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An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2
by Ian Heath


This figure differs considerably from the last. His arms and legs are protected by leather strengthened with metal splints and rivets, a popular form of armour in Germany from the late-13th century until c.1380. Even in René d’Anjou’s ‘Traité de la Formes et Devis d’un Tournois’ of 1447 it is related how avantbras and gardebras of cuirbouilli strengthened with 5 or 6 narrow splints ‘the width of a finger’ were worn in Brabant, Flanders, Hainault and ‘other countries towards Germany’. His foot-armour is similarly of rivet-reinforced leather, Claude Blair observing that the Germans ‘apparently had no great liking’ for mail sabatons.

Although he carries a heaume (with a crest that is unlikely to have been worn in action) the helmet he actually wears is a bascinet à brèteche, popular in Germany and Italy c.1340-70. This was a type of helmet in which the mail hood had an in-built nasal which could be hooked up to 2 studs on the brow of the helmet as shown in 105a. A form of visor, usually referred to today by its modern name of Klappvisier, evolved from this in Germany c.1360; this was hinged by the middle of its top edge to a vertical bar similarly attached by 2 studs on the brow of the helmet. 105b shows such a visor, from the tomb effigy of Konrad von Kronenberg (d.1372). 105c depicts a more unusual klappvisier from a Bohemian altarpiece of c.1380.

The type of armour depicted here also appeared in Italy, where it was introduced by German mercenaries; it is to be found in a large number of Italian illustrations of the second half of the 14th century.

[Based on the Effigy of Günther von Schwarzburg, German Knight, 1352AD. Sankt Bartholomäus, Frankfurt am Main.]

Next: 106. GERMAN KNIGHT, WALTHER BOPFINGEN d.1359 in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 by Ian Heath

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