Depictions of unusual shields and bucklers

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Trading-Dragon
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Depictions of unusual shields and bucklers

Post by Trading-Dragon »

Hello! I hope you can help me - I'm looking for historical depictions of unusual or extraordinary shields, bucklers, targes and the like for a uni project.

Anything you can come up with would be much apreciated. Even better if you can supply information on when the image was painted and what period it is supposed to depict.

I can't give any examples now (haven't got a scanner) but i recently came across a couple of historical paintings in a german history magazine apparently depicting scenes from the 100 years war. I could make out some person in plate armour wielding what appeared to be a quite substantial heart-shaped shield with a central domed boss.

Another image allegedly showed a group of men-at-arms in gothic plate armour, one of which was carrying what looked like a very long, oval buckler.

Very odd indeed.

Unfortunately there was no further reference material, so now my curiosity is stirred. Are we just looking at artistic freedom? Was the painter trying to spice up the scene with unusual detail? Or is it actual weaponry, even if rare, without any further archeological evidence?

Any help would be much welcomed.
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Phil the Grips
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Post by Phil the Grips »

I have no pics at the mo but off th etop of my head-

C15th Garde Eccossais du Roi carried wooden oval bucklers as part of their ceremonial kit

The Tower of London has several Tudor bucklers covered with spikes and in unusual shapes, as does the Musee des Armee in Paris, made from iron frames with leather inserts. Henry VIII had targets with guns built into them.

Talhoffer shows unusual bucklers in his fencing treatises and Marozzo shows the square "tecta" style ones in his.
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Post by Brother Ranulf »

While researching Norman "trial by combat" recently I found this web page which includes two late-11th century nobles bearing some extremely strange shields:

http://history.wisc.edu/sommerville/123 ... %20Law.htm

The caption says the manuscript is "English", which should be Anglo-Norman; the style of the drawing and details of costume are certainly late 11th century. The shields look more like the classical Roman scutum than anything Norman - I have not been able to find another such depiction in any Anglo-Norman source. The weapons are another enigma, but that's another thing entirely.
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Shields

Post by jelayemprins »

There are lots of 'trial by combat' shields in Talhoffer 1467 which resemble twin spiked pavises - used in conjunction with tourney-type clubs.
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Phil the Grips
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Post by Phil the Grips »

Codex Wallerstein also shows armoured footcombat where the combatants are using ecranche-type shields (typically associated with jousting)
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Post by Aelfric »

Paulus Kal shows 'faces' as bucklers!

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Post by gregory23b »

Then there are the fighting hand hedl pavises, basically smaller than normal floor mounted pavises, Bohemian and Polish sources show them.


I would also ask why they might be seen as unusual though, when 'typical' is hard to find, or is it a case of not what we expect - which is a different argument altogether.
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Post by Trading-Dragon »

gregory23b wrote:I would also ask why they might be seen as unusual though, when 'typical' is hard to find, or is it a case of not what we expect - which is a different argument altogether.
A justified question. Let me rephrase my request then: i'm interested in shield forms which we, from the point of view of a modern researcher, might find unusual or unexpected.

I notice that trials by combat seem to involve rather specialised weaponry which, I would assume, had been specifically designed for such duels.

Do you think it's probable or plausible that the occasional 'unexpected' shield or buckler which i spotted in that magazine might have been originally intended for trials and had simply been taken into the field by a soldier because it was available to him at the time?
That would explain why there is only ever the odd one, when the rest of the equipment is more akin to what we would expect from the period.
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Post by Brother Ranulf »

That's an interesting hypothesis, but I don't know how it could be proved. It seems certain that pavisse-type shields were often used in trial by combat from the time the Normans arrived (those scutum-shaped examples I quoted before may simply be a poor attempt at drawing them); but I have evidence that they were not always used in trials, and similar pavisse-type shields were already available to some troops on the battlefield or in siege situations during the 12th century.

There is a great deal about early trials by combat that we do not know or don't yet fully understand; some elements seem to be a hangover from the Viking holmgangr such as the 1163 Reading case, which was fought on a small island in the Thames.
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Post by gregory23b »

" i'm interested in shield forms which we, from the point of view of a modern researcher, might find unusual or unexpected."

I knew what you were getting at, just that it got me thinking about how we use the terms unusual or typical given our, ie most reenactors rather than actual historians relatively poor level of knowledge, actual surviving items are too few in number to give a real idea and images are a poor source to draw notions of prevalence from.

I guess I am questioning our level of competence to actually answer your question.

Talhoffer has a number of variants on the Judicial shield, the haken schild, the one that looks like two bottom ends of a double bass glued together but instead of the spike two curly hooks are at each end, the spiked shiled being similar but spiked at each end.

He also shows nice looking bucklers, with what appear to be blade traps of some sort, are they typical for the region that the books were written and produced or more widespread? Given that most of our armour references in say late medieval reenacment come from foreign sources it makes it even more tricky.

oh and welcome to the forum, nice to see a new face, albeit virtual.
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Post by behanner »

There is a nice 13th century judicial duel depicted in the stain glass in Canterbury Cathedral. Similar to the earlier one already posted.

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Post by Phil the Grips »

SPADA and SPADA II contain articles on shield use through history with a nice collection of references and iconograpy that would be a good place to start.
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Post by craig1459 »

Aelfric wrote:Paulus Kal shows 'faces' as bucklers!
Face shields appear frequently in C15 Bohemian art. I can't recall the significance or whether they were metaphorical :?
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Post by Colin Middleton »

Compared to the modern re-enactment bucklers, those used in M. I.33 are pretty odd.

You've also got ideas like the 'exploding' shield used in some German jousts. There is a 17th C square buckler in the Glasgo Museum with a blade trap on the front.

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Post by narvek »

craig1459 wrote:
Aelfric wrote:Paulus Kal shows 'faces' as bucklers!
Face shields appear frequently in C15 Bohemian art. I can't recall the significance or whether they were metaphorical :?
yeap, they were symbol of wild man, ie. heretics, mad man, beasts from lore etc...
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