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Thread: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

  1. #1
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    Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    Playing Pendragon all the time has made me interested in Norman history and Norman knights in particular. Know I wonder if any of you Gents can tell me more of Norman armour, swords and shields? Pictures are very welcome.

    Thanks all,
    Rob

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    Re: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    Originally posted by R. G. Peterson
    Playing Pendragon all the time has made me interested in Norman history and Norman knights in particular. Know I wonder if any of you Gents can tell me more of Norman armour, swords and shields? Pictures are very welcome.

    Thanks all,
    Rob
    I don't know too much about Normans, but I think I know enough to answer this question (and anyone is welcome to correct me). For armor, they mainly wore a mail shirt, ofttimes with mail leggings and gloves, with a conical helm and nasal bar. For armaments, mostly a simple cruciform sword (I don't remember what Oakshott called this) with straight quillons and round pommel. Some Normans carried bows of some sort, too. As for shields, they carried what is known as a "kite" shield, which, to me, looks like and upside-down teardrop.

    A great place to look at pictures of Norman arms and armor is the Bayeux (sp?) tapestry, which was made when William the Conquerer conquered England.

  3. #3
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    Re: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    Originally posted by R. G. Peterson
    Playing Pendragon all the time has made me interested in Norman history and Norman knights in particular. Know I wonder if any of you Gents can tell me more of Norman armour, swords and shields? Pictures are very welcome.

    Thanks all,
    Rob
    Hi.

    I belive they looked something like this.
    (picture from arms&armor cz)

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    Re: Re: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    Originally posted by Geoff Freeman


    I don't know too much about Normans, but I think I know enough to answer this question (and anyone is welcome to correct me). For armor, they mainly wore a mail shirt, ofttimes with mail leggings and gloves, with a conical helm and nasal bar. For armaments, mostly a simple cruciform sword (I don't remember what Oakshott called this) with straight quillons and round pommel. Some Normans carried bows of some sort, too. As for shields, they carried what is known as a "kite" shield, which, to me, looks like and upside-down teardrop.

    A great place to look at pictures of Norman arms and armor is the Bayeux (sp?) tapestry, which was made when William the Conquerer conquered England.


    Take as look at christain Fletchers site.he has a good photo of a Norman harness he put together.........
    http://www.christianfletcher.com/


    look under photos for the norman harness.
    "virtute et armis"

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    Re: Re: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    Originally posted by Jens Larsson


    Hi.

    I belive they looked something like this.
    (picture from arms&armor cz)
    There should be a picture, but ....i didnīt succed this time either.
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    Re: Re: Re: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    Originally posted by StephenF




    Take as look at christain Fletchers site.he has a good photo of a Norman harness he put together.........
    http://www.christianfletcher.com/


    look under photos for the norman harness.
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    "virtute et armis"

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    Re: Re: Re: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    Originally posted by Jens Larsson


    There should be a picture, but ....i didnīt succed this time either.
    I did!! yes.

  8. #8
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    For period depictions of Norman knights, check out the Bayeux tapestry. It shows the Battle of Hastings (1066). It can be viewed online here:

    http://hastings1066.com/
    Jay
    Constant And True

  9. #9
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    There are some very interesting things going on in the borders of the tapestry--sub-plots, as it were.

    My favorite is in "Part 7" at Jay's site. Lower border to the left.
    Sikandur~~Aim Small, Miss Small

  10. #10

    Re: Re: Re: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    Originally posted by Jens Larsson


    There should be a picture, but ....i didnīt succed this time either.
    That's not a bad kit. A few things though. For a typical Norman miles of the 11th century, the maille leggings are a bit too early, although some of the wealthier magnates like Duke William may have been employing maille leggings, tied around the back of the calf by the mid to late 11thC. Longer maille hauberks (reaching to the wrists, or even with early mittens) and maille chausses/ leggings became more prevalent during the 12th century, although the poorer knights, serjents and soldiers often would have had to make do with the older, earlier style hauberk.

    And it looks as if this figure's kit, and the CF one may have a seprerate maille coif, which would be very early for the 11thC. At this time the maille coif was usually integral to the hauberk (the knee and elbow length maille coat). Nevertheless, in Dr Nicolle's Osprey Military book on "The Normans" (Elite 9), the illustrator Angus Mcbride displays in one of his colour plates a Norman/ Neapolitan Infantryman dated to 1100 with a seperate maille aventail (i.e maille attached to the bottom brim of his nasal helmet), which while not a new idea (similar aventails were featured on earlier Saxon and Vendel helmets) had largely gone out of fashion again in Western Europe until the 12th century.

    With regard to the Bayeux tapestry, debate still ranges over what the square shapes on the chests of the Normans are. the most convincing (and sensible) theory I've heard is that this is a form of ventail that can be drawn up around the neck or chin (and tied or hooked in place) to protect the neck and lower face when action is imminent.

    The sword of this era was usually Oakeshott's type X, or XI (i.e. a broad, double edged blade with a long, single fuller, straight or slightly downcurved cross and tri-lobbed, brazil nut or round pommel). The XII is an early possibility for the 11th century, and definitely by the 12thC.

    By the mid 11thC the shield for the typical Norman, whether infantry or cavalry was the long, round topped, V bottomed "kite" or tear dopped type illustrated. Older fashioned round shields seem to have held on longer in Saxon England, Scandinavia and Germany, all areas with strong traditions of infantry, but by the late 11th and especially by the 12th century the kite shield seems to have been widely popular by both infantry and cavalry (with good reason IMO, since it affords excellent protection in combat, whether single or formation). Variations on the kite include a flat bottomed version popular in Norman controlled Sicily and Italy, and the later 12thC flat topped kite shields that paved the way for smaller "Heater" styles during the 13thC.

    The rest of the kit looks ok though. As does CF's (so long as the caveat about the early seperate maille coif is kept in mind).

    One of the best Living history groups, kit-appearance wise is Milites Normannorum in the US, but their site seems to be down, as does the site for the "Normans of the Sun", an Italian group. Some others of interest:

    http://www.conquest.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/

    http://www.debec.org.uk/

    http://www.essentialnormanconquest.com/

    http://www.jjp.org.uk/

    http://www.regia.org/

    http://www.angelcynn.org.uk/

    http://www.normanbib.org/

    http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homep...ert/norman.htm

    http://www.arts.adelaide.edu.au/pers...xTapestry.html

    HTH R.G.!
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    Last edited by William Carew; 09-28-2002 at 07:48 PM.

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    Re: Re: Re: Re: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    William,

    Your information on the Norman knight is IMPRESSIVE. I am putting together kit for a LATE 13c english knight. any help in a description would be great. I am aware of Circa 1256 and have found it helpful. I am in need of shoes/boots for weraring with armor and cant seem to find any. Your assistance in describing complete kit would be helpful to me and im sure interesting to others.


    Thank you,
    Stephen
    "virtute et armis"

  12. #12

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Arms and armour of an 11th century Norman knight...

    Originally posted by StephenF
    William,

    Your information on the Norman knight is IMPRESSIVE. I am putting together kit for a LATE 13c english knight. any help in a description would be great. I am aware of Circa 1256 and have found it helpful. I am in need of shoes/boots for weraring with armor and cant seem to find any. Your assistance in describing complete kit would be helpful to me and im sure interesting to others.


    Thank you,
    Stephen
    Thank you Stephen. Unfortunately I don't have much to add if you you've been to the excellent 1256 site (if it's the one I'm thinking of, that does the Baron's War?). Bear in mind that there is much we still don't know about early to high medieval material culture, so treat the following with caution.

    In terms of late 13thC armour, you could still find everything from conical helmets with or without nasal (for footmen) to kettlehats (quite common apparently), skull caps, greathelms and very early bascinets. For the body head to toe maille was the armour of choice for the wealthy, augmented by early style or proto-'Coat of Plates' (COPs) for the later part of the century.

    Hardened leather armour appears too, but mostly in the form of augmentation (i.e greaves, knees, vambraces, elbows, gauntlets, espaulders etc) rather than as a standalone. A surcoat is almost a given if you are a man at arms of any standing (and even common soldiers are increasingly being issued with distinguishing livery or items of indentification).

    For the less well off (or as a lighter alternative for a man at arms) a good gambeson served very well for the infantry. You could also consider something more exotic, such as a scale hauberk (which appears quite often in period artwork).

    Shields could be round or flat topped kite (the old fashioned round topped kite still made an appearance now and then) types for infantry, but for a man at arms in your period a medium to small 'classic' heater shield was the norm by now.

    Oakeshott sword types X and XI with brazil nut or round pommels are still common in the thriteenth century, but by now the XII is also popular and you might even see an XIV around. Maces start becoming more common, as do early hand and a half "Swords of War" (especially in Germany).

    Polearms are starting to diversify and in the hands of well trained bands, are very capable of holding off knightly cavalry. Crossbows are the missile weapon of choice, although the English under Edward I are making much use of the famed Longbow of the Welsh.

    I am far from expert in this though, so if you want better and more reliable and detailed information, especially on armour, I suggest posting this on the Armour forum, where Bob Reed and Erik Schmid both post.

    HTH!

  13. #13
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    Just two things. Is there any actual evidence that the separate mail coif was not used in the mid-11th century? In fact there are at least a few definites and several possibles shown on teh Bayeux Tapestry. I think this might be a case of "everybody knows", rather than something that has been subjected to strenuous proof. Certainly, I find it unlikely that evolution would go in reverse - it is more difficult to make a coif integral with a helm than a separate one, and one would think that this would have been the later development. From at least one statue I've seen, the form of the coif seems to have been of a different pattern in the 13th century than the simple hood one usually thinks of.

    Otherwise I fully agree with William Carew's comments.

    Regarding the "square" of armour on the chest, see my article at www.geocities.com/egfrothos/Bib1.html

    Oh, and if you want to see lots of Normans, see http://www.geocities.com/egfrothos/Hastings2000b.html


    Steven Lowe.
    Last edited by Steven Lowe; 10-19-2002 at 05:37 AM.

  14. #14
    Originally posted by Steven Lowe
    Just two things. Is there any actual evidence that the separate mail coif was not used in the mid-11th century? In fact there are at least a few definites and several possibles shown on teh Bayeux Tapestry. I think this might be a case of "everybody knows", rather than something that has been subjected to strenuous proof. Certainly, I find it unlikely that evolution would go in reverse - it is more difficult to make a coif integral with a helm than a separate one, and one would think that this would have been the later development. From at least one statue I've seen, the form of the coif seems to have been of a different pattern in the 13th century than the simple hood one usually thinks of.

    Steven Lowe.
    Hi Steven! Actually I think we agree more than otherwise. I was careful not to rule out the seperate aventail OR coif for the 11thC, because it was by then an old idea. In the past though we HAVE been led to believe that for the Normans the integral maille coif was more common (or 'in fashion') than the seperate one at this time, and this may be where the problem lies.

    As to coif (seperate) vs aventail (attached to helmet brim) in the chain of development, who knows? Maille aventails were apparently attached to the brims of Saxon (e.g. Coppergate) and Vendel (e.g. Valsgarde) helmets well before the 11thC, and then there's the Gjermundbu from the 10th, so the idea was not new.

    In any event we don't know as much about this as we'd like, and when some of the leading experts on maille like Erik D. Schmid can't tell these things for certain, amateurs like me are in an even more precarious position . Caveat Emptor!

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