mid 14th century knight

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julesheath
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mid 14th century knight

Postby julesheath » Sat May 21, 2011 10:11 pm

Hi folks, I'm a secondary school history teacher and recently helped run a medieval day for our year 7s. I dressed up and did a presentation for them on Knights and medieval warfare. It was a great day and my gear did the trick for the kids, but I realise that compared to the folks on here I looked like a bit of a muppet. My aim for next year's event is to do something a bit more authentic and I would like to go for a mid 14th Century look, with a mix of maille and plate. So a few questions:
1. What kind of Gambeson should I get? I hate the one that I've got, it's massive and makes me look like the Michelin man.
2. What should I be wearing on my legs beneath the armour?
3. I've seen several people portraying this period wearing leather leg and arm armour with metal plates riveted to it. I'd like to have a go at making some of this as I've done a fair bit of leatherwork, but would love to see a source to base it on if anyone can provide.

Any other advice would be gratefully received, thanks
JH



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Chris T » Sat May 21, 2011 11:17 pm

As a general guideline gambesons should be firm: think camping mat, not feather duvet. There were two main construction methods, either multiple layers of fabric or tubes stuffed with waste cloth, tow etc.
Getting the stuffed version right needs a certain amount of trial and error: the multiple layer ones have the advantage that you can get an idea of how it is going to turn out from small test samples. For your purposes, and since it is not going to be seen, almost any material can be used for the inner layers, but if you use recycled materials you are advised to wash them first!
Get a decent outer layer of stout material: flax canvas or period style leather (not the same as 95% of modern leather) is the ideal. Remember, that since the garment has real thickness, if you just measure your chest etc and make it to that size it will end up too small!

For a knight, you would expect an all over padded layer, the legs ppobably in the form of single legs supported from a waist belt, followed by an all over mail layer of similar form. As the C14th went on, the amount of extra plates increased, especially for the fashionable and better off knights. At the start it was normally in the form of seperate plates, laced / strapped over the mail, rather than pieces of plate linked together as became the norm later.

Coats of plates, consisting of small or medium plates riveted (normally inside) a leather or canvas body were the norm before the introduction of the breastplate/backplate as such. Limb armour could be of hardened leather rather than metal: probably a lot more common than often realised.



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Brother Ranulf
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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Brother Ranulf » Sun May 22, 2011 9:04 am

Not my period but I am familiar with the 1350 tomb effigy of Sir John Leverick (his resting place is less than 3 miles from where I live). I always have reservations about tomb effigies since many were added at a later date, but this seems to be of the period.

He wears a padded gambeson, a mail hauberk, a coat of plates and a short surcote with lacing gaps down each side. Some writers suggest that his poleyns are of cuir bouille rather than metal. He cuts a rather slim figure despite wearing all those layers of protection . . .

JohnLeverick_1350.jpg


John Leverick 1350.jpg


john leverick detail.jpg


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julesheath
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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby julesheath » Mon May 23, 2011 1:45 pm

Thanks for the contributions so far. Can anyone suggest/recommend a suitable gambeson?



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CraigofYork
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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby CraigofYork » Mon May 23, 2011 5:59 pm

http://www.gambeson.pl/medieval-on-line ... _container - this is the style your after, never used this company but there are many more uk based suppliers who will make this style and many more...



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Vermin » Tue May 24, 2011 8:27 am

You can't go wrong with the Padded Armour Company

http://www.deborahloughcostumes.com/pad ... armourhome

I have just had a very nice C12th Gamby from them



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Nigel » Tue May 24, 2011 10:40 am

Thanks Will :D

There's a bit of 14th century on the web site and I think we may have a couple in stock too


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Stuart Quayle » Thu May 26, 2011 12:44 am

Hi JH

My take on portraying a mid 14th century knight would be as follows:

Helmet: mid-pointed or three-quarter back pointed bascinet with simple 'shovel' side mounted visor and mail coif underneath; or maybe a Greathelm ala the Black Prince

torso defence: Cyclas style surcoat, worn over a coat-of-plates, worn over a longish mail hauberk with half-sleeves, worn over a long padded aketon, worn over a light linen tunic;

shoulder defence: simple steel rondels laced to the front of the shoulder;

arm defence: more likely complete (fully enclosing) steel plate rerebrace for the upperarm and vambrace for the lower arm - a simple cup and rondel couter to protect the elbow joint. An armour-curator friend tells me that splinted arm defences are rare in England, but much more likely in Germany or on the Continent;

hand defence: a Wisby style gauntlet (consisting of a number of steel plates riveted onto a leather gauntlet to protect the top of the hand and fingers) is already in use and most likely to be worn;

leg defence: even for England splinted thigh armour is popular (though not so much for the arms), maybe a highly decorative cuir boille & steel mix of poleyn protects the knee, steel (half-gutter) shynbalds protect the front of the lower leg - worn over mail chausses.

Sabatones - consisting of either mail, scale or plate lames to protect the top of the knight's feet.

Just my two pence worth.

PS: Kettlehats with hinged throat bevor defences are popular also, you see them in the Holkham Bible illustrations.

Regards
Stuart Q



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue May 31, 2011 1:04 pm

Hi Julessheath,

Have you got a copy of the English Knight 1300-1400 from Osprey? At £10-13, it's probably worth picking up as a guide.

Good luck with getting kit togeather like this, it's quite an undertaking. I hope that it all turns out well.

Best wishes


Colin

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julesheath
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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby julesheath » Wed Jun 01, 2011 11:38 pm

Thanks fo the responses folks, very helpful. I'd definitely like to pickup the osprey book and if anyone could point me in the direction of some more pics that would be great. Cheers



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Chris T » Thu Jun 02, 2011 4:07 pm

You should be aware that both contemporary effigies and book reconstructions tend to show the rich and fashionable, in top notch and fashionable armour (in certain cases even the armour of the style when the effigy was made, which could be a number of years after the death of the knight depicted and especially in the case of those who died in old age they would probably (even if rich) not have had a new suit of armour for a number of years). Thus a knight who died in 1350 at age 60 may have an effigy showing the fashionable armour of 1355, wheras the last suit he actually owned was purchased in 1320 when he was 30....
Most ordinary knights would probably have been distinctly behind the curve in armour fashions, especially if they were those who fought only when required to, rather than by choice, or were not rich men. Although difficult to prove, I would not be surprised if there were still knights in 1350 clad only in mail in C13th style (or even of that date!), without any of the plate which is normally thought typical of the mid C14th.



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby randallmoffett » Fri Jun 03, 2011 3:22 am

Chris,

We have enough evidence from the first half of the fourteenth century that we know that few, if any, knights would simply be in mail by 1320. As Claude Blair said in his book on European Armour there are no inventories from after 1320 that lack a pair/coat of plates. By mid century it is even more unlikely. By 1318 Edward II is requiring Pairs of plates for footmen, so it seems highly unlikely that knights would be behind commoners (Cal. Close Rolls 1313-1318, pp. 122, 201). By the late 1320s and early 1330s aketons and COPs are basic equipment for footmen in English arrays (Cals. Patent and Close Rolls/ Edward II and Edward III).

Truth of the matter is we have so much text referring to armour worn by knights and the common class we really know what they wore and effigies are really only needed to get an idea of what the armour and arms looked like as the primary texts really do not often do this. One has to exercise a great deal of caution with dates associated to effigies. The dates we give to them could be soon after death years after death or years before death. De Cobham for example has an effigy showing armour from some 40 years before he died. So effigies are a dangerous way to date the development of armour and arms. Great to visualize ambiguous text listings though.

Further effigies are likely started on a template following one of a number of schools of design. Later specifics would likely be added for the individual. So if men making brasses and sculpted effigies are following established trends then it could be very dangerous to assume they were completely up to date.

Prof. Nigel Saul has written some excellent works on effigies in England with a great deal of detail on them.

As far as aketons go I do not think there is evidence they were stuffed. The remaining garments are all padded and channels sewn in later to keep them in place. The Charles VI and the Black Princes padded 'Jupons' are excellent examples of this and have various articles on the subject. The oldest evidence we have of multiple layers of fabric made for a defence is the Charles de Blois and it is a mix of layered linen and raw cotton.

Randall Moffett



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Jun 03, 2011 1:06 pm

randallmoffett wrote:One has to exercise a great deal of caution with dates associated to effigies. The dates we give to them could be soon after death years after death or years before death.


There is an effigy in St Mary Radcliffe in Bristol of Mr. Canning and his wife. He had this made when she died. Next to it is the effigy made when he died, showing just him! You really do have to be careful with things like this.

Another fragment of supporting information can be found from the Howard accounts. Apparently we only have evidence for him purchasing 2 harnesses during his lifetime. One, when he was younger and the second when he was in his sixties, which is either a lighter harness (as he's getting old), or a more decorated one as he's just been made Duke of Norfolk.

Best wishes


Colin

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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby randallmoffett » Fri Jun 03, 2011 2:17 pm

Colin,

The Howard House Books are an awesome resource. I really find them to be some very interesting perspectives on the life of a noble family.

I always figured his later armour was simply to get an up to date harness and likely he had been growing in different directions than earlier in his life. To me the decorative harness syndrome is really more of a mid to late 16th century one. Of course some degree of decoration on armour has existed since armour came to be likely. You could be right though. Perhaps he needed something that was higher quality than his current harness as status had to be maintained.

Randall



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Chris T » Sat Jun 04, 2011 5:24 pm

Given that we have so few surviving padded armours it seems dogmatic to claim that they are all stuffed rather than layered....and the evidence for layered construction goes back a long way. Certainly, a number of the C13 illustrations seem to show a garment which can most logically be interpreted as a layered construction. While surviving garments are invaluable, they are only snapshots, and have often survived mostly because they were outside the norm.

I mentioned effigies as the questioner is looking for illustrations, and these are things that often crop up in that context. As a further note of caution many of the medieval illustrations showing C14th battles /equipment are actually of C15th date, and show C15th equipment.

Whereas I am sure the average militarily active mid C14th knight had fairly good equipment, there was (and had been for many years) a class of knights who, due to age, ill health, lack of resources or personal inclination did not engage voluntarily in military activity. In general the crown was happy to take money in lieu of service, although at various times the small numbers of combat knights became a problem, to the extent that legislation demanded those of a certain monetry value (notice, not really social class) to accept knighthood or be fined. To believe that a knight who (for whatever reason) had no real intention of fighting (and was prepared to pay money to avoid it) had top notch up to date equipment is not really belivable.



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby randallmoffett » Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:43 pm

Chris,

I have never seen any artwork that is so detailed we could tell the difference between a stuffed or sandwiched textile armour. If you know of one I'd be interested in it though.

Since all/most of the information swings one way then we have evidence while without it is simply theory or hearsay. There is no evidence for stuffed textile armours of the half dozen or so remaining examples of the era. Now I would not say it is impossible to stuff them but with 0 supporting evidence compared to plenty of text and physical remains it seems superfluous to create another unsupported method when we have one that has lots of fact behind it.

If a knight lacks the wealth to support his status and hence has no armour then he probably is more or less irrelevant to the posters original question as he would not be in a military situation so really it is outside what we are discussing. :wink: Further though he (said poor knight) also likely will not long be a member of the knightly class for long as we see men of this middle group dropping status throughout the 14th and 15th century. We also see the upper middle class making the jump the other way. Bothwell's Book on English Peerage covers this phenomena fairly well as does Maurice Keen's book Nobles, Knights and Men at arms. Gents who paid scutage and other fines to avoid military service from the few we can tie to inventories seem to have been well capable of and equipped for it but likely decided staying home was easier, and perhaps safer. Those who are old, ill or infirm yeah could be, but then they are not good representations of the gents who are out at war representing the knightly class. Even in the 14th and 15th century the equipment of a knight was still highly tied culturally to status.

Randall



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Chris T » Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:20 pm

Re padded armour it looks as if I am guilty of not reading your comments carefully enough in the first place(........in my defense my other half has been giving me a hard time about spending too much time on her computer :$ )

As far as armour is concerned, I still think there is too much of a tendency to assume that all wore fashionable up to date armour...what is often seen as 'typical' I believe should be in reality seen as top end...after all, you would not get an accurate picture of the cars on a modern road by visiting a motor show and extrapolating from there.



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby CraigofYork » Sat Jun 04, 2011 11:10 pm

i guess it really comes down to what the aim of your display aim is all about, wether you want to illustrate what an individual would or could be wearing to battle in the mid 14th century or what the up to date armour was like, it's all about your aims!



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby randallmoffett » Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:20 am

I agree that you have variation in any group. The main issue though is that knights and nobles are not average really in any aspect, except among themselves. They make up tops single digits of total population and represent a huge percent of total wealth. We are talking about gents who in theory make 20 pounds a year plus at a minimum, more often 40 pounds. Considering this we can assume they would not be driving the standard models but what is in the car shows.

We are lucky as by the 14th every male in England was assessed for arms and armour and we have lots of paper work to follow. So we generally can gauge what the minimum was. 1346 was a big year for these requirements. Edward III does a constraint of knighthood on everyone with 40 pounds (nearly 10000 pence) plus of income (considering the average wage was somewhere between 3-4 pence per day which comes to some 1300 pence at 4d. a day) a fairly large amount of cash. Even at 20 pounds it is 3-4 times the income of the average commoner.

Here is the break down by wealth from the Patent Rolls-

In January 1345 with constant war before him an updated system was set forth for the arms, armour and other equipment required, as before by annual wealth: those with 100s. as mounted archers, £10 hobelars, and £25 a man-at-arms. Those over £25 yearly were incrementally to provide additional men in the proper equipment, £50 to provide themselves as a man-at-arms as well as another, £100 once more to provide himself as a man-at-arms with three others and beyond £100 to be assessed for more men-at-arms in accordance with their wealth.

And an example of the specific requirements.

Hobelar-a haqueton, a visor, a burnished palet, iron gauntlets and a lance (cum aketona pisario, paletto burnito, cirotecis ferreis et lancea). Ironically no horse mentioned but I guess we could assume that is included.

Calendar of Patent Rolls 1343-1345, p. 427

So where as there likely some gents who are not in the most up to date armour 10-20 years old armour plus would be unlikely. Since we have minimums we can assume they are relatively close to the mark. We actually have records of men being fined for failure of meeting these requirements, usually 2-4 times what the armour would cost. Some major incentive to keep to the minimum. Further Edward III has an additional payment for men showing up with full armour or exceeding it called regard payments. These in and of themselves after one or two campaigns pays for much of the gear a man would need.

Undoubtably there are knights who are wearing less plate well through the 14th century and I can see what you are saying one needs be just as careful in the other direction.... the idea of the poor country knight that seems to creep up is just as incorrect as everyone being in the best equipment of the day.

Randall



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Chris T » Sun Jun 05, 2011 10:18 am

Wheras I agree with much you are saying, I think you should remember the initial question that I answered, and also consider whether you would rather have a supposed 1350s knight in equipment more typical of 1320s or the 1380s, or even later?
I am not trying to rewrite the military equipment of the C14th, but to point out pitfalls ( which the re-enactor may well be more than aware of) to somebody who is, by his own admission, not a specialist in this field.

I am prepared to believe that the knight that repeatedly turned up in person for foreign campaigns was typically up to date: I find it harder to believe that the knights that did so were actually typical of their class at this time: the rise of the (well equipped) squire/man at arms was almost certainly only possible because such a low proportion of the knightly class was performing military service in person.



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby randallmoffett » Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:37 pm

Fair enough.

The answer to the 1320 or 1380 on is easy.... none. He is dressed like a 1350 knight. :shifty:

My estimate is the average knight of 1320 wore an aketon, padded cuisses, mail hauberk and chausses, COP, bascinet or great helm, greaves, poleyns, couters and perhaps gauntlets and other limb armour. By 1380 they still have the aketon and hauberk but on average plate is near everywhere and articulation is the norm on the shoulder, elbow and knees. In between this rigid cuisses come in, plate becomes much more common to the point is is unusual to have a gent in only mail in the knightly class and the great helm increasingly is pushed out of the war scene.

If we used a car analogy as earlier for 20th century cars it would work most aptly. Few guys making in the 100,000 of pounds would be forced to drive a car from the 60s by economic constraints.

Now the relationship of esquire and knight is a complicated one. Many gents in the esquire class are unknighted men of knightly families. Men who could be knights but have dodged the honour, usually due to expense. My main issue here is that one of the key issues with becoming and being a knight, one of the prime expenses was having a high standard for what a man had to own for military equipment. So knights are not dodging military service due to lack or armour, they already have it. Now why the esquire class fills the men at arms ranks is straight forward economics. They get paid just about half or less what a knight does depending on the campaign. It is much easier to get a guy who is militarily equipped to at least comparable standards as a knight, use him as one would use a knight and get two or three for the cost of one.

I agree 100% on getting people into what is average and normal for the time frame in their level of society they represent. If one wants to be a baron, earl or even Duke or King that should require getting much more than the top of material culture but representing 1-2% of the population with some 30-40% of the wealth. If they were to portray a tradesman they'd have to do the same for this station.

Randall



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Chris T » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:29 am

At this rate we are going to end up agreeing: we cannot have that on a discussion group :D

There are really no periods where any normal re-enactor can hope to portray the upper classes with any degree of conviction, let alone the Dukes and so on....it is just a shame that so many claim so to do. Personally (like, I suspect, yourself) I would rather attempt a convincing re-creation of the just about achievable than shoot for the stars and miss by a mile.

I would agree with your base assessment of armours in the various time zones: that is the main reason for my earlier comments, as in a time of rapid change it is easier to get in significantly wrong than when things are fairly static, and using information such as effigies can lead to just such a problem unless one is aware of the pitfalls.

We do, however, have to be careful with the assumption that because knights were 'rich' in relative terms that they had lots of cash. The assesments were based totally on income, and in at least some cases very theoretical income, and took no account of expenditure: there seems to be no official recognition of any difference between gross and net income. Poor agricultural conditions in the C14th had reduced the potential income from land considerably, and the sheer expense of many military items should also not be underestimated.
A horse purchased for £10 could drop dead in a week: there was no insurance, and as such (and given the legal requirements to maintain a level of military equipment) it is easy to see how some could struggle, even though superficially rich men.



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:02 pm

I know that Howard's extremely atypical for a knight of his time, but doesn't his purchase of armour sugest that a typical knight probably wears the armour of the style he bought when he became a knight/man-at-arms, i.e. his early 20s and keeps wearing it for decades, unless something (like a major 'promotion') demands that it is updated? Do we have any evidence that armour was regularly replaced?

Also, wasn't the use of esquires in war also influenced by the fact that the number of knights in England dropped by 75% during the middle ages (mostly between 1200 and 1400, IIRC, due to Black Death and increase in cost of 'knightly trappings')? The esquires then appear to fill this void.

Many thanks for a fascinating (if a little hard to follow) discussion.


Colin

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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby randallmoffett » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:41 pm

Chris,

Very true. I am still working on getting my gear and other material culture but I could never do anything above a knight or I'd go crazy trying to get all the needed items together.

You do see some very interesting phenomena appear in the 14th century with knights fighting to keep equipped in some cases. They seem usually to follow being held for ransom. That said they do equip themselves even putting themselves into fairly high levels of debt. I guess you can just default when you never make your fortune back....

You are dead on that the level of wealth fluctuates. I think it was the 10th earl of Arundel that dies and has some 66,000 pounds in cash. Not lands mind you, hard cold coinage. He leaves 10-20,000 to Edward III I think if I remember correctly with a short message about living within ones means. This kind of wealth was not the norm for the earl class. The Book of Peerage Bothwell wrote has some real good information on this. You are right though. Many of the knightly class and nobles wealth is in land which varies year to year and is not something that is equal to cash in hand.

Colin,

With Howard there are a few things to consider. One is that the house books are incomplete and from memory missing quite a number of years. All we can say is that he had at least two harnesses made. That said even if he only had two it is not a big deal. First, you can modify harnesses to fit new needs so a completely new harness is not needed. Second is that he is still armoured head toe in harness whether the design is current or not so he still meets the requirements expected of him. That is the benefit of the minimum requirements when given. If Howard was not feeling the need to get a new model and it was OK as is, or could have things swapped out, no reason to run up another charge. I am not sure that 15th century developments mirror exactly 14th century ones, at least early on as there is scant evidence full harnesses were being sold in a single unit until the 2nd half of the 14th. Early on it seems the basic foundation was aketon and hauberk with a COP. You do not need to get a completely new one every time you want to upgrade simply get a vambrace, rerebrace, cuisses, greave, etc. that can be added on. So Even if one does not buy a completely new harness they can still be in a fairly up to date harness.

The Esquire to Knight ratio issue is much more than one group simply replacing another. Many of the esquire class were until that time the knightly class. So a simple series of numbers saying 25,50 or 75% is not really truthful as you see 'de' _____ in the esquire lists of the 14th and 15th centuries of knightly families in large numbers but they simply have not been knighted. So same families, same pool of people but lacking the title. The Constraints of knighthood Edward I did was to try and force the men of these families to take the leap but it never really worked. I think you are right that much of it is the additional costs of war equipment but further the ceremony itself and other required duties such as arrays and the likes made it complicated and expensive therefore unwanted by many.

Randall



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby julesheath » Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:57 pm

What are a 'pair of plates'?



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Medicus Matt » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:38 pm

julesheath wrote:What are a 'pair of plates'?


Back and breast.


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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby randallmoffett » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:31 pm

Well yes but it is not a simply one piece breastplate or back plate together. It is simply a more common term for coat of plates in period. the term coat of plates likely being the least commonly used.

So whether front, side or back opening, one or two parts it is the same. It is simply referring to the multiple plates in it.

http://cunnan.sca.org.au/wiki/Pair_of_plates

Randall



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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby Medicus Matt » Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:22 pm

randallmoffett wrote:It is simply referring to the multiple plates in it.



Is it? Then why is it a 'pair'. I know it's used to refer to torso covering armour made up from multiple plates, but surely the 'pair' refers to it coming in sets of two distinct halves (even if those halves are then joined by whatever medium is used to mount them on)?

Without wishing to be seen to be picky, does anyone have a better reference than Wikipedia? Not because I think it's wrong, but because I'm genunely interested in contemporary references that specify that a 'pair of plates' is the same as a 'coat of plates'.


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randallmoffett
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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby randallmoffett » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:53 pm

Matt,

The issue is you are using the modern word 'pair' for a medieval word. Pair developed from Latin, paria or par which means equal or similar. Nothing about there only being two items that are used together. We are simply looking at a term showing a number of items of similarity in this defense. So any of these armours with more than one plate would qualify.

You'd have to look up the word in a medieval dictionary as I do not have one on hand here but the phrase is used interchangeability with other terms for coats of plates so I see 0 evidence for a two part system being looked at differently from any other design. If you find Dr. Randall Storey's PhD Thesis from Reading he covers it in great detail.

Besides the fact that when this phrase appears in the late 13th or early 14th when there is no evidence for two part pair of plates being used only single garment types.

Randall
Last edited by randallmoffett on Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.



GuyDeDinan
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Re: mid 14th century knight

Postby GuyDeDinan » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:57 pm

Back tracing the Cunnan wiki link (an SCA Barony in Australia), it appears lifted from this website http://www.chronique.com/Library/Glossa ... arms_c.htm

Not getting much else out there on google other than crockery - maybe Armour Archive can help?


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