Arms and Armour of the
Crusading Era, 1050-1350
By David Nicolle
1 Gospel, Duchy of Brittany late 10th/11th centuries
(Bib. Munic, Ms. 8 f.5v, Boulogne, France)
The figure shown here has a great deal in common with those in the Bayeux Tapestry, which makes an 11 th-century date likely for this manuscript. The shield is, nevertheless, an early example of the large kite-shaped type.
2 Spearhead from northern France, 11th-12th centuries
(Musée National des Antiquitées, St Germain-en-Laye, France)
This almost unique spearhead includes most of the characteristics associated with a period before a widespread adoption of the couched lance. Though thick and substantial, it is also broad and includes flanges or wings. The latter feature was probably not an anti-penetration device, as sometimes stated, but is more likely to have reflected a versatile method of both thrusting and fencing with the spear.
3 Illustrated Bible, north France, early 11th century
(Bib. Munic, Arras, France)
The manuscript is archaic in both style and the military equipment it portrays. Here a man with an almost Carolingian type of large round shield thrusts overarm in an old-fashioned manner with a pennoned spear. His conical helmet might be of segmented construction and, most unusual of all, it seems to have a mail aventail, the only piece of mail in the picture. Such a helmet is otherwise unknown in France. The warrior could reflect an Eastern European - particularly Magyar (Hungarian) - style, or the manuscript could be partially based on a Byzantine original.
4A-B Carved capitals, Normandy, late 11th/early 12th centuries
(in situ church, Rucquerville, France)
These warriors are among the earliest surviving Romanesque figure sculptures in Normandy. They may be based upon conventional manuscripts, but nonetheless their shields are worthy of comment. These appear to be of a large round or oval form with bosses fastened by nails or rivets through lobes rather than a continuous rim.
5 'Fortitude', carved capital from Abbey church of Cluny, Duchy of Burgundy, 1088-1110
(Musée du Farinier, Cluny, France)
Here the figure of Fortitude wears a mail hauberk with a mail coif. Clearly the coif has a very early representation of an unlaced ventail hanging down on the wearer's chest, but the damaged carving is unclear in its details.
6 Seal of the City of Soissons, County of Soissons, early/mid-12 th century
(Archives Nationales, Paris, France)
The knight symbolising the City of Soissons wears typical northern French equipment of the period, including a conical helmet, a long-sleeved mail hauberk, a tall shield on a guige, a shield boss, and a broad, tapering, straight-quilloned sword. As no sword-belt is visible the weapon might have been thrust through a slit in the left hip of the hauberk.
7 Sword, France, с 1150-75
(P-R. Royer private collection, Paris, France)
This may be regarded as a typical north-west European weapon of the mid-12th century. Its blade tapers almost to a point, though the lack of a real point indicates that thrusting was still not a normal fencing technique in this part of Europe. Nevertheless, the long, slightly-curved quillons and the almond-shaped pommel show that considerable changes were taking place in 12th-century European swords.
8 Sword, probably French, c.1130-70
(private collection, ex-Oakeshott, Archaeology of Weapons)
Various aspects of this sword suggest a date slightly earlier than the preceding example. Its blade is less tapering and the tip blunter. The quillons are straight, although their down-turned ends are decorated with small animal's heads. The blade is also inscribed GICELINMEFECIT ('Jocelin made me').
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