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Justin Pasternak




Location: West Springfield, Massachusetts
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PostPosted: Thu 05 Oct, 2006 9:29 pm    Post subject: medieval eurpean knight         Reply with quote

I was just curious if mounted knights used bows and or crossbows instead of the usual mace, lance, war hammer, etc.
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Thu 05 Oct, 2006 10:05 pm    Post subject: Re: medieval eurpean knight         Reply with quote

Justin Pasternak wrote:
I was just curious if mounted knights used bows and or crossbows instead of the usual mace, lance, war hammer, etc.


Whilst I do not think the fellow in question was a Knight, there are drawings in Talhoffer's book (The Mark Rector one) of a mounted crossbowmen who faces off with a lancer over a few panels.

And I'm also (unreliably) informed that mounted missle troops were used a good bit throughout the various periods.

Also, one of the descriptions of the Battle of Hastings has the Knights making a number of Javelin runs from horseback.

I've heard that a Pilum, AKA Angon, can penetrate a shield, the man behind it, and drive itself a good ways into the ground when thrown from a galloping horse.

Except for the fact the images are in Talhoffer, all the above is to be taken with a grain of salt, as I haven't done any real digging on them.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Max von Bargen




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PostPosted: Thu 05 Oct, 2006 11:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The use of mounted missile troops was recorded in several instances, but these were certainly not knights. Most mounted archers/crossbowmen rode to the battlefield and then dismounted to fight. The main exception to this is the use of horse archers ("Turcopoles") who were employed by the Crusaders. The only incident in which knights used missile weapons that I can recall of is in some accounts of the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 where frustrated English knights threw maces, axes, and other such weapons at the Scottish schiltrons. This may have occurred at other times, but I don't think a knight would abandon his sword, shield, axe, lance, etc. for a missile weapon. If knights did use missile weapons, they would have been secondary weapons. I would believe that some knights, especially in the earlier middle ages, might have used javelins as George said, but again, these would have been secondary weapons.

Of course, this only applies to Western European knights. Byzantine and Muslim armies had significantly larger proportions of mounted missile troops.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Oct, 2006 7:01 am    Post subject: knights as archers?         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Here's a thread right up my alley! Big Grin
The medieval European knight is defined as a mounted noble warrior who fought with lance and sword. They would charge at the enemy, knee-to-knee, in a formation known as a conroi. (There is a nice picture of a conroi training in the Osprey book Knight of Outremer by David Nicolle.) Even in the 14th century, when knights often dismounted to fight (especially the English), they typically used sword, axe, mace, or even a cut-down lance. The French supposedly broke the ends off the shafts of their lances prior to the Battle of Agincourt, the better to use them on foot.

A knight would be expected to be proficient with a wide variety of weapons, including either a bow or a crossbow. However, he typically used missile weapons in the hunt, not on the battlefield. There could be exceptions to the rule; David Miller in his book Richard the Lionheart: the Mighty Crusader, states that Richard wielded a sword in one hand and an arbalest (crossbow) in the other when he leapt over the side of his royal galley to wade ashore at Jaffa. However, I find this improbable, but Richard was known for advocating the use of the crossbow. The crossbow was so hated by the elite in Europe that the church tried to ban its use!

Other cultures did indeed have a tradition of mounted archery. The Japanese Samurai was expected to be able to fire his very long bow proficiently from horseback. The Mongols and the Turks made great use of mounted archery tactics, using a recurved composite bow. However, in medieval Europe, it tended to be the commoners or mercenaries that used bows and crossbows. The crossbowmen shown in the Talhoffer illustration are either unarmoured or lightly armoured, so they might not be knights.

If you wish to study the medieval knight, here are a few books that could get your research started. Some may be out-of-print, but might be found in the bookstore on this site (through amazon dot com, I think):

Andrea Hopkins Knights A nice general overview of the social history of knights, including the chivalric ethos. The book includes many illustrations from manuscripts, as well as a few colour reproductions of knights in armour.

Frances Gies The Knight in History Covers the history of the knight by concentrating on various famous knights in different medieval periods.

David Edge and John Miles Paddock Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight If you can find this book, get it! It's a good book to start an arms and armour library, with lots of information and nice pictures.

Stephen Turnbull The Book of the Medieval Knight (reprinted as The Knight Triumphant, or something to that effect) A nice book covering the later medieval period in England, from Edward III to the Wars of the Roses.

Many of the Osprey Publishing books are decent, especially the "Warrior" series.

And finally, any of the knight series by Ewart Oakeshott, especially A Knight and His Weapons, A Knight and His Armour, and A Knight in Battle.

I hope this all helped! Happy
Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Oct, 2006 8:18 am    Post subject: Re: medieval eurpean knight         Reply with quote

George,

Talhofffer's plates of the crossbow versus lance plates are probably a self defense against ambush concept he was eager to impress upon a prospective client. Not really a battlefield tactic, I think.

George Hill wrote:
with minor additions by me....

I've heard that a Pilum, AKA Angon, can penetrate a cardboard shield, the straw man behind it, and drive itself a good ways into the ground when thrown by a Renn Faire Knight from a galloping cart horse.

Except for the fact the images are in Talhoffer, all the above is to be taken with a grain of salt, as I haven't done any real digging on them.


Sorry too much exposure to the facts as presented by Renn Faire jousters I've met. And 150lbs of upper body harness that doesn't fit anyone in particular was the kit real knights wore. Light weight stuff was just for parades. Right?

George, this stuff fits right in with the "katana cutting a machine gun barrel" nonsense. Its a game modern jousters practice to amuse audiences and improve as riders. More power to them. Please don't perpetuate the myth for them.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Oct, 2006 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
I don't want to sidetrack this thread, but since the weight of armour was mentioned, I thought I would throw out some actual numbers. These all came from the appendix in Claude Blair's European Armour: Circa 1066 to Circa 1700.

Field armour, Italian, c. 1450: 57 lbs.
Field armour, German, c. 1525: 41 lbs. 13.5 oz.
Field armour, Italian, c. 1550-60: 45 lbs. 13.5 oz.
Field armour, Greenwich, c. 1590: 71 lbs. 14 oz.
Cuirassier armour, Augsburg, c. 1620-30: 69 lbs. 5 oz.
Armour for the joust, Augsburg, c. 1500: 90 lbs. 1.5 oz.
(The later field armour and cuirasser armour were probably "pistol proof", with heavier breastplates than earlier harness. Also, armour for the joust was often much heavier than that for the field.)

Haubergeon, probably Italian, 14th. century: 31 lbs.
Haubergeon, German, 15th. century: 20 lbs. 11 oz.
Brigandine, probably German, early 16th. century: 19lbs. 9 oz.

Hope this isn't too far off the topic, but since armour weights were mentioned, I thought I would post these in case anyone was interested.
Hope this helps!
Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Oct, 2006 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!
I forgot to mention that William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror, died from an arrow wound while hunting in the New Forest. Walter Tyrel, a Norman nobleman who was one of the king's favorite hunting companions, missed the deer he was aiming at and accidently (?) struck William Rufus in the chest! So, yes, knights used bows and crossbows for hunting, but it's doubtful that they would use them in war.
Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Oct, 2006 3:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Germany has had a lnog tradition of mounted crossbowmen. IIRC there is a woodcut of Maximillian himself on horseback with a crossbow. He is armoured, suggesting that the illustration might have a military context and not a hunting one. A woodcut by Jost Amman also shows a mounted crossbowman. Tallhoffer has an illustration of a mounted crossdbowman. So does the Manesse Codex. There is no doubt that crossbows were used by German knights.

FWIW a lot of the weights Blair mentioned in his book have turned out to be wrong. I can't remember whether actual weights are higher or lower than those listed.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Oct, 2006 4:31 pm    Post subject: armour weights?         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Dan Howard wrote:
Quote:
FWIW a lot of the weights Blair mentioned in his book have turned out to be wrong. I can't remember whether actual weights are higher or lower than those listed.


Dan,
Do you have any more recent measurements of the weight of medieval harness? I would be interested in more up-to-date figures than Blair. It would help the research for my writing.
I assumed Blair was at least in the ballpark; the numbers seemed about right. Do you know how off they are? Oakeshott in A Knight and His Armor states that the average weight of full plate from about 1470 was 57 pounds. (I know this is juvenile literature, but Oakeshott always had a lot of interesting things to say!) According to Treasures from the Tower of London by A. V. B. Wilson and G. M. Wilson, the armour for combat on foot of Henry VIII weighs 94lbs! (Heavy-weight tournament armour again!)
Do you think 50-60 lbs for 15th century plate, and 30-40 lbs for mail is about right?
About the use of crossbows by German knights in battle, I think you will agree that this is the exception to the rule. All broad statements about historical matters should always be followed by a disclaimer that there are always exceptions to the rule!
Thanks ahead of time for anything you can find on armour weights!
Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
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Max von Bargen




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Oct, 2006 7:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Germany has had a lnog tradition of mounted crossbowmen. IIRC there is a woodcut of Maximillian himself on horseback with a crossbow. He is armoured, suggesting that the illustration might have a military context and not a hunting one. A woodcut by Jost Amman also shows a mounted crossbowman. Tallhoffer has an illustration of a mounted crossdbowman. So does the Manesse Codex. There is no doubt that crossbows were used by German knights.


Quite right. With my early post, what I meant is that the knights would not entirely replace their swords, axes, maces, etc. with bows or crossbows. I didn't mean to imply that such weapons were never used by mounted knights, I just meant that they were never their primary weapon. At least, I assume that the German knights that you're alluding to didn't abandon their other weapons. Sorry if my previous post was misleading.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Oct, 2006 1:26 pm    Post subject: [i]Manessa Codex[/i] crossbowmen         Reply with quote

Hello all!
I have found one image from the early 14th century Manessa Codex depicting mounted crossbowmen, but I'm not sure that the soldiers depicted in this particular illustration are of knightly rank (although I'm not saying there aren't others out there that do show knights using crossbows).
It's the scene showing the cattle raid, with the lead horseman holding a chicken. Two of the three mounted soldiers on the left do carry crossbows, but it's not clear if they would actually use them from horseback. It is clear that they are fairly lightly armoured, with early open-faced bascinets or cervellieres, half or three-quarter sleeves on their hauberks, and no leg armour (a very important observation, by the way). Based on their equipment, they might be more properly termed "mercenaries" or "mounted arbalesters" rather than knights. The lack of leg armour also seems to indicate that they would fight on foot, not mounted, although it's hard to say for sure.
Does anyone have any images from the Manessa Codex that they could post that clearly show knights (crested helms, heraldic surcoats, full hauberks, and mail chausses) firing crossbows from horseback, or otherwise using crossbows? I'm not saying they don't exist, I would just like to see! Big Grin
Of course, you have to be careful using images from medieval manuscripts. They often portrayed all the soldiers as knights, which would clearly not be the case on the typical medieval battlefield.
(I think there is a German siege scene or two depicting a soldier in knightly armour firing a crossbow, but sieges are different than open battles.)
Again, let me say that it is possible that German knights used crossbows occasionally, they certainly had a reputation for fighting on foot, but I wonder how common it truly was. Typically, the medieval knight was seen as a mounted armoured warrior that fought with lance and sword. (After all, the German for knight, "ritter", means "rider"!)
Thanks for any images!
Any help will be greatly appreciated!
Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Oct, 2006 1:52 pm    Post subject: Re: medieval eurpean knight         Reply with quote

Kel Rekuta wrote:
.

George Hill wrote:
with minor additions by me....

I've heard that a Pilum, AKA Angon, can penetrate a cardboard shield, the straw man behind it, and drive itself a good ways into the ground when thrown by a Renn Faire Knight from a galloping cart horse.

Except for the fact the images are in Talhoffer, all the above is to be taken with a grain of salt, as I haven't done any real digging on them.


Sorry too much exposure to the facts as presented by Renn Faire jousters I've met. And 150lbs of upper body harness that doesn't fit anyone in particular was the kit real knights wore. Light weight stuff was just for parades. Right?

George, this stuff fits right in with the "katana cutting a machine gun barrel" nonsense. Its a game modern jousters practice to amuse audiences and improve as riders. More power to them. Please don't perpetuate the myth for them.



Now hang on just a minute here. Just because you have heard a bad source say something doesn't invalidate it. Indeed, all you've said is that you heard X from a generally tainted source. If they said that armor was made out of metal, would you assume it's actually glass? I'd hope not, since even a broken clock is right twice a day.

We KNOW that the Pilum/angon could penetrate a shield. That would be the kind made out of wood. We know that if it penetrated deeply enough, it would hit the guy holding it. That would be the human. And we know all this could be done by a man on foot.

And if all that can be done by a guy on foot, Why ought we not to believe it would be equally possible for a man who knew how to throw a javelin AND ride a horse to combine the two activities, with a bit of experimentation?

Then we consider the FACT that a projectile launched from moving platform would gain a degree of impetus from that platform, then the idea of a pilum launched from a horse landing with some degree of additional force is perfectly valid.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Oct, 2006 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a long tradition of using javelins from moving platforms. It was practiced from chariots in Mykenaian Greece and later by British Celts if Caesar is to be believed. Medieval Spanish light cavalry made great use of javelins from horseback. It was also practiced by several cultures further East
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PostPosted: Sat 07 Oct, 2006 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From France, there are some 13th- and 14th-century images of fully armored men shooting composite bows from horseback.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 9:42 am    Post subject: more about knights and bows, with pictures...         Reply with quote

Hello all!

I've found some images of mounted warriors, or warriors clad in knightly garb, using or carrying bows or crossbows. It is hard to conclude definitely that all of the figures are indeed of knightly rank; they could be mounted arbalesters or mercenaries. Also, some could be hunting scenes. Still other depict sieges, not open battles.

Some of the figures from the Manessa Codex might be mercenaries or mounted arbalesters, not men of knightly rank. They are clad in lighter armour than the more "traditionally" clad knights in that manuscript. (The Manessa Codex depicts many, many scenes of knights in their more traditional role as "mounted shock troops", fighting with lance and sword. Most of these knights are clad in full hauberks and crested great helms.) Also, the scenes might not be depicting battles. Knights did use missile weapons for hunting!

The detail from the Romance of Alexander in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, shows a hunting scene. The knights are in full armour, probably to indicate that they are knights, but they are hunting wild men in a river. Here one fires his bow against their hairy prey.

The other scene from the British Library depicts the siege of Corinth, but the armoured men might not actually be knights. It might be the case of the illuminator depicting all or most soldiers as knights. Or, it could also be the case, if it's depicting an ancient siege, of the illustrator trying to depict ancient tactics using medieval concepts. Would an archer, even a knightly archer, fire a bow wearing a great helm?

Again, I'm not saying that knights didn't use crossbows or bows. It was possible, but probably not common, for knights to have used missile weapons in warfare. I am saying care must be taken in interpreting the manuscript images. Some may be men of other than knightly rank. Others may be hunting scenes. And, still others may be "artistic convention".

Enjoy!



 Attachment: 38.88 KB
Manessa Codex crossbowmen.JPG
Mounted crossbowmen from Manessa Codex.

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Manessa Codex-mounted crossbowman.JPG
Mounted crossbowman from Manessa Codex.

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Romance of Alexander-wildmen detail.JPG
Hunting wildmen, from the Romance of Alexander, 14th century, Bodleian Library, Oxford.

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SIEGE OF CORINTH (reduced).JPG
Siege of Corinth, British Library.

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!
I found a few more images of soldiers in "knightly armour" using crossbows, but I have no means to scan these particular images and post them. If anyone has has these, could they post them so others know what I'm referring to?

First, I found a photo of a sculpture from the Church of St. Nicholas in Hagenau, eastern France. It's in David Nicolle's Osprey book Campaign: Crecy 1346: Triumph of the Longbow. It can also be found in Paul Martin's Arms and Armour (along with another sculpture from the same church). Nicolle seems to believe the sculpture is supposed to represent a mercenary or armoured infantryman. I believe he's right, since the Marin book states that the sculptures are from a scene depicting the sleeping guards at the Holy Sepulchre. I think they are meant to be "common" soldiers, not noble warriors of "knightly" rank. It may be another instance of "artistic convention", or some of the better paid mercenaries wore complete armour. Still, it does show a fully armoured warrior with a crossbow.

I found another image, in a colour plate in the Martin book. This is a siege scene from Rudolph von Ems's World Chronicle, late 13th century. A soldier clad in knightly armour, complete with great helm, climbs a scaling ladder while wielding a crossbow. This may be a case of a knight using a crossbow in a siege (different from open battle), or it could be a case of medieval "artistic convention".

Finally, I found another siege scene in David Nicolle's Man at Arms 231: French Medieval Armies 100-1300. It's from an early 14th century French manuscript (Ms. 9245, f. 254r), now in the Bibliotheque (sp.?) Royale, Brussels. It Shows two soldiers clad in knightly gear, the one on the far left in a scale cuirass, firing crossbows up at a castle. I'm not sure if they are truly supposed to represent knights, however; there are mounted knights more typically armed with lance and sword on the right-hand side of the illustration. I also don't know what the illustrations is actually supposed to represent; if it's a biblical or Crusading scene, the armoured crossbowmen may be the artist's poor attempt at depicting "Saracens" or ancient warriors. But this is a siege scene, so knights may have used crossbows in this particular instance.

I think the problem with a lot of these images is that they are open to various interpretations. The real social position of the subjects may be ambiguous. Still, they can be used to argue that knights used crossbows and bows. Who can say for sure?

Again, if anyone can post any of these images for others to view, it would be greatly appreciated!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
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Max von Bargen




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 11:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
I think the problem with a lot of these images is that they are open to various interpretations. The real social position of the subjects may be ambiguous. Still, they can be used to argue that knights used crossbows and bows. Who can say for sure?


This is exactly what I've been trying to say. I think that it's quite possible that knights may have used crossbows and bows in some situations, but I don't think they ever replaced the traditional knightly weapons in any areas. As you said, I think much of their utility would have been in hunting or sieges.
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Max von Bargen wrote:
Richard Fay wrote:
I think the problem with a lot of these images is that they are open to various interpretations. The real social position of the subjects may be ambiguous. Still, they can be used to argue that knights used crossbows and bows. Who can say for sure?


This is exactly what I've been trying to say. I think that it's quite possible that knights may have used crossbows and bows in some situations, but I don't think they ever replaced the traditional knightly weapons in any areas. As you said, I think much of their utility would have been in hunting or sieges.


Most likely. Still, in a battle where they were dismounted and waiting for an attack, (be it siege attack on walls or dismounted defence of a hill,) I can certainly see a rich Knight with three crossbows and two flunkies loading for him.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
Hello all!
I don't want to sidetrack this thread, but since the weight of armour was mentioned, I thought I would throw out some actual numbers. These all came from the appendix in Claude Blair's European Armour: Circa 1066 to Circa 1700.

Field armour, Italian, c. 1450: 57 lbs.
Field armour, German, c. 1525: 41 lbs. 13.5 oz.
Field armour, Italian, c. 1550-60: 45 lbs. 13.5 oz.
Field armour, Greenwich, c. 1590: 71 lbs. 14 oz.
Cuirassier armour, Augsburg, c. 1620-30: 69 lbs. 5 oz.
Armour for the joust, Augsburg, c. 1500: 90 lbs. 1.5 oz.
(The later field armour and cuirasser armour were probably "pistol proof", with heavier breastplates than earlier harness. Also, armour for the joust was often much heavier than that for the field.)

Haubergeon, probably Italian, 14th. century: 31 lbs.
Haubergeon, German, 15th. century: 20 lbs. 11 oz.
Brigandine, probably German, early 16th. century: 19lbs. 9 oz.

Hope this isn't too far off the topic, but since armour weights were mentioned, I thought I would post these in case anyone was interested.
Hope this helps!
Stay safe!


Thanks. This was a nice post even if the source is disputed (at least you had a source).

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Oct, 2006 6:30 pm    Post subject: Your welcome.         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:

Thanks. This was a nice post even if the source is disputed (at least you had a source).


Joe,
No problem!
If Blair's numbers are off, I would like to get more accurate figures. I think they're roughly in the ballpark, based on other things I've read.
Medieval armour definitely didn't weigh so much that knights couldn't get up if they were knocked over (unless they suffered injury, of course). They certainly didn't need a crane to get into their saddles, either!

If anyone has more recent and more accurate numbers, I would love to see them posted! (I know I was quoting a source from 1958; there must be something more recent out there.)

Stay safe!

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