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The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Discussion of topics concerning life in the middle ages around the world, including architecture, history, and warfare.

Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby Lord Lego 436 » Fri Oct 23, 2009 1:39 am

Well, everyone knows that the European knight would win, because he's so much cooler. :tasty:
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby Laird Cashman » Sat Oct 24, 2009 2:54 am

You know dats right. :sly:
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby ben_toy_tech » Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:15 am

Heir of Black Falcon wrote:Ben,

I hate to say this but one of the key parts of knighthood was the requirement of metal armour.


OK, but I doubt they wore it all the time, probably quite rarely. It was very heavy and cumbersome. According to wikipedia, "Full plate armour was very expensive to produce and remained therefore restricted to the upper strata of society" -so, we are being very literal in terms of what "knight" means..... I was thinking of more of a skilled warrior rather than only someone bearing a title with a large purse. So, that's why I am technically incorrect. .......as an aside, anyone watched "First Knight" with Richard Gere? :)

From the same page, this quote is interesting as well, just to further the discussion:

"In Japan elite Samurai wore armour made of tightly sewn plates which had many of the properties of solid plate armour. With the arrival of Europeans the Japanese would add solid plates to their designs."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_armour
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby Username » Tue Nov 03, 2009 2:59 am

ben_toy_tech wrote:
Heir of Black Falcon wrote:Ben,

I hate to say this but one of the key parts of knighthood was the requirement of metal armour.


OK, but I doubt they wore it all the time, probably quite rarely. It was very heavy and cumbersome.


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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:43 am

Basically to compare them in social strata it works, both are the top of their society and make up relative percents of the total population. All knights by definition had lands required to provide sufficient wealth for their armour, arms and horse as well as 40 days free in the field. That is the idea behind the 'knights fief (fee)'. Both societies have their own groups of non-knightly, non-samurai warrior classes which typically are less well equipped but better to compare.

No samurai would wear his armour all the time either so that is not really an issue. The armour of the samurai changes greatly from the earlier 12th-15th century to the later 18th to 19th. The use of solid metal plate is really in a period well after the knight and really a fair trade as the European soldier of the 19th had repeating rifles.... I think if you compare the prime period of European knights in the 14th to 15th you'd find their equipment would be better (not the best word choice but could not think of a [i]better[i]one than better). To be honest the weapons, armour and tactics grow up suited to their own culture and region but if I had a fully equipped 15th century knight to a samurai of the same I know where my money would be. :wink:

The idea that medieval armour was heavy is just not true. Our modern soldiers often carry much, much more weight on day to day campaigns. I, when I was in shape, could do push ups and pull ups in my full suit which is weighed about as close as I could to an original suit of armour without breaking and entering into a museum.

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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby quaraga » Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:29 am

i'm with heir that video sucked(no offense meant) the samurai had no armour which in a battle would never happen and the knight didnt even try. the question is one that I find entertaining however I would have doe something like this:
two handed knight broadsword vs samurai katana
knight shortsword vs samurai shortsword
mace/mace'n'chain/ morning star/flail vs what ever crushing weapons the samurai used
crossbow vs yumi
halberd/pike/spear/glave vs naginata
if you compared the effectiveness of each against say pigs (good human analogs) and then tallied up whos weapons were more devistating with longrange counting for 10 and mid range(pole weapons) counting as 5 then whoevers # was highest would have the odds.
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby JPinoy » Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:19 am

quaraga wrote:i'm with heir that video sucked(no offense meant) the samurai had no armour which in a battle would never happen and the knight didnt even try. the question is one that I find entertaining however I would have doe something like this:
two handed knight broadsword vs samurai katana
knight shortsword vs samurai shortsword
mace/mace'n'chain/ morning star/flail vs what ever crushing weapons the samurai used
crossbow vs yumi
halberd/pike/spear/glave vs naginata
if you compared the effectiveness of each against say pigs (good human analogs) and then tallied up whos weapons were more devistating with longrange counting for 10 and mid range(pole weapons) counting as 5 then whoevers # was highest would have the odds.


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Nodachi (4ft long blade with foot long or greater hilt)
Kanabo (a large wooden club, or an all-metal club in later versions, with metal studs/spikes used for crushing blows)
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby Heir of Black Falcon » Sat Jun 05, 2010 4:52 pm

kanabo is the same as the tetsubo right?

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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby KuvarBlodøks » Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:22 pm

Unanswerable question.

Both samurai and knight cover a huge range of people, over a large span of time, with constantly changing/improving equipment. When we say knight do we mean a 900s Austrasian miles or English cneft? Do we mean a riter of the 1550s Germany?

Western Europeans typically wore chain until the 1350s or so, eastern Europeans until 1700s or so. Japan wore chain and lamellar until 1600s and even onward, although by 1600 a few examples of Western European style plate had been imported and then imitated, many wealthy samurai preferred this to their native armour styles. Armour-wise both have access to similar levels of protection.

Ultimately it comes down to the individual under the gear, not the stereotype of the warrior.
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby Jacob C. » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:36 pm

Depends on the situation...

Like the mongols, horseback Samurai often used their own version of the bow & arrow (see pic)
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... seback.png
A samurai on horseback could easily eliminate any knight with a well placed shot.
The other weapon commonly used by samurai was the naginata, or other spear type weapons. (see pic)
http://www.holymtn.com/Japan/samurai1.jpg

Swords were rarely used in actual combat (large battles).
The Katana and its smaller relative, the Wakizashi, were originally used as secondary weapons, so they were almost never used during real battles.
The Wakizashi probably saw most of its action as the preferred tool to conduct ritualistic suicide (harakiri).
It was only later during the Tokugawa period that the Katana became the primary weapon of the samurai and swordsmanship was taken much more seriously.

Its really hard to say who would win in an actual fight, because there are too many factors to take into account such as:
types of weapons being used, types of armor, are they on foot or horseback?. etc.
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby KuvarBlodøks » Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:02 pm

Jacob C. wrote:Depends on the situation...

Like the mongols, horseback Samurai often used their own version of the bow & arrow (see pic)
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... seback.png
A samurai on horseback could easily eliminate any knight with a well placed shot.
The other weapon commonly used by samurai was the naginata, or other spear type weapons. (see pic)
http://www.holymtn.com/Japan/samurai1.jpg


Samurai engaged in ritual archery duels while Japan was in a period of intense seclusion, once Japanese began to engage in real war (post Mongol invasion) the weaknesses of the Japanese bow quickly turned it into a relic of the past, fit only for ceremonial use. The Japanese who invaded Korea regularly commented on the much higher quality of Korean bows (very similar to Mongol and Turkic style bows) compared to their own, although at the time the Japanese bow was being almost entirely replaced by the gun.

Keep in mind Magyars, Poles and Russians would have hornbows and could just pick the samurai off long before the samurai was within range with his bow.

TL;DR - Japanese bows aren't going to be eliminating any knights unless god already hates them.
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby Jacob C. » Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:43 pm

KuvarBlodøks wrote:
Jacob C. wrote:Depends on the situation...

Like the mongols, horseback Samurai often used their own version of the bow & arrow (see pic)
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... seback.png
A samurai on horseback could easily eliminate any knight with a well placed shot.
The other weapon commonly used by samurai was the naginata, or other spear type weapons. (see pic)
http://www.holymtn.com/Japan/samurai1.jpg


Samurai engaged in ritual archery duels while Japan was in a period of intense seclusion, once Japanese began to engage in real war (post Mongol invasion) the weaknesses of the Japanese bow quickly turned it into a relic of the past, fit only for ceremonial use. The Japanese who invaded Korea regularly commented on the much higher quality of Korean bows (very similar to Mongol and Turkic style bows) compared to their own, although at the time the Japanese bow was being almost entirely replaced by the gun.

Keep in mind Magyars, Poles and Russians would have hornbows and could just pick the samurai off long before the samurai was within range with his bow.

TL;DR - Japanese bows aren't going to be eliminating any knights unless god already hates them.

Thanks for that info, I had no idea of the inferior quality of Japanese bows.
Seems the Knight would have an edge in this duel.
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby J_MAN » Mon Dec 13, 2010 12:32 am

Sir Dano wrote:I found an interesting article last night that I thought I'd share:

http://www.thehaca.com/essays/knightvs.htm

Now discuss! :wink:

This is a really good article you found.

ELMAS wrote:What a silly question. :P
Of course the Samurai wins. We all know it. I have proof.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDV5frontZbc

You call that proof! That is NOT proof! :wink:
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby theboywarrior » Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:05 pm

i know it's kinda an old post, but I gotta give some input on this. :)
in my humble opinion the knight would win, since the samurai of the same era would have slightly less effective armor and all. the fully armed and armored knight (full face helmet with platebody with chain mail under and a sword and shield with or without a spear) and a fully armed and armored samurai (i dont know much more than bamboo slat armor and a katana with or without a spearsword, i know there are more things, but i dont know their names.) in conflict would be an epic battle indeed. from an equipment standpoint the knight would win, but otherwise it would all be down to the skill and courage of said warriors.
the knight would win :P

okay this has got to be the one of the dumbest videos ive ever seen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8bGmCP3 ... re=related
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Re: The Medieval European Knight vs. The Feudal Japanese Samurai

Postby Frank_Lloyd_Knight » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:27 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih7bmzFQ9rI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Hy_A9vjp_s&feature=related

Here are a pair of videos (with contrasting conclusions) comparing broadswords and katanas. I really get the impression that the skill of the reviewer in each of these has a lot to do with the conclusion. Likewise, if a knight or a medieval European army were pitted against a samurai or Japanese army, I can only imagine that the deciding factor wouldn't be so much their equipment, as it would be the tactics and techniques used by one side or the other.
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