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An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath


This figure is based on 11th century South Italian chess-pieces. His corselet is of lamellar, betraying Byzantine influence, the Normans first encountering the Byzantines in Italy while fighting as mercenaries for Apulian rebels from c. 1015.

The helmet is classical in style and the pattern on his shield probably represents strengthening bands. Other figures show longer tunics, boots, leather and fabric coifs, and round shields. A ms. of c. 1028 shows Italian cavalrymen practically identical to 124, most in helmets with no nasal and some wearing no coif; their red shields are unclear but appear to be circular.

The bulk of Italian troops were citizen militiamen, of whom the best-equipped would have resembled the figures described under 132, 133 and 137. Others would have been crossbowmen, archers or spearmen similar to contemporary French and German types.

The shields depicted in 134a and b are from the ms. of c. 1028 mentioned above and are probably typical of the simple designs that militiamen would have carried.
[Based on the "Charlemagne's chess set", Norman Southern Italy, end of the eleventh century. Paris Cabinet des médailles.]
[Shields based on Lombard Arms & Costume in the Encyclopedia of Maurus Hrabanus, c.1013. Abbey Library, Ms. 132, Monte Cassino, Italy.]

Next: 135 & 136. SPANISH HEAVY CAVALRYMEN in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath