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KITE-SHIELD PATTERNS

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



[a & c based on Scene 11 on the Bayeux Tapestry]
[b & d based on Scene 56 on the Bayeux Tapestry]
[e based on Scene 49 on the Bayeux Tapestry]
[f based on King Harold on the Bayeux Tapestry]
[g based on Scene 53 on the Bayeux Tapestry]
[h based on Scene 50 on the Bayeux Tapestry]
[i-k based on 'Ten Kings and their Army' in the Beatus de Saint-Sever]
[l based on Subjugation of the Cantabrians by Visigoth King Liuvigild. Panel of Ivory Romanesque Reliquary Ark of San Millán de la Cogolla.]
[n & o based on Byzantine Gold and Enamel Icon of the Crucifixion. House of Wittelsbach, Bavaria, Germany.]
[p based on fol. 82r Skyllitzes Matritensis]
[q based on fol. 13v Skyllitzes Matritensis]
[r based on fol. 76v Skyllitzes Matritensis]

141.      KITE-SHIELD PATTERNS

141a-h are all from the Bayeux Tapestry. 141a-c are typical of the zoomorphic designs used on kite-shields; in the Tapestry they are exclusive to the Normans. They represent purely mythical beasts and are in no way heraldic. 141d-h are characteristic of the simpler designs used by both Normans and Saxons, h being held by King Harold in one scene.

141i-k are from a mid-11th century French ms. Principal colours are red, mauve, blue and white.

141l and m are Spanish, where principal shield colours appear to have been red and a bright blue. The 4 dots on m are the heads of rivets holding the strap arrangement on the inner face described under 124 and 125. Contemporary sources record other shields of the type described under a-c.

141n-u are Byzantine designs. 141n is very similar to the Norman designs shown in a-c and is fairly certainly the shield of a western mercenary in Byzantine employ. 141p-u are from the Scylitzes ms. and are typical of the large number of simple designs it depicts. 141p appears to be a claw and wing device such as became popular in later Ottoman heraldry, and 141q may be a variant of the same pattern. 141s and t again show similarities to Bayeux Tapestry types. Several variants of 141u are fairly common in Scylitzes, where they are invariably shown in the hands of Rus or Bulgars. The horizontal band appears to be some form of strengthener.



Next: 142. GREEK FIRE in Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066 by Ian Heath
See also Early kite-shield in a Byzantine Manuscript of the Iliad, 10th century. BNM Mss. Gr.Z.454.
and Soldier with Kite Shield in a Carolingian Bible, Northern France, 976-1000AD. BnF Latin 46