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Tristan Gillies




Location: Queensland, Australia
Joined: 06 Jul 2009

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2013 10:20 pm    Post subject: A Kit: Chaucer's "Yeoman"         Reply with quote

I have been interested in developing a kit concerning a "Yeoman" for some time. There are three hobby elements I am progressively pursuing; Sword and Buckler, Archery (specifically off the hand archery hoping to develop up to "warbow" capability one day) and Woods-lore/Bushcraft by getting out and about.

As I am two months from graduating by B.Arts History & Literature one of my favourite novels that cemented my 1st year Lit. studies was Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales". Fascinated by his Prologue depictions of The Knight, The Squire but most of all The Yeoman. Granted his bias to different social elements largely may of been due to whom he was in service to but he painted such a flattering and detailed picture of the Yeoman to the Knight that its frankly charmed me ever since, pushing me to study more into 12th to 14th Century Yeoman Archers.

So I am looking towards developing a Yeoman Archers kit but themed specifically on Chaucer's description of his Yeoman.

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/CT-prolog-para.html - Scroll down to "The Yeoman". Lines 101 - 117


But in all this I am looking for peoples opinions on how to go about acquiring/developing some elements:

1) Line 104 - "A sheaf of peacock arrows bright and keen" - Now I am assuming that arrows were not fletched in ACTUAL peacock feathers, rather Chaucer is referring to the colours of the fletching. Likely more than white standard (goose) they would be painted. Does anyone have an opinion/reference into what style of colours the "peacock" fletching may of been ?

2) Line 112 - "And at one side a sword and buckler, yea" - Buckler yes but as for sword I am wondering if set about Late 14th Century what type of pattern of sword would this Yeoman likely carried (by Oakeshott's Typology), a Type XIV or an XV or another type if people think more apt. Considering this is around 100 Years War time its tricky to judge.

3) Lines 113 - 114 - "And at the other side a dagger bright, Well sheathed and sharp as spear point in the light" - I was wondering what pattern of dagger would he have carried, being English and around Later 13th Century. I don't know if the reference to "spear" denoted it is double edged or just poetic licence.

4) Line 115 - "On breast a Christopher of silver sheen" - The big, tricky one. The Christopher obviously being a pendant of Saint Christopher, patron saint of foresters, travellers, etc. But I am thinking the modern oval one being inappropriate. Does anyone know of a place that has an image of a medieval Saint Christopher medal or even if there is anywhere one can buy a recreation of this pendant. Likely not but an image I could take to a silversmith for recreation would be good.

So please feel free to comment or give an opinion of the directions of my Yeoman's Kit I should take or recommendations for further study into this. Thanks guys.
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2013 10:48 pm    Post subject: Re: A Kit: Chaucer's "Yeoman"         Reply with quote

Tristan Gillies wrote:

1) Line 104 - "A sheaf of peacock arrows bright and keen" - Now I am assuming that arrows were not fletched in ACTUAL peacock feathers, rather Chaucer is referring to the colours of the fletching. Likely more than white standard (goose) they would be painted. Does anyone have an opinion/reference into what style of colours the "peacock" fletching may of been ?


Why not actual peacock feathers? They work, and work well. Peacock wing feathers, of course, not the decorative tail feathers. Goose, peacock, and swan all work well. If no peacocks are locally available, you can order them, e.g., http://www.arbalistarmoury.co.uk/index.php?ma...cts_id=249 (I don't know of a good local commercial source; if you order from outside Australia, you might want to check with Quarantine first).

Might be a nice touch to use the authentic Chaucerian feather rather than the modern turkey.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 24 Sep, 2013 1:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For swords, you have more options than you think. You could go with a Type XV, which would be a pretty classic choice. I think an XIV would be a touch late for Chaucer's Yeoman, although not entirely improbable. But you could also consider a hollow ground Type Xa, like Albion's Oakeshott, as a possible example. Even swords like Albion's Knight could work, since there are quite a few Type XII swords found in the 14th century. Don't forget that XVI swords were used for quite a while in the 14th century too, so they could be an option as well.

Some Xa swords, XII, XIV, XV, or XVa could all work. Of these, the XV swords most perfectly fit in your desired time period, but I would encourage you to get whatever style of sword speaks most to you.

For the dagger, you might want a very early style of bollock dagger, or a baselard. You could also consider an early style of quillon dagger, although there's fewer of these dating to the 14th century than the 15th and 16th centuries, so you'd have to search carefully. Doing a review, it seems that the early rondel daggers fit perfectly for your time period, which gives you a fair number of options. Go with what you like.

If I was doing this kit, I'd do either an XV or XVI sword, along with a baselard.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 24 Sep, 2013 1:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As for the St. Christopher pilgrim's badge, here you go (scroll down until you see St. Christopher): http://www.pewterreplicas.com/dept.asp?id=32
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Dorian B.





Joined: 20 Aug 2005

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue 24 Sep, 2013 1:14 am    Post subject: Re: A Kit: Chaucer's "Yeoman"         Reply with quote

[quote="Tristan Gillies"]

4) Line 115 - "On breast a Christopher of silver sheen" - The big, tricky one. The Christopher obviously being a pendant of Saint Christopher, patron saint of foresters, travellers, etc. But I am thinking the modern oval one being inappropriate. Does anyone know of a place that has an image of a medieval Saint Christopher medal or even if there is anywhere one can buy a recreation of this pendant. Likely not but an image I could take to a silversmith for recreation would be good.



I think that a yeoman might be more likely to wear a badge than a pendant. Billy and Charlie's sell a pewter St. Christopher badge, http://billyandcharlie.com/pietas.html While this is dated to the mid 15th century, something like this would give a "silver sheen".
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 24 Sep, 2013 1:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The one I've posted above is dated to the 14th century; assuming that this date is accurate, it would probably be the better choice.
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Tristan Gillies




Location: Queensland, Australia
Joined: 06 Jul 2009

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Tue 24 Sep, 2013 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Awesome responses, thanks guys great feedback.

Thanks for the references to the badge. Yeah Chaucer states: "On breast" as opposed to neck so this would signify more a badge than a pendant on a necklace or thong.

I was thinking rondel dagger, early rondel might certainly be the ticket, but were they prevalent in England as much as they were in Germany of that period ? Chaucer explains everything in such detail that his mention of the dagger "as a spear" seems to allude to it being double edged, perhaps diamond cross sectioned and maybe sheathed in more than a simple leather scabbard (metal chape and/or throat). Then again it could be a well made ballock dagger too. I suppose having it open to interpretation makes it interesting.

Pity Chaucer says nothing hinting to the hilt profile of the dagger nor the blade of the sword (we assume single handed due to the buckler and his occupation as an archer/forester). Could be a falchion for all we know but I'm inclined to think double edged.

I dabbled in the idea that some of the Yeoman's kit may of been granted to him by his master: "The Knight" and the Knight's exploits may give some indication, Prussia might suggest the rondel aspect. But seen as though it's not mentioned that the Yeoman had much to do with the Knight overseas lead's me to assume that he is "all-native" and his kit likely very British in design.

If anyone has other opinions I would love to hear them.
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Glennan Carnie




Location: UK
Joined: 23 Aug 2006

Posts: 289

PostPosted: Wed 25 Sep, 2013 4:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're looking to create an earlier Yeoman image, you could do worse than this chap from the Luttrell psalter:

http://www.marcherfreemen.org.uk/Luttrell_Archer.jpg

For a later woodsman, closer to Chaucer's time-frame (although slightly later), I would look to these fellows from Le Livre de Chasse Gaston Phebus (in the foreground)

http://newsletter14.dogdotcom.be/medias/enluminures.jpg
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Jonathan Blair




Location: Hanover, PA
Joined: 15 Aug 2005
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Posts: 479

PostPosted: Wed 25 Sep, 2013 8:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tristan Gillies wrote:
I was thinking rondel dagger, early rondel might certainly be the ticket, but were they prevalent in England as much as they were in Germany of that period ? Chaucer explains everything in such detail that his mention of the dagger "as a spear" seems to allude to it being double edged, perhaps diamond cross sectioned and maybe sheathed in more than a simple leather scabbard (metal chape and/or throat). Then again it could be a well made ballock dagger too. I suppose having it open to interpretation makes it interesting.

Another option for the dagger would be the baselard. Arms and Armor's Aunlaz dagger is based on a 14th Century English baselard, and Tod's Stuff has a nice example. Rondel daggers were coming into vogue in the mid 14th Century, so it may be a bit fashion forward for an English commoner like the Yeoman.

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - The Lord Jesus Christ, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter x, verse 34, Authorized Version of 1611
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,276

PostPosted: Wed 25 Sep, 2013 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

FWIW, here's the early 15th century Ellesmere Chaucer miniatures, which are a bit late for your portrayal.
http://dpg.lib.berkeley.edu/webdb/dsheh/heh_b...amp;page=1

Cannon's Yeoman.
http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/ds/hunt...03106A.jpg

The Knight with dagger
http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/ds/hunt...03079A.jpg

The Miller, with his sword and buckler
http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/ds/hunt...03080A.jpg

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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