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Guilherme Dias Ferreira S




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 11:28 am    Post subject: The use of the shield of fully plate armoured knights         Reply with quote

Anybody knows what kind of knight still used the shield since he was fully protected by the best quality of plate armour in the Renaissance?
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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure that in the zenith of full plate, shields were uncommon at best. The armour protected oneself efficiently and there was no need to weigh oneself down with a cumbersome shield.



I'm a bit new here, so I may be far, far off, but thats just what I believe. Anyone with more experience, feel free to verbally rebut what I just said Big Grin
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Brian Ellis Cassity




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 12:05 pm    Post subject: bucklers seem more common, according to some         Reply with quote

Based upon what little reading I've done up to this point, it seems that by this time the buckler was much more common than the full shield, and it's the basis for the I.33 combat system dating back (I believe) to the 14th century. Check out this link. Of course, the statement that one thing was more common than another has to be filtered by geographic location as well.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/SwordandBuckler.htm

Hope that helps. Yay for me. My first post (I'm one of the new guys).

Brian
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

I mentioned this in another thread, but I thought I would bring it up again here:

An early fourteenth century armorial treatise that describes how a knight armed for tournaments, war, and jousts stated that the shield was rarely carried in war at that time because it impeded more than it assisted (mentioned in Tournaments by Richard Barber and Juliet Barker, among other works). Barker and Barber did use endnotes. They list British Library MS Additional 46919 fo. 86v-87r as their source.

I actually went to the British Library website and found the description of this particular manuscript. It does indeed contain notes about a knights equipment. Here's the section from the British Library site:
British Library wrote:


(31) Notes on (i) Different species of hawks. Beg. 'Falcones dici possunt'.

Printed by Meyer, Romania, xiii, p. 529. f. 86b;- (ii) Knights' equipment.

Heading: 'Modus armandi milites ad torneamentum'. Beg. 'Primo fit ignis'.

Printed by Meyer, ibid., p. 530. ff. 86b-87.

Apparently, even by the early 14th century, they felt the shield was redundant!

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 Thu 16 Nov, 2006 12:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Brian Ellis Cassity




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 12:23 pm    Post subject: another page...         Reply with quote

Here is a page from this very website:

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_shield.html
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 3:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Specifically, shields were used for tournaments for quite a span of time. Especially the jousting portion of a tournament.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 3:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again!

Sometimes, knights in plate would have a shield laced or otherwise affixed right to the armour when taking part in the joust. Shields were certainly used in the tournaments, jousts especially, but they were rarely used by armoured warriors in warfare.

Stay safe!

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




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PostPosted: Thu 16 Nov, 2006 10:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shields are pictured in period artwork well into the 15 century and the age of plate. Bucklers seem to be fairly common, but kite shields and even large round shields are pictured regularly as well. Not very many of the fighters are depicted as using a shield, but there are often bucklers present or one or more other shields present. This would suggest that though most fighters did not prefer a shield beside a buckler, which were very common, it would not be suprising at all to face shields on the battlefield and would not seem too antiquated for a fighter to prefer using one in battle over another weapon selection. Now, we don't know in these depictions which fighters are knights and which are not. What kind of knight would use a shield?--Whatever kind of knight that wanted to.


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large round shield

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bucklers in plate

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kite shield
(bigger question, what is a falchion doing in this pic?)


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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 12:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alot of the accounts of Agincourt I have been reading speak of some knights having pavaises. I don't really think these are the real body sheilds though as this was the main battle on foot who were to walk, not very helpful with a large body shield. I think the sheilds would have been used mostly verses archers in this case for their added protection. One of the french sources even blames the lack of enough pavaises for all the battle as why they lost...
I think in general they were less common than previous times but in the 14th and 15th they pop up in quite frequently in literary sources in battle and in artwork.
RPM
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 12:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My feeling on this is that by the late 15th century men would have been organized based on their weapons. I think that pikemen were the basis of armies. Pikemen were cheap and lightly armored, so that ment you could have a lot of them. I believe that pikemen were the chief reason for the decline of the knight. However, pikemen were very vulnerable to arrows, so it would make sense to have a line of sword and shieldmen that the pikemen could run behind. It would also make sense for pikemen to carry shields into battle, to defend against arrows, and then discard them to fight with polearms when they closed in with the enemy.
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Michael S. Rivet





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PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 12:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Grayson C. wrote:
I'm pretty sure that in the zenith of full plate, shields were uncommon at best. The armour protected oneself efficiently and there was no need to weigh oneself down with a cumbersome shield.


If I'm not mistaken, the shield was as much or more an offensive weapon than a "protection." In other words, the earlier knight who used a shield did not do so mainly as a suppliment to insufficient armour but because it was an excellent suppliment to the primary weapon. I understood that it was not the improvement of armour that spelled the downfall of the shield (at least not directly), but the rise of more powerful two-handed armaments needed to damage a man in plate. Still, warriors who continued to fight with single-handed weapons might continue to use a shield for the same reason they had always been used.
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 2:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
My feeling on this is that by the late 15th century men would have been organized based on their weapons. I think that pikemen were the basis of armies. Pikemen were cheap and lightly armored, so that ment you could have a lot of them. I believe that pikemen were the chief reason for the decline of the knight. However, pikemen were very vulnerable to arrows, so it would make sense to have a line of sword and shieldmen that the pikemen could run behind. It would also make sense for pikemen to carry shields into battle, to defend against arrows, and then discard them to fight with polearms when they closed in with the enemy.


The Swiss pikemen were not lightly armored and did not carry shields. The Higgins armoury contains several periods suits of Pikemen's armor. It is plate harness from head to knee and was considered shot proof. Arrows and crossbow bolts weren't an issue. The Burgundians under Charles the Bold were the only pikemen to carry shields and it was considered antiquated and questionable at that time.

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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 2:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael S. Rivet wrote:
Grayson C. wrote:
I'm pretty sure that in the zenith of full plate, shields were uncommon at best. The armour protected oneself efficiently and there was no need to weigh oneself down with a cumbersome shield.


If I'm not mistaken, the shield was as much or more an offensive weapon than a "protection." In other words, the earlier knight who used a shield did not do so mainly as a suppliment to insufficient armour but because it was an excellent suppliment to the primary weapon. I understood that it was not the improvement of armour that spelled the downfall of the shield (at least not directly), but the rise of more powerful two-handed armaments needed to damage a man in plate. Still, warriors who continued to fight with single-handed weapons might continue to use a shield for the same reason they had always been used.



You could more than very well be right. I stated earlier than I am certainly no expert and my views could be far from the truth. Thank you for your post though, at the very least, it got me thinking. I'll have to ponder on this a while Big Grin
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Guilherme Dias Ferreira S




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 5:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know that the french gendarmes and the german gothic knights rarely used shields. But what about the italian knights wearing their milanese armour(since its invention in the 1450s)? And the english knights?
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Nov, 2006 11:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael,

I do not doubt that it could be used as a weapon but think it still primarily would have been incorporated as a defense. Perhaps not always used so but with projectiles and even melee weapons a shield is very useful, especially if not in plate.

Steven,
Most swiss pikemen were not heavily armoured. Per their own records it was the first ranks that were made up so. In theory they were supposed to have men own their own armour and if not provided by local area. If you look how they are raised and organised then go back and see the arms and armour owned most do not own a very complete armour, the minimum in the 15th being a mail shirt or breastplate, which at times were not even kept. Then they would be vunerable to archers. Not having most of your body covered, face, arms and legsare still a target that if hit renders the pikeman somewhat useless. The only times I know that pikemen and archers fought were Charles the Bolds campaigns and archers, not even the best of archers, could compensate for Charles's over ambition and generalship.

Vassilis,

I agree that pikemen had alot to do with the demise of the knight or perhaps heavy full cavalry. It is not until the bayonet that the musket does not need their defence and that is late in the 17th. It is interesting in britain that the pike is 2 to one musket till mid century at which point more muskets are used but not replaced till the bayonet.

Thinking more about this it likely should be why the shield disappeared or if it did amoung men at arms. Even into the 15th non-knightly or non-men at arms foot troops often were still armed with shields. You still have companies of crossbowmen supposted by shieldmen armed with spears or swords. Into the 16th you have sword and bucklermen in large numbers cutting into pike formations. In spain they were quite popular. So I suppose your place in the militart organisation has a place.

RPM
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Nov, 2006 5:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall-
I've heard the same before but the overall effect is still of a unit that is well armored. I say that because by the era where pikes were common the primary missile weapons were crossbows and firearms, both of which fire along fairly flat trajectories. As such the second and rear ranks are quite unlikely to get hit with missile fire. Also, in a pike formation, unless the unit is routed melee attacks cannot harm the second and rear ranks. My earlier words were imprecise (sorry) but the point is still generally accurate I believe: pikemen were not in need of additional defenses.

Michael-
I am curious about your suggestion that shields were primarily offensive. I've not heard that before and I'm curious as to the basis for such a claim.

Vassilis-
I am not aware of any pike wielding armies where sword and shield men were used to defend pikemen. Targetteers and especially rodeleros were used offensively to attack pike formations. Also, since the front ranks of pikemen were well armored and they all carried swords, the value of sword and shield soldiers to supplement a pike unit is questionable.

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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Nov, 2006 10:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hmm.... I think you all have some point. I have seen paintings depicting all sort of combinations. I think that may be at the heart of the confusion. I makes sense that armies might equip themselves based on what they expect of the opposing army or what is available to themselves. The weapons and ratios between weapons may have changed from one battle to the next. The use of mercinary units being hired may have also changed the weapons and tactics used from one battle to the next. From what I have read, mercinary units tended to be very specialized.

For the most part I believe that only a small portion of armies was wearing full armor, even in the late 15 th century as a matter of cost and available resources. So I am more inclined to believe that shield use fell bacause of the rising use of two-handed pikes, rather then they felt invincible in thier armor. I do think that painters and scribes gave attention men in full armor when recording history, rather then men in leather armor with wooden shields on the battlefield.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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Michael S. Rivet





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PostPosted: Sun 19 Nov, 2006 6:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:

Michael-
I am curious about your suggestion that shields were primarily offensive. I've not heard that before and I'm curious as to the basis for such a claim.


Sorry, I guess I should have explained myself a little more clearly, since this can get a bit "semantic." A common, prevailing view, though perhaps not in this crowd, is that the shield was primarily used as a wall to hide behind. It would absorb incoming blows and arrows. This may have been true to a certain extent in the shield wall formations of the ancient and migration periods, I suppose. I know next to nothing about those eras.

However, after reading Stephen Hand's articles in the two Spada volumes, it seems pretty clear to me that the medieval shield was used much more actively. I believe in one SFI post, Mr. Hand refers to it as a "knuckleduster" and based on his findings that's not hyperbole. It was not used to absorb blows, nor was it used to batter away the enemy's weapon, but to batter the enemy himself. The beauty of it is that, because of its size and shape, it simultaneously closes off the enemy's line of attack in the process (when used properly). That makes it defensive, but defensive in the same way that a Master Cut from a longsword is defensive. As such, it's still a weapon, not part of the armour kit.

I don't understand the argument that improved armour meant the death of the shield. Doesn't that imply that your heavily armoured knight preferred to absorb blows with his body than close off his enemy's line of attack? It seems more reasonable to me that knights gave up shields in favor of two-handed weapons which had better reach and could deal more devastating blows, even to an armoured target (who might laugh off blows from lighter weapons). But were that the case, those who still carried single-handed weapons might continue to use the shield, which would also explain why shields did not entirely disappear.

Granted, my sources are mainly Mr. Hand's reconstruction of sword-and-shield fighting based on period art, which, obviously, is less than bulletproof. I feel like I've read this argument somewhere else, but I can't put my brain on where that might be, much less my finger. Anyway, considering the little period information we have on shield use or period texts explaining why the shield was cast aside, as it were, I thought it worth consideration.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Nov, 2006 2:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The Burgundians under Charles the Bold were the only pikemen to carry shields and it was considered antiquated and questionable at that time.


No, Fourquevaux, writting in the middle of the 16th century, also suggested shields for pikemen. His pikemen were, however, quite well-armored. He seems to have wanted the shield more fighting in the press than for protection from missiles.

Quote:
I agree that pikemen had alot to do with the demise of the knight or perhaps heavy full cavalry.


Huh. If anything, cavalry got heavier during the age of the pike. As far as I can tell, 16th-century heavy lancers were the best that ever existed. They'd generally lose against a block of pikemen if unsupported, but make quite a fight of it. As in the Battle of Dreux, for example. Such cavalry might well route pikemen with a little help from their own infantry. Neither muskets nor pikemen drove heavy lancers from battlefield. Pistols did it.

Quote:
The only times I know that pikemen and archers fought were Charles the Bolds campaigns and archers, not even the best of archers, could compensate for Charles's over ambition and generalship.


How about the Battle of Flodden Field in the early 16th century? Scottish pikemen came up against longbowmen there. The English won, but not because of their bows. The Scottish pikemen were well-armored; arrows did little damage to them.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Nov, 2006 1:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

True but in the 16th the heavy cavalry trades in lances for pistols so they usually do not have to charge into pikeblocks until having blown holes into it. The Germans do this ealiest I think mid century. In the 17th pikemen are still the most numerous on the field initially and the numbers of heavy armoured cavalry is declining rapidly until by the 2nd half the cuiraiss and helmet with perhaps a guantlet is what a horseman wears usually at the most, pikemen continue on, heavy cavalry in very minute numbers. There are cavalry attacks on pikemen but I doubt this was a common occurance or when it did happen, intentional. What do you mean pistols did it? If anything to me it would be the long barrels of improved muskets that could blow holes in 4mm plus of metal with other improvements to firearms as well. But when the heavy cavalry was at its peak the pike's amde up the main percent of the armies not only to remove other pike formatiosn but cavalry as well.

Ah Flodden. I forgot that one. Good call. I was thinking 15th century but Pinkie as well would work. In my recent looks into primary sources two main themes have occured to me. One is that some primary english sources inidcate arrows killing men, perhaps not through their armour but men in armour and two that the scottish men were in very nice, new german armour, which as the Knight and the BLast Furnace indicates the german armour from circa 1500-1510 was getting quite thick and consistant heat treating. Good point though, I had not thought of that one straight way until you mentioned it.

RPM
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