How a man shall be armed for his ease when he shall fight on foot

c1450




Hastings Mss of miscellaneous tracts on chivalry
Archeologia 57, Vol. 1


Translated from the Middle English by Brian Price


Editor’s CommentaryWe believe the following text to be from the mid 15th century–the illumination that accompanies it is a standard illustration in books on arms and armour. 

There are a number of interesting points about the text. First, there are details on an “arming doublet” or pourpoint from the 15th century. This undergarment changed little during the high middle ages (14th – 15th c), the chief difference being in the length–it gradually shortened. Notice in the illustration how mail is used to reinforce the joints at the elbow, shoulder and hip. The text refers to the material being of “fustian,” lined with satin. Doubtless the satin differs from the modern fabric, and that it is said to be “cut full of holes.” Presumably this is for coolness’ sake.

Next the text speaks in detail about arming points, that the points are to be made of the same material made for crossbow strings–a kind of flax, perhaps? They are in someway coated, perhaps with wax, and tipped with some kind of tip. Later, in the list, it says that a combatant expecting to fight in the field should bring several “tresses” of arming points, indicating that they were not attached permanently to the garment, but this might have varied. Contemporary illustrations of the pourpoint clearly shows points permanently attached to the garment itself.

For his lower body he wears hose of worsted cloth, his knees augmented with bulwarks, reinforced materials to guard against chafing, the period answer to kneepads.

His arming shoes are described next, either fastened to the foot with or bearing points from which the sabaton is attached. I suspect the latter, having constructed several sets of sabatons.

The text also describes the order in which the pieces are to be attached, then gives an interesting list of goods that an appellant should bring to the challenge field. This comment suggests a judicial duel, but the list probably applies to any foot tournament. Briefly, he should bring what modern tourneyers bring–a pavilion, food, a chair and small table, plates, some rivets, a hammer and small anvil as well as weapons and a pennant. This piece makes for interesting reading; essentially it is a primer for period squires and the like to learn, as Ramon Lull intended, something of chivalry and knightly practices from books.

He shall have no shirt upon him except for a doublet of fustian lined with satin, cut full of holes. The doublet must be strongly built; the points must be set at the break in the arm in the front and back. To lace the gussets of mail must be sewn onto the doublet also at the break in the arm and at the underarm.

The arming points must be made of fine twine like that with which men make strings for crossbows. These points must have tips for lacing. And they must be waxed with leather-workers’s [cood?], such that they will neither stretch nor break. And he should wear a pair of hose made of worsted cloth. Around the knees should be wrapped ‘bulwarks‘ of thin blankets to reduce the chafing by the leg harness. He should wear a pair of thick shoes, provided with points sewn on the heel and in the middle of the sole to a space of three fingers.

 

To Arm a Man

First you must set the sabatons and tie them to the shoe with small points that will not break. And then the greaves and cuisses over the breeches of mail. Then place the taces upon his hips. And then the breast and backplates, the vambraces and rerebraces {the arm defenses}. And then the gauntlets. Hang the dagger on his right side, his short sword upon his left side in a round ring that it may be lightly drawn. And then put his cote upon his back. The bascinet follows, laced to the cuirass in front and back that it sits just so. And then his long sword in his hand, a small pennant bearing the figure of Saint George or Our Lady in his left hand. Now he is ready to take to the field.

 

What an Appellant shall bring to the field

A tent must be put in the field
Also a chair
Also a basin
Also five loaves of bread
Also a gallon of wine
Also a “messe” of meat or fish
Also a board and a pair of trestles to sit his meat and drink on
Also a broad cloth
Also a knife to cut the meat
Also a cup to drink from
Also a glass with drink made
Also a dozen tresses of arming points
Also a hammer and pincers and a bichorn
Also a dozen arming nails (rivets)
Also a spear, long sword, short sword and dagger
Also a kerchief to [hele] the visor of his bascinet
Also a pennant to bear in his hand during his avowing



 

How a man schall be armyd at his ese when he schal fighte on foote

Hastings MS. [f.122b]
Middle English Version
He schal have noo schirte up on him but a dowbelet of ffustean lynyd with satene cutte full of hoolis. The dowblet muste be strongeli boude there the poyntis muste be sette aboute the greet of the arme. And the b ste before and beyhnde and the gussetis of mayle muste be sowid un to the dowbelet in the bought of the arme. And undir the arme the armynge poyntis muste be made of fyne twyne suche as men make stryngis for crossbowes and they muste be trussid small and poyntid as poyntis. Also they muste be wexid with cordeweneris coode. And than they woll neythirrecche nor breke. Also a payre hosyn of stamyn sengill and a peyre of shorte bulwerkis of thynne blanket to put aboute his kneys for chawfygeof his ligherness. Also a payre of shone of thikke cordwene and they muste be frette with smal whipcorde thre knottis up on a corde and thre coordis muste be faste sowid un to the hele of the shoo and fyne cordis in the mydill of the soole of the same shoo and that there be between the frettis of the heele and the frettis of the myddill of the shoo the space of thre fyngris.

 

To arme a man

ffirste ye muste sette on Sabatones and tye hem up on the shoo with smale poyntis that wol breke. And then griffus and then quisses and the breche of mayle. And the tonletis. And the brest. And the vambras. And then glovys. And then hange his daggere upon his right side. And then his shorte swerde upon the lyfte side in a rounde rynge all nakid and pylle it oute lightli. And then putte his cote upon hos bak. And then his bascincet pynid up on two greet staplis before the breste with a dowbill behynde up on the bak for the make the bascinet sitte juste. And then his long swerde in his hande. And then his pensill in his hande peyntid of seynt George or oure lady to blesse him with as he gooth towarde the felde and in the felde.

 

The day that the Pelaunt and defaundaunt shal fighte what they shal have with hem in the felde

A tente muste be pight in the felde
Also a cheyre
Also a basyn
Also vj loves of breed
Also ij galones of wyne
Also a messe of mete flesshe or fisshe
Also a borde and a peyre of trestelis to sette his mete and drynke on
Also a borde clothe
Also a knyf for to cutte his mete
Also a cuppe to drynke of
Also a glas with a drynke made
Also a dosen tresses of armynge poyntis
Also an hamyr and pynsones and a bicorne
Also a smale nayles a dosen
Also a spere a longe swerde shorte swerde and dagger
Also a kerchif to hele the viser of his bascinet
Also a pensell to bere in his hande of his avowyre