At this time it was fashionable to have bodyguards of archers, both for protection and display. The Burgundian dukes lavished gifts on their bodyguard archers -not entirely unselfishly. The 40 archiers de corps under their two captains waited ready and mounted to accompany him whenever he moved quarters; they surrounded their master wherever he went, day and night, and stood between him and the assassin's knife. They were to practice with their bows whenever possible, and the ducal artillery accounts mention bows, shooting gloves and bracers for them. They acted like a modern president's motorcycle outriders, and also at times acted as 'police', going without their bows to control over-enthusiastic crowds.
In 1416 the duke had 24 robes made for them, embroidered on each sleeve with three sheaves of arrows. In 1433 they were issued with black and grey cloth to make 29 'heuques ytaliennes' embroidered with gold; these were open at the sides like a herald's tabard. In 1435 there was an issue of paletots in grey and black with the initials of Duke Philip and his duchess embroidered in gold and silver thread. In 1442 their captain 'le seigneur de Ternant' was paid 42 livres to repair their jacks; the captain wore a paletot embroidered with gold. In 1452 we read of the archers taking off their jacks and going in their pourpoints to be lighter (perhaps what is worn in the two Schilling illustrations described below). In 1465 we read of black and violet livery, with a white cross of Burgundy, firesteel, flint and sparks embroidered (see page 51, Plate 7, item B). In 1467 Jehen de Moncheauix, 'plumetier', supplied plumes to the captain and archers. In 1471 they were to wear jacks with high collars instead of a gorgerin (mail or
plate neck protection), with good sleeves, made of 12 layers of cloth, three of them waxed.
Scenes in two different Swiss chronicles show interesting details of the dress of the bodyguard archers. Diebold Schilling (1435-1486) was a soldier who fought at Grandson and Morat in 1476, and who was commissioned to write a three-volume chronicle of those turbulent years. We do not know the identities of the three artists who made the many wonderful drawings, hut it seems likely that two had either seen military service or were very keen observers of such things.
In Schilling's first or so-called 'Zurich chronicle' Charles the Bold is shown advancing with his troops, escorted by four archers on foot wearing short puff-sleeved jacks or arming doublets with the red cross of Burgundy on breast and back, sallets and tight hose. Two carry bows and two glaives or spears.
In the 'Berne chronicle' this scene is repealed, the archers wearing the same except for small caps with a single plume and - a detail odd enough to be convincing - their hose rolled up to below the knees (perhaps footless hose rolled up for marching?) All four carry tasselled spears or glaives. These may well be Charles's English archers, who stuck close to him through thick and thin.
A huge number of documents dealing with the Burgundian army survive, but this is by chance. It does not mean that other contemporary armies functioned without the same sort of meticulous accounts and records, nor that other bodyguards and nobles' close retainers were less well equipped, but simply that the documents have not survived - or, as is too frequently the case, survive but have not been analysed and published.
(Below) In heraldry a 'bend' is a diagonal stripe. Many accounts from the time of the Wars of the Rose in England and from various Continental sources mention cloth issued to make 'bends' for soldiers. The quantities issued suggest that a sash-like strip was sometimes worn, presumably from shoulder to hip, over existing liveries. This would be a cheap way to distinguish different commands, e.g. the livery jacket might show the captain's colours, the 'bend' those of an overall commander. In 1450 in the reign of Henry VI we read that 'every Lord whythe hys retenowe' should wear a 'bendys' above his armour so that 'every lorde schulde be knowe from othyr'; and in 1461 every man should wear his lord's livery and 'be-syde alle that, every man and Lorde bare the Pryncys levery', a bend of crimson and black with 'esterygeys' (ostritch) feathers. In 1475 Edward IV paid a long overdue bill for crimson cloth for bends for his knights and squires who fought at Towton in 1461.
Perhaps these bends were sometimes sewn onto the clothes or livery jacket; but we have further evidence for their being worn as sashes. In 1304 the French army campaigning in Flanders were to 'mark themselves with a white escherpe (scarf) so that they would be recognised while fighting". We know that the Armagnacs, enemies of Burgundy, were described as wearing as a distinguishing mark 'a white bend'. In 1445 Philip the Good of Burgundy said that he could not possibly wear the white band (sash) of King Alfonso V's Aragonese Order of the Goblet because it looked too much like the white band adopted by his father's enemies, the Armagnacs. Two portraits of members of the Order, cl440 and 1460, clearly show a white sash-like band of cloth worn diagonally over the left shoulder - which strongly suggests that the Armagnac 'bend' was indeed a sash. (Photo Gerry Embleton; grateful acknowledgement to David Key for use of his research notes)
(Opposite) Plate 6:
Livery, 12th to 15th Centuries
(A) Wall painting, cl 170. from the ex-Templer church at Cressac. France, showing the cross badge worn by crusaders. Such illustrations are rare, and when the crusader cross is shown it is usually small. Members of religious orders like this Templer seem to have been the first to adopt it. Later the cross in various forms became the national/military insignia of the major European powers, and was practically a regulation uniform badge by the 15th century.
(B) Founded in the 1180s to defend their homes against marauders, the "White Hoods' of Ghent were reformed in 1379 when their city rose in rebellion against the Count of Flanders.
(C) Coloured hoods were a relatively cheap way of showing membership of a guild or allegiance to a town, lord, or political group. Blue and red were the colours of the city of Paris - not always in harmony with its king.
ID) In January 1426 the English were resoundingly defeated by the Burgundians at the battle of Brouwershaven. Among the Flemish contingent loyal to Burgundy were the men of the Hague and Delft wearing black and white hoods, and those of Dordrecht wearing red and white.
(E) In 1358 kettle hats in the blue and red of Paris were worn by the followers of Etienne Marcel.
(F) In 1378 servants and followers of King Charles IV of France and his son, the future Charles V, are depicted wearing half red and half white, or all-red lunics and hose.
(G) The infantry of Edward I of England were ordered to wear 'bands' with ihe red cross of St George during his Welsh wars. Sewn to the soldier's own clothing, jack or brigandine, it became the national badge during the 13th century. Edward Ill's articles of war ordered it worn; it was displayed by everyone in the Black Prince's army in 1355, and for Richard It's Scottish expedition of 1385. It was increasingly worn on a white jacket by whole English armies, and at times by England's allies. In 1482 the army sent against Scotland were ordered to wear w hite jackets with the cross of St George front and back and the badges of their captains on the breast.
(H) 14th century French forces adopted the white cross as their field sign, the 'vraie enseigne du Roy'. It was worn on clothing or armour, and frequently on a red or blue jacket or on coloured liveries. In the 15th century the French too wore their captains' badges superimposed.
(I) The Burgundians adopted St Andrew's cross as their field sign at the beginning of the 15th century. It was rendered as crossed 'ragged staffs', crossed arrows, or a plain cross, in a variety of colours. By Charles the Bold's accession (1467) it was usually a plain red saltire. worn by his regular 'Ordinance' troops on a blue and white field. By agreement with the King of France the Burgundians were allowed to wear it even when serving with the royal armies.
(J) Bretons wore the black cross of St Yves on a white field. (K) Crosses varied in size; they might be sewn onto a jack or brigandine, or onto civilian clothes.
(L) For economy, several very simple livery jackets were commonly issued, cut to fit easily over clothes, jacks or armour. This one could be slipped on over the head and belted at the waist. It is in the English national colours, and bears on the left breast the badge of Sir William Tussel, who led a contingent in the 1475 expedition to France. The edges of livery jackets were often bound with contrasting coloured tape.
(M) Some manuscripts show groups of uniformly dressed French troops, like this member of an Ordinance company cl470, clothed all in black with livery jackets in their captain's colours and the white cross superimposed. French town contingents sometimes wore uniform colours, or the arms or name of their town embroidered on breast or arm. (N) Another style of jacket - in Breton colours - as worn over armour, cut away at the shoulders and sides so as not to interfere with arm movement. (O) A not uncommon style of jacket with buttoned front, here in the colours of the Earl of Derby and bearing his badge of a
(Above) This sturdy officer of archers, cl480, wears on his breast the embroidered boar badge of Richard of York and Gloucester, later Richard III of England. (Photo Gerry Embleton)
yellow eagle's leg, cl475. (P) In the 15th and early 16th centuries Swiss banner bearers, musicians, officers (and in at least one case, cantinieres) often wore their cantons' colours: here, the blue and white of Lucerne and the red and black of Berne, c 1476. They were less worn by common soldiers, who usually came in their own clothes. Sometimes, however, a town would clothe its men alike, such as the contingent of 131 men from St Gallen who were all in red at the battle of Grandson in 1476.
(Q & R) Two examples of the heavily embroidered livery jackets which might be worn by household servants and bodyguards, after the Burgundian 'Caesar' tapestry made at Tournai in c 1465-70 and presented by Charles the Bold to Guillaume de la Beaume, who served at Grandson and Morat.
Decoratively stylised initial letters were often embroidered on breast or sleeves. (S) In the 1460s archcrs of the bodyguard of Antoine, Bastard of Burgundy, wore red paletots bearing his badge of a 'barbican' - the movable wooden cover over a wall embrasure - with a white St Andrew's cross and gold flames. Their hose were green and white.
It is clear that distinctive insignia were a generally accepted way of identifying allies and enemies. There are several recorded examples of confusion arising from similar badges being worn by both sides, and of soldiers passing themselves off by adopting the opponents' insignia. At the siege of Neuss (1475) 600 men from Cologne put on the St Andrew's cross and slipped through the Burgundian siege lines into the town each carrying 40lbs of gunpowder.
(Opposite) Plate 7:
15th Century Livery and Badges
(Above) A splendid officer of Italian militia, with a plumed turban on his sallel and the boar badge of his town on his jack. (Photo John Howe)
(A) Reconstruction of the arming coat of Charles, Duke of Burgundy, showing the heraldic arms of his possessions. Costly embroidery, rich fabrics, gold and silver wire and pearls were often worn over their armour by the mighty. A fortune was lavished on all those who accompanied them to war - ministers, councillors, servants, bodyguards, heralds and trumpeters - a kaleidoscope of colours, heraldic devices and decorative fantasy.
(B) Tentative reconstruction -from a description in the memoirs of Jean de Haynin - of the paletoI worn by the bodyguards of Charles, Count of Charolais, later Duke of Burgundy, during the 1465 campaign. This attempts to illustrate the richness of decoration frequently displayed by troops of this class.
(C) The bodyguard archers of Louis de Luxembourg. Constable of France and an ally of Burgundy.
(D) The followers of Louis de Bruges, Seigneur de la Gruuthuuse cl466. may have worn his colours of violet and white with the red saltire of Burgundy or his bombard badge.
(E) The followers of the Seigneur de Hames.
(F) Jean de Luxembourg's archers in the 1465 Monthlery campaign.
Documentary evidence allows the reconstruction of the liveries of several other Burgundian nobles: Seigneur d'Esquerdes, white and green, red saltire; Jean de Ru he ill pre, Grand Bailly de Hainault 1466. black and violet, white saltire; Antoine Rolin. Seigneur d'Aymeries 1466. white and blue, red saltire; Hugh de Neuville. Sénéchal de Saint Pol (who commanded the advance guard at Monthlery). red. perhaps without the cross of Burgundy. (G to L) Some of the many English liveries worn during the Wars of the Roses:
(G) Sir John Wogan, with his badge of a 'cockentrice' - a beast half cockerel, half dragon. His motto was 'garde vous' - 'be careful' or 'look out'.
(H) The blue and 'murray' livery of King Edward IV of England bears one version of his 'sun in splendour' badge combined with the white rose of York. (I) Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and Salisbury, whose men also wore a standing bear and ragged staff badge, cl458. (J) Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.
(K) Lord Ferrers. Like many nobles of his day he is known to have used several badges - this gold horseshoe, a white greyhound running, a gold crown, and a 'French wife's hood'.
(L) In 1475 the followers of Thomas Howard. Duke of Norfolk wore his red and white livery jacket with a white sallet badge. On the Scottish expedition one of his men, Robert Coke, had 'a peirre brigandines, a standard (i.e. a mail collar), a salate (sallet), a chef (sheaf) of arowes, a peir of splentys (splints -probably chain and plate arm protection) and his jaket, a gusset (probably mail shorts)'. (M) Embroidered badge which seems to have been used by Charles the Bold's bodyguard archers in the 1470s, and was painted on their banners captured at Grandson in 1476. (N) Metal badges were issued to retainers at all levels, in silver or gold for those nearest the great princes - bodyguards and servants in the royal households -and in cheap pewter or lead to tens of thousands of the more humble. This badge excavated in London combines the Plantagenet "sunburst' emblem with the traditional rose of Edward IV.
(O) Pewter badge of the Duke of Warwick's 'ragged staff emblem
(P) Many late 15th century chronicle illustrations show the Swiss wearing their white cross badge in these various positions -but not all at once... The commonest are on breast, sleeve or thigh; they rarely appear on the helmet or hood. (Q) "Bends' or diagonal sashes may have been a fairly common way to distinguish groups of troops within an overall command - see page 47. (A band
- a strip of cloth or colour -origin 'bende'. Old French. 15th century, a word of Germanic origin. Collins New English Dictionary)
(R) A coloured hood, a breast badge, and an embroidered initial or slogan on the sleeve - three common ways of distinguishing different commands, though not necessarily worn together. (S) The badge of Charles, Duke of Bourbon 1434-56 - a fire pot or 'feu grégois' (Greek fire). (T) One of René of Anjou's possessions was Lorraine, referred to by one of his badges, this double-barred cross and crown.
(U) In an age without 'mass media' to establish their prestige, and thus to some extent their security, rulers depended on so impressing eyewitnesses that tales of their power and glory would spread by word of mouth -and grow in the telling. They spent fortunes on display - great pageants, tournaments, and triumphal entries into conquered or submitted towns. Louis XII of France (1498-1515) wore this amazing ensemble for his ceremonial entry into a captured city during his Italian campaign. It is embroidered with one of his personal badges, bees and hives, and a motto - 'non vtitura cv leores' ?
(V) The gentlemen of his bodyguard wore coats of various colours bearing another of his badges, a crown and porcupine richly embroidered in gold.
(Left) This French artillery or engineer officer wears simple, practical clothes and ankle boots, with the national livery displayed. He covers his outfit with a sumptuous gown of red and gold Italian cloth trimmed with dark fur. He is a man of great wealth, completely absorbed in a new passion, and can well afford to use such an expensive gown as the equivalent of a mechanic's overalls. On his head he wears his hood rolled into a hat, a practical no-nonsense headgear.
In the 15th century the term 'artillery' did not mean simply the cannons and their impedimenta, but also what we might call the 'logistic' branch of an army. We know from surviving accounts that the 'artillery' looked after all sorts of supplies including transport, bows, crossbows, ammunition, tentage, bridge-building and camp equipment. They meticulously record the purchase and cost of everything from archers' gloves and linen cord for crossbow strings to pigs of lead for shot and paint for gun carriages.
Some 20th century historians have underestimated the efficiency of 15th century gunnery. There is ample evidence that pre-weighed and wrapped powder charges - in Napoleonic terms, 'fixed cartridge' - and multiple detachable breech chambers made light breech-loading field guns entirely practical (see page 54). Siege artillery - the heavy bombards which were dug and wedged into static positions after being transported across country with immense labour - was a hugely expensive investment, in which no prince would have indulged without a practical return in terms of multiplication of force. Guns made a real difference. For instance, the Neopolitan castle of Monte San Giovanni had in the past withstood a siege for seven years. In 1494 it fell to the guns of Charles VIII's army in eight hours. (Photo John Howe)
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