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Adam M.M.





Joined: 02 Aug 2014

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Mon 13 Jul, 2015 8:00 am    Post subject: Arms and armour of WotR English men-at-arms         Reply with quote

I know English armies in this period were composed mostly of archers with some men-at-arms (and perhaps billmen?), and I presume the men-at-arms were all more heavily armoured than the archers, but how well-armoured were they? Would they all have had complete harnesses or was that reserved for just the wealthiest among them?

I'm also wondering if weapons like bills and falchions (by "falchion" I mean something like the Wakefield sword) which I associate (perhaps incorrectly) with common soldiers were ever used by men-at-arms? And likewise if more "knightly" weapons such as longswords were used by archers or other common soldiers.
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Pieter B.





Joined: 16 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Jul, 2015 10:21 am    Post subject: Re: Arms and armour of WotR English men-at-arms         Reply with quote

Adam M.M. wrote:
I know English armies in this period were composed mostly of archers with some men-at-arms (and perhaps billmen?), and I presume the men-at-arms were all more heavily armoured than the archers, but how well-armoured were they? Would they all have had complete harnesses or was that reserved for just the wealthiest among them?

I'm also wondering if weapons like bills and falchions (by "falchion" I mean something like the Wakefield sword) which I associate (perhaps incorrectly) with common soldiers were ever used by men-at-arms? And likewise if more "knightly" weapons such as longswords were used by archers or other common soldiers.


The WotR is not something I know an awful lot about but I can say a few things.

By definition men-at-arms were the people capable of buying, maintaining and fighting as heavy cavalry in full plate armor. If you could not buy plate armor you were not a men-at-arms in the usual definition.

So the gentry and perhaps rich civilians who had enough money to buy plate armor were by definition men-at-arms. Whether they actually fought in full plate armor in every battle (where they were often deployed as infantry) is something I cannot say. I can imagine some might not wear a plate bevor but instead go for a mail collar or some chose a brigandine over a breastplate, some might even have not worn plate protection on the feet. Someone more knowledgeable might know this.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jul, 2015 7:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Correction: men-at-arms, by definition, could afford full armour. Not necessarily full plate armour. The language of many muster regulations and military contracts hint at this -- "armed" was a common term, "fully armed at all points" or "with full harness" were very common too, but "with full harness of plate" seems to have been used mostly in a descriptive manner for individual men-at-arms rather than as a prescriptive requirement for the class. This usually left considerable room for variation as long as the man-at-arms in question was covered from head to toe in some form of armour. Of course, the meanings of terms and military norms shifted over time and by the 16th century there does seem to be an expectation that a man-at-arms should be able to afford a full harness of plate, but I'm not so sure that it would already have been the case by the Wars of the Roses.
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