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Roger J Harris




Location: United States
Joined: 18 Dec 2013

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PostPosted: Wed 18 Dec, 2013 10:34 am    Post subject: Weaponry and armor of a conquistador         Reply with quote

I am writing a book about exploration of South America in the mid-1500s. (I am author of two books about the Amazon rainforest.)

My current research includes the typical weaponry and armor of a conquistador such as swords, morions, the arequebus, daggers and lance and so on. I want to ensure that any description I craft for readers is 100% accurate to our present knowledge.

I'd appreciate any resources or any information (books, websites, etc.) that would help me provide detailed descriptions. For example, what kind of sword or dagger would a conquistador wear? And if the rapier, for example, what kind of hilt would be typical of the early- to mid-1500s? What would be the cost of provisioning a soldier with a full complement of weaponry? Ideally, the information would be specific to South America, but any reference related to Spain would be most helpful.

I really need excruciating detail, which is lacking on Wikipedia and easy-to-find websites. Most important is that era. I really can't use any info much later than 1570.

Also, I am trying to reconstruct a duel between two Spanish officers of the time. I'd love some guidance on how I might do this. Can I rely on modern descriptions of dueling techniques, or are there contemporary descriptions that would be more authentic?
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Mart Shearer




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

Posts: 1,271

PostPosted: Wed 18 Dec, 2013 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Your most available introduction in English is likely
Peterson, H.L., ARMS & ARMOR IN COLONIAL AMERICA 1526-1783, Bramhall House, New York, NY, 1956

Calvert's old work may provide some insight as well.
https://archive.org/details/spanisharmsarmou00calvuoft


Muster Rolls from the North American Coronado expedition exist.
http://www.oakknoll.com/pages/books/89865/mus...e-coronado
http://mysite.verizon.net/calderonscompany/coromuster.html

A simple site search for "conquistador" brings up a number of threads worth review, for example:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=21883

Achille Marozzo's 1536 and 1538 publications should give a fair amount of information on "current" martial arts practices, if not dueling, per se.


Please keep in mind Portuguese involvement in Brazil, and German exploration in Venezuela, before relying solely on Spanish documents. Some regional or national differences exist, like the Portuguese "crab" or "testicles" hilt.


EDIT TO ADD: Since you mentioned it, the common comb morion, although stereotypically used to portray conquistadors, was not in use in the early to mid 1500s.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Dec, 2013 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You will find some info here: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_armies_spanish.html
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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Dec, 2013 1:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
EDIT TO ADD: Since you mentioned it, the common comb morion, although stereotypically used to portray conquistadors, was not in use in the early to mid 1500s.

Well just ruin my whole mental image why dontcha?

It's funny how compartimentalized knowledge can be in this hobby. I have a really strong grounding from 5th-12th C, but get fuzzy on either side of that. As an example, my mental image of a conquistador was still shaped by the media, and up until this comment I would have included a combed morion. I should have figured the popular depiction of the 16th C would probably be as accurate as their depiction of every other period (that is to say not at all).

So what style of helm was popular before the combed morion?

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Mart Shearer




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

Posts: 1,271

PostPosted: Wed 18 Dec, 2013 2:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sallets, kettle hats, early burgonets for most folks: Armets and close helms for the high and mighty
ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Roger J Harris




Location: United States
Joined: 18 Dec 2013

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed 18 Dec, 2013 8:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you everyone, for your help! I also thought the morion was de rigeur. Why is it that we see it so widely depicted if it was not widely used?
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Nathan Johnson




Location: Australia
Joined: 05 Apr 2008

Posts: 41

PostPosted: Wed 18 Dec, 2013 9:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The forerunner of the morion was a form of kettle hat with the brim turned down rather than up, often worn with a bevor


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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Wed 18 Dec, 2013 9:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

to the OP
you might wanna look at the evolution of the morion,

as for why it was so widely associated is likely because the tales of the spanish gold was partly spread around the time of francis drake, the spanish armada and queen Elizabeth the 1st, in the early 17th, late 16th centuries, where the morion WAS a VERY popular helmet type for pretty much everyone
i also believe that the spanish might have been a bit slower to change armaments and adope the late 17th century models so the image of them with morions might have stuck a bit longer..

and to nathan, that type of helmet was known as a cabacete and was a distinctly spanish and portuguese type of helmet
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Nathan Johnson




Location: Australia
Joined: 05 Apr 2008

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PostPosted: Wed 18 Dec, 2013 10:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote} and to nathan, that type of helmet was known as a cabacete and was a distinctly spanish and portuguese type of helmet[/quote]

lol, yes I'm fully aware of that, I'm actually putting together a Spanish kit of the early 1500's right now.( but I have only managed to get the Barbote type bevor and the rodela and sword so far.)

To the OP, also crossbows and some halberds were used and only a very few firearms were actually being carried while sword and shield armed troops made up the bulk.(armed with broader cut and trust swords rather than what modern people would think of as a rapier.)
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Raymond Deancona





Joined: 04 Mar 2004

Posts: 429

PostPosted: Thu 19 Dec, 2013 5:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another excellent source is "Small Arms of the Spanish Treasure Fleets" by Noel Wells. Heavily illustrated with good artifact photographs.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Dec, 2013 7:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Use this site's search function and search for "conquistador". You'll find many threads that will be of use.
-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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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Wed 25 Dec, 2013 10:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger J Harris wrote:
Thank you everyone, for your help! I also thought the morion was de rigeur. Why is it that we see it so widely depicted if it was not widely used?


Maybe because the actual equipment worn and used by most of the early Conquistadors looked too medieval. Most people aren't aware of just how much continuity (indeed, "overlap" would be a more accurate term) there was between the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. It doesn't help that contemporary accounts of the Conquistadors' exploits were often reprinted and excerpted later in the period, and these later editions were (naturally enough) illustrated with the arms and armour of their period. So an account of conquests in 1520s might get reprinted in the 1540s, 1560s, and 1570s, each time being illustrated with the panoply of the later period. And since the later reprints are often better typeset, not to mention that they were frequently produced in larger numbers than the original pressing (since the publisher knew they were "bestsellers" already), they're more likely to be preserved and to become the basis for studies done for modern scholars. For an inattentive scholar -- or one who doesn't have a clue about the rapid stylistic changes in arms and armour throughout the 16th century -- it'd be extremely easy to mistake these later editions' illustrations for accurate depictions of the arms and armour from the period being narrated.

And that's just one factor. William's idea of an Elizabethan bias certainly had an influence too, and I'm sure there are a few other factors that helped cement the morion's identity as a Spanish helmet in popular culture.
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Roger J Harris




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Fri 27 Dec, 2013 1:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These are wonderful insights and so helpful. My reference also includes a "lance". I normally think of this as the classic jousting lance. But this reference is to a foot soldier's weaponry, so that kind of lance would be a bit cumbersome! Would the type of lance be more like a pike (without the axe)?
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Wed 22 Jan, 2014 11:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Lance" and "spear" were largely interchangeable terms until we started ascribing more specific meanings to them. So "lance" here could mean anything from a relatively short spear to a full-sized pike (though mind that "pike" was also commonly used for shorter spears as well!). Do you happen to know the original untranslated word for this "lance?"
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Roger J Harris




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jan, 2014 5:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good question. I will see if I can find out...
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Karl Knisley




PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2014 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello
Would chainmail have been used by the conquistadors,or was it too hot and heavy for the jungle?

Thanks in advance
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2014 12:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Karl Knisley wrote:
Hello
Would chainmail have been used by the conquistadors,or was it too hot and heavy for the jungle?

Mail was a common type of armour among the Spanish invaders. It is myth that climate ever had an effect on what armour a soldier chose to wear. The heaviest armours ever invented were worn in the arid parts of the Middle East for thousands of years. I've worn several types of heavy armour, including a knee-length hauberk and plate harness, all day in the middle of an Australian summer with no difficulty. The Spanish started to adopt the native armours because it was easier to walk in them and they were readily available. Not because their own armour was too hot. Use the search function. All of this has been previously covered.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Michael Wiethop




Location: St. Louis
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2014 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I haven't been able to get a translation of Coronado's muster rolls, but I have read that many conquistadors on his expedition were listed as carrying "armas de la tierra," or "arms of the country," which were supposed to be weapons and armor from Mexico.

Now, I'm not sure if any of the men in the muster roll who were listed by name with their equipment were part of the big force of Mexican allies that joined Coronado, but when I think of Mexican arms and armor of the time, I think of things like the tepoztopilli, the macuahuitl, and the ichcahuipilli. Certainly the ichcahuipilli was very popular with the Spanish in the Americas at the time, but would Spanish conquistadors really be going on an expedition armed with Mexican obsidian weapons? Or might "arms of the country" mean steel arms made in Mexico?

There's a work by Richard Flint called "Armas de la Tierra: The Mexican Indian Component of Coronado. Expedition Material Culture," whose title seems to suggest that they were Mexican equipment, but I can't access it.
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2014 7:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here you go, Michael.

http://books.google.com/books?id=w2ESAiWaZkcC...mp;f=false

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Shahril Dzulkifli




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PostPosted: Sun 14 Dec, 2014 6:56 am    Post subject: Weaponry and armor of a conquistador         Reply with quote

The most familiar weapons of a conquistador were blunderbusses, muskets, halberds, arquebuses and of course, rapiers.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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