Medieval Lord Threatened by Tyrannosaurus!

Partially inspired by the other dinosaur thread on General Questions at the moment, I’ve been wondering… In the middle ages, people told tales of brave warriors who defeated dragons and what not. A big, carnivorous, hungry T. rex is probably as close to a dragon as we’ve ever come on this planet. But, could a man with medieval technology really take out a full-grown tyrannosaur?

For this scenario, let’s say I’m a minor feudal lord in Western Europe in the 13th century. The peasants at my village have started complaining about a dragon that’s been eating their cattle. I decide to send someone to take them out. Can I get just one man (and possibly his mount) to do it? Do I need two? Five? Ten? Am I going to have to build a catapult?

It would probably be tricky, but I would imagine a well-placed lance could bring a T-Rex down without noble Sir Whatshisname having to get within chomping range. It would probably be safer to bring him down with projectiles, just like humans did with other large animals during the stone age, but where’s the honour in that?

His armor wouldn’t count for diddly.

I bet the horse bolts.

1,000 Quatloos on the T. rex.

Well, I think it’s possible, but highly improbable.

Luring the Rex into a pit trap comes to mind; if all it does is break an ankle it’s as good as dead. The guy with the horse can lure it in, but he’d probably need others to help to dig the pit and who know how to camouflage it.

Or to steal an idea from the author Lawrence Watt-Evans, he could show up, and it turns out the peasants already killed it with some poisoned sheep. Something like that happened with a dragon in his Lords of Dus series.

How maneuverable is a T. rex compared to a horse? Would the knight be able to attack it from its flanks or would the T. rex be able to move around too quickly?

A bow and poison-tipped arrow? Even poisoned food. I’m guessing poisoning isn’t in the spirit of the game though.

Shooting the eyes with an arrow would surely be a good start anyway. And you could take out a leg in one go with a big sword or axe, just chop into a tendon. With only one leg it’s sure to fall and then you can really get to work with your weapon of choice. Without blinding it I’d think the hard part would be getting close enough to it. Once that’s done I can see a good fighter being able to take it down if he’s smart about it. Of course this is layer upon layer of speculation.

I wrote a short story on the SCP Foundation (here, if you’re interested) about some Victorian gentlemen hunting a dinosaur-like creature. Their (mostly) successful plan to subdue it is pretty much in line with the pit trap idea mentioned above - lure it into a hole and rain firey death on it from above until it stops moving.

If Cecil is to be trusted,

you’d need a very large rifle to take one down. Can a knight on a horse with a lance generate the same stopping power as a high-caliber hunting rifle? I say not hardly. Even if you could generate enough momentum to pierce all of that flesh and bone to get to it’s heart, consider who’s holding the other end of that lance… A man. There’s no man alive now or then who could secure that lance well enough for it to do anything other than bounce off like a swizzle stick. Take out a leg with an axe? Sure, if you have a guy who can fall a reasonably mature tree with a single swing. He’d also have to invisible to get close enough. So let’s say then that the plan would be a gut shot with a lance to mortally wound the beast. That could work, but not before it snatched you and your horse like a dormouse. And good luck outflanking it. They were apparently far more agile than one might think. It would seem like the best way would be to dispense with any notion of heroic glory and go the poison/large pit/catapult-and-luck route.

Maybe not stopping power, but in terms of damage? I mean, a heavy war horse weighs about a ton. At a full gallop, that’s a lot of force behind the lance, no? And T-rex wasn’t armored; a chest shot should pierce deep, I would think. The question is, would a war horse be brave (or dumb) enough to charge a tyrannosaurus? The Saracens supposedly used camel cavalry to scare horses, and the Persians used elephants. I’d imagine the smell of an actual predator would be a lot worse…

If a knight is facing off against a Rex and raises his shield to block a bite, is he going to accomplish anything, or will he just be tossed aside like a rag doll?

I would not be surprised at all if there was more energy transferred to the target of a mounted full-gallop lance thrust than to the target of a high caliber hunting rifle.

The proof is in the recoil. The rifle doesn’t generate any more force on the target than it does on the arm you’re bracing it against. Equal and opposite reactions and all that. The lance can generate enough recoil force to rip you from your harness, break your arm, or worse. If the lancer can stick the point of that lance somewhere vital, it’ll be messy.

I think you most definitely could. I’ve got a back of an envelope here that says 3/4 tons of horse and armored rider traveling at 20 miles an hour is a hell of a lot more momentum than an ounce of lead travelling at 2700 feet per second. The lance-knight connection is definitely the weak link, but there were some very elaborate apparatus that allowed the impact of a lance collision to spread through the knight and horse’s body. If the horse doesn’t spook, getting close enough shouldn’t be impossible either-- actual battle lances were up to 14 feet long, which should be plenty of distance to drive it into the dinosaur’s torso while remaining outside of teeth range.

Yes, a stout horse would generate a lot of momentum. But what happens to the knight who’s holding the lance once they impact? About the same as if he charged into a tree. He’d go flying off the horse and be promptly devoured along with his mount. Plus, consider the angle of attack. To reach the T. Rex’s heart the lance would have to be angled so steeply that it would lose most of the force generated behind it, glancing off with relatively little damage.

And, yes, a knight may as well carry a shield made of cardboard.

Well, the knight isn’t riding bareback. He’s strapped in. Hell, if this is the late middle ages, he probably needed a couple of assistants to help him mount his horse. I think it’s more likely that the lance will break than that the knight will fall. Of course, a broken lance means there’s still a big, jagged piece of weaponry embedded in the 'rex. The question is, is that enough to kill it?

That momentum only works if the lance doesn’t shatter and the knight can somehow hold his mount, both extremely unlikey. It’s one thing to drive a lance through relatively thin armor and a 200 pound human body. It’s another thing entirely to do the same to a T. Rex-sized mountain of flesh and bone.

I agree, with some luck you might wound it so it would die eventually. But neither you nor your horse would be around to enjoy the party afterward. Keep in mind these creatures had to be resilient enough to survive attacks from a T. Rex. In most cases, a man, his horse and what, to the T. Rex, amounted to a stick would be a long shot.

There’s no direct correlation between recoil and the force of a bullet’s impact. Semi-automatic rifles carried by soldiers and Marines have very little recoil. I hunted with a 30-06 growing up and it could blow through through a rairoad tie. I seriously doubt a lance could do that.

Okay, what if we granted Sir Whatshisface a catapault or similar. They’re not horribly accurate, but would he have a shot if he had one set up somewhere?

You’d have to be pretty confident in the lethality of your lance to want to get that close to a T Rex. I say bait it then rain longbow arrows down on it. I can’t find out how deep the T Rex’s heart or other vital organs were, but rhinos, hippos and elephants are hunted with longbows.

I wouldn’t discount the shield quite so easily. Until it actually bites a shield, the T-Rex doesn’t know how strong it is. It looks big and armored and the T-Rex might avoid trying to bite it at all. (For an example of my thinking: tigers can easily jump through a sheet of paper. Training them to do so is not easy, though. They see a solid object and prefer to go around.)

I do think that one man with an unspookable horse and a lucky shot could kill the T-Rex, but if I were the feudal lord, I’d definitely fight dirty. You can always trap it, pelt it to death, then have your hero enter town with the head and a great story about how he’d like to have killed it. :slight_smile: