View Full Version : I Volunteer My Hubby

D.C. McLaughlin
03-31-2010, 02:16 PM
New member here. I have a hubby who is a wealth of info on history and weaponry. He has two college degrees in history and thirty years experience in re-enactment of history. He's one of those frustrating individuals who doesn't need to look up anything but if such reference is needed, he can rattle off book titles pertaining to such things. He can report years and battles in history as if they were everyday things. I used his knowledge a lot for research for my vampire novel. "Honey I need a particularly, ugly pistol that would have been used by an S.S. officer during W.W.II." Or would this scene have worked in this time period in this area of the world.

Warning. Expect lengthy replies filled with lots of details! He never gives brief answers. They usually involve four large paragraphs!


03-31-2010, 02:32 PM
Does he have knowledge of 18th century shipping, 14th century AD weaponry and 2/3rd century BC weaponry? Also ships vessels in 2/3 C BC?

Em, he does know he's on offer, right?

03-31-2010, 03:08 PM

D.C. McLaughlin
03-31-2010, 03:23 PM
Yes and yes. I've often said that I will never write a book involving ships because I KNOW NOTHING! I'm a total idiot when it comes to naval things and I grew up on the water! However, HE does know a thing or two about the subject. One of his re-enactor friends has his own Viking ship they go out on several times a summer.

And yes he knows I volunteered him and he's okay with it.

Its a pain in the neck to watch historical movies with him. If they get something wrong he's all over it!


D.C. McLaughlin
04-01-2010, 01:30 AM
D.C.'s hubby here.

Yeah, I do know a bit on most of those subjects. You do realize of course just how big a subject area you are talking about? (LOL!)

My day job is teaching kids basic research skills, so I'll at least point you in the right direction if I don't know for sure. I usually try to provide references, though you may have to read up to really know anything for sure (an old axiom: never trust any self proclaimed "expert" without double checking what they say.). A second caviot, I'm way out of date on some of those subjects as a lot of new stuff has been published since I studied them last. Right now I am fairly conversant about 18th century shipping since I do piracy reenactment with a group of history buffs who can't stand the "Jack Sparrow school" of Ren faire addicts.

About military tech I'm generally pretty good. I own a wide range of period weapons going all the way back to bronze age (most are replicas...I'm not rich!). Besides liking things that go bang, I've been working with blades and such since I got involved with a Medieval Group called Markland 30 years ago. I did a bunch of research (and have a lot of books on warfare in the Classical (Greco/Roman) era for an Iron Age Celtic group that I was active with 15 years ago.

So fire away.

I may not always be able to answer immediately (may make the wife do the writing on HER time, since I work long days).

Best wishes,


04-01-2010, 01:55 AM
I have a question, Drey:

My first book is set during the First Crusade, 1096-1098 AD. My book traces the route actually taken from Normandy to the Hold Land. Two ships were used to transport men, horses, weapons and treasure chests from Brindisi across the Adriatic Sea to what is Albania today.

I couldn't find out what sort of vessels these would have been. I assume they weren't military ships (biremes, triremes) but merchant vessels of some kind.

04-01-2010, 03:08 AM
Welcome, D.
Mebbe enter hubby in the specialist subjects sticky at the top o' this forum...

D.C. McLaughlin
04-01-2010, 03:14 AM
Dear Euclid,

Oh boy, a good question you pose.

A partial answer: they definately would not have used galleys of any sort. Those were strictly military vessels and lacked the displacement to even carry decent supplies for their crew, much less storage or berthing for horses.

As for the best hypothesis for how horses were transported read the following:

Hyland, Ann., The Medieval Warhorse., 1996, Combined Books, Pennsylvania, ISBN 0-938289-84-5. (Chapter 8: the importance of the Horse in the Crusades., p. 140-168) The author gives actual vessel dimensions of vessels used in later Crusades, but indicates that in the early Crusades (c. 1100) vessels couldn't take horses on long sea voyages due to lack of capacity. (cite: p. 144).

The problem with exactly what kind of ship was used is that the all information I've ever read is about northern Europe where they used lapstrake hulls (similar to Viking ships) while the Mediterranean used the caravel type planked hull. Also, this was the time when the modern rudder began to replace steerboards. The north European ships used at the time tended to look like Viking Knorrs (deep hulled merchant vessels), but were starting to have a small sterncastle added to the back. Those vessels were almost uniformly single masted, square sailed ships with one big sail.

I have a series of photographs I took in Winchester Cathedral of the baptismal font of John Lackland (the evil Prince John of Robin Hood legend) showing the first rudder equipped ship ever shown in an English depiction. I'd say you can likely Google the words Baptismal Font of King John (or Prince John) since somebody most have put up images on-line by now.

I just can't tell you exactly what the ships in that part of the world would have been like and give you a citation to follow up on. You might be able to find some images from the recent underwater surveys of wrecks in the Black Sea (google that phrase), and try emailing the Ukrainian or other university groups who did the work to see if they'd be willing to share images. While normally there is not much to look at from a wooden ship after only a few decades underwater, the images I've seen from the black sea have been astounding due to the unique deep water conditions that inhibited wood decay.

If you want me to guess what the ships looked like I'd be willing to hazard the guess, but I know you need more than an educated guess from somebody you don't know. All I can say is that you should be able to run down that information.

Oh yes, what I do know is that the Venetians completely dominated the Adriatic Sea. Any ships sailing those waters did so entirely at the whim of the Serene Republic. Look up Venetian history and you just might find what an early medieval merchant ship from Venice is supposed to look like.

Hope that helps. That one is a tough question.

PS: I hope you do know that they weren't riding horses like modern Draft Shires or Clydesdales then either (wife insisted I post that fact).

04-01-2010, 04:12 AM
Wow, this is a great thread.

I have a general question: I need sources for Polish Hussar, earlier cavalry, and anything else on the Slavic warfare around that time. My searches have clearly not been hitting the right keywords and the sources I do find are extremely limited.


D.C. McLaughlin
04-01-2010, 02:21 PM
Dear Fenika,

You picked another topic that is hard to give a definative answer on.

I'll give you two books to look for (ain't interlibrary loan great?)

Jankovich, Miklos (trans. by Anthony Dent), They rode into Europe: the fruitful exchange in the arts of horsemanship between East and West. 1971., London, George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., ISBN 0-245-50412-5


Grbasic, Z. & Vuksic, V., The history of Cavalry., 1989., New York, Facts on File Publications. ISBN 0-8160-2187-2

Sorry I can't give you a concise answer, I'm barely awake and got to get off to school to torture the little ones on April Fool's day.

I do think between the two, they'll point the way to your answer. The earlier book is the best on the history of horsemanship I've ever read (at least if you allow for the academic style or writing and its age). It was one of the first books on horsemanship I read when I first got into the topic (which I've pursued for twenty some years now). The latter book really focused more on post medieval and 18th/19th century Western Europe, but that was precisely the period where the Hussar tradition from Eastern Europe was at its height.

Oh yeah, don't forget to find and watch the Polish drama/history movie: Fire and Sword, set in the mid 17th century. (My great ancestor Bodhan Chemenlensky is depicted as a pyscho, but oh well one doesn't get to pick one's ancestors...)

Uggh. Time for more coffee.


04-01-2010, 08:43 PM
Thanks for the references and the detailed reply :)

I have read part of Fire and Sword and watched Ogniem i Mieczem (with subtitles) before picking up the book. In the book he was rational and passionate, like most the characters, if a bit unstable (like many of the characters!) So if your great ancestor is Bodhan, are you Ukrainian? :)

04-01-2010, 08:48 PM
Major kudos DC
I sense a 'stickie' coming...
Hope it's redirected from here so i'm not searching n sweatn.

D.C. McLaughlin
04-02-2010, 05:32 AM
Dear Fenika,

As a matter of fact, yes my family (at least one side hails from Ukrainia). Grandfather was very active as a nationalist and in the Civil War (the Russian one). My grandmother was Cossack and descended from the leader of the great revolt (that crazy guy in Fire and Sword).

Guess horses are in my blood...literally. Love the silly creatures and have two (Haflingers: stallion and gelding, and had an Arabian for twenty some years.)

Dear Paul,

I'll have to see about the sticky thing. You could just cut and paste it into a file though. I don't claim to be a great expert tough am well read.

Long day, going to bed now...


04-04-2010, 10:42 AM

I have a fictional device that ignites a fictional substance into a WMD-sized explosion.

This ignition device in a regular bomb would be called... what? A switch? A trigger?

04-04-2010, 11:26 AM

I have a fictional device that ignites a fictional substance into a WMD-sized explosion.

This ignition device in a regular bomb would be called... what? A switch? A trigger?


Since it's all fictional, you could invent a fictional name, or something like:
Infusor, Ignitor, Ignition Coil.

I like "Relay" although I'm not at all sure what it is.

Then there's all those Gizmo words.

I love these games!

04-23-2010, 12:39 AM
Just wanted to say thanks again. I finally got both books out from the ILL. The ISBN # saved me with the one- search on the title pulled up nothing for some reason.