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Thread: Spaulders and pauldrons

  1. #1
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    Spaulders and pauldrons

    Hi,
    I know this is more appropriate to the armour forum, but I also know there are a lot of guys here with historically accurate harness and who know their stuff on the subject of armour, and fight in it.

    Recently I was reading the tournament rules of Rene d'Anjou and was reminded of his advice on what type of arming doublet and armour to wear for the blunt sword & club tournament (bearing in mind that this is tournament armour, and he contrasts it to field armour - for example he says normal field armour is fine for the legs).

    He makes some statements that I have problems with, and some that in principle make sense - he says that you should wear additional padding in your doublet on your arms, shoulders and back - this is fine. What puzzles me is that he says this extra padding should be 'four fingers thick'.. That's pretty damn thick, and wouldn't fit under the arm harness he illustrates unless it is very loosely padded and can squash a lot, like a duvet or pillow..

    This got me to thinking - I have seen references here and there to extra padding being worn under pauldrons: can anyone tell me more about this?
    And off the back of that question, does anyone think extra padding was located under the spaulders of late-14thC/early-15thC armour, or on the shoulders of the aketon/arming doublet?

    Lastly, aside from the reference to wrapping 'blankets' around the knees under the poleyns in 'How a man shall be armed', does anybody else know any other references or representations of padding of any sort being put over the hose and under the leg harness?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  2. #2
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    I haven't read the work you cited, but I have seen pauldrons in the Museum of Art in Philadelphia that had padding attached to them. the padding was made of a velvet like cloth (keep in mind I had to view through a glass case and didn't actually handle the peice). It seemed to be more to keep the metal pauldron from rubbing the metal breastplate. The padding was attached with rivets along the entire edge. The cloth pad extended maybe half an inch beyond the rolled edge of the armor and was about 1/4 inch thick. I have made 2 sets of pauldrons with padding done in a similar fashion. You can't get too crazy with the thickness, though, or you won't be able to raise your arms over your shoulders as there will not be room for the padding as the piece articulates.

    I agree with you that four fingers seems thick. Could they have had arm harnesses in this tourament armour with larger sizes to accomadate the extra padding? I know that my partner Chris got his gambeson from one of the places on line. It is alot thicker than the garments I make for use with plate. I had to make a special set of arms for him to use. You may be right about the "squashability" of the padding, though. Thickness is a combination of padding material and the width of the quilting. A 2" row is softer than a 3/4" quilted row of the same thickness. I once hand stuffed a jacket that thick. It was so thick it could stand up on its own. I couldn't bend my arms in it, but you could wail away until your arms got tired and I wouldn't feel a thing. Gave me an appreciation for cloth armor, and I learned about the limits of stuffing jackets.

    For the knee, check Oakenshot's "A knight and his Armor." There is a good illustration and text of exactly what you described.

  3. #3
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    I *think* Oakeshott got that tex from 'How a man shall be armed'.

    As for the arm harness in Rene d'Anjou's tournament book - it doesn't look especially fat in the pictures - he shows two types, one of cuir boulli and one of steel, but they both look the same diameter as a standard arm harness.

    Matt

  4. #4
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    I *think* Oakeshott got that tex from 'How a man shall be armed'.
    I think you're right. That's probably why it sounded so similar.

    Sorry i couldn't help. I spent a few months making some padded pauldrons and got to actually see some real ones and thought it might interest you.

  5. #5
    A very small correction Matt - the first advice says "three fingers" ("de troys dois") rather than four:

    "en quelque façon de harnoys de corps que on vueille tournoyer, est de nécessité sur toute rieus, que ledit harnoys soit si large et si ample que on puisse vestir et mettre dessoubz ung porpoint ou courset; et fault que le porpoint soit faultré de troys dois d'espez sur les espaules, et au long des bras jusques au col, et sur le dos aussi, pourceque les coups des masses et des espées descendent plus voulentiers ès endrois dessus dis que en autres lieux."

    "in whatever type of harness you wish to compete, it is necessary that the harness be roomy enough to allow you to wear a pourpoint or corset underneath. The pourpoint must be padded to three fingers' thickness on the shoulders and the length of the arms up to the neck, and also on the back, because the blows of maces and swords fall more frequently on these places than anywhere else. "

    Then the writer goes on to discuss the way they run tournaments in the Germanic countries, where they use four fingers of cotton stuffed padding: "grosses de quatre dois d'espez et remplies de couton"

    Of interest to me is that according to these guidelines, tournament competitors wore extremely heavy padding for protection and lots of armour too. The writer comments:

    "Et quant tout cela est sur l'ome, il semble estre plus gros que long, pourquoy me passe de plus avant en parler. "

    "And when all this is on a man, he looks wider than he is tall, which is why I shall speak of it no further. "

    The implication seems to be that the competitors were so padded that they looked a little ridiculous (hence the writer chooses not to dwell on that). If that were indeed the case, then the contemporary paintings of tournaments that we see do not depict what people actually looked like when competing in tournaments, but portray idealized versions of them. This would be in keeping with medieval artistry.

    Shoulder armour that would fit over four fingers deep of padding would have to be VERY large in size. But why not maximize safety? They were fighting with rebated steel after all. And presumably with so much padding and armour they could comfortably fight full contact.

    I know what you mean about the drawings of armour in the book, but it is not drawn beside a human arm, so perhaps it was much larger than it looks?

    In our modern medieval tournaments it is noticeable that we all wear as little padding as possible so as to try to most closely resemble the slim and finely contoured competitors depicted in medieval iconography. But according to Renee's book, safety was more important than how you looked. If nothing else it lends support to those who compete in WMA with large amounts of padding! (Not to mention supporting the use of swords half an inch thick and helmet grills)!

    Regards
    Colin

    ********************
    Colin Hatcher
    Instructor
    Schola Saint George
    www.scholasaintgeorge.org

    ********************

  6. #6
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    Thanks for that Colin and Nate -

    Colin, I think it's important to draw a line between this 'special case' for tournaments, and arming for a duel or war though - bare in mind that Rene is really only talking about a specific type of club-fest fought on horseback, and the fact that he has to describe specifically these different protections and accentuate the thickness of the padding to me shows that it was far from normal - ie. it was different enough from what was normal that it required description and explanation.

    The swords for this type of tournament are a good model IMO of what reenactors who bash each other's armour should use - it would be safer than a simply blunted sword and you'd be able to thrust safely. If it worked in the 15thC then.....

    Matt

  7. #7
    Hello Matt:

    Yes I do take your point re: the tournament described is on horseback, not to mention fighting with maces! On the other hand, what I like about Renee's book is that it tells us that they actually CARED about safety, and that safety was more important than looking like they were on a medieval battlefield.

    I see this very often in medieval events. We hold a medieval tournament but then we dress so as to resemble medieval people in a WAR. Weapons have to look like they would if we were on a battlefield. Armour has to look like we were on a battlefield. And often the rules of engagement simulate battles rather than tournaments.

    In Renee's book they are using a rebated fake sword, one finger thick and extremely blunt at the end. Frankly it looks like a plank of wood. I bet no one said back then "Oh but that is not a real sword and you can't possibly gain any swordfighting experience unless you fight with real sharp swords." Likewise, when someone at one of Renee's tournaments showed up in perforated body armour, (perforated for lightness), I bet no one said "Oh you cannot compete in our tournament because you don't look "medieval" enough. That's not what is worn on the medieval battlefield..."

    Someone once said "If Chippendale were alive today he would be building furniture out of chipboard." Likewise, I think if Renee's medieval tournament fighters were alive today, they would be wearing ice-hockey or lacrosse armour and ultralight fibreglass helms...

    Kind regards
    Colin

  8. #8
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