical strength as the males however they have more agility if they wanted and in combat that is just as important as physical strength. I think that is why woman are shown with very sexy armor in fantasy because they focus on how fast they are rather than how strong they are.

Offline Nachtmahr

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Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2014, 03:10:19 PM »
Through history woman has been a topic of debate especially in War and in combat. Yes although I doubt they could have the same physical strength as the males however they have more agility if they wanted and in combat that is just as important as physical strength. I think that is why woman are shown with very sexy armor in fantasy because they focus on how fast they are rather than how strong they are.

Nope, this is the common misconception I mentioned in my previous post - Strength isn't all that valuable to you on a medieval battlefield. It's not like men would haul around huge hammers while women sprinted around the knees of these giants and slew them all in a flurry of daggers - Fact of the matter is that speed will always best strength in a swordfight. It doesn't matter if you have the physical power to hew a man in half if you're dead before you get the chance.

As for women in sexy fantasy armor? I'd really just call marketing on that one. Most game-advertisement has always been directed at men (Or perhaps a select few lesbian and bi-curious individuals) and you'll most likely find that men more often than not enjoy looking at the female body in an alarmingly undressed state - Even if she's surrounded by hordes of mindless undead warriors who want to cut her into tiiiny pieces. Historically, women are not shown in classical art as being either under- or overdressed on battlefields. That's all a more recent trend.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2014, 03:14:19 PM »
Deadliest Warrior did a thing with St. Joan vs. William the Conqueror.  Strategy figured heavily into the mix.

http://www.spike.com/episodes/uixarz/deadliest-warrior-joan-of-arc-vs-william-the-conqueror-season-5-ep-302

Offline Slywyn

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2014, 11:53:47 AM »
Quote
BTW. Nachtmahr, I'm afraid you're wrong about female spacial awareness. Actually, on average, women have *poorer* spacial skills than men. On average, of course.

I just wanted to point out this has been proven multiple times to be completely and utterly false. There is almost no mental difference whatsoever between the sexes.

Quote
I think that is why woman are shown with very sexy armor in fantasy because they focus on how fast they are rather than how strong they are.

This is actually because of something called "male gaze". Marketing showing what (they think) men want in order to sell units.

And as far as armor being heavy/difficult to move around in? Only if it was badly made or not fit for you. Consider this video as an example. Armor had to be made to be worn in battles. People were expected to fight in it. If you couldn't move, or you'd be tired after a couple of minutes, what use is it to you?

Most of the weight of the armor was distributed relatively evenly across the body, meaning in overall 'weight' and how much it actually weighed you down, no more so than a backpack with stuff in it. Think of it like a soldier in today's combat gear, where they're able to fight for hours at a time. It was much the same back then.

I asked a friend of mine(Who's smarter than I am) about this and she had some stuff to add:

" Piercing human flesh to deal a fatal wound requires four pounds per square inch of force. A Toddler can apply that much pressure with a knife."

"Plates of armor and shields were not meant to stop sword-strikes or hammerblows. Neither was Parrying. It was all about deflection."

"Estrogen does not allow for the same increase in muscle mass as testosterone. But it allows individual muscle strands themselves to be stronger, more elastic, and less liable to succumb to fatigue. Fatigue in the form of muscular microtears and acidic exposure."
« Last Edit: August 26, 2014, 12:13:53 PM by Slywyn »

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2014, 12:19:43 PM »
I just wanted to point out this has been proven multiple times to be completely and utterly false. There is almost no mental difference whatsoever between the sexes.

Well, duh. I'm a psychology graduate who actually wrote his Master's thesis about cognitive differences between sexes. It's true that there aren't that many of them, but spatial abilities is one of the areas they do appear. For instance, men are (on average) consistently better than women in Vandenberg's mental rotation test.

Offline Slywyn

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2014, 12:24:34 PM »
Well, duh. I'm a psychology graduate who actually wrote his Master's thesis about cognitive differences between sexes. It's true that there aren't that many of them, but spatial abilities is one of the areas they do appear. For instance, men are (on average) consistently better than women in Vandenberg's mental rotation test.

"on average" and then "consistently" imply two completely different things, and then using them in the same sentence is confusing.

But again, there is no difference and there have been many practical tests that have shown women being as good, better, worse(Aka: no difference, or at least no valid statistical difference) than men in spatial awareness or spatial ability.

And it's completely irrelevant regardless in a discussion of battles and fighting and whether or not women can be fighters.

Training will show you just as well where to stick a knife into someone's joint, or how to figure out when and how to do so, as any sort of spatial awareness.

Offline Kuroneko

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2014, 12:36:38 PM »
I know this isn't strictly historical, but there are plenty of women in the Society for Creative Anachronism who participate in full contact, unchoregraphed heavy combat in full armor of various types (plate, leather, chain, etc) with absolutely no problem and who hold their own against men just fine, regardless of their size, both in single combat and melee battles. I used to be one of them.

Speaking for myself, as a martial artist my spatial awareness is excellent. My husband is a Knight in the SCA, and after 30 + years he's an incredible armored fighter - but he never spent hours sparring blindfolded as part of his training like I did, lol. He's great at intercepting blows; I'm great at avoiding them in the first place ;).

For a historical example, there's a long history in Japan of samurai women, the onna bugeisha, the most famous of whom were Tomoe Gozen and Hangaku Gozen. The bushi women were mainly trained in the naginata, a type of polearm still mostly considered a woman's weapon. It's a versatile weapon that can be used against many weapon types. They were also trained with the bow as a distance weapon and the kaiken, a kind of dagger. During the Warring States (Sengoku Jidai) Period, women were not only expected to protect their homes, but they also raised and led armies. Wives of warlords led bands of women armed with naginata into battles.

You might find this site interesting: http://www.koryu.com/library/wwj1.html . Stephen Turnbull has also written a great book on the subject, Samurai Women 1184-1877. And here's an image for you of samurai women in combat, with both naginata and katana:


Samurai women in combat

 

Offline Oniya

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Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2014, 01:28:40 PM »
Well, duh. I'm a psychology graduate who actually wrote his Master's thesis about cognitive differences between sexes. It's true that there aren't that many of them, but spatial abilities is one of the areas they do appear. For instance, men are (on average) consistently better than women in Vandenberg's mental rotation test.

Apparently athletes and musicians (both male and female) tend to have a faster reaction time than non-athletes and non-musicians.  Also, learning an athletic activity tended to increase one's ability.  Considering the usual 'lukewarm' attention paid to women's sports compared to men's sports, it could imply that this particular 'cognitive difference' is more trained by society than anything.

Offline Slywyn

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2014, 01:48:56 PM »
Apparently athletes and musicians (both male and female) tend to have a faster reaction time than non-athletes and non-musicians.  Also, learning an athletic activity tended to increase one's ability.  Considering the usual 'lukewarm' attention paid to women's sports compared to men's sports, it could imply that this particular 'cognitive difference' is more trained by society than anything.

This is something that's actually touched on by a lot of the more unbias studies done on this sort of thing. Generally women, because of the roles they're expected to hold in society, simply aren't trained the same way men are, the same skills are not emphasized, leading to the 'proof' of these sorts of stereotypes are valid.

When this is accounted for, or tested in a way that the difference is not emphasized, the difference disappears.

Offline BitterSweet

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2014, 02:39:07 PM »
I think two key things about this discussion haven't been mentioned yet: 

The variation within women is as wide as the variation between men and women - meaning there are plenty of women who are buff, strong, big, muscular, etc (just look at many of the female Olympic athletes) just as there are plenty of slim, skinny, weak men.  There is a significant overlap between men and women on pretty much all supposed sex differences beyond the very basic child creating/supporting ones.  This also includes skills like spatial perception, etc.

And - most people regardless of their sex or gender didn't not become heavy Armour knights, not just due to class but also due to physical aptitude.  Just like being a SWAT member or a SEAL, it takes a particular set of skills and physical and mental abilities to qualify.  Most men and most women would not, but some men and some women would.

Offline Steampunkette

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2014, 02:43:13 PM »
Okayso. I was informed about this thread by a friend and I couldn't help but laugh. I haven't logged onto Elliquiy in -YEARS-. Not since a good friend stopped running online D&D. He's still around but I'm not gonna name names. It's been so long since I posted I had to create a new username and password because I couldn't remember the old one and I've completely changed browsers. In short: It's been a while.

But this? Eeeeehehehehehe. Wow. This brought me back. This flawed reasoning forced me to revisit the old stomping grounds. And just... wow.

Okay. Lemme back up some stuff as a woman who has worn full plate armor several times in her life: It's not that heavy. Okay. It is. But if you're wearing it RIGHT (which requires help) then the weight is going to be distributed across your shoulders, chest, forearm, waist, and calves. With that much bodily distribution the total weight of the suit doesn't feel nearly as heavy as it actually is. The clothing most people wear on a daily basis is easily 3-10 pounds of fabric (based on region and culture) but it doesn't feel like it weighs anything. Why? Because of it's distribution and point number two.

You get used to it. Oh, sure, the first time you strap on a set of chainmail and all of it's weight is resting on your shoulders, neck, forearms, and chest you're going to have trouble -breathing- it feels so heavy. Running in that is just ridiculous, at first. But you wear it for a few days and it stops hurting. You wear it for a few weeks and it stops being a burden. You wear it for a few months and you feel like you're naked whenever you take it off and like you can jump 20 freaking feet straight up in the air.

 Muscular Strength: Muscular Strength is measured in two ways: Raw Power and Fatigue. As you exercise or move around a lot two things are going to happen: You're going to tear your muscles and you're going to build up Lactic Acid in the muscle membranes. For people with high testosterone (Note how I didn't say "Men", there?) muscle tears are more common. Now I'm not talking about separation from the bone, I'm talking about microtears. These tears heal fairly rapidly, and the resulting scar tissue is thicker, stronger, and more durable than the baseline muscle itself. That's why people with high testosterone build muscle mass so much more readily than people with high estrogen (See how I didn't say women, there?). However, that does not mean that people with testosterone have the advantage. Estrogen, on the other hand, causes muscular elasticity to increase, strengthening the baseline musculature without increasing scar tissue. This is why people with high estrogen tend to be less bulky in their musculature, even when they are extremely strong.

Lactic Acid is the second part of the equation. As you work your muscles you'll begin to feel a burning sensation. That's lactic acid in the muscle tissue, blocking various receptors and creating a lot of problems for all those microtears you're getting in the tissue. As it builds up it reduces your muscle's ability to contract, making your grip weaker, your arm slower, and your body ache. In people with high estrogen there are fewer microtears due to increased elasticity, which in turn means that there is less burn from lactic acid.

So there's the absolute muscular science out of the way. Let's talk about the science of armor design and function.

Armor is made for men.

Shocking, I know! But armor is designed to be worn, padded, reinforced, and moved in by men. With their high center of gravity and mostly flat chests, Men are the ones it's made to fit. Now a woman can wear a man's armor and get the same protection out of it, and train her body to move within that armor, but if she goes to a smith, or is one herself, she can create armor that balances off her lower center of gravity, making it more protective without fundamentally changing her body positioning. Any Noble or Knight would have enough money to have armor fashioned for themselves, rather than wearing hand me down armor from an older sibling with a different center of gravity.

Armor, specifically plate armor, is not meant to stop blows. It is meant to -deflect- those incoming blows. The same can be said of Shields and Parrying. So all the strength of a powerful barbarian half orc counts for nothing against a person who is trained in wearing plate armor, since the intent is to shift your body to roll with the punches. The stuff you see in modern ren faires is often just two guys wearing armor and swinging, wildly, at each other, relying on the thickness of their armor to protect them. That's a great way to get some nasty bruises. The better option is to shift and bend to allow blades, maces, and spears to glance off the armor. And if your armor is made for your body then it will shift and bend with you.

Slywyn made a good note, earlier. When you're fighting an armored opponent, strength and spatial awareness are far less important than depth perception and body awareness. Knowing where your weight is, your hands, where you can shift and what attacks you can defend yourself against with wood or steel. But also where to thrust, slice, or strike. Aiming for the wrist, underarm, groin, and ankle (Ankle especially with bludgeoning weapons) are your best bets in a fight. It takes 4 pounds per square inch of pressure to push anything through the skin of any person. And I can promise you that the tip of a longsword has a lot less than 1 square inch of surface area. A Toddler can put a Stilleto into your thigh just by lowering their arm, sharply, and letting the combined weight of their little baby arm and the knife itself push that point deep into the muscle tissue.

Knights were trained. Rigorously. They were trained in combat and in history, in mathematics and tactics. They were trained with the weapons of their time and those favored by their particular families. Any difference in the "Average" man or woman, at that point, became irrelevant. Once you've got active training involved you're looking at upper end training. Not extremes, like modern day hyper-training and muscle building competitions, but high end combat training. Those men and women, genderfluid and nonbinary, who strapped on their armor and took to the field on behalf of feudal lords and kicked massive ass across Europe for centuries. Were there more knights with high testosterone levels? Almost certainly. Were they better knights than knights with high estrogen levels? Hell no. And anyone who seriously thinks about the issues and science involved will be able to plainly see it.

The question of whether or not female knights are "Believable" is based on faulty assumptions, gender stereotypes, and trying to apply averages to people who were specifically trained to be above average to a certain level of ability.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2014, 03:47:03 PM »
"on average" and then "consistently" imply two completely different things, and then using them in the same sentence is confusing.

To clarify, then: there have been many studies made with Vandenberg's test. And, across these studies, it is consistent that, on average, women get poorer scores than men.

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But again, there is no difference and there have been many practical tests that have shown women being as good, better, worse(Aka: no difference, or at least no valid statistical difference) than men in spatial awareness or spatial ability.

Well, I must say that in the course of my studies at the university, I haven't seen any studies that indicate that women are better in spatial skills. If there are any differences observed, they are in favour of men.

But of course, I may have seen outdated research, that's always possible...

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And it's completely irrelevant regardless in a discussion of battles and fighting and whether or not women can be fighters.

Maybe, but please note that I wasn't the one who brought up this issue. It was Nacht who claimed that women have better spatial skills than men...

I know this isn't strictly historical, but there are plenty of women in the Society for Creative Anachronism who participate in full contact, unchoregraphed heavy combat in full armor of various types (plate, leather, chain, etc) with absolutely no problem and who hold their own against men just fine, regardless of their size, both in single combat and melee battles. I used to be one of them.

Ah! Thank you for saying that. A first-hand experience, I like that.

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Speaking for myself, as a martial artist my spatial awareness is excellent. My husband is a Knight in the SCA, and after 30 + years he's an incredible armored fighter - but he never spent hours sparring blindfolded as part of his training like I did, lol. He's great at intercepting blows; I'm great at avoiding them in the first place ;).

I'm definitely not saying that a woman cannot have great spatial awareness. I personally know women who have it. In turn, my spatial awareness is pretty weak  :-) I'm simply talking about averages.

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For a historical example, there's a long history in Japan of samurai women, the onna bugeisha, the most famous of whom were Tomoe Gozen and Hangaku Gozen. The bushi women were mainly trained in the naginata, a type of polearm still mostly considered a woman's weapon. It's a versatile weapon that can be used against many weapon types. They were also trained with the bow as a distance weapon and the kaiken, a kind of dagger. During the Warring States (Sengoku Jidai) Period, women were not only expected to protect their homes, but they also raised and led armies. Wives of warlords led bands of women armed with naginata into battles.

You might find this site interesting: http://www.koryu.com/library/wwj1.html . Stephen Turnbull has also written a great book on the subject, Samurai Women 1184-1877.

Thank you! That sounds extremely interesting.

Apparently athletes and musicians (both male and female) tend to have a faster reaction time than non-athletes and non-musicians.  Also, learning an athletic activity tended to increase one's ability.  Considering the usual 'lukewarm' attention paid to women's sports compared to men's sports, it could imply that this particular 'cognitive difference' is more trained by society than anything.

Of course. I'm not saying that it's definitely inborn. Although the fact remains that there are observable physical differences between male and female brains and some neuropsychologists connect cognitive differences to that.

I think two key things about this discussion haven't been mentioned yet: 

The variation within women is as wide as the variation between men and women - meaning there are plenty of women who are buff, strong, big, muscular, etc (just look at many of the female Olympic athletes) just as there are plenty of slim, skinny, weak men.  There is a significant overlap between men and women on pretty much all supposed sex differences beyond the very basic child creating/supporting ones.  This also includes skills like spatial perception, etc.

And - most people regardless of their sex or gender didn't not become heavy Armour knights, not just due to class but also due to physical aptitude.  Just like being a SWAT member or a SEAL, it takes a particular set of skills and physical and mental abilities to qualify.  Most men and most women would not, but some men and some women would.

But of course! I totally agree.

But, as the issue of "buff" was mentioned, I'd like to point out the Brienne example I mentioned earlier. I'm wondering if female knights wouldn't by necessity look like her...

Okayso. I was informed about this thread by a friend and I couldn't help but laugh. I haven't logged onto Elliquiy in -YEARS-. Not since a good friend stopped running online D&D. He's still around but I'm not gonna name names. It's been so long since I posted I had to create a new username and password because I couldn't remember the old one and I've completely changed browsers. In short: It's been a while.

But this? Eeeeehehehehehe. Wow. This brought me back. This flawed reasoning forced me to revisit the old stomping grounds.

I'm really glad that I was the force that brought you back to us. I hope you stick around  :-)

And thanks for sharing your experiences, it was very enlightening.

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Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2014, 03:53:16 PM »
Aaand I do think this whole discussion just plummeted into the depths of 'You said, he said, I said, we said' with a seasoning of light sarcasm and passive aggression. :/ And it was going so well.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Female knights and warriors
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2014, 04:00:33 PM »
Let's steer it back on course, then :)

Although I think that both Steampunkette and Kuroneko provided some excellent insight. So the discussion *is* going well.

Let me clarify something: I do love the idea of female warriors. So, I'm really grateful for all the examples that show that my preconceptions and doubts are wrong  ;D