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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Armour Effectiveness in Real Life Reply to topic
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Felix Wang




Location: Fresno, CA
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Sep, 2004 6:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Armour Effectiveness in Real Life         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:
....Another question while we're at it: Any one ever see the reverse side of an original shield designed for use on horseback? If so, are the hand-holds in a different position than for foot use? My own experience is that the modern placement, while effective for foot use, really hinders the control of the reins!!!


There are a couple of German heater shields in Marburg, from the later 13th and early 14th centuries, which probably had two sets of handholds. Based on the nails/rivets/holes, there was a grip towards the upper corner, as was / is commonly used, but there was another pair of fasteners for a handgrip more horizontal than usual. It is thought that this second hand position was meant for mounted use, since it allows the hand to be closer to the reins than a conventional handhold.
a stick diagram, "a" = armhold hole
[ -----------------------------] "h" = handhold hole
[ ---------------------h------] "x" = probable 2nd handhold hole
[ -----------------------h----]
[ ------------------------x----]
[ -------a---------------------]
[---------------------------x--]
[ ---------a-------------------]
[ -----------------------------]
...[ -----------------------]
........[ --------------- ]
............[ -------- ]
...............[---]
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Gordon Frye




Location: Kingston, Washington
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Sep, 2004 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Felix; Exactly as I thought! Thank you very much for the diagram and the information, it is much appreciated. I'll put that into my files for future reference.

Although a family emergency forced me to slip out before things got going, I did manage to run up to Sonora this morning and say hi to Rod Walker, Clif Bassett and Petter Ellengsen before I had to run. But I did get to talk for a moment to Rod, and in discussing this very issue Rod pointed out his own experience in using a shield, both the heater and the kite, to me. His view is the by using the "guige" (or however it's spelled... the strap to hang it from your neck) and just the rear arm piece on the shield, you can push your hand to where it needs to be in order to have full control of your horse. I guess landing on shields helps some too in those unintentional dismounts! But by using your horse to keep your shield between you and your opponent, rather than maneuvering the shield itself, you keep yourself covered. Makes sense to me, I just need to get over my unease about the idea of hanging something like that from my neck, while on a horse!

If I can run back to Sonora tomorrow I'll pester Rod, Petter and Clif some more, and try to get more info, but perhaps when Rod himself gets time he can clarify these points for us. Nice armour, btw!

Thanks!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Sep, 2004 7:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon , can't wait to hear the fedback . Rods and Felix's input on the shield thing are very intersting and i'd love to hear more on this as we're in the process of redesigning ours .
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Stephen Wittsell




Location: New Glarus, WI.
Joined: 17 May 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 11 Sep, 2004 7:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Shield Straps         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:

I don't know if I'm really explaining it properly, but for the control of the horse, one needs a lot of communication via the reins, as it tells the horse what you want, and it can really tell you what the horse is thinking too, so you need to have a good "feel" on the reins,and "contact" with the horse's mouth. Gordon


This is a great thread guys. It kind of harkens back to another thread of a few months ago where the use of a two handed sword from horseback, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestries, was discussed. Now given that I know more about riding elephants (now there's a war steed) than horses, my wife being the horse trainer and riding instructor of the family, let me put forth a couple of things. To my mind a good war horse was expensive, highly valued and probably better trained in war than your average medieval soldier. Obviously, horsemanship was a huge part of a mounted knights training. Something alot of folks don't think about is the fact that while a person needs to be taught to ride horses, a horse also needs to be taught to be ridden. A good part of the horses training would involve learning to respond to leg cues. I think too much emphasis is put on rein usage during battle. When a horse trained to respond to the leg would leave both hands free for shield and mace, axe sword or lance work. Also, the shield or target that Lloyd and Rod used at Lanzefest was bolted to the left side of their breast plate and shoulder, thus freeing up both hands for rein and lance, but this would be just for tourney jousting and not applicable to the melee. In the modern sport of Dressage, which has its origins in medieval war horse training and was refined during the later era of light cavalry, about 70 percent of the control of your horse is through the legs and body. Light contact with the mouth is essential, but how the rider uses their body in harmony with the animal is the main objective. One should be able to think & have the horse react. Consider the Plains Indian, arguably the greatest light calvary ever. In tune & w/the horse, they accomplished amazing feats & accuracy from horse back, all from learning the movement & flow of the horse and often without the use of reins. Medieval horseman would have done the same. We modern riders have become dependent on the reins, the least necessary of the aids. Don't even get my wife started on the reliance on stirrups...

On the subject of being unhorsed while wearing maile or armor, again I don't have any personal antecdotes but have spent considerable time observing the Hanlon Lees joust troupe (among others) at various ren faires. These guys take spills from horseback in armor as a matter of course throughout their shows. Yes they are coreographed but still a spill from a charging horse with the resulting impact. Learning to fall of a cantering horse is a big part of their training. Most of them are trained stuntmen and stage combatants. Minor sprains, muscle strains, general bruises and bashings are common injuries for these guys and most of them have broken something or the other at least once during their careers. Having observed Lloyd and company closely durinng Lanzefest it can be safely assumed that the same goes for them. Both Lloyd and Rod are currnently recovering from broken wrists which they recieved as a result of the impact of lance against armor.

Lloyd, please don't whupp me for lumping you guys in with a "show troupe" but this case it was applicable. I know its kind of like comparing coconuts to oranges.

My wife once had a conversation with Rick Alverez, formerly of the Hanlon Lees, with regards to women jousting. He held forth about how it was period incorrect and always asked "Ever fallen off a horse in full armor?". Her response, similar to others he had recieved to that query was "No, I've done it the hard way.".

Steve

There are very few personal problems that cannot be solved through a suitable application of high explosives.
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Sat 11 Sep, 2004 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allan; Thanks, we'll keep pushing until we get the feedback! I'm happy to hear that you are currently looking at redesigns, and doing some of it based upon their input, as well as the info provided by Felix. Very neat!

Steve; Great stuff! You are of course absolutely right that much of the information you need to be giving to your horse in battle should be via your legs and body weight, and that training of both horse and rider are paramount to their effectiveness as a "team", which is precisely what they are. (I always appreciate Clif Bassett always giving credit and billing to his horses for the success of their jousts!) But still, SOME communication, as you note, via the reins and bit, are necessary.

The best I have ever managed with my old war horse was when we were given the opportunity to work together 6 days a week, 10+ hours a day. By George, we KNEW each other then! He still can respond beautifully to cues we worked on then, and it's been 5&6 years since we did those things. LORD I wish that horse were 20 years younger! (He's 30). (BTW, I did a scene for History Channel on him with stirrups that were WAY too short with no time to adjust, so I didn't bother ... but you're wife is right, way too many people put too much of their ballance into the stirrups, to their eventual sorrow.)

No question our ancestral cavalrymen put long, long hours in the saddle training both themselves and their mounts to do the necessary maneuvers for combat, for that is the only way to become a master at it... which if you want to survive the battlefield is a really good idea. (speaking of which, there is a reprint of Pluvenal' s training book out there, an early 17th Century work on training horses for war. Both Monseiur Pluvinal and Sir Philip Sydney went to the same Italian riding school, so the techniques date back to at minimum the mid-16th Century, and probably much earlier than that!)

Speaking of broken wrists, since mine is at present still in the recovery stages, I was informed that the left-hand shake is known as the "Jouster's Shake", since darned near all were in some way recovering from busted wrists! I think we need to work on those lance arrests to fix to the breastplates, boys... Thank goodness they keep those arenas well tilled, and nice and soft for "easy" landings, too! I suspect that this has as much to do with the lack of broken bones as anything, frankly. I MUCH prefer to hit the dirt in the arena than on the trail!

Elephants??? This I HAVE to hear more on!

Thanks again,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Sep, 2004 3:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The details on all of the Marburg shields and others (for a total of 23) are readily available. Der Mittelalterliche Reiterschild by Jan Kohlmorgen is primarily about the medieval "heater" shield and how to build one. Its in German, but there is great information in it.
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Michael Neeley




Location: Santa Cruz
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Sep, 2004 2:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon,

Well... you know my background... 12+ years of professional stunt jousting including over 10,000 passes with lance and shield - emphasis on the word "stunt". So... with all due respect to historical authenticity, let's forget about that for a moment and talk about the modern day approach.

When I first started jousting with Medieval Times in 1986, we used shields made of 12 gauge steel. They were heavy as hell and had a metal sleeve bolted to the back for sliding your arm through, then a smaller metal grip about 4 inches from the border for your hand. The backs of the shields had a strip of carpet (no, not shag) attached to the area between the metal and your arm for extra impact absorption. Mind you, we were not wearing any type of armor at this time, and only long-sleeved t-shirts comprised of a material similar to a dancers leggings with some type of silver tinsel woven in to give it a shiny look (faux maile - emphasis on the word faux). So the carpet was a welcome buffer from the pain inflicted by the impact of the lance's blow to the shield. As far as the control issue concerning the placement of the grip: it's like this - you hold the reins and the grip simultaneously, controlling your horse as needed with no care of shield placement. It is only when you've directed your horse into the combat charge that you position the shield for protection and release the reins to do so. Control of the horse at this point is governed by your legs (a vital aspect of a combatants training). So, in essence, the placement of the hand grip is somewhat moot. The shields that I've used have evolved. My most recent (and favorite) has a nice thick grip and a "U" iron for the forearm. Of course, the "U" is upside down and is large enough to hook over the armour I would now wear. The big benefit of this design is that it is very easy to ditch the shield when needed (i.e. falling, shifting attack mode, etc.). I have done falls in the past where the shield would not come off the arm, and there is not much worse than tucking and rolling (with no armour) and a big metal shield tagging along with sharp edges and all.

I have to go for now, but I'll address the issue of falling in full armor in another posting.

I hope this was helpful.

Michael

Michael Neeley
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Sep, 2004 5:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Outstanding insight Michael ! I'd love to hear anything else you've got on this topic . We've got Kelly Bailey's company at the faire we work at ( also where i've heard your name time and again when the subject of jousting comes up) and they have pretty much the same shield layout as you've mentioned but in 3/8 titanium aluminum .
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Sep, 2004 8:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael;

Thanks for posting! Great stuff... jeeze, you guys didn't even wear any armour to begin with? Oy! Well, as long as everyone is aiming for the shield, and it's a big shield, I guess it works... but still, it would make me nervous as heck to have someone coming at me with a semi-pointy stick with Lord knows how many foot-tons of energy behind it (galloping horse and all) with no chest protection! But then, I'm sort of conservative when it comes to that sort of thing.

I certainly see your point about using leg aids for controlling the horse... but I should think that in combat (rather than the tournament) you would still need reins for optimum control. But I can also see the point of dropping them just before contact in a joust, since you DON'T want to be hanging on to them if and when you come off. Not good for pony's mouth at all! But I agree that the ability to fully control the horse via the legs would in fact be a vital skill for both horse and rider. (Gotta work on that one!)

Great insights Michael, I sure wish I had been able to stick around in Sonora to hang out with you. Thanks for posting this, too, since you have as much experience as anyone (and probably more) in getting smacked around while in armour and on horseback!

Take care, and I look forward to your further insights such as on landing in armour. Sounds "interesting"!

Cheers, and thanks again!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Joel Müller




Location: Malmö, Sweden
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Sep, 2004 5:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Armour Effectiveness in Real Life         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:

In my own experience (pretty recent, actually) the wearing of armour has the unfortunate tendency to really change your center of gravity for the worse; i.e. it tends to make you even more top-heavy than you already are. In a recent event I was involved in, my idiot horse (the other one is great, BTW, which is why my friend was on HIM) decided on a whim to buck me off at the gallop, while I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt of maille, a maille coif, skull cap and carrying lance and Norman kite shield. After tossing the shield and lance (I had no desire to see if I could snow-board in a shield with no snow on the ground) I bailled/got tossed, and it seemed at the time to me that the extra weight of the maille shirt etc (around 30+ pounds) added a lot to the inertia,and that impact was pretty spectacular. Well, I remember rolling a few times at least. So my theory is that with the added weight of armour, the knight who was unhorsed (at least at speed) was so stunned by the impact that of course he didn't get up... I sure as heck didn't! (I have to admit it was pretty cool having the maille shirt stripped off of me like the Normans were shown doing to the Saxon dead in the Bayeux Tapestries!) Took a while to regain my senses, even though I was wearing a helmet, no concussion, etc. I would have been dead meat for any lacky with a "prei a'dieu"!

So I guess my question to all would be: What are your experiences? Did armour help or hinder? Do we have any jousters out there who have taken serious falls without any ill effects and were actually protected by the armour? How about live steel guys, any ill effects because of the armour???


Just out of curiosity, what kind of saddle were you using (and leaving)?

/Joel
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Sep, 2004 6:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joel;

Thanks for the question. Sadly, because I was having to do the Norman deal on a shoestring and at last the minute, and my friend Henrik's spare saddle didn't fit my big horse (too narrow a tree... his other saddle fit my older horse, that he was riding, perfectly), I had to masquerade up my 1874 pattern McClellan saddle. I would have MUCH prefered to use my Portuguese saddle, since it works like a buckaroo saddle and tends to help keep you in place during such amusements, but there it is. Comfy a Mac is, but not as deep as an arming saddle (Really, most Military saddles are pretty low, since you are expected to be lashing on all sorts of junk like overcoats, raincoats, blankets and other impedementia to the pommel and cantle, so you get the same effect as a Western saddle... but I didn't have that option, unfortunately!) I'll leave it to Michael Neeley to discuss the Portuguese saddles more thoroughly though, since as I recall, that's what he was using mostly during his years of "stunt jousting"

Interestingly enough, the closest thing to a real war saddle I've found is in fact a "Buckaroo" saddle. Mine was made by George Lawrence Saddlery in Portland, OR. around 1910 or so, with a REALLY high cantle (back) and pommel. With the straight-down stirrup leathers, it rides just like a knightly saddle should... and from looking at the originals around, there isn't much difference between those turn-of-the-century Cowboy saddles, and the late-model arming saddles when you get right down to it. Similar stresses, I imagine! If mine weren't so cool as a cowboy saddle, I would be REALLY tempted to convert it to an arming saddle! Here's links to a couple of arming saddles:

http://www.wallacecollection.org/e_n/e/p_e/sadd/saddle_index.htm

http://www.bildindex.de/bilder/MI07990g11b.jpg

Of course if you want to get into the evolution of the modern Western Saddle, it of course comes from the Mexican Vaquero saddle, which is decended from various Spanish saddles... but exactly which one, or one's, is open to discussion. Some say the sillas de jinete, or Moorish saddle, some claim from the sillas estradiota, or war saddle, and some say from the full sillas de armas, or Arming Saddle. In any event, it eventually came to be something pretty close to the Arming Saddle!

Anyway, thanks for giving me the opportunity to go on an on about saddles... after guns and swords, one of my favorite subjects!

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Adam R




Location: Vale of Belvoir, UK
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Sep, 2004 6:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I'm not sure hoe relevant it is, but Mike Loades on his recent 'Weapons that made britain - Armour' tried to explain this, he got his horse to a canter and jumped off in his gothic harness (sans gauntlets and helmet) and landed square on the deck on his backside. He almost jumped to his feet and talked to the camera. Mike has been doing that kind of thing for years, but then they (contemporary knights/cavalry) would have been doing it for longer. What this doesn't take into account is the impact of the thing that knocks you from the saddle in the first place Eek! like a lance or being dragged down by someone with a billhook...
Adam Roylance
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Sep, 2004 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam, Thanks. Interesting stuff. Seems as though the general concensus is that armour (at least plate) does to some degree protect you from the worst of the impact (I assume by spreading it out, which maille doesn't really do, at least as far as the ground goes!), but much of it also is learning how to land. I guess since my own experience with landing has here-to-fore been limited to being clad in cloth (though with other encumbrances), I'm not properly attuned to the "best" ways to land while wearing such devices: I expect that shall change shortly!


Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Zach Stambaugh





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PostPosted: Tue 14 Sep, 2004 3:50 pm    Post subject: a point of interest.... i hope         Reply with quote

Gordon. You were discussing the importance of feeling the horse on the reins for control.

It is my sunderstanding that war horses were generally trainied to respond more to pressure form the knees and feet than reins. that way the rider was able to user his hands to a greater degree for more pressing purposes. it is quite certain that horse training has changed significantly over time.

i cannot remember the source of my info, and i am not an expert. however, my aunt is an expert trainer who used to win awards, and she could do some fierly dificult and difficult maneuvers without using her hands.

It is better to be over careful a hundred times than dead once. --- Mark Twain (give or take a slight misquote)
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Sep, 2004 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Zach;

You are very right in that war horses, whether those belonging to a Knight, a Comanche or a Cossack, were well trained to respond to leg aids. No question there, and thus the use of the reins is far less than many pleasure riders would think today. Such disciplines (as noted above) as Dressage require a broad knowledge of such aids... as of course do the riders who practice the Spanish School of Riding, AKA the Lippizaners. Classic War Horse training there! And also, as noted above by correspondents, you need to be able to communicate fully with your horse in combat via what ever aids you may have at your command at the time. But there is still an obvious need for the curb bit and reins, for when a horse is frightened, injured or just plain spazzing out (such as you are likely to get on a battlefield), you need all the control you can get. I note that the knightly curb bits remaining are pretty severe too, with ports far higher than anyone today would consider using, but able to give a LOT of control, assuming a fairly light hand is used. And of course this is the reason the the world's Cavalry forces used the curb bit until the end of the horse era, even though the snaffle is arguably far better for long campaigns.

This in fact is a good topic for conversation, actually... how much contact with the horse can you have while wearing cuisses, greaves and sabatons? I know that with the classic "Cowboy Saddle" the amount of contact you have with your legs is significantly less than via the European-style (AKA "English") saddles... would an Arming Saddle, which is built in much the same way, have similar problems with contact? With both the Arming Saddle and the above armour? Since I note that most of the jousters I have met and seen are using a modified Austrialian Stock Saddle, do they do this for the better contact, or just for the greater comfort and stability? Hmmm.... good stuff for research!

Thanks for your input!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Sep, 2004 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allan;

I was just thinking about that target you fellows offer, and the original. You noted that there was just a little cloth and leather left under the rivet washers, and not much else. Was there any indication of a full liner, meaning was there cloth under the rivets around the edge of the target? In other words, could there have been a full-sized padded liner covering the inside of the shield? Or just the center? Michael's comments about the use of padding behind the shield got me thinking, and since you have an original one there, well...

I did notice that the shield shown in the Albums section:

( http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/displayimage....mp;pos=182

http://www.myArmoury.com/albums/displayimage....mp;pos=184

has but one point of attachment for the hand or arm... too bad there isn't a scale there to see just how large the handle is! The staples look to be for a guige, rather than the present loop for display on a wall, I should think. No padding here, of course!

More food for thought,

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2004 5:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon , it difficult to tell if there is or is any fabric left under the washers through the coat of oil paint applied at some point in the past . The paint while done some time ago ( probably during the victorian era ) was put on without cleaning the shield first so theres all sorts of grit and dust which mudles things up a bit . The leather is pretty obvious throught the paint but not much else . I will sit down and get cozy with it and see if any fabric comes to light . These were used by infantry much more than cavalry and we strapped and lined it for that roll . If the interest is there and we can find examples
of the layout for mounted use we'd love to introduce that as well .
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2004 9:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allan;

Thanks for checking that out! I guess I wasn't at all clear in that my interest in whether or not it was fully lined was pretty general, rather than specific to mounted vs. foot useage. But I look forward to finding out if there is anything under those rivets...I can't think of much other reason for the rivets along the edge otherwise, if not for holding a cloth (or leather) band to afix a liner too, rather like on a helmet. Please correct me though if I'm wrong ;o) !

I guess targets and the like were pretty passe' for mounted use (other than by Anglo- Scots borderers and Spanish-American "Frontiersmen"), but fairly common for foot-officers in the 16th and early 17th Centuries. (There are some interesting illustrations of English and Dutch troops in the 80-Years War using them, and the regulations from early Colonial Virginia and Massachussets detailing their use by Officers and NCO's in the field, too.) I would love to know more about their actual use, and how many may have been proof against firearms and the like: I should think that having some decent padding would help in the case of a "proof" shield for siege work!

Thank you again, Allan, I appreciate your taking the time to look at that for me!

Cheers,

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
Gonsalo Jimenez de Quesada
http://www.renaissancesoldier.com/
http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Lloyd Clark




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2004 1:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi all,

I will jump into the first couple of questions posed (as I have not yet read all of the threads):

1) As for being stunned by a fall - not always. Full plate harness is designed in such a way to not only absorb the blows from your opponent's weapons, but from the ground as well. I have been unhorsed in a joust on a few occassions and never have been "stunned" (I have passed out in armour, in the saddle from the heat however) by the contact with the ground and I'm a pretty big guy, so my impacts are pretty impressive!

I have, once or twice, taken a lance impact to the helm that has "rung my bell", but nothing that would preclude me from immediately rejoining the fray if I were in battle (now, being hit with an ax, mace, or hammer is another matter). I have also enjoyed battling with the baston (in which we use a 2" diameter, 2' long solid oak club), which is roughly akin to SCA combat on steroids (and on horseback). I have known jousters to actually be knocked unconscious from the hits (John Gruber was on the receiving end of Tom Hajek's baston fights on occassion and can undoubtably tell a lot of stories about those bouts!).

As for being a "turtle", my stainless steel harness is pretty heavy in comparision with a suit of late period jousting armour. The gauges are nearly the same, and I have done a number of "stunts" in shows (usually involving choreographed sword fights) where I have dropped to the ground, thrown over a tiltrail, and attacked by an ax while on the ground. If your armour is made correctly and to fit you, you will be able to move quite freely either on the ground, on foot, or where you are suppose to be, in the saddle.


We drop our reins (unless weather or footing conditions prevent it) when we joust and often when we are demonstrating mounted skill-at-arms. A horse that responds to leg cues is invaluable for the mounted warrior.

Hope this helped a bit, I will read more and respond to more later.

Cheers!

Cheers,

Lloyd Clark
2000 World Jousting Champion
2004 World Jousting Bronze Medalist
Swordmaster
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Michael Neeley




Location: Santa Cruz
Joined: 13 Sep 2004

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PostPosted: Wed 15 Sep, 2004 8:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In your initial posting and throughout this thread, there are many questions regarding various aspects of the armoured joust. Too many for me to address at one sitting, but I'll keep hacking away at them every chance I get. One of the most recent was in regard to the type of saddle used. Again, with little deference for historical accuracy, we used whatever type of saddle was most conducive to the current event. By that I mean, when we were "gaming" we would use Portuguese saddles, as the high front and back would give much greater stability. When dipping over the side of the horse to grab a flag positioned a foot-and-a-half off the ground, one could hook the high leg around the back of the saddle and drop nearly low enough to touch the ground. Word of caution - be sure your saddle is cinched up REALLY snug. I've had the saddle slip and send me flying right into the flag on one occasion. Also, and this is something I noticed at the International Jousting Championship in Sonora last weekend, the Portuguese saddle also provides support for rising up in the seat. It is vital to come out of the saddle (even if only slightly) to allow the legs to act as shock absorbers and assist in smoothing out your ride and thus your lance and spear accuracy. Most all of the competitors at Sonora remained seated and were bouncing like crazy - it was no wonder so few rings were achieved. For an example of what I mean, you can check out the Silver Knights Joust Team website (http://www.skjoust.com/mike.htm) and scroll down to the shot of me splitting an apple. You can see that I am practically standing straight up in my stirrups.

Now... when it comes to doing a stunt fall, that is a whole other story. English, English, English! And depending on the type of fall you are doing, pick one with a higher arch in the back (for forward leaps), or one with hardly any back at all (for roll-offs). You're risking more than your neck trying to do a high speed fall from a Portuguese. Any piece of saddle that has any chance of hanging up any part of your armour (all the way down to your spurs), can be extremely hazardous. Even large flapping caparisons can be dangerous (I had one cover my leg as I was trying to lift it over, the spur got caught and I got dragged about fifty feet). That said, let me address the question of "what's a good time to learn to fall?" When I was hiring and training Knights at Medieval Times, it was one of the first things I taught and had the guys practice on a daily basis (you don't have to be a good rider to be a good "faller"). You start out by doing stationary dismounts while someone else holds the horse. I teach three style of falling - the running dismount, the roll-off, and the roll-out. The running dismount is the most dangerous, looks the most dramatic, and unfortunately is the most unrealistic. It is exciting because the horse continues to run at full tilt, and a well-executed fall allows you to hit and roll with a great deal of forward momentum. It seems fake, though, if one were to think about it - "How the hell is the knight getting knocked forward when the blow from the lance should have knocked him backwards?" This is the fall of choice at Medieval Times where it is safer to land in the deep sand (though I did tear my medial meniscus doing one such fall). The roll-off is more realistic, but it can be dangerous as hell. The objective - let the impact of your opponents lance topple you off of the back of the horse. Problems - 1) how does your horse feel about you going over the ass end? 2) If he's got a bouncy back end, it can send you flying off-balance forcing you to land on your back or head instead of your feet (the optimal landing) 3) Does your horse like to stop when not being coaxed forward? I had a horse like this once. I started rolling off the back, which is assisted by his forward speed. He puts on the breaks, and there I am with my legs half up over my head, but still on his back (so I just rolled off the side). I even designed a stunt fall using "L" irons securely lashed to the girth straps about 15" above the stirrups. The irons acted almost like a launching pad. Prior to the fall pass, I'd take my feet out of the stirrups and place them on these "pegs". At impact, I would launch myself upward and backward out of the saddle, landing on my feet behind the horse and, of course, promptly flopping to my ass, as though seriously injured. We never did either of these falls at Medieval Times (worker's comp issues), but we did them regularly at the New York Renaissance Faire. The last fall, and by far the safest, is the roll-out. It can look pretty dramatic if acted out properly, but it can also be the most boring. It works like this: Take the hit and flop back in the saddles losing your shield and reins; rebound forward throwing your arms around your horse's neck; while there, grab the reins and bring the horse to a near stop; while still leaning forward near your horse's neck (pick one side or the other), bring your opposite leg over and spin to the ground. This can be made to look more dramatic if you pull the opposing rein to steer your horse away from your fall giving you some momentum and looking almost as though you were flung from his back.

All right... I'm sure I've bored everyone enough.

I hope that it was helpful, without putting you to sleep.

Michael Neeley
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