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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Feb, 2008 5:41 pm    Post subject: Armour and arms worn when not in battle.         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
We should also remember that it may have been rare for a man at arms to ride fully armoured for any length of time. On the campaign trail, they probably would have been lightly armoured or unarmoured unless tey felt they were in imminent danger of attack.


Chad made an interesting point in another Topic dealing with great helms and how they were carried and instead of taking that topic " off topic " I think it might be interesting discussing the degree of armour if any a knight or other warrior might have worn depending on the situation:

1) On the march in hostile territory but with no immediate threat anticipated, ambush being possible.
2) In mostly civilian urban life where the threath level is low but thieves, personnal ennemies/assassinations, tavern brawls are a possibility.
3) Travelling but not at war or in hostile territory.
4) Any other scenarios people can think of that would influence the decision to wear armour and carry more or less of them?

I would add period differences in the wearability of armour or ease of putting it on or taking it off un-aided: Maille hauberk or aubergeon being relatively easy to put on by oneself while full plate armour wear needs help to do it quickly or well.

Maille hauberk and nasal helm would be fairly easy to carry as a small compact package ( oiled sack/saddle bags ).

Also, one could have light armour dedicated to easy or concealed wear ( secrète ) or on campaign using only selected parts of the armour like helm ( lighter open face ones, cervelière or kettle hats sallets ? ), breast plate, light maille shirt, jack or cloth armour.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Feb, 2008 5:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't have the sources and exact pages ready to quote, but several of my texts mention that Henry the Black Prince actually enjoyed the reputation of foraying into enemy territory unarmoured. For general scouting, spying, and foraging, one might choose not to dress in a manner that gives away status as an enemy soldier or ransom worthy target. This has relevance today. If one thinks about it, the career of a medieval knight often included less than 30 days (more days prepared for possibility of battle in siege, but not much more actual open field combat) of armoured battle spread out over a period of one to two decades.
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Sean Belair
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PostPosted: Sat 16 Feb, 2008 6:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

one of the conspirators in the assassination attempt on the medici brothers hugged lorenzo to see if he was warring a brest plate under his clothes
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Chase S-R




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Feb, 2008 7:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

in a museum in england there is a painted leather bit of armour that is shown next to a steel counterpart it was thin leather and looked unprotective the sign said that it was most likely worn when attack seemed unlikely but to appear armed and ready so as not to provoke highwaymen etc. it was 3 or 4 yrs, ago that i saw this
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 1:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
This has relevance today.

So much so that journalist reported the reality of US soldiers being killed to feed an arms line to hezbollah....

Like today however it is obvious that an enemy party will not stay undetected by not wearing armour Idea

Fully armed knights slow down the progress of a party considerably so I suppose this is just a s much a strategic choise as is employing heavy cavalry or light cavalry in the first place.
The black knight was a very able knight so he would be very aware of the limitations armour would impose on him and he would have been the first to don it if not going into a shocking Wink conflict himself.

We can safely assume that the heavily armoured knight was as much a product from tournaments as from warfare. Warfare was a pretty formalised and unimaginative affair, so in general the knight would have no reason to live in his tin suit other than social ones.
Full armour has serious drawbacks and limitations and only meant for a specific purpose. There is all the reason not to wear it if that purpose is not inminent. William Wallace was not so succesfull because he was silly....

A problem we have with medieval knights is that quite a lot of what they did was dictated by the status of their class. Warhorse, sword and armour were very much a part of this just as his coat of arms. Maintaining status was a very important fact of knighly life, a critical succesfactor for survival even. A knight would thus also travel in full armour for decorum.

This again touches the alienness of medieval society that was strictly devided in three classes. Nobility was under constant 'threat' of influx form wealthy civilians and VERY much occupied with maintaining status quo. Their coat of arms was almost holy and their armour very much a token of their role.

peter
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Jared Smith wrote:
This has relevance today.

William Wallace was not so succesfull because he was silly....
peter


Hm, I'm very interested what do you mean by that?
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Warfare was a pretty formalised and unimaginative affair, so in general the knight would have no reason to live in his tin suit other than social ones.


I don't know if I'd go that far. The threat of sudden attacks could and did cause warriors to wear their armor for long periods, even sleeping in it. For example, Gutierre Diaz de Gamez wrote about this. Bernal Diaz said the same thing about warfare in the New World, though he wore cotton armor.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 6:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What I meant is that there were such things as foraging, and scouting. We know from period accounts that knights, in addition to others, did this. I am not sure what cultures and times considered it spying to be traveling in enemy country incognito, but am certain that it was done then, and is still being done by some groups today.

I agree with Peter's assessment that the knight was expected to sustain an image of social status. William Wallace is a great example as his deeds are among the more heroic, lavishly generous, and at the extreme end of being a steadfast patron towards a life long group of allies. He was also sought after as a celebrity court guest, entertaining with jokes and anecdotes of his travels. His rise in status and authority was at least partly the result of his multi-national network of friends and courtly status, not just his military prowess.

We do know that knights sometimes traveled unarmoured. As an example, while traveling towards crusade, in the city of Messina in Feb 2, 1191, Richard I met William des Barres. They and others engaged in an impromptu tournament / behourd on the road using cane staves. The contest was not gentle. Richard attempted to wrestle des Barres of of his horse. Barres was pronounced the winner after he dislodged Richards hat (forgot the specific name, but the exact style of the hat was named and indicated a high quality courtly dress hat, not a "head piece" as given in some mistranslated accounts) and battered the hat in the dirt of the road, effectively ruining it. We also know that there was hostility between the two groups (Richard had des Barres siezed, argued for ships to be ransomed, etc., it was a near political catastrophe.) Richard held a life long grudge against des Barres after this humiliation. The scope and detail of the account illustrates that two of the figures of that era, who valued knightly status very highly, were traveling in foreign lands, during a period of active conquest, and meeting very tenuous allies in courtly dress clothes.

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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 8:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Peter Bosman wrote:
Jared Smith wrote:
This has relevance today.

William Wallace was not so succesfull because he was silly....
peter


Hm, I'm very interested what do you mean by that?


He ventured quite a lot into enemy territory unarmoured because that was the most effective.
He was just a bout Wink as succesfull in tournament or other bouts as possible: in full armour.
He would dress in status attire as the event required: in splendid armour riding the boulevards, in stylish functional riding gear when greenlaning, in flashy unimitable personaly styled clothes for anything courtly.

The full armour of the medieval knight was primarily heavy cavalry attire.
Secondary, almost primary in late period, it was the 'personification' of the reason of existence of their social class.

Knights would thus dress in full armour to bout or to be seen as a knight. The cost was quite heavy. Both monetairy and physically so they would not if it was not needed.

Wether sleeping in armour was wisdom is something I do not know. Mamluke warriors were tought to put on their mail during riding our, in fact were expeccted to be able to ride out on unsaddled horses and be ready to fight an unexpected enemy at night. My uneducated guess is that the latter would be quicker and more effective.
From the viewpoint of a horseman it is contra-productive to leave horses saddled for anything more than a short pause, even under indirect threat. That is not so much about taking the equine wellfare into account as their serviceability: a sore horse is not much use.
So: let your horse recover and sleep dressed but unarmoured. If surprised just hop on and get on with it! It is of no use to sleep in armour with your horse unsaddled. Leaving your horse saddled you might as well travel on with short breaks only.

peter
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am also wondering if knights in the 12th to 13th century era would have had specific swords for instances where they were adventuring unarmoured, or in more of a formal dress situation? I don't remember previous topics of arming swords and riding swords reaching anything conclusive in that era. In earlier times the sword was as much a visible symbol of knightly status as the armour. To be "belted" or girded with a sword presented by a Lord upon knighting was considered an honor. The tradition changed over time, and was not universal at one point in time across all Europe, but originally it tended to be done for those who were enfeoffed or granted some position of significant authority. Not all who were counted among the knightly class received this distinction.

Any how, I could believe in both armour and weapons being specialized (lighter, less complete, possibly ornate, etc) for traveling, banquet/ parade, and other non combat situations, even in 12th-13th century time period.

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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
In earlier times the sword was as much a visible symbol of knightly status as the armour. To be "belted" or girded with a sword presented by a Lord upon knighting was considered an honor. The tradition changed over time, and was not universal at one point in time across all Europe, but originally it tended to be done for those who were enfeoffed or granted some position of significant authority. Not all who were counted among the knightly class received this distinction.


It was very common throughout history that the third class, the civilians, was/were not allowed to carry a sword.

An axe, a single edged big knife would be the tool for those.

The sword was already symbol of the ruling class in the bronze age.
Owning/riding a horse was a typical priviledge too.
In china this would often be extended to the bow.
No doubt other examples can be found as in central-/south american societies the common people were prohibeted just about anything possibly offensive.

Salian law gives striking examples by mentioning ' free men' which can be interpreted as being the forerunner of the medieval nobility, knights.
When society evolves the latter part of the middle ages sees the rise of a class of 'robed' nobleman: bankers, political advisers, lawyers etc. and the fighting nobilty is forced to exploit both their heritage and the symbolism of being the strong arm.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sword descriptions for Albion's Theign and Yeoman tend to touch on these points. Technically the yeoman are "free men", and were regarded very differently than serfs in 11th - 12th century era. In regions like Germany, when Frederick I recruited serfs as bondsmen-knights, they became associated with his mesnie, enjoyed higher status, often were given hereditary financial benefits, and eventually elevated into a privileged cast. However, shortly after this the feudal system had outgrown economic feasibility, professional armies were the norm, and it is certain that many with no special status all across Europe also possessed swords.

I figure the knight errant could sneak around incognito, but would also possess irrefutable proof of his station in the event of capture / ransom. In that day, men at arms would probably have been able to recognize such an individual, if close up, by the quality of his horse and possessions, and his bearing.

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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 11:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
I figure the knight errant could sneak around incognito, .


Barring exceptional circumstances that would be about the last thing a knight would want!

The aforementioned William Wallace per example will have probabaly been even more recogniseable unarmoured than tinned up and would sure have flown his banner.
In the Amadis a knight employs the trick of flying the coat of arms of a different knight and this is used as an example of his being utterly without honour. Taking a maiden by force is considered low but THIS is considered far worse....
The Amadis is important as it is both a summary of and a role model for the rules of chivalry. It is not all easy to understand the logic of the chivalrous versus unchivalrous actions all the time. A very illustrative book(s).

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 12:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:

The aforementioned William Wallace per example will have probabaly been even more recogniseable unarmoured than tinned up and would sure have flown his banner.
peter


I suspect he would have indeed been recognized by those who frequented the courts and tournaments! The typical peasant farmer may well have not have recognized the king of France had he rode by incognito though.

Heraldry was rapidly changing towards self adopted arms, but not yet at his time. William was not permitted his own banner of the red lion on split field of yellow and green by his Lord (making him a "banneret") until the tournament at Tournai (roughly 1170 time frame, no longer a youth, nearing the end of his full time tournament career). This was met with serious resentment by his peers who correctly perceived that he was elevating to a nobility level beyond their position. The majority of his errant days he was just a plain knight. This is explored in good depth in David Crouch's texts (William Marshal, Tournament,, Birth of the Nobility, etc.) related to the subject, and reinforced with period correspondence of his peers. In time he made it up to them, continually providing employment positions for those who had simply been his peers well into 60 years of age. Based on the quality of his biography, and the suspicious fact that there is no such author known by its name, one popular conspiracy theory is that his chronicle was written by his former squire, who he also provided life long income and positions for, and appears to have greatest accuracy during the period when he served as squire. He had indeed traveled errant for periods of a couple of years, going as far as Cologne. I don't have any defensible information about exactly how he was equipped during travel in that phase of his career.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 4:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, I would add that not wearing armour most of the time does not mean not having the armour close at hand and ready to put on with help from a page in personal baggage at a moments notice: I would assume a Knight and his arms and armour would rarely be far apart

In a war situation one might not wear any armour or very little of it if one could armour up quickly when battle seemed imminent. Having some armed retainers close by to buy time while getting ready being helpful.

For a raid or cheveauché wearing less than full armour might be preferable.

Some wearing of full armour for purely social status reasons also being a possibility as Peter has mentioned.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 5:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes... Jean!
I was wandering just how the knight errant hid his baggage train, esquire, armour, two spare mounts, etc.! Regardless, the minnesigners of the late 12th and early 13th century composed numerous works centered around the knight errant wandering through foreign lands, unknown and unrecognized (even sometimes presumed dead by his relatives.) I figure there could have been some basis in reality behind the popular theme.

Jean,
please provide a definition of "cheveauché." It is not readily available in common English. Since it is closer to your native language I think it better if you give the explanation. I have both Canadian and French friends, but figure you own this one.

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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 8:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared;

A "cheveauché" is quite literally a cavalry raid. It was the norm for most of the campaigns of the Hundred Years War, which was more marked by small scale warfare than the major battles we prefer to read about. Of note is that Robert E. Lee described the cavalry raids of JEB Stuart as "cheveauché's" as late as the 1860's. Which indeed they were.

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Gordon

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 9:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would call these things a "skirmish". I am not sure how antiquated my own terminology might be, but, a large number of deaths of knights can be attributed to such conflicts. The strategy of 12th -13tth century melee tournament seems to me to be geared towards this type of engagement.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Feb, 2008 11:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay. There are a few things I'd recommend. one is reading Christine de Pisan's work on war. She mentioned scouting, foraging etc. This things by theory would be supported by an armoured group at the very least. The idea of specialized scouts is not 100% medieval. Armoured men at arms often were scouts and would forage as well. We also have many chronicles, Froissart comes to mind of armoured men on their raids and such. So if one was going to war or in a war zone very unlikely to be totally unarmed in any way. Perhaps the helmet and gaunts off but my guess is substabcial armour was worn. If they were in a less threatened site perhaps, in lands that were supposed to be taken, they would have a good deal of their armour off but it would still be at hand as has been said before in this post.

In day to day travel it is possible that these men did not bring armour about but that is not to say they wore no armour. There are accounts of nobles warring and making suprise attacks on unarmoured me so it happens but there are also the same records with stories finding the party is armoured to some degree. It likely depends on who the knihgt/lord is.

There are a whole series of very fine brigs and mail shirts for civic protection that still exist. The RA has a fine display on this with many of them. These concealed armours were a pretty important garments as you never knew when soneone would go after you intentionally or otherwise. The fines in all the English towns I have studied have a huge number of fines for fighting, with swords, poleaxes etc. so do not let these silly you cannot carry a sword around town laws confuse you. People did this and the law only applied if someone wished to impose it, which seems more likely to occure after you use it.

William Wallace was not silly. Nor did he galavant around without armour I am guessing anywhere as other knights would not. This is hollywood. There are not alot of sources on Wallace but he was born into the knightly class. He would have been arrayed and acted so for war. He may have effected some tactics that were somewhat considered 'tricks' and therefore a bit less acceptable by other knights but he was going up against a super power, it likely is all he could do at times. He was clever, slippery and tricky but he was also good enough to stop an english army in the field a farily rare occurance most of the time in Scotland.

My guess is raiding, skirmishes and sieges make up about 95%-98% if not more of medieval battles so this would be where a soldier spent his fighting time. REally sitting around and walking likely took up most of his time.

RPM
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Feb, 2008 1:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
The typical peasant farmer may well have not have recognized the king of France had he rode by incognito though.


The typical peasant of the time would not have cared who passed as long as he was not bitten by either the cat or the dog.
The king of France would:
1. not ride incognito
2. certainly not ride incognito through enemy territory.

The knights of the time had not read Sun Tsu and ' fouraging' generally did not take into account how the populace thought about that.

Willam Wallace all in all is a very good ' example' as he was atypical and by this illustrated a lot. If he would have been the thirteenth knight in the dozen there would not have been anything to mention. That is one of the problems: history does not tend to be written about the humdrum of life and certainly not about the humdrum of the illiterate poupulace. That illiterate 3rd class populace was however 90% of the population.....
We can see is in genetics too: even periods of great movement, tribal relocations, hardly influance the indigenous genetics evn if the culture, langage, knowlegde is upturned.

So: written info needs to be eyed with care just as the art of the time. EIther is likely NOT to be representative of the norm.

peter
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