Arms and Armour of the
Crusading Era, 1050-1350
By David Nicolle
63 Roman de Tristan, France, c. 1260
(Bib. Nat., Paris, France, after Viollet-le-Duc)
This extraordinary weapon would normally be associated with a slightly later date. It is an early form of bill or bardiche elongated axe. Such weapons probably evolved out of the earlier war-axe. One line of development led to a thrusting point, as might be shown here, and eventually became the halbard. Another feature is that the lower point curves back to rest against or even be attached to the haft of the axe. Such a feature is seen in some 14th-century European and later Islamic war-axes.
64 Manuscript, France (?), 1294
(Bib. Nat., Paris, France; ex-Bib. Richelieu no.938 f.69, after Viollet-le-Duc)
A very similar weapon with both tips of the blade apparently formed into sleeves around the haft. A small spike has also been added at the back.
65 History of King Arthur, France (?), c.1260
(Bib. Nat., Paris, France, after Viollet-le-Duc)
The third of these slender-bladed but short-handled axes has a long sleeve joining the blade to the haft, while both ends again curve back to rest against the haft.
66 Manuscript, France (?), 1274
(Bib. Nat., Paris, France; ex-Bib. Richelieu no.342 f.23, after Viollet-le-Duc)
Here a smaller war-axe with a slender blade has both ends resting on the haft.
67 'Goliath', Bible, Paris, с 1300
(Royal Library, Thott Ms. 7, f.lr, Copenhagen, Denmark)
The Philistine once again wears a brimmed chapel-de-fer war-hat. This probably enabled an artist to show David's sling-shot embedded in the giant's head. He also wears a mail coif, hauberk and chausses under the broad, smock-like surcoat which had come into fashion in some parts of Europe.
68 'Crowning Christ with thorns', France, c.1280
(Bib. Nat., Ms. Lat. 8892, f.29, Paris, France)
The unbelted surcoat is again shown worn over the usual items of mail.
69A-F History of Outremer, Paris, с. 1300
(Walters Art Gallery, Ms. W. 142, Baltimore, United States)
A - 'Siege of Tyre' (f. 112r); В - 'Siege of Antioch' (f.28r); C-F -'Capture of Nicea' (f.21 r). Two simple mangonels are shown, both with the broad crossbars that normally held ropes pulled by a team of men (A and B). One, however, has a small counterweight added (A). This was hardly big enough to convert the machine into a counterweight trebuchet and may instead have had something to do with the loading procedure. Or it could have been a transitional phase in the development of the true trebuchet. A broad, tapering sword with slightly-curved quillons and a rather surprising trefoil pommel is shown (C), along with three rounded great helms of complicated construction and with perhaps decorated surfaces. Note that all three helms are facing to the right.
70 Legende de St Denis, France, c.1317
(Bib. Nat., Mss. Fr. 2090-2, Paris, France)
One of the first clear representations of a separate scale-covered gauntlet being worn with a mail hauberk. The sleeves of the hauberk are visible above the wrist.
71 Broken sword, France, mid-14th century
(Musée de l'Armée, inv. Po.678, Paris, France)
Though broken to less than half its length, this tapering sword with its long curved quillons is a typical mid-14th-century weapon. Note that a small reliquary is also set into the pommel.
72A-D Carved ivory plaque, France, 1300-50
(Musée Municipal, no. 1342, Angers, France)
The plaque probably represents the Siege of the Castle of Love. One figure (A) may carry a mace but is more likely to be throwing a flower. All the warriors wear mail hauberks and chausses and carry small triangular shields. Their helmets might be round-topped greathelms but could also be a form midway between a great helm and a large bascinet, both of which could have large flat visors.
73 Carved ivory box, Paris, c.1325
(Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia)
The sword shown here seems to be a simple version of the broken sword in the Musée de l'Armée in Paris (fig.71 ).
74 Lost tomb slab of Guillaume du Breuil from church of
St Ouen, Rouen, Normandy, c.1360
(from 17th-century drawing, after Gazette des Beaux Arts vol.LXXXIV, 1974)
In many respects this Norman knight wears remarkably old-fashioned armour, particularly when compared to the equipment used in mid-14th-century Germany. Relatively new features include a raised mail neckguard, presumably fastened to the padded gambeson which is also visible at his wrists. His straight sword has decorated quillons, while his legs are protected by poleyns, narrow greaves with perhaps an added strengthening piece below the knee, and a flap of mail forming a rudimentary sabaton on top of his foot.
75 Seal of Count Louis of Flanders, 1322
(Archives Nationales, Paris, France)
Count Louis is shown wearing a great helm and mail. On his shoulders are rectangular ailettes, which were purely decorative and heraldic. They helped identify a man fully enclosed in armour. The fact that a chain leads from the hilt of his sword to his chest shows that he was wearing some kind of cuirass or coat-of-plates beneath his surcoat; this provided a rigid attachment point for the chain.
76A-E The Cloisters Apocalypse, Duchy of Normandy, c.1300-25
(Cloisters Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, no.68.174, New York, United States)
A-D - 'Second Horseman of the Apocalypse' (f.8r); E - 'Massacre of the Innocents' (f.2v). This beautiful manuscript illustrates rather old-fashioned arms and armour with a few interesting features. We see close-fitting cervellière helmets (A and D), mail hauberks with mittens, one of the latter pushed back from the wrist (C), and mail chausses. The horseman's leg armour includes another kind of foot covering, perhaps with some kind of metallic lining. An acutely-tapering sword (A) and a curved falchion (C) are clearly illustrated, while on another page a new way of fastening a scabbard to a sword-belt can be seen. This seems to include a buckle.
77A-C Sketch-book of Villard de Honnecourt, France mid-13th century
(Bib. Nat., Ms. Fr. 19093, Paris, France, after Verbruggen)
This might be a later copy of de Honnecourt's book. The soldier's ailettes (В) certainly suggest a slightly later date. The picture of the counterweight trebuchet (B) is one of the earliest and clearest representations of this new siege machine in European art. A highly schematic picture of part of a trebuchet (A) is difficult to interpret. It might, in fact, represent a loading mechanism.
78 Manuscript, France, 1350-6
This unnamed manuscript is said to have been made for John II, King of France, before his capture at the battle of Poitiers in 1356. It shows several very up-to-date features, including this visored bascinet secured by a strap and buckles to the back of a presumably rigid or semi-rigid coat-of-plates.
79 Histoire Universelle, France, early 14th century
(British Library, Ms. Roy. 20.D.I, f.127, London, England)
It would be wrong to interpret this well-known illumination too literally. There is no evidence for horse-archery being used in 14th-century Western Europe, and, in any case, horse archers would not have been heavily armoured in this fashion. The great helm shown here is a good example of the large 14th-century version. Another lies abandoned on the ground showing the untied chin-strap which normally remains unseen.
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