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John H





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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 8:25 am    Post subject: 15th century armor question         Reply with quote

Full harness was obviously popular during the late 15th century, but I am curious what other types of armor would have been prevelant on the battlefield, both with men-at-arms and infantry? Also, would there be men still wearing much older styles, such as coats of plates?

Also, I am interested if anyone has information on how much armor soldiers wore during this time period when on the march, and not expecting immediate combat. And how much would that change in more hostile areas?

Thanks in advance for any insights!
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

John,
A brigandine cuirass or coat was also popular in the 15th century. It could be worn by retainers, archers, and even great lords when they wished to wear something lighter or more flexible than a full breast and back plate. Some of the brigandines were covered in velvet or cloth-of-gold, so they were obviously made for men of means. Some period art shows what may be brigandines worn with a plackart to protect the belly, but it could also represent fabric-covered breastplates.

The brigandine often had larger plates around the area of the chest, so it would almost act as a "coat-of-plates". I don't believe you would find the 14th century style coat-of-plates on the 15th century battlefield much if at all; I believe the brigandine and humbler jack took over from the coat-of-plates. An interesting side-note: there is a door at Tewkesbury Abbey covered with plates said to have come from brigandines worn at the battle of Tewkesbury in 1472. Some are quite large, twenty-eight by four inches. The story about the origin of the plates may be apocryphal, but it's an interesting story nevertheless.

Poorer soldiers, if they wore any armour, would probably be clad in a jack. Some jacks were padded with several thicknesses of fabric (usually linen, I believe), while others may also be lined with metal or horn plates. An infantryman in a breastplate or other plate armour pieces often acquired the armour from stripping the dead after the battle. You would often find a mixture of full plate (worn by the lords), plate and brigandine (worn by poorer men-at-arms and retainers), and jacks reinforced with a varying amount of plate (worn by the infantrymen). This is only a very general statement, but it gives the basic idea of what types of armour might be seen on a 15th century battlefield.

I hope this helped answer at least one of your questions!

Stay safe!

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about mail? How common was a mostly mail or mail only defense in the 15th century?
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

Michael Edelson wrote:

What about mail? How common was a mostly mail or mail only defense in the 15th century?


Michael,
Mail was certainly still used as the main defence on the "fringes" of Europe. The Irish cavalrymen would wear a mail shirt over a padded gambeson or aketon at least into the 16th century. There is a picture of a knight or gallowglass in mail from De Burgo Genealogy from about 1583. I believe in the 15th century, the Irish and Scots would often just wear a padded coat with a mail tippet or coif and open-faced helmet.

I'll probably get blasted for using a "secondary" source (I could research further later, but I don't have the time right now), but David nicolle shows an Irish Kern of circa 1415 clad in a similar fashion to the De Burgo knight in a drawing in Paper Soldiers of the Middle Ages: Volume II: the Hundred Years War. He states that "Art MacMurrough" in Jean Creton's Chronicle of circa 1405 (MS Harl. 1319, British Library) and an effigy of a knight of circa 1400 in Jerpoint Cloister in Kilkenny are a couple of his sources for the figure. If anyone has access to images of these period sources, they can see if either figure does indeed wear mail.

I could look around for more possible examples of the use of mail as the primary defence in the 15th century, but I am a bit busy today. I'll see if I can get to it. Remember, mail was also still used to supplement plate, and I have heard of a mail stuffed jack as well.

Stay safe!

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

I just checked the British Library website and found the image of Art McMurrough. He definitely seems to be wearing mail over a long garment and beneath a cloak. There is a photo of this image in Wars of the Irish Kings by David Willis McCullough, but the enlargemnet loses some details. It looks more like mail in the better image on the British Library site. Anyway, the caption in the McCullough book gives a date of 1401 or 1405 for the image in Jean Creton's Chronicle. So, the Irish and Scots at least would have still worn mail in the 15th century (and be clad in almost the same way 180 years later).

Stay safe!

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James Barker




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 11:49 am    Post subject: Re: 15th century armor question         Reply with quote

John H wrote:
Full harness was obviously popular during the late 15th century, but I am curious what other types of armor would have been prevelant on the battlefield, both with men-at-arms and infantry? Also, would there be men still wearing much older styles, such as coats of plates?

Also, I am interested if anyone has information on how much armor soldiers wore during this time period when on the march, and not expecting immediate combat. And how much would that change in more hostile areas?

Thanks in advance for any insights!


John your question will get different answers for different armies, what nations are you interested in? I do English during the War of the Roses, men at arms were wearing full suits of armor at this time they would be well off men. The ideal of the poor knight is pure fiction; you had to maintain a certain level of wealth to maintain titles. Archers would have a helm (sallet or type of skull cap) and a body defense (jack or brigandine, the coat of plates is long out of date), some would have maille under either body defense styles and some a breastplate over a jack. Also some archers brought their own arm or leg defense with them according to muster rolls.

Baggage trains would carry the wealthy men’s armor if they were not wearing it for concern of attack. Some art depicts soldier types walking with their armor on and a bundle slung over a polearm.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

James Barker wrote:

The ideal of the poor knight is pure fiction; you had to maintain a certain level of wealth to maintain titles.


Certainly, but you could see poorer men-at-arms (usually considered to be a more general term than knight), not necessarily of knightly rank, but fighting almost as knights! Retainers of the lords of non-knightly rank might be fairly well equiped, just not in the latest full harness.

Stay safe!

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Hisham Gaballa





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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
Hello all!

James Barker wrote:

The ideal of the poor knight is pure fiction; you had to maintain a certain level of wealth to maintain titles.


Certainly, but you could see poorer men-at-arms (usually considered to be a more general term than knight), not necessarily of knightly rank, but fighting almost as knights! Retainers of the lords of non-knightly rank might be fairly well equiped, just not in the latest full harness.

Stay safe!


Even so men-at-arms still had to provide their own equipment and it had to meet certain minimum standards, e.g. for a 15th century knight, full plate armour, weapons and at least 4 horses; a courser, a palfrey, a rouncy and a packhorse.
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Du Costume Militaire des Francais en 1446 is a text which lists in detail the equipment of the French troops in the last part of the 100-years war. It gives a good description of the varying types of armour worn by the majority of the combatants.
From the well equiped men-at-arms to the archers and the foot soldiers.
Quote:

Firstly said the men-at-arms are commonly, when they go to war, in entire white harness. That is to say close cuirass, vambraces, large garde-braces, leg harness, gauntlets, salet with visor and a small bevor which covers only the chin. Each is armed with a lance and a long light sword, a sharp dagger hanging on the left side of the saddle, and a mace. Each man must also be accompanied by a coustillier equiped with a salade, leg harness, haubergeon, jaque, brigandine or corset, armed with a dagger, sword and a vouge or demi-lance. Also a page in the same armour and with one or two weapons. The archers [2 supporting each men-at-arms] wear leg armour, salets, heavy jaques lined with linen or brigandines, bow in hand and quiver at side. (...)

there is also another manner of folk armed soley in haubergeons, salets, gauntlets and leg armour who are wont to carry in the hand a sort of dart which has a broad head and is called langue de boeuf [ox-tounge, a polearm related to the partisan and not a ’dart’].
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 3:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some of the more respected historian/ authors (Norman Cantor, Francis Gies, Barber, others) point out that unfavorable economics (decline in revenues from agricultural holdings, less fertile lands available to distribute, plus a natural population growth that outpaced land available to inherit) forced a continual shrinkage of the "prosperous knightly class" starting around 950 to 1100 A.D., depending on region. Many of the later "Men at Arms" were in fact poor sons of knights, or landless knights. They were raised with all of the training, lineage, and social skills appropriate to my own concept of a knight, but lacked the wealth and connections to really choose their battles and lifestyle as they pleased. This tends to be true across Germany, France, and England, although the traditions and circumstances differed a lot. Paraphrasing a bit here, but strictly adhereing to intent of detailed paragraphs; Cantor and Gies characterized the transistion (reference The Last Kight, and The Knight in History) from independent knights holding titles granted directly by kings.... to "men at arms" as engulfing roughly 75% of the knightly cast taking place in a period shorter than 200 years.

I have not researched it enought to assert this with much strength. However as an example, in France at least some of these poor sons were essentially granted an equivalent status as if weathly and landed until a mature age of around 30 years old. This gave them a decade to win wealth in battle, or befriend a royal patron. If they did not achieve some degree of wealth or fame through deeds, they lost this status and could no longer compete in tournaments, wear the golden spurs, etc.. The majority of German knights needed to hold some type of official capacity (minnesinger, court official, etc. ) to supplement their income. Upward mobility of German knights really fell off pretty severely by the end of 12th century too, although some who started off as "bondsmen farmesr" ended up with permanent land holdings and lasting social status. The English case is too hard to generalize. One can find occasional cases were an individual ascended to fame and wealth (even Sainthood.) Such cases are hard to uncover, although there are at least a couple for just about any country.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 4:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Daniel Staberg wrote:

Du Costume Militaire des Francais en 1446 is a text which lists in detail the equipment of the French troops in the last part of the 100-years war. It gives a good description of the varying types of armour worn by the majority of the combatants.
From the well equiped men-at-arms to the archers and the foot soldiers.

Daniel,
Would 'men-at-arms' here be the more general term, or would it mean men of knightly rank? Medieval chroniclers and other writers were notorious about their loose definitions of terms. Did the authors mean men-at-arms in general, or those specifically of knightly rank?

Anyway, my point was that a man-at-arms not of knightly rank wouldn't have the "top-of-the-line" Milanese or "Gothic" harness, but a less fancy or elaborate armour than his betters. Certainly men-at-arms were expected to have a plate harness, but would it be of the same quality as that of the great lords? They might also be more likely to fight in a brigandine and plackart, with plate limb protection. Men-at-arms is one of those nebulous terms that can be applied to different types of medieval warrior by different people; I was using it to differentiate those armoured warriors that lacked the noble rank from the "true knights". (The term can also apply equally well to knights.)

To get back to the original question, there would be a lot of variety in what was worn on the late 15th century battlefield, from full plate, to brigandines with some plate and perhaps a mail shirt, to humbler plate-lined jacks, to simple padded jacks. The coat-of-plates was pretty well "extinct" by this time, it's function taken over by brigandines and solid breastplates.

Stay safe!

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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Wed 01 Nov, 2006 11:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Fay wrote:
Hello all!

Daniel Staberg wrote:

Du Costume Militaire des Francais en 1446 is a text which lists in detail the equipment of the French troops in the last part of the 100-years war. It gives a good description of the varying types of armour worn by the majority of the combatants.
From the well equiped men-at-arms to the archers and the foot soldiers.

Daniel,
Would 'men-at-arms' here be the more general term, or would it mean men of knightly rank? Medieval chroniclers and other writers were notorious about their loose definitions of terms. Did the authors mean men-at-arms in general, or those specifically of knightly rank?

Anyway, my point was that a man-at-arms not of knightly rank wouldn't have the "top-of-the-line" Milanese or "Gothic" harness, but a less fancy or elaborate armour than his betters. Certainly men-at-arms were expected to have a plate harness, but would it be of the same quality as that of the great lords? They might also be more likely to fight in a brigandine and plackart, with plate limb protection. Men-at-arms is one of those nebulous terms that can be applied to different types of medieval warrior by different people; I was using it to differentiate those armoured warriors that lacked the noble rank from the "true knights". (The term can also apply equally well to knights.)

To get back to the original question, there would be a lot of variety in what was worn on the late 15th century battlefield, from full plate, to brigandines with some plate and perhaps a mail shirt, to humbler plate-lined jacks, to simple padded jacks. The coat-of-plates was pretty well "extinct" by this time, it's function taken over by brigandines and solid breastplates.

Stay safe!

Men-at-arms in the text denotes a armored cavalryman in full white harness holding that position in the newly created compaignes de'l Ordonnance, i.e the regular French army. By the 15th century the social rank of a fighting man no longer defines his military title which was now determined by his equipment and his tactical role. If you didn't have full white harness of acceptable quality you didn't get accepted as a men-at-arms no matter what your social background was. There are examples recorded of Burgundian ecuyers (esquires) offering their services as coustilliers since they could not pay for the equipment of the men-at-arms.

It also depends on how one defines "knightly" rank, does one only count the knighs banneret and knights or does one include the esquires as well? While the number of titled knights among the men-at-arms diminished the esquires remained the backbone of the men-at-arms well into the 16th Century. In the 14th and early 15th Centuries there were a greater, perhaps a much greater number of non-noble men-at-arms in some armies due to the fact that the men-at-arms of the 100-Years War fought dismounted for a long period. Hence there was no need for an expensive warhorse or the trainign needed to fight on horseback. Indeed the English went so far as to diffrentiate between men-at-arms who were equiped and trained for foot combat alone (lance a pied) and the men-at-arms would possesed the training and equipment for mounted combat (lance a cheval).

I agree that the terminology of the period can be confusing at times, below are a few quotes from a lenghty tread which partly was about that subject. Unfortunately 19th Century writers didn't exactly improve things with their erronous usage of certain terms , especially "men-at-arms".


Daniel Staberg wrote:
Terminology
The words used to describe ”knightly” heavy cavalry changed in the 1200-1400 period. At the start of the period ’knightly’ cavalry were called ”miles” or ”milites” which is today mostly translated as ’knight’ while other, often less heavily equiped cavalry are called serjeants/sergeants.
However by the late 13th century the name of the social rank is separated from the military function and equipment of the nobleman in question. instead of knights the sources talk about Lances which denote a fully equiped&armored men-at-arms regardless of the social rank of the fighting man in question. Lance was the word commonly used in France and England while in Germany it’s Gleven or Glaven. Most modern sources written in english tend use the word men-at-arms instead of lance.

The non-titled or knightly class had actually been divided into 3 ranks: Knights banneret, knights and esquires but all of these were expected to take to the field equiped as fully armored men-at-arms. Many if not all of these men-at-arms/lances were equiped in the latest style possible since men with inferior equipment did not receive full wages. Added to this was the social stigma of being badly equiped when belonging to a warrior caste or class as well as the simple fact that these men had fighting as a profession and hence used the best equipment they could lay their hands on. Indeed the sources of the period notes when the equipment of the men-at-arms did not conform to that which was expected of this type of troops. One example being the infamous ’companions’ of the mercenary ’Free Companies’ which saw action in France, Italy and Spain during the later half of the 14th Century.



Daniel Staberg wrote:
In the 15th century alone the English called their heavy cavalry "lance" as well as "spears" or ges darmes, man of arms and man-at-arms. (indentures of 1415, 1440, 1441and 1475 as quoted in various works) .
Lets take a look at the text of the indenture of James Skidmore in 1440

Quote:
"...as a man of arms with vj. [6] archer sin his company, all on horsbak and wele chosen men, and likely personnes wele and suffisantly armed, horsed and arrayed ev'ry man after his degree; that is to say, that the seid James Skidmore have hernis complete wt basnet or salade, with viser, spere, axe, swerd and dagger; And that all the seid archers specially to have good jakks of defence, salades, swerds and sheves of xl. [40] arwes atte least"

Indenture of Jame Skidmore as quoted in Paul Knight's "Henry V and the Conquest of France 1416-53"

Attached below is a scan of an actual indenture of 1441, as you can see neither the word knight or chevalier is used in the actual text.

The French used the term lance as well or gens darmes, hommes d'armes, often spelled in a variety of ways.


Regards
Daniel
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2006 8:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:
Du Costume Militaire des Francais en 1446 is a text which lists in detail the equipment of the French troops in the last part of the 100-years war. It gives a good description of the varying types of armour worn by the majority of the combatants.
From the well equiped men-at-arms to the archers and the foot soldiers.


Daniel,

I've seen theFrench text of this in Foulkes. Is this your translation into English? Or is it available elsewhere?

Thanks!
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PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2006 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Daniel,
Thanks for all that! I am not arguing about the fact that men-at-arms were armoured, I guess I should have said they might have a bit less "fashionable" and perhaps a little older armour than the lords of knightly rank. There were differences in their wealth, after all.

Here are a few more definitions of men-at-arms, just to add more confusion! I'm not saying any of these are "authoritative", just presenting them as examples of what writers consider to be the definition of men-at-arms.

Ewart Oakeshott wrote:

(From the glossary in A Knight in Battle)
Called gen d'armes by the French, they were the heavy cavalry of a fighting unit. They fought with lance and sword, were armoured in mail from head to foot, and rode "barded" and "covered" horses. They were of two types: knights and sergeants. In a medieval army, knights were officers and sergeants were troopers.

This sounds a bit earlier than the 15th century, and I don't know if you would really include sergeants with the men-at-arms. I thought sergeants wore a bit less armour, although they weren't as lightly armed as the infantry.

Here's an interesting description of the armour of a man-at-arms (from Agincourt 1415):
Matthew Bennet wrote:

Until the mid-thirteenth century, armour had been made of mail-interlocking rows of iron rings-but gradually pieces of steel were added to afford extra protection against blows and missiles. By 1415, the suit of plates, or complete armour, had almost reached its final stage. A man-at-arms was covered "cap-a-pie", from head-to-toe, in polished steel.
Under the armour a padded jerkin (akheton) was worn, both to prevent the metal rubbing and to absorb some of the force of an arrow. Until 1400 many men-at-arms wore a mail hauberk over this, and then a coat-of-plates. Such apparel was undoubetdly heavy, but a greater problem was the threat of heat exhaustion under all that armour. The development of the complete "white armour" (so-called because every piece was solid, polished metal) helped to alleviate this. No man could arm himself unaided; it needed at least one assistant. A complete suit was not impossibly heavy; at about 60-80lb (28-35kg), the weight of a complete harness did not exceed the load of a modern infantry pack. Furthermore, the weight was distributed around the body, each piece strapped on and articulated to suit the wearer's movements. So knights did not need to be lifted on to their horses by cranes as Olivier's film "Henry V" erroneously shows. A fit man could easily vault into the saddle.Nor were they unable to rise from a prostrate position unless totally exhausted, stunned or otherwise injured...
Rich men had bands of brass or gilded brass to decorate their suits...
Other important items were the spurs, worn by all horsemen, but gilded in case of knights to symbolize their higher status...

Here's a different take (I know, many of you say the "poorer knight" is a myth) from The Armies of Agincourt:
Christopher Rothero wrote:

There was, of course, a wide variety of armour worn on the field of Agincourt, the various types spanning a period of some 150 years; the better armour would be worn by the wealthier knights and the poorer quality or older armour by knights of lower social standing, or even well-equipped sergeants, men-at-arms, or esquires.

Perhaps Rothero shouldn't talk about "knights of a lower social standing", but I think there would have been a bit of difference in quality between what the barons wore and what their knightly vassals or retainers wore, even if it was purely decorative.
Here's an interesting description of the lance, the mounted unit, from Henry V and the Conquest of France 1416-53:
Paul Knight wrote:

The lances were the elite of the army, even if the individual lance was not knighted. Militarily they were equal to a knight, but those without knighthood were socially inferior and paid less. There is a great deal of confusion caused by different fashions in armour at the time and the great cost and durability of it, which meant that only the wealthiest could-or needed to-keep replacing armour with the latest fashion.
In 1416 the lance was almost entirely encased with plate armour. Many harness would follow the late 14th century style, which still had large areas of mail as shown by the effigy of Edward the Black Prince...

Note, this is describing early 15th century armour, so it's a bit earlier than what was being discussed. Still, it gives an interesting insight into the differences between the wealthier lords and the non-noble men-at-arms. A man-at-arms might show up in somewhat old-fashioned armour. (I'm not saying it wasn't a plate harness, just an older or simpler one.)

I understand that I quoted all "secondary" works, so this information may be suspect, but I thought it could give some insight into the definition of men-at-arms used by writers. I still believe the men-at-arms might had a lesser quality plate armour than his noble compatriots, either a simpler or older design. And, even nobles would sometimes wear brigandine, even if they owned the finest plate harness. Would medieval nobility allow lessers to wear armour faced with cloth of gold? (Of course, maybe for their bodyguard, to impress visitors, but there are some period paintings that seem to show men-at-arms in brigandines.)

Keep in mind, too, that what applies to the French in 1446 doesn't necessarily apply to the rest of Europe. Irish "knights" were still fighting protected by a mail hauberk and padded garment into the 16th century!

Stay safe!

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William Knight




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2006 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd like to underline what James said about maille being used fairly frequently by infantrymen with other defenses--I mean, most of a surviving maille come from this period or later, so it was still used, though often with a brigandine or jack, and sometimes in the partial form of gussets (arms), skirts and standards (like a gorget, which hadn't appeared in its full form in plate yet, but in maille).
So yeah, man-at-arms/equivalents=full plate (maybe with a brigandine if you're not going to be fighting with a lance) and appropriate number of warhorses. So I'm not sure if some people that could qualify as (untitled) 'gentlemen' in England might have served as archers if they didn't have the liquid assets.
-Wilhelm
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PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2006 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

This is what it says about armours other than plate in Bosworth:1485 by Christopher Gravett:
Christopher Gravett wrote:

For those without a solid breast cuirass, the brigandine was the most popular body armour for soldiers who could afford it...
The canvas was faced with a richer material, such as fustian, or by silks or velvets for wealthier clients...
The rivet heads were tinned, richer examples being gilded...
The brigandine was usually closed across the front and over the shoulders by straps and buckles, and was often worn with a mail standard at the neck and either a mail skirt or short pants. It might have long or short sleeves of similar construction, or else long or short mail sleeves; a few even sported plate arm-defences. Some may have been worn over a short mail coat. A number were provided with a solid plate plackart over the lower abdomen, or a complete breastplate, these being left uncovered by fabric. It was a popular defence for all classes.
For those who could not afford a brigandine, the jack provided a surprisingly effective short defensive coat. It was made from layers of linen and was additionally stuffed with tow. The whole was kept in place by quilting, usually in vertical lines or squares...A few appear to have reinforced the outer arms with chain stitched to the fabric. Some jacks were stuffed with mail or horn.
Those below the rank of man-at-arms usually wore either a broad-brimmed kettle-hat, a sallet (some with vision slits in the skull or with a visor) or a skull cap...Many infantrymen carried a small buckler...

From the same source, this is what the author said about men-at-arms:
Christopher Gravett wrote:

Men-at-arms comprised knights and squires of varying rank, from the highest nobles to those men who could barely afford the expense of knighthood and so had opted to remain squires. The nobles and other knights of high rank wore armour made especially for them. The best armourers worked in Germany, northern Italy, and Flanders....
The poorer men-at-arms, and some billmen, wore proporionately less armour than the well-to-do. Some wore what was known in England as a "splint", a form of armour which arose originally in Germany. It consisted of breast- and backplate, and shoulder pieces to each of which was attached, by articulations working on sliding rivets, a gutter-shaped upper and lower cannon (upper and lower arm defence) both articulated to a couter. The whole was strapped round the arm and tied at the shoulder by a point. In other forms the lower cannon enclosed the forearm completely. In some cases the cuirass was worn with short mail sleeves.

So, yes mail was used, but probably more often as a supplement than a complete body armour. Apparently, the non-noble men-at-arms, at least in England, could be equipped in a slightly lighter, or at least simpler, style of plate than their noble compatriots.

Again, I know I'm using "secondary" works, but these are the easiest to use to access the information. I have no reason to outright doubt Christopher Gravett's text.

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PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2006 12:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

I found more mention of brigandines being worn by men of high rank. Unfortunately, it's another "secondary" or even "tertiary" work, but it's of interest just the same.
David Edge and John Miles Padock (from Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight) wrote:

Although brigandines had first appeared in the later part of the fourteenth century, by the mid-fifteenth they were extremely common and worn by all classes of soldier. From Lord Howard's Household Accounts for the year 1461-70 it is clear that the majority of his retainers and tenants were issued with brigandines from his own personal armoury and in fact the very highest in the land wore them, often in preference to plate as they were lighter and more flexible. The Scottish kings of the fifteenth century imported French craftsmen skilled in the manufacture of brigandines, and even emperor Maximillian I commissioned a brigandine by one Bernadino Cantoni of Milan. In 1465 one J Payne wrote to John Paston (as heir of Sire John Fastolf) requesting reparation for losses he had suffered while engaged upon Fastolf's business during the Cade rebellion in 1450. The "commons" had gone to his lodgings at the White Hart and had taken among other goods, "i. peyr of Bregandyrns kevert with blew fellewet anf gylt naille, with leg harneyse, and i. harneys complete of the touche of Milleyn (bearing the touch mark of a Milanese armourer)".
Brigandines were also worn as a light armour by men who did not expect to go into battle, or who might be travelling in unfriendly but not openly hostile country. Comines says that while the men of Charolois and Calabria were fully armed, the troops of Berri and Brittany who marched into Paris in 1465 wore only light brigandines or, some said, garments with gilt nails sewn onto satin, "that they might weigh the lesse"...

The Household Accounts of Edward IV records gifts to a number of his Knights of the Body (Sir William Parr, Sir Thomas Montgomery and Sir Thomas Borough). Lord John Howard received a purple velvet-covered brigandine with gilt headed nails and Lord of Audeley received "the gift of oure said Souverain Lorde the Kynge for covering a peire of brygandyns...clothe of gold ii yerds crymsyn uppon satyn grounde"...

Brigandines were a cheaper alternative to a plate cuirass for the poorer knight, and were often worn with a plackart without fabric covering. Indeed, Charles the Bold, in his Ordinance of Saint Maximin de Treves of October 1473, required them as part of the equipment of the coustelliers.


Again, nobles in England during the period of the "Wars of the Roses" seem to have occasionally worn the brigandine as an alternative to the cuirass. (I find the excerpts from period materials, in the period spelling, to be especially intriguing.) Again, all generalizations suffer from the fact that the exact nature of arms and armour varied from place to place.

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James Barker




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2006 12:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

King Rene lists brigandines as alternative body armor for tournament and there is at least one example with a lance rest.

Also one of the fellows in my War of the Roses group found a reference to a lord and his men entering into a town and all wearing jacks, the text implied they used jacks while on the road incase of a surprise attack. I can't imagine riding everywhere in full harness.
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PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2006 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

In his work Arms and Armour, Paul Martin has some interesting things to say about Charles VII's Compagnies d'Ordonnance of 1439 and 1445. He states that they were designed to reorganize the army of the kingdom and to standardize its equipment. Apparently, the equipment had become haphazrd, implying that the soldiers didn't always show up in proper equipment prior to this. The work Du Costume Militaire des Francais en 1446 is after this date, so some standardization was imposed on the army by this time.

Martin also talks about what the archers and other infantrymen of the Compagnies would be expected to wear. The archers were expected to have leg-armour, sallets, heavy jacks lined with linen, or brigandines, and of course, a bow. Other infantrymen were expected to have have haubergeons, sallets, gauntlets, leg-armour, and be armed with the ox-tongue.

Interestingly, this does seems to make the French more heavily armed than the English at this time, or at least armed a bit differently. (Compare it to the descriptions of English armour in my previous posts.) Again, it varies by place.

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PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2006 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

Here's one more mention of late-15th century English armour, this time from Christopher Gravett's Tewkesbury 1471: the Last Yorkist Victory.
Christopher Gravett wrote:

The armour worn by the knights and squires at this date consisted of so-called "alwite" harness, that is, armour made of plates that were not hidden under a rivetted cloth cover. The standard of workmanship varied depending on the amount paid...
For those who could not afford to have armour made in the great centres of north Italy, Germany or Flanders, armour pieces were selected from merchant armourers "off-the-peg" in England, and fine adjustments made for good fit. Some instead had to protect their torso with a stout "brigandine", a canvas jacket lined with small pieces of plate, whose rivet heads could be seen at the front. Expensive versions were faced with rich cloths and had silvered or gilt rivet heads to produce an attractive garment. The brigandine might be worn with plate limb defences, or for the presumably less wealthy with mail sleeves. For a few men the mail coat was still worn, presumably over a padded "jack". The "jack" was the cheapest defence, being a padded jacket made from numerous layers of linen cloth, or sometimes perhaps tow, wool, or other wadding, and quilted to keep it in place. It was a surprisingly effective soft armour. Some might be reinforced with horn or metal plates, or perhaps even chain links down the outside of the sleeve. Some men may not have worn anything but their doublet. The sallet favoured with West European armour was also worn with brigandines, mail or jacks. As weel as this, a simple round-topped iron or steel cap was worn, sometimes low enough to allow cut-outs for the ears...The kettle hat...was an alternative type...

Again, poorer men-at-arms made do with less elaborate and cheaper plate, while the common infantry made due with brigandines, jacks, or rarely, mail shirts.

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