Jump to content


Photo

Battle Rage as a Historical and Tactical Phenomenon


  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 RJMooreII

RJMooreII

    Der Einzige

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 327 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mindless Void

Posted 25 April 2012 - 01:27 PM

I have never heard much discussion of battlerage or berzerking as an actual historical and military phenomena. Some groups of people were presumed to do something like this, using what appear to be a combination of pain, drugs and hyperactivity to drive themselves into a kind of frenzy. One might believe similar things were going on with the Sativa and 'Soma' consuming warriors of Iran.

What exactly is known about berzerking? It doesn't seem to be merely equivalent to giving soldiers meth; this seems to occur specifically in the context of a battle.

Is there anything to 'berzerking' beyond just being pumped up? If so, what is it? Is it drugs? How does this factor into tactics and equipment? Why does it seem to eventually disappear, even when its berzerkrs are quite successful? (For example, I can't imagine many Normans were drinking hallucinagenic drugs on the battlefield; though they may have royally worked themselves up).

Is 'berzerking' just what it gets called when the morale tinsel of a military unit happens to be loud and half-naked?
"Never trust a wizard - even in death." - Grognak the Barbarian

#2 Ironhand

Ironhand

    The Mad Playwright

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,077 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Saint Louis, MO, USA

Posted 26 April 2012 - 02:10 AM

It doesn't seem to be merely equivalent to giving soldiers meth; this seems to occur specifically in the context of a battle.


So would this also exclude the woad that Celts used?
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#3 RJMooreII

RJMooreII

    Der Einzige

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 327 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Mindless Void

Posted 26 April 2012 - 02:50 AM

It doesn't seem to be merely equivalent to giving soldiers meth; this seems to occur specifically in the context of a battle.


So would this also exclude the woad that Celts used?

You mean the tattoos? That is something like the Berserk for which pretty much no archeological evidence or any substantial literary corroboration. In both cases it sounds more like fairy-tales and post-facto trumpings up. This is one of of the reasons I bring up battle-rage: it seems at least possible that both Berzerkrs and the Woad-painted warriors are mythical creations. It almost seems like someone confused legends about monsters with actual warriors living in the past.
"Never trust a wizard - even in death." - Grognak the Barbarian

#4 Kortoso

Kortoso

    -=Reiver of the Western Marches=-

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 10,400 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Northern California

Posted 26 April 2012 - 06:38 PM

What exactly is known about berzerking?

It's certainly possible to google it. ;)

IMHO, the term "Berzerk" has been even more inflated and over-hyped than "ninja". There are a few mentions of "berzerkr" in the Norse sagas and nobody is really sure what they are referring to.

Now, there definitely is something called tachy-psyche, where you get so caught up in a situation that time is distorted.

Is that what you mean?

#5 EM Erdelac

EM Erdelac

    Adventurer

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 324 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Beyond the border.

Posted 27 April 2012 - 12:29 AM

The Viking Answer Lady has a good article on it.

http://www.vikingans.../berserke.shtml

#6 Skullface

Skullface

    Warrior

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 210 posts

Posted 27 April 2012 - 05:43 PM

There are clear cases of light armoured troops rushing into battle high or drunk on something (I just read that some historians think a type of mead might have been used).(in UK)
I think as a battle tactic it would have been phased out as real armies began to meet,rather than small battle bands.After about the 1200s it is almost unheard of...

#7 deuce

deuce

    The OG of "Psychotic Maladjustment"

  • Moderators
  • 13,256 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Serpent-haunted SEK, beside the Lake of the Mound

Posted 06 July 2012 - 04:50 AM

I have never heard much discussion of battlerage or berzerking as an actual historical and military phenomena. Some groups of people were presumed to do something like this, using what appear to be a combination of pain, drugs and hyperactivity to drive themselves into a kind of frenzy. One might believe similar things were going on with the Sativa and 'Soma' consuming warriors of Iran.

What exactly is known about berzerking? It doesn't seem to be merely equivalent to giving soldiers meth; this seems to occur specifically in the context of a battle.

Is there anything to 'berzerking' beyond just being pumped up? If so, what is it? Is it drugs? How does this factor into tactics and equipment? Why does it seem to eventually disappear, even when its berzerkrs are quite successful? (For example, I can't imagine many Normans were drinking hallucinagenic drugs on the battlefield; though they may have royally worked themselves up).

Is 'berzerking' just what it gets called when the morale tinsel of a military unit happens to be loud and half-naked?


This isn't a bad article:

http://www.heathenha...060613085857659

Speidel is a history professor. He's also written a book called Ancient Germanic Warriors.

There are footnotes indicated in the article, but there aren't any at the end. I would say they were just left off and that Speidel isn't engaging in obfuscation. From what I can google and from my own knowledge, his quotes are legit.

Support the Robert E. Howard Foundation. It helps you and Robert E. Howard's legacy.


#8 Ironhand

Ironhand

    The Mad Playwright

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,077 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Saint Louis, MO, USA

Posted 06 July 2012 - 07:11 AM


I have never heard much discussion of battlerage or berzerking as an actual historical and military phenomena. Some groups of people were presumed to do something like this, using what appear to be a combination of pain, drugs and hyperactivity to drive themselves into a kind of frenzy. One might believe similar things were going on with the Sativa and 'Soma' consuming warriors of Iran.

What exactly is known about berzerking? It doesn't seem to be merely equivalent to giving soldiers meth; this seems to occur specifically in the context of a battle.

Is there anything to 'berzerking' beyond just being pumped up? If so, what is it? Is it drugs? How does this factor into tactics and equipment? Why does it seem to eventually disappear, even when its berzerkrs are quite successful? (For example, I can't imagine many Normans were drinking hallucinagenic drugs on the battlefield; though they may have royally worked themselves up).

Is 'berzerking' just what it gets called when the morale tinsel of a military unit happens to be loud and half-naked?


This isn't a bad article:

http://www.heathenha...060613085857659

Speidel is a history professor. He's also written a book called Ancient Germanic Warriors.

There are footnotes indicated in the article, but there aren't any at the end. I would say they were just left off and that Speidel isn't engaging in obfuscation. From what I can google and from my own knowledge, his quotes are legit.

This sounds a lot like the Maori Haka that Jason Momoa used.
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject