15th century soldier fighting equipment

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The typical equipment of a man at arms in the 15th century would vary considerably on the length of time on campaign, the success of the particular unit he was associated with and also his rank within that unit.

Men at arms were typically more heavily armoured than levied troops.

This guide leans heavily towards an English depiction.



Equipment

Arms

Armour

  • iron cap or helmet - this might be a kettle helm, basinet, sallet or other similar type. The basinet fell out of favour by the mid 15th century to be replaced by the sallet. Heavily armed men at arms might sport a bevor in addition to their helmet or might wear an armet. They may be painted and have slogans written upon them, often with a religious theme.
  • padded jack and/or a pair of brigandines - very wealthy men at arms might wear a brigandine when travelling in hostile territory in case of attack. Splints or chains might be added to the arms of padded armour for additional defence.
  • mail standard (standart) - mail collar to protect the neck
  • mail shirt - issued and most often worn under a pair of brigandines. Sleeves to the forearm or elbow and torso to the upper thigh. Internal link diameter approximately 5-6 mm and a wire thickness of approximately 1.2 to 1.6 mm and of round drawn wire. Entirely riveted.
  • plate armour - very wealthy or successful men at arms might sport an entire harness of plate armour. Sections of armour might also be worn (eg a plackart, just arm harness etc). These might be scavenged from the battlefield, won in battle or purchased if the men at arms were successful. If scavenged the armour would likely not match the rest of his armour. This was not the armour of your typical soldier.

Clothing

  • hose - joined, wool hose of one colour.
  • shirt - linen and likely owned by the man and might be replaced by a pourpoint. If he was wearing a breastplate then the arming doublet would be worn instead.
  • pourpoint - sleeveless linen garment that served as an attachment point for hose for those not wearing a doublet
  • doublet - of wool. Might not be worn if a pourpoint was available.
  • hood - possibly in colours of his employer.
  • livery coat - May or may not have sleeves. Typically wool in the colours of his employer but not always. If a livery coat was not issued, some other form of livery was usually present to identify the him.
  • turnshoes - typically ankle boots, possibly longer. He might wear long, riding boots with spurs if he was mounted.

Modern Misconceptions

Ordinance of Bohain en Vermandois

Charles the Rash of Burgundy in 1472 issued specific requirements for professional soldiers.

  • hand gunner - sleeved mail shirt, mail or plate neck defence, a sallet and breastplate, sword, dagger and his hand gun
  • archer - brigandine over an aketon, splints for arms, a gorgerine or standard, a sallet, bow, long dagger
  • pikeman - padded jack, right arm defence, sallet, a targe and pike.

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