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


This figure is from a woodcut which shows a unit of 10 archers and 9 pike- and voulge-armed men behind a row of stakes. He wears tall, gartered riding boots and spurs, but his costume is otherwise characteristic of the High Gothic period, comprising a short, tight-fitting jacket with tight hose which exaggerated the buttocks and genitals, the jacket usually with tight sleeves puffed at the shoulder (such padded shoulders being forbidden for archers in Charles the Bold's ordinances, which this man has obviously not read). The highly fashion-conscious Burgundian nobility, the trend-setters of 15th century Europe, wore such clothes made up in rich, heavily embroidered materials.

The equipment of Burgundian mounted archers comprised a bow, 30 arrows, a long sword and a dagger plus (officially) a uniform as described under 110. This particular figure wears a brigandine with studs arranged in the pattern of a St Andrew's cross, plus the predictable ubiquitous sallet. The use of the pointed stake was a practice copied from the English, probably dating back to 1423 when the allied Anglo-Burgundian army was jointly issued with instructions specifying that every archer (therefore including mounted archers) was to provide himself with such a stake. Philippe de Commynes, writing of Montl'héry, describes the Burgundian archers there resting 'with their boots off and with a stake driven into the ground before (each of) them. Commynes also makes the observation that archers 'should be poorly mounted, men who would not mind losing their horses or were not even provided with them.'
[Based on a print of Burgundian archers and footsoldiers, by Master WA of Bruges (active c.1465-85).]

See Burgundian mounted archers in Chronique de Charles VII by Jean Chartier, 1470-1480AD, BnF MS Français 2691
Next: 113. BURGUNDIAN INFANTRY ARCHER, in Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1 by Ian Heath