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FFOULKES C. Armour & Weapons



Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain and the Ajoining Countries from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV in 12 volumes 

Chronicles of Enguerrand De Monstrelet (Sir John Froissart's Chronicles continuation) in 13 volumes 

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Armour & Weapons
page 87

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 strapwork 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 con-structional 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, over-lapping 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 THE DECADENCE CHAP. VI

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