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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Joined: 14 Mar 2015

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PostPosted: Mon 22 Jul, 2019 11:40 am    Post subject: Helmet's visors for crossbowmen/harquebusiers         Reply with quote

Last month I got a really heated discussion with my colleagues in a portuguese medievalist page we publish regarding if the Besteiros do Conto (a portuguese elite militia comparable to the genoese crossbowmen) or any other missile-armed soldiers used their helmets with visors. The discussion also included if Swiss infantry ever used visored bascinets as well.

I discredited the idea since I hadn't found any artistic evidence for it, nor documental evidence or any ordinance prescribing it. Thing is, there is a portuguese historian saying a 14th c. Portuguese Ordinance do required visors, as it follows:

Quote:
"On the day scheduled for the event, after all the difficulties of summoning the individuals qualified to incorporate the militia had been overcome, those men should present themselves to the local Anadel [t.n. military officer of the crossbowmen] ... to be evaluated as to their ability to shoot with the crossbow, their socio-professional origin, their marital status, physical ability and age. If the candidate had the necessary conditions to join the militia, he would be given a period of six months to buy, with his own monetary goods, a good crossbow ( to which should be added 100 bolts), two darts (nt. intended for mid-ranged action), one bascinet with a visor, a belt and a polé [t.n. the thing used to pull the string]."


At first I became skeptical of the efficience of using a visored bascinet when shooting with a crossbow, actually, I was skeptical of any infantrymen (besides dismounted MAA) using a visored bascinet, but apparently a Swiss Manuscript shows an arquebusier with an visored bascinet:


A link if the image fails: https://www.facebook.com/age.craft/photos/a.210527595812236/1128136064051380/?type=3&theater

There is also an article of the University of Bern called "the armor of the common soldier in the late middle ages" of which mentions visored bascinets being owned by locals; since there wasn't knights or heavy cavalry in the swiss army, this helmets probably had intended use for foot (or perhaps mounted crossbowman action). Article: https://www.medievalists.net/2019/07/the-armour-of-the-common-soldier-in-the-late-middle-ages/

My main question is visored helmets (specially bascinets) was a more or less widespread practice and if it makes the shooting more difficult. My secondary question is why artistic evidence doesn't show infantrymen using much visored helmets

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jul, 2019 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can speak from personal experience when I say that firing any ranged weapon, be it crossbow or whatever, is extremely difficult to do and maintain any degree of accuracy.

I was having thoughts along these same lines once, and borrowed a friends crossbow--a modern hunting version. I donned my visored German sallet helm and fired several bolts at a bale of hay about 90-100 feet away---and completely missed all but two times. Without the helmet, solid hits every time. In the heat of battle, I could only see these types of weapons being of any advantage unless used 'en mass'---and without anything to even remotely hamper ones vision.

If you throw enough stones, you're bound to hit something...sometimes. Wink ..............McM

''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jul, 2019 12:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I probably shouldn't answer this since all my previous replies to these threads seem to have been ignored, but four quick points:

*There were actually knights and mounted cavalry in the Swiss armies. They were primarily infantry but certainly not all infantry. If you ever go to Switzerland you'll notice many knightly castles in the countryside just like everywhere else in Central Europe.

*The type of armor requirements for burghers such as in the harnischrodel mentioned in that article you linked, were not unique to towns in the Swiss Confederation. They were common to towns all over Central Europe. I've been pointing this out to you for a while.

*Familiarity with certain kit can make it much easier to use over time. When I was in the army a long, long time ago I initially found it very cumbersome wearing the helmet and flack jacket and LBE with all the other gear we had to carry, but quickly got used to it.

*It's hard to fence in armor too, or even to just move around in it efficiently. Assuming you have armor that fits properly (a big 'if' in a modern context) one can learn to do it. But it takes some time.

As a bonus, if you watch this video of re-enactors shooting late medieval firearm replicas, while most of them have chapeau de fer etc., you'll notice a couple of them using visored sallets toward the end of the video, starting at around 0:35.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkbSTyT1COE

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Michael P. Smith




Location: Muncie, Indiana
Joined: 11 Jul 2018
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PostPosted: Wed 24 Jul, 2019 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In period art, there are lots of depictions of crossbowmen wearing sallets with the visor up. Seems like that was a common practice.
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Jul, 2019 7:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
I can speak from personal experience when I say that firing any ranged weapon, be it crossbow or whatever, is extremely difficult to do and maintain any degree of accuracy.


When I watched Tod's videos on crossbows I thought they're just as accurate as a bow. Of course crossbows were often used to shoot en masse and against large groups of enemy soldiers; but in siege action I think accuracy would matter greatly. And, judging by the way some commanders preferred some types of crossbowmen against others (the genoese crossbowmen for the French; Charles the Bold also requested portuguese crossbowmen in the Swiss Wars for his cousin, the Portuguese king), I guess there was a level of technical proficiency it would be valueble for them.

-----------
Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
*There were actually knights and mounted cavalry in the Swiss armies. They were primarily infantry but certainly not all infantry. If you ever go to Switzerland you'll notice many knightly castles in the countryside just like everywhere else in Central Europe.


From what I reasearched in past years, those feudal castles date previously to the Helvetic Confederacy, when feudal lords had armies with knights, barons and their hosts. After a said region became a swiss canton, it's feudal autorities were banished in favor for communal and republican authorities, with milita composed of infantry (pikes, halberds and crossbows/arquebusiers for skirmish) and cavalry crossbowmen. I tried to look for mercenary knights and MAA in their socities and national armies, but all I find was that commander offices were given to specific foreign knights (usually austrians and savoyards) as the canton didn't get along with each other.

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
*The type of armor requirements for burghers such as in the harnischrodel mentioned in that article you linked, were not unique to towns in the Swiss Confederation. They were common to towns all over Central Europe. I've been pointing this out to you for a while.


Really? I don't remember, perhaps if I didn't, I was probably trying the reply the earlier comments and yours where in the latter ones.

In any I think it likely for Central parts of Europe have income-based requirements for arms and armor . The question would be: although there were this system, wouldn't different parts of Europe had different degrees of well-armoured soldiers in the Army? Using a more practical example: at least until 14th century (can't say for latter) the Welsh infantry had little to no armor of their own, receiving lesser rates of pay in the English army since they didn't had any armor. The English foot soldier would have at least a padded gambeson.

Heath's book mentions a cantonal army being almost enterily composed of unarmoured soldiers. So I have doubts if the swiss infantry would meet the normal standards of contemporary armies like the French or the German.

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Jul, 2019 10:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
From what I reasearched in past years, those feudal castles date previously to the Helvetic Confederacy, when feudal lords had armies with knights, barons and their hosts. After a said region became a swiss canton, it's feudal autorities were banished in favor for communal and republican authorities, with milita composed of infantry (pikes, halberds and crossbows/arquebusiers for skirmish) and cavalry crossbowmen. I tried to look for mercenary knights and MAA in their socities and national armies, but all I find was that commander offices were given to specific foreign knights (usually austrians and savoyards) as the canton didn't get along with each other.


This is a gross oversimplification of the situation in the Swiss Confederation. First of all, the towns had knights of their own. Second, knights as such were never eliminated from the Confederacy - what was eliminated was basically the princes. The towns, especially the larger ones notably Berne and Zurich, but also smaller ones like Lucerne and later Basel etc., took the place of the princes, and there were also autonomous rural communes such as in the Forest Cantons, but there were still also knights. Most were vassals of the Confederate towns, some were vassals of the Savoyards or the Hapsburgs or of Burgundy. As you may be aware those foreign princes did still own territory within what is today Switzerland well into the 16th Century, it was only gradually taken over by the towns. For example the Vaud was a princely "barony" owned by the Duke of Savoy from the 14th Century and wasn't captured and annexed by Bern until 1536.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barony_of_Vaud#History

I could plunge deep into this but you can debunk your own theory here by reading a detailed account of almost any major battle involving the Confederacy in the 14th or 15th Century.

We have to be very careful of applying sweeping rules to all of medieval Europe, particularly the rather extensive regions of Europe that did not have a strong Monarchy.

Quote:

Really? I don't remember, perhaps if I didn't, I was probably trying the reply the earlier comments and yours where in the latter ones.

In any I think it likely for Central parts of Europe have income-based requirements for arms and armor . The question would be: although there were this system, wouldn't different parts of Europe had different degrees of well-armoured soldiers in the Army? Using a more practical example: at least until 14th century (can't say for latter) the Welsh infantry had little to no armor of their own, receiving lesser rates of pay in the English army since they didn't had any armor. The English foot soldier would have at least a padded gambeson.

Heath's book mentions a cantonal army being almost enterily composed of unarmoured soldiers. So I have doubts if the swiss infantry would meet the normal standards of contemporary armies like the French or the German.


You are making the same mistake I mentioned in the last two replies - trying to apply conditions in rural Wales in ... what time period? ... to urbanized parts of Europe like say, Tuscany, Swabia or Flanders, is a mistake.These areas were not strong Monarchies and there were few universal rules or authorities powerful enough to enforce them.

The key difference, as I've pointed out, is that other estates, towns, nobles and prelates in particular, contested the rule of the princes and to be successful in doing so, required that they be well armed and skilled in the use of arms. That was true for most of what is today Germany as well as the other regions I mentioned.

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jul, 2019 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Dolnstein's sketchbook includes an image of a mounted crossbower who's wearing a helmet with the visor down. You can find that image in this thread.
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