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Kevin Coleman M.




PostPosted: Fri 26 Jan, 2018 11:00 pm    Post subject: The Targe         Reply with quote

I am interested in the use of targe type shields by the Scots and other Gaelic people. In Ancient Scottish Weapons, Joseph Anderson cites a law regarding their construction, stating "The use of the target in Scotland was not confined to the Highlands. The statutory equipment appointed by the Act of 1425, for such yeomen or burgesses as were not archers, was “sword and buckler, and a good axe or broggit staff;” and in 1481 the axemen who had neither spear nor bow were required to provide themselves with targes “of tree “or leather, according to patterns which were sent to each of the sheriffs. The watchers of the burgh of Peebles, in 1569, were armed with jack and spear, sword and buckler." I take "of tree" to be a reference to the cross lain, doweled boards that would ordinarily be covered with leather. Does the "or leather" refer to a leather skin? Or is there any evidence of a targe made entirely of leather? It seems that would be of limited use, unless the object of a leather targe is to catch a thrust.
Let a man never stir on his road a step
without his weapons of war;
for unsure is the knowing when need shall arise
of a spear on the way without.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jan, 2018 11:50 pm    Post subject: Re: The Targe         Reply with quote

Kevin Coleman M. wrote:
Or is there any evidence of a targe made entirely of leather? It seems that would be of limited use, unless the object of a leather targe is to catch a thrust.


1. Use rawhide rather than leather.

2. If you want/need more thickness, use multiple layers.

There are plenty of rawhide shields out there, and if thick enough, they worked well. I don't know of any surviving Scottish examples.

This "tree or leather" has been discussed before, and Irish "leather" (rawhide?) shields were mentioned: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=23084

"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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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jan, 2018 5:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Those targes still in existence were made of wood and covered with leather, not rawhide. I think the reference you cited is referring to shields made of wood only, i.e. without a leather cover, versus those of wood with a leather cover.
Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Geoffroy Gautier





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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jan, 2018 5:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Out of curiosity, I had bought a full skin of dry bull rawhide, which is about 4mm thick or so. You have no idea how tough that is. I had to cut it with snips, and I would compare it with 2mm thick steel for the force required to cut it, but unlike steel it stays straight after the cut (metal tends to curl). It is very stiff and doesn't tear. It's actually quite comparable to a modern, impact-resistant plastic like polypropylene, only much stiffer for the weight.
The trouble is that it's very responsive to humidity. Not just a few drops of water, but it has to be stored in a dry place. For the moment I still have most of the skin rolled, but I'm pretty sure if I was to shape it as a shield (which would be quite a tedious process), the finished shield would often deform and warp as humidity in the atmosphere changes. Maybe it could be oiled and waxed to prevent this, though.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jan, 2018 6:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Semantics are important when discussing technical issues. The targe was a pretty large shield. Froissart described a wounded knight being carried off the field on one so they were fairly substantial. The target was the smaller buckler-type version. The word target literally means "little targe".
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Henry O.





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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jan, 2018 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Semantics are important when discussing technical issues. The targe was a pretty large shield. Froissart described a wounded knight being carried off the field on one so they were fairly substantial. The target was the smaller buckler-type version. The word target literally means "little targe".


If only the English were as good at knowing what the difference was. By the 16th century they tend to just call everything a target.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Jan, 2018 4:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The way I see it, we shouldn't imagine that the word targe applied to any particular type of shield. Generally speaking the words targe and shield were synonyms and could be used interchangeably. So when we see the word targe in 15th century legislation we shouldn't take this as strong evidence for the Highland style targe at this time.

The description given for these targes suggests that they could be made from wood OR leather, not both. Of course this doesn't match what we know of Highland targes. As far as I'm concerned these targes mentioned in legislation have nothing to do with Highland targes, they are interesting in their own right though.

Éirinn go Brách
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2018 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
The target was the smaller buckler-type version. The word target literally means "little targe".


This no longer applied by the mid-16th century at the latest. We know that "target" was pretty much the literal translation of the Italian rotella or Spanish rodela in the late 16th century and into the 17th. This was a large or medium-sized shield strapped to the arm and most certainly not a buckler.
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