Audible Gift Memberships


ENGLISH LIVERIED RETAINER, 15th CENTURY

An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1
by Ian Heath



19.      ENGLISH LIVERIED RETAINER, 15th CENTURY

Liveries had been in use in England since the 13th century, and household badges were worn by some lords’ retainers from early on in the 14th century (since 1327 according to Richard’s 1388 parliament, but in fact in many cases even earlier). The use of badges was at its height from the mid-14th century to the beginning of the 16th, both as a means of identification and a sign of allegiance to a particular lord. They are sometimes referred to being worn on the ‘sleeve’ or (left) shoulder, but were more usually worn on breast and back. As with liveries, their use was more widespread in England than in Europe.

The figure actually depicted here is from John Rous’ ‘Pageant of the Birth, Life and Death of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick’ of c. 1485-90. This ms. contains many pictures of such retainers wearing the Warwick livery of a red jacket with white ragged staves before and behind, this particular one being from a scene in which Henry V presents a commission to Warwick at Calais in 1415. Another Earl of Warwick, Richard Neville, had as many as 200 men-at-arms and 400 archers dressed in this livery when he attended the Great Council at Westminster in 1458. For a list of other 14th-15th century liveries and badges see Appendix 3.




Next: 20. ENGLISH FLAGS, 15th CENTURY, in Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1 by Ian Heath