Question about 14th century armour.
I was doing some casual research about 14th century armor, and have found that there is an irritating lack of general information about the armour of this century. I understand that the composition of armour changed a great deal during this century, but looking around, I cannot get a "feel" for the armour of this century. The 15th century is mostly full plate, and earlier centuries are mostly mail. If it's not to irritating, a brief description of armour styles starting in 1280 going to 1420, by 20 year segments :?: If there are threads that I haven't found that relate to this, I'm sorry, I did try to find them, but I guess I'm looking for more general information then I found, mostly questions about specific pieces of armour.
I can do better. Well, Talbot can, actually. He has made a terrific analysis of 1300 effigies, describing the 14th and beginning of the 15th century in 10-year increments:

Last edited by Sander Marechal on Sat 04 Jun, 2011 2:38 am; edited 1 time in total
You need to get familiar with primary text sources if you really want to get a feel for it. These documents can give the best understanding of earliest use and how common they are.

While effigies are useful for understanding the styles, look, shape and functioning of arms and armour they are a poor way of understanding dates for armour use due to the fact the dates are difficult to acquire and often very ambiguous.

Inventories are usually full of great details on weapons and armour but the key is these tend to be for the more wealthy in a society. That said we can find remarkable evidence for weapons and armour in a wide variety if civic, royal and personal documents for the 14th century.

Take a look here for some great British Sources for the 14th century.

And some that cover much of Europe.

Blair gives a general overview though I think some of it is becoming a bit dated, still best book you can buy on the subject. Blair uses a wide number of primary texts so very solid work.

And a must read primary source. Ralph/Raoul de Nesle's 1302 inventory.

Now he was a well of noble first off so in the last decade of the 14th no everyone would have the quality or quantity of arms and armour but we can assume things like COPS and such that he has a half dozen to dozen or more of were relatively common. I think we can safely assume that his is a late 13th century inventory as only two years into the 14th and would become more common during the next decade.

November 1294- Southampton provides a warship was equipped with fore, aft and a top castle but perhaps more important and was laden with helmets for each crewmember, padded armour for most of them, 60 crossbows with 6,000 bolts, 120 lances, 100 halberds, and 240 javelins. The Crew included 123 men. TNA E101/5/2 and E101/5/12.

In 1322 here is some equipment some men in Southampton, England had.
This armour was inventoried as: pairs of plates, bascinets, collarets, gauntlets, cuisses, greaves and other armour.
CPR 1321-1324, p. 250-253


Last edited by Randall Moffett on Fri 03 Jun, 2011 4:02 pm; edited 1 time in total
Sander, that is an excellent resource you've shared here - thank you for that!

Andrew, armour during this period is tough to wrap your head around because of the huge changes / advances that occur. We go from more-or-less mail "body sock" to full-on "terrible worm in an iron cocoon" as Barbara Tuchman put it. The best analogy I can come up with is to think of how much the automobile has changed, 1910 to 2010. As with cars, you can often peg a certain configuration to one decade or another, with allowances for region and status of the owner, but there are always oddities that will throw you off.

If you have access to it, the book "1381: The Peel Affinity" has a brief pictorial section on the arms and armour over roughly the same period. Much less comprehensive than the effigy survey Sander links us to, 'tho.

Cheers, and good luck on the research project!
Here's a pretty good history in art
Eric W. Norenberg wrote:
The best analogy I can come up with is to think of how much the automobile has changed, 1910 to 2010.

Thats a GREAT analogy! Next time I talk to the public about 14C armour I going to steal it!.

Mackenzie Cosens wrote:
Eric W. Norenberg wrote:
The best analogy I can come up with is to think of how much the automobile has changed, 1910 to 2010.

Thats a GREAT analogy! Next time I talk to the public about 14C armour I going to steal it!.


You cannot steal what is freely given! Bonus points if you can work anachronistic outdated examples like the old VW Beetle into your analogy somehow... ;)
And don't forget comparing futuristic looking concept cars with parade armour :)
Thanks for the information. The compilation of effiges is a usefull set of data.
As was said earlier, there is no single 14th century style. Every region had diffirent styles that constantly changed throughout the century.
As an example, this seems to be a typical look for English knights 1340-1350
Around ~1370, most English armours start to conform more to this style:
And here is a German effigy, probably 1360-1380.

What I have noticed in English effigies is this:

Mostly mail, with metal poleyns (knees) widespread. Coat-of-plates mostly likely worn under surcoat. Surcoat is long, loose and flowing.

Similar to 1280. Mostly mail, with metal poleyns and probably a coat of plates under the surcoat.

Around this time frontal greaves and simple sabatons appear, along with simple, half arm defences. Large circular rondels on the shoulder and elbow are popular. Early bascinets also become widespread. "Brigandine" cuisses in use.

Fully enclosed plate arms and greaves are widespread. (Some arms use hard articualtion, most probably use leather/floating articulation) Cuisses are generally still brigandine material. The coat-of-plates becomes more tailored and form fitting. Early gauntlets are nearly universal. Lamed spaulders begin to appear. Pointed bascinet becomes popular.

Hourglass-style gauntlets become widespread. Almost all arms now use hard articulation. Spaulder usually looks to be integrated with the arm harness. Coat-of-plates are now extremelly tailored, and breastplates are also in use. Both coat-of-plates and breastplates are still worn over mail, and are always covered with a jupon/surcoat, which is now short, tight, and well tailored.

Upper body is little changed from 1360, though breastplates are more common. Plate cuisses now become more common than brigandine cuisses, and most legs now use hard articualtion.

Generally similar to 1380, though with diffirent styling. Around this time Breastplates start to be worn without jupon/surcoat.

The "white harness" look further evolves. Great bascinet becomes popular. A new style of gauntlet starts to become popular. Overall look is drastically diffirent than 1380-1400.

Here are some images to help illustrate the changes over time. (again, these are English)

[ Linked Image ]

[ Linked Image ]

[ Linked Image ]

[ Linked Image ]
That should bive you a basic idea for England. (Other countries evolved diffirently.) I notice armour in effigies is generally of an older style than the date of the effigy, as it likely depicts the armour worn by the knight earlier in life.
(This post ended up being a lot longer than I expected!)

Page 1 of 1

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum

All contents © Copyright 2003-2006 — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Full-featured Version of the forum