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Peteris R.




Location: Latvia
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jun, 2013 12:14 am    Post subject: One-piece breastplates at Crecy/Poitiers?         Reply with quote

I constantly read about the plate armour worn by the French nobility at these famous battles, but most seem to assume that this means the later all-white harnesses. From my limited knowledge on the subject, I'd think that complete harnesses (with full breastplates rather than coat-of-plates) didn't appear until somewhat later in the century. Which is why I am asking for more educated opinion: was anyone likely to have worn one-piece breastplates/backplates at Crecy and Poitiers?
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jun, 2013 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes at Crecy very unlikely to have had many full one part breastplates. First one that shows up is in 1342 in England for a jousting breastplate for ED III if memory serves. By Poitiers they seem to be around but still less common than pairs of plates. That said they are common enough for the Black Prince to be giving them away in his spring cleaning in 1358, so clearly not rare and likely a bit old (See register of Edward, The Black Prince).

Backplates are less likely. I personally think they were around by the last quarter of the 14th but have little evidence, all of it being indirect. The first direct bit of evidence is an uncovered effigy from 1409 or 1407 and an inventory from 1402 that seems to refer to a backplate.

So by Crecy it is unlikely many would have had a single piece breastplate. By Poitiers more likely but still in the minority. That said armour with rigid plates was indeed in use. Pairs of plates are plate armours as are plate limb armour both splint and all plate build. Still a great deal of mail use though but plate by the 1340s was pretty common for the noble and knightly class but you are right the all-white harness was not really there yet in a major way if at all.

RPM
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Mon 10 Jun, 2013 5:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is the earliest all-white I've seen. That looks like a single backplate.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4692/12754/
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Julian Behle




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jun, 2013 1:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall and Len are right. I suspect breast plates appeared in the 1350s on a noticable scale. But I assume they were rather small and grew in the following decades to cover the abdomen as well and not only the thorax. It is likely that they rather looked like cop at the beginning, being riveted to a cop to cover the remaining body. Even if we can not look under the fabric, I do personally suspect that when the wasp-waist became fashionable, some breastplate might have contributed to that shape (of course not in every case). It may be the same with the back plate as some effigies have rather unnaturally rounded backs (though they are always to some extend artificial). So the 1350s are likely the timeframe for breastplates strapped to noble combatants you look for.
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P. Schontzler




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jun, 2013 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:

Backplates are less likely. I personally think they were around by the last quarter of the 14th but have little evidence, all of it being indirect. The first direct bit of evidence is an uncovered effigy from 1409 or 1407 and an inventory from 1402 that seems to refer to a backplate.
RPM


So when breastplates became more common was the back simply covered with mail? E.g. mail haubergeon with a breastplate on top?
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jun, 2013 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P.

I would not think of them being covered by mail as often but likely by a surcoat. This is why torso armour is so hard. In art the torso is so often hid by textiles.

RPM
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Peteris R.




Location: Latvia
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jun, 2013 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Schontzler wrote:
Randall Moffett wrote:

Backplates are less likely. I personally think they were around by the last quarter of the 14th but have little evidence, all of it being indirect. The first direct bit of evidence is an uncovered effigy from 1409 or 1407 and an inventory from 1402 that seems to refer to a backplate.
RPM


So when breastplates became more common was the back simply covered with mail? E.g. mail haubergeon with a breastplate on top?


I'd think they'd use segmented armor, i.e. the part of the coat of plates that wraps around one's back for that, no? Of course, with mail underneath.

Quote:
So by Crecy it is unlikely many would have had a single piece breastplate


Many or any? There's a difference there. Perhaps a king, or a certain prince, could afford such a piece of technology?
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jun, 2013 3:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Look at the "falling knight" misericord at Lincoln Cathedral. Horizontal lames under a textile foundation of some sort. IIRC its 1360-70's? Unlikely that large panel plate backs were contemporary with it.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jun, 2013 5:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peteris,

I agree. To me the segmented COP style backplate likely was used in conjunction with single plate breastplates. I have some illustrations showing this in fact but could not locate them.

I think my statement works. At Crecy they likely did exist. The only group that had them would have been the very top. Then one has to ask if they would have used them over a COP and I could not say. All I can say is the single plate breastplate did exist by Crecy.

Kel made mention of this but here is a picture. Its name is the fall of pride I think. Toward the bottom of the page.

http://www.paradoxplace.com/Photo%20Pages/UK/...terior.htm

RPM
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jun, 2013 7:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is about 20 years past Poitiers http://www.tforum.info/forum/index.php?showtopic=15057 The first picture shows a breastplate with mail only. I have no idea how common this was.
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Julian Behle




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Jun, 2013 10:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is what armour may have looked like in mid 14th century. Note the small breastplate.
http://cs308828.vk.me/v308828221/3acf/v1jxRLmYNVk.jpg
http://cs308828.vk.me/v308828221/3ac8/6G-JQv4uMr8.jpg
http://cs308828.vk.me/v308828221/3ae8/5SAVfaoK_zc.jpg

This one is destinctively taller and extends over the thorax. I would date such a piece after poitier as a stand alone. As it has a back plate - and we have no evidence of such early ones - it would date a lot later but by then the breastplate could have extended further and faulds could be added.

http://cs308828.vk.me/v308828221/3ab8/6gycaL8fkww.jpg
http://cs308828.vk.me/v308828221/3aa9/_vZik6pTfVs.jpg

So this was some recreation stuff just for having an idea of how a breastplate may have looked like. I can still offer more historical material if required. (Someone had to tell me how to add several images to one post)
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Jun, 2013 5:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian,

I disagree for one key reason. How medieval literature works. I think the ones you have listed as breastplates could just have easily been listed as pairs of plates. The issue is we just do not know what they look like. All we know is that in Literature the individual breastplate shows up at a specific time and gets more common from there.

The Pistoia Alter was started in 1367 so it is not that far from Poitiers 1356. The earliest panels and the latest all have fairly consistent arms and armour so we can assume they were designed before the works started which gives a fairly strong case for earlier than that even. It usually takes months if not years to make molds to do such an elaborate alterpiece.

To me it is much more likely something like the Pistoia Alter would be used at Poitiers and called a breastplate seeing how medieval people named things. To me if a breastplate was still part of the pair of plates it likely would have retained its name as such to them and those earlier breastplates like you mentioned would not even have made the list of objects and simply been dumped. The fact this is not what happens indicate fully separate object. Personally I think this is what happens with backplates. I figure they were considered part of the pair of plates and then cuirass so they failed to make the date until later when the 15th century goes into hyper detail mode.

Do not know about faulds so I'd not use them but that is where I'd start.

We also do have fragments of what would have been a full breastplate in Southampton England. The material in the pit with it dated at the latest to 1350. The way the rivet arcs went on the chest of the breastplate highly suggest standalone and full breastplate over pair of plates. The pit had material from the 13th even. It has been dated to 1300-1350.

RPM
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Julian Behle




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Jun, 2013 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for the explenation Randall. Your view makes sence and I agree with you on the estimation that we can roughly calculate the timeframe of how both breastplates and backplates occured and that the sources (or lets say hints in them) we have may not catch the exact year in many cases out of their limitation and a different approuch to listing pieces of armour. I did not consider that.

Do you have some sources of this very early English excavations? I'd love to see them.

As you call it the way " how medieval literature works" I did not know that we'd come to that point concerning breastplates. Mentioning a seperate piece of armour seperatly makes sence. It is just that we have pictorial sources as well. Some literery ones might help to date a breast/backplate earlier and indicate different types. For sure, most pictures of 14th century breastplates show these typically strapped stand alone solid plate when they are worn over the surcoat. The Pistoia Alter piece is the most splendid example of early breastplates (in 3D!) but we rarely have such pieces. The fact that the main plate of a pair of plates may not have been called a breastplate does not disqualify it as a breastplate, perhaps only literally and out of the medieval point of view.
If I take you right, I am not quite sure if we can or should distinguish between them. It depends on what we are heading for. I would call those two harnesses breastplates joined with a pair of plates or a backplate. The first one is small but I would call it an early form if it were historical. (Which it isn't hence is not good for anything) There is a later breastplate in Munich which is covered in some fabric and has some faulds and presumably had a segmented back like the Lincoln piece. I would call it a breastplate nontheless.
If we do distinguish, we are talking about white breastplates (still frequently worn under a surcoat but not riveted to and covered by a pair of plates). Consequently it moves the timeframe of the early breastplate's high end status a little backward in time and replaces it with the more solid stand alone breastplate.

So in short terms: At Poitier probably a stand alone breastplate worn by others than the very magnates. And at Crecy only a few of them worn by the wealthiest but perhaps some more pair of plates-like ones for the not that wealthy nobles.

I just have to ask. When would you settle the more pair of plates-like breastplates? I am still indecisive which kind of plate fits better to my armour (rather Poitier than Crecy).
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 12 Jun, 2013 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Julian,

Sure. This is the work. There are two volumes. This is the one you should look into for this is one as the other is the fortifications. Overall an amazing thing. This really is the silver lining of a truly terrible and horrific experience as the town was in ruins and with heavy casualties during the war but it did expose things they had not seen for hundreds of years.

http://books.google.com/books/about/Excavatio...giAQAAIAAJ

I actually got to handle the object in question. It looks like it still has some type of fabric weave still imprinted on the top layer on the metal! The way I am fairly sure it is not a top plate of a pair of plates (My first impulse after reviewing their dates) was after seeing it I made a full size diagram and realized the rivets would have stopped movement unless the lower plates were not attached to the fabric which from remaining armours and art unlikely. Then I looked at their dating thinking they just misdated it but their method at getting it was very solid. So to me the 1300 to 1350 still seems right. My guess is that it looked very much like the Munich covered breastplate but may not have had faulds.

As to the use of the term pair of plate or breastplate for this part of the 14th century. The set up is pretty straight forward for how I do it. The real question is is it 100%.... likely not. Medieval writers hardly every are consistent, sometimes the same person is inconsistent. As of now I have never seen the term breastplate used in an account with detail refer to a multi-plate chest set up for the above the navel (I think that says clearly what I mean) but I have seen clear accounts detail this multi-plate above the navel set up as plates or pairs of plates. Even later split vertically chest plates seem to be called plates fairly often and I have not seen called breastplates.

To me the more likely type of item termed breastplates for circa Crecy are not like those you have posted by like this one.

The Hirshstein castle find. http://www.hermann-historica.de/auktion52/presse_gb.htm This is a breastplate. It may have been covered but to me looks like a full breastplate with faulds to me, but I suspect they would call this a.... pair of plates. All those extra plates on it still.

Yet if you take off everything and leave that breastplate section uncovered and alone... that is a very solid breastplate. They may have been a bit larger or some smaller but around this look, design and size. So if I were making a Crecy breastplate (1346) it'd look more like this shaping wise and perhaps include pair of plates style faulds for the uppers and nothing for the more common knights just this over the mail hauberk.

As for Poitiers I'd think they would be much more akin to those of the Pistoia Alter, a decade of development at least the more state-of-the art ones. Likely less than a decade apart from design of molds and such from the battle I think they are close enough to entertain their presence. My guess is that pairs of plates were still very common for the average knight but that breastplates were showing up fairly often as well. So we could likely see breastplates like the Hirschstein, Pistoia alter and such with more simple cops (Think some of the simple Wisby ones) and more developed ones (some of the more fit Wisby ones and the Kussnacht).

Now back to those smallish breastplate like plates you posted. They may indeed have been breastplates in function but until I find the use of the terms commonly translate as breastplate I would by cautious in terming them such. Would plates like have been used at Crecy, I bet they were and would love to see more of them in Reenactment. I was thinking of making something like the Hirshstein actually. Further that does not mean these were not the grandfathers of the breastplate either. Clearly men started with these plates and the plates increased until we have the Hirschstein and Pistoia type pairs of plates and further. The use of the COP style faulds and back (see the Lincoln 'Fall of Pride" knight" with breastplates likely was a simple continuation of older pair of plates systems.

Now for the kicker.... when do they have large enough plates while still covered become breastplates.... I have no idea. My guess is when there is only one chest plate above the navel but this is simply an educated guess.

If I were guessing how the breakdown was for cops to breastplates in Crecy I'd say by far most are in plates with very limited use of 'breastplates'. I am sure some knights had more old fashioned flattish cops and others more developed ones.

By Poitiers I suspect the breastplate is not longer limited to the top but still in the minority. Those breastplate could be of the riveted cover or without but most would likely have a surcoat over them.

Hope that help!


RPM
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