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Cataphract cavalry vs Heavy lancers

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    Posted: 23 Jun 2011 at 14:34
Some nations such as Soghdia and Byzantium employed heavily armoured cavalry, whose main function in battle appears to have been to make contact with the enemy and hammer away at them at close quarters with maces and swords. Their value was in their thick armour which was meant to protect them from melee blows.

Other nations employed heavily armoured lancers (think the heavy knight of the High-Late medieval period). These cavalry were tasked with the decisive role of delivering a devastating charge which would hopefully break the enemy formation upon impact.

Was either force inherently superior to the other? What do you think the pros and cons of these two styles of fighting were?
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Kaveh ye Ahangar

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jun 2011 at 15:32
Cataphracts were better (or specifically) equiped to fight infantry whereas lancers were more like shock troops.  In a cataphratc vrs lancer situation, at initial contact there has to be a potentially decisive advantage for the lancers other factors notwithstanding.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Byzantine Emperor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jun 2011 at 19:58
The cataphract was better suited for hot, arid environments.  The lamellar armor which they wore was not unbearably heavy and was effective at deflecting missiles and projectiles.  Also, as in the case of Middle Byzantine kataphraktoi, they could use the bow as well as dismount to fight on foot when required.
 
Although heavy lancers did dismount in certain situations in Western Europe, they were primarily used for the shock charge and then retired from the battle while light cavalry and footsoldiers cleaned up the mess.
 
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