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An extract from Armies of Feudal Europe 1066-1300
by Ian Heath

14.      KNIGHT 1289

This figure is taken from a sculpture of Guillaume de Durford, a French mercenary in Florentine employ killed at Camaldino and buried in Santissima Annunziata church, Florence. In addition to poleyns and schynbalds plate cuisses are worn here, all highly decorated and therefore possibly leather rather than iron. Also of interest are the slipper-like shoes which are powdered with small dots, possibly rivets securing small plates on the inside in the fashion of a brigandine. If this is so it is one of the earliest examples of plate foot armour, though the standard type used from the early 14th century (the sabaton) was usually constructed of a number of overlapping metal lames covering only the front of the foot. One final interesting detail is the dagger worn at his right hip, adopted by most knights in the course of the 13th century; in use it was held point downwards as a stabbing weapon and is often depicted thus in ms. illustrations of close melees.

Another piece of armour now coming into more widespread use, though still uncommon, was the gauntlet. The earliest to appear in a contemporary source are cuffed mail gloves depicted in Matthew Paris’ ‘Chronica Minora’ of the mid-13th century. Others were probably made of whalebone, since when whalebone gauntlets are first recorded in a written source c.1285 they were apparently not new. Metal gauntlets of iron or brass appeared c.1296, constructed by attaching small scales or plates to a fabric or leather glove.

[Based on the sculpture of Guillaume de Durford (Guilelmus Beraldus), Santissima Annunziata Church, Florence.]

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