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Jaak
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:40 am    Post subject: Castle and palace stables Reply with quote
A samurai is, by tradition, an archer on horseback.

The masses of lowly ashigaru could not afford horses and they were infantry - but the cavalry were the more noble branch.

Did samurai castles need to incorporate suitable accommodations (large courtyards, stables, stockpiles of hay) for masses of cavalry?

Since a samurai was defined as a horseman, how did samurai visit castles and unfortified palaces in peacetime? Did the guests normally show up riding their horses, or did they prefer sedan chairs carried by servant porters? And did palaces require accommodation for the guests´ horses?
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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Part of your question will be answered in a future podcast episode. But in regards to "masses of cavalry", the short answer is that vassals, etc. more or less maintained their own horses and brought them to war, but they weren't gathered together as a mass of cavalry, they didn't train together, and the daimyo didn't generally supply horses.
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2012 9:09 am    Post subject: Re: Castle and palace stables Reply with quote
Jaak wrote:
A samurai is, by tradition, an archer on horseback.

The masses of lowly ashigaru could not afford horses and they were infantry - but the cavalry were the more noble branch.

Did samurai castles need to incorporate suitable accommodations (large courtyards, stables, stockpiles of hay) for masses of cavalry?

Since a samurai was defined as a horseman, how did samurai visit castles and unfortified palaces in peacetime? Did the guests normally show up riding their horses, or did they prefer sedan chairs carried by servant porters? And did palaces require accommodation for the guests´ horses?


In addition to what Kitsuno said, you've got two major problems with your questions.

First, you're viewing this through a European-based understanding of "cavalry". "Horseman" does not equal "cavalry", not the way "cavalry" is understood as coordinated units of horsemen acting in concert to accomplish certain unit tasks like reconnaissance, exploitation of gaps in enemy formations, etc.

The second is that you're not differentiating by time. The way samurai fought in the 1180's was way way different from how they fought in the 1330's, the 1490's, or the 1560's. Very early on, yes, they were typically mounted archers. Although how much of the fighting was exclusively mounted archers in the Heian/Gempei period is debatable, since most of the early scholarship on it was based on war tales that focused on the warrior elite and their exploits, and would never mention the multitude of footsoldiers and attendants that actually made up the bulk of the army. Those weren't really even "ashigaru" as we use the term now, as they didn't really develop until the Nambokucho and then Onin War.

So yes, samurai had to have the necessary accommodations for the number of horses they were required to have. And remember, not all horses are for military use, so they probably had some for transport, some for riding into battle, etc. (though they didn't have "warhorses" in a European sense either). But no, they didn't have to accommodate "masses of cavalry", because the concept didn't exist.

They didn't operate as cavalry on the battlefield, nor did they organize as cavalry in garrison. They organized as "more important dude with money to have a horse on a horse, followed by less important dudes who's jobs were to assist more important dude, on foot". You can't charge off on your horse to attack the enemy, because your support would be left behind you. Of course, that brings up the issue of "charging", which smaller Japanese horses couldn't really do with a fully-armored warrior on top of them anyways. It might not have been that much of a challenge to keep up with your more important dude, because the horses could only sprint for short bursts as it was, not full out gallop across the battlefield.

Sorry if I sound pedantic, but as a modern-day "cavalry" officer in the US Army, "cavalry" has a very specific meaning which applies to very specific battlefield tasks like reconnaissance, counter-reconnaissance, and rapid attack from a mounted platform (in premodern days, horsemen organized into cavalry units, in modern days tanks or aircraft). Just because someone is on a horse does not make them "cavalry".
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
<<given that someone is on a horse, that does not make them cavalry>>

Given the crappy riders I know, you can say THAT again! Laughing
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Tornadoes28
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Why is this in Japanese Entertainment?
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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Moved.
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
Did the guests normally show up riding their horses, or did they prefer sedan chairs carried by servant porters?


In sankin kôtai journeys to Edo, which I'd take as one of the key examples of "visiting castles in peacetime," daimyo did generally ride on horseback, taking to the palanquin if it was raining, or if they were ill, or in certain other circumstances. Meanwhile, the vast majority of their vassals would be either on horseback or on foot. This from Tour of Duty by Constantine Vaporis.

Coincidentally, I've just uploaded my photos of the stables at Hikone Castle. It's not the greatest, but maybe it gives something of a sense of what a major castle's stables would have looked like in the Edo period, as well as their size.
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks for that picture--very interesting. It appears as though the horses would have been cross-tied between the heavy upright posts, as I've seen in old prints; with the movable "X" bars to give them the illusion of being shut in.

One thing that jumps out at me is how light and airy the place is--good ventilation is the No. 1 health consideration in any stabling arrangement in a warm, humid country. They had it right!
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