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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Oct, 2010 10:30 pm    Post subject: What's the story with this odd armour?         Reply with quote

This appears in my "Color Treasury of Arms and Armour" by Crescent Books. It's labeled simply as "English armour of the early seventeenth century." It looks, to me, like a composite of two different armours: the helmet and arm defences of a cuirassier's harness, and the breastplate and tassets of a pikeman's harness.

Does that seem reasonable? It's either that, or the most complete pikeman's armour I have ever seen.


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Craig Shackleton




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Oct, 2010 9:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another possibility I would consider is that the armour has exchange pieces and has been configured in an unusual combination. Perhaps there once were partial legs that could be attached in place of the tassets.

But then, you know way more about exchange armour than I do!

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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Oct, 2010 6:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd assume it's a Victorian addition of pikeman's tassets to an incomplete cuirassier harness. Considering there are virtually no other surviving examples of such pieces of exchange for infantry use, and the fact hat these harnesses were often made with very heavy plate that would be ill-suited for infantry interests, it seems unreasonable to assume this sort of composite mix was done in period...

-Gregory
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Oct, 2010 8:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The cuirass and tassets seem to be part of a set. They are decorated with the same chevronny design, as indeed many Greenwich pikeman's armours are.

The pauldrons and helmet do seem to aesthetically match the rest. They were probably made by the same armourer. Could they possibly have been made for the same person? Was it unheard of for one officer to serve in both infantry and cavalry positions?

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Oct, 2010 8:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:
The cuirass and tassets seem to be part of a set. They are decorated with the same chevronny design, as indeed many Greenwich pikeman's armours are.

The pauldrons and helmet do seem to aesthetically match the rest. They were probably made by the same armourer. Could they possibly have been made for the same person? Was it unheard of for one officer to serve in both infantry and cavalry positions?


With some fights you just have to get off the horse: Inside a castle fighting your way through a breach or defending a breach, on the deck of a ship, street fighting, getting off the horse to support the infantry both physically and psychologically leading from the front ? Or maybe other occasions I can't think of right now where being on a horse just isn't possible or practical ?

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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Oct, 2010 10:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:
The cuirass and tassets seem to be part of a set. They are decorated with the same chevronny design, as indeed many Greenwich pikeman's armours are.


Many Victorian knock-offs were very well done, and this is particularly true when they had a distinct and simple design pattern to follow. Why wouldn't the design be able to be copied, do you think?

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
With some fights you just have to get off the horse: Inside a castle fighting your way through a breach or defending a breach, on the deck of a ship, street fighting, getting off the horse to support the infantry both physically and psychologically leading from the front ? Or maybe other occasions I can't think of right now where being on a horse just isn't possible or practical ?


In those same situations you also typically don't want to be fighting in a full cuirassier harness, either. The mobility allowed by pikeman's tassets seems negligible compared to the regular 3/4 faulds attached to these armors, and not worthy of substitution when you consider that the entire upper body is still encased in heavy plate. This particular setup even includes a visored helm and full arm harness, which is almost unheard of for infantry or even light cavalry use. This just looks like a really illogical composition, and that is why I suspect it is a reproduction fraud.

Perhaps these faulds are original, but I would not suspect the wearer to associate them with the full harness shown here for practical use. If he had dire need to fight on foot, he'd toss it all aside except for the cuirass and faulds, as any typical pikeman of the era would do.

-Gregory


Last edited by Gregory J. Liebau on Sun 24 Oct, 2010 10:44 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Oct, 2010 10:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some cuirassier's armours had detachable lower tassets for the reasons mentioned above. So the upper thighs (containing vulnerable arteries) would still be protected. From what I have read, soldiers ditching certain parts of their armor mid-battle or en route to battle was common in the 17th century.

It doesn't make sense for someone wearing 3/4 plate with laminated tassets to take off the tassets during a battle and put on pikeman's tassets for fighting on foot. What I meant when I said they may have been made for the same person was that maybe the wearer fought on horseback in some battles and perhaps on foot in others. It's not totally out of the realm of possibility that someone could have had a garniture for combat made for him in the 17th century.

The simplest and most likely explanation was that it is just a composite of two different armours (though probably of the same manufacture). But it certainly looks interesting.

I do think the cuirass and tassets are original, not repro.

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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Oct, 2010 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd just edited my last post. See the last couple of sentences, Adam. My main argument is that this should not reasonably be classified as a homogeneous harness as shown in that photograph. The idea that it could be a reproduction is mainly targeting that... If you allow it to be part of a garniture, which is rare by this time but as you said, not unheard of, it seems much more reasonable.

-Gregory


Last edited by Gregory J. Liebau on Sun 24 Oct, 2010 10:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 24 Oct, 2010 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:
This just looks like a really illogical composition, and that is why I suspect it is a reproduction fraud.

-Gregory


Maybe right about that but I don't have the expertise to agree or disagree in this specific case.

There may also be the desire to look " cool " on the battlefield ahead of practical considerations.

But then the wearer wouldn't really be part of the infantry but a noble who might occasionally want to fight with the infantry or just lead it from the front or maybe from the rear ?

A stylistic fancy of some sort to copy some of the armour style of the regular infantry but look " better " ? Or as you said a Victorian fake or partial fake where an authentic upper part getting a fake lower part made to look as if it was made at the same time ?

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Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Mon 25 Oct, 2010 1:04 pm; edited 2 times in total
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David Evans




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Oct, 2010 12:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The breastplate gives the impression of being cut and shaped totaly wrong for riding, which spoils the garniture theory. It's possible that the fauld from which the tassets hang can be detached but I can't tell from this image.

The possiblities are

1) Part of the set is fake, made to match existing pieces

2) Someone very carefully hunted down pieces that match from the same Armourer's workshop.

Both are common 19th Century collector habits
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Oct, 2010 1:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's not out of the question that the same person owned all the armour pieces - possibly a wealthy individual who served alternately as a pike officer and in some mounted capacity. I think it's safe to assume that a run of the mill pikeman would have worn a munitions grade armour and not a highly decorated one such as depicted; therefore the owner was a man of considerable means.

Fighting on horseback may have been the idealized position for a gentleman, but nobles fought on foot as well.

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David Evans




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Oct, 2010 2:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One of my considerations was the use of straps over the shoulders to secure back to breast plate. I can not think of any cuirassier set that does that.

http://www.nigelcarren.co.uk/englishcivilwar-...armour.htm is a reproducation set by Nigel Carren. A crackingly good armourer.

Harquebusier is strapped over the shoulder, but has a different line at the botton of the breastplate

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons...uguesa.JPG

Pike armour is cut almost straight across at the bottom. See here

http://www.royalarmouries.org/learning/online...se/pikeman

Enlarge the bottom picture and see how similar it is to this picture

If it was a garniture set, similar to Greenwich examples from the late 16th century I'd expect a breastplate made for sitting on Horses, with bits added.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenwich_armour for a rough details
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Oct, 2010 7:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pikemen wore similar plate arm defenses in the sixteenth century and possibly into the seventeenth. In one of his military manuals, Sir John Smythe specifically allowed halberdiers to replace the pikemen's arm armor with sleeves of mail.
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David Evans




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Oct, 2010 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yep. English armed men, that is to say those with pike, halbard or target were supposed to be armoured with tassets, vambraces, pauldrons and burgonet. By and large they loathed the extra weight and threw it away. By 1592 County officals are requesting permission NOT to buy any armour other than curat, gorget and morrion for levied troops.

he Trained Band orders for the equipment for pike armed men from1605 and onwards order back and breast, gorget, tassets and morrion only.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Oct, 2010 1:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

With that said (and Smythe was a believer in the old school - he also argued for the continued use of the longbow) if a square of pikemen were actually armored in harnesses like the one I have shown, and those made from light steel as opposed to musket-proof like cuirassiers wore, they would be practically unstoppable.
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Oct, 2010 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting to see the standard issue of full arm harness as late as the 1590s. I'd assumed that ideal had passed among infantry some time before that. Perhaps I'm out of my element here to begin with, being largely interested in continental armor... These English are weird.

-Gregory
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 31 Oct, 2010 2:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:
With that said (and Smythe was a believer in the old school - he also argued for the continued use of the longbow) if a square of pikemen were actually armored in harnesses like the one I have shown, and those made from light steel as opposed to musket-proof like cuirassiers wore, they would be practically unstoppable.


Not necessarily so, since such a light harness in the medieval fashion wouldn't have given them much better protection against caliver balls, let alone musket balls. After all, when Montluc wrote of entire (infantry) front ranks being nearly wiped out by a point-blank volley from both sides at the Battle of Ceresole, weren't the first-rank soldiers in both French and Imperial employ still fairly well armoured?
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Sun 31 Oct, 2010 12:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the photos, there is no reason to think any of the armour is not real. There is also no reason to think that the cuirass belongs with the rest. Stibbert often did not assemble his armours with any real knowledge of what went with what. I recently cleaned a harness that combined heavy cav pauldrons with a very fine infantry cuirass c. 1540 (no lance rest and knee length tassets!).
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