Th Century Handgunner

(Below) This sturdy handgunner serves Edward Ihe Black Prince of Wales during his French wars in the third quarter of the 14th century. Far down the ladder of liveried retainers, he has been given a long gown of unbleached wool, and a 'handgonne' of the simplest type on a pole stock.

In 1326 the council of Florence appointed two officials to oversee Ihe manufacture of cannon and projectiles which had. no doubt, been present on the battlefield for some years before. The first illustration dates from this time -a short bottle-shaped gun with a tubular bore, shooting a metal arrow.

The first mention of the use of a man-carried firearm in England dates from 1338. when 'un handgonne' is listed among the equipment for one of Edward Ill's ships. Soon afterwards we have a record of six stored at the Guildhall in London. The earliest surviving example is a small bronze gun found at Loshult in Sweden, c 1350-1400. For ease of handling these stumpy barrels were fixed to wooden staves. They were cast in bronze, or forged in iron, built up like a barrel with staves and hoops and, at the end of the century, made as an iron tube with a breech plug screwed in one end. The first guns were touched off with a hot wire or a burning match, making handling by one man very tricky and not conducive to accuracy.

Over the next century the barrels got longer and the staves more sculptured, so that by the 1460s we have something that is clearly recognisable as a shoulder firearm. The earliest known drawing of an S-shaped holder for the match, also serving as a trigger, dates from 1411. During the next 50 years various forms of lock with trigger or button release were developed, allowing the guns to be held into the shoulder and sighted along the barrel.

Who the earliest handgunners were, and why they adopted such an alarmingly dangerous and seemingly inaccurate weapon, is not known. Clearly, they were soon effective enough to start replacing some of the crossbows in groups of skirmishers, and to take their place on the competition field. Despite the results of isolated modern experiments, we may underestimate their accuracy in the hands of experienced men long familiar with them. No professional soldier chooses to carry into battle a weapon which he distrusts. (Photo Gerry Embleton)

Handgonne Long Turban Chaperon Century

"n armies assembled around a fighting tore of mounted -knights their retainers on foot and the shire levies (militia) provided a mass of infantry whose main task was to form a solid reserve to protect the baggage train - and the cavalry, when they needed to reform. Footsoldiers might swarm out to slaughter a defeated enemy; but -with some notable exceptions - it was not until the mid-14th century that well-trained infantry with pole and missile weapons began to come into their own as important tactical elements.

The increasing importance of the longbowman in English armies, and the development throughout Europe of wealthy, independent towns with a need for efficient defenders, led to an improvement in the importance, and thus the rewards of the footsoldier. The highly skilled English archer of the Hundred Years War was a yeoman, no longer a disregarded peasant. In peacetime he was probably still a farmworker, but he might equally be a craftsman or small tradesman. These well-paid men had the standing and the means to win themselves some sort of stake in their society.

Towns across the Continent trained citizen militias, some of whom paid substitutes. Some who joined the ranks were criminals: a royal pardon could be won in exchange for military service. Mercenaries of different kinds formed parts of all armies, enthusiastically recruited en masse by some commanders, with reluctant suspicion by others. Some proved loyal; others simply flocked to any new war, following money and plunder as individuals or in bands. Their travels and their relative success would have been reflected in their clothing and arms. Although clothing was almost international in style, mercenaries could still turn heads: in the early 1350s their Italian employers disliked the beards sported by Catalan troops, and a century later they were amused by the Germans' long hair.

Ill the 1340s there was an abrupt change of fashion in the courts of France; long, loose tunics and overtunics were superseded by short, light garments. This scandalous new style spread to England. Italy and Germany. Dandies cropped their hair and wore long moustaches 'like the Spanish'. The French King Philip VI was opposed to this decadence. One can imagine that some courtiers, knights and retainers clung disapprovingly to the old styles, while others adopted the new as best they could. The extravagance of such indelicate dress and other sins were to blame - according to the French author of La Grande Chronique de St Denis - to their defeat al Cr&y in 1345. We cannot be sure how much high fashion affected the dress of the soldier; bul the 14th century chronicler Knighton wrote that 'vanity of the common people in Iheir dress was so great that it was impossible to tell rich from poor, high from low'.

I Right I On 14 September 1346 Master John de Brunham. Clerk to Edward. The Black Prince, was ordered to buy green and white cloth to make a courtepye (jacket) and chaperon (hood) for each of the Welsh bowmen from Flynl in his master's service. Both garments were to be half green (on the right) and half while. Il is impossible to positively identify the courtepye; il was probably a shortish tunic -as was the cote, another term freely used to describe many kinds of overgarments, including a lady's long overdress with irain. (Photo Gerry Embleton)

(Opposite) A 14th century hunter in typical outdoor clothing. In time of war both his skills and his gear would translate directly lolhe battlefield with only minor modifications and additions. (Pholo David Lazenby, Middelaldercentret)

14th Century Clothing England

(Left, above & opposite) Tabby-woven, fulled white woollen cloth was dyed with Broom, dyer's weed (Sarothamnus Scoparius) to give the yellow component of green with Indigo. Woad (hatis Tinctoria) was unobtainable, but we have found that Woad, Indigo or even synthetic indigo give identical blue dyes and the colour has not been affected. In addition Julie Douglas writes: '1 have used onion skins (Allium Cepa) with dyer's weed. Onions were such a ubiquitious part of the medieval diet and provide a useful, bright and fairly fast dye that I find it hard to accept that they were not added to yellow dye vats. Dyeing with plant dyes requires the use of the same amount of plant weight for weight as cloth. There is a wide range of plants which produce yellow dyes and I suggest that it would have been likely that many dyers would have used a "cocktail" of whichever yellow dyes were available at the time ...'.

His underwear and coif were made of fairly coarse tabby-woven linen. Natural brown tabby-woven cloth from Manx Loughton sheep was used for the hose. All stitches used - running, whipping, backstitch, blanket/buttonhole and top stitch, and the use of narrow strips of cloth as facings for necklines, etc. - can be provenanced to this period. Unbleached linen thread was used for all stitching except for the huke and hood, which were sewn with two-ply dyed woollen thread.

This simple but beautifully reconstructed costume shows what can be done with good research and careful work. It was made for this book by Julie Douglass of 'Artefacts'. The references used for this archer's general appearance were the Luttrell Psalter (cl320-1340), and patterns based on the remains of medieval clothing found in

Greenland and Sweden, with details drawn from many other contemporary sources.

(Below) The falchion, one of many designs of heavy-bladed short swords which saw widespread use until the end of the 15th century, is based on the Conyers falchion and various contemporary illustrations.

Iron Underwear The Fifteenth Century

(Above) From the Conquest to the 16th century hoods were worn by one and all. In bad weather, with an attached cape to protect the shoulders, it is immensely practical and warm; slipped off the head, it provides a bulky scarf around the neck. It can be rolled up to form a hat, or even a bag to carry things in. From the 13th century it was the daily wear of peasant, worker and traveller. Its colours could identify the wearer's political allegiance, guild, or military company. It could hide the hunter in the forest or the face of an assassin in the alley. In the rough game of 'Blindman's Buff or Hoodman Blind' (not then considered too childish for soldiers) one player reversed his hood and the others knotted theirs into clubs to 'buffet' him.

For these photos two hoods were made, one plain and one dagged'. The fashion for cutting multi-lobed decorative leaf'shaped borders appeared under Henry I of England (1100-Il3i) and. despite frequent sumptuary laws, continued into the 15th century: 'cut work was great in court and towns, both in men's hoods and in their gowns'. Anyone could afford to 'daggc' a border, but the elaborately cut multi-layered borders of rose leaves, flowers, etc.. would decorate the sleeves of the rich alone.

I Right > Our Flynt archer's bow is yew. and the arrows careful reconstructions based on those shown in the Lutlrell Psalter. iPhotos Gerry Embleton)

Luttrell Psalter Archer

(Right) In the 14th and 15th centuries it was common to wear the htxxl as a hat: the rolled-up face opening pulled down on the head, the tail wrapped around the head and the cape forming a falling coxcomb - a simple way for an off-duty soldier to dress up for a night out! This became stylised into the fashionable chaperon, a tailor-made padded roll with a long tail and falling crown which could either be cut with elaborate leaf-shaped 'dags' or left severely plain. In

1432 Philip the Good of Burgundy ordered hoods with padded brims -chaperons - for his bodyguard archers as part of their livery. In the mid-15th century it was almost a uniform headdress for the aristocracy, and was frequently worn with the hanging tail (tippet or liripipe) wrapped across the shoulders, or with the whole thing slung to hang behind the shoulder, kept in place by the tail tucked into the waist belt in front.

1350s Mens Wardrobe

(Left) A heuke (huk, huke) was an outer garment, a hooded cloak or gown worn by both men and women. But the term could also mean a sort of livery jacket: in 1439 it was worn by archers under Sir James Skidmore of Herefordshire, retained by Sir James Ormond for Richard, Duke of York's expedition to France. Ormond ordered that 'the said James (Skidmore) shall take for himself and his said archers huk of my said lord the duk, paying for them like as other souldiers of their degree do'. When Joan of Arc was captured she was wearing a cloth-of-gold 'huque ... opened on all sides'. This was clearly a tabard-like garment - as was the 'jagged (dagged) huke of black sengle' in Sir John Fastolfe's Wardrobe in 1459. The term is used for a herald's garment in 1295. This example, of wool dyed orange/red with madder (Ruhia Tinctorum), is a sort of 'poncho' worn by an early 14th century archer. He wears his hood as a hat, and carries his bow covered. (Photo Gerry Embleton)

Early Xivth Century Knight

(Right) A knight of the 14th century displaying personal heraldry on his shield, saddle and horse bardings. It is not clear when the identifying colours and devices which individual knights displayed on their banners or had painted on their shields began to develop into a more complex system of family heraldry. The adoption of hereditary devices probably began in the middle of the 12th century. At first the charges were simple geometric shapes, animals or objects; these developed, by the 15th century, into the immensely complicated science of heraldry. Small differences in a basic design could indicate different positions within a family, or its different branches. All kinds of symbols were adopted, which might be worn as distinguishing badges by the knight's household and .followers. (Photo David Lazenby. Middelaldercentret)

14th Century Knights ornaments - a golden ball, perhaps set with jewels, was popular in the 15th century. Most common soldiers' helmets were unadorned, except for an occasional twisted scarf wrapped round like a turban or, rarely, a feather; richly equipped household guards might display jewelled mounts and plumes. Burgundian and French officers occasionally wore small helmet pennons marked with numbers indicating their units. (Photo David Lazenby, Middelaldercentret)

Crests made from parchment, leather, wood and other light materials seem to date from soon after the development of closed helmets. The earliest English representation is the fan-shaped crest on the seal of King Richard I (1189-1199). They both identified the wearer and offered an opportunity for peacock display. For tournaments they reached the heights of fantasy, not always following the wearer's heraldic devices. In combat their use declined, giving way to plumes and smaller

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