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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Sioux City, IA
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Apr, 2020 11:10 am    Post subject: Perceiving Common Soldier's Armor Right?         Reply with quote

I have this interest at understanding how common armor was for the non-noble, non Men-at-Arms, were. Which places had well-armoured armies and which didn't. Sometimes sources tell us so: the Welsh, the Cornish and the Irish being prevalently unarmoured; though at some point, apparently, welsh soldiers in the War of Roses were as just as well armored as their English counterparts (Graham Turner gave me this observation when commenting on his painting of the Battle of Mortimer Cross).

As far as I'm concerned, since the 14th century, English infantry had larger demands on infantry armor than what we know from Spain; if you consider the Ordinance of Burgos in Castille (1385, post-defeat at Aljubarrota), only cavalry (jinetes and MAA) was required to have armor. In Portugal the first references I know of, from 1420-1440, says only the aquantiados em besta de garruncha (cavalry crossbowmen) were to afford some armor. The rest basically and helmet and random plate pieces.

Even though, I found this strange reference of Fernão Lopes and the franciscan Frei Pedro's description of the Portuguese victory at the battle of Aljubarrota (1385), saying the were so bad armed that:

"The one who had a coat (mail) didn't have a loudel (sleeveless gambeson), and the one who didn't have a panceira (a plackart, or in this case a cuirass) didn't had arm harness, and many of them with bascinets without visors. So long as their arms being divided, it wouldn't equip a third of the people"
Source: Vestidos para matar, o armamento de guerra na cronística portuguesa de quatrocentos. pp. 69.

Since the authors were saying the Portuguese foot was badly armed, the Castillian one was supposed to be even better, though the month's later Ordinance of Burgos didn't require any. My question is: there is really a difference of equipment between different nations' equipment? Like the Swedish foot being best armed than the Scottish one, the Italian being suberbly armed, and such?

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Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Apr, 2020 5:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a lot of detail we could go into on this one, as there are records of this sort of thing. Probably others will. But a quick reply on some basics.

Firstly, who are we talking about? Most communities seem to have had men with a variety of levels of kit, dependent in large part on their wealth and social status. Most military sytems allowed for selective levies, so the best kitted out might march off to join an expedition leaving the less well equipped behind for home defence and continuing the local economy. So, just because some lesser members of the community were poorly equipped, it doesn't necessarily reflect on the military effort of that place, which saw these only as soldiers of last resort. Or they might have a secondary military role. Italian communal armies had poorly equipped auxiliaries whose expected role was to burn and break things and terrorise peasants , not fight proper soldiers.

Second, laws on equipment usually set a minimum. So, if you had a certain income, you had to have certain kit. But the bands could be quite wide. take this Scottish law from 1318

It is ordained and agreed that any layman of the realm having £10 in goods shall have for his body in defence of the realm a sufficient haketon [a leather jacket, probably reinforced with mail] , a basinet [a light helmet with a rounded or pointed top] , gloves of plate, a spear and a sword.
Anyone who does not have a haketon and basinet shall have a good habergeon [a short coat of mail] or a good iron for his body, an iron hat and gloves of plate. The king also instructs that all men owning a cow and goods shall have a good spear or a good bow with a sheaf of 24 arrows.


The £10 man is well kitted out, but the cow owner has a pointy stick. What happens between? Men presumably turned up with what they had. If a man with £5 in goods turned up with a haketon and a kettle hat would they turn him away? I doubt it.

Anthony Clipsom
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Thu 07 May, 2020 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I mean, usually most of the generic armies that people from a large spectrum of wealth. But some regions, as I understood had better armies due to their better economic condition.

You mentioned, for example, Scottish ordinances, they work similarly to other systems, the wealthier you are, the more you bring. But on the occasion of a scottish army being raised, which group would be more prevalent? Because even English Statutes of late 13th century requires poor people to own at least a sword, or dagger or bow. But the general impression I got is that only people armed with gambeson, helmet, sword and buckler would be actually eligible to serve; a reason that might explain why welsh participation in latter battles of the HYW was severely decreased. And even still, if sword and buckler was required, why the sources from Agincourt says archers were armed with pick-hammers, hand axes and such?

Considering Scotland was a poor kingdom (even Venetian espionage admit so), the minimum acceptable for footmen would be the same or probably less than the English? As far as I know, Scotland never fielded more than 200-300 men-at-arms in a battle, the reason why the knights eventually dismounted and fought on the front-lines (where their heavy armor would make a good vanguard). Of course, Scotland had rich people, but less rich people than in France and England, so I would think their armor condition would be more deplorable.

But this doesn't see to be so linear: Swedish militia is often considered to be relatively well-armoured and well trained for foot-soldier. So much to endure the challenge of German mercenaries under the Danish King's orders; and it seens that Denmark didn't have a tradition of local troops to fight in wars (according to a danish enthusiast I know), so the King would simply buy Germans to do the job.

By the way, I didn't know about Italian forager troops. In Portugal we had almogavars, but I'm no specialist to say about numbers.

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Fri 08 May, 2020 3:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Like all medieval armies, the make up of a Scots one depended on what sort of army it was. The Scots had a massed levy, the Common Army, like other nations. But, if a major noble was sanctioned to conduct a raid in force into England, it would be unlikely to include the men of the cow-owning variety. The first call would probably be on retainers and wealthier tenants who would have, if not a legal obligation, then a social one. So, a smaller force of better equipped men would be seen.

As to numbers of men-at-arms, Scotland put 2,000 into the field several times in the 14th century.

Anthony Clipsom
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 08 May, 2020 6:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro,

So I have tons on this subject and I would generally agree that England leads the way with basic arms reqs compared to most places but by the 14th these regulations are getting more and more common. In Italy, Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia and other place,s especially in towns and cities arms and armour were often required. Scandinavia seems to have such rules in order pretty early on as well. Henry II seems to be a major mover in this respect. I am working on a book that will include tons on this but its not done. I have a few articles soon to come out as well. All on England late medieval period. In the meantime...

Take a look at these, especially the London and York equipment section for some good ideas.
https://scciowa.academia.edu/RandallMoffett

As to Scotland you have to be very, very careful with such statements. Poor in general true but the problem is that some of the areas are markedly wealthier than others. So if say 70-75% of the kingdoms wealth is in one region then even if the country was poorer than others in total doesn't mean it would not have funds for such gear. IN fact after reviewing religious houses in Scotland I see no evidence that they were poor, many much richer in fact than many of their neighbors. In general it looks like the holdings just were more consolidated there to provide the required wealth. This would allow for comparable arms and armour for esate ownners and tenants. The real issues in the wealthier regions there are the constant warfare which diminished the value of lands and rents. but even wealthy places like France experience that during say the 100 years war. This was of course on both sides. England was ripped apart too on the other side of the border.

Scotland's biggest issues were limited good agricultural land in a largely agricultural economy and low population. England had 3.5-7 million or so during much of the high to late medieval period. Medieval Scotland never likely broke the million mark in the period, if it did it was likely about 1 million tops. My guess is mostly 500-750k.

It certainly could raise cavalry but compared to England that gets harder. As Anthony said you do see some formidable forces raised of men at arms, they send thousands to France in the 15th as well. I'd not write them down. For a number of periods in the 14th and 15th centuries the lowland Scots give the England some of their worst enemies.

So I doubt you could make the argument arms and armour were exactly poor just due to less robust economies entirely as in this case you have areas under immense threat where men would be given more incentive to spend more on war.

Best,

RPM
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Fri 08 May, 2020 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:

[i]It is ordained and agreed that any layman of the realm having £10 in goods shall have for his body in defence of the realm a sufficient haketon [a leather jacket, probably reinforced with mail] , a basinet [a light helmet with a rounded or pointed top] , gloves of plate, a spear and a sword.


Why do you think haketon would be a leather jacket reinforced with mail and not a padded textile armour like usually?
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Fri 08 May, 2020 10:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:

[i]It is ordained and agreed that any layman of the realm having £10 in goods shall have for his body in defence of the realm a sufficient haketon [a leather jacket, probably reinforced with mail] , a basinet [a light helmet with a rounded or pointed top] , gloves of plate, a spear and a sword.


Why do you think haketon would be a leather jacket reinforced with mail and not a padded textile armour like usually?


I don't agree with it. It just came with the quote and is presumably the translator's view. The original is Statute 1318/29 from Robert I's parliament at Scone, 3rd December, 1318.

Anthony Clipsom
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Fri 08 May, 2020 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:

[i]It is ordained and agreed that any layman of the realm having £10 in goods shall have for his body in defence of the realm a sufficient haketon [a leather jacket, probably reinforced with mail] , a basinet [a light helmet with a rounded or pointed top] , gloves of plate, a spear and a sword.


Why do you think haketon would be a leather jacket reinforced with mail and not a padded textile armour like usually?


I don't agree with it. It just came with the quote and is presumably the translator's view. The original is Statute 1318/29 from Robert I's parliament at Scone, 3rd December, 1318.


Ah, ok then. Big Grin
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Iagoba Ferreira





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PostPosted: Fri 08 May, 2020 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hard to say.

In the lower nobility wars in northern Castille in the late middle ages, you get a glimpse, while explaining loot, or when saying something like "he was trowing a javelin and a crossbow bolt entered through the armpit" from where you must imagine that he was wearing armour and was bad luck (a problem bulletproof vests have too). And that in the best down to earth sources we have...

Sadly, even middle class inventories or wills are scarce.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 09 May, 2020 4:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As to the original text of the parliament of 1318 I can almost assure all of you it's not a leather jerkin with or without mail. The paltry evidence we have for such objects in medieval Europe (or the Islamic world) do not seem to be used in connection to the term aketon usually. There were some funny ideas in the 19th into the 20th century like that but academics have largely gone far away from that. We have several contemporary documents including make of these and leather and mail fit into none I am aware of. There are a few accounts of aketons with leather facings but not used alone. The words used are not right how they have translated them perhaps but when compared to contemporary usage they follow typical norms. Aketons, as in a textile armour likely padded, mail shirt and likely a pair of plates.

It states unam sufficientem aketonam which would be a sufficient aketon or unum bonum hobirgellum vel unum bonum ferrum.

The aketon seems likely simply to be an aketon by all accounts but the way they translate the second part of think is wrong. I suspect the sufficient aketon is a stand alone textile armour by the words and way this is worded or a habergeon or a good iron plate which to me indicates a pair of plates. I have not seen good iron referred to in this way as a mail shirt and it seems superfluous but have seen good iron plates mentioned as pairs of plates in period texts. So my guess is, aketon, mail shirt or pair of plates quality for torso armour for a guy with ten pounds.

So I see you are not arguing this is but for clarity and how commoners would be armoured...



Iagoba,

We are fortunate a few collections of Wills have remained fr this period for England. London has a fairly health sample for the 14th century.

RPM


Last edited by Randall Moffett on Sat 09 May, 2020 4:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 09 May, 2020 4:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I should mention there are some funny issues with the term jack though.... It must have been declared a term for all torso armour not plate but at times included smaller plates... never mind. It is just a funny work in period.

RPM
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2020 8:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Randall

For those wishing to read this for themselves, probably the best online edition is this

English : https://www.rps.ac.uk/trans/1318
Latin : https://www.rps.ac.uk/mss/1318/9

The use of a good "iron" is indeed odd - as Randall says it is usually Pair of Plates or Plates plural. The translation pointed to above goes for coat of mail but why say that after haubergeon, rather than hauberk?

That said, there are plenty of odd uses of armour terms in the 14th century elsewhere - a tendency to use a "we all know what we mean" approach that frustrates modern historians Happy

However, we didn't set out to discuss Scots armour (though I could happily do so) but common soldiers kit. We have numerous regulations, muster records, inventories, legal documents that can be called on from across Europe. Let us not become bogged down in answering the question.

Anthony Clipsom
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Mon 11 May, 2020 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To move pedro's quest on, here is a particularly detailed English muster list from Norwich in 1355.

http://users.trytel.com/~tristan/towns/floril...5.html#n05

Norwich was a major city in the Middle Ages, so this represents quite a wealthy community. What we can see here is the workings out of the Statute of Winchester 1285, as modernised in the first half of the 14th century. In particular, the class of half-armed men fit definitions of armati or hobilars from that period. Note incidentally the similarities to the £10 man from the Scots regulations.

The word "plate" appears again. The commentator has glossed this as breastplate but we might also suggest this means a pair of plates again. There is also an error in the meaning of "pisa" - not part of a breastplate but a pisane or mail gorget.

I hope this demonstrates a good idea of what common arms might be available in England at this time.

Add : In case of confusion, a wy-axe is a battle axe (from ME wi = battle, combat). Presumably to distinguish from a tool.

Anthony Clipsom
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Mon 11 May, 2020 4:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Like all medieval armies, the make up of a Scots one depended on what sort of army it was. The Scots had a massed levy, the Common Army, like other nations. But, if a major noble was sanctioned to conduct a raid in force into England, it would be unlikely to include the men of the cow-owning variety. The first call would probably be on retainers and wealthier tenants who would have, if not a legal obligation, then a social one. So, a smaller force of better equipped men would be seen.

As to numbers of men-at-arms, Scotland put 2,000 into the field several times in the 14th century.


Which times in 14th century? I tried to search for some of them but have no luck with numbers. Otterburn, for example, seens to be a raiding party (which might suggest it had people from knightly and wealthier classes), but no numbers. At Bauge (1421) the total number was 5k, but I didn't found reference on how many of these would be Scots, and how many men-at-arms. Besides that, a poem's line from Homildon Hill (1402) says:
"Ten thousand bold Scots, two and twenty knights,"

Is the poem saying 2020 knights or 220 knights?

For Halidon Hill (1333): "of Earls, 10; of Barons, 69; of Knights-Batchelors, 105; of Men-at-arms, 4,250; of ordinary folk ("du comune people"), 63, 200; in Berwick, townsmen and countryfolk, 5,000. The sum total; 67,624;

My assumption/guessing of the low-knightly numbers of Scotland was also based on the fact that, when Edward I ordered the scottish lords to muster armed men in their territories, he only specifies quotas for a reasonable number of foot soldiers, while simply saying "as many men-at-arms as possible" (not exactly the lines). He wasn't demanding on the MAA, which I concluded they didn't have many to establish a quota.


Randall Moffett wrote:
Pedro,

So I have tons on this subject and I would generally agree that England leads the way with basic arms reqs compared to most places but by the 14th these regulations are getting more and more common. In Italy, Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia and other place,s especially in towns and cities arms and armour were often required. Scandinavia seems to have such rules in order pretty early on as well. Henry II seems to be a major mover in this respect. I am working on a book that will include tons on this but its not done. I have a few articles soon to come out as well. All on England late medieval period. In the meantime...


For Scandinavia, Ibn Fadlan says (Viking Age) since every free man carried at least an axe with him; David Pilling once quoted that Welsh people usually went armed on daily life too. When you publish something just mind to tell me then.

Randall Moffett wrote:
As to Scotland you have to be very, very careful with such statements. Poor in general true but the problem is that some of the areas are markedly wealthier than others. So if say 70-75% of the kingdoms wealth is in one region then even if the country was poorer than others in total doesn't mean it would not have funds for such gear. .


Yes, that's a fact. I know that by Flodden (1513) Henry VIII sent an army to France composed of people recruited on specific, safe places while keeping the borders untouched in case of James' invasion. At least from 14th century the King of Portugal could relly only on Lisbon or specific regions to gather an army (At Aljubarrota John's army was basically Lisbon men and his loyal nobles). But I think this would be easier when your kingdom has big cities, and I don't recall Edinburgh being bigger than 6 thousand souls.

In any case, I'm no specialist on how the Scots used to recruit their men for military activity.

Quote:
IN fact after reviewing religious houses in Scotland I see no evidence that they were poor, many much richer in fact than many of their neighbors. In general it looks like the holdings just were more consolidated there to provide the required wealth. This would allow for comparable arms and armour for esate ownners and tenants. The real issues in the wealthier regions there are the constant warfare which diminished the value of lands and rents. but even wealthy places like France experience that during say the 100 years war. This was of course on both sides. England was ripped apart too on the other side of the border.


You're saying the soldier material of the borders were best equipped because of the usual military activity or saying they were worse equipped because the war made them poorer? I know border reivers were using mail armor, lances and shields well into 16th century, so perhaps it's the second case?

“Burn old wood, read old books, drink old wines, have old friends.”
Alfonso X, King of Castile (1221-84)
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 11 May, 2020 6:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Is the poem saying 2020 knights or 220 knights?

"two and twenty" is 22.

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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Tue 12 May, 2020 12:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Is the poem saying 2020 knights or 220 knights?

"two and twenty" is 22.


Dan is right. The great majority of men-at-arms on both sides in 1402 weren't knights. The knights are the socially senior men, whose fate was of interest to historians.

I'll look up some more Scots figures later, when I have a moment to consult my Scottish books.

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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Tue 12 May, 2020 4:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Which times in 14th century? I tried to search for some of them but have no luck with numbers.


Jean Le Bel's eyewitness account of the 1327 campaign contains an overview of the Scottish forces. These include 3,000 men-at-arms on "good rounceys and coursers" i.e. what rank and file English men-at-arms had.

The Bridlington Chronicle notes Scots casualties at Dupplin Moor of 3 Earls,18 bannerets, 58 knights, 800 esquires, 1,200 well-armoured infantry and "many" common footmen. This was not a national muster.

When mustered before the Battle of Neville's Cross, the army contained 2,000 "armed" men. Armed in this context probably means equipped as a man-at-arms.

The Grand Army of Scotland in France in 1424 apparently numbered 2,500 men-at-arms and 4,000 archers. These were not the only men-at-arms or archers serving at the time - there many in garrison - and, of course, some would remain in Scotland.

Overall, therefore, it seems plausible that the numbers of Scots men-at-arms were in the low thousands during this period.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 12 May, 2020 8:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We collected a lot of the Scottish sources together in this thread
http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewto...p;t=178394

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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Wed 13 May, 2020 9:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:

[i]It is ordained and agreed that any layman of the realm having £10 in goods shall have for his body in defence of the realm a sufficient haketon [a leather jacket, probably reinforced with mail] , a basinet [a light helmet with a rounded or pointed top] , gloves of plate, a spear and a sword.


Why do you think haketon would be a leather jacket reinforced with mail and not a padded textile armour like usually?


I don't agree with it. It just came with the quote and is presumably the translator's view. The original is Statute 1318/29 from Robert I's parliament at Scone, 3rd December, 1318.


Ah, ok then. Big Grin


I think the author said it so because the obligation of having a haubergeon is ruled only if a person on this category doesn't have a "sufficient haketon". What might strengthen that thesis is the fact as the bascinet being the prefered helmet; in Portugal, the Fernando's reformations on military obligations considered the bascinet as more effective and appropriate equipment than the chapel-de-fer. Just my thoughts, Randall's argument is also strong.

Iagoba Ferreira wrote:
Hard to say.

In the lower nobility wars in northern Castille in the late middle ages, you get a glimpse, while explaining loot, or when saying something like "he was trowing a javelin and a crossbow bolt entered through the armpit" from where you must imagine that he was wearing armour and was bad luck (a problem bulletproof vests have too)


Northern Castile you mean Galicia or geographic north? The 14th and 15th-century Portuguese sources I run across usually talks about stocks of helmets and coats-of-plates in castles, as well in the Royal Arsenal of Lisbon, but it's unclear who dressed what in some stances. I know portuguese castles were light garrisoned (like 15-30 people per castle), so I think the equipment would just go to the soldiers. But things get ugly in Lisbon because the Royal Arsenal had full sets of plate armor as well as hundreds of longbows (though there isn't a single source of longbows being used by everyone who wasn't an English mercenary). A historian I know simply says the Arsenal provided spears, helmets and shields for people in siege occasions.

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
The translation pointed to above goes for coat of mail but why say that after haubergeon, rather than hauberk?
[...]
However, we didn't set out to discuss Scots armour (though I could happily do so) but common soldiers kit. We have numerous regulations, muster records, inventories, legal documents that can be called on from across Europe. Let us not become bogged down in answering the question.


Some people say haubergeon means a mail shirt with short sleeves, since it means "little hauberk". Any help with something outsite England and Scotland? Those are the only ones I know, besides Charles the Bold's ordinances for his standing companies and the Castilian's Ordinance of Burgos (1385). From Portugal, odd Ordinances that gave headaches to me, I will translate them and post here as soon as possible.

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
To move pedro's quest on, here is a particularly detailed English muster list from Norwich in 1355.

http://users.trytel.com/~tristan/towns/floril...5.html#n05

Norwich was a major city in the Middle Ages, so this represents quite a wealthy community. What we can see here is the workings out of the Statute of Winchester 1285, as modernised in the first half of the 14th century. In particular, the class of half-armed men fit definitions of armati or hobilars from that period. Note incidentally the similarities to the £10 man from the Scots regulations.


I have many questions on this, but the most basic one: Constable probably doesn't mean the King's Constable, right? In France and Portugal the Constable was the chief-in-command of the kingdom's army.

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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Wed 13 May, 2020 9:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Constable probably doesn't mean the King's Constable, right?


No, English town administrations had constables who were responsible for keeping good order in their districts, maintaining the night watch and so forth. At this time, it was a position of some standing - hence the two well-armed constables - but it would slowly become a more lower class role. These are the constables from which the modern police constable ultimately descends.

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