Showing posts with label horse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label horse. Show all posts

17 September 2014

Richard III Forensic report from the Lancet. Bosworth revisited

Richard the 3rd  was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in Leicestershire, central England, on Aug. 22, 1485.

Forensic Evidence confirms that Richard III died a violent death at Bosworth:

King Richard III likely perished at the hands of assailants who hacked away pieces of his scalp and rammed spikes or swords into his brain as the helmet-less monarch fell to his knees in in the mud after his horse sank into mud or was was killed under him.A forensic report published in The Lancet exposes the horrific demise of one of English history’s most controversial monarchs.It backs anecdotal evidence, made famous by Shakespeare, that Richard was unhorsed before he met his doom.
Bringing together 21st-century science and sketchy knowledge of 15th-century history, the analysis provides a chilling tableau of the brutality of warfare in late mediaeval England.

The monarch’s death was the culmination of a three-decade war for the throne, bringing the curtain down on the three-century dynasty of his Plantagenet clan, and ushering in the Tudors.

“The most likely injuries to have caused the king’s death are the two to the inferior aspect [lower part] of the skull – a large sharp-force trauma possibly from a sword or staff weapon, such as a halberd or bill, and a penetrating injury from the tip of an edged weapon,” said Guy Rutty, a pathologist at the University of Leicester.

A halberd was a mediaeval battle axe with spiked point, and a bill was a hooked-tip blade on the end
of a pole.

“Richard’s head injuries are consistent with some near-contemporary accounts of the battle, which suggest that Richard abandoned his horse after it became stuck in a mire and was killed while fighting his enemies,” said Rutty.

The study, published in The Lancet medical journal, used X-ray computed tomography (CT) for a microscopic analysis of a skeleton found in 2012 under a car park at a former church.

After being lost for five centuries, researchers identified the remains as Richard’s, backed by DNA analysis and radiocarbon-dating.

The paper documents nine injuries to the head at or shortly before death, and two to the torso that were likely inflicted postmortem.

The two blows that probably killed the king likely came from a sword or spike driven into the brain at the base of the skull.

They are consistent with the victim having been “in a prone position or on its knees with the head pointing downwards,” the study’s authors wrote.

Non-fatal injuries included three cuts to the top of the skull that would have sliced off much of the scalp. A knife or dagger was stuck right through his face, from right cheek to left.

“Richard’s injuries represent a sustained attack or an attack by several assailants,” said Sarah Hainsworth, a professor of materials engineering at the university.

“The wounds to the skull indicate that he was not wearing a helmet, and the absence of defensive wounds on his arms and hands indicate that he was otherwise still armoured at the time of his death.”

Assuming that he had been wearing his royal armour, two injuries to the trunk must have been inflicted after Richard’s body was stripped, the team said.

One was a blow to the right tenth rib with what was probably a fine-edged dagger.

The other was a thrust, probably by a sword driven upwards through the right buttock that would have penetrated his bowels and other soft pelvic organs – a blow that would have caused fatal bleeding had he been alive.

Without any soft tissue to analyze, the scientists looked at sometimes tiny marks left on the bones – cuts, abrasions, punctures and so on – and compared them with the known impacts caused by the weapons of the time.

The gory reconstruction of his death is heavily dependent on assumptions about the wearing of armour and the loss of his helmet, but chimes with several contemporary accounts.

One version of events penned the year after Richard’s death, said his naked body was slung over his horse like a saddlebag and brought to Leicester.

“Insults” were directed at the corpse by the crowds – which could be when an onlooker inflicted the pelvic wound by thrusting a blade through the king’s buttock, according to the new investigation.

Further mutilation of his corpse would have been stopped – to display his dead body as a trophy, the defeated king had to be recognizable.

Richard died at the age of 32 after only two years on the throne. Contemporary accounts described him as generous and a good monarch, but his reputation was blackened by the victorious Tudors.

In Shakespeare’s play Richard III, the king’s spinal curvature was transformed into a hunchback, and his character was murderous and hungry for power.

England's King Richard III, whose body was discovered under a municipal car park, will be reburied near to where he was slain in battle 500 years ago, a court ruled on Friday, dashing the hopes of his distant descendants who had wanted his remains to be taken back to his northern stronghold.

The unearthing two years ago of the remains of the last English king to die in battle was one of the most important archaeological finds of recent years.

Richard was slain at Bosworth Field near Leicester, central England, in 1485, bringing to an end the rule of the Plantagenet dynasty after 300 years.

His death was the culmination of the Wars of the Roses, a bloody 30-year power struggle between Richard's House of York and the rival House of Lancaster.

The whereabouts of his grave had been a mystery until a skeleton with curved spine and head wounds was found by archaeologists from the University of Leicester, with DNA tests confirming it was indeed the king.

The university was given permission by Britain's Ministry of Justice to re-bury the king at Leicester cathedral.

But the Plantagenet Alliance, a group which included some of Richard's distant descendants, asked London's High Court to block the burial plans, arguing the decision on the final resting place should have been a matter of public consultation.

They wanted their ancestor to be reinterred in the northern city of York, his power base during his 26-month reign.

However, their case was thrown out by three of the country's most senior judge.

"Since Richard III's exhumation of Sept. 5, 2012, passions have been roused and much ink has been spilt," their ruling said. "We agree that is it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial and finally laid to rest."

A tough soldier and popular in the north, Richard remains a hugely divisive figure in English history, seen by some as a monster who murdered two princes - his own nephews - in the Tower of London to take the throne, and by others as an enlightened ruler unfairly maligned by his enemies.

He was cast by Shakespeare as a power-crazed hunchback, who famously went down fighting to keep his crown from the invading forces of Henry Tudor crying out "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!".

After the battle, the victor, the future King Henry VII, had Richard's naked body exposed to the people of Leicester to show the battle was won before he was buried in a monastery which was later destroyed.

In their ruling, the three judges said Queen Elizabeth was content for the dead king to be buried in Leicester, and did not express a wish for a royal funeral or for a re-interment at London's Westminster Abbey where many medieval monarchs were laid to rest.

The judges also said the Plantagenet Alliance, set up by Stephen Nicolay, the 16th-great-nephew of Richard, represented only a fraction of the number of his descendants.

The alliance said in a statement after the ruling: "We believe that the proposed location of Leicester is wholly inappropriate for the burial of King Richard III, who had no connections with the town beyond his horrific death, bodily despoliation and appalling burial in a foreshortened grave.

"It is fitting and respectful and in keeping with all of our national customs regarding treatment of the dead, to bury this king in a place 'appropriate to him' - that place is York."

The University of Leicester will now go-ahead with plans for the reburial, likely to be early next year, while the city council has unveiled plans for a 4 million pound ($6.6 million) visitor centre around the find, hoping that fascination with the monarch will prove to be a hit with tourists.

"This will be a momentous event for the city and county, and an opportunity to show the rest of the world that Leicester is the rightful resting place for the last Plantagenet King of England," said Leicester Mayor Peter Soulsby.

Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the dig which found the remains, said it was right they stayed in the city.

"Ultimately a King of England by right of conquest - Henry VII - decided in August 1485 to hand over the vanquished King Richard's remains to the Franciscan Friars in Leicester for burial," he said.

"There they have lain for over half a millennium and have become part of Leicester's history."

A facial reconstruction gives us an idea of what he would have looked like in life:

Contemporary paintings seem to confirm the identity of the body, as does DNA evidence.

17 June 2013

Horsing around: Revell's German Horse-drawn artillery leFH 18 and Cossacks

Horsing Around: German WW2 Horse-drawn 105mm Light Field Artillery

Modelling Revell's leFH 18 Horsedrawn kit and Cossacks

I seem to have developed a Russian/East front theme to my modelling and painting in the last week. First the IS-2s and now the Revell Cossacks, throwing in the Cossack with a horse on foot strangely included in their Infantry set. 

Have been basing the infantry for FoW, then worked on the Cossack Cavalry. Whilst most modelers will bemoan the presence of the Cossack on foot in the infantry set, I found it useful. The Cossacks can dismount in FoW, send their horses to the rear, and fight on as regular infantry. The dismounted guy will be useful for this, and can also double as an officer with the seated officer with binoculars from the Cossack set for  unit command .

Photographs nicked from Plastic Soldier Review. 
An excellent site about our passion. Recommended reference.

Having built and based these guys I thought I'd stick with the horse theme, and proceeded to work on the German Field Artillery with the LeFH 18 10.5cm field guns. Much to my delight the guns are very detailed, more so than the Zvezda kits I have used before. 

In fact on the table it can be hard to distinguish the Zvezda LeFH 18 from a PAK 40. With the Revell kits there are no doubts.The reason is that two different carraiges are modeled, the earlier model with spoked wheel, the latter with the Pak 40s carriage. The Revell kit also does not have the muzzle brake.

See details below.

German leFH18: 

The 10.5 cm leFH 18 (German: leichte FeldHaubitze "light field howitzer") was a German light howitzer used in World War II.

The 10.5 cm leFH 18 was the standard divisional field howitzer used by the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. It was designed and developed by Rheinmetall in 1929-30 and entered service with the Wehrmacht in 1935. Generally it did not equip independent artillery battalions until after the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943. Before 1938 the leFH 18 was exported to Hungary and Spain. 53 were also exported to Finland.

It had a heavy, simple breech mechanism with a hydro-pneumatic recoil system. The 10.5 cm leFH 18 had wood-spoked or pressed steel wheels. The former were only suitable for horse traction. Initially, it was not fitted with a muzzle brake. In 1941 a muzzle brake was fitted to allow longer range charges to be fired. This increased the range by about 1,800 yards and was known as the leFH 18M. 

In March 1942 a requirement was issued for a lighter howitzer. This led to a second modification, known as the leFH 18/40. This modification consisted of mounting the barrel of an leFH 18M on the carriage for a 7.5 cm PaK 40 antitank gun. The new carriage increased the rate of fire as well as making the howitzer lighter. Additionally, a more efficient muzzle brake was added, decreasing the recoil. Ballistically, the 10.5 cm leFH 18M and the leFH 18/40 are identical.

During the French campaign the leFH 18 was often pressed into service in the anti-tank role when isolated pockets of heavily armoured French tanks, like the Char B and Somua, made breakthroughs. The leFH 18 and the famed "88" were often the only weapons available.

While its weight proved useful in its sturdy construction and as a stable firing platform, it was a draw back when it came to manoeuvrability. It weighed 1985 kgs, which increased to 2050 kgs once the muzzle brake was added. During the Russian winter of 1941/42 the mud proved too much for many leFH 18. Many were abandoned to be captured by the Soviets when their crews could not drag them from the mud. Despite being designed with motor traction in mind, the German artillery still relied heavily on horse drawn limbers as it’s main means of motive power.

During 1942 thought was put into how to over come this design flaw. The final result was the leFH 18/40 which utilised the much lighter PaK 40 trail and wheels (wider wheels were introduced later) for its carriage, though the result wasn’t substantially lighter than its predecessor, 1900 kgs, its was put into production in 1942. The leFH 18 continued to be the main form of artillery in the German army, the introduction of the leFH 18/40 merely supplementing those already in service.

A total of 6986 leFH 18s and 10265 leFH 18/40s were manufactured during the war to add to those already in service in 1939.

The Germans did consider a complete redesign, Krupp, Rheinmetall and Skoda put new designs forward, but none of these designs were adopted.The 10.5 cm leFH 18 howitzer was a good weapon that served the Wehrmacht well. It maybe thought of as the plain Jane of the German gun arsenal when compared to more glamorous contenders like the 8.8cm FlaK 36 and the 7.5 cm PaK 40, but in overall damage done to the Allies the leFH 18 would be hard to beat.