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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2007 5:26 pm    Post subject: Hastings         Reply with quote

I am confused............the Bayeux tapestry shows the Saxons using kite shields yet there are numerous references to the Saxons still using round shields at that time both there and earlier at Stamford. Anyone know what actually was used for the shield wall ?
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Aug, 2007 7:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Saxons most certainly did use kites, but the round shield was probably more common. The kite is primarily a horsemans shield, though it can be used quite effectively on foot. The truth is there was probably a mixture of kites and rounds to be found in the shield wall.
You have to remember the Bayeux tapestry was produced nearly two decades after the event, and therefore after 20 years of Normanization. In fact it could be argued that the Tapestry is more indicative of the arms and armour of the Normans than the Saxons.
Either one is a valid choice for a Saxon impression...

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2007 12:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Er...the kite shield was originally a Byzantine infantry shield. It was designed to work with 9th- and 10th-century Byzantine infantry formations where two ranks of men with long spears and these large shields would kneel in front of three ranks of archers, ready to protect the archers from hand-to-hand assaults (and presumably to charge down any enemies weakened by the archers' shooting). So it makes sense that the Anglo-Saxons would have adopted it for their shieldwalls, especially since some of their men probably had the chance to bring the idea of these shields back from their jaunt in the Varangian Guards.
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2007 8:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

True, the Byzantine kite maybe, but it is significantly shorter and fatter in shape than the Norman kite. Don't get me wrong. I fight on foot with a kite every weekend. It works great as an infantry shield. But as infantry shields go, the round was still common among the Saxons. Allow me to quote Edge and Paddock:
Quote:
Most of the shields depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry are of the familiar Norman elongated kite form, which probably originated in southern Europe. Some English soldiers have oblong shields, while others carry what appear to be, in profile, round wooden shields of traditional Viking and Anglo-Saxon form. Round shields persisted in use sometimes (for instance they are depicted in eleventh century Spanish manuscripts) but were regarded as old-fashioned by the second half of the century.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Terry Crain




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2007 8:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

I was under the impression that it was after, and primarily because of, the Norman conquest that significant numbers of Anglo-Saxon warriors (i.e. nobles, chieftains and their retainers) left England and ultimately ended up in the Varangian guard. I seem to remember something about them later enjoying the opportunity to fight Norman adventurers once again on behalf of the Byzantine empire as the Normans were in the process of muscling in Italy or thereabouts. If so, I would think Byzantine shield types would not have been quickly adopted in England, either before or after 1066 as the Anglo-Saxon "exiles" wouldn't have been in any hurry to go back to their conquered homeland, nor, I imagine. would a large group of armed ex-foes be very welcome by the Normans in England. I do think the kite shield was used in England, but due to then current continental influence in arms, armor, etc, including the Normans, Britons, Flanders, etc., as contact with the rest of Europe was much more frequent than with the Byzantines.

I am only going by vague memory. Am I correct, those of you who are 1066 experts?

Terry Crain
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Donal Grant

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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2007 9:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I
Quote:
was under the impression that it was after, and primarily because of, the Norman conquest that significant numbers of Anglo-Saxon warriors (i.e. nobles, chieftains and their retainers) left England and ultimately ended up in the Varangian guard. I seem to remember something about them later enjoying the opportunity to fight Norman adventurers once again on behalf of the Byzantine empire as the Normans were in the process of muscling in Italy or thereabouts. If so, I would think Byzantine shield types would not have been quickly adopted in England, either before or after 1066 as the Anglo-Saxon "exiles" wouldn't have been in any hurry to go back to their conquered homeland, nor, I imagine. would a large group of armed ex-foes be very welcome by the Normans in England. I do think the kite shield was used in England, but due to then current continental influence in arms, armor, etc, including the Normans, Britons, Flanders, etc., as contact with the rest of Europe was much more frequent than with the Byzantines.

I am only going by vague memory. Am I correct, those of you who are 1066 experts?

It is true that there was a large wave of Saxons into Byzantium after the conquest, but there were most certainly Saxons/Byzantine exchanges prior to the conquest. However the Saxon influx post conquest to Byzantium was mostly a one way affair.
I agree that Saxon adoption of the kite is more likely due to the Norman/Breton influence. Particularly the heavy Norman influences during the reign of Edward the Confessor. Prior to the animosity that would develop in the years leading up to the conquest, there was quite abit of exchange between the Normans and Saxons.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Terry Crain




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2007 9:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Robin. You confirmed my thinking. Now I want to pull out my library books on the subject and read up on it again!!

Cheers,

Terry

Terry Crain
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Donal Grant

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Aug, 2007 9:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin Smith wrote:
But as infantry shields go, the round was still common among the Saxons.


Never said that the kite completely replaced the round. I certainly agree with your original assertion that both kite and round shields would be acceptable for somebody reenacting an Anglo-Saxon combatatnt's role at Hastings.
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