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Ian S LaSpina

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PostPosted: Fri 15 Mar, 2013 6:42 am    Post subject: How a Man Shall Be Armed, a Video Essay of the 14c Harness         Reply with quote

Repost after the site crash with some extra notes at the bottom regarding further discussion of the arming garments:

myArmoury Community,

I've created a video to loosely reproduce the arming sequence from the text of How a Man Shall Be Armed. It is my hope that this video will serve to demonstrate how to don a late 14th century knightly harness. I've tried to include an explanation of the armor components, and also the importance and function of proper arming garments. The two garment setup I'm using (separate pourpoint and gambeson) is a practical solution for not having the ideal all-in-one padded gambeson so closely fitted that it can also support a leg harness, and I don't find c-belts appealing. My motivation in doing this came from a desire to have had access to something similar when I was trying to learn for the first time what goes in to a suit of armor, the components, and how it all works together.

The components I'm using are specific to the late 14th century and will not apply in all circumstances to other styles of harness. For example, a full maille haubergeon and padded aketon were no longer used in 15th century harness as the coverage of plate improved, voiders became common and arming doublets evolved. Nonetheless, I think this video will be a good starting point for people just getting in to the Living History world to see what goes in to a full suit of armor. I welcome any questions you may have about what I'm doing or what you're seeing. Please enjoy!

One thing to note since the original creation of the video, there has been a lot of discussion generated elsewhere regarding the vest-like garment I'm wearing and referring to as a pourpoint.

For the sake of total transparency, the vest garment I'm wearing is a hypothetical solution to a question with no real definitive answer, and that is "how the heck did 14th century knights suspend their leg harnesses?" There is no evidence of a vest like garment until about the mid 15th century, and even then the artwork and records indicate it was used to suspend hose, and not armor. The best guess is that in the 14th century, the padded aketon was made in a precise enough way, that it provided the necessary girdling effect around the mid-section and hips by being very well tailored. This girdling effect is required to keep the weight of the leg harness on the hips and not to transfer that weight to the shoulders (an extremely important factor in reducing fatigue). The points for the leg harness would most likely have attached on the inside of the garment so as not to restrict movement. The current mode of thinking is that this garment would have looked a lot like the Charles de Blois pourpoint. Even this extant garment is a civil garment, but from artwork and recorded evidence, it is likely that the de Blois pourpoint was patterened after the equivalent martial garment used for the arming of a knight or well-to-do man-at-arms.

There has also been some confusion about my comments discussing the requirement to leave a 'gap' in the vest or leg support garment. What I'm intending to explain is that if the garment is big enough that it meets in the middle with any extra room, then the tightness around the hips is not enough to provide the necessary girdling effect to support the weight of a leg harness on your hips. My vest was made small enough that it just barely leaves a gap when tightened, ensuring when weight is suspended from the garment it stays on the lower part of my body like it should.

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