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Pedro Paulo Gaião

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PostPosted: Sat 07 Oct, 2017 6:13 am    Post subject: Subjects related to Burgundian Armies         Reply with quote

I was reading some books and viewing contemporary artwork regarding the Burgundian Army of 1470's and I found odd that sometimes the foot isn't wearing the equipment prescribed by the Ordinances; sometimes with heavier but in other instance lighter armor. Look the image attached, for example. Now look the ordinances I find stating what armor does the mounted archers should have:

1471 Ordonnance of Charles the Bold wrote:
L’archer sera monté sur un cheval de 10 écus au moins, habillé d’une jaque à haut collet tenant lieu de gorgerin, avec bonnes manches; il portera une cotte de mailles ou paletot de haubergerie dessous cette jaque qui sera de 12 toiles au moins dont 3 de toile cirée et 9 de toile commune.

The archer shall be mounted on a horse worth at least 10 écus, wearing a jack with high collar in place of a gorget, with good sleeves; he will wear a coat of mail or paletot of mail-work below this jack which will be of 12 cloths, at least 3 of which will be waxed cloth and 9 of common cloth.

A Later Ordonnance of Charles the Bold wrote:

La jaque qui couvre le paletot de haubergerie sera de 10 toiles (au lieu de 12), ils joindront à leur armure, demi avant-bras à petites gardes et manches d’acier pendant jusqu’au coude, assez larges pour ne point les gêner lorsqu’ils tireront.

The jack which covers the paletot of mail-work will be of 10 cloths (instead of 12), it's joined with their armor, half vambraces with small guards and steel (mail) sleeves hanging to the elbow, wide enough not to disturb the draw.

When a foot soldier isn't wearing the required equipment of the ordinances, whether heavier or lighter, do you think he's actually a levied feudal soldier or a mercenary that isn't related to the Standing Army? Or that would be the case for lighter armor only, as if soldiers of the standing army could wear heavier armor than what was prescribed?

The soldier behind the archers are surely men-at-arms, but they aren't using the equipment that wasn't prescribed in the Ordinances (the fauchard and the infantry spear). The archers aren't either using the two-handed swords they were required too.

Ian Heath also says that there were armored billmen (with both arms unprotected except for gauntlets) represented in Diebold Schilling's pictures of the Battle of Grandson. Knowing the Ordinances didn't prescribe such category of billmen, why there are in the manuscript? Perhaps billmen were put in the same category of the pikemen in the documents?

I found contradictory information in George Gush's Renassaince Armies and Osprey's Armies of Medieval Burgundy. The former saying he says the culveriniers, crossbowmen and pikemen were only added to the lance by Charles' late campaigns (myArmoury Article) and the latter saying they were added already by Abbeville's Ordinance of 1471 (pp. 11). Which one is correct?


There is evidence (artistic one, at least) for crossbowmen on horses. However, in the Ordinances, the crossbowmen were foot soldier without the mount. Were they put in the category of the mounted archers? That means they would fight on foot, right? Charles didn't have literal cavalry crossbowmen by that time, like the Swiss?


Before the Ordinance, man-at-arms were paid differently. The categories included knights bannerets, knight bachelor and squires. But those were all of nobility-ranked caracter. A man-at-arms of non-noble origins would be simply put in the category of squires? When the ordinances were created, the knights entered en masse in the Standing Army or continued to be feudal troops who were paid differently?


Armies of Medieval Burgundy wrote:
From then on, we find Sir John
Middleton captain of an entirely English company
of ordinance in Duke Charles's army, and in 1476
there were 780 mounted English archers in the ducal household guard.
At the same time he transformed the household troops, increasing them in 1474 to an elite force of about 40 mounted
chamberlains and gentlemen, and a personal bodyguard of 126 men-at-arms and 126 archers . In 1476 the household troops consisted of 400 infantry,and the guard included four 100-strong companies of mounted English archers. On the eve of the battle of Morat the household troops alone numbered over 2,000 combatants.

(pp. 9-10)

Charles dropped the men-at-arms from his ducal househould? Besides archers, what kind of foot there was in the household troops?

 Attachment: 197.6 KB
Burgundian Foot of 1480 [ Download ]

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
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Lars Huijs

Joined: 20 Sep 2016

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PostPosted: Thu 09 Nov, 2017 3:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Replying to follow this topic. I'm also looking into the varying grades of equipment for Burgundian foot.
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Pieter B.

Joined: 16 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Nov, 2017 5:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The image you attached has been discussed before and while there is no consensus some ideas have been put forward.

It is possible that the ordinnance set down a lower limit for the level of armour and that people were free to wear more. In another ordinnance men-at-arms are required to get barding for the front of their horses but it doesn't say anything about additional armour. The horse of the archer is said to be worth at least 10 ecus but there is no mention of more expensive horses being forbidden.

The archers in the picture are shown with high riding boots, armour that looks like plate or brigandine, multiple types of collar and an open sallet. The gorget would be forbidden if we read the ordinnance closely, however the date of the picture isn't certain so it could have been made after Charles the Bold had kicked the bucket.

The soldiers with the polearms behind them are either archers themselves equipped with melee weapons or coutilliers who where themselves mounted. In earlier ordinnances they were required to turn up moderately heavy armoured and weapon polearms such as spears or glaives.

A second drawing by the same artists shows the fully armoured men-at-arms and the mounted crossbow men accompanying them.
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Lafayette C Curtis

Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2017 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Pieter in that the soldiers standing behind the archers don't look like men-at-arms. They could be coustilliers as he said, or heavy infantry hired to make up shortfalls in the numbers of pikemen, or something else entirely -- but not men-at-arms. Besides, we have fairly strong evidence from actual service rolls that Charles the Bold's army included fairly significant numbers of troop types that weren't prescribed in the ordinances, such as glaive-men (mostly in his personal guard) and mercenary English archers (brigaded separately from the Ordonnance archers).
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