14th century fighting equipment

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The fighting equipment of a 14th century warrrior is described by recovered artefacts, manuscript images and contemporary references and depictions in sculpture.


Equipment

Arms

Armour

  • none (especially longbowmen although these would have at least a buckler.
  • aketon - vertically quilted and stuffed with wool and shaped to the waist after 1350. Soldiers might wear a gambeson that was sleeveless with a stiffened collar or one that was plain. Knee length with full sleeves.
  • mail hauberk or haubergeon - still worn but after the middle of the 14th century its length has shortened to just below hip level and with a dagged border with brass rings. Mufflers disappear by the end of the 1320's to be replaced by gauntlets.
  • pair of plates - developed from the armoured surcoat of a fabric or leather cover backed by rectangular plates and typically worn under a surcoat until the 1360's. Sometimes the plates would be on the outside.
  • chausses of mail - common until the middle of the century. Spain and Germany still seen them occasionaly at the end of the century.
  • breastplates - begin to appear after the middle of the century consisting of small plates for the shoulders and a large plate for the chest. By 1360 this plate extended to the upper abdomen and iron/steel hoops cover the lower torso. The breastplate was not common until after 1380. They could be covered in rich materials such as velvet.
  • pair of brigandines - developed in the last part of the century from about 1365 onwards.
  • jupon or coat armour - a shortened, tight padded form of the surcoat that is abandoned in England by the end of the century and in Germany is it lost after around 1360.
  • gamboised cuisses - common until about 1340, when they are replaced by cuisses of plates.
  • heater shield
  • small skull cap (cervilliere)- worn under a mail coif or great helm.
  • kettle helm (chapel de fer)- worn with of without a mail coif, although the number of plates that form the bowl decreases to two or (rarely) three. It might have a conical skull from about 1320.
  • great helm remains in use although after about the middle of the century its use remains primarily in tournaments. These are sometimes depicted with visors. This is worn with a padded coif which could sit either under or over a mail coif. It could also be worn over a basinet. In the last part of the century the helm top becomes more tapered.
  • guard chains - found on some helmets.
  • basinets - of three different types before the middle of the century although one managed to survive whereas the other fall away. A camail is attached and sometimes laced to the jupon. Visors were added and a globular klappvisier variant was popular in Germany around 1370. After 1380 this developed into the hounskull or basinet with a new removeable pivot. The very late 14th century sees the great basinet developed.
  • gauntlets - likely of leather reinforced with whalebone. Steel gauntlets with a short, flared cuff appear. Theses are sometimes covered with cloth. Gadlings are sometimes seen on the knuckles.
  • ailettes - flat diamond shaped, disc or square plates laced to the shoulder and made of leather or parchment which appear primarily to provide identification of a knight last until about the middle of the century. Germany appears to shun these.
  • poleyns - globular around 1340, and these are articulated to the cuisses by the 1370's and develop the heart shaped wings. Lower laminations appear by about 5 years later.
  • schynbalds - rare after 1310, being replaced by greaves
  • greaves - first appear in 1302 and two piece, hinged greaves are common by 1330 with external straps. These are shaped to the leg with an arched cut out for the instep and heel. Splint defences are still used.
  • rerebrace - appears as a gutter-like defence strapped to the upper arm from about 1320.
  • couter - cup-like and strapped to the elbow from about 1320. In the next decade they develop small, round wings.
  • besagews - suspended in front the armpit from about 1320, disappear around 1360 to reappear at the very end of the century.
  • vambraces - encloses the forearm in two plates from the late 1320's.
  • spaulders - small and laminated from about 1325 and by 1340 become attached to the rerebrace.
  • cuisses - beginning in 1340 as defences in the same manner as a coat of plates they then start to become plate defences about 1350. By 1370 they are single plates and only five years later have a hinged inside plate as well.
  • sabatons - plate defences for the feet shaped to look like the pointed poulain style shoes of the time, appear from about 1340.

Clothing

Misconceptions

  • double-bitted axes - not known
  • swords with elaborate basket-style hand guards - not known

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