13th century armour

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lawrence
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13th century armour

Postby lawrence » Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:00 am

These rather 'basic' mosaics are from Ravenna, Italy and have been dated to 13th century. I'm really just fishing for some facts about the shields, armour etc. Is there anything about those that would date it positively in your minds?
Ta
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Floor mosaic Ravenna 13th century 1.jpg
Ravenna floor mosaic 13th century 2.jpg
Said to be showing the sack of Constantinople
Ravenna floor mosaic 13th century 2.jpg (45.69 KiB) Viewed 2652 times
Ravenna floor mosaic 13th century 3.jpg
Ravenna floor mosaic 13th century 3.jpg (23.37 KiB) Viewed 2652 times


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Simon Atford
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Re: 13th century armour

Postby Simon Atford » Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:17 am

The bottom picture looks like they could be city militia with spears (or possibly javelins) and large shields although they appear to be kite shaped rather than Roman style tower shields. Not sure about the armour though. If that is meant to mail all the way down it looks rather impractical.



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Re: 13th century armour

Postby lawrence » Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:28 am

I did wonder about that, I would say the mosaicists (and I use the term loosely!) were showing mail that went down to the ankles as you can see the difference between that and the tunics.


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Re: 13th century armour

Postby Biro » Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:11 pm

It 'feels' more 12c to me. so I guess its very early 13c - must have been done right after the sacking of Constantinople.

But I think the lack of detail in the mosaics makes it difficult to glean much from it at all.



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Re: 13th century armour

Postby Brother Ranulf » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:41 pm

Mosaicists used pattern books from which the client could choose a particular ornamental style or scene; it is possible that these Ravenna patterns had first been used in the 12th century and were still being churned out in the 13th. It's also possible that there were a range of qualities of mosaic available, from quick, cheap and sketchy to much more elaborate, accurate and costly. These look like the economy end of the market . . .

The way Constantinople is written (with short horizontal lines above the CO and STA) is a scribal way of indicating a missing n or m, commonly used in the 12th century as a way of saving space on vellum or parchment - there seems very little advantage in using it in a mosaic, except as a way of reducing the time needed to complete the text.


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Re: 13th century armour

Postby lawrence » Sat Jul 12, 2014 8:35 pm

Yes, definitely the economy end of the market! Are there mail shirts that go that low?


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Re: 13th century armour

Postby Brother Ranulf » Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:19 am

Italian armour in the late 12th/early 13th century had much Byzantine and German influence so it was very distinct from the Anglo-Norman styles I have previously researched. I found this frieze, originally in Milan and known as the Poarta Romana Frieze:

porta romana frieze milan.jpg


This shows the Milan city militia returning after the city's destruction by Frederick Barbarossa in 1167 - the frieze is dated to about 1171 and was sculpted by one Anselmus. Behind the standard-bearer (a churchman because his hair is tonsured) are two men in long hauberks, followed by seven others wearing knee-length tunics and carrying shields, swords and spears. The two men in armour carry shields with heraldic devices, so they must represent knights and one seems to wear scale armour. One shield has a boss, the other does not. Their nasal helms seem to be fluted and possibly Phrygian style.

In England long hauberks were fashionable during the Anarchy (1135 - 1154), before leg armour became widely used. It is possible that it continued in use in Italy for similar reasons, possibly among the less wealthy nobility.


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Re: 13th century armour

Postby lawrence » Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:48 pm

Thanks for the info. I doubt these were done from a pattern book, I think these were done off the cuff. There are different opinions about the possibility of patterns books in use, there's no hard evidence that I now of, though there were individual plans.


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Re: 13th century armour

Postby Brother Ranulf » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:42 pm

While there is no direct evidence for mosaic pattern books, there is plenty of indirect evidence which for me makes the case "proven beyond reasonable doubt".

A careful analysis of late 12th century sculptural motifs and decorations shows almost identical themes appearing all over England at about the same time in monastic, church and cathedral contexts (see F Saxl: "English Sculptures of the Twelfth Century"). The sculptors were almost always laymen with at least some Church education. Similarly, identical motifs turn up in manuscript illuminations being produced in the same period (many obvious examples can be found in C R Dodwell's "The Canterbury School of Illumination", which includes near-identical motifs in English, French and Italian manuscripts from the same time period). The third area is wall painting, which is covered in great detail in E W Tristram's "English Medieval Wall Painting - the Twelfth Century". This book covers many examples of repeated decorative and scenic elements around this country - many of them no longer existing but thankfully preserved in Tristram's work.

The use of pattern books in all these artistic areas is widely accepted. It would be difficult to go from that context to claiming that mosaicists did not use pattern books - the question would have to be "why not?".


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Re: 13th century armour

Postby lawrence » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:34 am

Thanks for that reply, an interesting point but it does make me wonder though if they would have them widely used, not just the cost but the way the mosaicists would have learnt their trade. Like the Islamic geometric tile mosaicists I would have thought a lot of the patterns would have been in their head (and possibly they would have a set of staffs for the exact measurements) and they would easily be able to sketch out a design for the client on the ground or wall.

For figural work then it could be that, again they just need to sketch out a composition for figure positions and the client would have been familiar enough with the myths etc to know what would be in it. There is though reference to 4 emblemata mosaics, in Italy, showing a scene of Theseus and the Minotaur where they are fairly sure they were taken from one source, presumably a painting. These could have been copied down as a sketch, though whether this was papyrus, vellum, of wax tablet we can't know.

I agree there must have been some but how prevalent I'm not so sure.


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