Dismounting for Combat.

We find that the practice of dismounting, previous to coming to close combat, is frequently alluded to in these local histories, as being of common observance among many of the border tribes between Sind and Rájpútána.

Here in the Extract from the Beg-Lar-náma, at p. 293, it is the Sodhas and Ráthors who adopt it. A few pages before, we find the Jhárejas of Guzerát, who accompanied Jám Fíroz against Mirza Sháh Husain, appealing to that custom, as established among them­selves; declaring that they always fought with the enemy on foot.

We have seen above (p. 411) that Ráí Chach and Mahrat of Chitor contend against each other on foot; the former representing that, being a Brahman, he was unable to fight on horseback; then again mounting his horse unexpectedly, he slays his antagonist with the most deliberate treachery.

It is probable that the Ráná of Chitor would not have so readily been deceived by this insidious challenge, had it been at all opposed to the military practice of those times. Indeed, to the present day, we find Sindians, unlike most Asiatic nations, still somewhat repug­nant to fighting on horseback, and priding themselves more on being foot soldiers than cavalry.

I allude in a subsequent note to the dismounting being followed by binding those fighting on the same side, one to the other, by their waistbands: but this seems to have been resorted to only in desperate circumstances, when there was no chance, or intention, of escape. The mere dismounting appears not to have been attended with any vow of self-sacrifice.

In Persian history we meet with similar instances of this dis­mounting to engage in single combat. Thus, after the fatal battle of Kádisíya, the Persian general, Takharján, dismounts to fight with the Arab champion, Zahír.

The practice was very common in the Middle Ages in Europe, being introduced chiefly for the purpose of obviating the incon­venience of the cumbersome armour of that period. The cavalry dismounted, leaving their horses at some distance, and combated with their lances on foot. William of Tyre (xvii. 4) says of the Emperor Conrad's cavalry, in the second Crusade:—“De equis descendentes, et facti pedites; sicut mos est Teutonicis in summis necessitatibus bellica tractare negotia.” The English did the same in their engagement with the Scotch, in 1138, near North Allerton, commonly called the Battle of the Standard. Comines also (i. 3) observes upon it as a Burgundian fashion: “Entre les Bourgig-nons, lors estoient les plus honorez ceux que descendoient avec les archers.”

In the wars of Edward III. dismounting was not uncommon; and Sir John Hawkwood, one of his knights, the famous partizan leader, disguised by contemporary writers under the name of Aucud or Agutus, introduced it into Italy. And it was, as we learn from Mon-strelet (ii. 10, 20), practised by the English in their second wars with France, especially at the battles of Crevant and Verneuil.*