INFANTRYMEN c.1398

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


[Based on Chroniques de France ou de St Denis,
f41v, Rioters pillaging a house in Paris
]
[Based on Chroniques de France ou de St Denis,
folio 62r, King of Bohemia
]
[Based on Chroniques de France ou de St Denis, British Library MS Royal 20 C VII
f41v, Rioters pillaging a house in Paris
]
41, 42, 43 & 44.      INFANTRYMEN c.1398

From the same source as 16, these can be taken as representative of infantrymen of the second half of the 14th century and the early part of the 15th. It is probably soldiers of this kind that Froissart intends by the general term brigans (from the Italian brigante, a lightly-armed foot-soldier), armed with polearm or lance and pavais; ribauds and pillards appear to have differed in being armed principally with knives or coutels (large daggers), and in battle such troops were normally to be found rushing among the unhorsed enemy men-at-arms stabbing and slashing at throats.

Of the four figures selected here, all wear vertically quilted aketons or baggy, sometimes apparently pleated tunics of which the bodices at least are similarly either stuffed or padded. Such quilted armour and other clothes in this source are principally shown in shades of blue (quite common among the less wealthy), red, pink, mauve, brown, buff, yellow and green, with both the leggings and the tunics or aketons frequently being parti-coloured. One figure in the ms., a man-at-arms, displays this parti-colouring to an extreme degree: his aketon is red on the right and mauve on the left, with a matching sleeve on the left but a green one on the right, whilst his right leg is mauve with a red boot and his left red with a white boot! Combinations worn by the infantrymen are usually more subdued. Of these 4 figures 41 wears a yellow aketon and hose which are mauve on the right leg and pinkish-red on the left; 42 wears a green tunic and brown leggings; 43 a red aketon; and 44 an aketon red on the left and green on the right, with red right leg and mauve left.

Other than in sieges shields are rarely shown in use by infantry in this source, and where they do appear they are more often than not bucklers such as that held by 41. Other details of their equipment worthy of notice are the helmet of 42 and the coif of 44. The helmet is clearly made up of a leather or stiff fabric foundation covered with overlapping iron scales, a few late-15th century Flemish and German examples of this sort of helmet having survived to the present day. The coif worn by 44 is probably of similar construction, but with small rectangular plates in place of the scales. This form of armour is depicted in a number of 14th and 15th century sources.



Next: 45. CROSSBOWMAN, 14th CENTURY in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1 by Ian Heath