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Golden Years Pirate vs Chivalrous Knight

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/30/2009 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,280 times Debate No: 10274
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (12)
Votes (2)




Greetings to my opponent. Good luck and have fun. Keep it clean.

In this argument I am going to debate that the pirate (supposing that the pirate is not just your ordinary, knife toting scum of the seas but a chap of a little skill and class, perhaps even swordsmanship), can beat the Chivalrous knight, though he won't walk away unscathed.

The pirate will, of course, be armed with tha custom weaponry of the time, and this does include various firearms. I expect your knight to be armed in his custom weaponry and armour, as well (thus, no longbows. ; ) ).

Also, I request that my opponent makes clear as to whether or not the knight shall start out upon a horse. This is extremely important as it depicts maneuverability in a large way. It shall start the knight at an advantage, but probably could also finish the knight.

Cheers, I'll let my opponent start. : )


I thank my opponent for this rather unusual debate; it promises to be interesting!

For my part, I argue that in single combat a Knight of the European chivalric tradition could defeat a pirate from the Golden Age of Piracy; however unlikely their meeting might be, as over 300 years separates them.

We will waive the normal round of definitions; neither my opponent nor I wish to waste this topic on semantics.


My opponent and I step into our time machines and whisk back in time. I travel through time and space to the little Mediterranean island of Malta, in the year AD 1300. There I find Monseigneur Abelard du Crecy standing guard on the wharf, equipped similarly to the knights in this picture:

His offensive equipment consists of a spear (medium weight, used against infantry; probably about 8' long;) a longsword (about 42" long, weighted for hand-and-a-half use for maximum agility without sacrificing armour-piercing strength); and a dagger around 18" long, balanced for swift one-handed use.

He is protected by a chain mail hauberk, coif, and leggings; the entirety of his body except his face is covered by a double weave iron chain, capable of turning a sword's edge and breaking daggers. The protection against bullets is less than could be hoped; still it should minimize the damage; the padding worn underneath the hauberk and coif help reduce the impact shock. [2]
His breastplate and helm are forged of mild steel, and are quite capable of resisting a small arms bullet even from relatively close range. [1, 2]
His broad shield is also capable of repelling pistol fire, and is designed to protect most of Abelrad's body when he is in his fighting stance.

He has no horse.

1. Resistance to firearms:
2. Description of armour:

I kidnap M. du Crecy and drag him into the time machine, letting him out on the infinite featureless plain my opponent and I chose for the battle. The Pirate is waiting there for us.

The Pirate, as he has the only ranged weapons, has the initiative. Shaking off his bewilderment at finding himself transported to an infinite featureless plain, he draws his flintlock pistols and fires at Abelard. With usual flintlock efficiency, one of them misfires and causes no damage. The other fires, and the bullet glances harmlessly off the Knight's breastplate.

Abelard has had time to pull his shield off his back and assume his fighting stance by this time; spear at the ready, he closes with the Pirate.

The Pirate, even if he is well-versed in the use of his cutlass, is horribly out-ranged by the spear, outmatched by Abelard's lifetime of training in the use of blades, and has almost no protection whatsoever from the Knight's weapons.

Unless by some mischance the bullet enters one of the eye holes of his helm, the Knight is almost certain to survive this battle. The Pirate will not get a chance to reload without retreating; and although he will be alive, he will also be defeated by having run away.


Obviously, I cannot tell what tack my opponent will choose to take on this; it is with great anticipation I await his arguments.

To my opponent, then; best of luck!
Debate Round No. 1


I agree that semantics would be a waste of space when regarding this debate. : )


I suppose, in similar fashion, I will enter the time machine to find myself in the midst of the notorious port city of Tortuga during the 1700s, a regular pirate lair with little law or Governance. Upon entering a heinous looking tavern, I see a brawl about to occur, in which two unkempt chaps draw their blades and clash, while one, a flamboyant looking chap with multiple rings and gaudy dress, in front of them, pretending to casually ignore the events while always maintaining alertness.

It is this gaudily dressed pirate captain, whom possesses the name 'Robert Goodfellow' and the more odious nickname 'Scourge of Royale', that I teleport along to the battlefield.

Scourge's offensive equipment consists of the following:

A duelling cutlass much like the one found, here:, complete with gilded knuckle guard, Counter-guard and hilt. The cutlass would be about 29 and a half inches long.

A naval dirk, 16.5" long:

Two throwing daggers (one thrust through the belt and one thrust through a bandoleer-like belt that runs diagonally across his chest). Each would have a blade about 7" long:

Two pistols stuck through the bandoleer type retainer. They both would be flintlock pistols
(flintlock: 2 of them)

A blunderbuss would provide the third ranged weapon that could be contained within the 'bandoleer':

And a small boarding axe that could be tucked into the belt with no risk of stabbing oneself:

And three or four grenadoes tucked into the same pouch as the musket shot. Each grenado would be about 2.5" in diameter :

Firstly, the Pirate would quickly shake his bewilderment and would not shoot until the knight is much closer. Then, you never specified exactly how far the spear should travel after your heavily weighted knight throws it without the added momentum of a run or a horse.

So, we can assume that he may be able to throw it about 18 yards (54 feet), as according to my specified source:

Which means that the blunderbuss would outdistance that with a range of 60 feet. Not only this, but, according to the tests performed by the Deadliest warrior TV show, was able to put a hole through a double plate armour layer. Chances of missing are slim, as pellets are liable to spread apart within a distance of four feet. Which means that the Knight would likely be peppered with a layer of pellets, some of which would pierce his plate armour and wound him slightly. Dodging them (or anything) would be impractical due to the weight of the plate armour he wears.

After this, 'Scourge' would have the initiative, once again, and would probably be wise enough to evade the knight's limited vision, running around behind the knight, darting within twenty feet and firing one of the pistols into the knight's back. The Knight would feel the impact, even if the musket ball doesn't pierce the chainmail. It would wound him momentarily while the pirate then lights a grenado and throws it at the knight's head. The knight would probably be able to get the shield up, but the concussion of the blast would knock him backward, allowing the pirate to flit in behind the knight once again, dart within seven feet of the knight and flick a throwing dagger at the knight's already tender back.

"When the mail was not riveted a well placed thrust from a spear or thin sword could penetrate" ~

Thus, we could expect the dagger to pierce the links and shallowly wound the knight's back.

Now, the weakened knight would inevitably need to clash in order to gain the advantage, but suppose the pirate nimbly leaps backward and fires his second pistol simultaneously? This is at point blank range for the face. Chances are, it would send a small dent in the helm, also ringing it and causing both a small percussion and sense of dizziness to the knight.

Having used almost all of the ranged weapons, the pirate would ideally draw another grenado and throw it at the knight, causing another windedness, in which the pirate would embed his boarding axe into the knight's helmet.

Now, severely injured but still fighting, the two combatants would draw swords and match eachother sword thrust for sword thrust... that is, until the pirate disengages in the devious way of pirates and throws his second dagger right into the chest of the knight. The knight would be able to recover, likely, and whip the pirate's cutlass away. However, the pirate has time to spare, no injury, two grenadoes, no sense of honour and his dirk left. I'll leave the decision up to you folks whom read the debate. : )

One other thing I would like to emphasize is that the pirate does have no sense of honour or 'fair play'. Unlike the knight, the pirate is unhindered by chivalry or honourly combat. Such methods as aiming for the feet, back, kneecap or neck are typical, if not mandatory for the pirate.

If a pirate finds a broken bottle while at close range, he won't hesitate to smash it over the knight's shield arm while the two engage. There simply is no stopping a pirate without long ranged weapons and military precision of one's own force (such as the Royal Navy possessed).

thanks, chrysippius! Been fun, thus far! stay classy, mate.


Greetings again to my worthy opponent.

I am slightly unsure as to the form of debating my opponent expects me to follow; my apologies if the way I handle this does not meet his expectations. As it is, I shall first address the misconceptions in my opponent's post, and then give a more detailed description of the resulting battle.


I start by pointing out one vital mistake my opponent makes. "Unlike the knight, the pirate is unhindered by chivalry or honourly combat." I admit Monseigneur Abelard is the soul of honour; a strict adherent of the laws of Chivalry, and a true gentleman. He honours women, defends the helpless, and is just and honourable in all his dealings.

Where my opponent and I differ is in the extent of the laws of Chivalric combat. Certainly, one does not kill an unarmed knight, stab a fellow knight in the back, kick or hit with the fists in lieu of the knightly weapons of lance, sword, mace, and axe; but nothing in the laws of Chivalry limits a knight in what he can do to a ruffian. Chivalric combat applies to fighting between knights; when a knight confronts a bandit (such as the scummish Robert Goodfellow) he is impelled to rid the earth of such carrion by whatever means neccesarry, fair or foul. Certainly fair means first, and if he disarms or disables the rogue, he may have mercy on him; but there are entire handbooks of medieval longsword technique(1) that teach the kicks, punches, and clubbing moves for street fighting. Robert Goodfellow may have learned his moves in the alleys of Barbados and Tortuga, but he is faced with an opponent trained from early childhood to kill with style.

Secondy, I would like to address the issue of the spear. I specified a medium weight spear, not a javelin; it is not intended as a throwing weapon, but as a thrusting/slashing weapon. M. du Crecy would not throw the weapon unless he was guaranteed a kill thereby; normal use would have it in his hands for the duration of the battle, unless it broke.

I hesitate to bring my own personal experience with the spear into this debate, as I know it probably will not be accepted as evidence by my opponent; but let me assure him, from my four years of experience sparring with swords and spears (via a club for that purpose while in college) that the spear is a versatile weapon, allowing far more attacks than a simple throw. It's main function is to kill the opponent at a distance, without losing control of the weapon. A spear is a very difficult weapon to fight with a single handed sword, such as the ones referenced by my opponent; the long handle of the spear gives the knight extra time to react to any move made by the pirate, while allowing a killing stroke outside of the pirate's sword range.

At any point, if du Crecy lands a thrust in Goodfellow's abdomen, head, or neck with the spear; this battle is essentially over. The trauma, shock, and blood loss caused by a deep spear wound is sufficient to swiftly kill a man even if no vital organs are pierced, and the "Scourge of Royale" posesses no armor capable of preventing such a wound.

I pass lightly over the improbable weight of artillery carried by Mr. Goodfellow, merely noting that it is a good thing these time machines do not have a weight limit. :P

Also, I have already noted Abelard is not wearing solid plate armour; I referr my opponent to the image I posted of knights in chian mail hauberks and breastplates. The weight is insufficient to interfere with athletic and strenuous activity; du Crecy's movement is not seriously interfered with by his armour.
See the fourth paragraph down:

The battle:

As my opponent states that the pirate waits until the knight has come near before firing, M. du Crecy advances steadily toward Mr. Goodfellow, shield in defensive position and spear in hand. When the pirate fires, Abelard drops to one knee with the shield before his chest and helm, guarding himself from the shot. The charge of small shot rattles harmlessly off the shield for the most part; at the range of 50' most of the impetus will have dissipated and the few that pass around the edges of the shild glance off th top of the hel or spend themselves in the chain mail. Although the likelihood of these pellets piercing the chain is small, there may perhaps be slight blood loss (on the order of scratches) as a result.

The Pirate and Knight are soon at close range, as the Pirate intends to run behind the knight and fire at his back. He will need to be at very close range to accomplish that, as the Knight can turn in place and keep his front always facing his opponent. (Actually, it is more of a three-quarter face, to minimize the area exposed to the Pirate's attack.)

The Pirate fires his first pistol. Unless the ball hits the breastplate, helm, or shield, the ball should penetrate the chian mail; but the would should be reletively insignificant. The vital organs ar covered by the breastplat and helm, and the chain and padding should slow th ball anywhere else to the point where Abelard should still retain use of that limb. Again, we are talking in probabilities here; but still Abelard has a good chance of surviving the shot.

At this point the Pirate attempts to light a grenado. The split moment he has to look down to find his slow match (which I assume he carries in a small iron pouch on his bandioleer, though my opponent neglected to mention it! :) and light the grenado is all the time Abelard needs to run him through with the spear with a swift lunge. Even if Abelard is unsuccessful in killing him with the first stroke, he still can close the distance between them that it becomes a hand-to-hand battle. Suddenly, Goodfellow's grenadoes become useless, as any explosion would kill/maim him at that range. It becomes a contest of strength and skill with the sword; and in that class, the Knight has had undoubtedly far more experience and training than the Pirate.

I will post my sources ASAP in the comments section; I have 26 minutes left to post this.

A quick note about throwing daggers and chain mail: Chain mail is designed to resist a direct thrust from a dagger, or "all but the most direct stroke of a sword" (2); a throwing dagger should glance off without piercing. The Pirate would be better advised to keep them in his hand for the close combat.

This has been fun; I await my opponent's rebuttal. To you, old Venerable; best of luck!
Debate Round No. 2


No, you handled it very well. :D I was just matching the method that you utilized in your argument, resolving that it would be better if we utilized similar tactics in this debate. : )

Oh yes, and perhaps the slow fuse was in his beard, as Blackbeard so charismatically stuck slow-fuses about his person. ; )

Oh, I agree that the Chivalric methods are undoubtedly stricter when dealing with fellow knight, soldiers of the Empire, ladies and gentleman etc. as rather than a pirate. But, even so, the knight does maintain a sense of honour and honourly combat. Mercy is improbable if the knight experiences trouble with the combat. But he still refrains from using unorthodox methods and such inequitable street fighting tactics as flinging a handful of sand into the eyes of the opponent, unless all other resources and methods have been used and the knight merely means to survive.

Yes, I wondered exactly as to how Abelard would utilize the spear. As you said 'range', I retained the opinion that he would throw it. And, as of my experience, even medium spears are thrown if there is enough momentum to do so, or reason to do so, for that matter. Now, we have concluded that he will hang onto it.

The weight of these objects is not as significant as that of the knight, if, indeed he had been wearing significant plate armour and toting about an 8 foot long ash spear. Thus, the 'armoury' is quite plausible in consideration of a pirate fit for lasting battle.

One other factor that must be considered is the lack of experience when facing black powder. It is true that the knight is quite used to the cacophonous fray of battle, but exploding black powder would be a novelty to him. A grenado would stun him simply because of its exploding impact, even if it did not hit.

Now, it is widely known that Knights were Pious and often superstitious, and, when faced with exploding objects, he may believe that some form of witchery is involved. This would likely affect his prowess on the battlefield, simply because he realizes he has to be more cautious with this bandit that bristles with items of 'witchery'. Or, in his eagerness to dispatch of the charlatan, perhaps he would become careless and over-eager? One cannot predict exactly how the knight would react to explosions, except for the slight surprise and delay of his reaction. This would, of course, mean that the first musket ball would pierce his mail or dent his breastplate.


If, indeed, Abelard has the time to duck behind his shield once Goodfellow had fired, Goodfellow would not have fired from 50 feet away. Even he realizes that the pistol is relatively inaccurate and would wait until the two close to a distance of twenty or thirty feet before firing or throwing a grenada, of which would stun the knight, possibly for the previously discussed reasons. Thus, we can be assured that the first pistol shot would be a hit.

I agree that Abelard will definitely have a chance of surviving that one, but a musket ball embedded in the skin is not a tolerable wound. The injury would bother him and hamper his movements.

The Knight would not be able to close the range effectively, as the Pirate can run at a much faster pace, possibly forcing the knight to become frustrated and throw away his spear. The Pirate has time, speed and better maneuverability as advantages. He would freely shoot at will, ensuring that every blast or shot creates some amount of damage, so long as it doesn't misfire.

And, once the Pirate lights and fires his blunderbuss, the small piece of metal would have the force to slice through the breastplate, as previously demonstrated.


My apologies about not responding to everything, but I have a mere five minutes left to post. No sources have been utilized, this time around.


My thanks to my worthy opponent for a remarkable debate.

I understand about the time crunch; no worries. I ask the voters not to hold any accidentally dropped points against my opponent.

As it is, I think he did an excellent job responding to my points. The basics have been threshed out in these few rounds; obviously I am not going to add new arguments in the last round, so I will restrict myself to a clarification or two, and a summary of how the battle stands.


For the record, I accept my opponent's explanation of the weight and maneuverability issues. I also admit that explosions would be an unprecedented experience for a 13th century knight.

The pirate would become a fiend, an agent of the Devil Himself; spewing brimstone and throwing hellfire. Monsieur Abelard, a good Catholic, would cross himself in amazement and fear and call upon his name saint and the Queen of Heaven to save him from this wizardry. And then, with new resolve and due wariness, he would address himself to the fight anew, knowing there could be no running away from a foe who could drag his soul to hell.

At least, that is my humble opinion. It is up to the voters to decide the outcome of this battle.

To summarize briefly, and as fairly as possible:

The Pirate will almost certainly wound the Knight multiple times with his firearms, probably in the legs but possibly in the chest. It seems unlikely that he can kill or seriously incapacitate the Knight this way, however, and he is unlikely to get a chance to reload once the battle begins.

At that point, the battle comes down to a hand-to-hand combat; with a wounded Knight with his armour mostly intact against an unarmoured but unwounded Pirate.

The points on which the fight would turn at that point:
How much blood has the Knight lost, and does it affect his ability to fight?
Does the Knight still have his spear?
Is the Knight's courage proof against a foe with seemingly supernatural powers?
Is the Pirate's superior agility able to compensate for his lack of protection?
Can the Pirate, with a one-handed cutlass, guard himself against the heavy strokes of the Knight's hand-and-a-half broadsword?

These are up to the voters to decide.

Many thanks, Venerable; it was great fun!
Debate Round No. 3
12 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 6 years ago
ha ha, Arcanist. Good show. Well thanks for reading it! Glad you liked our efforts.

Thanks, Maikuru. :D
Posted by Arcanist 6 years ago
Thanks for responding Venerability (ha! I got it right!) You two are great debaters. Personally I just like knights and medieval weapons over pirates, so I guess I'm a little biased, which is why I refuse to vote.
Posted by Maikuru 6 years ago
This has become one of my favorite debates. Great job, guys =D

C, S/G: Tie

A: Con - This was very close and I had to go over certain sections multiple times to help paint a mental picture of the battle. I believe that the pirate would effectively startle, confuse, and inflict (perhaps numerous) minor injuries to the knight. However, it's too unlikely that Pro's combatant could continuously circle (and eventually mortally wound) the knight; the battle would be a long one and the knight need only turn in place to defend against most attacks.

Too many factors would have to go right for Pro's choice to come out on top, whereas a single strike from his opponent would end things quickly. Considering the relatively short distance between them throughout the fight, I believe that strike would occur at some point.

S: Tie
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 6 years ago
Indeed, thanks to you also, Chrysippus! I thoroughly enjoyed this debate. It was thought provoking and you raised some good points. The battle would definitely be an interesting one. : ) Good luck in the voting period and congradulations if you win.

I do believe that, in skilled hands (that of a Guard or Infantryman), reloading a blunderbuss could take about fifty seconds. For my pirate, about a minute. Average is a minute and twenty-five seconds.

Flintlock pistols take an average of thirty seconds to load.

Either way, it's unlikely that the pirate has time to reload in the midst of battle. Hence the number of weapons carried by him. Fire and discard. :D

His pouch of musketballs would probably carry about thirty shots. And his powder horn would have enough to accomodate them.

I listed him as carrying three firearms (two flintlock pistols and a blunderbuss). So two shots and a whole bunch of lead pellets that spew out of the blunderbuss.

You're welcome! I hope I've covered everything. :D
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Well, Venerable? You'll have to answer that one...

Just wanted to say thanks for a great debate!
Posted by Arcanist 6 years ago
Oh, I understand now. I misunderstood some of the content. Thank you for clarifying. I just have a question though: How long does it take for a blunderbuss and flintlock to reload, and how many shots would the pirate be able to carry?
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Oops; if he comes from the year 1300, that makes him a 14th century knight. :P Same idea...
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Yes, the Blunderbuss is the kind of gun you fire from the hip. Careful aim is a waste of time; point it in the general direction of the target and hope for the best! :)

Sorry I never got my sources rounded up; I still hope to sometime, but doubt I shall be able to before this weekend. Not that it particularly matters, anyway; this debate is rather subjective, up to the best judgment and common sense of the reader.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 6 years ago
Venerabili? Cripes! Massacre my name, why don't you? ; ) lol no worries.

I beg your pardon? I don't believe a stated anywhere that a flintlock pistol is so reliable a weapon as to snipe anybody from over twenty feet.

I did say, despite the source on Wicki, that chances of missing with the Blunderbuss are slim. According to my plethora of other sources and knowledge of the blunderbuss, the chances are slim. Pellets range four feet wide - at least one is liable to hit the target. I think that by 'missfire', they stated that it fired before the chap was ready, or after. It's not reliable in that case. Trigger is sensitive.

But the chances that it actually completely misses are slim.
Posted by Arcanist 6 years ago
Venerabili, how come your deadliest warrior source actually contradicts you? If you read the part that you were getting your stuff, it said that the flintlock missed...while you say that the chances of missing are slim. Also, wouldn't all this "stuff" that the pirate is carrying weigh him down a little?
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