Crossbowmen and Pavises

Please forgive me if I'm asking about well travelled territory here... I tried researching this topic by searching the forums, but didn't quite find the info I'm curious about.
I have three questions concerning the implementation and development of pavises during the middle ages. Depending on your definition of the term, Pavise could describe any basically ovular shield with a vertical central ridge running it's length. There are examples matching that description from artwork dating back into antiquity. At some point in the middle ages, crossbowmen began using large Pavises to hide behind while reloading. There are a number of existing "large" Pavises of that type from the 15th century displayed in museums. Some accounts of the Battle of Crecy, say that the Genoese crossbowmen were forced to engage the English without their Pavises, which were still in the army's baggage train. If those accounts are accurate, it implies that crossbowmen were already carrying their own pavises by 1347.

1) Are there any 'primary source' accounts which date when European crossbowmen began carrying lean-to or spiked bottom Pavises to reload behind?

2) When and where did pavisemen carry the shield for the crossbowman. Was this 'team' approach practiced before, after, or simultaneous with crossbowmen carrying their own Pavise?

3) Finally, none of the 15th century examples I've seen pictures of look large enough for two or more men to hide behind. How big were the Pavises carried by 'shield bearers' in a crossbow team?

Thank you,

Have you checked out this thread: ? It has pictures of all sizes of pavise (from hand pavise to the big ones) as well as some info on their use. That thread will show you a pic I posted (see the thread for a cropped closeup of what's below) with very large pavises depicted in combat.

[ Linked Image ]
these large pavises were a concept study, we don't have evidence of their use as far as I know.
Hi Chad,

Thanks, I have checked out the earlier thread . It's packed with awesome images of pavises from a number of museum collections. The intricate detail with which some of the 15th century examples are painted and decorated is breathtaking. If I remember correctly, the earliest pavise pictured in that thread is on the first page, dated ca. 1400. The thread mentions references to pavises in German and Italian documents from the 13th century.

The pavise--referred to in Italian and German documents as early as the first half of the 13th century--is thought to have taken its name from the North Italian city of Pavia. According to an anonymous chronicle of about 1330, 'The military renown of the Pavians is proclaimed all over Italy. After it are called large shields, rectangular at top and bottom, known as Papienses. It was perhaps through the influence of Italian mercenaries that the use of the pavise spread to other parts of Europe, most notably Bohemia where it was employed to impressive effect by the Hussite revolutionary armies of the late 14th and early 15th centuries.

Are these early references by chroniclers, or do you know if pavises show up listed in will and property inventories from this period? Thank you,


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