Arms and Armour of the
Crusading Era, 1050-1350
By David Nicolle
37 Inscribed tomb slab of Georges de Niverlée, Hainault, C.1262
(in situ church, Niverlée, Belgium)
This effigial slab is notable because only one ailette is shown, again on the right shoulder, to provide a place for heraldic display comparable to the shield on the man's left side. The warrior on this engraved slab also has a flat-topped great helm with a small crest.
38 'Fortitude', carved relief, Isle de France, c.1210-20
(in situ west front, Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, France)
It is interesting to note how old-fashioned is the equipment given to this figure of Fortitude. The helmet is of a simple conical form and the hauberk, which lacks mittens, is unusually long. Perhaps the sculptor wanted to indicate that Fortitude was an ancient virtue, which the young should emulate. The round shield and the very loose cloak arc likely to be symbolic, though their meaning is now lost.
39 Effigy of Jean d'Alluye from Touraine, c.1250
(Cloisters Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States)
Although Touraine lay north of the Loire it had much in common with regions to the south. The somewhat fanciful sword may reflect 'exotic' fashions adopted by some members of the supposedly Crusading aristocracy of France, while the scabbard is also laced to the belt in an unusual manner.
40 'King of Sodom', statue, County of Champagne, 1275-1300
(in situ inside west front of Cathedral, Reims, France)
This figure is believed to represent the King of Sodom alongside Abraham and Melchizadek, the priest-king of Salem following the defeat of Chedorlaomer (XIV Gen. 12—24). The king is dressed in one of the finest and most elaborate versions of fanciful armour in 13th-century French sculpture. Various features may reflect reports by soldiers returning from Spain or the eastern Mediterranean, or the influence of booty and souvenirs brought back by such men. The fluted helmet and the decoration of the round shield, as well as the waist sash, could be examples of this influence.
41A-C 'Execution of John the Baptist,', carvings, County of Champagne, c.1240
(in situ west front of Cathedral, Reims, France)
Fanciful pseudo-Byzantine arms and armour similar to that seen a little earlier at Chartres is used to identify certain 'wicked' figures at Reims (A and C). This seems, however, to be reserved for leaders and officers. Ordinary soldiers are shown in the standard equipment of French infantry (B) with mail coifs and close-fitting round cervelliere helmets.
42A-B Effigies, County of Anjou, early 13th century
(in situ Abbey of Fontevrault, France)
A- 'Effigy of King Henry II of England'; В - 'Effigy of King Richard I of England'. The effigies at Fontevrault are among the most important early Gothic tombs. Two swords are included in thecarvings. Both seem to have unnaturally short quillons but this might be a result of inadequate stone carving skills. The sword of Richard I has straight quillons, a grip with vertical decorations or anti-slip devices and a small octagonal pommel. The sword of Henry II has a diamond-shaped pommel and short down-turned quillons. One is tempted to see Spanish influence in this latter sword and it should be remembered that Henry was also Duke of Gascony as well as suzerain of the Viscounty of Bearn-Soule in the Pyrenees.
43A-D Carvings, County of Vermandois, c.1230
(in situ west front of Cathedral, Amiens, France)
Various allegorical and religious warrior figures decorate the front of Amiens Cathedral. Their equipment is standard, consisting of mail hauberks with mittens, mail coifs and mail chausses (А, В and D). Loose surcoats are worn, in one case clearly over raised and padded shoulders (D). Significantly this appears to be the only figure to wear another, longer cloth garment beneath his surcoat. The rounded or slightly conical helmets lack nasals. They are either of segmented spangenhelm construction or have been reinforced with metal strips and a band around the brim (А, В and D). Swords are rather massive, tapering but blunt ended, and with trefoil (A and B), squat round (C) or triangular (D) pommels. The sword carried by another figure (C) includes a sword-belt of the new buckled type which is here wrapped around the scabbard.
44 Incised monumental brass of Sir Brocardus de Charpignie, France, c.1270
(via Courtauld Institute, London, England)
It would be useful to know more about this monumental brass. Such a style of tomb memorial probably first appeared in northern France around the mid-13th century, Dinant being the main production centre for the copper alloy (latten) of which they were made. Monumental brasses became popular in England from the late 13th century but this early and archaic example may have originated in Flanders or the Rhineland. The warrior appears to have a form of bascinet, but even more interesting is the piece of armour that he wears over his long-sleeved mail hauberk. This has squared shoulders and is fastened by three laces, buckles or toggles on each shoulder. It probably did not come much below his waist and it is clearly not a form of surcoat. This might, in fact, be an early representation of a hardened leather cuirie or quiret.
45 'The Betrayal', carving probably from area of Amiens, Vermandois, c.1275-1300
(Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. 17.120.5, New York, United States)
The soldier on the carving of the Betrayal has a close-fitting cervellière held by a triple chin-strap over a mail coif.
46 Unidentified effigy, Maine, c.1275-1300
(in situ Abbey church, Evron, France)
A different sort of mail coif and ventail made its appearance late in the 13th century. Here it is shown off the head, with the laces of the ventail dangling down the right breast.
47 Seal of John de Montfort, France, 1248
(Archives Nationales, Paris, France)
Here the lord of Montfort wears a surprisingly simple form of great helm in which the face-mask is made of a separate piece of iron and comes further down the head than do the sides and back of the helmet. The quillons of his sword are curved and include a small langet. His legs and neck are clearly mailed but no mail appears on his arm. This is probably an artistic error or the result of wear on the seal, or it could indicate an unusual long-sleeved surcoat.
48A-B Enamelled bronze gemellion, France, 13th century
(Cloisters Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. 47.101.40, New York, United States)
In addition to a rider carrying a shield (not shown here) two foot soldiers also appear on this piece of French metalwork. They carry convex round shields, a sword (A) and perhaps a spear (B).
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