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Title: Armour & Weapons
Author: Ffoulkes, Charles John
Language: English
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[Illustration: Armour of Philip II. Madrid.

_Photograph by Hauser & Menet._]




With a Preface by
Curator of the Tower Armouries

At the Clarendon Press

Henry Frowde, M.A.
Publisher to the University of Oxford
London, Edinburgh, New York
Toronto and Melbourne


Writers on Arms and Armour have approached the subject from many points of
view, but, as all students know, their works are generally so large in
size, or, what is more essential, in price, that for many who do not have
access to large libraries it is impossible to learn much that is required.
Then again, the papers of the Proceedings of the various Antiquarian and
Archaeological Societies are in all cases very scattered and, in some
cases, unattainable, owing to their being out of print. Many writers on
the subject have confined themselves to documentary evidence, while others
have only written about such examples as have been spared by time and
rust. These latter, it may be noted, are, in almost all cases, such as the
brasses and effigies in our churches, quite exceptional, representing as
they do the defences and weapons of the richer classes. What the ordinary
man wore, how he wore it, and how it was made are all questions worthy of
attention. The works of our greatest romancers have so little regarded the
development of armour, and even to-day such anachronisms are seen in
pictures and books, that though many comfortable and picturesque notions
may be disturbed by the actual truth, yet the actual truth will be found
to be no less interesting than fiction. A handy work, not excessive in
size or price, and giving really correct information, seems therefore to
be needed and should be popular. Such a work is this which Mr. ffoulkes
has undertaken, and if we recognize what an immense amount of information
has to be condensed within the limits of a handbook, I think we shall
fully appreciate his endeavours to give an appetite for larger feasts.





  AUTHOR'S NOTE                                                9

  LIST OF AUTHORITIES                                         10

  INTRODUCTION                                                11

    THE AGE OF MAIL (1066-1277)                               15

    THE TRANSITION PERIOD (1277-1410)                         30


    PLATE ARMOUR (1410-ABOUT 1600)                            68

    HORSE ARMOUR                                              87

    THE DECADENCE OF ARMOUR                                   92

    WEAPONS                                                  100

  INDEX                                                      110


At the request of many of those who attended my course of lectures,
delivered before the University of Oxford during the Lent Term, 1909, I
have collected and illustrated some of the more important notes dealing
with the Development of European Defensive Armour and Weapons. These pages
are not a mere reprint of those lectures, nor do they aspire to the
dignity of a History of Armour. They are simply intended as a handbook for
use in studying history and a short guide to the somewhat intricate
technicalities of the Craft of the Armourer.

No work, even of the smallest dimensions, can be produced at the present
day without laying its author under a deep sense of indebtedness to Baron
de Cosson for his numerous notes on helms and helmets, and to Viscount
Dillon for his minute and invaluable researches in every branch of this
subject. To this must be added a personal indebtedness to the latter for
much assistance, and for the use of many of the illustrations given in
this work and also in my course of lectures.


OXFORD, 1909.

The following works should be consulted by those who wish to study the
subject of Armour and Weapons more minutely:--

_A Critical Inquiry into Ancient Armour_, Sir Samuel Meyrick; _A Treatise
on Ancient Armour_, F. Grose; _Ancient Armour_, J. Hewitt; _Arms and
Armour_, Lacombe (trans. by Boutell); _Arms and Armour_, Demmin (trans. by
Black); _Armour in England_, Starkie Gardner; _Waffenkunde_, Wendelin
Boeheim; _Guida del Amatore di Armi Antiche_, J. Gelli; _Dictionnaire du
Mobilier Français_ (vols. ii and vi), Viollet-le-Duc; _Encyclopedia of
Costume_, Planché; _A Manual of Monumental Brasses_, Haines; _Engraved
Illustrations of Antient Armour_, Meyrick and Skelton; _Monumental
Effigies_, Stothard; _The Art of War_, C. W. C. Oman; _Archaeologia_, _The
Archaeological Journal_, _The Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries_;
the Catalogues of the Armouries of Vienna, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Turin,
Dresden; the Wallace Collection, London and Windsor Castle.

The author is indebted to the publishers of Wendelin Boeheim's
_Waffenkunde_ for the use of the illustrations 33 and 35, and to Messrs.
Parker, publishers of Haines's _Monumental Brasses_, for the figures on
Plate III.


As a subject for careful study and exhaustive investigation perhaps no
detail of human existence can be examined with quite the same completeness
as can the defensive armour and weapons of past ages. Most departments of
Literature, Science, and Art are still living realities; each is still
developing and is subject to evolution as occasion demands; and for this
reason our knowledge of these subjects cannot be final, and our researches
can only be brought, so to speak, up to date. The Defensive Armour of
Europe, however, has its definite limitations so surely set that we can
surround our investigations with permanent boundaries, which, as far as
human mind can judge, will never be enlarged. We can look at our subject
as a whole and can see its whole length and breadth spread out before us.
In other aspects of life we can only limit our studies from day to day as
invention or discovery push farther their conquering march; but, in
dealing with the armour of our ancestors, we know that although we may
still indulge in theories as to ancient forms and usages, we have very
definitely before us in the primitive beginnings, the gradual development,
the perfection, and the decadence or passing away, an absolutely unique
progression and evolution which we can find in no other condition of life.

The survival of the fittest held good of defensive armour until that very
fitness was found to be a source rather of weakness than of strength,
owing to changed conditions of warfare; and then the mighty defences of
steel, impervious to sword, lance, and arrow, passed away, to remain only
as adjuncts of Parade and Pageant, or as examples in museums of a lost art
in warfare and military history. As an aid to the study of History our
interest in armour may be considered perhaps rather sentimental and
romantic than practical or useful. But, if we consider the history of the
Art of War, we shall find that our subject will materially assist us, when
we remember that the growth of nations and their fortunes, at any rate
till recent times, have depended to a large extent on the sword and the
strength of the arm that wielded it.

There is another aspect of historical study which is of some importance,
especially to those who stand on the outskirts of the subject. This aspect
one may call the 'realistic view'. The late Professors York Powell and J.
R. Green both insisted on the importance of this side of the subject; and
we cannot but feel that to be able to visualize the characters of history
and to endow them with personal attributes and personal equipment must
give additional interest to the printed page and other documentary
evidences. When the study of defensive armour has been carefully followed
we shall find that the Black Prince appears to us not merely as a name and
a landmark on the long road of time; we shall be able to picture him to
ourselves as a living individual dressed in a distinctive fashion and
limited in his actions, to some extent, by that very dress and equipment.
The cut of a surcoat, the hilt of a sword, the lines of a breastplate,
will tell us, with some degree of accuracy, when a man lived and to what
nation he belonged; and, at the same time, in the later years, we shall
find that the suit of plate not only proclaims the individuality of the
wearer, but also bears the signature and individuality of the maker; a
combination of interests which few works of handicraft can offer us.

From the eleventh to the end of the fourteenth century we have but a few
scattered examples of actual defensive armour and arms; and the
authenticity of many of these is open to doubt. The reason for this
scarcity is twofold. Firstly, because the material, in spite of its
strength, is liable to destruction by rust and corrosion, especially when
the armour is of the interlinked chain type which exposes a maximum
surface to the atmosphere. A second reason, of equal if not greater
importance, is the fact that, owing to the expense of manufacture and
material, the various portions of the knightly equipment were remade and
altered to suit new fashions and requirements. Perhaps still another
reason may be found in the carelessness and lack of antiquarian interest
in our ancestors, who, as soon as a particular style had ceased to be in
vogue, destroyed or sold as useless lumber objects which to-day would be
of incalculable interest and value.

For these reasons, therefore, we are dependent, for the earlier periods of
our subject, upon those illuminated manuscripts and sculptured monuments
which preserve examples of the accoutrements of the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries. Of these, as far as reliability of date is concerned, the
incised monumental brasses and sculptured effigies in our churches are the
best guides, because they were produced shortly after the death of the
persons they represent, and are therefore more likely to be correct in the
details of dress and equipment; and, in addition, they are often portraits
of the deceased.

Illuminated manuscripts present more difficulty. The miniature painter of
the period was often fantastic in his ideas, and was certainly not an
antiquary. Even the giants of the Renaissance, Raphael, Mantegna, Titian,
and the rest, saw nothing incongruous in arming St. George in a suit of
Milanese plate, or a Roman soldier of the first years of the Christian
epoch in a fluted breastplate of Nuremberg make. Religious and historical
legends were in those days present and living realities and, to the
unlearned, details of antiquarian interest would have been useless for
instructive purposes, whereas the garbing of mythical or historical
characters in the dress of the period made their lives and actions seem a
part of the everyday life of those who studied them.

This being the case, we must use our judgement in researches among
illustrated manuscripts, and must be prepared for anachronisms. For
example, we find that in the illustrated Froissart in the British Museum,
known as the 'Philip de Commines' copy,[1] the barrier or 'tilt' which
separated the knights when jousting is represented in the Tournament of
St. Inglevert. Now this tournament took place in the year 1389; but
Monstrelet tells us[2] that the tilt was first used at Arras in 1429, that
is, some forty years after. This illustrated edition of Froissart was
produced at the end of the fifteenth century, when the tilt was in common
use; so we must, in this and in other like cases, use the illustrations
not as examples of the periods which they record, but as delineations of
the manners, customs, and dress of the period at which they were produced.

The different methods of arming were much the same all over Europe; but in
England fashions were adopted only after they had been in vogue for some
years in France, Italy, and Germany. We may pride ourselves, however, on
the fact that our ancestors were not so prone to exaggeration in style or
to the over-ornate so-called decoration which was in such favour on the
Continent during the latter part of the sixteenth and the first half of
the seventeenth centuries.

For a fuller study of this subject Sir Samuel Meyrick's great work on
Ancient Armour is useful, if the student bears in mind that the author was
but a pioneer, and that many of his statements have since been corrected
in the light of recent investigations, and also that the Meyrick
collection which he so frequently uses to illustrate his remarks is now
dispersed through all the museums of Europe. Of all the authorities the
most trustworthy and most minute and careful in both text and
illustrations is Hewitt, whose three volumes on Ancient Armour have been
the groundwork of all subsequent works in English. Some of the more recent
writers are prone to use Hewitt's infinite care and research without
acknowledging the fact; but they have very seldom improved upon his
methods or added to his investigations. For the later periods, which
Hewitt has not covered so fully as he has the earlier portion of his
subject, the _Catalogues Raisonnés_ of the various museums of England and
Europe will assist the student more than any history that could possibly
be compiled.


THE AGE OF MAIL (1066-1277)

With the Norman Conquest we may be said, in England, to enter upon the
iron period of defensive armour. The old, semi-barbaric methods were still
in use, but were gradually superseded by the craft of the smith and the
metal-worker. This use of iron for defensive purposes had been in vogue
for some time on the Continent, for we find the Monk of St. Gall writing
bitterly on the subject in his _Life of Charlemagne_. He says: 'Then could
be seen the Iron Charles, helmed with an iron helm, his iron breast and
his broad shoulders defended by an iron breastplate, an iron spear raised
in his left hand, his right always rested on his unconquered iron
falchion. The thighs, which with most men are uncovered that they may the
more easily ride on horseback, were in his case clad with plates of iron:
I need make no special mention of his greaves, for the greaves of all the
army were of iron. His shield was of iron, his charger iron-coloured and
iron-hearted. The fields and open places were filled with iron, a people
stronger than iron paid universal homage to the strength of iron. The
horror of the dungeon seemed less than the bright gleam of the iron. "Oh
the iron, woe for the iron," was the cry of the citizens. The strong walls
shook at the sight of iron, the resolution of old and young fell before
the iron.'

The difficulty of obtaining and working metal, however, was such that it
was only used by the wealthy, and that sparingly. The more common fashion
of arming was a quilted fabric of either linen or cloth, a very
serviceable protection, which was worn up to the end of the fifteenth
century. Another favourite material for defensive purposes was leather. We
read of the shield of Ajax being composed of seven tough ox-hides, and the
word 'cuirass' itself suggests a leather garment. Now, given either the
leather or the quilted fabric, it is but natural, with the discovery and
use of iron, that it should have been added in one form or another to
reinforce the less rigid material. And it is this reinforcing by plates of
metal, side by side with the use of the interlaced chain armour, which
step by step brings us to the magnificent creations of the armourer's
craft which distinguish the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Sir Samuel Meyrick[3] leads us into endless intricacies with his theories
of the various kinds of defensive armour in use at the time of the
Conquest; but these theories must of necessity be based only upon personal
opinion, and can in no way be borne out by concrete examples. If we take
the pictured representations of armour as our guide we find certain
arrangements of lines which lead us to suppose that they indicate some
peculiar arrangement of metal upon a fabric. The first and oldest of these
varieties is generally called 'Scale' or Imbricate armour. We find this
represented on the Trajan Column, to give only one of the many examples of
its use in very early times. That it was a very pliant and serviceable
defence we may judge from the fact that, with some alteration in its
application, it formed the distinguishing feature of the Brigandine of the
fifteenth century. The scales were sewn upon a leather or quilted garment,
the upper row overlapping the lower in such a manner that the attachment
is covered and protected from injury (Plate I, 1). The scales were either
formed with the lower edge rounded, like the scales of a fish, or were
feather-shaped or square.

Another method of reinforcing the leather defence has been named the
'Trellice' coat. It is always difficult to discover exactly what the
primitive draughtsman intended to represent in the way of fabrics, and it
is quite open to question whether these diagonal lines may not merely
suggest a quilting of linen or cloth. If it is intended to represent
leather the trellice lines would probably be formed of thongs applied on
to the groundwork with metal studs riveted in the intervening spaces
(Plate I). This arrangement of lines is very common on the Bayeux

[Illustration: PLATE I

1. Model of Scale armour 2. From Bib. Nat. Paris MS 403 XIIIth cent. 3.
Model of trellice 4. From Bayeux Tapestry 5. Model of Ringed armour 6.
From Harl. MS. Brit. Mus. 603, XIth cent. 7. Model of Mail 8. From the
Album of Wilars de Honecort. XIIIth cent. 9. Model of Banded Mail 10.
Model of Banded Mail after Meyrick. 11. Model of Banded Mail after Waller
12. Romance of Alexander Bib. Nat. Paris. circ. 1240 13. Figure on
buttress of S. Mary's Church, Oxford.]

Another variety to be found in early illuminated manuscripts goes by the
name of 'Ringed' armour. It is quite probable that the circular discs may
have been solid, but on the other hand, from the practical point of view,
a ring gives equal protection against a cutting blow, and is of course
much lighter. The illustration of this form of defensive armour is of
rather earlier date than that at which we commence our investigations, but
it appears with some frequency in manuscripts of the twelfth century. Mr.
J. G. Waller, in his article on the Hauberk of mail in _Archaeologia_,
vol. lix, is of opinion that all these arrangements of line represent
interlinked chain armour. If this is the case chain-mail must have been
much more common than we imagine. From the very nature of its construction
and the labour expended on its intricate manufacture it would surely, at
least in the earlier periods, have been only the defence of the wealthy.
When we examine the protective armour of primitive races we find quilted
and studded garments used, even at the present day, so it seems far more
probable that our illustrations represent some similar forms of defensive
garments than that they are all incompetent renderings of the fabric of
chain-mail only.

That the making of chain-mail must have been laborious in the extreme we
may judge from the fact that the wire which formed the links had to be
hammered out from the solid bar or ingot. As far as can be gathered, the
art of wire-drawing was not practised till the fourteenth century, at
which time Rudolph of Nuremberg is credited with its discovery. The
roughly-hammered strips were probably twisted spirally round an iron or
wood core and then cut off into rings of equal size (Fig. 1). The ends of
the rings were flattened and pierced, and, when interlaced, the pierced
ends were riveted together or sometimes, as is the case with Oriental
mail, welded with heat. Links that are 'jumped', that is with the ends of
the ring merely butted together and not joined, generally show either that
the mail is an imitation, or that it was used for some ceremonial
purpose; for this insecure method of fixing would be useless in the stress
and strain of battle or active service. The most usual method of
interlinking the rings is for each ring to join four others, as will be
seen in the drawing on Plate I, No. 7. No. 8 on the same plate shows the
mail as more generally depicted in illuminations. When we consider the
inexperience of the scribes and illustrators of the Middle Ages we must
admit that this representation of a very intricate fabric is not only very
ingenious but follows quite the best modern impressionist doctrines.

Portions of chain-mail survive in most armouries and museums, but their
provenance is generally unknown, and much that is of Oriental origin is
passed off as European. Chain-mail itself comes in the first instance from
the East, but when it was introduced into Europe is difficult, if not
impossible, to state. It is certainly represented as worn by the Scythians
and Parthians on the Trajan Column, and is probably of greater antiquity

[Illustration: FIG. 1. Probable method of making links for mail.]

From the beginning of the thirteenth century, for about sixty or seventy
years, we find a curious arrangement of lines intended to represent a form
of defensive armour, both in illuminated manuscripts and also on carved
monuments (Plate I, 12, 13).

Mr. Waller, in the article on the Hauberk referred to above, gives it as
his opinion that this 'Banded Mail', as it is called, was but a variety of
the ordinary interlinked mail; but if we examine the illuminations of the
period we shall find that it is shown side by side with the representation
of what all authorities admit to be chain-mail. No. 12 on Plate I shows
the arm and leg defences to be formed of this banded mail, while the head
is protected with the ordinary chain-mail. We have then to try and
discover how these horizontal bands dividing each row of links in the mail
can be shown in a practical form. Meyrick vaguely suggests a row of rings
sewn edgeways on the body garment and threaded with a leather thong
(Plate I, 10), with the under fabric caught up between the rows of rings
and formed into a piping through which a cord was threaded. This theory
has been quoted by Viollet-le-Duc in his _Dictionnaire du Mobilier
Français_, by Dr. Wendelin Boeheim in his _Waffenkunde_, and by more
recent writers; but none of these authorities seems to have taken the
trouble to test its practicability. The human body being rounded, the
tendency of these edge-sewn rings would be to 'gape' and thus give an
opening for the weapon. In addition to this, the number of rings so used
would make the weight of the defence, hanging as it did from the shoulders
alone, almost insupportable. A third and perhaps the most conclusive of
all the arguments against Meyrick's theory is that we frequently find the
inside of a banded mail coif shown with the same markings as the outside,
which aspect would be impossible if the rings were arranged as he

From models specially made for this work we find that if leather was used
at all it must be after the manner of No. 9 on Plate I. Here the rings are
covered with the leather on both sides, so that there is no possibility of
their gaping, and, in addition, the leather being pressed against the
rings, on the outside by wear and usage and on the inside from the
pressure of the body, would show ring-markings on front and back which
might be represented in the manner shown in the illustration. The drawback
to this theory is not only the weight of such a defence, but also the heat
from lack of ventilation. By far the most practical theory put forward is
that of Mr. Waller,[4] who gives an illustration of a piece of Oriental
mail with leather thongs threaded through each alternate row of rings.
This gives a certain solidity to the net-like fabric and yet does not add
appreciably to its weight. No. 11 on Plate I shows this arrangement drawn
from a model, and when we compare it with the figures below, taking into
consideration the difficulty of representing such a fabric, we are forced
to admit that this last theory is the most practical. This is especially
so in No. 12; for the mail covering for the head is probably made in one
piece with that of the arms and legs, but the leather thongs have been
omitted on the head and hands to give greater ease of movement.

Before leaving the subject of fabrics it may be well to warn those who
consult Meyrick that this author is rather prone to enunciate theories of
the different forms of mail which, like that of the banded mail, do not
work well in practice. He mentions, among many other varieties, what he
calls 'Mascled' mail. He asserts that this was formed of lozenge-shaped
plates cut out in the centre and applied to linen or leather. He says that
it was so called from its likeness to the meshes of a net (Lat. _macula_).
Now when we consider that the word 'mail' itself comes to us from the
Latin 'macula', through the French 'maille' and the Italian 'maglia', we
find that Meyrick's 'Mascled mail' is but a tautological expression which
can best be applied to the net-like fabric of the interlinked chain
defence, and so his 'Mascled mail' would more correctly be styled a
'Mascled coat', and this coat would probably be formed of the chain
variety as resembling the meshes of a net more closely than any other

Double mail is sometimes to be met with on carved monuments, and this
would be constructed in the same manner as the single mail; but two links
would be used together in every case where one is used in the single mail.

Having briefly described the varieties of fabric and material which were
in use at the time of the Conquest for defensive armour, we may pass to
the forms in which those materials were made up. The first garment put on
by the man-at-arms was the Tunic, which was a short linen shirt reaching
usually to just above the knee; it is often shown in miniatures of the
period beneath the edge of the coat of mail.

At one period the tunic appears to have been worn inconveniently long, if
we are to judge from the seals of Richard I, in which it is shown reaching
to the feet. This long under-garment was quite given up by the beginning
of the thirteenth century, and those representations of Joan of Arc which
show a long under-tunic falling from beneath the breastplate are based
upon no reliable authority.

Next to the tunic was worn the Gambeson, called also the Wambais and
Aketon, a quilted garment, either used as the sole defence by the
foot-soldier, or, by the knight, worn under the hauberk to prevent the
chain-mail from bruising the body under the impact of a blow. The gambeson
is shown on Fig. 9, appearing beneath the edge of the hauberk just above
the knee.

The Hauberk, which was worn over the gambeson, was the chief body defence.
It is true that we read of a 'plastron de fer', which seems to have been a
solid metal plate worn over the breast and sometimes at the back; but it
was invariably put on either under the hauberk itself or over the hauberk,
but always beneath the Jupon or surcoat, which at this period was the
outermost garment worn. In either case it was not exposed to view, so it
is impossible to tell with any degree of accuracy what was its shape or
how it was fixed to the wearer. Hewitt[5] gives two illustrations of
carved wooden figures in Bamberg Cathedral, which show a plastron de fer
worn over the jupon, which seems to be studded with metal. The figures
were executed about the year 1370. The form of the hauberk, as shown on
the Bayeux Tapestry, was of the shirt order (Plate I, 4, 6). It was
usually slit to the waist, front and back, for convenience on horseback,
and the skirts reached to the knee, thus protecting the upper leg. It is
perhaps needless to point out that the extreme weight of mail with its
thick padded undergarment made the use of a horse a necessity, for the
weight was all borne upon the shoulders, and was not, as is the case with
suits of plate, distributed over the limbs and body of the wearer. The
sleeves of the hauberk were sometimes short; sometimes they were long and
ended in fingerless mittens of mail. The three varieties of sleeve are
shown on Plate I, while the mittens turned back to leave the hand bare
appear on the Setvans brass (Plate III, 2).

Wace, the chronicler, seems to suggest different forms of defensive
habiliments, for we find mention of a short form of the hauberk, called
the Haubergeon. In his _Roman de Rou_ he writes of Duke William at the
Battle of Senlac:--

  Sun boen haubert fist demander,[6]

while of Bishop Odo he says:--

  Un haubergeon aveit vestu
  De sor une chemise blanche.

The fact that he mentions the tunic ('chemise blanche') seems to imply
that it was seen beneath the hem of the haubergeon, which would not be the
case with the long-skirted hauberk. Occasionally in illuminated
manuscripts the hauberk is shown slit at the sides; but for what purpose
it is difficult to imagine, for it would impede the wearer when walking
and would make riding an impossibility.

The defences of the leg, made of mail like the hauberk, seem to have been
used, at first, only by the nobles, if the Bayeux Tapestry is taken as a
guide. The common soldiers wore linen or leather swathings, sometimes
studded with metal, but in appearance closely resembling the modern
puttee. The upper portion of the leg was protected at a later period with
Chaussons, while the defences from knee to foot were called Chausses. Wace
mentions 'chauces de fer', but we must remember, as was noticed in the
introduction, that Wace wrote some seventy years after the Conquest, and
probably described the accoutrements worn at his own time. The Bayeux
Tapestry is nearer the period, as far as we can date it with any
correctness, but here we are hampered to some extent by the crude methods
of the embroideress. The chaussons are not often shown in illuminations,
for the long-skirted hauberk covers the leg to the knee; but the chausses
appear in all pictorial and sculptured records of the period, made either
of mail or of pourpointerie, that is fabric studded with metal. Towards
the end of the thirteenth century the chaussons and chausses were made in
one stocking-like form covering the foot; this is shown on Plate I, 8, 12.
In the first of these illustrations only the front of the leg is covered,
and the chausses are laced at the back.

As the manufacture of mail progressed the whole of the wearer's person
came to be protected by it. In addition to the coverings of the body we
find continuations that protected arms and legs, and in course of time the
neck and head were protected with a Coif or hood of mail, which is shown
in use in Plate I, No. 12, and thrown back on the shoulders on No. 8.
Although of no protective use, the Surcoat is so essentially part of the
war equipment of the knight that it needs more than a passing notice. It
first appears on Royal seals at the beginning of the thirteenth century,
in the reign of King John. Some modern writers have suggested that it was
first used in the Crusades to keep the sun off the mail; however this may
be, we have written proof that it was of use in protecting the intricate
fabric of chain armour from the wet, which by rusting the metal played
havoc with its serviceability. It will be seen in different lengths in the
figures on Plate I. In _The Avowynge of King Arthur_, stanza 39, we find--

  With scharpe weppun and schene
  Gay gowns of grene,
  To hold thayre armur clene
  And were[7] hitte fro the wete.

Like the hauberk, the surcoat was slit to the waist in front and behind
for convenience on horseback, and was usually girt at the waist with a
cord or belt. It was frequently decorated with the armorial bearings of
the wearer. When the barrel helm was worn, concealing the whole face, some
such cognizance was necessary that the knight might be recognized. The
Setvans brass (Plate III) shows the armorial device powdered over the

The headpiece characteristic of the Norman Conquest is the conical nasal
Helm. We should draw a distinction between the Helmet and the Helm. The
former is, of course, a diminutive of the latter. At the time of the
Norman Conquest the head covering would rank rather as a helmet, as it did
not entirely cover the face. The Norman helmet was conical, usually formed
of four triangular pieces of metal plate riveted in a ring and meeting at
the apex. Sometimes a Nasal or nose-guard was added (Plate I, 4, 6). That
this nasal must have been broad enough to conceal the face to a great
extent we may judge from the story how the Norman soldiers believed their
leader to be killed, and how William, raising his helm, rode along the
lines crying 'I am here, and by God's help I shall conquer'. The Bayeux
Tapestry illustrates this incident. On some of the Conqueror's seals we
find the helmet tied on with laces. Earflaps were sometimes added, as may
be seen on the chessmen found in the Isle of Lewis, now in the British

[Illustration: FIG. 2. From the effigy of Hugo Fitz Eudo, Kirkstead,
Lincs., thirteenth century.]

[Illustration: FIG. 3. From a figure in the Cathedral at Constance,
thirteenth century.]

[Illustration: FIG. 4. From the Great Seal of Alexander II of Scotland,
thirteenth century.]

[Illustration: FIG. 5. Brit. Mus. Roy. MS. 20. D. i, thirteenth century.]

During the twelfth century the helmet gradually became the helm. The
ear-flaps were fixed, becoming an integral part of the defence, and closed
round to join the nasal, this arrangement forming at length the ventail or
visor. This gives us what is known as the 'Barrel helm' (Fig. 2), in which
the whole head is enclosed and the only opening in the front is the
'ocularium' or vision slit. Next we have the same kind of helm with the
addition of holes for breathing in the lower portion (Fig. 3). In some
varieties the back of the helm is shorter than the front, as on Fig. 4,
and in this kind also we sometimes find breathing holes added. The Great
Seals of the kings are a most useful guide in discovering the
accoutrements of each period, and especially so for the helms and helmets,
which are easier to distinguish than the more minute details of dress and
equipment. It will be understood that in time the flat-topped helm was
given up in favour of the 'Sugar-loaf' helm (Fig. 5), as it is generally
called, when we consider the importance of a 'glancing surface' in armour.
Although thickness of material was of some importance in defensive armour,
this providing of surfaces from which a weapon would slip was considered
to be of supreme importance by the armour-smiths of later periods. In the
conical helm, as indeed in nearly all great helms, the vision and
breathing apertures were pierced in the plates of the helm itself and were
not part of a movable visor, as was the case in the helmet. The weight of
these helms must have been great; for they do not seem to have been bolted
on to the shoulders, as were the fifteenth and sixteenth century tilting
helms, but to have rested upon the crown of the head. The drawing on Plate
I, No. 8, shows a padded cap which was worn under the mail to protect the
head from pressure. On No. 12 of the same plate we see the helm being put
on over the mail coif; the padded cap is worn under the mail. For
tournaments the helm was sometimes made of toughened leather, which was
called 'cuirbouilli' from the fact that it was prepared by being boiled in
oil and then moulded to shape. This material was very strong and
serviceable and was used, as we shall see later on, for reinforcing the
chain armour and also for horse armour. It was generally decorated with
gilding and painting. For the tournament held at Windsor in 1278 we find
mention of 'xxxviii galee de cor'.[8] As we have shown, these great helms
were not attached to the body armour and were thus liable to be struck off
in battle. In order to recover them a chain was sometimes stapled to the
helm and fastened to the waist or some portion of the body armour (Fig.

The usual form of helmet in the twelfth century is the cup-shaped
headpiece of which the Cervellière is a typical example (Fig. 7). It was
either worn as the sole defence or was used in conjunction with the helm
as an under-cap. The wide-rimmed hat of iron is found all through the
period of defensive armour with which we deal. It appears in the
thirteenth century (Fig. 8) and is also to be found in the fifteenth.
There is an example of one of these war-hats (_Eisenhut_) in the museum at

[Illustration: FIG. 6. Detail from the brass of Sir Roger de Trumpington,
Trumpington, Camb., 1290.]

[Illustration: FIG. 7. From the monument to Johan le Botiler, St. Bride's,
Glamorganshire, 1300.]

[Illustration: FIG. 8. Add. MS. 11. 639, f. 520, thirteenth century.]

The Shield at the time of the Conquest was kite-shaped. It was long enough
to cover the body and legs of the warrior when mounted, but it must have
been a most inconvenient adjunct to his accoutrements. As we have seen in
the Monk of St. Gall's records, the shield was sometimes made of iron; but
the more usual material was wood covered with leather or the tough
cuirbouilli. Its broad flat surface was from the earliest times used by
the painter to display his art, which at first was not systematized, but
consisted of geometrical patterns and strange birds and beasts that had no
special meaning. As time went on each knight retained the device which was
borne upon his shield and came to be recognized by it, and from this
sprung the complicated science of Heraldry, which has survived, with all
its intricate detail, to the present day. The surface of the shield was
often bowed so that it embraced the body of the wearer. That some must
have been flat we may suppose from the fact that the soldiers in the
Bayeux Tapestry are represented as using them for trays to carry cups and
plates at the 'Prandium'. In St. Lucy's Chapel, at Christ Church Cathedral
in Oxford, in the window depicting the martyrdom of St. Thomas of
Canterbury, are to be seen two varieties of decorated shields. Two of the
knights bear shields painted with geometrical designs, while Fitz Urse
carries a shield on which are three bears' heads erased, a punning
cognizance from the name of the wearer. The date of the window is about
the end of the thirteenth century. The shield was attached to the wearer
by a thong passing round the neck, called the Guige. When not in use it
was slung by this thong on the back. When in use the arm and hand passed
through the short loops called Enarmes (Fig. 10). The Royal blazon first
appears on the shield in the reign of Richard I. Occasionally we find
circular shields depicted in illuminations; but they were generally used
by the foot-soldiers. As the development of defensive armour proceeds we
shall find that the shield becomes smaller, and in time is discarded, the
body defences being made sufficient protection in themselves.

[Illustration: FIG. 9. From the _Romance of Alexander_, f. 150, Bod. Lib.,
fourteenth century.]

[Illustration: FIG. 10. A, A. Enarmes. B. Guige.]



It will be readily understood that the change from mail to plate armour
was not brought about at once. Difficulty of manufacture, expense, and
conservatism in idea, all retarded the innovation. Some progressive knight
might adopt a new fashion which did not come into general use till many
years after, in the same manner that, from force of circumstances, or from
a clinging to old methods, we find an out-of-date detail of armour like
the coif of mail, shown on the brass of Sir W. Molineux, appearing in
1548, or the sleeved hauberk in the Dresden Museum which was worn without
plate defences for the arms by Herzog August at the Battle of Mühlberg in
1546. Acting on the method adopted in the preceding chapter, we may first
consider the materials used during the beginning of the Transition Period,
and afterwards we shall show how those materials were made up.

During the fourteenth century iron, leather, whalebone, and quilted
fabrics were all employed for defensive purposes. The illustration from
the _Romance of Alexander_ (Fig. 9) shows the gambeson still worn under
the mail, and the legs are covered in one instance with a metal-studded or
pourpointed defence; a second figure wears what appears to be scale
armour, while the third has no detail shown upon the legs, which may be an
oversight on the part of the artist, or may suggest that plain hose were
worn. Iron was used for the mail and scale armour and was also employed in
making a pliable defence called Splinted armour, which at a later period
became the Brigandine (Plate II).

There are several of these brigandines to be found in the Armouries of
England and Europe, but the majority of them date about the middle of the
fifteenth century. As will be seen in the illustration, the brigandine
was made of small plates of iron or steel overlapping upwards and riveted
on to a canvas-lined garment of silk or velvet. The plates were worn on
the inside in most cases, and the rivet heads which showed on the silk or
velvet face were often gilded, thus producing a very brilliant effect.

[Illustration: PLATE II



Brigandine in the Musée d'Artillerie, Paris.]

We find many references to these splinted defences in the Inventories of
the period, which form a valuable source of information on the subject of
details of armour. The Inventory of Humphrey de Bohun,[9] Earl of
Hereford, taken in 1322, gives:--'Une peire de plates coverts de vert
velvet.' Again, in one of the Inventories of the Exchequer, 1331,[10] is
noted:--'Une peire de plates covert de rouge samyt.' The Inventory of
Piers Gaveston, dated 1313, a document full of interesting details,
has[11]:--'Une peire de plates enclouez et garniz d'argent.' The 'pair of
plates' mentioned in these records refers to the front and back defences.
In the accounts of payments by Sir John Howard we find in the year 1465,
11_s._ 8_d._ paid for 20,000 'Bregander nayles'.[12] Brass was employed
for decorative purposes on the edges of the hauberk, or was fashioned into
gauntlets, as may be seen in the gauntlets of the Black Prince, preserved
at Canterbury. Chaucer writes in the 'Rime of Sir Thopas':--

  His swerdes shethe of yvory,
    His helm of laton bright.

Laton, or latten, was a mixed metal, much resembling brass, used at this
period for decorative purposes.

Whalebone was employed for gauntlets and also for swords used in the
tournament. Froissart uses the words 'gands de baleine' in describing the
equipment of the troops of Philip von Arteveld at the Battle of Rosbecque.

Quilted garments were still worn, either as the sole defence or as a
gambeson under the mail. As late as the year 1460 we find regulations of
Louis XI of France ordering these coats of defence to be made of from 30
to 36 folds of linen.[13]

Leather, either in its natural state or boiled and beaten till it could be
moulded and then allowed to dry hard, was frequently used at this period
for all kinds of defensive armour.

In Chaucer's 'Rime of Sir Thopas', from which we have quoted before, occur
the words, 'His jambeux were of quirboilly.' The jambeaux were coverings
for the legs. This quirboilly, cuirbully, or cuirbouilli, when finished
was an exceedingly hard substance, and was, on account of its lightness as
compared to metal, much used for tournament armour and for the Barding or
defence for the horse. In the Roll of Purchases for the Windsor Park
Tournament, held in 1278, mention is made of cuirasses supplied by Milo
the Currier, who also furnished helms of the same material.[14] In the
Inventory of Sir Simon Burley, beheaded in 1338, we find under 'Armure de
guerre':--'Un palet (a headpiece) de quierboylle.' There is a light
leather helmet of the 'morion' type, dated sixteenth century, in the
Zeughaus at Berlin.

Banded mail still appears in drawings or on monuments up to the end of the
fourteenth century.

We may now turn to the making up of these varied materials, and will
endeavour, step by step, to trace the gradual evolution of the full suit
of plate from the first additions of plate defence to mail till we find
that the mail practically disappears, or is only worn in small portions
where plate cannot be used.

[Illustration: FIG. 11. From Roy. MS. 16. G. vi, f. 387, fourteenth

[Illustration: FIG. 12. Bib. Nat., Paris, _Lancelot du Lac_, fourteenth

Setting aside the plastron de fer, which, as has been noticed, is seldom
shown in representations of armour, we find the first additional defence
was the Poleyne or knee-cop. We must suppose that there was good reason
for thus reinforcing the mail defence on this part of the body. Probably
this was due to the fact that the shield became shorter at this period,
and also because the position of the wearer when mounted exposed the knee,
a very delicate piece of anatomy, to the attacks of the foot-soldier (Fig.
11). Poleynes are mentioned in a wardrobe account of Edward I in 1300.
They were frequently made of cuirbouilli, and this material is probably
intended in the illustration (Plate III, 1), as elaborately decorated
metal is rarely met with at this period. At the end of the thirteenth
century appear those curious appendages known as Ailettes. On Plate III,
2, the figure is shown wearing the poleynes and also the ailettes. For
practical purposes they are represented on recumbent figures as worn at
the back, but in pictorial illustrations they are invariably shown on the
outside of the shoulder. Some writers consider that they were solely used
for ornament, presumably because they are generally shown decorated with
heraldic blazons. Against this, however, we may place the fact that they
are depicted in representations of battles, and in Queen Mary's psalter
(2. B. vii in the British Museum) the combatants wear plain ailettes. The
German name for the ailettes (_Tartschen_) suggests also that they were
intended for shoulder-guards. Fourteenth-century Inventories abound with
references to ailettes. In the Roll of Purchases for Windsor Park
Tournament are mentioned thirty-eight pair of ailettes to be fastened with
silk laces supplied by one Richard Paternoster. In the Piers Gaveston
Inventory before quoted are: 'Les alettes garnis et frettez de perles.'
These, of course, would be only for ceremonial use. The illustration (Fig.
11) shows different forms of ailette, and occasionally we find the
lozenge-shaped, and once (Brit. Mus. Roy. MS. 2. A. xxii, fol. 219) they
assume a cruciform shape. The attachment of the ailettes with the laces
referred to in the Windsor Park Inventory is shown on Fig. 12. In the
_Chroniques de Charlemaine_, preserved in the Bibliothèque Royale at
Brussels, the ailettes appear to be laced to the side of the helmet. This
occurs in so many of the miniatures that it must be taken as a correct
presentment of this detail in arming. It may be, however, that, as this
manuscript was produced in the year 1460, it recorded a later method of
using the ailette which, _per se_, disappears about the middle of the
fourteenth century, as far as monumental records exist.

The next addition of plate to the equipment of mail seems to have been on
the legs. The only monumental brass that gives this fashion of arming is
the Northwode brass at Minster, Sheppey. As the legs are of later date
than the rest of the brass, although most probably correct in design, it
may be better to trust to a monument which is intact, as is the statue of
Gulielmus Berardi, 1289, which is carved in the Cloister of the Annunziata
Convent, Florence (Fig. 13). Here we find the front of the leg entirely
protected by plates which may be intended for metal, but which, from their
ornate decoration, seem rather to suggest cuirbouilli. These jambeaux, or,
as they are sometimes called, Bainbergs or Beinbergs, of leather have been
before referred to as mentioned by Chaucer.

Returning to monumental brasses again, we find on the Gorleston brass
(Plate III, 3) that the plate additions are still more increased. Besides
the poleynes and the ailettes there are traces of plate jambs on the legs,
and the arms are protected by plates and circular discs on shoulder and

[Illustration: PLATE III

1. Sir John d'Aubernoun, 1277, Stoke D'Abernon, Surrey 2. Sir Robt. de
Setvans, 1306, Chartham, Kent 3. A member of the de Bacon family, c. 1320,
Gorleston, Suffolk 4. Sir John D'Aubernoun, 1327 Stoke D'Abernon, Surrey
5. William de Aldeburgh, c. 1360, Aldborough, Yorks 6. A Knight, c. 1400,
Laughton, Lincolnshire.]

After 1325 ailettes are rarely met with. On No. 4 of Plate III these
details seem to be advanced in some points, and are shown with the methods
of attaching them to the wearer. The Rerebrace is strapped over the mail,
and the disc at the bend of the Coude or elbow-piece is held in place by
Aiguillettes or laces--called at a later period Arming-points. The
poleynes overlap the jambs, and so cover the junction of the two pieces,
and the latter are held to the leg with straps. The Solerets are among the
earliest examples of a defence of laminated plates, that is, of strips of
metal riveted upon leather in order to give more ease of movement than
would be possible with a solid plate. The Vambrace is worn under the
sleeve of the hauberk, and not, as in the preceding example, over the
mail. This figure is especially interesting because it shows the different
garments worn with the armour of this period. Above the knees appears the
tunic; over this comes the hauberk of mail, in this instance banded mail;
over the hauberk are shown the Upper Pourpoint, a quilted garment, and,
above this, the surcoat, or, as this variety is called, the Cyclas. The
difference between the surcoat proper and the cyclas is that the former is
of even length all round, while the latter is shorter in front than behind
(see also Fig. 14). The coif of mail has now given place to the Camail,
which does not cover the head, but is attached to the helmet, and is not
joined to the hauberk, but hangs over the cyclas.

[Illustration: FIG. 13. Gulielmus Berardi, Florence, 1289.]

[Illustration: FIG. 14. Bib. Nat., Paris, _Tristan and Iseult_, fourteenth

In the next example (Plate III, 5) we find the mail still worn on the legs
and arms, but on the latter the vambrace and the coude plate seem to be
hinged in the manner adopted during the period of full armour. The upper
part of the leg is protected by studded pourpointerie, which was
frequently employed as being of more convenience on horseback. These thigh
defences were called the Cuisses. The Bascinet is shown and also the short
surcoat or Jupon.

The brass of an unknown knight (Plate III, 6) is typical of what has come
to be known as the 'Camail' period. The arm-and leg-pieces completely
enclose the limb and are fastened with hinges and straps as in the later
periods. The gauntlets show the Gadlings, or knuckle-knobs, which are a
marked feature of this period, and the whole suit is richly decorated with
engraved borders. Some writers divide the Transition Period of armour into
'Surcoat', 'Cyclas', 'Jupon', and 'Tabard'. This, however, seems
unnecessary if we are considering only the development of defensive
armour, and not the whole question of costume. The camail is so marked a
detail of the knightly equipment that it may reasonably be used to
describe the fashion in armour from about 1360 to 1405. In this example
the figure is clad in complete plate, though the hauberk is worn beneath,
as may be seen at the lower edge of the jupon and also in the '_vif de
l'harnois_', or portion of the body at the armpit, which was unprotected
by plate. In some instances this vital spot was protected by a circular,
oval, crescent-shaped, or square plate attached by laces, which modern
writers call the Rondel, but which Viscount Dillon, in a most interesting
article, proves to have been the Moton or Besague[15] (Fig. 15).

The effigy of the Black Prince at Canterbury is a good example of the
armour of this period, but it is interesting to note that, while the
monumental brasses frequently give such details as straps, buckles, &c.,
this effigy shows no constructional detail whatever. We find that in Spain
there were minute regulations drawn up as to the manner in which a
deceased warrior might be represented on his tomb. The details of sheathed
or unsheathed sword, helm, spurs, &c., all had some significant reference
to his life and achievements.[16] It is almost superfluous to point out
that those details which referred to the knight's captivity, or the fact
that he had been vanquished, were more honoured in the breach than in the

[Illustration: FIG. 15. Brass of Sir T. de S. Quentin, Harpham, Yorks,

[Illustration: FIG. 16. Knightly figure in Ash Church, Kent, fourteenth

[Illustration: FIG. 17. Bib. Nat., Paris, _Tite-Live_, 1350.]

The armour of this period was often richly decorated with engraving, as
may be seen on the brass to an unknown knight at Laughton, Lincs., and
also on the monument to Sir Hugh Calverley at Bunbury, Cheshire. Of the
jupon, King René, in his _Livre des Tournois_, about the year 1450, writes
that it ought to be without fold on the body, like that of a herald, so
that the cognizance, or heraldic blazon, could be better recognized. The
jupon of the Black Prince, preserved at Canterbury and admirably figured
in _Monumenta Vetusta_, vol. vii, is embroidered with the Royal Arms, and
is quilted with cotton padding. So general is the use of the jupon at this
period that it is a matter of some conjecture as to what form the body
armour took that was worn under it. The effigy of a knight in Ash Church,
Kent (Fig. 16), elucidates this mystery and shows, through openings of the
jupon, horizontal plates or splints riveted together. In Fig. 17 we see
these plates worn without the jupon. The term Jazeran is often applied to
such armour.

[Illustration: FIG. 18. _a._ The Camail attached to the helm. _b._ The
Camail showing the staples.]

[Illustration: FIG. 19. Bib. Nat., Paris, _Tite-Live_, 1350.]

The camail, or hood of mail, which we have before referred to, was
separate from the hauberk, and during the fourteenth century was worn over
the jupon. It was attached to the bascinet by Vervelles or staples which
fitted into openings in the helmet. A lace was passed through these
staples, as is shown on Fig. 18. From a French manuscript of the early
fifteenth century (Fig. 19) we see how the camail was kept from 'riding'
over the shoulders. In the little wooden statuette of St. George of Dijon,
which is a most useful record of the armour of this period, we find that,
in addition, the camail is fastened to the breast with aiguillettes.

The Great Heaume, or helm, of the fourteenth century differs but little
from those of the late thirteenth century which were noticed in a
preceding chapter. The shape was either of the sugar-loaf order or a
cylinder surmounted by a truncated cone (Fig. 20). Notable examples of
actual specimens in England at the present day are the helms of Sir
Richard Pembridge at Hereford Cathedral and the helm of the Black Prince,
surmounted by a crest of wood and cuirbouilli, preserved at Canterbury. In
an Inventory of Louis Hutin, made in 1316, we find: 'ii heaummes d'acier,
item v autres dans li uns est dorez.' This seems to suggest that the
gilded helm was of some other material than steel, possibly leather. It is
rare to come across constructional detail in illuminations, but the
illustration (Fig. 21) from a French manuscript of about the year 1350
shows a method of attaching the helm to the wearer's body. In the
preceding chapter we noticed the chain used for this purpose on the
Trumpington brass.

[Illustration: FIG. 20. Fourteenth-century helm, Zeughaus, Berlin.]

[Illustration: FIG. 21. Bib. Nat., Paris, _Tite-Live_, 1350.]

The most popular of the light helmets at this period was the Bascinet. It
appears on nearly every monumental brass that depicts a military figure,
and is an essential part of that style of equipment known as the 'camail'.
The later form of bascinet has a movable visor which is known among armour
collectors as the 'pig-faced' bascinet (Plate V). Sometimes the hinge is
at the top, and sometimes, as in No. 2 of this plate, the visor is pivoted
at the sides. Froissart calls the visor 'carnet' and 'visière'. In the
Bohun Inventory, before referred to, are given: 'ii bacynettes, lun covert
de quir lautre bourni.' This shows that while some helmets were of
polished metal, others were covered with leather, and indeed silk and
velvet as fancy dictated. Frequent references to these 'covers' for
helmets occur in Inventories and Wills. The helmet and other portions of
the suit of plate armour were sometimes tinned to prevent rust, as is
shown in one of the Dover Castle Inventories of 1361:--'xiii basynetz
tinez.' Sometimes, in the case of Royalty or princes of rank, the bascinet
was encircled with a fillet or crown of gold and gems. Among the payments
of Etienne de Fontaine, in 1352, are mentioned 110 crowns for 'quarente
grosses perles pour garnir le courroye du basinet de Monsieur le Dauphin'.
The Orle, or wreath worn turban-wise round the bascinet, is sometimes
shown, as on Fig. 22, of a decorative nature. It is supposed by some
writers to have been devised to take the pressure of the great helm from
the head, for the helm was often worn, as in the preceding century, over a
lighter headpiece. From the usual position of the orle, however, and from
the fact that it is invariably shown highly decorated and jewelled, this
explanation can hardly hold good, for a padding worn as shown in the
illustration would not be of much service in keeping off the pressure of
the helm, and of course the jewelled decoration would be destroyed at
once. Another theory is that the orle was made by wrapping the Lambrequin
or Mantling--which hung from the back of the helmet and which is still
used in heraldic drawings--much in the same manner as the modern puggaree
is worn in India. In this illustration appears also the gorget of plate
that was worn over the throat and chin with the bascinet.

[Illustration: PLATE IV

_Photograph by Hauser & Menet_

Jousting armour of Charles V. Madrid.]

[Illustration: FIG. 22. The Orle, from the monument of Sir H. Stafford,
Bromsgrove, Kent, 1450.]

The shields of the fourteenth century present an infinite variety in shape
and decoration. The heraldic blazoning has by this time been systematized
into somewhat of a science, which in Germany especially was carried to
extravagant extremes. The long kite-shaped shield is to be found in
records of the period, but the more common forms were the short pointed
shield as shown on Plate III, and that which was rounded at the lower
edge. Frequently the shield is represented as 'bouché', or notched, at the
top right-hand corner, to enable the wearer to point his lance through
this opening without exposing his arm or body to attack. In the Inventory
of Louis Hutin are mentioned 'iii ecus pains des armes le Roy, et un
acier', which shows that the shield was sometimes made of steel, though
usually it was fashioned of wood and faced with leather, or of
cuirbouilli. In a transcript of Vegecius (Brit. Mus. Roy. MS. 18. A. xii)
the young knight is advised to have 'a shelde of twigges sumewhat rounde'.
The shield of the Black Prince at Canterbury is pointed at the lower edge,
and is made of wood faced with leather, on which are set out the Royal
arms in gesso-duro or plaster relief.



Before proceeding to examine the suit of Full Plate, with all its
interesting details and differences as exemplified in the various
armouries of England and Europe, it will be well to make clear the main
principles which governed the manufacture of such armour. We should
remember that the whole history of our subject is one long struggle of
defensive equipment against offensive weapons. This is brought out clearly
at the present day in the Navy, where the contest between gun and
armour-plating is the dominant factor in naval construction. As the
weapons of the Middle Ages became more serviceable, the armour was
increased in weight. The Longbow and the Crossbow marked distinct periods
in the development of defensive armour; for so important a factor did
these weapons become, especially the latter, that they were used for
testing the temper of the metal, large or small weapons being used as
occasion demanded. Those writers who are prone to generalize upon such
subjects tell us that the invention of gunpowder sounded the knell of
defensive armour, but this is by no means accurate, for guns were used in
sieges as early as 1382, and, as we shall find farther on in this chapter,
the armour of the late sixteenth century was proved by pistol shot. The
result of the improvement of firearms was that for many years armour
became heavier and thicker till the musket was perfected, and then it was
found that even highly-tempered steel would not resist the impact of a

It is a safe assertion to make that a full suit of plate armour at its
finest period--the fifteenth century--is the most perfect work of
craftsmanship that exists.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.]

[Illustration: FIG. 24. Maximilian breastplate and taces.]

[Illustration: FIG. 25. Coude or Elbow-cop.]

This assertion is not made without fully considering the real value of
such work, which must fulfil all those essentials without which no true
work of craftsmanship can have any merit. The first of these is that the
work should fulfil its object in the best possible manner; secondly, that
it should be convenient and simple in use; thirdly, that it should
proclaim its material; and fourthly, and this is by no means the least
important, that any decoration should be subservient to its purpose. To
take our axioms in the order given, it may appear to the casual student
that if armour were sufficiently thick it would naturally fulfil its
primary reason for existence. But we find, on careful examination of plate
armour, that there are other considerations which are of equal, if not
greater importance. Of these the most noticeable is the 'glancing
surface'. It is somewhat difficult to exemplify this by a line-drawing,
though it is easy to do so with an actual example. Referring to the
Maximilian breastplate (Fig. 24), we find that a lance, the thrusting
weapon much favoured in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, would, on
striking the breast be deflected along the grooved channel nearest to the
point of impact till it reached the raised edge either at the top or at
the sides, when it would be conducted safely off the body of the wearer.
The same surface is to be noticed on all helms and helmets after the
twelfth century, the rounded surfaces giving no sure hold for cutting or
thrusting weapons. The Coude (Fig. 25) shows this same glancing surface
used to protect the elbow, and, again, the fan-shaped plate on the outside
of the knee effects the same result (see Frontispiece).[17] The great
jousting helms are so constructed that the lance-point should glance off
them when the wearer is in the proper jousting position, that is, bent
forward at such an angle that the eyes come on a level with the ocularium
or vision slit (Plate V, 5). These helms are also made of plates varying
in thickness as the part may be more exposed to attack. The Great Helm in
the possession of Captain Lindsay of Sutton Courtenay, near Abingdon, has
a skull-plate nearly a quarter of an inch thick, for, in the bending
position adopted by the wearer, this portion of the helm would be most
exposed to the lance. The back-plate is less than half that thickness.
This helm is one of the heaviest in existence, for it weighs 25 lb. 14 oz.
Again, we may notice the overlapping Lames or strips of steel that are so
frequently used for Pauldron, Rerebrace, Vambrace, Soleret, and Gauntlet;
all present the same surface to the opposing weapon, and, except in the
case of the Taces, where the overlapping from necessity of form must be in
an inverse direction, the chance of a weapon penetrating the joints is
reduced to a minimum (Fig. 23). A portion of the pauldron which is
designed for this glancing defence, and for this only, is the upstanding
Neck- or Shoulder-guard which is so generally described as the
Passe-guard. It is curious, with the very definite information to hand
(supplied by Viscount Dillon in the _Archaeological Journal_, vol. xlvi,
p. 129), that even the most recent writers fall into the same mistake
about the name of this defence. Space will not admit of quoting more fully
Viscount Dillon's interesting paper; but two facts cited by him prove
conclusively that the passe-guard is quite another portion of the
armour. In the Tower Inventory of 1697 appears the entry, 'One Armour
cap-a-pe Engraven with a Ragged Staffe, made for ye Earle of Leisester, a
Mainfere, Passguard and Maineguard and Gantlett.' Now it is hardly
reasonable to suppose that this ridge on the pauldron should be specially
mentioned as the Passe-guard without any notice of the pauldron itself. In
the Additional Notes to the above article Viscount Dillon gives, from a
List of Payments made in connexion with jousts held on October 20, 1519,
'9 yards of Cheshire cotton at 7_d._ for lining the king's pasguard.' That
the neck-guard to which we refer should need lining on the inside, where
it did not even touch the helmet, we may dismiss at once; and that the
lining should be on the outside is of course absurd. As far as can be
gathered from recent research the passe-guard is a reinforcing piece for
the right elbow, used for jousting. It was lined to protect the ordinary
arm defence underneath from being scratched, and also to lessen the shock
to the wearer if it were struck. It is to be hoped, from this reiteration
of Viscount Dillon's researches, that at any rate one of the many errors
of nomenclature in armour may be corrected.

[Illustration: PLATE V

1. Bascinet from the tomb of the Black Prince, Canterbury, XIVth. cent. 2.
Visored Bascinet from the statuette of S. George, Dijon, XIVth. cent. 3.
Salade, Royal Armoury, Turin, XVth. cent. 4. Salade with visor and beavor,
Musee de la porte de Hal, Brussels, XVth. cent. 5. The Brocas Helm,
Rotunda Woolwich XVth.-XVIth. cent. 6. Armet, Royal Armoury, Turin 7.
Burgonet, Brit. Mus. XVIth. cent. 8. Burgonet and Buffe, Royal Armoury,
Turin XVIth. cent. 9. Morion, Brussels, XVIth. cent. 10. Cabasset, Turin,
XVIth. cent. 11. Lobster-tailed Pot helmet, Turin, XVIIth. cent.]

With regard to the thickness of plate armour, we should remember that it
was forged from the solid ingot, and was not rolled in sheets as is the
material of to-day from which so many forgeries are manufactured. The
armourer was therefore able to graduate the thickness of his material,
increasing it where it was most needed, and lessening it in those parts
which were less exposed.

With regard to the proving of armour an article in _Archaeologia_, vol.
li, also by Viscount Dillon, is of great interest as showing the
indifferent skill of the English ironsmiths of the sixteenth century. In
1590 a discussion arose as to the quality of the English iron found in
Shropshire as compared to the 'Hungere' iron which came from Innsbruck.
After some delay Sir Henry Lee, Master of the Tower Armouries, arranged a
test, and two breastplates were prepared, of equal make and weight. Two
pistol charges of equal power were fired at the test breastplates, with
the result that the foreign armour was only slightly dented, while the
English plate was pierced completely, and the beam on which it rested was
torn by the bullet. A bascinet in the Tower, which belonged to Henry VIII,
bears two indented marks, signifying that it was proof against the large
crossbow. In the Musée d'Artillerie in Paris, a suit made for Louis XIV
bears proof marks which are treated as the centres for floriated designs
(Plate VIII). No excuse need be offered for thus borrowing from papers by
Viscount Dillon and other writers in _Archaeologia_ and the
_Archaeological Journal_, for these publications are not always at hand to
those interested in the subject of armour and equipments. They are,
however, indispensable for careful study; for they contain reports of the
most recent discoveries and investigations of the subject, and are
written, for the most part, by men whose expert knowledge is at once
extensive and precise.

[Illustration: PLATE VI

_Photograph by Viscount Dillon._

Engraved suit of armour given to Henry VIII by the Emperor Maximilian.

Another detail of importance in connexion with the protective power of
armour occurs in the great jousting helms, which invariably present a
smooth surface on the left side, even when there may be some opening, for
ventilation or other purposes, on the right. The reason for this was that
the jouster always passed left arm to left arm with the lance pointed
across the horse's neck. It was therefore important that there should be
no projection or opening on the left side of the helm in which the
lance-point could possibly be caught.

We next turn our attention to Convenience in Use. Under this head the
armourer had to consider that the human body makes certain movements of
the limbs for walking and riding, or fighting with arm and hand. He had so
to construct the different portions of the suit that they should allow of
all these movements without hindrance; and at the same time he had to
endeavour to protect the body and limbs while the movements were taking
place. The arrangements for pivoting elbow- and knee-joints need scarcely
be detailed; for it will be seen by a glance at any suit of plate armour
how the cuisse and jamb are pivoted on to the genouillière, and move with
the leg to a straight or bent position without allowing these plates to
escape from under the genouillière. The coude is sometimes pivoted in the
same manner, but more often it is rigid and of such circumference that the
arm can bend within it and yet be very adequately protected. In the
overlapping lames or strips of metal which give ease of movement to the
upper arm, the hands, the waist, and the foot, we find that much careful
work and calculation was needed to ensure comfort to the wearer. On the
foot, the toepiece and four or more arches of metal overlap upwards on to
a broader arch, while above this three or more arches overlap downwards,
thus allowing the toe-joint and ankle to be bent at the same time (Fig.
26). In a suit in the Tower, made for Prince Henry, son of James I, all
the arches of the soleret overlap downwards. This points to a certain
decadence in the craftsmanship of the armourer of the period, though the
excuse might be offered for him that the suit was intended only for use on
horseback. There are generally one, two, or more of these movable lames
joining the genouillière to the jamb, and above this the cuisse to the
genouillière to give greater flexibility to the knee fastenings. The
separate arm- and leg-pieces are, when made in two halves to encircle the
limb, hinged on the outside and closed with strap and buckle, or with
locking hook or bolt on the inside. This, of course, is to ensure greater
protection to these fastenings, especially on horseback. Higher up again
we get the tuilles or taces, which, from the fact that to adapt themselves
to the human form they must narrow at the waist and spread out below,
overlap upwards. From the taces are hung the tassets, with strap and
buckle, which give increased protection to the upper leg, and yet are not
in any way rigid. When the tassets are made of more than one plate they
are attached to each other by a most ingenious arrangement of straps and
sliding rivets. On the inner edge of each plate the rivets are attached to
a strap on the under side; but the outer edge, requiring more compression
of the lames together, is furnished with rivets fixed firmly in the
uppermost plate and working loose in a slot in the back plate, thus
allowing an expansion or contraction of half an inch or more to each
lame. It is somewhat difficult to explain this ingenious arrangement in
words, but Fig. 27 will show how the straps and rivets are set. When the
tassets were discarded about the end of the sixteenth century the cuisses
were laminated in this way from waist to knee.

[Illustration: PLATE VII

1. Passe-guard 2. Grand-guard 3. Tilting cuisse 4. Half suit for the
Stechzeug, Nuremberg 1450-1500 a. Polder mitton b. Lance rest c. Queue]

[Illustration: FIG. 26. Soleret.]

[Illustration: FIG. 27. Method of using sliding rivets.]

The gauntlet is generally found with a stiff cuff, and from wrist to
knuckles the plates in narrow arches overlap towards the arm, where they
join a wider plate which underlaps the cuff. The knuckle-plate is usually
ridged with a rope-shaped crest or with bosses imitating the knuckles. The
fingers are protected by small plates, from four on the fourth finger to
six on the second finger (in some examples there are more or less), which
overlap from knuckle to finger-tip. The thumb is covered in like manner,
but has a lozenge-shaped plate to connect it to the cuff. This metal
hand-covering was sewn on to a leather glove or attached to it with
leather loops (Fig. 28). The vambrace is generally rigid, either a solid
tube or hinged on the outside and fastened on the inside by straps or
hooks. It is held to the lower edge of the coude by a rivet. The lower
portion of the rerebrace is also tubular, while the upper portion, where
it joins the pauldron, is often laminated, with the plates overlapping,
downwards as a rule, though there are instances of these plates
overlapping upwards. They are joined in the same way as the laminated
tassets by a riveted strap on the inner side, and by sliding rivets at the
back, thus giving the arm freedom of movement forwards in the direction
most needed, but less freedom towards the back.

These sliding rivets working in slots have come to be called 'Almain'
rivets from the fact that the Almain rivet, a light half suit of armour,
was put together to a great extent by this method. These suits will be
referred to later in the chapter.

[Illustration: FIG. 28. Gauntlet.]

[Illustration: FIG. 29. Turning 'lock-pins'.]

[Illustration: FIG. 30. Gorget.]

The Pauldron is hung on the shoulder by a strap from the gorget or the
breastplate, or it is pierced with a hole which fits over a pin fixed in
one of these portions of the armour. In most suits of plate of the
fifteenth and early sixteenth century that portion of the pauldron which
covers the breastplate is larger on the left side than on the right. The
reason for this is that the position of the lance when held 'in rest',
that is couched for the charge, necessitates a certain curtailment of the
front plate of the pauldron, and, at the same time, the left arm being
held rigid at the bridle, and being exposed to the attacking weapon,
requires more protection than does the right, which, when using the lance,
was guarded by the Vamplate or metal disc fixed to the lance above the

Breast- and back-pieces are held together on the shoulders and sides by
straps, but the lames of the taces, and in some cases the breast and back
themselves, are fastened with turning pins which play an important part in
holding the suit together (Fig. 29). The Gorget (Fig. 30) is made in two
halves, each composed of a single plate or, sometimes, of two or three
horizontal lames. The two portions are united by a loose-working rivet on
the left side and are joined by a turning pin on the right. The gorget was
worn either over or under the breast- and backplates.

Perhaps the most ingeniously contrived suit in existence, which completely
protects the wearer and at the same time follows the anatomical
construction of the human body, is that made for Henry VIII for fighting
on foot in the lists. It is numbered xxviii in the Armoury of the Tower.
There are no parts of the body or limbs left uncovered by plate, and every
separate portion fits closely to its neighbour with sliding rivets and
turning pins to give the necessary play for the limbs. It is composed of
235 pieces and weighs 93 lb.

The wearing of the bascinet, salade, burgonet, and like helmets needs no
detailed description. In the preceding chapter we noticed the method of
attaching the camail to the bascinet. When the great helm was made a
fixture in the fifteenth century, as distinct from the loose or chained
helms of preceding periods, it was either bolted to the breast and back,
as on Plate VII, or it was fastened by an adjustable plate which shut over
a locking pin, as shown on Plate V, 5, and a somewhat similar arrangement
at the back, or a strap and buckle, held it firmly in place, while if
extra rigidity was needed it was supplied by straps from the shoulders to
the lugs shown in the drawing of the Brocas Helm on Plate V. The Armet, or
close helmet, fits the shape of the head to such an extent that it must be
opened to be put on. This is arranged by hingeing the side plates to the
centre, and, when fixed, fastening them with a screw at the back to which
a circular disc is added as a protection to this fastening (Fig. 31). The
armet shown on Plate V opens in the front and when closed is fastened with
a spring hook. The different parts of the armet are the Ventail, A, and
Vue, B, which together make the Visor; the Skull, C; and the Beavor, D
(Plate V, 6).

Having now arrived at some understanding of the construction of the suit
of armour we will pass on to the wearing of the suit. A man could not wear
his ordinary clothes under his armour; the friction of the metal was too
great. In spite of the excellence of workmanship of the armourer any thin
substance was bound to be torn, so a strong fabric was chosen which is
called in contemporary records Fustian. Whether it at all resembled the
modern fabric of that name it is difficult to determine, but certainly the
wearing powers of this material or of corduroy would be admirably adapted
for the purpose. Chaucer writes in the Prologue to the _Canterbury Tales_,
line 75:

  Of fustyan he wered a gepoun
  Aile bysmoterud with his haburgeoun.

This would refer to the rust-stains that penetrated through the
interstices of the mail. In Hall's _Chronicles_ (p. 524) is mentioned a
levy of troops ordered for the wars in France in 1543, for which it was
enjoined: 'Item every man to hav an armyng doublet of ffustyean or
canvas', and also 'a capp to put his scull or sallet in'. These last were
coverings for the helmets which we have noted on page 42. The helmets had
linings, either riveted to the metal or worn separately as a cap. The
tilting helm was provided with a thick padded cap with straps to keep it
in its place. Some of these caps exist in the Museum at Vienna.

[Illustration: FIG. 31. Armet.]

King René, in his _Livre des Tournois_, advises a pourpoint or padded
undergarment to be put on under the body armour, 'stuffed to the thickness
of three fingers on the shoulders for there the blows fall heaviest.' It
seems that in Brabant and the Low Countries the blows fell heavier, or
that the combatants were less hardy, for he advises for them a thickness
of four fingers, filled with cotton. Viscount Dillon mentions in his
Armour Notes[18] the fact that a 'stuffer of Bacynetts' accompanied Henry
V to Agincourt. He also quotes a letter from James Croft to Cecil on July
1, 1559, which states that a man cannot keep his corselet and pay for the
wear and tear of his clothes due to the rubbing of the body armour, under
8_d._ per day.

Sir John Smith, in his _Animadversions_ (1591), writes: 'No man should
wear any cut doublets, as well in respect that the wearing of armour doth
quickly fret them out, and also by reason that the corners and edges of
the lames and joints of the armour do take such hold upon such cuttes as
they do hinder the quick and sudden arming of men.'

An interesting description of the arming of a man, entitled, '_Howe a
manne schall be armed at hys ese when he schall fighte on foote_,' is
preserved in the _Life of Sir John Astley_ (a manuscript in the possession
of Lord Hastings).[19] The knight is first dressed in a doublet of
fustian, lined with satin, which is cut with holes for ventilation. This
satin was to keep the roughness of the fustian from the wearer's body; for
he wore no shirt under it. The doublet was provided with gussets of mail,
or Vuyders, attached under the armpit and at the bend of the elbow by
Arming Points or laces. These mail gussets were to protect the parts not
covered by the plate armour. The 'Portrait of an Italian Nobleman' by
Moroni, in the National Gallery, shows the figure dressed in this arming
doublet. A pair of thick worsted hose were worn, and shoes of stout
leather. It must be noticed here that the soleret, or sabaton as it is
sometimes called, covered only the top of the foot, and had understraps
which kept it to the sole of the shoe. First the sabatons were put on,
then the jambs, genouillière and cuisses, then the skirt or breech of mail
round the waist. This is sometimes known as the Brayette. Then the
breast-and backplates were buckled on with the accompanying taces,
tassets, and Garde-rein or plates to protect the loins. After this the arm
defences, and, if worn over the breastpiece, the gorget; and, finally, the
helmet completed the equipment. The sword was buckled on the left side and
the dagger on the right.

The armour for jousts and tourneys was much heavier than the Hosting or
War harness. From the fact, which has been previously noticed, that the
combatants passed each other on the left, this side of the armour was
reinforced to such a degree that in time it presented a totally different
appearance from the right side (see Plate VII). The weight of jousting
armour was so great that it was impossible for the wearer to mount without
assistance. De Pluvinel, in his _Maneige Royal_ (1629), gives an imaginary
conversation between himself and the King (Louis XIV) as follows:--

_The King._ 'It seems to me that such a man would have difficulty in
getting on his horse, and being on to help himself.'

_De Pluvinel._ 'It would be very difficult, but with this arming the
matter has been provided for. In this manner at triumphs and tourneys
there ought to be at the two ends of the lists a small scaffold, the
height of a stirrup, on which two or three persons can stand, that is to
say, the knight, an armourer to arm him, and one other to help him. The
knight being armed and the horse brought close to the stand, he easily
mounts him.'

Reference has been made to the fact that modern writers call the sliding
rivet the 'Almain' rivet. Whenever mentioned in Inventories and such-like
documents, the Almain rivet stands for a suit of light armour. Garrard, in
his _Art of Warre_ (1591), distinctly says, 'The fore part of a corselet
and a head peece and tasses is the almayne rivet.' Among the purchases
made on the Continent by Henry VIII in 1512 may be noted 2,000 Almain
rivets, each consisting of a salet, a gorget, a breastplate, a backplate,
and a pair of splints (short taces). In the Inventory of the goods of Dame
Agnes Huntingdon, executed at Tyburn for murdering her husband in 1523, we
find 'sex score pare of harness of Alman rivets'. The 'pare', of course,
refers to the breast- and backplates. The word Alman, Almaine, or Almain,
shows that the invention of this light armour and the sliding rivets
which were used in its construction came from Germany.

That the wearing of armour caused grave inconvenience to some, while to
others it seems to have been no hindrance at all, we may gather from the
following historical incidents. In 1526 King Louis of Hungary, fleeing
from the Battle of Mohacz, was drowned while crossing the Danube because
of the weight of his armour. On the other hand we find that Robert de
Vere, Earl of Oxford, when forced to fly at the Battle of Radcot Bridge,
escaped easily by swimming the river to safety in full armour. We should
remember that the weight of plate armour was less felt than that of mail,
because the former was distributed over the whole body and limbs, while
the latter hung from the shoulders and waist alone. King Henry V, in
courting Queen Katharine, says:--'If I could win a lady at leapfrog, or by
vaulting into my saddle with my armour on my back,' which seems to imply
that this feat was at any rate a possibility. Oliver de la Marche
describes Galliot de Balthasin in 1446 as leaping clear out of his saddle
'Armé de toute'. We may safely consign Sir Walter Scott's description of
the feasting knights to the realms of poetic licence, for he writes:--

  They carved at the meal with gloves of steel
  And drank the red wine through their helmets barred.

Now if there were two portions of the knight's equipment which would be
put off at the first opportunity, and which could be assumed the most
rapidly, they were the helmet and gauntlets. To drink through a visored
helmet is a practical impossibility. The word Beavor, which is generally
derived from the Italian _bevere_, to drink, has been considered by Baron
de Cosson, with far more probability, to be derived from the Old French
_bavière_ (originally = a child's bib, from _bave_, saliva).

The cleaning of armour is frequently alluded to in Inventories. In the
Dover Castle Inventory of 1344 is mentioned 'i barrelle pro armaturis
rollandis'. Chain-mail was rolled in barrels with sand and vinegar to
clean it, just as, inversely, barrels are cleaned in the country at the
present day by rolling chains in them. The mending and cleaning of armour
was of the first importance, and the travelling knight took with him an
armourer who was provided with such things as 'oil for dressing my lord's
harness, a thousand armyng nayles (rivets) a payre of pynsores, pomyshe
(pumice stone), fylles, a hammer and all other stuffe and tools belonginge
to an armorer'.[20]

We can gather but little of the methods of the armourers in their work. It
was so important a craft that its operations were most jealously guarded,
and the term 'Mystery', which was applied to the Trade Gilds of the Middle
Ages, can be most fittingly given to that of the armour-smith. In the
_Weisskunig_ of Hans Burgkmair, the noted German engraver, appears an
interesting woodcut of the young Maximilian in the workshop of Conrad
Seusenhofer, the famous armourer. In the text the master-smith is
described as being anxious to make use of the 'forbidden art', but the
young king replies, 'Arm me according to my own taste, for it is I, not
you, who have to take part in the tournament.' What this forbidden art may
have been we have no suggestion given us. It seems, from this account, to
be more than likely that Seusenhofer possessed some mechanical means for
stamping out armour plate; for it goes on to say, 'So this young King
invented a new art for warriors' armour, so that in the workshop 30 front
pieces and 30 hinder pieces were made at once. How wonderful and skilful
was this King!'

A most interesting album of designs by one 'Jacobe', who has been
identified by the late Herr Wendelin Boeheim as Jacobe Topf, is now, after
many vicissitudes, in the Art Library of the Victoria and Albert Museum,
South Kensington. From the somewhat naïve treatment of the designs they
can hardly be considered to be working drawings, but were more probably
sketches submitted to the different patrons of the armourer and kept for
reference. The Album has been reproduced in facsimile, with a preface
giving its history and verifying the suits drawn on its pages, by
Viscount Dillon, Curator of the Tower Armouries. Space will not admit of
more notice of this unique volume. Its author seems to have worked almost
entirely for the nobles of the court of Queen Elizabeth; only two of the
designs were made for foreigners. Of the famous armourers of Italy, the
Missaglias, Negrolis, and Campi; and of the great Colman family,
Seusenhofer and Wolf, the master-craftsmen of Germany, we can do no more
than mention the names. Experts in armour, like Baron de Cosson and Herr
Boeheim, have in the various archaeological journals of England and
Germany brought to light many interesting facts about these armourers, but
the confines of this handbook do not admit of detailed quotation, nor,
indeed, is it necessary to study these details till the primary interest
in defensive armour has been aroused. When this has been achieved the
student will certainly leave no records unexamined in following to its
farthest extremes this most fascinating study.[21]

[Illustration: FIG. 32. Archer wearing jack. From the Beauchamp Pageants,
fifteenth century.]

It is almost superfluous to discuss the third of our axioms, namely, that
which concerns the confession of material. All armour of the best periods
does this to the full. It is only under the blighting influence of the
Renaissance that we find metal so worked that it resembles woven fabrics,
or, worse still, the human form and features. The limited space at our
disposal precludes us from investigating the various Coats of Fence, or
body protections of quilted fabrics with metal, horn, and other materials
added. Mention has been made in the chapter on the Transition of the
Brigandine, which formed a very serviceable defence without being so
unwieldy as the suit of plate. There are several of these brigandines in
English and European armouries. These defences weigh as much as 18 lb.,
and are made of many small pieces of metal. An example in the Tower
contains 1,164.[22] Fig. 32, from the Beauchamp Pageants (Cotton MS.,
Julius E. iv), shows an archer of the year 1485 wearing the jack over a
shirt of mail. The Jack was used by the rank and file, and was stuffed and
wadded or composed of plates of metal or horn laced together with string
between layers of leather or linen.


PLATE ARMOUR (1410-about 1600)

It is so very rare to be able to fix the date of a suit of armour at a
particular year that we are forced, in dividing our periods of defensive
armour with any degree of minuteness, to have recourse to the records
existing in monumental effigies. The earliest brasses which show the whole
suit of plate without camail or jupon are those of one of the d'Eresby
family at Spilsby, Lincolnshire, and of Sir John Wylcotes at Great Tew,
Oxon., both dated 1410. In these brasses we find that the camail has
become the Standard of Mail, or collarette, worn under the gorget of
plate. The hauberk is seen beneath the taces and, in the former brass, in
the '_défaut de la cuirasse_', or unprotected part at the junction of arm
and body. In the Great Tew brass this part is protected by oval plates
which, as we have noticed in a preceding chapter, are called motons or
besagues. Hewitt does not seem to have come across these terms in the
course of his very minute investigations, but calls them Croissants or
Gouchets. He quotes a passage from Mathieu de Coucy's _History of Charles
VII_ (p. 560) which runs:--'au-dessous du bras at au vif de son harnois,
par faute et manque d'y avoir un croissant ou gouchet.' Haines, in his
_Monumental Brasses_, mentions the moton, but assigns this name to a piece
of plate rarely met with, shaped to fit under the right armpit only. With
the disappearance of the jupon we see the body defence exposed to view.
The breastplate is globular in form, and below the waist we see the taces
or laminated strips of plate overlapping each other, which at this early
period were attached to a leather lining. As we have seen in the chapter
on the Construction of Armour, at a later period these taces were held
together by sliding rivets, which allowed a certain amount of vertical
play. Plate armour, during the earlier years of the fifteenth century, was
naturally in a somewhat experimental state, and we find frequent examples
of the old forms and fashions in contemporary representations. About the
year 1440 appears a distinct style, called 'Gothic', which, of all types
of defensive armour, is perhaps the most graceful. This term, 'Gothic,' is
as inappropriate, in the relation which it bore, to armour as to
architecture; but its use is so general that we must perforce adopt it for
want of a better. The salient points of Gothic armour are the sweeping
lines embossed on its surfaces (Plate VIII). The cuirass is generally made
in two pieces, an upper and a lower, which allows more freedom for the
body. From the taces are hung Tassets, ending in a point towards the lower
edge. The later form of Gothic breastplate is longer, and the taces fewer
in number. Armour was so frequently remade to suit later fashions, or,
from lack of antiquarian interest, so often destroyed, that there is
little of this Gothic armour existing in England, except those suits which
have been acquired from the Continent by private collectors or public
museums. Almost all of them are incomplete, or, if complete, have been
restored--particularly the leg armour--at a recent date. Perhaps the
finest example of this style is to be found on the 'Beauchamp' effigy in
St. Mary's Church, Warwick. Space will not allow of a full account of the
documents connected with the making of this magnificent figure, which was
executed by Will. Austin, a bronze-founder, and Bartholomew Lambespring, a
goldsmith, in 1454, fifteen years after the death of the Earl. All these
interesting details are given very fully in Blore's _Monumental Remains_.
To students of the constructional side of armour this monument is
particularly valuable because all the fastenings, rivets, and straps are
conscientiously portrayed, not only on the front, but also at the back.
Charles Stothard, the antiquary, when making drawings of the figure for
his work on _Monumental Effigies_, turned it over and discovered this
example of the care and technical ability of the makers. The breastplate
is short, and consequently the taces are more numerous than when the
breastplate is longer. They consist of five lames. From the taces hang
four tassets, two bluntly pointed in front, and two much shorter, and more
sharply pointed, over the hip-bones. The taces are hinged at the side for
convenience in putting on and off. The coudes are large and of the
butterfly-wing type, and the sollerets are of normal length. In many of
the Gothic suits these sollerets, following the custom in civil dress,
were extravagantly long and pointed. This form is called 'à la poulaine',
while the shorter kind are known as 'demi-poulaine'.

Some writers are apt to confuse this term 'poulaine' with 'poleyne', the
knee-cop used in the earlier days of the Transition Period; it is needless
to point out that they are quite distinct. Baron de Cosson has put forward
a most interesting theory in connexion with this effigy. He finds a close
resemblance between the armour here portrayed and that shown in the
picture of St. George, by Mantegna, in the Accademia at Venice. The Earl
of Warwick, who is represented on this monument, is known to have been at
Milan in his youth, and to have taken part in tournaments at Verona; so it
is more than probable that he ordered his armour from the Milanese
armourers, of whom the famous Missaglia family were the chief craftsmen,
and who made some fine suits of this Gothic style.

[Illustration: PLATE VIII

ARMOUR OF (1) Archduke Sigismond of Tyrol, 1470, (2) Louis XIV of France,

The next distinctive style to be noticed is called the 'Maximilian'. It
can hardly be said that this new design was evolved from the Gothic,
though of necessity there must be a certain similarity between them, at
least in constructional detail. It is more likely, when we consider the
individuality of the young Maximilian, especially as recorded in Hans
Burgkmair's _Weisskunig_, and his interest in every art, craft, and trade,
that it was a fashion made, so to speak, to order. The Maximilian Period
of armour may be said to last from about 1500 to 1540. It is distinguished
by the radiating fluted channels that spread from a central point in the
breastpiece, closely resembling the flutings of the scallop-shell (Fig.
24). The main lines of the suit are heavier and more clumsy than those of
the Gothic variety. The breastplate is shorter, globose in form, and made
in one piece as distinct from the Gothic breastplate, which was generally
composed of an upper and lower portion. The pauldrons are larger and the
upstanding neck-guards more pronounced. The coude and genouillière are
both smaller than in the Gothic suit, and fit more closely to the limbs.
In imitation of the civilian dress the solleret becomes shorter and
broader in the toe. This variety is known as the 'bec de cane' or
'bear-paw' soleret. Some writers use the term Sabaton for the foot-defence
of this period. This term is found (sabataynes) in the Hastings manuscript
referred to in the preceding chapter. The pauldrons of the Maximilian
suit are generally of unequal size; that for the right arm being smaller,
to admit of the couching of the lance under the armpit (Fig. 34). The
tassets are made in two or more pieces, connected with the strap and
sliding rivet described in the preceding chapter. The fluting on the
Maximilian armour is not without practical purpose, for, besides
presenting the 'glancing' surface, which has been before referred to, it
gives increased strength and rigidity without much extra weight. A modern
example of this is to be found in the corrugated iron used for roofing,
which will stand far greater pressure than will the same thickness of
metal used flat.

[Illustration: FIG. 33. Gothic suit. Turin Armoury.]

[Illustration: FIG. 34. Maximilian suit. Vienna Armoury, 1523.]

It is at this period of the history of defensive armour that we first find
traces of that decadence which later on permeated every art and craft with
its pernicious poison. It is to be found in the imitating of fabrics and
also of the human face in metal. There exist suits of plate in many
museums, both in England and on the Continent, in which the puffings and
slashings of the civilian attire are closely copied in embossed metal,
entirely destroying the important glancing surfaces on which we have laid
such stress. It is alleged that this fashion in civilian dress was
intended to suggest, by the cutting of the material to show an
undergarment beneath, that the wearer was a fighting man who had seen
rough service. If this be the case it is the more reprehensible that metal
should be treated in a similar manner; for hard usage would dent, but it
would not tear. A portion of one of these debased suits is drawn on Fig.

It must not be supposed that all armour at this period was fluted. There
was still a good deal which had a plain surface, and this plain armour
continued to be used after the Maximilian armour had been given up. It may
have been that the evil genius of the Renaissance pointed to the plain
surfaces as excellent fields for the skill of the decorator, a field which
the strongly-marked flutings of the Maximilian armour could not offer. At
first this decoration was confined to engraved borders, or, if the design
covered the whole suit, it was so lightly engraved that the smooth surface
was in no way impaired, though perhaps some of the dignified simplicity
of the plain metal was lost. An instance of this proper application of
ornament to armour is to be found in the 'Seusenhofer' suit in the Tower
(Plate VI), made to the order of the Emperor Maximilian for Henry VIII. It
is one of the finest suits of this period in existence. The ornament is
lightly engraved all over it, and includes representations of the legends
of St. George and St. Barbara. Instead of taces and tassets the lower part
of the body and the thighs are protected by steel Bases made in folds to
imitate the skirts worn in civilian dress. It will be remembered that in
the preceding chapter a conversation between Seusenhofer and the young
Maximilian was quoted, and when we study this suit carefully we feel that
the young king did wisely in the choice of his master-armourer. The
craftsman's Poinçon or mark is to be found at the back of the helmet.

If space but permitted we might devote many pages to the work of the great
armour-smiths as exemplified in the armouries of Madrid and Vienna. It is
difficult, at this period of history, to generalize at all satisfactorily.
Each suit is, in many ways, distinct from its neighbour, just as the
character and personality of the wearers differed. The young Maximilian's
words to Seusenhofer, 'Arm me according to my own taste,' is true of every
suit that we examine, for it is evident that each man had his own
favourite fashion or, from physical necessity, was provided with some
special variation from the usual form. An instance of this may be noted in
the Barendyne helm at Haseley Church, near Thame, in which an extra plate
has been added at the lower edge of the helm to suit the length of neck of
the last wearer.

As the experience of the armourer increased, and as the science of war
developed, the armed man trusted more to the fixed defences of his person
than to the more primitive protection of the movable shield. In the
tilt-yard and also in war the mounted man endeavoured to present his left
side to his adversary. On consideration the reason for this will be plain,
for the right arm was required to be free and, as far as possible,
unhampered by heavy armour, but the left arm, held at rest at the bridle,
could be covered with as heavy defences as the wearer might choose. This
form of unequal arming is well shown on the Frontispiece. The left
shoulder wears a large pauldron with a high neck-guard, and the elbow
wears the passe-guard which we have noticed in detail in the preceding
chapter. The leg armour in this suit should be noticed, for it is
extremely fine and graceful in line, and yet proclaims its material. The
suit of Henry VIII (Plate VI) is a good specimen of armour of the
Maximilian period, but without the flutings which generally distinguish
this style of plate. The neck-guards are high and the large coudes show
the glancing surface plainly. This detail also is shown on the fan plates
at the genouillières, which in the Tower Inventories are called by the
more English term 'knee-cops'. The bridle-hand of the rider wears the
Manifer (main-de-fer). Those writers who still follow blindly the
incorrect nomenclature of Meyrick give the name Mainfaire or Manefer to
the Crinet or neck defence of the horse. How this absurd play upon words
can ever have been taken seriously passes understanding.

The manifer is solely the rigid iron gauntlet for the bridle-hand, where
no sudden or complicated movement of the wrist or fingers was needed;
another instance of the difference in arming the two sides of the body.
This difference of arming is more noticeable in the jousting armour, for
in military sports, especially during the sixteenth century, the object of
the contestants was to score points rather than to injure each other. We
find, therefore, such pieces as the Grand-guard, and with it the Volant
piece, the Passe-guard, the Poldermitton--so called from its likeness to
the 'épaule de mouton', and worn over the bend of the right arm--and the
various reinforcing breastplates which were screwed on to the left side of
the tilting suit to offer a more rigid defence and also to present
additional glancing surface to the lance-point. In some varieties of joust
a small wooden shield was fastened to the left breast, and when this was
the case the heavy pauldron was dispensed with. The large Vamplate (Plate
XI) sufficiently protected the right arm from injury. The Nuremberg suit
(Plate VII) shows this form of arming for the joust. The great helm is
firmly screwed to the back and breast, the two holes on the left side of
the breastplate are for the attachment of the shield, the rigid
bridle-cuff, covers the left hand, and the curved elbow-guard--this is not
the passe-guard--protects the bend of the left arm as the poldermitton
protects the right. The large circular disc defends the _vif de
l'harnois_, and is _bouché_ or notched at its lower end to allow the lance
to be couched, resting on the curved lance-rest in front and lodged under
the Queue at the back. The legs, in this variety of joust, were not armed;
for the object of the jousters was to unhorse each other, and it was
necessary to have perfect freedom in gripping the horse's sides. Sometimes
a great plate of metal, curved to cover the leg, was worn to protect the
wearer from the shock of impact. This was called the Dilge, or Tilting
Cuisse, which is shown on Plate VIII behind the figure of Count Sigismond,
and also on Plate VII. The large-bowed saddle also was used for this end.
There is one of these saddles in the Tower which measures nearly 5 feet in
height. Behind the saddle-bow are two rings which encircled the rider's
legs. It is needless to point out that in this form of joust the object
was to break lances and not to unhorse; for, if the latter were intended,
the rider stood a good chance of breaking his legs owing to his rigid
position in the saddle.

The Tonlet suit (Fig. 35) was used solely for fighting on foot. The
bell-shaped skirt of plate was so constructed with the sliding rivets or
straps which have been before referred to, that it could be pulled up and
down. Sometimes the lower lame could be taken off altogether. When
fighting with axes or swords in the lists this plate skirt presented a
glancing surface to the weapon and protected the legs. The tonlet is
variously called by writers upon armour, Bases, Lamboys, or Jamboys; of
the two latter terms jamboys is the more correct. The Bases were
originally the cloth skirts in vogue in civilian dress at the time of
Henry VIII, and when defensive armour followed civilian fashion the name
came to be applied to the steel imitation.

[Illustration: FIG. 35. Tonlet suit. Madrid.]

[Illustration: FIG. 36. War suit, 1547. Vienna Armoury.]

Towards the end of the sixteenth century we find the weight of the war
harness gradually decrease. The richly-ornamented suits which mark this
period were in no way suited for any practical purpose and were used only
for parades. Extended campaigns and long marches necessitated lighter
equipment, and we find in contemporary records instances, not only of the
men-at-arms discarding their armour owing to its inconvenience, but also
of commanders ordering them to lighten their equipment for greater
rapidity of movement. Sir Richard Hawkins, in his _Observations_ on his
voyage into the South Sea (1593), writes: 'I had great preparation of
armours as well of proofe as of light corsletts, yet not a man would use
them, but esteemed a pott of wine a better defence than an armour of
proofe.' Again, Sir John Smythe, in his _Instructions, Observations and
Orders Militarie_ (1595), writes: ... 'I saw but very few of that army (at
the camp at Tilbury) that had any convenience of apparrell to arme
withal.' Edward Davies, in 1619, mentions the fact that men armed 'with a
heavie shirt of mail and a burganet, by that time they have marched in the
heat of summer or deepe of winter ten or twelve English miles, they are
apt more to rest than readie to fight'. As early as the year 1364 we find
that at the Battle of Auray Sir Hugh Calverley ordered his men to take off
their cuisses that they might move more rapidly. In the armour of the late
sixteenth century one of the chief points of difference from the former
fashions is to be found in the cuisses. Whereas these defences were
formerly made of one, or possibly two plates, we now find them laminated
from waist to knee and joined by the strap and sliding rivet arrangement
which we have noted in the arm defences and tassets. The tassets are now
no longer used (Fig. 36). Very soon the jambs were given up in favour of
buff boots, and when once this was established the next step was the half
suit which will be noticed in a succeeding chapter.

[Illustration: PLATE IX

Design for a suit of armour for Sir Henry Lee, from the _Almain Armourer's

After the fourteenth century the great helm was but seldom used for war,
but for jousting it was still retained, and, as this form of military
sport was practised more scientifically, so the weight and shape of the
helm were made to suit the necessary conditions. The Brocas helm (Plate V)
is the finest example of English helm of this period; it weighs 22 lb. The
other known examples of home manufacture are the Westminster helm, which
was discovered in the Triforium of Westminster Abbey in 1869, and weighs
17 lb. 12 oz.; the Dawtray helm at Petworth (21 lb. 8 oz.); the Barendyne
helm at Haseley, near Thame (13-1/2 lb.); the Fogge helm at Ashford,
Sussex (24 lb.); the Wallace helm, in the collection at Hertford House (17
lb.); and the great headpiece in the possession of Captain Lindsay of
Sutton Courtenay, Abingdon, which turns the scale at 25 lb. 14 oz. It will
be seen from the weight of these helms that they could only be used for
the jousting course and were put off on the first opportunity. The details
of their construction have been noticed in Chapter III.

On referring to Plate V it will be seen that the bascinet was the
precursor of the Salade, which may be considered the typical headpiece of
the fifteenth century. The rear peak of the bascinet is prolonged over the
neck, and in a later form of German origin the peak is hinged to allow the
wearer to throw back his head with ease. The ocularium, or vision slit, is
sometimes cut in the front of the salade, but more often it is found in a
pivoted visor which could be thrown back. The Beavor is generally a
separate piece strapped round the neck or, in tilting, bolted to the
breastplate. Some writers call this the Mentonière, but this name should
rather be applied to the tilting breastplate which also protected the
lower portion of the face. Shakespeare uses the term beavor very loosely,
and frequently means by it the whole helmet.

The German 'Schallern', or salade, so called from its shell-like form,
seems to have been evolved from the chapel-de-fer or war-hat by
contracting the brim at the sides and prolonging it at the back. In fact,
in Chastelain's account of the fight between Jacques de Lalain and Gérard
de Roussillon the salade worn by Messire Jacques is described as 'un
chapeau de fer d'ancienne façon'.[23] The salade was often richly
decorated. Baron de Cosson, in the preface to the Catalogue of Helmets
exhibited at the Archaeological Institute in June, 1880[24], instances a
salade made for the Duke of Burgundy in 1443, which was valued at 10,000
crowns of gold. More modest decoration was obtained by covering the salade
with velvet and fixing ornaments over this of gilded iron or brass. There
are several of these covered salades in the various collections in England
and on the Continent. Sometimes the salade was painted, as we see in an
example in the Tower.

The Armet, or close helmet, followed the salade, and is mentioned by
Oliver de la Marche as early as 1443.[25] The name is supposed to be a
corruption of 'heaumet', the diminutive of 'heaume', the great helm of the
fourteenth century.[26] Whereas the salade is in form a hat-like defence,
the armet fits the head closely and can only be put on by opening the
helmet, as is shown on Plate V and Fig. 31. The various parts of the armet
have been already described in Chapter III. The armet does not appear in
monumental effigies in England before the reign of Henry VIII. The English
were never in a hurry to take up new fashions in armour; being to a large
extent dependent on the work of foreign craftsmen, they seem to have
waited to prove the utility of an innovation before adopting it. Against
this, however, we must place the fact that in the picture at Hampton Court
of the meeting of Henry VIII and Maximilian, the English are all shown
wearing armets, while the Germans still wear the salade. The armet on the
Seusenhofer suit in the Tower, which has been noticed in this chapter, is
a very perfect example of this style of headpiece.

The Burgonet is an open helmet, and, as the name implies, of Burgundian
origin. To those students who consult Meyrick it is advisable to give a
word of warning as to this author's theory of the burgonet. He assumes
that it is a variety of the armet, but with a grooved collar which fitted
over the gorget. His authority for this assertion is a single reference in
the _Origines des Chevaliers Armoriés et Heraux_, by Fauchet.[27] Space
will not allow of the investigation of this authority, but Baron de Cosson
in the Catalogue above quoted effectively disposes of Meyrick's
theory.[28] The salient points of the burgonet, as may be seen on Plate V,
are the Umbril or brim projecting over the eyes, and the upstanding comb
or (in some cases) three combs that appear on the skull-piece. In the best
examples these combs are forged with the skull out of one piece of metal,
a _tour de force_ in craftsmanship that could hardly be surpassed. The
ear-flaps are hinged at the sides, and at the base of the skull is fixed
the Panache, or plume-holder. The faceguard, when used with the burgonet,
is called the Buffe,[29] and, like the beavor worn with the salade, is
held in place by a strap round the neck. This form of helmet was chiefly
used by light cavalry.

The Morion and the Cabasset are both helmets worn by foot-soldiers, and
appear about the middle of the sixteenth century. The cabasset is
generally to be distinguished by the curious little point projecting from
the apex. Often the comb and upturned brim of the morion are extravagant
in form and tend to make the helmet exceedingly heavy and inconvenient.

[Illustration: FIG. 37. Pavis. Cotton MS. Julius E. iv, 1485.]

The shields of the fifteenth and sixteenth century were more for display
than for use, except in the tilt-yard. As we have seen, the development of
plate armour, especially on the left side, made the shield not only
unnecessary, but also inconvenient. In the joust, however, where it was
important that the lance should find no hold on a vital part of the body,
such as the juncture of the arm, the shield was used to glance the weapon
off, or, where unhorsing was the object, it was ribbed with diagonally
crossing ridges to give the lance-point a surer hold. The Pavis or Pavoise
(Fig. 37) was more generally used by archers and crossbowmen as a cover. A
good specimen of the pavis exists in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, and
there are two large examples of heavier make with peepholes for the
archer, and wooden props as shown in our illustration, at Brussels and

[Illustration: PLATE X

_Photograph by Viscount Dillon._

Horse armour of the Emperor Maximilian. Tower.]



The fully-equipped knight, whether in the cumbrous garments of mail or in
the more adaptable suit of plate, was so entirely dependent on his horse,
both in active warfare and in the tilt-yard, that some notice of the
defences of the Destrier or war-horse is necessary in this short
examination of the history of defensive armour. On the Bayeux Tapestry
there is no suggestion of armour of any kind upon the horses, but Wace
writes in the _Roman de Rou_ (line 12,627)--

  Vint Williame li filz Osber
  Son cheval tot covert de fer.

We should remember, however, that Wace wrote in the second half of the
twelfth century and, like the other chroniclers of the Middle Ages, both
in picture and text, portrayed his characters in the dress of his own
time. The Trapper of mail shown on Fig. 38 is taken from Stothard's
drawing of one of the paintings in the Painted Chamber at Westminster, now
destroyed.[30] These decorations are supposed to have been executed about
the year 1237. Here the horse is shown covered with a most inconvenient
housing of mail, which can hardly have been in very general use, in this
particular form at any rate; for it would be almost impossible for a horse
to walk, let alone to trot or gallop, with such a defence. The textile
trapper was, of course, lighter, and was used merely for ornament and
display, though it may have been designed, as the surcoat was, to protect
the mail defence beneath from wet.

Jean Chartier, in his _Histoire de Charles VI_ (p. 257), states that
sometimes these rich trappings or housings were, after the death of their
owner, bequeathed to churches, where they were used for altar hangings,
or inversely, when trappings were needed, the churches were despoiled of
their embroideries to provide them.

[Illustration: FIG. 38. Trapper of Mail, from the Painted Chamber,
Westminster, thirteenth century.]

[Illustration: FIG. 39. Ivory chessman, from Hewitt's _Ancient Armour_,
fourteenth century.]

The mailed horse appears as early as the Roman period, and is shown on the
Column of Trajan, but in Europe he does not seem to have been commonly in
use much before the thirteenth century. As the man was sometimes defended
entirely by garments of quilted fabrics, so the horse also wore
pourpointed housings. We can only surmise, from the folds and lines shown
on seals or drawings, which variety is intended; but the stiff lines of
the housing on the seal of Roger de Quinci, Earl of Winchester (1219-64),
and its raised lozenges, seem to suggest a thicker substance than does the
more flowing drapery on Fig. 11. Matthew Paris, in describing the Battle
of Nuova Croce in 1237, writes that 'A credible Italian asserted that
Milan with its dependencies raised an army of six thousand men-at-arms
with iron-clad horses'. An ordinance of Philip the Fair, in 1303, provides
that every holder of an estate of 500 livres rental should furnish a man
at-arms well mounted on a horse 'couvert de couvertures de fer ou de
couverture pourpointe'. The caparisoned horse first appears on royal seals
in the reign of Edward I. In the Roll of Purchases of Windsor Park
Tournament (1278), the horses are provided with parchment crests, and the
Clavones or rivets used for fixing these crests are mentioned in the
Wardrobe Accounts of Edward I in 1300: 'cum clavis argenti pro eodem
capello.' The earliest note we have of a rigid defence for the horse is in
the Windsor Roll, which contains the following item:--'D Milon le Cuireur
xxxviij copita cor de similitud' capit equoz.' This headpiece was of
leather, either used in its natural state or as cuirbouilli, and seems to
be the material suggested in the ivory chessman (Fig. 39) illustrated in
Hewitt (vol. ii, p. 314). In the Will of the Earl of Surrey (1347) is
mentioned a breastpiece of leather for a horse. In the fifteenth century
we find the horse protected with plate like his rider, and usually the
lines of the Barding or horse armour follow those of the man. Fig. 40
shows the armed horse with the various portions of his defence named.

[Illustration: FIG. 40. Horse armour. A, Chamfron; B, Crinet; C, Peytral;
D, Flanchards; E, Arçon; F, Cantel; G, Crupper; H, Tail-guard; J, Metal
rein-guard; K, Glancing-knob.]

The Chamfron is sometimes provided with hinged cheek-plates and usually
has a holder for a plume. On the forehead are often shown the arms of the
owner or a tapered spike. Angellucci, in his preface to the Catalogue of
the Turin Armoury, differentiates between the chamfron (tesera) and the
Frontale or plate protecting the front of the head alone. There are fine
suits of Gothic horse armour both in the Musée d'Artillerie in Paris and
also in the Wallace Collection at Hertford House. The latter is one of the
best-arranged mounted suits in existence. The different pieces of the
horse armour bear the delicate sweeping lines embossed on the surface in
the same way that the armour of the man is treated. The restored linings
of leather and skin show how the horse was protected from the chafing of
the metal. The Peytral or Poitrel is hung from the neck and withers, and
is frequently provided with large bosses, called _Bossoirs_, _Pezoneras_,
or _Glancing-knobs_, to direct the lance-thrust away from the horse. It is
often hinged in three pieces. The Flanchards hang from the saddle on
either side, and are sometimes, as on Plate IV and the Frontispiece,
curved upwards in the centre to admit of the use of the spur. The back of
the horse is protected by the Croupière or Crupper, which is made up of
several pieces riveted or hinged together. The root of the tail is covered
by a tubular plate called the Gardequeue, which is often moulded into the
form of a dragon or dolphin. All these plates were lined with leather or
wadded with cotton to prevent chafing. Often, however, cuirbouilli was
used instead of metal and was richly decorated with painting and gilding.
A picture of the Battle of Pavia in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, shows
many of these painted bards, and the same material is doubtless intended
in the relief of the Battle of Brescia on the Visconti monument at Pavia.
These leather bards have entirely disappeared and are not to be found in
any collections except for a portion of a crupper of this material in the
Tower. The saddle, with its high Arciones or peaks, back and front, was in
itself an efficacious protection for the waist and loins. The term Cantle
is sometimes used for either plate, but it is generally accepted as the
name for the rear peak. Both this part and the front plate are often
covered with metal. The great jousting saddles have been noticed in the
preceding chapter. The reins are protected from being cut by hinged
plates, as shown on Plate X.[31]

These pieces constitute the armour of the horse as usually found in
museums and in painting and sculpture. There is, however, in the Zeughaus
in Vienna a curious portrait of Harnischmeister Albrecht, dated 1480. The
horse on which he rides is armed completely with plate except for an
aperture in the flanchards for using the spur. The legs are covered with
hinged and bolted defences very similar to those of the armour for men. It
might be supposed that this was but a fantastic idea of the painter, if
Viscount Dillon had not discovered a Cuissard, or thigh-piece, which much
resembles those shown on the picture, in the Musée de la Porte de Hal,
Brussels. In the days of the Decadence, when the craft of the armourer was
to a great extent overwhelmed by the riotous fancy of the decorator, the
horse shared with his rider in this display. The armour shown on Plate X,
known as the Burgundian armour from the badges of the Emperor Maximilian
which adorn it, does not offend in this respect, because the embossing
serves to give rigidity to the metal without interfering with its
defensive qualities. The same may be said of the barding shown on the
Frontispiece, but on Plate IV the loss of dignity in line, and the
embossed hemisphere--which, for its purpose, should be smooth--show the
beginning of the decay in constructional skill. The highly ornamented
pageant armour made for the Elector Christian II, now in the Dresden
Museum, though extraordinarily perfect in workmanship, should be classed
rather as the work of goldsmith or sculptor than as that of the armourer.



[Illustration: FIG. 41. Grotesque helmet, sixteenth century. Nuremberg.]

In the practice of any of the crafts, or applied arts as they are now
called, the surest and most manifest signs of decadence are to be found in
two aspects of that craft. The first of these is that which refers to the
material used. With regard to armour this consideration is faithfully
adhered to in most examples of the armourer's work up to the end of the
fifteenth century; but by the beginning of the sixteenth century we find
the craftsman becoming wearied of his technical perfection and the
simplicity and constructional dignity which invariably accompanies such
perfection. His efforts are now directed to fashioning his metal into such
forms as in no way suggest his material, but only show a certain
meretricious skill in workmanship. Fig. 41 shows a very favourite form of
this artistic incoherence. The defensive properties of the helmet are in
no way increased, but rather are annulled by presenting hollows and
projections where before a smooth surface existed. It is superfluous to
point out the grotesque and bizarre effect of this human face in
metal.[32] Another instance of this wilful disregard of material is to be
noticed in those suits which imitate the puffed and slashed dress in
fashion for civilian wear during the sixteenth century. Many of these
suits exist in English and European armouries, which proves that they were
popular, but to the true craftsman there is something degrading in the
efforts of the expert ironworker, expending his energies, not to produce a
finely constructed piece of work, but rather to imitate the seams and
pipings of the work of a tailor or dressmaker; and, however much we may
admire his technical skill, we must, perforce, place his artistic
aspirations side by side with the 'grainer and marbler' who was so
conspicuous a factor in domestic decoration in the middle of the
nineteenth century. Fig. 42 shows this decadence carried to its furthest
pitch. By the middle of the sixteenth century the Renaissance, which had
been, in the first instance, the birth of all that is best in European art
and craftsmanship, became a baneful influence. The expert painter, having
mastered the intricacies of his art, turned them into extravagant channels
and exaggerated action; foreshortened figures and optical illusions took
the place of the dignified compositions of the earlier period. Nor could
the crafts escape this deadly poison. To the credit of the craftsmen we
may hope that the luxurious indulgence and ostentatious display of the
princely patron was the cause of decadence in the crafts, rather than the
inclination of the workers themselves. Still the fact remains that, as
soon as the plain and constructionally sound work began to be overspread
with ornament, architecture, metal-work, wood-carving, and all the allied
arts began to be debased from their former high position. With the
decoration of armour its practical utility began to decline. It must be
admitted, however, that one reason for the decoration was that armour
was, by degrees, less and less used for war and only retained for pageant,
joust, and parade in which personal display and magnificence were

[Illustration: FIG. 42. Puffed suit, sixteenth century. Vienna.[33]]

[Illustration: FIG. 43. Casque after Negroli, sixteenth century. Paris.]

The engraved and inlaid suits of the late sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, although they offend the craftsman's eye as does the decorated
bicycle of the Oriental potentate to-day, do not transgress that important
law, on which so much stress has been laid, of offering a glancing surface
to the opposing weapon. It is when we come to the embossed suits with
their hollows and projections that we find the true character of armour
lost and the metal used only as a material for exhibiting the dexterity of
the workman without any consideration for its use or construction. This
interference with the glancing surface is noticeable in the suit
illustrated in Fig. 42, but even here there is some excuse, in that the
designer had reason for his embossing of the metal--if the imitation of
the puffed suit was to be carefully portrayed. The same, however, cannot
be urged for those suits which are simply covered with ornament with no
purpose, little meaning, and less composition or design. If we set aside
our opinions as to the suitability of the ornament, we are compelled to
admire the wonderful technical skill which produced such pieces as the
suit made for King Sebastian of Portugal by Anton Pfeffenhauser of
Augsburg, and now in the Madrid Armoury. Here every deity of Olympus, the
allegorical figures of Justice, Strength, and the Cardinal Virtues, crowd
together with Navigation, Peace, and Victory; Roman warriors fighting with
elephants are found among Amorini, Satyrs, and Tritons; while every inch
of the metal not devoted to this encyclopaedia of history and legend is
crowded with foliage and scroll-work of that debased and unnatural form
which has become the branding mark of this period of the Renaissance.

[Illustration: FIG. 44. Pageant shield, sixteenth century. Vienna.]

It will be sufficient to give one example of this prostitution of art and
craftsmanship. This helmet after Negroli (Fig. 43), and a similar example,
signed by Negroli, at Madrid, show how the canons of the armourer's craft
were ignored at this period. It is true that the casque still provides a
metal covering for the head, and that the comb gives an additional
protection to the skull, but when we examine the embossed figures at the
side--and marvellously good the embossing is--we find lodgements for the
sword or spear which would most certainly help to detach the helmet from
its wearer. As to the comb, it may fairly be cited as an example of all
that is artistically worst in the late Renaissance. Its technical merits
only emphasize this. The warrior is laid on his back to suit the required
shape of the helmet, and to give point to his position his hair is held
by two figures whose attributes seem to suggest that intercrossing of
birds, beasts, and fishes which delighted the decadent mind of the period.
The figures are human to the waist and end in a dolphin's tail. Angels'
wings spring from their shoulders and leopards' claws from the junction of
tail and waist. Not content with this outrage to the dignity of art, the
craftsman ends his warrior in an architectural base which has not even the
slight merit of probability which the tail of the merman might offer. In
short it is an example of technical skill at its highest, and artistic
perception at its lowest point. The shield from the Vienna collection
(Fig. 44) is another example, like King Sebastian's suit, of meaningless
decoration. The strap work does not in any way follow the lines of the
shield, and the female figures seem to be introduced only to show that the
craftsman could portray the human form in steel as easily as he could the
more conventional ornament.

As the armourer, weary of constructional skill, turned to ornament as a
means of showing to what further extent his powers could expand, so, with
this change in his point of view, his constructional skill itself
declined. The headpiece, which in the golden age of the armourer was
forged in as few pieces as possible, is in the late seventeenth century
made of many pieces, as the art of skilful forging declines. The ingenious
articulations of the soleret are changed, and the foot is cased in plates
which, overlapping only in one direction, preclude the easy movement of
the wearer. The fine lines of leg and arm defences, which in the fifteenth
and sixteenth century follow the shape of the limbs, give place to
straight tubular plates which can only be likened to the modern
stove-pipe. The grace and symmetry of the Gothic suit shown on Plate VIII,
especially the leg armour, exemplify this merit of the best period of
armour, while the suit made for Louis XIV, and the gilt suit of Charles I
in the Tower, offend in the opposite direction. Another sure indication of
the decadence of the craftsman is to be found in the imitation of
constructional detail with no practical purpose. Examples of this may be
seen in late seventeenth-century armour, where a single plate is embossed
to represent several overlapping plates or lames, and also in the
plentiful use of '_clous perdus_' or false rivets which are scattered
broadcast on some suits in places where no rivets are needed.

To turn from the degradation of the simplicity and constructional
perfection of armour to the reasons which led to its gradual disuse, we
find that, after the Gothic period, armour became heavier, partly because
of the shock tactics in vogue on active service and partly because, in the
case of jousting armour, strength and great weight were needed to protect
the wearer from vital injury, and partly because the improvement of
firearms necessitated extra defence. The temper of the metal used was such
that it would resist a pistol shot, as we have noticed in Chapter III; and
on examining the surface of the metal we find, as in the Pembridge helm,
that it is of so fine a texture that a modern knife will not leave a
scratch when testing it. Therefore we must regard the weight of armour as
one of the chief reasons for its disuse. Again, military tactics
necessitated forced marches and longer expeditions than before; or at any
rate it was discovered that when engaging in long expeditions the troops
were chafed and hindered by their armour. It is somewhat curious to note
that as the leg was the first part of the body to be armed with plate, so
the leg armour was the first to be discarded. The jambs were the first
pieces to go, and were replaced, in the case of the mounted man, by thick
buff leather boots. The tassets were prolonged to the knee or--to describe
this portion of the armour in a different way--the cuisses themselves were
formed of riveted lames and the tassets discarded.

The helmet at the latter end of the seventeenth century is generally open
and of the burgonet type. The breastplate is usually short and projects
downwards at the lower portion after the fashion of the 'peascod' doublet
of civilian wear. As early as 1586, at the siege of Zutphen, we find
officers discarding their armour and keeping only the cuirass. From the
Hatfield MSS. we learn that a penny a day was allowed to each soldier in
1590, over and above his pay, for the wearing and carriage of his armour,
because it had become the custom for the troops to give their
accoutrements to the baggage-carriers when on the march: 'a matter both
unseemly for soldiers and also very hurtful unto the armour by bruising
and breaking thereof, whereby it becometh unserviceable.' In Cruso's
_Militarie Instructions for the Cavallrie_ (1632), we find that the
arquebusiers had wholly left off their armour in favour of buff coats.
Turner's _Pallas Armata_ (1670) mentions the armour of officers as 'a
headpiece, a corslet and a gorget, the captain having a plume of feathers
in his helmet, the lieutenant not'. Further on we read, 'now the feathers
you may peradventure find, but the headpiece for the most part is laid
aside.' Fig. 45 shows that half armour was still worn during the
Commonwealth, but by the Restoration very little was retained except for
ceremonial use. As far as can be gleaned from contemporary letters and
histories, Charles I never wore either the somewhat cumbrous gilt suit
which is shown at the Tower or the more graceful half suit of blued steel
in which Vandyke represented him in his equestrian portrait. All the metal
defence we can be sure he actually wore is a steel broad-brimmed hat
covered with velvet. The headpiece used by the cavalry during the Civil
War is of the same type as No. 11 on Plate IV, a variety of the burgonet
with a movable nasal. The breastplate continued to be worn during the wars
of Marlborough, but that, too, was discarded when the efficacy of the
musket proved its uselessness. The last survival of plate armour is to be
found in the gorget. This became smaller as the uniform was changed, and
in the end was simply a small crescent of brass hung at the neck. It was
worn by infantry officers up to the year 1830, at which date it was given
up in England.

[Illustration: FIG. 45. Cromwellian pikeman. Tower.]

The last official use of full plate armour was at the Coronation of George
IV, when the King's Champion, Dymoke, entered Westminster Hall and threw
down the gauntlet to challenge those who disputed the King's right to the
crown. The suit worn on this occasion belonged originally to Sir
Christopher Hatton, Captain of the Guard to Queen Elizabeth, and was made
by Jacobe,[34] whose designs for armour have been referred to in Chapter
III. The suit is now in the Guard Room at Windsor. The Guardia Nobile of
the Pope still wear the picturesque half armour of the sixteenth century.
The cuirass and helmet of the Household Cavalry of the present day are not
survivals, for they were introduced at the time of the Coronation of
George IV.

The study of defensive armour and weapons must of necessity need much
careful comparison of examples and investigation of documentary evidence,
but, even when undertaken only superficially, it will add greatly to the
interest of modern history and of the arts of war. Costume can only be
studied from pictorial and sculptured records, but in the case of armour
we have, after a certain period, actual examples not only of historical
but also of personal interest. With modern methods of arrangement and with
the expert care of those most learned in this subject these examples will
be an ever-present record which may be examined with more interest than
might be bestowed upon many branches of the applied arts; because, in
addition to the interest centred in the personality of the wearers, we
have the sure signs of the master-craftsman which are always evident in
good craftsmanship, and, not infrequently, the sign-manual of the worker



The Sword. At the time of the Conquest the sword was straight, broad in
blade, two-edged and pointed. The Quillons were straight and the grip
ended in a Pommel which, as far as we can judge from illustrated records,
was square, round, lozenge-shaped or trefoiled (Fig. 46). There is not
much change in the general lines of the sword during the twelfth century
except in the form of the pommel.

[Illustration: FIG. 46. Sword-hilts.]

In the thirteenth century the point, instead of starting abruptly at the
extreme end of the blade, is of a more gradual form, showing that the use
of the sword for thrusting was more general than in the previous
centuries. The Grip seems to be very short for the proper balance of the
weapon, if we may judge from those shown on Plate III, 1, 2, 3.

[Illustration: FIG. 47. A, Pommel; B, Grip; C, Knuckle-bow; D, D,
Quillons; E, Counter-guard; F, Pas d'âne; G, Ricasso; H, Blade.]

[Illustration: FIG. 48. Schiavona.]

The quillons curve upwards towards the point and the pommel is frequently
decorated with the badge or arms of the owner. The symbol of the Cross is
frequently found on the sword-pommel. At this period the handle and
scabbard are frequently enriched with ornamental metal-work set with gems,
as we find on the monument of King John in Worcester Cathedral. The
cruciform shape of the sword-hilt continues through the fourteenth century
without much radical change in its construction, but in the fifteenth
century we find the 'Pas d'âne', which is formed of two rings curving
above the quillons on each side of the Ricasso, or squared part of the
blade above the hilt (Fig. 47). It is usual to describe the sword as it is
held for use in hand; that is with the point as the highest part and the
pommel as the lowest. After the fifteenth century sword-play began to be
studied as a science, and we find that, besides being used for offensive
purposes, the sword-hilt was so designed as to be a defence in itself.
From this we get all the guards and counterguards, which are so varied and
intricate that it would require more space than is at our disposal to
treat of them with any degree of completeness.

[Illustration: FIG. 49. Two-hand sword.]

The type of sword that was thus developed by practice in its use was
purely for thrusting purposes. The sword for cutting alone is generally
simpler in form. The Cutilax, Falchion, Dussack, and Cutlas are all
weapons of this order and generally have a simple hilt. The modern
Claymore is really an adaptation of the Italian Schiavona (Fig. 48), and
is in no way derived from the Claymore proper, the Two-hand sword of the
Middle Ages. This great weapon, often as much as 6 feet in length from
point to pommel, was used by foot-soldiers, and special military
arrangements were made for the space given to its users, who required a
good sweeping distance between each man (Fig. 49). The Hand-and-half sword
is a variety of cross-hilted sword, in which the grip is sufficiently long
for two or three fingers of the left hand to be used to assist the right
hand in delivering a swinging cut.

The early Dagger is of much the same form as the sword; it was worn on the
right side with the sword on the left. One variety of the dagger was
called the Miséricorde. It was finely pointed and, as its name grimly
implies, was intended to penetrate the joints of the armour to give the
_coup de grâce_ to the fallen knight. The Main-gauche is also of the
dagger order, but has a broad knuckle-guard and long straight quillons. It
was used in conjunction with the rapier in duels with the point upwards,
more as a means of warding off the sword-thrust than for actual stabbing.
The Anelace and Cinquedea are broad-bladed short weapons used for stabbing
only. The Baselard was the short sword carried by civilians in the
fifteenth century.

Of staff weapons the principal is, of course, the Lance. At the time of
the Conquest and up to the fourteenth century the shaft of the lance was
of even thickness with lozenge- or leaf-shaped point. During the
fourteenth century we find the shaft swelling just above the grip and then
tapering below it. Plate XI, 14, shows the lance provided with a vamplate
or shield, which protected the hand and made the right gauntlet
unnecessary. Tilting lances are sometimes as much as 15 feet in length,
and one specimen in the Tower weighs 20 lb. An engraving by Lucas Cranach
(1472-1553), which depicts a tourney or mêlée of knights, shows the
combatants preceded by squires on horseback who support these weighty
lances till the moment of impact, when, it is presumed, they moved aside
out of danger. The lance-point was sharp for active service, but for
tournaments it was supposed to be blunted. This practice, however, was so
often neglected that ordinances were framed enjoining the use of the
Coronal or trefoiled button, which is shown on Plate XI, 15.

The other long-shafted staff weapons may be divided into those for
stabbing and those for cutting. The Gisarme is a long-handled weapon which
some writers consider to have been much the same as the Pole-axe. From
Wace we learn that it was sharp, long, and broad.[35] It was in all
probability a primitive form of the Bill. This was also a broad-bladed
weapon and was used only by foot-soldiers. It seems to have been evolved
from the agricultural scythe. The Godendag was the name given by the
Flemings to the Halbard. It had an axe-blade with curved or straight
spikes at the back and a long point to terminate the shaft. In this detail
it differed from the pole-axe. The halbard proper was used as early as the
thirteenth century and appears in the designs from the Painted Chamber at
Westminster figured by Stothard.[36] From the seventeenth century onwards
it was used only for ceremonial purposes and was richly decorated. It was
carried on parade by infantry drum-majors in England as late as 1875. It
was much favoured by the Swiss, who armed the front rank of the footmen
with this weapon. Those used for parade purposes are elaborately engraved
on the blades, while the shafts are often covered with velvet and studded
with gilded nails. These ornate weapons are used still by the
Gentlemen-at-Arms on State occasions. The Voulge is a primitive weapon
evolved from an agricultural implement of the same class as the hedging
bill in use at the present day. The Lochaber axe is of much the same form;
its distinguishing feature being the hook at the top of the shaft, which
was used in scaling walls. The Glaive is also a broad-bladed weapon, but
where the bill and gisarme are more or less straight towards the edge, the
glaive curves backwards. It is often to be found richly engraved for show
purposes. In French writings the word glaive is sometimes loosely used for
lance or sword.

The stabbing or thrusting long-shafted weapons include the Lance, Spear,
and Javelin. After these the most important is the Pike. This is very
similar to the spear, but was used exclusively by foot-soldiers. In the
seventeenth century it was carried by infantry interspersed among the
arquebusiers. There are several works on pike-drill and treatises on its
management. Lord Orrery, in his _Art of War_, comments on the differences
in length and recommends that all should be 16-1/2 feet long. The shaft
was made of seasoned ash and the head was fastened with two cheeks of
iron, often 4 feet long, which ran down the shaft to prevent the head
being cut off by cavalry. At the butt-end was a spike for sticking into
the ground when resisting cavalry. In a treatise entitled _The Art of
Training_ (1662) directions are given that the 'grip' of the shaft should
be covered with velvet to afford a sure hold for the hand. This grip was
called the Armin. There are also suggestions that a tassel should be fixed
midway to prevent the rain running down the shaft and so causing the hand
to slip. When we consider that the pikeman had to keep the cavalry at
bay while the arquebusier was reloading--a lengthy process--we can
understand the importance of these regulations. The pike was carried by
the colour-sergeants in the British Army at the beginning of the
nineteenth century, and was last used in the French Army in 1789. The
Spontoon is a species of half-pike, which was carried by the
colour-sergeants in the British Army up to the end of the eighteenth
century, if not longer. The Spetum and the Ranseur are often confused. The
names are usually given to those weapons which have sharp lateral
projections fixed at a more or less acute angle to the point. They could
not be used for cutting, but used for thrusting they inflicted terrible
wounds. The Partizan is somewhat of the same order, but is known best in
museums in its decorated form as used in ceremonial parades. These
show-weapons were used by the Judge's guard in Oxford up to 1875, and are
still carried by the Yeomen of the Guard on State occasions.

[Illustration: PLATE XI

1. Voulge 2. Halbard 3. Glaive 4. Ranseur or Spetum 5. Partizan 6.
Spontoon 7. Gisarme 8. Pike 9. Mace 10. Lochaber axe 11. Pole axe 12. Holy
Water sprinkler 13. Bill 14. Lance and Vamplate 15. Lance points for war
and joust, Madrid 16. Sections of Lance shafts, Tower]

[Illustration: FIG. 50. Morning Star.]

The Bayonet, although introduced in France in 1647, is so essentially a
part of the firearm that we need do no more than mention it among the
thrusting weapons. The scope of this work will not allow of any notice of
firearms; that subject, owing to modern developments, is too wide to be
treated in a few sentences.

Of short-handled weapons the Club or Mace is to be found on the Bayeux
Tapestry, and is generally quatrefoil or heart-shaped at the head. The
mace was the weapon of militant ecclesiastics, who thus escaped the
denunciation against 'those who fight with the sword'. It is generally
supposed that the Gibet was of the same order. Wace, in the _Roman de Rou_
(line 13459), writes:--

  Et il le gibet seisi
  Ki a sun destre bras pendi.

The mace was usually carried slung by a loop to the saddle-bow or on the
right wrist, so that, when sword or lance were lost, it could be used at
once. A less ornamental weapon is the Holy-water Sprinkler. This is formed
of a ball of iron studded with sharp projecting spikes, and fixed upon a
long or short handle. The Morning Star is akin to the Military Flail, a
weapon derived from the agricultural implement of that name. It is much
the same as the Holy-water Sprinkler, except that the spiked ball is not
socketed on the handle but hangs from a chain (Fig. 50). The names of
these two weapons are often transposed, but we propose to adhere to the
nomenclature used in the Tower Armouries as being more likely to be
correct. The War-hammer and Battle-axe need but little description. They
were generally used by horsemen, and their general form only varies in
detail from implements in use at the present day. The Pole-axe was a
weapon in great request for jousting on foot, in the 'champ clos'. The
blade is much like the halbard, but at the back is a hammer-shaped
projection with a roughened surface.

The Longbow may be said to have gained the battles of Senlac, Crecy, and
Agincourt, and so ranks as one of the most important of English weapons.
It was from 5-1/2 to 6 feet in length and was made of yew, or, when this
wood was scarce, of witch hazel. It is a popular tradition in the country
that the yew-trees which were so important for the manufacture of this
weapon were grown in churchyards because they were poisonous to cattle,
and the churchyards were the only fenced-in spaces. There is, however, no
documentary evidence to support this. The string was of hemp or silk. The
archer carried twenty-four 'clothyard' shafts in his belt and wore a
wrist-guard called a Bracer to protect his wrist from the recoil of the
string. These bracers were of ivory or leather and were often decorated.
The arrows were tipped with the goose-quill, but Roger Ascham, in his
_Toxophilus_, writes that peacock arrows were used 'for gayness'. So
notable were the English bow-makers for their productions that in 1363 we
find the Pope sending to this country for bows.

The Crossbow or Arbalest is first heard of in the twelfth century, and at
this date was considered so 'unfair' a weapon that the Popes forbade its
use. Innocent II in 1139 fulminated against this barbarous weapon, but
allowed of its use by Christians against Infidels. By the end of the
thirteenth century, however, it was in general use. At first the crossbow
was strung by hand; but when it was made more powerful, mechanical means
had to be resorted to to bend the bow, which was often of steel. There are
two varieties of war crossbows: that strung with the 'goat's-foot' lever,
which is shown on Fig. 51, and a heavier kind called the arbalest '_à
tour_', which was strung with a cog-wheel and ratchet arrangement called
the Moulinet or windlass (Fig. 52). The arbalest '_à cric_' is a larger
form of this variety. The archer using these heavy weapons was entrenched
behind a Pavis or shield fixed in the ground as shown on Fig. 37. The
Quarel or bolt used for the crossbow is shorter and thicker than that used
for the longbow.

[Illustration: FIG. 51. Crossbow and goat's-foot lever.]

[Illustration: FIG. 52. Crossbow and windlass.]

Of the other projectile-hurling weapons, such as the Fustibal or Sling,
the different forms of Catapult used in siege operations, and the
innumerable varieties of firearm, we have no space to write. The former,
being mostly fashioned of wood and cordage, are seldom to be met with in
museums, and we can only judge of their design and use from illuminated
miniatures and paintings. The firearm, being, as it is, subject to further
development, cannot be taken into full consideration in this work except
so far as it affected the defensive armour and in time ousted the

With this bare enumeration of the principal weapons in use from the
twelfth to the eighteenth century we draw our all too meagre notes to a
conclusion. The subject is so vast, because each example is distinct in
itself and because no general rule holds absolutely good for all, that
many volumes might be produced with advantage on each epoch of the
defences and weapons of Europe. No better advice to the would-be student
can be given than that of Baron de Cosson in the Introduction to the
Catalogue of Helmets and Mail (_Arch. Journ._, vol. xxxvii). He writes:
'For the study of ancient armour to be successfully pursued it is of
primary importance that a careful examination be made of every existing
specimen within our reach.... Every rivet-hole and rivet in a piece must
be studied and its use and object thought out. The reasons for the varied
forms, thicknesses, and structure of the different parts must have special
attention.... This alone will enable us to derive full profit from our
researches into ancient authors and our examination of ancient monuments.
This preliminary study will alone enable us to form a sound opinion on two
important points. First, the authority to be accorded to any given
representation of armour in ancient art ... whether it was copied from
real armour or whether it was the outcome of the artist's imagination; and
also whether a piece of existing armour is genuine or false, and whether
or no it is in its primitive condition.'

To this may be added that in studying armour at its best epoch, that is
during the fifteenth century, we find the dignity of true craftsmanship
proclaimed, and utility and grace attained without the addition of that
so-called decoration which with the advent of the Renaissance was the bane
of all the crafts.



  Aiguillettes, 38, 41.

  Ailettes, 35, 36.

  Aketon, 23.

  Albrecht, Harnischmeister, horse-armour of, 91.

  Almain rivets, 59;
    suits of, 63.

  Anelace, 103.

  Angellucci, on horse armour, 90.

  Arbalest, _à cric_, 108;
    _à tour_, ib.

  Arciones, 90.

  Armet, earliest use in England, 83;
    parts of, 60, 82.

  Armin, 104.

  Arming-doublet, 61.

  Arming-points, 38.

  Armour: allowance for wear and tear, 98;
    convenience in use of, 55;
    details of construction of, 56;
    engraved, 40;
    essential points in its manufacture, 48;
    fastenings of, 56;
    for tournaments reinforced on left side, 55;
    heavier on left side, 76;
    inconvenience of, 63, 81;
    last official use of, 98; making of, 65;
    method of putting on, 62;
    puffed, 92;
    reason for increased weight, 97;
    testing of, 52;
    wearing of, 61.

  Armourers, names of, 66;
    workshop, 65.

  Ascham, Roger, _Toxophilus_, 107.

  Ashmolean Museum, pavis at, 84.

  _Astley, Life of Sir J._, 62.

  August, Herzog, armour of, 30.

  Auray, Battle of, 81.

  Austin, Will., 69.


  Bainbergs or beinbergs, 36.

  Balthasin, Galliot de, 64.

  Bamberg, wooden figures at, 23.

  Banded mail, 20.

  Barding, 89.

  Barrel helm, 25, 26.

  Bascinet, 39;
    of Henry VIII, proof marks on, 55;
    'pig-faced,' 42;
    precursor of salade, 82.

  Baselard, 103.

  Bases, 77;
    of steel, 75.

  Battle-axe, 107.

  Bayeux Tapestry, 19, 23, 24, 26, 87, 106.

  Bayonet, 106.

  Beauchamp effigy, 69;
    pageants, 66.

  Beavor, 82;
    derivation of, 64.

  Berardi, Gulielmus, monument of at Florence, 36.

  Berlin Zeughaus, 34.

  Besague, 39, 68.

  Bill, 103.

  Black Prince, effigy of, 39;
    gauntlets of, 33;
    helm of, 41;
    jupon of, 40;
    shield of, 46.

  Blore, _Monumental Remains_, 69.

  Boeheim, Wendelin, _Waffenkunde_, 21, 65.

  Bossoirs, 90.

  Bracer, 107.

  Brayette, 62, 93 (_note_).

  Breast- and back-pieces, fastenings of, 59;
    discarded, 98.

  Breech of mail, 62.

  Bregander nayles, 33.

  Brescia, Battle of, on Visconti monument at Pavia, 90.

  Brigandine, 16, 30, 66.

  Brussels, horse cuissard at, 91.

  Buffe, 83.

  Burgkmair, Hans, _Weisskunig_, 65, 70.

  Burgonet, 83, 97.

  Burgundian horse armour in Tower, 91.

  Burgundy, enriched salade of Duke of, 82.


  Cabasset, 83.

  Calverley, Sir H., at Battle of Auray, 81;
    monument of, 40.

  Camail, 38, 41.

  Cantle, 90.

  Cap worn under helm, 27.

  Carnet, 42.

  Cervellière, 28.

  Chain-mail harmed by rain, 25.

  Chamfron, 89.

  Chapel-de-fer, 82.

  Charlemagne, armour of, 15.

  Charles I, armour of, 96, 98.

  Chartier, Jean, describes horse trappings, 87.

  Chaucer, 33, 34, 36, 61.

  Chausses, 24.

  Chaussons, 24.

  Christ Church, Oxford, window at, 29.

  Christian II, enriched armour of Elector, at Dresden, 91.

  _Chroniques de Charlemaine_, 36.

  Cinquedea, 103.

  Clavones, 89.

  Claymore, 102.

  'Cloth-yard' arrow, 107.

  'Clous perdus,' 97.

  Coat of defence, 34.

  Coif of mail, 27.

  Coronal, 103.

  Coronation of George IV, 98, 99.

  Corrugated iron similar to Maximilian armour, 74.

  Cosson, Baron de, 64, 66, 70, 82;
    advice to students of armour, 109;
    disputes Meyrick's theory of burgonet, 83.

  Coucy, Mathieu de, 68.

  Coude, 36, 50.

  Covers to helmets, 42.

  Cranach, Lucas, tilting lances drawn by, 103.

  Croissants, 68.

  Crossbow, used for proving armour, 47;
    varieties of, 108.

  Crossbows forbidden by the Popes, 107.

  Crupper or croupière, 90.

  Crusades, 25.

  Cruso on the discarding of armour, 98.

  Cuirass of leather, 15.

  Cuirbouilli, 34;
    crest of, 41;
    helms of, 27;
    horse armour of, 89;
    leg armour of, 36;
    poleynes of, 35;
    shields of, 46.

  Cuissard, 50;
    for horse, 91.

  Cuisses, 39, 50;
    laminated, 58, 81;
    taken off in battle, 81;
    for tilting, 77.

  Cutilax, 102.

  Cutlas, 102.

  Cyclas, 38.


  Dagger, 102.

  Davies, Edward, 81.

  'Defaut de la cuirasse,' 68.

  Destrier, 87.

  Dilge, 77.

  Dillon, Viscount, 39, 50, 52, 55, 61, 66, 91.

  Dussack, 102.

  Dymoke, 99.


  Edward I, wardrobe account of, 34, 89.

  Eisenhut, 28.

  Elbow-cop, 50.

  Enarmes, 29.

  Eresby, d', brass of, 68.


  Falchion, 102.

  Fauchet, reference to burgonet, 83.

  Fitz Urse, shield of, 29.

  Flanchards, 90.

  Fontaine, Etienne de, helmet of, 45.

  Froissart, 13, 33, 42.

  Frontale, as distinct from chamfron, 90.

  Fustian worn under armour, 61.

  Fustibal, 108.


  Gadlings, 39.

  Gambeson, 23, 30, 33.

  Gardequeue, 90.

  Garde-rein, 62.

  Garrard, _Art of Warre_, 63.

  Gauntlet, 50;
    of Black Prince, 33;
    construction of, 58.

  Genouillière, 50.

  Gibet, 106.

  Gisarme, 103.

  Glaive, 104.

  Glancing-knobs, 90.

  Glancing surface, 48;
    on helm, 27.

  Godendag, 103.

  Gorget, 60;
    survival of, 98.

  Gorleston brass, 36.

  Gothic armour, 69;
    horse armour in Wallace Collection, 90;
    symmetry of, 96.

  Gouchets, 68.

  Grand-guard, 76.

  Grip of lance, 59;
    sword, 101.

  Guardia Nobile of the Pope, 99.

  Guige, 29.

  Guns first used, 47.


  Haines, Rev. H., _Monumental Brasses_, 68.

  Halbard, 103.

  Hall, _Chronicles_, 61.

  Hand-and-half sword, 102.

  Hatfield MS. as to wear and tear of armour, 98.

  Hatton, suit of Sir C., 99.

  Haubergeon, 24.

  Hauberk, 19;
    sleeves of, 23;
    worn under plate, 38.

  Hawkins, Sir R., _Observations_, 78.

  Helm, great, or Heaume, 25, 41;
    Barendyne, at Haseley, 75, 81;
    Brocas, at Woolwich, 60, 81;
    caps worn under, 27, 61;
    chained to body, 27;
    construction of jousting, 50-5;
    Dawtray, at Petworth, 81;
    decorated, 27;
    Fogge, at Ashford, 81;
    method of fixing, 60;
    Pembridge, 41;
    'sugar-loaf,' 27;
    at Sutton Courtenay, 50, 81;
    Wallace Collection, 81;
    Westminster, 81.

  Helmet, covers for, 42;
    grotesque, 92;
    jewelled, 45;
    Norman, 25;
    tied with laces, 26;
    tinned to prevent rust, 45.

  Henry V, 64.

  Henry VIII and Maximilian, helmets worn at the meeting of, 83;
    suit for fighting on foot, 60;
    suit made by Seusenhofer, 76.

  Heraldic devices on shields, 29.

  Hewitt, John, 14, 23, 68;
    ivory chessman illustrated by, 89.

  Holy-water sprinkler, 106.

  Horse armour, complete suit of, 91.

  Horse trappings and church embroideries, 87;
    first shown on English seals, 88.

  Hosting harness, 63.

  Household cavalry, 99.

  'Hungere' iron, 52.


  Imbricate armouries, 16.

  Inventory of Humphrey de Bohun, 33, 42;
    Sir Simon Burley, 34;
    Dover Castle, 64;
    Louis Hutin, 42, 46;
    Piers Gaveston, 33, 35;
    Tower Armouries, 52.


  Jack, 67.

  Jacobe, 65, 99.

  Jambeaux, 34.

  Jamboys, 77.

  Jambs, 36;
    discarded, 81.

  Jazeran armour, 41.

  Joan of Arc, 22.

  John, King, 25.

  Jupon, 23;
    of Black Prince, 40.


  Knee-cop, 50.


  Lalain, Jacques de, 82.

  Lambespring, Bartholomew, 69.

  Lamboys. _See_ Jamboys.

  Lambrequin, 45.

  Lames, 50.

  Lance, 103.

  Laton, or latten, used for armour, 33.

  Leather, used for armour, 34;
    horse armour, 90;
    morion at Berlin, 34.

  Lee, Sir Henry, tests armour, 52.

  Leg armour, of horse at Brussels, 91;
    of plate, introduced and discarded, 97.

  Lewis, Isle of, ivory chessmen found at, 26.

  Lochaber axe, 104.

  Longbow, 107.

  Louis, King of Hungary, death by drowning of, 64.

  Louis XIV, armour of, 96;
    proof marks on armour of, 55.


  Mace, 106.

  Madrid, 94.

  Mail, banded, 20;
    chain, 19;
    cleaning of, 64;
    'mascled,' 22;
    method of making, 20.

  Main-guard, 52.

  Mainfaire, wrong use of, 76.

  Manifer or mainfere, 52, 76.

  Main-gauche, 102.

  Mantegna, St. George by, 70.

  Mantling, 45.

  Marche, Oliver de la, 64.

  Maximilian I, 65;
    armour, 70;
    horse armour of, in the Tower, 91.

  Mentonière, 82.

  Meyrick, Sir Samuel, 14, 16;
    theory of banded mail, 20, 21;
    theory of mascled mail, 22, 76;
    theory of burgonet, 83.

  Miséricorde, 102.

  Missaglias, 66.

  Mohacz, Battle of, 64.

  Molineux, Sir W., brass of, 30.

  Monstrelet, 14.

  Morion, 83;
    of leather at Berlin, 34.

  Morning Star, 107.

  Moroni, portrait by, 62.

  Moton, 39, 68.

  Moulinet, 108.

  Mühlberg, armour worn at the Battle of, 30.


  Nasal, 26.

  Negroli, helmet by, 95.

  Northwode brass, 36.

  Nuova Croce, Battle of, 88.

  Nuremberg, tilting suit at, 77.


  Ocularium, 26, 82.

  Odo, Bishop, 24.

  Orle, 45.

  Orrery, Lord, _Art of Warre_, 104.


  Painted Chamber, designs in the, 87, 103.

  Palette, 50.

  _Pallas Armata._ _See_ Turner.

  Panache, 83.

  Paris, Matthew, 88.

  Partizan, 106.

  Pas d'âne, 101.

  Passe-guard, 50, 52, 76.

  Pauldron, 50, 59, 73.

  Pavia, picture of Battle of, at Oxford, 90.

  Pavis or pavoise, 84, 108.

  Peascod doublet, 97.

  Pezoneras, 90.

  Pfeffenhauser, suit by, 94.

  Philip the Fair, ordinance of, 88.

  Pike, 104;
    last use of, 106.

  Plastron-de-fer, 23, 34.

  Plates, pair of, 33.

  Pluvinel, de, _Maneige Royal_, 63.

  Poitrel or peytral, 90.

  Poldermitton, 76.

  Pole-axe, 103;
    used in 'champs clos', 107.

  Poleynes, 34, 35, 36, 50.

  Pommel of sword, 100.

  Pourpointerie, 30;
    for tourneys, 61.

  Puffed armour, 74.


  Quarel, 108.

  Queue, 77.

  Quillons, 100, 101.


  Radcot Bridge, Battle of, 64.

  Ranseur, 106.

  Rein-guards of metal, 91.

  Renaissance, decadence of the armour of the, 95.

  René, King, 40, 61.

  Rerebrace, 36, 50;
    construction of, 58.

  Ricasso, 101.

  Richard I, 22;
    shield of, 29.

  Ringed armour, 19.

  Rivets, sliding, 56.

  _Roman de Rou._ _See_ Wace.

  Rondel, 39, 50.

  Rosbecque, Battle of, 33.

  Roussillon, Gerard de, 82.


  Sabatons or sabataynes, 62, 73.

  Saddle for jousting, in the Tower, 77.

  St. Gall, Monk of, 15, 28.

  St. George, statuette of, at Dijon, 41.

  Salade, evolved from bascinet, 82;
    decorated and painted, 82.

  Scale armour, 16, 30.

  Schiavona, 102.

  Scott, poetic licence of Sir Walter, 64.

  Sebastian, parade suit of King, 94.

  Senlac, Battle of, 107.

  Setvans brass, 25.

  Seusenhofer, 65;
    suit by, in the Tower, 75, 83.

  Shield, temp. Norman Conquest, 28;
    fourteenth century, 45;
    faced with gesso, 46;
    of twigs, 46.

  Sigismund, armour of Count, 77.

  Smythe, Sir John, _Animadversions_, 62, 78.

  Solerets, 38, 50;
    construction of, 56;
    'à la poulaine,' 70;
    'bear-paw,' 73;
    'bec de cane,' 73;
    'demi-poulaine,' 70.

  Spain, regulations as to monuments in, 40.

  Spetum, 106.

  Splinted armour, 33;
    on Ash monument, 41.

  Spontoon, 106.

  Standard of mail, 68.

  Stothard, Charles, 69, 103.

  Surcoat, 23, 25.

  Surrey, Earl of, horse armour in Will of, 89.

  Swords, 100;
    and dagger play, 101, 102.


  Taces, 50;
    construction of, 56.

  Tassets, 69;
    and cuisses combined, 97;
    discarded, 81.

  Tonlet, 77.

  Topf, 65, 99.

  Tournament, of St. Inglevert, 14;
    armour, 77;
    helms, 27;
    and swords, 33;
    at Windsor Park, 27, 34, 35, 89;
    crests used at, 89.

  Trapper, of mail, 87;
    textile, 87.

  Trellice coat, 16.

  Trumpington brass, 28, 42.

  Tuilles, 56.

  Tunic, 22, 38.

  Turner, _Pallas Armata_, 98.

  Turning pins, 59.

  Two-hand sword, 102.


  Umbril, 83.

  Upper pourpoint, 38.


  Vambrace, 38, 50;
    construction of, 58.

  Vamplate, 59, 76.

  Vegecius, 46.

  Ventail, 26.

  Vere, escape of Robert de, 64.

  Vervelles, 41.

  Vienna, painting of horse armour at, 91;
    pageant shield at, 96.

  Vif de l'harnois, 39.

  Viollet-le-Duc, _Dictionnaire du Mobilier Français_, 21.

  Visière, 42.

  Visor, 26.

  Volant piece, 76.

  Voulge, 104.

  Vuyders, 62.


  Wace, _Roman de Rou_, 23, 24, 87, 103, 106.

  Waller, J. G., 19, 21.

  Wambais, 23.

  War-hammer, 107.

  War-hat, 28.

  Warwick, Earl of, 70.

  Whalebone, used for gauntlets and swords, 33.

  William the Conqueror, 24, 26.

  Windsor Park. _See_ Tournament.

  Wylcotes, Sir John, brass of, 68.


  Zutphen, armour discarded at siege of, 97.

Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press by HORACE HART, M.A.


[1] Harl. MS. 4379, Brit. Mus.

[2] vi. 333, trans. Johnes, 1810.

[3] _Archaeologia_, xix. 128-30.

[4] _Archaeologia_, lix.

[5] _Ancient Armour_, ii. 138.

[6] _Roman de Rou_, 1. 13254 et seq.

[7] Protect.

[8] _Archaeologia_, xvii.

[9] _Arch. Journ._, ii. 349.

[10] Vol. iii. p. 165.

[11] _New Foedera_, ii. 203.

[12] _Arch. Journ._, lx. 95-136.

[13] _Arch. Journ._, lx. 95-136.

[14] _Archaeologia_, xvii.

[15] _Arch. Journ._, lxiv. 15-23.

[16] Carderera, _Iconografia_.

[17] The terms 'coude' and 'genouillière', 'palette', and such-like words
of French origin, are open to some objection in an English work when
'elbow-cop', 'knee-cop', or 'poleyne' and 'rondel' can be substituted.
They are only employed here because of their general use in armouries at
the present day, and because the English words are of rarer occurrence and
are less likely to be met with by those beginning the study of armour.
'Cuisse' and 'cuissard', however, are always used for the thigh-pieces,
and no anglicized term is found in contemporary writings unless it be

[18] _Arch. Journ._, lx.

[19] _Archaeologia_, vol. lvii; _Arch. Journ._, vol. iv.

[20] _Arch. Journ._, vol. lx.

[21] Boeheim, _Meister der Waffenschmiedkunst_; De Cosson, _Arch. Journ._,
vol. xlviii.

[22] _Arch. Journ._, lx.

[23] G. Chastelain, p. 679.

[24] _Arch. Journ._, xxxvii.

[25] Oliver de la Marche, p. 288.

[26] N.E. Dict, gives Armette, a diminutive of Arme. Armez is also found.

[27] Paris, 1606, fol. 42. See Cat. of Helmets, _Arch. Journ._, xxxvii.

[28] _Arch. Journ._, xxxvii.

[29] The term _Bufe_ is sometimes wrongly used for the upright
shoulder-guards on the pauldron.

[30] _Monumenta Vetusta_, vol. vi.

[31] This is _not_ the 'garde-rein'. See p. 62.

[32] That this fashion in helmets was a general one we may judge from the
fact that most armouries possess examples of these human-faced helmets.

[33] This suit is shown with the brayette attached; which for obvious
reasons is exhibited in most armouries separate from the suit.

[34] Considered to be the same as Topf.


  '... granz gisarmes esmolues' (_Roman de Rou_, l. 12907).

  '... gisarmes lunges è lées' (ib., l. 13431).

[36] _Monumenta Vetusta_, vol. vi.

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