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Dominic P.





Joined: 20 Feb 2012

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PostPosted: Sat 25 Feb, 2012 5:10 am    Post subject: English armour         Reply with quote

Hi I have been interested in medieval weapons and armour for the past two years. During which I have found this site to be an invaluable resource. In that time though i have come across reference to, an 'English style' of armour. I have been wondering what makes it different from it's German or Milanese counterparts and how such a style came to be; when much lager and to my understanding more politically powerful kingdoms such as France do not seem to have had there own styles of armour as such.

I would also be grateful if anyone could suggest any further reading material on the English medieval knight and his equipment as i am currently reading the osprey book but would love to find more information.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I apologize for any inaccuracies. I am also sorry if this topic has already been covered before, although i could not find an answer in my search.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 25 Feb, 2012 5:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dominic,
Hello and welcome to myArmoury.com. Happy Check out this thread for some info. This book has been delayed and may now be published in multiple parts.

As for why England developed its own style, it's hard to say. Its relative geographic isolation may have played a part. Other cultural factors may have as well. In the non-armour realm, England developed a style of polyphony (musical harmony in very simplistic terms) that was entirely different than what was used in continental Europe. That style spread to and throughout the continent in the 15th century and became the basis for the chordal harmonies used in western music to this day. The supposition is that their isolation helped create a unique style, while their increasing influence on the continent in the 15th century helped it spread. But I digress. Happy

Happy

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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 10 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Sat 25 Feb, 2012 6:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Having read the thesis Dr Capwell is expanding for this publication, there seem to be several influences on the decorative elements and shape of English harness, especially in the latter half of the fifteenth century. Some of the early fifteenth century structural elements stem directly from the late fourteenth century necessity of complete upper body defenses rarely seen in other European states. The English were peculiar in military tactics in that they trained to fight pitched battle on foot.

For the rest, we'll have to see what Toby has tweeked whenever the book(s) come out. He's living the life of a rock star compared to most museum curators and as such has numerous pots on the stove. This isn't the only publication he has in progress.
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Matt Easton




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2012 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Isolation? I disagree.
I guess you guys realise that a fair chunk of France was 'English' in the 14th-mid-15th centuries. And that the English and French Free Companies fought all over Italy in this period. And that London was full of Continental bankers and merchants. And that English archers fought in Flanders, Burgundy, Germany and the 'crusades' in Eastern Europe and beyond. English styled armour came into being under Henry V, at a time when he was expected to become the next King of France and Normandy was under total English control and the rest of France was in chaos under the warring factions of the Armagnacs and Burgundians.

In fact there was a booming armour trade in London, with great numbers of weapons and pieces of armour being imported primarily from Milan. In addition to this there was a native English armour making trade - in fact at this time there were various royal decrees stating that English armourers were not to buy inferior Flemish pieces of armour and stamp them with London marks. We have wills surviving of English armourers of this period - I have posted examples over on the Schola Forum.

So no, England was not isolated in 1400-1450. Not even remotely. England was incredibly powerful and France was on its knees at the time that English styled armour first appeared (say 1415ish).

Later in the middle of the 15th century you see all sorts of armour in English art, from clearly German influenced pieces, to what look like pure Milanese armours, to more unusual and 'English' styles. If you look at Froissart's chronicles for example what you see it not 'Italian' or 'German' armour, it is what was regarded in those countries as 'export' harness - ie. it was made for French/Flemish/English buyers who wanted their own particular style. Unfortunately relatively little 'export' style armour survive from the 15th century (hardly any in fact!), so we are left with pictures of Italian and German harnesses in books, which gives us a biased view of what was actually available at the time.

As to why the French, English, Flemish and other nationalities like different styles, well one simple answer is probably 'fashion'. I think it goes beyond that though - English 'knights' traditionally fought on foot. That makes a lot more sense of their types of great bascinets and fully-enclosed arms and legs. The mail-covered feet and massive pauldrons of Milanese armours makes a lot of sense when you consider that Lombard 'knights' generally fought mounted. Probably the overall answer to the different styles lies somewhere between fashion and function.

Matt

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David GaŠl




Location: Hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2012 11:32 am    Post subject: Re: English armour         Reply with quote

[quote="Dominic P."]
I would also be grateful if anyone could suggest any further reading material on the English medieval knight and his equipment as i am currently reading the osprey book but would love to find more information.
/quote]

I would like to suggest:
-Sir Guy Francis Laking- A record of European arms and armour through seven centuries Vol.3 contains info about Maximilian, France, and other armourer schools Vol. 4. contains infos about Greenwich armour making
-Alan Williams- The knight and the blast furnace
-Alan Williams- A Technical Note on some of the Armour of King Henry VIII and his Contemporaries
-Donlald J. Larocca- An English armour for the king of Portugal
-Cloud Blair, Start W. Pyhrr- The Wilton "Montmorency" armour: An Italian Armor for Henry VIII

Regards,
David
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Mackenzie Cosens




Location: Vancouver Canada
Joined: 08 Aug 2007

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2012 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

When I use to fight in big wars one of the hardest questions was, "Is the guy I am facing on my side or their side?" The group I use to belong to would put a coloured sticker on you helmet indicating your side. A national style of armour would go some way to remove id problem. Of course this would only work as long as you are fighting someone not from your nation.

mackenzie
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Feb, 2012 9:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt Easton wrote:

Probably the overall answer to the different styles lies somewhere between fashion and function.

Matt


+1 I'm with you on that tour.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 29 Feb, 2012 6:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt,
Please note I said "geographic isolation" not isolation in cultural, economic, or other terms. Happy You're quite correct about England's position in the mid-15th century as well about their exposure to other cultures then and earlier through trade in London, rule of Aquitaine, the Treaty of Troyes, wool trade with Flanders, the booming Bordeaux wine business, etc.

Do we see any increase in Continental influence on English food or dress at this time? That's outside my area of study and I'd love to know. During Henry V's reign, English came to be spoken more at court than it had been previously. Was there more of a sense of nationalism at home even at this peak of influence abroad or was this an isolated thing? The tradesmen and bankers in London would have influenced Londoners and visitors to London but that influence would have waned as you travel out of the city into the rest of the country.

In my opinion, the geographic isolation and forced nationalism it helps breed lead to at least some national styles/fashions that were fairly unique (see my example about music above) even though they had exposure to other styles.

England was certainly not completely isolated and enjoyed more influence on the Continent than one would think for a small island nation. But I think the waters surrounding the islands were a bigger factor in some of their more unique developments/fashions than you do. Happy

I'm not sure about tactics (specifically, fighting on foot) being the deciding factor in making English armour unique. The French fought dismounted on numerous occasions, beginning as early as 1351 at Saintes. So by the mid-15th century fighting afoot wouldn't have been terribly unusual. They may have preferred mounted combat, but would have been foolish to continue to develop armour that didn't work well afoot when they were fighting that way often enough.

Happy

ChadA

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Matt Easton




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Wed 29 Feb, 2012 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And indeed French, Flemish and English armour seems to have had a lot in common, if we trust period art.

Milanese documents make it clear that they were churning out 'export' armours in 'foreign' styles for the English/French/Flemish/Spanish consumers.

I think it's important to point out that our view of armour at this period is coloured by several quite prominent circumstances. Firstly, there is very little distinctive Anglo-French, Spanish or other non-Italian/German armour surviving for us to study today - we can only see it in period artwork for the most part. Occasionally you get an exception, like the Coventry sallet, and it reminds us of how common those pieces must have been then, yet how rare they are now. Secondly, there are a particularly large number of English tomb brasses and effigies to study and they have been well documented in books which are easy to access. In France many were destroyed during the revolution/s and on top of this I am not aware of there being any easy to find books documenting the French survivors.

So we are left with this weird situation whereby we have mostly Italian and German armour surviving, but loads of English tomb brasses and effigies which show a type of armour we can't view surviving examples of (for the most part). Looking at English art circa.1400-1440 it is clear though that they had distinctive styles which were common in England and different to normal Italian or German armour. Relatively small spaulders, fully enclosed upper arms and legs (even on the inside of the upper legs, which may be an adaptation for fighting on foot), relatively long faulds, a form of great bascinet not common outside England and France, articulated wrists on gauntlets quite early on, besagews etc.

I am in no doubt that England, France, Flanders and Spain had distinctive styles of armour at this time, and the English style certainly seems to have shared a lot of features with France and Flanders - as you may expect!

15thC German records do mention 'English bascinets' as it happens. Unfortunately I can't find the citation right now.

Cheers,
Matt

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