Samurai vs. English pirates in the early 17th Century

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Samurai vs. English pirates in the early 17th Century

Postby bigdummy » 21 Feb 2010 03:56

A true anecdote procured from Dutch East India company records. I posted an excerpt from Giles Miltons book Nathaniels Nutmeg to my little RPG blog on Enworld, linked here for your amusement.

Part1
http://www.enworld.org/forum/5093363-post224.html

Part2

http://www.enworld.org/forum/5095960-post225.html
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

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Re: Samurai vs. English pirates in the early 17th Century

Postby bigdummy » 21 Feb 2010 20:59

Added some images and a link to the google books scan of diary of the ill-fated navigator of the Tiger, John Davis

http://www.enworld.org/forum/5096466-post228.html
http://www.enworld.org/forum/5096466-post228.html

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"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

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Re: Samurai vs. English pirates in the early 17th Century

Postby admin » 26 Feb 2010 12:20

Interesting account - I suppose you know the account in Samurai William of a Portugese captain who killed several Japanese enemy single-handed?

I don't agree with your assumption about armour, by the way. The Japanese were just as likely to be wearing armour as the English, at this date perhaps even more likely. Though of course the majority of ships crews would not wear armour usually, for practical reasons (and climatic, in that part of the world!).

Boarding pikes were a pretty standard design from the 16thC to the mid-19thC. A 9 foot (or thereabout) ash shaft, with a small spear head and iron langets. They were usually kept in racks around the bottom of the masts. These can still be seen on HMS Victory for example.
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Re: Samurai vs. English pirates in the early 17th Century

Postby bigdummy » 26 Feb 2010 18:44

By way of clairification, I never said the Japanese would be more or less likely to be armored than the English, what I was referring to were the circumstances of the incident.

I suggested that the 22 Japanese who boarded the Tiger were probably not armored because they were boarding ostensibily to parlay and armor might have raised suspicions. I figured the British party which went to the Japanese junk initially probably included some armored men because Milton said they were fitted out for a fight and 'very heavily armed'. And some of them were probably soldiers. The 60 or so Japanese ronin on the Junk very likely had armor but it did them no good since their vessel was out-gunned in terms of ordinance. They probably had arquebus too Japnese arquebusiers were famously effective in naval battles during this period (their overall naval skills considerably less so) but it sounds like the English guns tore apart the junk pretty quickly so that didn't matter either.

Do you have a source on boarding pikes? From looking into it a little, my understanding of the boarding pike was that they became standardized in the 19th Century (and stored around the mast), but I found various diferent images of them from earlier periods, some with gaff hooks, some with broad cutting blades. I've only been able to find drawings though no photos of antiques, which I'd love to see.

I remember Milton mentioned some Portuguese sailors or soldiers fighting and winning duels against Samurai, but I didn't remember that it was a detailed account. Supposedly records of these duels exist in the Portuguese national archives, someone quoted a short excerpt on Myarmoury once but I haven't been able to find a transcription online. I'd like to.

There is also a detailed story in Samurai William about a pitched battle between the forces of a local Daimyo and a Spanish Galleon, which was quite interesting. It would be interesting to follow up on some of Miltons sources there.

BD
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

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Re: Samurai vs. English pirates in the early 17th Century

Postby potz » 27 May 2010 10:49

Samurai vs. English pirates? i would be in favor of samurai...
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Re: Samurai vs. English pirates in the early 17th Century

Postby bigdummy » 27 May 2010 14:25

Apparently you would be wrong.

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"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

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Re: Samurai vs. English pirates in the early 17th Century

Postby Astiryu1 » 29 Jul 2010 03:40

I have read but forgotten where that common practice on ships for the Japanese was to use the Shortsword or Wakizashi due to the confined spaces. Another factor to consider is if they were Ronin they wouldn't be of very high status and would carry cheaper armor/weaponry than the average retainer at the time. Wars were rare during the Tokugawa era (1603 A.D.-1866A.D.)of Japan especially the early part so maybe they were Ronin once enemy of Tokugawa Ieyasu (depending on the time frame of course). Shortly after the Shogunate put extreme limits on ship sizes and became a closed nation. At this point is when the Sword Schools raised significantly in prominence due to lack of wars for personal achievement for Samurai. Miyamoto Musashi came from this era. The Samurai existed as a class in Japan for close to 900 years so picking the period would have a serious effect as well. What doesn't help the Samurai in my opinion is the lack of military engagements on the whole with outside nations other than Korea and China and the favoring of Single Combat as opposed to European battlefield unit tactics. That said Pirates vs. Ninja is the uber fight; and for that I put my money on the Ninja. Unless the Pirates were the Chinese Waco. Then I wouldn't bet I would be too busy gluing my eyes to the scene. :D
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