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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2020 12:51 pm    Post subject: Early Polish Arms and Armor         Reply with quote

Hello all,

First time poster, have been enjoying some of the great resources on this site. I'm looking for references and information on Polish arms and armor in the 14th century and before, and especially around 10-11th centuries, around the time Poland became a Christian nation. It's fairly easy to find stuff from Battle of Grunwald and after, but before that time is a bit difficult. I have done some looking at this excellent site http://effigiesandbrasses.com/ but there are only good effigies/brasses from the 14th century and after (of course).

My other main source is a good but fairly surface level book Medieval Polish Armies 966-1500 in the Men At Arms series by Osprey Publishing. This has at least given me some good information on sword types found in different eras, but otherwise seems to be a lot of "probably mail, probably spears, probably shields of types found in the rest of Europe." Is this about as far as I'm going to get?

I've been getting into HEMA and have some interest in living history. I would love to put together (over time) a druzinha kit, or if I had to go a bit further, an early, perhaps lower level Polish level knight. Or at least train with some arms that are as close as I can get! As this is partially a way to reconnect with my roots, my other side is Ukrainian, but I've always identified more with my Polish family.

Thank you all for your time,
Jeff
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,825

PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2020 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

'Arms & Armour of the Crusading Era 1050-1350' by David Nicolle has a chapter on Poland. Like the other chapters, its mainly a series of short descriptions of various museum pieces along with his drawings (not the best) of those pieces in the appendix.

There is also a graduate thesis on Polish and related swords, published by the University of Wroclaw. I wish I could remember the name and author, but right now my copy is misplaced in storage somewhere. The only reason I was able to get a hold of a copy is that my brother-in-law is a professor at that university.

You might want to contact Maciej Kopciuch. He has reproduced a number of Viking age/medieval Polish swords and seems to know the local museums quite well. BTW, one of his 10-11th century Polish pieces is for sale at SBG right now.
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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2020 6:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great, thank you! I'll certainly check out that book, and if you manage to find the name/author of that paper that would be awesome, but I certainly know that feeling.

That Maciej Kopciuch stuff is beautiful. A bit out of my price range at the moment, but that's exactly the type of thing I'd love to save up for over a bit. Realistic of not all warriors being able to afford/have knowledge to use a sword I suppose! Thanks again.
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Henry R. Gower




Location: United States
Joined: 09 Dec 2013
Likes: 6 pages

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Sun 20 Sep, 2020 10:48 pm    Post subject: Early Polish Men at Arms         Reply with quote

Hello Jeff. Your query intrigued me, because both my parents came from Poland and taught me how to read and speak. So I did a little searching on the net, in Polish. I actually found something that might be of assistance. The Grand Duke Mieszko 1, who brought Christianity to Poland, would be your starting point. So, "Wojsko Mieszka 1" (Army of Mieszko 1) or Wojownicze Mieszka 1, input in Polish brings up a lot of illustrations of Men at Arms of his period. Now, they are all modern reconstructions, because unfortunately there is no Bayeux Tapestry to source a contemporary illustration, nor do I know of any illuminated manuscripts of the period. I have a copy of the Guidebook to the Museum of the Polish Army in Warsaw, but very little from that period appears to have survived, a partly preserved helmet of the "Russian" style with the long pointy extension for a plume on top and a few swords is all they show. I would try that internet search. Also, most captions and discussions are in Polish. But some of the pictures are pretty good. Hope that helps.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2020 3:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The series "Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historicae" and "Acta Militaria Mediaevalia" have a lot of articles on Polish archaeology in English. Many of the articles have been posted by the authors, and I don't think a subscription is very expensive.
www.bookandsword.com
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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2020 8:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you both for the additional points of research. I will definitely be checking those out. While it's hard to find time to dig through a lot of articles, I'm certainly willing to do some as it's a project I'll take my time with.

Speaking of digging through articles,I didn't know about the Szczecin shields until researching on this forum, and I did find an article (perhaps more a dissertation?) in Arms & Armour journal. It costs money to read, but I think I'll shell out the $40ish. This is really exciting because no good shield fragments had been found in Poland that I'm aware of, and it's just about the time period I'm looking for. Win! Time to read and start making a shield, methinks...

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17416124.2019.1667049
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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2020 8:14 am    Post subject: Re: Early Polish Men at Arms         Reply with quote

Henry R. Gower wrote:
I have a copy of the Guidebook to the Museum of the Polish Army in Warsaw, but very little from that period appears to have survived, a partly preserved helmet of the "Russian" style with the long pointy extension for a plume on top and a few swords is all they show. I would try that internet search. Also, most captions and discussions are in Polish. But some of the pictures are pretty good. Hope that helps.


I've seen a similar type of helmet referred to as the "Great Polish" style, but it's also not easy to find a good one online. There are lots of things similar like spangenhelms, but nothing exactly right. I might have to custom that one, and include a horsehair plume perhaps...Or just buy a conical nasal which were also period appropriate apparently.
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Henry R. Gower




Location: United States
Joined: 09 Dec 2013
Likes: 6 pages

Posts: 118

PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2020 9:19 am    Post subject: Early Polish Arms and Arrmor         Reply with quote

Jeff, in the meantime, I found a maker online of those early helmets that appear to be spot on, not merely spangenhelms. His name is Thorkil. He has a very nice well-illustrated site. I was pleasantly surprised at how many variations of that helmet have been found. Up to now, I thought only the "Gnezdovo" helmet survived the ages, but apparently there are four or more other variants that have been discovered in Poland itself.
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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2020 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, that's a great site, thanks! I even really like the simple nasal helm with the hook like points on the nasal, which is probably for mail face covering/aventail.

Perhaps this thread can become a resource for folks looking for the same thing.
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Piotr H. Feret
Industry Professional



Location: Bielsko-Biala, Poland
Joined: 07 Jan 2007

Posts: 107

PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2020 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean mentioned the "Acta Militaria Mediaevalia" which is possible the best archeological series publish here in Poland. And you can find in all on-line up to volume XIII for free. For sure you will find there many useful articles and a lot of them are in English and if there are in other language rule is a summary in English at the end of each article. Here you can find it:
http://amm.sanok.pl/en/archives/

www.platener.eu
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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon 21 Sep, 2020 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Piotr H. Feret wrote:
For sure you will find there many useful articles and a lot of them are in English and if there are in other language rule is a summary in English at the end of each article. Here you can find it:
http://amm.sanok.pl/en/archives/


I just looked through three articles and it was already very interesting and helpful. Thank you and Sean so much! I have reading material for a long time, now.
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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Tue 22 Sep, 2020 5:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So I did purchase and read the article on the Szczecin shields, and it was highly informative. The shields are from the 12th century. Basically they're both planked construction, vertically aligned with no special joints to join the planks. The tops are pretty much a straight triangular shape instead of curved, and the shields were likely not ever curved themselves. Pretty cool find of really the only surviving medieval kite shields. It is possible that they are Danish instead of Polish because of a few different Danish attacks on the city, but very cool nonetheless! Kite shields are seen in various Polish iconography, so they could still very well be Polish. If you're interested in more details the fee to download was well worth it in my opinion.
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