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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2012 10:09 am    Post subject: Spear and Shield After the 14th Century         Reply with quote

Hello folks! While I've long been curious about the apparent decline of the venerable spear-&-shield combination in Europe, a picture at the front of The Art of Power: Royal Armour and Portraits of Imperial Spain has inspired me to reach out to y'all.

As far as I could tell, the book gives no citation for the picture so I haven't be able to track it down. The image shows a dense formation of unarmored or lightly armored men with spears and shields facing off against foes in full white harness who wield long spears - perhaps lances - with both hands. The former group looks Middle Eastern or North African, which suggests a crusading context. From the style, I'd guess the illustration dates from the first half of the fifteenth century. If anyone recognize this description, I'd love to find the source.

I can't recall ever before seeing such a clear depiction of men in plate armor and two-handed weapons fighting against adversaries using equipment akin to the ancient Greeks. I want know if such contests actually occurred and, if so, how they played out. The lack of units armed with spears and shields or javelins and shields from the fifteenth century on confuses me. I understand that plate armor partially explains this transition, but that doesn't explain why countless targetiers in the sixteenth century eschewed the javelins employed by their forebears. Fourquevaux did mention the idea of arming targetiers with grenades, but I've never read that this became a routine practice.

Any insight on this topic would be appreciated.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Iagoba Ferreira





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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2012 11:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Probably is the battle of Higeruela painting in the Escorial. When building the palace, an old painting of this battle of the early XVth century recently found was chosen to be painted alongside contemporary battles like Saint Quentin. Perhaps is this fresco the one you speak of.

About the use of spear o javelins/darts and shield (pavise, small pavise or adarga), it was quite common at least in northern Castilla during the late XIV and the whole XVth centuries, by those who cannot afford a crossbow. They coud protect the crossbowmen from missiles with their shields, and from cavalry with their spears.
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Mackenzie Cosens




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2012 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is not pictorial evidence but, Manciolino's Opera Nova (1531) has a small section on using Partisan and rotella, a broad bladed short spear and strapped on round shield. This indicates that the art of spear and shield in some form was still being taught in the 16th Century Italy. Tom Leoni translation is available at at http://www.freelanceacademypress.com/complete...dsman.aspx


The Battle of Sinalunga, Italy 1363, shows large shield and short spear ins use.
http://www.greatestbattles.iblogger.org/Italy...ilLeft.htm

Another Mid 14C image sword and spear I believe this is English or French:



 Attachment: 26.56 KB
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mid to 3/4 14 Century
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2012 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have said this before but I am becoming increasingly unconvinced the shield declined, at least how people commonly think and say it did. Shields are found in quantities that rival aketons and jacks in many purchase accounts and inventories in England and France in the 14th and 15th century.

As well many of these inventories are coupled with spears which make me think it was still used among common rank and file being equipped by sheriffs and the royal officials.

I tend to rely more on text than art as their is much more unreliability in art where as a inventory or account listing all present equipment is fairly clear.

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2012 4:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Iagoba Ferreira wrote:
Probably is the battle of Higeruela painting in the Escorial.


Nope, that's not it.

Quote:
About the use of spear o javelins/darts and shield (pavise, small pavise or adarga), it was quite common at least in northern Castilla during the late XIV and the whole XVth centuries, by those who cannot afford a crossbow. They coud protect the crossbowmen from missiles with their shields, and from cavalry with their spears.


Interesting. What sources are there on this? Did any of the Spanish targetiers who gained such fame against pikemen in the early sixteenth century use spears or javelins?

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2012 5:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's funny that you mention how they're similar to Ancient Greek style, except it was the opposite in that rather than heavily armoured Pike wielders vs. lightly armoured spear & shield soldiers, it was heavily armoured hoplites with the aspis and doru vs. more lightly armoured men wielding the sarrissa.
I guess tactics and ideas come around in circles.
And I think Randall is rights, just because we later hear and see more of men in more or less full armour doesn't mean that the good old combo of spear and shield fell from use. It's just that, I guess, it's slightly less romantic.

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
And I think Randall is rights, just because we later hear and see more of men in more or less full armour doesn't mean that the good old combo of spear and shield fell from use. It's just that, I guess, it's slightly less romantic.


But what evidence is there that the combination persisted? The presence of shields in armories does not mean folks fought with shield and spear on the battlefield. Shields certainly appear in fifteenth-century siege art but much less for set battles in the open. The most famous example of fifteenth-century infantry, the Swiss and English, made scant use of shields. Archers at times carried bucklers, but that's about it. In the sixteenth century, no military manual I know of even mentions the idea of using shield and spear together. (Well, Fourquevaux mentioned shield and pike together, but only a hypothetical. He wanted pikemen to have shields on their backs to use in the press.) Shields make plenty of appearances, but only with swords (and grenades, in Fourquevaux's case).

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 6:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben you are not reading my post in full as I did not just say it was for armouries. I am not sure what you think they were amassing them in armouries or and bringing them to war for if not for use. Seems like a massive logical default there they would not have done over hundreds of years as medieval people are fairly thrifty. Considering spears and shields come up all over chronicles, in fact one of the most common items of war listed in Froissart, as well not sure what you are saying there is no evidence. Pikes and archers would find full shields in the way so of course certain units would not use them but these were not the only units they employed during the late medieval period. Armed men often seemed to have been equipped thus.

We do have evidence of an archer using a shield, sword and bow (in an illegal action which is why we know about it) though in 1364 Patent Rolls of Edward III vol 12, pg 441-442.

No one is arguing for huge shield wall armies but I think period literature is clear it was still employed often. Since most manuals created were not intended for large scale warfare until the 16th century, a time when the shield is in many places being used likely less this should not be surprising.

I do think people put far more trust in medieval artwork than is prudent. Modern reenactment is so crippled by this fixation on pretty pictures by many monks and artists who likely saw little if any actual war. At least many writers based their works on first person accounts. Art has a plethora of uses but text, especially logistical accounts should take precedence.

I can only think of a few off my head that mention the spear/shield but some chronicles that come to mind are; The Scalacronica, Lanercost, Guisborough, Froissart, Brus, Monstrelet, De Warrin. I am sure with some real digging there are likely many more. IN Italy these seems to be a mainstay of communal armies as well.

Edward III sends arms to his Senechal in Gascony in the mid 14th and the largest amounts are spears and shield to equip his English forces there. Not a bow was sent. Edward III vol 2 page 497.


So to me the question is aside from art which I think cannot be fully trusted for this what evidence do you have it was discarded?

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall, I agree we're not communicating effectively. Critically, I'm referring to the fifteenth century and on, while you're citing examples from the fourteenth. I'm also most interested in - and I should have been clearer about this - shield and spear used in traditional massed formations on foot. That's what the mysterious image I'm trying to track down includes. This also happens to be one of the most common infantry weapon combinations for thousands of years prior to the fourteenth or fifteenth century. I'm curious about its decline.

As far as artwork in general goes, though, are you arguing the shield becomes less and less frequent because of some change in fashion that didn't reflect actual military practices?

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 8:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I will look up some specific 15th century ones when I can. I think monstrelet and de Warrin though cover the first three quarters of the 15th and contain some very direct comments about the commanders continued high opinion of shields.

It is likely these were no longer the simple heater type but larger pavaises and smaller pavaise like shields and smaller buckler type equipment as well.

My argument of artwork is that it is not an accurate way to assume tactics, total armaments and such. I figure with authors of Chronicles, many are soldiers, former soldiers or attached to households who tie them to conflict where as many clergymen likely went to war or participated in it very infrequently that were artists so one needs to be critical on any source think of how likely it was these men fought or in person witnessed a battle.

To me the art also has the danger of following a stylistic type of warfare represented in them more than actual, likely because of not really being a part for the most part of the 'war machine' of the day.

That said we have clergymen who are in and around armies, often as clerks who write chronicles, but I know of very few examples of artists in this same placement.

RPM
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One of Dürer's dense battlefild illustrations for his triumphal arch shows a miltary boar spear mixed in with armored front-rank pavise-men. I don't recall if any of those men have both spear AND pavise. Such combo might seem counterintuitive, but the whole point of the pavise is to provide cover for men who need both hands on their weapons. The way the soldiers are deployed in those ilus. recalls other forms of shield walls. Less agile, probably, but still mobile and well-adapted to the arms and tactics of the age.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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José-Manuel Benito




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi

Perhaps this PDF can help you to identify the picture that you are looking for:

http://www.nga.gov/press/exh/3018/3018_list.pdf

I have visited that exhibition in The Prado Museum, at Madrid (in the spring of 2010), but I don't remember any image like that you describes.

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Samuel Bena




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 12:45 pm    Post subject: In our parts of the world...         Reply with quote

East-Central European cavalry used shield well into 16th century. Besides the famous hussars there is written evidence in forms of regulation which obliged Hungarian heavies to come with a targe in 1460s. Moreover it seems Polish armoured lancers (cap a pie with barder horses) used shields until their demise in 1570s.

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 12:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ahhh...of course! The Pastrana Tapestries (late 15th c.) show LOTS of men armed with shield-and-spear.

http://www.google.com/search?q=pastrana+tapes...tweJsaGiCw



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-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 1:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And for those interested in the arms and armour of the "Pastrana" era, this is probably an essential library addition:
http://www.amazon.com/Invention-Glory-Afonso-...amp;sr=8-1

I perused it at the D.C. exhibit, where it was MUCH more expensive. Pre-order at $40. Get it. Trust me. Big Grin

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote



This is the image; it is from the Escorial. Thanks Iagoba.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2012 7:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

So far best comes from Christina de Pisan in her work on military strategy and action. She writes about using this combination on several occasions.

If no longer have a copy or I'd give you some specifics but a good book to read if you have not for a multitude of reasons.

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jan, 2012 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's been a while, but I don't recall anything about shields in Christine de Pizan aside from a few garbled passages from Vegetius. I may not have read all of her works. I know shields remained in at least limited use through the sixteenth century, but I find the contest between the shield wall and men-at-arms in white harness novel and fascinating.
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Feb, 2012 6:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

Probably worth a second quick look then she has them show up at least in the hundreds and thousands in there. In the one section where she is describing how to out fit forces she includes shields in every scenario.

I really see no reason why the average gent without full armour would discard a shield unless he is using a two handed weapon, which in most armies is not close to universal. Also we should not forget this is also the era of the pavaise and mantlet and the buckler, and others who are all part of the shield family.

RPM
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Feb, 2012 9:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You know, Froissart did mention French pavisiers with spear and shield--a combination that appeared to have been moderately effective (well, the shield, anyway) against the English longbow, at least when French command and control did not break down at the most inconvenient times and places as it so often did....

(Or it may have been some other chronicler of the middle phase of the Hundred Years' War. If I recall correctly, it was the time of Olivier de Clisson/Bertrand du Guesclin and their associates. I really have to hunt down those passages.)

Don Quixote also has our delusional knight-errant run across a carriage guarded by a pair of sword-and-target men who carried a couple of javelins each. These targeteers played no part in the ensuing narrative (where our poor Don Quixote got into an altercation with another of the carriage's guards), and besides it's fiction anyway, but I have a feeling that we shouldn't entirely discount this late evidence of auxiliary weapons for the rodeleros.
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