Billmen - myth?

Moderator: Moderators

Vermin
Posts: 136
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:58 pm
Location: Goodrich

Post by Vermin »

Feel free to ignore / shout down as I know nothing about this period + not knocking any one etc etc

Just pondering -

From this thread I gather that Knights, MAA (being a professional soldier type with decent kit), and archers are a definite - and that the archers are by far the bulk of the troops

There is another category of possibly non-professional (+ not enough of a competent amateur to be an archer) - armed with a bill / pole arm, and probably not a great deal of armour

Could they have a role as a line of protection for the archers - i.e. somebody reasonably ‘expendable’ to act as a buffer between the enemy and your valuable archers + provide extra bods in dire need in the press. But not expected to walk away from it ?

No agenda or knowledge here - just pondering

Cheers - Thanks for reading

V.

User avatar
Fox
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2652
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:27 pm
Location: Cheshire

Post by Fox »

Vermin wrote:MAA (being a professional soldier type with decent kit)...

There is another category of possibly non-professional ... - armed with a bill / pole arm, and probably not a great deal of armour
Personally I think the expression man-at-arms in the context of most records just means infantry in all it's flavours. (I'm aware some units are more specifically described sometimes).

Professional soldier is probably the term that very few people fitted in the way that most people imagine it today.

And, on the other hand, all levels of soldiers appear to have been paid for service on some occasions.
And the indenture system probably means that even some people at the more full time end of soldiering probably served unpaid (in purely monetary terms).

It's complex.

Marcus Woodhouse
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 3337
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 8:35 pm

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

"It's complex" I once told a fella who wanted me to give him a potted history of the Troubles that if he understood what it was all about then he was missing the point.

Same thing here. :?
OSTENDE MIHI PECUNIAM!

User avatar
Colin Middleton
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31 pm
Location: Sheffield
Contact:

Post by Colin Middleton »

I suspect that you are correct about the MAA Fox, though we tend to use it to mean a knight (or equivalent).

Be careful on the indenturs front. All those that I've seen appear to be with gentlemen or nobles and require them to bring other people with them.
Colin

"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"

Image

User avatar
Fox
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2652
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:27 pm
Location: Cheshire

Post by Fox »

Colin Middleton wrote:Be careful on the indenturs front. All those that I've seen appear to be with gentlemen or nobles and require them to bring other people with them.
My understanding is that the indenture system (essentially, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours) worked at all levels, even if that was sometimes informally, and was in that regard simply a progression from the then defunct fuedal system.

Such that the men nobles brought with them may or may not be paid.

Alan_F
Post Centurion
Posts: 626
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 11:01 pm
Location: Grangemouth
Contact:

Re: ...

Post by Alan_F »

Brand wrote:Quote Medieval Pole Weapons 1287-1513 by Adrian Waite
ISBN 1 85804 179 1

'The polearm first appeared in European literature in 1287, but it's first recorded appearance on the European battlefield was in the hands of the Swiss at Moregarten in 1315.'
What about the Scots using spears under Wallace at Falkirk in 1298 or Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn in 1314?
I re-enact therefore I am

Embrace the future of Steampunk Goodness!

User avatar
bournio
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2008 9:46 pm
Location: Near Preston

Post by bournio »

Marcus Woodhouse wrote:if he understood what it was all about then he was missing the point.
I think that sums both things up quite nicely!
If you look generic you look like a few people, ok...

Marcus Woodhouse
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 3337
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 8:35 pm

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Hmm, I even managed to get an unintentional pun about pole arms in there as well. Damn but I'm good. :roll:
OSTENDE MIHI PECUNIAM!

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Post by gregory23b »

"Be careful on the indenturs front. All those that I've seen appear to be with gentlemen or nobles and require them to bring other people with them."

Yes, not only that but with a break down of what they were to be paid, the indenture was to the noble to hire such men as he had been contracted to source. It was a financial arrangement, not an obligation as such.

There is a really famous one somewhere, I will try and dig it up.

Ah, it is another Paston one. 1475, but for a foreign campaign.

"This endenture made the vij daye of Aprile the xvth yere of the reigne of Kyng Edward the iiij, betwixt the right high and mighty prince Rychard, Duc of Gloucestre, Constable and Admirall of Englond, on the on partie, and Edmond Paston, squyer, on that othyr partie, wyttenessith that the sayd Edmond ys reteyned and withholden with the sayd Duc to do him seruice of werre with the Kyng oure souuerayn lord now in his viage ouir the see for an hol yere at his spere, weell and sufficyently horsed, armed, and arrayed as it apperteyneth to a man of armes, and thre archers, well and sufficiently horsed, herneised, habilled, and arrayed as it apperteyneth to archers, takyng for hym-self xviij d. a daye and for euery archer vj d. by the daye, of the whiche wages the sayd Edmond hath reseyued for the first quarter of the sayd hol yere the daye of the sealing of these presentes, at whiche day the sayd Duc hath yeven knowleche to the sayd Edmond that he shal make moustres of hymself and hys sayd retenue at Portesdown in Hampshire the xxiiijty day of May next commyng or the same daye at any othyr plase vpon resounable warnyng. At that day and tyme the sayd Edmond byndeth hym by thise presentes to appere in hys propyr personne with his sayd retenue. And if it happen the sayd Edmond, aftyr the reseyte of his sayd fyrst paiement, to dicesse or be in suche sykenesse or disease that he may nat be able to come to the sayd moustresse in hys propyr personne, that thanne he shal fynd an able man in his sted with hys sayd retenue to performe his sayd seruise accordyng to the tenure of this endenture, or ellys to repaye to the sayd Duc that money by hym reseyued for hym and hys sayd retenue for the sayd quartere. And for the seconde quartere of the sayd yere the sayd Edmond shalbe payed by the sayd Duc of the wage of hym and of yche of his sayd retenue at the makyng of the mostres of hym and the same his retenue afore such comissioners as shal be deputed ther by the Kyng oure souuerayn lord, at wiche tyme shal begynne the terme of the sayd hole yere and nat affore. And aftyr the sayd moustresse and payement, with Goddes grase, to go to shyp at suche tyme as the Kyng and the sayd Duc shal comaunde theim. And for the othyr half of the sayd yere the sayd Edmond shalbe payed by the sayd Duc for hym-self and hys said retenue on the yondyr syd on the see, monethly in Englyshe money or in money there rennyng to the valu of Englysshe money, so all-waye that the same wages be payed with-in x days aftyr the end of eueryche of the sayd monethes or ell the sayd Edmond to be quited and discharged ayenst the Kyng and the sayd Duc of eny covenaunt specifeyd in these endenture, the same endenture nat withstandyng. And the sayd Edmond shal dvely and truely obeye al the Kynges proclamaciouns and ordinaunces and fulfylle the comaundment of the sayd Duc to his power, and shal make wacche and warde of hym-self and his sayd retenue frome tyme to tyme, whene and as ofte duryng the tyme aboue sayd as he ther-to shall dvly be warned and required by the sayd Duc or hys comiser. And in cas that any moustresse to be mad be-yond the see by the sayd Edmond of hys sayd retenue lakketh any of his nombre of the same othyrwyse than by dethe or sikenesse proued, thane the sayd wages of theim that so shal fayle shalbe rebated vp-on the payement to be made to the sayd Edmond frome tyme to tyme as the cas shall require. Also the sayd Duc shal haue the iijde parte of wynnynges of werre aswell of the sayd Edmond as the iijde of iijdz where-of iche of hys retenue shalbe answeryng vnto hym of there wynnynges of werre duryng the tyme aboue said, be yt prysoners, prayes, or othyr goodes or catalles what-soeuer thei be. And the sayd Edmond , or he or thay that shal so take suche prisoners or prayes, shal shewe vnto the said Duc with-in vj dayes aftire the so takyng aswell the names of the sayd prisoners as theire estate, degré, or condicioun, and the quantité and valu of the said gettynges bi estimacion, vpon paynne of forfacture of the sayd prysoners and wynnynges aboue sayd. Also the sayd Edmond shal haue almaner prysoners to hys propre vse that shal happe to be takyn by him or by ony of his sayd retenue duryng the tyme aboue sayd, except the iijde of iijdz aboue sayd, the Kynge oure souuerayn lordes aduersary, and all kynges and kynges sonnes, his aduersariers of Fraunce, and also all lieuetenauntz and chifteyns hauyng the sayd aduersariers powere, whiche shalbe and abyd prisoners to our sayd souuerayn lord, for the whyche he shal make resounable aggrement with the takers of theym, except also all othyre kynges, kynges sonnes, prynces, dukes, erles, and chyef capitaynes nat hauyng the sayd aduersariers power, whiche shalbe and abyde prisoners to the said Duc, for the whiche he shal make resounable aggrement with the takers of theim. And if it happen the sayd Duc with-in te sayd yere to dicesse, then the sayd Edmond and hys sayd retenue shal serue out the yere aboue sayd vndyr suche a capitaigne as the Kynge shal assyne and appoynt to haue the rule of hym and hys sayd retenue; and if the sayd Duc be takyn, hurt, or diseased with-in the sayd tyme so that he shal nat be able to do the Kynge seruise of werre, then the sayd Edmond and his retenue duryng the tyme of hys enprisounment, hurt, or disease shal serue oute the same tyme vndir his lyeuetenaunt or comyser. And that all these covenauntz aboue sayd by the sayd Edmond wele and truly to be obserued and kepte the same Edmond byndeth hym-self, his heires and executours to the sayd Duc in the somme of c li. sterlynges by these presentes. In wittenesse where-of the parties aboue sayd to thise present endentures enterchaungeably haue put to theire seales the day and yer aboue sayd. R. Gloucestre"

My bold bit, mainly because it shows the base wages of Edmond and his three man retinue, and we can see that their service included shares of any bounty, so the 6d a day for an archer, to presumably feed himself and his horse is not a great deal on its own. Apropos the occasional convo re how great 6d a day was, or not. Also note that the first quarter's pay was given up front.


The Pastons also have a second hand one, one of them gets a letter from Duke of Suffolk, who outlines the commission he has received, he then tells the Paston to get on with his bit, a trickle-down effect if you like. Not only that but the men that Paston had responsibility to raise had to be on an hour's standby, it was for mobilisation to head off some Scottish aggression, although De la Pole's letter does not go into any detail regarding payment.

Paston letter 803, can't find it online though.
middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
Fox
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2652
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:27 pm
Location: Cheshire

Post by Fox »

gregory23b wrote:Ah, it is another Paston one.
Isn't it always from the Paston Letters. :wink: :D

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Post by gregory23b »

Seems to be. Although I think there are others.

The Pastons are a huge mine of info, they seem to have letters and correspondence of almost every type imaginable:

Royal correspondence
Indentures
Draft court pleas
Letters from desperate tenants
Account notes
Inventories of all kinds of things; books, plate, items stolen after the assault on Caister, who died at Tewkesbury


I suspect England was not really called England but Paston World.
middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
Fox
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2652
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:27 pm
Location: Cheshire

Post by Fox »

I'm most fond of the ones that say:

The world is coming to end, civil war is rife, our neighbours are stealing our property and at any moment I expect to be homeless, penniless and possibly dead.

P.S. Please bring some saffron from London.

James Bretlington
Posts: 73
Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 5:29 pm
Location: Miami, Florida

Post by James Bretlington »

And people thought that kind of sang froid was Victorian in origin.

User avatar
lidimy
Post Knight
Posts: 1799
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 5:37 pm
Location: Flitting between the centuries.
Contact:

Post by lidimy »

gregory23b wrote:
I suspect England was not really called England but Paston World.
Or.... Norwich! :twisted: :lol:
'As long as you have a coif on, you're decent.' Image

DickiedeVere
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:47 pm
Location: London
Contact:

Post by DickiedeVere »

Having spotted this thread I thought I'd have a look through the Beauchamp Chronicle which is believed to have been written between 1483 and 1492. It was interesting to see how many images show polearms - about 15 excluding the tournament illustrations. Bills, spears, glaives, poleaxes and boar spears (the latter appear in a surprising number of illustrations). Battles seem to show the archers in the foreground with "billmen" in the background. However, "billmen" often appear as escorts for the nobles.
They were all drawn to the Keep; the soldiers who brought death; the father and daughter fighting for life; the people who have always feared it; and the one man who knows its secret

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Post by gregory23b »

Lidy, hardly, the Pastons had interests in Suffolk as well as web foot land.
middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
lidimy
Post Knight
Posts: 1799
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 5:37 pm
Location: Flitting between the centuries.
Contact:

Post by lidimy »

Sorry just trying to be funny! :oops:
'As long as you have a coif on, you're decent.' Image

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Post by gregory23b »

yers, so was I ;-) or have you really got webbed feet?
middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
lidimy
Post Knight
Posts: 1799
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 5:37 pm
Location: Flitting between the centuries.
Contact:

Post by lidimy »

Well... see the costumes section.. it may be the reason for my difficulties fitting hose! :roll:
'As long as you have a coif on, you're decent.' Image

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Post by gregory23b »

But look on the bright side, at least swimming is a no brainer.
middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

Dave Milne
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri May 23, 2008 12:21 pm
Location: Cupar, Scotland

Post by Dave Milne »

DickiedeVere wrote:Having spotted this thread I thought I'd have a look through the Beauchamp Chronicle
Can I just ask, where is it possible to view the Beauchamp Chronicle? Is there an online resource you can recommend?

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Post by gregory23b »

The BP as the title suggests is a chronicle, much of it not contemporaneous to the date it was produced. I uses its own time frame to describe earlier events and can't be relied upon to be an objective description of what men were doing in the early 15thc etc etc. Having said that, the images are really quite excellent, all in line art, with a witty later addition.


I can't find one listed as Beauchamp Pageant, other than the book, you might have to look at either purchase or library loan.

oxbow have it

http://www.oxbowbooks.com/bookinfo.cfm/ ... tion/Oxbow
middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Post by gregory23b »

Ok, any more this on the mythical billman? or shall we all meet again in say six months and start a new thread on it? we could then cut and paste the stuff from this one to it, for tradition's sake ;-)
middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
craig1459
Post Centurion
Posts: 646
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2005 7:06 am
Location: Derby
Contact:

Post by craig1459 »

DickiedeVere wrote:Having spotted this thread I thought I'd have a look through the Beauchamp Chronicle which is believed to have been written between 1483 and 1492. It was interesting to see how many images show polearms - about 15 excluding the tournament illustrations. Bills, spears, glaives, poleaxes and boar spears (the latter appear in a surprising number of illustrations). Battles seem to show the archers in the foreground with "billmen" in the background. However, "billmen" often appear as escorts for the nobles.
Yes just visited Shrewsbury museum which showed an image from this with a man bringing down a bill on the neck of a crouching figure, in the foreground. The bulk of figures in the background however were archers
die Behmen hinder iren bafosen ... stunden vest wie die mauren

Marcus Woodhouse
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 3337
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 8:35 pm

Post by Marcus Woodhouse »

Well i'd like to point out that the billman is strictly speaking a legend and not a myth. A myth uses a supernatural event (or events) to explain a natural occurance, typically in the abcence of scientific reasoning. A legend on the other hand may or may not have a basis in a factual occurance but is through the retelling exaggerated beyond it's original context. IE the ground is shaking therefore the gods of the earth are angry is a myth, there may have been a king arthur but he was nothing like the one in the stories, thats 'cos he's a legend, so. There were undoubtably men armed with bills and pther polearms but their importance may have been exagerated beyond their original context to a legendary status. 8)
OSTENDE MIHI PECUNIAM!

User avatar
Colin Middleton
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31 pm
Location: Sheffield
Contact:

Post by Colin Middleton »

I think that we've pinned down a few points in this season's bout. :wink:

We seem to have evidence for the 'billman' (as we currently understand them) in the 15th C.

We have no idea how he was referred to, though he was probably not called a billman.

We have no idea how he fought in England, though there are clues as to how they fought on the continent.

We STILL don't have enough archers on the field, especially relative to the number of billmen we have.

Did I miss anything?
Colin

"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"

Image

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Post by gregory23b »

Well it might help if we did away with the term 'billman', mainly because bill does mean a specific type of weapon and yet other pole arms were used with apparent frequency. Billman seems to pigeonhole things and then we see the 'logic' of having ranks of identically armed men. Whereas, the odd spear, glaive, langue de cow, pole axe etc seems as likely.

I have no idea what to replace it with as yet, for the purpose of "this season's bout" ;-) (nice one Colin)
middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
Allan Harley
Posts: 324
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2006 9:28 pm
Location: Plotting world dominoes
Contact:

Post by Allan Harley »

Lets call them weebles - coz they wobble but don't fall down :oops:
Away from the battle all are soldiers.

User avatar
Alan E
Posts: 327
Joined: Tue Jul 19, 2005 10:18 am
Location: Somewhere in Southern Wales now (unless elsewhere)

Post by Alan E »

Could they be armed men? Gasp! Not man at armes ! Oh no! - err maybe man of armes :P ?

Or (if armoured) harnessed men?

Spears? (No the people with bills will ignore "spears over here") ... how about 'Spears and bills' ?

:wink: Just ... William? :shock:
'till whispers fill the tower of memory...
The Exiles Company of Medieval Martial Artists: http://the-exiles.org.uk/

Now teaching Fiore's art in Ceredigion (Felinfach) - pm for details

User avatar
Fox
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2652
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 12:27 pm
Location: Cheshire

Post by Fox »

We use almost no period words or contexts.

We know what we mean when we say billman; what else matters?

Post Reply