Quick Look at the Landsknecht

Quick Look at the Landsknecht

We are going to take a quick look at one of the most famous groups during the Late Middle Ages, the Landsknecht. This group influenced both military and fashion history. Who were they? The Landsknecht were German-speaking mercenaries organized in mostly pikemen formations.

History

Taking a quick look at the history of the Landsknecht, this influential military group was formed by Maximilian I von Habsburg in response to the existing Swiss pikemen, the Reislaufer. The Swiss had defeated and killed his predecessor as ruler of Burgundy. The first units were formed in 1486 and the first army in 1488. One of their commanders, Georg Von Frundsberg, helped to strengthen the group’s capabilities and discipline in military matters. This group was formed by people from various walks of life. This included peasants, nobles, and criminals. Their reasons for joining were equally as varied. From financial necessity to looking for adventure, the variety of reasons and backgrounds would later affect the status of the Landsknecht.

Status

At the end of the 15th century and beginning decades of the 16th, the Landsknecht had a powerful reputation. They were known as a group that could take on larger armies and win. They were involved in a variety of conflicts which spread their reputation far and wide. From the Netherlands to Spain, they fought across Europe. However, towards the middle of the 16th century, the status of the Landsknecht began to wane.

As a mercenary group, the Landsknecht were hard to control by local authorities. They also had a tendency towards causing trouble and mutinying if they were not paid. Perhaps the most notable example of the consequences of the Landsknecht not getting paid was the 1527 Sack of Rome. After not getting paid, the group turned towards Rome and then plundered the city to get their money.

Overall, the group was known for not being loyal as well as fighting for whomever paid them, even if that was against their own lords. Together, this meant that more and more people were becoming more and more hesitant to hire them. This hesitancy grew as their ranks swelled through underemployment and an increase in the general population. The growth of their ranks drove down their status and pay, causing many of the Landsknecht to menace Europe in search of money.

By the time the last few decades of the 16th century rolled around, gunpowder became more and more popular. Thus, the pikemen formations that the Landsknecht used were less and less necessary or useful to the point that the group disappeared completely by the turn of the century.

Weapons Wielded

Let’s take a quick look at the weapons wielded by the Landsknecht. As pikemen units, they therefore would carry pikes. A pike is a specific type of spear. Other popular polearms carried by the Landknecht were halberds. A few examples of steel halberds that we offer include the 15th Century Swiss Halberd and the Authentics German Knights Halberd. We also have LARP halberds. When it comes to spears, we offer the Man at Arms European Spear by Cold Steel and the Guardsman LARP Spear.

The Landsknecht also carried other weapons. The Katzbalger short sword was a sidearm for practically every member of the group. This weapon was meant for close-quarters combat. We offer some real and foam versions of this sword. The Landsknecht Katzbalger Sword and the Katzbalger Arming Sword are functional versions ready for a reenactment. For LARPers, the Landsknecht LARP Short Sword and the Cretzer LARP Sword would work well. Some of the better skilled Landsknecht were known as Doppelsoldner. These warriors would also carry other weapons such as the famous Zweihander, which would require the use of two hands. We offer a few swords that would fit in with a Landsknechts look. Two functional steel swords of this style include the German Landsknechte Flamberge Sword and the Two Handed Great Sword. Meanwhile, a foam version is the Dopplesoldner LARP Sword.

Distinctive Style of Clothing

Besides their military prowess, this mercenary group was equally known for their clothing. The Landsknecht would often wear clothing that was extremely colorful and filled with slashes. This clothing style has become instantly recognizable as a medieval look. With the rich colors and slashed sleeves, their clothing was relatively expensive to make, and thus became a way to show off two facts about the Landsknecht. They had money to an extent, and they were exempt from sumptuary laws. These laws restricted what a person could purchase for food, clothing, etc. regardless of their income. Their clothing could be interpreted as a walking advertisement for the money and power of the mercenary group. The Joerg Landsknecht Mens Outfit is a great example of the style of clothing worn by the mercenaries.

With this article, we took a quick look at the history, weapons, and clothing of the Landsknecht mercenary group. They were one of the most powerful military forces of their time. Their clothing was instantly recognizable with its vibrant colors and unique design. This group created by a Habsburg in the 15th century would leave a legacy that has stuck in the imagination of people to this day.

Leave a Comment

Memory: 98MB (19.14% of 512MB)
Scroll to Top