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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 12:13 pm    Post subject: Scale Aventails and Gorgets         Reply with quote

Hello all!

I thought I would split off the topic "scale aventails and gorgets" from the thread about plate armour. I know some of this may have been discussed before, but I hope I can bring a new angle to the discussion.

First, let me cut-and-paste my initial reply regarding scale aventails, and then add more from there.

Here goes, stuff about scale aventails (let's add gorgets to the discussion, too!):

Certain authors and historians, such as Eduard Wagner, believe that scale aventails were definitely used as an option to mail in medieval Eastern Europe. The book Medieval Costume, Armour, and Weapons by Wagner, Drobna, and Durdik shows many drawings based on manuscript images and other artworks (Sorry, I don't have access to the primary sources they use, but it definitely gives an idea where to look.)

Plate 6 of the Wagner, Drobna, and Durdik work shows archers from the King Wenceslas Bible. One wears what appears to be a bascinet with a scale aventail. The others clearly wears mail aventails.

Plate 13 shows a soldier from the same manuscript wearing a bascinet with a scale aventail and a detail of the helmet and aventail.

Plate 15 shows yet another soldier, this one armed with a poleaxe or halberd, wearing a scale aventail.

Plate 17 shows a depiction of a soldier from an early 15th century manuscript. The soldier weras what appears to be a scale gorget and skirt, but it may just be an anachronistic attempt at depicting "Oriental" armour.

Plate 19 shows a nobleman from the early 15th century Krumlov Manuscript wearing a scale "skirt" (fauld?).

I don't want to cause "confusion", but I will cite one of the "dreaded" Osprey colour plates, since it is a second but similar interpretation of the same source. In German Medieval Armies 1300-1500 by Christopher Gravett, plate D shows a Bohemian archer of the late 14th century wearing a bascinet with a scale aventail. The plate is based on a depiction of an archer in a "Bohemian Bible" (probably the King Wenceslas Bible).

There is also an English image or two that can be considered to have scale gorgets or aventails. I'll have to do some digging to find the specifics. I'll also see if I can find images from "primary" sources.

I do not wish this to become another debate about artist's renditions or the validity of sources! I'm just trying to point out that others interpret some aventail depictions as being scale, not mail. Scale was occasionally, if only rarely, used throughout the medieval period (check out the scale versus mail thread for some examples), so why couldn't it be used for an aventail?

I'll see what else I can come up with!

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: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

I've found more examples of probable scale aventails, some from "primary sources"..We unfortunately don't have any existing pieces that I'm aware of, so we must rely on medieval art. I do believe medieval artwork can be a good resource if used wisely. Some artwork is definitely more realistic and detailed than others.

Anyway, stained glass windows in Tewkesbury Abbey depicting various Lords of the Manor of Tewkesbury show some of the lords, but not all, wearing what are clearly scale aventails. Four of the lords are shown in a lovely clour photograph in Stephen Bull's An Historical Guide to Arms & Armour. Three of the four lords in this view wear what appear to be scale aventails. One of the aventails clearly shows round rivets holding the rectangular plates to a backing. Another lord clearly wears a mail hauberk, mail is shown on his sleeves, but his neck is covered by rectangular plates. Only one of the lords in this particular grouping wears a mail aventail, and the mail is clearly painted well. (Two of the lords are also shown in a B&W photo in Campaign 71: Crecy 1346: Triumph of the Longbow by David Nicolle and Warrior 58: English Medieval Knight 1300-1400 by Christopher Gravett. These photos don't show the details shown in the photo in Turnbull's book. You can still make out the rivets in a B&W photo of the same four lords in David Nicolle's Medieval Warfare Source Book. The authors caption states that two of the figures have scale or plate-covered gorgeretes.)

Another window at Tewkesbury shows another scale aventail or gorget. This one is shown in Campaign 138: Poitiers 1356: the Capture of a King by David Nicolle. This is a colour photo showing four more members of the Clare family. One of the lords in this window wears what may be a scale aventail. The others clearly wear mail aventails.

I realize that artist's renditions are suspect, but I think they can tell us how certain scholars interpret the images, when used in conjunction with the "primary" images. In Paper Soldiers of the Middle Ages: the Hundred Years War by David Nicolle (don't laugh; the line drawings are some of Nicolle's most detailed work, and the captions list primary sources he used as inspiration), the author shows that some do interpret the Tewkesbury Aventails as scale. He has a drawing of the Black Prince, circa 1350, wearing a scale aventail over mail. This is clearly based on the Tewkesbury window, which is listed as one of the sources for this image. Also, a figure of a Rennes militiaman in the colour plates in French Armies of the Hundred Years War, again authored by David Nicolle, shows another scale aventail inspired by the Tewkesbury window. I understand that these are not primary sources, but they do help to show one possible interpretation of the armour worn by the Clares in the Tewkesbury window.

In Warrior 58: English Medieval Knight 1300-1400 by Christopher Gravett, there is a photo of a battle scene from the Holkham Picture Bible Book of 1326-27. Some of the riders in the image of knights battling appear to wear scale or plate gorgets. These are clearly made of metal (coloured grey in coloured versions of the photo, as seen in Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: the English Experience by Michael Prestwich and Medieval Warfare in Manuscripts by Pamela Porter, original in the British Library) rivetted to a backing of some sort (double rivets appear at the end of each plate or scale). Infantrymen fighting on foot depicted on the same page in the same manuscript wear what are clearly padded aventails, coifs, or gorgets. The quilting lines are clear, as are the buttons closing the aventails down the front. The fabric is also denoted as a different color (tan or beige versus grey) from the plate or scale gorgets. I don't think this could be considered an instance of padding mistaken for scales or plates; the actual padded garments are shown too differently from the plated ones.

There are also some instances when something that at first glance appears to be scale might be poorly drawn mail or lamellar. In Nicolle's Poitiers 1356 there is a colour photo of an image from Les Grandes Chroniques de France of around 1360. Some of the armoured crossbowmen wear what may be interpreted as scale aventails, but the manuscript illumination is so simplistic it could be badly drawn mail. Still, the lines do have a "scale" shape to them.

The Porter book Medieval Warfare in Manuscripts does show an image from a 14th century manuscript that could also be interpreted as scale instead of mail. However, the drawing is so poorly done, and the scale so ubiquitous in the image, that it's more likely a matter of poorly drawn mail.

There are some Byzantine images that might depict mail, lamellar, or scale aventails. These are hard to interpret. An image from the 14th century Byzantine manuscript History of Alexander the Great shown in a photo in David Nicolle's Hungary and the Fall of Eastern Europe 1000-1568 depicts warriors that wear aventails that could be interpreted as mail, scale, or lamellar. Nicolle interprets them as mail.

I can dig around and see if I can find more. Some from the 1415 version of Froissart's chronicles (shown in Porter's Medieval Warfare in Manuscripts, among other works) have already been mentioned on a separate thread. Period text accounts have as yet remained elusive. I might find some terms that could be defined as scale or plate aventails or gorgets, but these are often debatable.

I do hope that the presentation of examples supporting both sides of the argument makes it clear that we can't always discount medieval artwork, but also can't always rely on it. There are examples that support the possibility of the existence of scale aventails or gorgets in the 14th century, and there are examples indicating that occasionally it might just be poorly executed drawings. I'm not arguing such things were common, just that they are are possible form of armour used during the 14th century, a period of great experimentation in armour construction and use.

Stay safe!

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


Last edited by Richard Fay on Sat 28 Oct, 2006 12:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 1:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:


Some artwork is definitely more realistic and detailed than others.



Hi
I think artwork can be a useful indicator of reality and that sometimes it is the best we've got to go on. However, maybe I'm mistaking your meaning, but are you saying detailed equates with realistic? For me detailed is to realistic as precise is to accurate, and it is possible to be very precisely wrong.
regards
Geoff
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 6:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

Geoff Wood wrote:

However, maybe I'm mistaking your meaning, but are you saying detailed equates with realistic? For me detailed is to realistic as precise is to accurate, and it is possible to be very precisely wrong.

Geoff,
Agreed! Having spent several years in the 1990s in various science labs, I know what you're saying about "precision" versus "accuracy". However, if a medieval artist took the time to paint ,sculpt, or engrave more detail (and realistic looking detail), chances are good that they were using something real as a subject. It is hard to say one hundred percent that they weren't being imaginative, but many of the effigies, brasses, and other artworks seem to lack hugely imaginative elements. We can, for instance, pretty well match the armour worn by the figures in the Tewkesbury window to armour worn by figures in the knightly effigies and brasses, as well as some extant examples (except, of course, the disputed scale aventails). I think if the artists took the time to show details such as rivets on the gorgets, then they could have been basing it on a real example. Do we know if they were "precisely right"? No, but there is no reason to discount them outright either! Detail doesn't necessarily equate with realism, but it can point in that direction, especially in regard to medieval art.

I've found a few interesting references to gorgets of some sort being used in the 14th century. They aren't specifically scale gorgets, but it does show that metal gorgets of some kind were in use. The early 14th armorial treatise describing a knight arming for battle, tournament, and joust mentions a gorgeres or throat defences. One of the first French references to a gorgette is from a document dated 1347. The full equipment issued to the crossbowman Jeran Quesnel, as listed in the 1340 inventory of the Clos de Galees in Rouen, included a gorgieres de plate. The inventory from Rouen of 1347 includes mention of a canvas-covered gorgieres de fer. This last is highly interesting, since it might be of a similar construction to a brigandine or coat-of-plates. If this was sometimes left uncovered, as was sometimes done with a coat-of-plates, then it would look like "scales". (All from David Nicolle's French Armies of the Hundred Years War.)

The Legende de St. Denis, a French manuscript of circa 1317, shows a soldier that wears what may be a scale gorget or collar. Another soldier in the same image wears what appears to be a quilted neck defence of a similar "cut" to the scale defence. A third soldier clearly wears a mail hauberk and coif. The scale may be fanciful or poorly drawn mail, but the other details in the drawing look fairly well executed. The scale gorget could very well be just what it appears to be! (From a b&w photo in David Nicolle's French Medieval Armies 1000-1300.)

Some soldiers in the carved relief depicting the "Massacre of the Innocents" in the cloisters of Toledo Cathedral wear what may be scale-reinforced aventails. This is how David Nicolle has interpreted the carving, although the rectangles could also represent quilted fabric. Nicolle claims that the figures, circa 1398, are purely Spanish in the equipment they wear. (From David Nicolle's El Cid and the Reconquista 1050-1492.) (Scale was used in Spain; their is an existing 11th-13th century scale cuirass in a museum in Vitoria, and the effigy of Frey Martin Vasquez de Acre of the Order of Santiago, died 1486, depicts a late example of a scale cuirass worn over mail.)

The effigy of Don Alvaro de Cabrera of circa 1314 shows a gorget that may be constructed of a combination of plate and covered brigandine. The throat is protected by a plate, and early gorget, while the collar over the shoulders displays rivets on some sort of backing material. This may depict a shoulder defence made in the manner of a brigandine or a coat-of-plates, or fabric-covered mail, or rivetted fabric. (Shown in a detail in Claude Blair's European Armour Circa 1066 to Circa 1700, and the full effigy in Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight by Edge and Paddock.)

This isn't a gorget or aventail, but the skirt of scales worn over the skirt of the mail haubergeon or separate mail skirt shown on the effigy of Kunz von Haberkorn, died 1421, shows that scales could be realistically depicted alongside realistically depicted mail. Also, it shows that scale could be used for certain parts of armour in Central and Eastern Europe. It matches some of the scale skirts shown in Bohemian manuscripts. (From Vesey Norman's Arms and Armor.)

I think there are enough period depictions that seem to show scale aventails or gorgets that the idea should not be rejected out of hand. Scale was used for other parts of medieval armour, and gorgets were used, albeit rarely, in the 14th century, so there could very well have been scale aventails and gorgets. And, depictions of scale aren't always just lazy or fanciful depictions of mail or quilting.

I hope this made sense!

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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Merv Cannon




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Oct, 2006 8:22 pm    Post subject: Scale Lamellar etc         Reply with quote

This is an interresting topic........ I have found very many references for all sorts of scale and lamellar bits and pieces and some relatively late too....some (Like the collar attached ) are unique while other are represented in multiples on the battle field in art.........and as I said on the other post.......if you looks at the other items depected in a piece of art, the harness, swords the helmets....and it all look ok, then it is reasonable to assume that the artist didnt just take artistic licence with a scale aventail...esp when you can even see the rivets ! I cant post all the pics but I even have a depection of scale sabatons from 1410 ...as well as very unusual shaped scales on a close up of a camail in 1400-14.and you can count the rivets. Most seem to be depicted with fairly standard bascinets. And of course there are the combos...like the one attached, a maille gorget of Sir Ralph Fitzhebert...d.1483 showing two layers of concave scales inside the maille !
We cant say for certain that none of these items exist today as, (here I go again)..... most of the unusual harness pieces are packed away in museum storeroom basements and private collections and wont stand much chance of seeing the light of day (or being photographed) unless some 'authorative' groups start some desk pounding ! Mad
Cheers......Have a nice day !



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Unusual Collar, Sir Ralph Fitzherbert, d1483.jpg


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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 3:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mr Cannon
What a splendid picture! The original kind of reinforces Mr Fay's point about detail and likely realism. I think one of the problems that i have with scale aventails as against 'mail but lazily drawn' is that the latter would be more flexible. Wouldn't an aventail need considerable flexibility to allow the head/helmet to twist (as well as tip in various directions). I find it difficult to imagine how this would work with scale/lamellar. I can see far more easily how you could put scale into a rigid neck defense that the head/neck could rotate within. This is probably saying more about my lack of imagination than about realities of the time.
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James Barker




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 5:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Merv I think this is what you are seeing:





That is a standard of maille found at London Wall near Moorgate Street dated to the 15th century (WoR era) that is in the British Museum. I took that image 2 weeks ago while on vacation and reenacting at Hastings. Notice the brass dags.
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Merv Cannon




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 6:47 am    Post subject: Scale & Lamellar         Reply with quote

I think that the scale aventail would be flexible because it would totally sepend upon what the scales were fixed onto. I'm thinking that it might have been a fairly flexable leather because their job would be simply too hold the scales and the scales would do all the protecting. Also, James, thanks for posting those shots ...they're great... I thing the 'scales' in old Fitzhuberts Collar are just too sharp and well defined to be anything other than scales IMHO , but I am also certian that every combination and effect was used.


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Scale sabatons, From the Murder of the Innocents,Nuremberg 1400-10.jpg


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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 7:10 am    Post subject: Re: Scale & Lamellar         Reply with quote

Merv Cannon wrote:
I think that the scale aventail would be flexible because it would totally sepend upon what the scales were fixed onto. I'm thinking that it might have been a fairly flexable leather because their job would be simply too hold the scales and the scales would do all the protecting.



I'm trying to get my head around that. If the scales are so loosely fixed to a flexible leather that they allow said leather to move enough to allow head rotation, won't the scales then be moving out of their best alignment and leaving gaps whcih will only then be protected by the leather (which would have to be thin to be flexible and therefore wouldn't provide much in the way of protection). Come to that, scales lying like the hackle feathers on a bird seem to be inviting an upward thrust (the same argument doesn't apply nearly so much to the sabatons).
Geoff
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Oct, 2006 7:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Geoff Wood wrote:

I think one of the problems that i have with scale aventails as against 'mail but lazily drawn' is that the latter would be more flexible. Wouldn't an aventail need considerable flexibility to allow the head/helmet to twist (as well as tip in various directions). I find it difficult to imagine how this would work with scale/lamellar. I can see far more easily how you could put scale into a rigid neck defense that the head/neck could rotate within.


Geoff,
There you go with the "Mr. Fay" thing again! Please, call me Richard!

As for the flexibility of a scale aventail, I don't think it would be much of a problem since most depictions of scale aventails show them as being shorter than mail aventails. They just touch the shoulders in most cases, instead of draping over them. It wouldn't be much more restrictive than a great helm in terms of head-turning ability.

I also think the turning of ones head was the least of their concerns. Even though there was probably some movement, I'm sure a full plate gorget on a bascinet, the so called "great bascinet", didn't allow the knight a full range of head motion. There has always been a compromise between protection and mobility. That's one of the reasons why we see so many different types of armour, from the padded jack and helmet of a common infantryman, to the ninety pound tilting harness with the helmet strapped or bolted down to the breast and back plate!

Another thing about the scale aventails, they could have been worn as a reinforcement to a mail aventail. That way, even if gaps appeared in the scales, you had an inner layer of mail. The scales may have been to "stiffen" the area around the neck. I think scale aventails may be an experiment in the eventual adoption of the great bascinet.

I don't know what to make of the mail standard Merv posted. Maybe they are "dags" instead of scales, and the artist just decided to show them in that fashion. I guess a scale gorget could be worn underneath, and that's what the artist is showing. It's truly weird looking, though!

I've seen plenty of examples in period art of scale sabatons. I've also seen what may be scale greaves, and the brass of Sir John de Northwood shows a very rare (possibly unique) example of scale vambraces. Again, armour pieces made of scales were rare in medieval Europe, but they were used!

Thanks everyone, this is interesting stuff!

Stay safe!

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Michael B.
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Nov, 2007 2:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a scale standard made with scales from Ring Lord. Weaved with a 4 in 1. made with padded liner backing and a steel plate "trauma" guard over the throat.
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James Barker




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PostPosted: Tue 27 Nov, 2007 6:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am reposting my images since they moved and this thread is back:






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Iagoba Ferreira





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2009 4:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here you have a photo of the Vitoria coat of scales, now at the Museo de Armería de Alava. I have examined myself, and I must warn that the origin or datation is only a guess...it may be or not. It has alternated green and silvered scales and also a second layer of bigger scales upwards in the torso, if its of interest...

About the scale aventails, we have some nice church tympanum carvings dated to the early XIVth century, wich show clearly them in use. Sadly, I'm in process of making the photos...not an easy task, small targets, poor light, and not a good photographer Confused



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Nathan Gilleland





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PostPosted: Thu 10 Dec, 2009 5:36 pm    Post subject: Re: Scale Lamellar etc         Reply with quote

The picture that Merv Cannon posted caught my attention. When I look closely at it, the detailwork is fascinating. To my untrained eye, I can make out the weave direction of chainmail links on the collar. It almost looks to me that the scales pictured in this shot seem to be made out of smaller ringed chainmail as well. Any thoughts on this? It might make sense, combining fashion with functionality. This might be something I would like to attempt a recreation of in my spare time...


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Unusual Collar, Sir Ralph Fitzherbert, d1483.jpg


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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Wed 12 May, 2010 6:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While studying effigies I came upon another Spanish effigy of an unknown knight c. 1450 in St Bartolome's in Salamanca which appears to have a scale haubergeon depicted underneath a surcoat. here is the line drawing floating around the internet



it is definitely not mail
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Iagoba Ferreira





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PostPosted: Thu 13 May, 2010 2:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for letting us know this Spanish piece. I've never heard of it... Surprised

By the style of the drawing probably is related to a ilustrated magazine called "la ilustración hispano-americana", typical of the late XIX and early XX centuries...I'll try to find something more. I'm not sure if it can be scale or mail, until I find a photo. Those XIX ilustrators have some problems with the mail... Wink
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PostPosted: Thu 13 May, 2010 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That would be great if you could find out more........ and confirm whether it indeed is scale rather than mail. it does appear to look similar to the harness you posted from the Museo de Armería de Alava.

I found the image here:

http://effigiesandbrasses.com/monuments/unknown_anayas/
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PostPosted: Thu 13 May, 2010 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
the effigy of Frey Martin Vasquez de Acr


Do you have the picture of that effigy? I couldn't find it anywhere.

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PostPosted: Thu 13 May, 2010 10:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been unable to find any mention on a paper dealing with funerary statues in Castilla y León... Confused

The provenance of the drawing is, as it's explained in the given link, a work by Carderera y Solano, Valentín, called "Iconografía Española" not avalaible in PDF, perhaps they have got in a nearby library in paper...

About the scale coat from Vitoria...my opinion has not changed: I haven't got the knowledge to date it, but my opinion is that is nor from the 12-14th centuries, nor probably European. I'd like to hear the opinion of anyone with a deep knowledge of oriental scale armour regarding it...
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Iagoba Ferreira





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PostPosted: Thu 13 May, 2010 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michal Plezia wrote:
Richard Fay wrote:
the effigy of Frey Martin Vasquez de Acr


Do you have the picture of that effigy? I couldn't find it anywhere.


Correct name:

Martín Vazquez de Arce, better known as the "Doncel de Sigüenza". Thousands of photos over the WWW, it's probably the most famous funerary statue of Spain, only behind the one of the Teruel lovers...Wink

A living knight reading a book, not a very common depiction:



But I don't see any scales...even in better photos.
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