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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Whats with "Face"shields ? Reply to topic
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Merv Cannon




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Aug, 2006 7:43 am    Post subject: Whats with "Face"shields ?         Reply with quote

I guess that if I lived in the middle ages and had a face shield I would have made mine with a particularly silly face......that way while the other guy is laughing I could bash him sensless ! But seriously folks, why go to all that trouble especially as the faces on these strange shirlds dont look particularly scary. So why were they used ? They seem to go back quite a ways too.
Does anyone know how they were made.....repousse ? Gesso and leather ?
Does anyone have other pics of european armies using "face" shields ?



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battle_in_cyprus.gif


Merv ....... KOLR
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sun 20 Aug, 2006 3:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a stab in the dark: it seems like having a shield with a face (as pictured above) would be more of an expression of status than anything.
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Alex Oster




Location: Washington and Yokohama
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PostPosted: Sun 20 Aug, 2006 4:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I can imagine from the example some kind of holy origin. I'm sure the idea of fighting for/with a saint or pope in the lead would boost moral.

Or it could have just been in the grotesque style that the artist saw during a parade...

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially since it can get past security and be stabbed it into a jugular.
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Merv Cannon




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 12:10 am    Post subject: Face Shields         Reply with quote

Interresting ! thanks for your input ! I have found some more images.......all throughout the 14th Cent. .......


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David tötet Goliat, 1320 -1330; Wien; Österreich.jpg


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Gerüsteter, 1396 -1396; Wien; Österreich.jpg


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Sternbild Mars, 1320 -1330; Wien; Österreich.jpg


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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wonder if they had a ceremonial purpose and were not used in battle, in spite of some of the pictures. The face shields must have been costly to make, and the first time one was taken into battle, it would have been hacked on severely.
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Merv Cannon




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 7:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
I wonder if they had a ceremonial purpose and were not used in battle, in spite of some of the pictures. The face shields must have been costly to make, and the first time one was taken into battle, it would have been hacked on severely.


Yes ......true....but have you seen how much beautiful art work went into many of the surviving Pavaises ? It would be a shame , to me, to take those onto the field, but they must have ! I have notice that you only ever see Face-shields used by relativly few men-at-arms in a painting, the rest seem to have other shield types......so perhaps they were used as a rallying point or had some signaling purpose ?

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Alexander Hinman




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, this is a stab in the dark on my part, but maybe people were given face shields in artwork to denote power or importance?

I mean, looking at the bottom image, it looks like tthe fellow has about six or seven weapons. And one of the images is quite obviously David slaying Goliath.

I don't know who the men in the other two images are supposed to be, but that might further support the idea.
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My personal stab in the dark:

My impression is that this whole face-shield thing is at least partly a fashion-trend. With the beginning of the renaissance having grotesque style armour seems to become very popular.
If we trust the depictions in the Paulus Kal manuscript people also used face-bucklers like in the picture below.


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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2006 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One other class of face shields may be worth mentioning: the Greek hoplite's aspis bearing the Gorgon's face. This was a quite popular motif in its time. For the Greeks this might have had a specifically religious aspect, as Medusa's face was supposed to literally petrify anyone who gazed on it; her face also appears on the chest of the goddess Athena, and was (I think) part of the aegis which functioned as some sort of protection.

I don't know if the later face shields had any Classical inspiration, but if they were in fact a Renaissance phenomenon, there may be a connection.
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Michael S. Rivet





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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Silly notion: Maybe the faces were to help identify the man behind the helmet? In a number of those images, the face on the shield bears some resemblance to the face of the man who carries it. Of course, that doesn't answer the buckler issue.
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Al Muckart




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2006 3:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael S. Rivet wrote:
Silly notion: Maybe the faces were to help identify the man behind the helmet? In a number of those images, the face on the shield bears some resemblance to the face of the man who carries it. Of course, that doesn't answer the buckler issue.


That seems like a whole lot of hot raising to do to achieve something which was already taken care of by heraldry Wink

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Michael S. Rivet





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PostPosted: Wed 23 Aug, 2006 11:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed. Hence, it would have to be coupled with a whole lot of show-off potential.
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Katie Neal





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PostPosted: Wed 23 Aug, 2006 1:08 pm    Post subject: The greeks!         Reply with quote

Those are great pictures demonstrating faces on shields.kinda neat.

what about the Greeks? they had faces painted on there shield alot. i think it was used for intimidation. where they Gorgons?
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Randall Sanchez





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PostPosted: Sat 26 Aug, 2006 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing you really have to take into account is artistic license. Artists have always had a bad habit of interpreting and redesigning images either for their own tastes, to emphasize a point, or because they didn't understand something. We've seen this on too many images to take stuff like this without a grain of salt.

For all we know those faces never existed on the actually shields.
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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Aug, 2006 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:
My personal stab in the dark:

My impression is that this whole face-shield thing is at least partly a fashion-trend. With the beginning of the renaissance having grotesque style armour seems to become very popular.
If we trust the depictions in the Paulus Kal manuscript people also used face-bucklers like in the picture below.


Intressting that they seem almost to be involved in a rapierstyle fightingscene in this picture, water on my millwheel on the theory on orgins of rapierfighting in the late longsword techniques... hehe...]

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D. Bell




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Aug, 2006 2:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I found the attached photo on my computer, and immediately thought of this topic. Regrettably, this is one of the instances where I have neglected to note where the image came from, so I can't give further details, but this does at least prove face shields aren't just artistic license. I must confess it was the polearm, not the shield that originally convinced me to save the picture.


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Face shield.jpg
Face shield

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Merv Cannon




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Aug, 2006 5:42 am    Post subject: Face Shields         Reply with quote

Wow ! Thats a fantastic image....the armour looks fairly late. Could be a composite armour anyway. Two of my reference images of face shields are from c.1320 and they seem to go through at least until the late 1500's. Several of them are shown in battle but only by some men....they may have even been used as a sign of rank or some other significence.
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Aug, 2006 6:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mr Bell
Does the label say something about Carlos (Charles?) V? If so, that would put it early to mid 16th Century I think.
Geoff
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D. Bell




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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 2:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did try and read the label but I had some difficulty working out what it said, possibly because Carlos never occured to me. The fact it appears to be in spanish doesn't help either.

Translated into english my best guess is:
ARMS Eguro? of war of Charles (Carlos) V

I have no idea what eguro means, or even if I have the right letters.
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Danny Grigg





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PostPosted: Mon 28 Aug, 2006 2:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The pic of the polearm as posted by D Bell is known as a folding spear.

The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms and Weapons Edited by Leonid Tarassuk & Claude Blair

"The folding spear was a special type of spear developed in Italy in the 16th century and later found throughout Europe. The head had a conspicuously long, straight, double-edged blade, often reinforced with ribbing; at the base of the head there were two long, curved wings, with the cutting edge on the inside. The wings could be folded in toward the head, which in turn could be folded in toward the haft; and in turn the haft could be folded two or three times, which reduced the size of the weapon and made it easier to carry. This spear served as a weapon for wealthy noblemen only, not least because of the high cost of manufacture and the expensive decoration which often embellished it."

See attached pic.

Perhaps this is a clue as to the origin of the shield in the pic posted by D Bell?

D Bell, do you have any more pics of the actual spear?

Danny



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