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

[Based on a MS. similar to 'Chronicles' by Jean Froissart, Bruges, Belgium, c.1470-1475AD.
Artist: Loyset Liédet et al. BnF MS Français 2643
Battle of Crecy Battle of Auray Capture of Caen]

Although pictures from late editions of Froissart abound in modern works on the period, it should be borne in mind that the equipment portrayed is not contemporary with the Hundred Years' War at all but actually belongs to the period around 1465-85. The 3 figures depicted here have been selected as being representative of the innumerable variations of arms and costume to be found therein.

54 is a Genoese crossbowman from a picture of the Battle of Crécy. He wears a brigandine of which the body is grey and the skirt (of an unusual 'apron' shape at the front) is green with a gold fringe; the heart-shaped rivet heads are augmented by 2 mamelières, often repeated at the back over the shoulder-blades. Other than the complete plate arm-harness his only armour appears to be what can only be described as a pair of mail 'shorts', fairly commonplace in these illustrations; they may or may not be part of the arming doublet worn under the brigandine, the gussets of which show on the insides of the upper arm. His leggings are grey like the brigandine body, as is his fur or felt 'porkpie' hat, commonplace among foot-soldiers in continental mss. of the second half of the 15th century. Shoes are black, belt and scabbard dark brown and quiver grey.

55 is an English archer from an illustration depicting the Battle of Auray. His costume comprises a red puff-sleeved tunic, with a blue tabard-like surcoat with yellow edges worn over it with the sleeve-holes cut very deep at the sides. The v-neck is repeated front and back, as is the red cross. Both tunic and surcoat are of unseemly brevity, exposing the tightness of his grey-green hose round crotch and backside. His soft boots are light tan with red linings, his belt is brown, and the scabbard an off-white colour. He wears a characteristic sallet, with a red and yellow torse or wreath, a decorative turban-like roll of twisted cloth. The mail standard may imply that an haubergeon is worn under the tunic.

56 portrays one of the French captains of Caen at its fall in 1346. He wears one of the many variants of full armour associated with foot-soldiers in these mss., in this case comprising a yellow brigandine (with the French white cross front and back), plus arm and leg harness, gauntlets and visored sallet. His feet, however, are unarmoured, which is more often than not the case with foot-soldiers wearing leg-harness. The mail visible at his crotch will be part of a pair of mail shorts as described under 54. His sallet and the leather-fringed pauldrons and associated palettes are all shown yellow in the source, indicating that they are latten; other pictures similarly show arm or leg harness, gauntlets, bevors, gorgets, faulds or other pieces of latten armour being worn in conjunction with iron equipment. Helmet plumes of dyed ostrich feathers such as the red one worn here are not uncommon in these and many other sources, appearing from the late-14th century onwards.

Next: 57. ARMED PEASANT in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1 by Ian Heath