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

40.      FRENCH PAVESIER 1358

Taken from an illustration in the 'Grandes Chroniques' of c.1370 depicting Etienne Marcel's insurrection, this figure represents a 14th century Parisian militiaman. His kettle-helmet is painted red on the right and blue on the left, the city's colours, and in one scene a livery tunic in the same colours is shown being held out to the Dauphin. The tunics of the militiamen themselves, however, are shown in a muted colour rather like unbleached linen, while their shields are pastel shades of red, tan and brown, with iron studs. Their equipment comprises a mixture of arm and leg harness, sabatons, mail corselets and various styles of jupon, but they are almost uniformly armed with sword and spear, the shafts of the latter painted either red or white.

The rectangular shield (called a pavais or pavise, hence pavésier) is interesting since, with the exception of one brief period around the mid to late-14th century, infantry shields of this type normally only appear in pictures of sieges. Its sudden appearance on the battlefield was probably a direct result of the need for better protection in the face of English firepower. The ordinance of 1351 specifies a pavésier's equipment as coat-of-plates, haubergeon, bascinet with camail, gorget, arm-harness, gauntlets, sword, coustel, lance and pavais. It was undoubtedly troops equipped very much like this that Froissart was describing when he wrote of the engagement at Nogent-sur-Seine in 1359, where 900 French infantry armed with lances and large shields which 'were so strong the arrows made no impression on them' advanced on and broke through a line of English archers and put them to flight.

Pavésiers often rode to battle but invariably dismounted to fight.

[Based on the Militia of Paris,
in Grandes Chroniques de France de Charles V BnF MS Français 2813, France, c.1375-1380

Next: 41, 42, 43 & 44. INFANTRYMEN c.1398 in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1 by Ian Heath