Ridge poles.

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jelayemprins
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Ridge poles.

Post by jelayemprins »

Now that I'm a sad git I thought it time to delve into ridge poles on 2-pole tents - those that are naughtily described as BURGUNDIANS [but have absolutely no reason to be called that] - one of the biggest re-enactorisms there is.

So I started trawling through my archive of tentage.

Guess what?

I have over 40 pages of tent illustrations, covering the period 1200-1550.

Actual individual tents drawn = well over 200.

Ranging from the palatial mansion of the Dukes of Burgundy down in incremental steps to single pole tents.

Without exception all the twin pole tents have dead-straight ridge. Obviously implying a ........ ridgepole.

This is especially true of the famous drawing by the Master of the Housebook showing the Imperial Camp before Neuss- thats obviously why the 'Burgundian' tents are shown flying under an Imperial Eagle banner..... :roll:

Sometimes the ridges are only 1/4 of the length of the overall tent, sometimes 80% or more of the length.

The ridge of the large central tent in the Housebook [flying two Imperial Eagle flags] clearly shows a carved solid 'wooden?' decorated [traceried?] ridge over the top of the canvas. Anyone ever tried this? Its exactly the sort of ridge you could get today from a Conservatory company! albeit it in glorious UPVc...

I'm also translating with help the manuscript account of the Burgundian tent sizes and costs. Will post that later.

Finally for this post, Cruickshanks' Army Royal' - an account of Henry Viii invasion of France in 1513 describes 4 types of English canvas shelters.

They are :
tents
pavilions
hales
tressans.


food for thought??
IJ
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gregory23b
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Post by gregory23b »

How can you extrapolate that without even a picture of the structure?

You may as well say all round tents had spokes given their striaght lines....

Also the pelmet could be cloth or solid, as much as some of the reallyl big tents were undoubtedly major structures akin to buildings rather than tents.

Henry VIII tents at Field of Cloth of Gold are edifices, complete with working kitchens.

I suspect that even the most lavish reenactor tent is a poor relation to the tents of the rich, again viz H VIII et al.
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Post by guthrie »

It might help if you can put up a few pictures of what you mean. I had a trawl through period illustrations last year, and came to the general conclusion that for the medeival period tents mostly seemed to be round pavilions or double poled rectangular ones with ridge poles. Thus half the re-enacting tents are not quite right...

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Post by Type16 »

Until recently, Latheaze had a very impressive pavilion style tent with an effective and good looking external 'traceried' ridge board.
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Post by latheaxe »

Yes indeedy we did..My better half made the tent from scratch and i did all the woodwork etc..Here are a few pictures if it helps...
Image


Image

Image

The only thing i would say is if you are going down this route is that it takes at least 3 people to erect and the tent needs raising in unison.
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Post by Mark Griffin »

'Your Majesty! The invasion of France is cancelled!"

'Whaaat! What say ye varlet?' Telleth me how this is ordained so?!'

'Well Your Sovereign Grace, it takes at least three people to put up that big tent you wanted to have along.'

'b**ger! Ah well more quality time with that lovely Aragonese bint then'
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Tents

Post by jelayemprins »

Don Greef

Indeed it doth appear so.

However your Majesty might like to recall that it takes considerably more than 3 men to erect the following, Aragonese bint not withstanding [or withlying down either]

Henry had 2 wagon loads of tents, [apart from his tent of cloth of gold] with a total floor area of 4000 sq feet.

HIs large tent included a porch, 3 pavilions, 2 marquees [the first chamber and the Great Chamber], and several connecting galleries[tressans]. One chamber having a 5 foot square canvas 'subroom' for the Close stool. One tressan led from the great chamber to his private timber house.. with its own chimney....

Anyone interested in the full article please pm me.
I'll try and scan some pix of these tents and upload onto flickr site. More later.
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Tentage

Post by jelayemprins »

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13717466@N ... 637491820/

The first two pix of medieval tentage with ridge poles including the most famous of camp scenes from The Master of the Housebook showing the Imperial Camp outside Neuss.

Hope you like.

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Post by Mark Griffin »

You need the revels, toils and wardrobe accounts. It goes into much more details about the tents, especially the early ones. I want the blue velvet pavillion that he rides into the Westminster Tournament yard under than then turns up in France 2 years later. So much so i have a few interesting quotes here to make one....it may just happen!

Big white and green one with roses, portcullises etc on the way already....and not a cart spoke in sight!
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Post by Colin Middleton »

What about awnings? They're quire popular with re-enactors (and I can see why), but I can't recall many pictures or mentions of them. Can anyone provide some evidence for their use?
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Post by Zachos »

I think its quite hard to draw conclusions on things like tents from contemporary pictures. With each structure being custom made to a fashion rather than a blueprint I should say that a lot of experimentation probably happened quite a lot, and its really the shape and materials that are more important to get right, rather than the exact details of construction.

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Post by gregory23b »

"With each structure being custom made to a fashion rather than a blueprint "


Well sort of yes and sort of no, there is a 16th or poss early 17thc tailor's notebook and it has the very clear formula for making tent panels, two sorts in fact. With the old retroviewerscope (tm) we can see that it is a sound principle and easily works on earlier tentage. It does not show how they were set up, just the cloth cut.

Just because we are not aware of forumulae does not mean they were absent, we can find evidence of formulae and models for all kinds of things, trades could not exist without some sort of standardisation, even if not facsmile certainly within accepted norms, esp when it comes to textiles, leather work, metal, armour, painting etc.
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Post by Zachos »

Obviously if we had a manuscript that explained how tents were put together then we would be foolish not to use it when making our own, but the fact that one monk drew all of his tents with a straight top doesn't mean that all tents had ridgepoles.

The point of experimental archeology is surely to find how people lived and filling in the blanks that are left by manuscripts.

I think we are in agreement, but looking at the different sides of the same coin.


*edit* having just had the time to look at the images I see the drawings are from more than one manuscript and the tops of the tents are sometimes even more straight than the carts. This I think needs looking into a bit more.
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Post by gregory23b »

"but the fact that one monk drew all of his tents with a straight top doesn't mean that all tents had ridgepoles. "

100% agreement, see my earlier comment to Ian.


I would not use MSS images as much more than general ideas, given the nature of MSS, few are what we call realistic. exception forthcoming:

There is a clear MSS image of a single pole tent being put up by one man, Bettinni, 1460, no spokes or wheels, yet people are not convinced of that because the spokes could be hidden in the donkey's pack.

As for experimental archaeology, I dont buy that, certainly not from a reenactment perspective, call me a heretic but much late medieval reenactment is about emulation and compromise (in order to do the hobby), groups copy off each other, the same old reenactorisms get rolled out as gospel. I really would like to see some genuine objective experimentation rather than the uptake of hobby based notions. In terms of tents, most people buy them made, so have no experimentation at all, hence the old chestnut about spokes and wheels, they are not based on anything but convenience.

My point was that there is information out there, and yet people do not use it, there are gross assumptions put out all the time, non (illuminated) MSS based info is there.

Nor am I writing off MSS wholesale, but saying that we place too much reliance on them, because they are easy to get hold of as they are often pretty and popular pictures in the first place.
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Post by Brother Ranulf »

*Jumps to defence of illuminated manuscripts*

Please don't be too quick to write off the details in manuscripts illuminations. I admit that you have to be wary about certain scenes which appear to be copied over and over again as if from a pattern book (I have seen the same identical scene in both 12th and 13th century Psalters, albeit in the drawing style of the time).

But I have also seen elements of horse harness, shoe decoration, sword hilt styles, pottery lamps, bishop's embroidered clothing, combs, shears, pottery jugs and wooden bowls, keys, buckles, brooches, knives, stirrups, spearheads, arrowheads, axes, farming tools and many, many more examples of items in manuscripts which have been confirmed precisely by archaeological finds (speaking purely for the 12th century).

I have not studied very much after 1200 so I can not claim to speak about later sources, but my faith in the monks of the 1100s is implicit (with certain cautions attached!)
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Post by gregory23b »

I have not written them off, so much as commented on their limitations.

MSS compositions can and do have immense realistic detail yet as a whole are often far from realistic. Hence me using the Bettinni pic as an example. I could have used Honnecourt as an earlier example where he shows obvious understanding of church building etc, but the prevailing representative styles of people for example are not 'realistic'.

People are not used to sifting the realistic detail from the composition, it is seen as a whole rather than a collection, especially when real items are portrayed.

it also depends on what MSS you are looking at, the Hausbuch master's as above, where he seems to mix realism of detail with assumedly real activities, mining, looting, loving, and engineering, whereas others are much more about a religious composition, complete with decorative backgrounds etc.

I can recommend 'Mirror of the Artist' a treatise on the Nothern renaissance, a very good commentary on late medieval realism in northern europe. I paraphrase a key point 'a lot of late medieval art is a collection of realistic items often set in an unrealistic manner'. The book covers not just panel painting, but a whole range of media.

For people who want immediate reference material and on the spot answers pictures can be immensely misleading and open to interpretation and prejudice, I mean the compostion as a whole, not specific details.

Certainly many reenactors do not see beyond the image, are not aware of the context of the composition - a common one being seeing exotic armour and clothing mixed with the clothing they expect to see and not always being aware of the historical narrative of the picture. We expect too much of them I guess is where I am coming from.
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Post by Mark Griffin »

A tardy response to Colins question re awnings.

Yes, they are specified in the Burgundian ordnances for the Dukes tents
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