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Arms & Armour Imports 1480-81

Posted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 3:50 pm
by John Waller
I have finished my number crunching on the Petty Custom Accounts 1480-1481 with respect to what I regard as imports of military equipment. It may give a picture of what types of kit were in use around this time and what we may under/over represent in WOTR period impressions.

Your thoughts...



Arms & Armour Imports to London 1480-1481


Mail Armour

Gorgets 145
Sleeves 110 pairs
Gussets 80
Faulds 63
Habergeons 58
Aprons 58
Falls 12
Flaps 7
Breeches 2
Hood 1
Brace 1



Helmets
Sallet 202
Archer's Sallet 180
Steel Bonnets 95
Helmets 3
Steel Skull 1

Total 481

Leather coverings for sallets 4



Body Armour
Gorgets 446
Splints 221
Brigandines 150
Leg Harness 57
Vambraces 35 pair
Complete Harness 33
Breastplates 25
Corslet 22
Half Vambraces 18 pair
'Dutch' Gorgets 5
Bevor 5
Arm Plates 4
Shoulder Plates 4
Cuirasses 2
Gardbrace 1
Gauntlets 1 pair



Hand Weapons
Daggers 1329
Swords 545
Hangers (inc blades) 30
Spear Heads 6
Bills 4
Hafts (for pole arms?) 300
Sword Scabbards 200


Missile Weapons
Bowstaves 12500+
Guns 2
Gun Stones 2500
Gunpowder 100lb
Crossbows 29
Crossbow windlass 1
Crossbow Shafts 60

Horse Armour
Flanchards 252
Chamfron / Head Armour 9
Neck 1


Apologies for the tabulation!

Posted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:27 pm
by craig1459
Leather coverings for sallets?

Posted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:45 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Maybe they refered to the spider inside the helm as a covering?

Posted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:45 pm
by Zachos
waterproof bag?

Posted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:20 pm
by guthrie
Covering your nice shiny helmet in leather means you won't cook quite so quickly.
Interesting to note many more brigs than breastplates. Would this fit the "more archers with more archers brigandines" idea?

Not to mention 12,500 bowstaves. Thats a lot.
A lot of plate gorgets as well, I wonder why.

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 12:13 am
by StaffordCleggy
Interesting to see that only 5 bevors are mentioned.
Maybe we are way over representing those but i can't see that changing soon. Might not be the prettiest teeth in Christendom but i want them in my head, not on Bosworth Field! :lol:

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:10 am
by Fox
guthrie wrote:Not to mention 12,500 bowstaves.


The more I talk to archers who seem to actually understand medieval archery, the more I get the impression that bows were essentially disposable.

It makes sense; what is an archer going to do with a bow when the arrows run out; drop it and get stuck in probably.

That implies you might have many more bow staves than archers.

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 8:13 am
by Fox
StaffordCleggy wrote:Interesting to see that only 5 bevors are mentioned.
Maybe we are way over representing those but i can't see that changing soon. Might not be the prettiest teeth in Christendom but i want them in my head, not on Bosworth Field! :lol:


Be cautious.
We have a modern differential between gorget and bevoir, that might not be so black and white back in the day.

I'd be interested in whether the physical or illustrated evidence matches.

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:21 am
by John Waller
Note also only one pair of gauntlets and no plackarts, unless they are called something else(?).

I agree with Fox in that we need to apply caution in assuming what we call something is what they would have called it, but most seems self explanatory.

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:29 am
by Laffin Jon Terris
guthrie wrote:Interesting to note many more brigs than breastplates. Would this fit the "more archers with more archers brigandines" idea?



I've never held with the specific term "archers brigandine", the only evidence (surviving examples) for side opening brigs are dated 1490 onwards.

With regard to the import lists, we do also have armourers in England producing various items, not full harnesses but definately gauntlets, brigandines and helmets.

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:55 am
by Jim
It's important to remember this list of imports is simply the stuff that was needed to either replace broken/worn/lost items or to supply new kit as required.

It doesn't tell us what kit was already in a functional state and in use in England at the time.

For instance, the fact only one pair of gauntlets is mentioned, to my mind, implies that everyone already had usable gauntlets, rather than no-one used them. Similarly, only two guns are mentioned.

I'd be more inclined to look at muster rolls and their kit lists than import inventories if you're trying to get a picture for which troops had what kit, but nonetheless this item does give a lot of interesting information. I had no idea we imported so many bows, it's not like we had a lack of trees or bowyers is it?

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:27 am
by StaffordCleggy
I was under the impression that the best bow stave was of Italian Yew, & that English Yew had a tendency to grow twisted & knotty.
I've also heard people say that Yew was grown in Italy for the bow market & that young boys were employed (family?) to pluck off the side shoots from the sapling ensuring it grew straight, no primary evidence for this to hand though.
'If' this is the case then it would make sense that we were importing so many bow staves.

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:33 am
by Jim
StaffordCleggy wrote:I was under the impression that the best bow stave was of Italian Yew, & that English Yew had a tendency to grow twisted & knotty.
I've also heard people say that Yew was grown in Italy for the bow market & that young boys were employed (family?) to pluck off the side shoots from the sapling ensuring it grew straight, no primary evidence for this to hand though.
'If' this is the case then it would make sense that we were importing so many bow staves.


Only to chuck 'em away on the battlefield.....?

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:51 am
by bournio
Yeah, English yew is terrible! though Witch Elm would've been around, and that makes nice bows!

It doesn't say whether the bows are finished, so maybe they are unfinished staves so bowyers in the uk finish them?

it's just me sticking my oar in!

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:52 am
by John Waller
Jim wrote: I had no idea we imported so many bows, it's not like we had a lack of trees or bowyers is it?


Jim,
Most bow timber was imported by this time, domestic timber was inferior to itallian and spanish yew and in short supply. The imports are of bowstaves, they would be made into finished bows here. The import lists also show a number of bowyer's knives.

Agree with comments about domestic production and that imports may just be filling gaps in demand. Would that we had a substantial number of muster lists!

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 11:31 am
by Ben_Fletcher
John Waller wrote:Note also only one pair of gauntlets and no plackarts, unless they are called something else(?).


I've always had Plackarts worn over jacks as a historical no no, I don't think i have ever seen a picture where they are worn without some kind of upper body armour as well, e.g. breastplate or brig

Perhaps they come as a complete set in the inventory?

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:51 pm
by StaffordCleggy
Damn sure i have a pic of a plack worn over a jack somewhere in one of my books - off to Skipton Castle now but i'll try & dig it out when i get home on Sunday.

Posted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:11 pm
by guthrie
Jim wrote:For instance, the fact only one pair of gauntlets is mentioned, to my mind, implies that everyone already had usable gauntlets, rather than no-one used them.

I think Mr terris' idea is better- that gauntlets were probably made in england more easily. But now I need to trawl through armourers records from the UK. Too much to look up and not enough time.

Posted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 8:09 am
by Phil the Grips
or, to put it another way, were gauntlets generally not worn that much,other than with harness? More of a modern safety need/reenactment convention than a requirement of a historical battlefield?

Certainly hand protection was not at all widespread before or after this period.

Re: Arms & Armour Imports 1480-81

Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 5:57 pm
by Colin Middleton
John Waller wrote:Mail Armour
Faulds 63
Aprons 58
Falls 12
Flaps 7
Brace 1


I wonder what these items are?

It's also interesting to see more mail sleeves than gussets.

Posted: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:16 pm
by Allan Harley
John, excellent research can I use it for our newsletter?

Couple of points to ponder
Bills/spears - is this because they can be made in this country so don't need to import? but can't get the staves so do import?

Next does the number of bow staves indicate how expendable they were in comparison with others

Also this is for a year when relatively peacefull, what was it like 1450's and late 1460's?

Posted: Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:30 pm
by gregory23b
John IIRc there are some bascinets in that petty accounts list.

A bow is almost at breaking point, as is the string, it is no coincidence that when you read notes for purchase of bows the amount of strings ordered at the same time is many times the amount of bows.

12500 is not a lot if you view them as items that have a short shelf life

"Certainly hand protection was not at all widespread before or after this period."

Yep, hard to find anything on 'normal' soldiers' hands, a gauntlet is not practical for shooting in.

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 10:12 am
by Marcus Woodhouse
Cleggy, the Chronicles of Berne which show the wars between the Confederacy and the Burgundians has some, I've spotted crossbowmen (both mounted and dismounted) in jacks and plackarts, sometimes with a bevor to, and handgunners. Most of the archers are in jacks alone or wearing mail shirts with a brig and a plackart, there's also what might be a man at arms with a poleaxe or a halbredier who has been shot who seems to be wearing a plackart over mail. My favourite is the guy with a flame pot who looks like he's wearing a short sleeved maile shirt, a sleevless jack, a brigadinne and a plackart, there's a man who values personnal safety.

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 2:48 pm
by Ariarnia
Corslet 22


Whats one of these if it isn't maille?

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:01 pm
by Nigel
Ariarnia wrote:
Corslet 22


Whats one of these if it isn't maille?


back and breastplates

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:22 pm
by Ariarnia
Solid metal panels?

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 5:08 pm
by Nigel
Ariarnia wrote:Solid metal panels?


given the section theya re lsited in i would say so :D

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 9:43 pm
by Ariarnia
Then what are they in Gerald of Wales?

I have always heard them translated in to short chain shirts and given the period they wouldn't likely be plate.

Do you think it a case of same word different item?

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:31 am
by Nigel
yes in that they are probably leather ones which is where the solid body defence thing started

leather cuirass leading to corslett to coat of paltes etc etc

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 9:11 am
by Brother Ranulf
Gerald of Wales is very specific about Welsh armour: "They use light weapons which do not impede their quick movements, small leather corselets, handfuls of arrows, long spears and round shields . . .".

The fact that most Welsh troops wore no mail is emphasised several times in his "Description of Wales" and "Journey Through Wales", as was the fact that they were quite willing and able to stand against armoured knights despite their lighter kit.Henry II wrote to Manuel Comnenus regarding the Welsh: " . . .who are so brave and untamed that though unarmed themselves, they do not hesitate to do battle with fully-armoured opponents." Here "unarmed" means unarmoured.

He was writing towards the end of the 12th century, when we know for certain that mail hauberks and shorter mail shirts were being worn in England - a mail hauberk cost 40 - 100 shillings, a short mail shirt cost 20 shillings in an Anglo-Norman inventory of 1194.

It is this "shorter mail shirt" that is often considered to be a "corselet" with reference to English armour of the 12th century - but corselet is not a word used at that time in connection with armour (it was a type of coarse hair shirt used in self-mortification, such as Becket wore beneath his robes).