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Will Phillips





Joined: 19 Mar 2014

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2014 12:06 pm    Post subject: Flat-Topped Kites, Ailettes, & Early Plate c.1300?         Reply with quote

Hello all,

First post here. I'm trying to sort out some the plausibility of a kit / persona I'm wanting to put together roughly between 1290-1310.

I've done a lot of looking at different manuscipts and effigies and at this point, I think I've got myself more confused than anything.

I love the looks of the tall flat-topped kite shields and I like the look of ailetes. At the same time, I'm fascinated by the early appearances of transitional plate in the form of poleyns, courtiers, shynbalds/demi-greaves, and armored surcoats / coats of plate. William Fitzralph's effigy is dated to what, 1320, and he's got limb plate a'plenty.

i.e. I'm trying to have my cake and eat it, too.

The ailetes are present enough during that time frame, but the kites seem to be pretty well extinct by then. Poleyns and shynbalds are starting to show up with frequency, and every once in a while an elbow courtier is shown. Would putting that all together into a single kit (don't have the hobby budget to put together multiple setups) be acceptable for 1290-1310? Or would the shield be a no-go?

Something like this spectacular sketch here (missing a helmet).

Early splinted vambraces, three-quarter-length mail sleeves, and segmented Wisby-style gauntlets are probably completely out of the question, though, right? That's another aesthetic I really like, but from what I recall, about 1330 is as early as I've seen anything like that.

To top it all off (literally), I'm looking at either a classic great helm (no sugarloaf?), cervelliere, or kettle helm, right?
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Mart Shearer




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

Posts: 1,280

PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2014 1:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For 1290-1310, a flat-topped kite shield is indeed out of date. Escutcheons (heater shields) might extend from roughly shoulder to hip, and kite-like shields could be found in use by infantry, but they wouldn't have the level of armor you want. Here's two miniatures from the Manesse Codex from c. 1305 to illustrate the point.
http://diglit.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglitData...4/026r.jpg
http://diglit.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglitData...4/043v.jpg

The couters on the elbows are around, but depictions are rare. The half-vambrace splints are really going to be tough to document. As you note, the Fitzralph effigy post-dates this period. Splinted leather is indeed decades past your cut off. Armoring the legs with poleyns and schynbalds/skinbeaux and gamboissed cuisses is more normal than seeing reinforcement on the arms over the mail.

Sugarloafs are certainly around, and are probably more common than the flat-topped great helms after 1275, at least in English and French sources.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Will Phillips





Joined: 19 Mar 2014

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2014 5:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
For 1290-1310, a flat-topped kite shield is indeed out of date. Escutcheons (heater shields) might extend from roughly shoulder to hip, and kite-like shields could be found in use by infantry, but they wouldn't have the level of armor you want. Here's two miniatures from the Manesse Codex from c. 1305 to illustrate the point.
http://diglit.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglitData...4/026r.jpg
http://diglit.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglitData...4/043v.jpg

The couters on the elbows are around, but depictions are rare. The half-vambrace splints are really going to be tough to document. As you note, the Fitzralph effigy post-dates this period. Splinted leather is indeed decades past your cut off. Armoring the legs with poleyns and schynbalds/skinbeaux and gamboissed cuisses is more normal than seeing reinforcement on the arms over the mail.

Sugarloafs are certainly around, and are probably more common than the flat-topped great helms after 1275, at least in English and French sources.


I appreciate the reply! I've read very oblique references to the kites sticking around until later in the 13th. Do you have any guesses as to how late a kit I could put together and still appropriately use them?

And that's interesting about the sugarloaf! I thought it came into being in the early 14th.
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Mart Shearer




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

Posts: 1,280

PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Will Phillips wrote:
I appreciate the reply! I've read very oblique references to the kites sticking around until later in the 13th. Do you have any guesses as to how late a kit I could put together and still appropriately use them?

And that's interesting about the sugarloaf! I thought it came into being in the early 14th.


The flat-top kites seem fairly common up until about 1225, gradually fading out between then and c.1250. Perhaps the size of the shield was reduced as pairs of plates began to be worn over mail? Sugarloafs seem contemporary with ailettes, roughly used from c.1275-1350. The categorization of "sugarloaf" is broad, covering probably three forms of differing construction of pointed and rounded-top great helms. Visored examples seem more common after 1325 or so.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Will Phillips





Joined: 19 Mar 2014

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2014 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
Will Phillips wrote:
I appreciate the reply! I've read very oblique references to the kites sticking around until later in the 13th. Do you have any guesses as to how late a kit I could put together and still appropriately use them?

And that's interesting about the sugarloaf! I thought it came into being in the early 14th.


The flat-top kites seem fairly common up until about 1225, gradually fading out between then and c.1250. Perhaps the size of the shield was reduced as pairs of plates began to be worn over mail? Sugarloafs seem contemporary with ailettes, roughly used from c.1275-1350. The categorization of "sugarloaf" is broad, covering probably three forms of differing construction of pointed and rounded-top great helms. Visored examples seem more common after 1325 or so.


Again, I appreciate the reply.

Do you count the visored sugarloafs are one of your three forms?

Out of my own ignorance, I have seen two major variations, what I would call the larger, more barrel-like sugarloaf and a more steamlined version. My presumption is the streamlined version with the curvature in the back is a later design, but I could be wrong as the larger version would allow the use of a seperate proto-bascinet under it.



vs

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Mart Shearer




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

Posts: 1,280

PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2014 6:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Will Phillips wrote:
Mart Shearer wrote:
The categorization of "sugarloaf" is broad, covering probably three forms of differing construction of pointed and rounded-top great helms. Visored examples seem more common after 1325 or so.


Again, I appreciate the reply.

Do you count the visored sugarloafs are one of your three forms?

Out of my own ignorance, I have seen two major variations, what I would call the larger, more barrel-like sugarloaf and a more steamlined version. My presumption is the streamlined version with the curvature in the back is a later design, but I could be wrong as the larger version would allow the use of a seperate proto-bascinet under it.


I was concerned I might have written too broadly, and fear I am correct. That said, this isn't a thesis which I have spent a lot of time developing, but one that's been mulling for a while.

I don't really count the visors and barbers as a separate form, but rather a subset, i.e. Type I, Type Ia, Type Ib, etc.. I think the forms are distinguished in the artwork by construction. When modern writers named this style of helm a sugarloaf, they had in mind the ogival form of the cakes or loaves in which sugar used to be commonly sold.

Here we see Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro.


I think the earliest types (shall we designate this Type I?) are distinguished by side seams which run vertically all the way to the apex. The backs are a single plate. The cross reinforce often extends to the top point of the helmet.
http://effigiesandbrasses.com/732/1007/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3971/10448/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4348/13478/


Type II is similar, but the back is clearly made from two plates, upper and lower. It's not quite certain to me if the front is divided in a similar way, as there is usually a cross reinforce which would hide any horizontal join there.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4054/11488/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4135/7293/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4807/11838/
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b8454675g/f95.item

Type III has a separate conical or domed top plate. I think this is similar to the kübelhelm (bucket helm), Madeln II. The line between these as sugarloafs and great helms with domed tops like the Pembridge or RA IV.20 is blurry.
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3943/10847/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3971/10510/
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4167/7506/

There may be more categories, but that's a start of how I'm seeing it.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Will Phillips





Joined: 19 Mar 2014

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Fri 28 Mar, 2014 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's a very thorough overview. Thank you!

Does the surviving documentation seem to indicate any of these forms being more prevelant in a certain location or being particularly earlier or later than the others? Or would all be more-or-less valid?

I'm going for a c. 1295-1315 Polish/Hungarian look, which would certainly have a good amount of German influence.

I've got a really big head, so buying something in-stock and off the rack won't work for me. Any armorers you could recommend? I haven't the foggiest on who is reputable and who isn't.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,436

PostPosted: Sun 30 Mar, 2014 9:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i'm curious on the subjectof ailettes, whats the consensus on their purpose, were they just for identification or did someof them have a protective value..?
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 31 Mar, 2014 12:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By the way, flat topped kite shields were still in existence at least as late as 1350 AD. See, for instance, this image from Manuscript Miniatures, below. So, although they were not common, one could certainly use one for a warrior circa 1290-1310 AD, provided you wanted him to have slightly older equipment.

The information about the manuscript and its provenance can be found here: http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4040/11513/



 Attachment: 30.55 KB
Flat top kite 1350.jpg

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 31 Mar, 2014 12:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
i'm curious on the subjectof ailettes, whats the consensus on their purpose, were they just for identification or did someof them have a protective value..?


The consensus is that ailettes were simply for heraldic display, and nothing more.
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Mart Shearer




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

Posts: 1,280

PostPosted: Mon 31 Mar, 2014 5:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
By the way, flat topped kite shields were still in existence at least as late as 1350 AD. See, for instance, this image from Manuscript Miniatures, below. So, although they were not common, one could certainly use one for a warrior circa 1290-1310 AD, provided you wanted him to have slightly older equipment.

The information about the manuscript and its provenance can be found here: http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4040/11513/


Looks like a data entry error at Manuscript Miniatures, of which I notified him for correction. The actual attribution is Bib. Ste. Genevieve MS.1126 fo111v. Correct links to the miniature, page description, and manuscript images follow.
http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/Wave/savima...8136-p.jpg
http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/public/mist...8=D-047877
http://www.enluminures.culture.fr/documentati...502-01.htm

It's from a Roman de la Rose, and shows an allegorical combat between "Honte et de Bien Cacher" (Shame and "Well Hidden or Covered") I would hesitate using an allegorical veiled woman's shield as knightly gear. This is not to say such large shields were unknown in siege work.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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