Armour of the English Knight 1400 - 1450

1st February 2018
Armour of the English Knight 1400 - 1450 Image

About the Book

The result of fifteen years of research, Armour of the English Knight 1400-1450 represents the first part of a major study, in unprecedented detail, of the evolution of armour in England during the fifteenth century.

This book features many largely unknown visual and documentary sources which, when brought together here for the first time, reveal the existence of an English style of armour design.

Here we discover that English armour was different both artistically and technologically from the products of the great continental armour-producing centres. It was also perfectly suited to the combat requirements of English knights and men-at-arms in particular, who were famous throughout Europe for their highly distinctive dismounted tactics and their prowess when fighting on foot with the pollaxe, spear and longsword.

Rediscovering a Lost Style

Since not a single piece of armour which can be definitively proven to be English survives from the fifteenth century, the signature style of the work of English master armourers had to be reconstructed through the meticulous study of funerary effigies, over two hundred of which were examined during the project.

These life-sized, high-relief sculptures were made to be as true to the living appearance of their subjects as possible. In the case of an effigy of a member of the knightly class, this required the minutely detailed carved rendition, in alabaster or other stone, of a full harness of plate armour, with all its straps, buckles, rivets and hinges. This monument was meant to function as a visual statement for eternity, of who this person was and where he had belonged in the world; in some sense, the effigy actually took the physical place of the dead person after they were gone.

Far from being expressions of some generic concept of armour or workshop convention, many of the effigies of men in armour surviving in England and Wales today are highly individualised portraits, probably of real armours that once existed but which were lost or destroyed long ago.




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