I don’t know how many of my gentle readers are armour scholars. Carlo Paggiarino, maker of fine-art books on the details of medieval and renaissance European arms and armour, has a message:
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Randall Hixenbaugh, illustrated by Alexander Valdman, Ancient Greek Helmets: A Complete Guide and Catalog (Hixenbaugh Ancient Art Ltd: New York, NY, 2019) 738 pages (275 color pages), 8 1/2 x 11 in, ISBN 978-0-578-42371-5, USD 450 (hardcover) From Jeffrey Hildebrandt, for the deep of pockets: The most comprehensive study ever produced on the subject of... Continue reading: Cross-Post: Hixenbaugh on Ancient Greek Helmets
Today, we often take it for granted that ancient texts mentioning linen or leather armour must describe the kind with a yoke over the shoulders and a skirt of ‘feathers’ which we see in Red Figure vase paintings and Etruscan tomb paintings. But like many other aspects of this debate, it is hard to trace back before Peter Connolly in the 1970s. People have collected references to linen and leather armour in literature since the 16th century, but for a long time they did not compare it to artwork any more than they compared it to objects in museums. At first this may have been because travelling to collections of art and accurately reproducing them was impractically expensive. Any scholar could see a collection of antiquities, but the one in their patron’s library was not the one in another scholar’s cathedral or a third’s country house, so they could not refer readers to a specific sculpture and expect that they would seek it out in the way they could cite a line of poetry and expect readers to take down another book and read it. Also, the brighter researchers often noticed that many of these passages describe the armour of barbarians: Egyptians, Assyrians, Iberians. John Kinloch Anderson is the first writer who comes to mind who explicitly identified the “linen and leather armour” he saw in Greek texts with the armour with shoulder flaps in Greek sculptures and paintings (Military Theory and Practice in the Age of Xenophon, 1970, pp. 22-23). About a hundred years before, him, a Prussian staff officer named Max Jähns had some different thoughts on this question.
Douglas W. Strong, Surviving Examples of Early Plate Armour (1300 – 1430) Volume I: Bascinets (Freelance Academy Press, 2018) 332 pages, hardcover with B&W illustrations ISBN-13 978-1-937439-12-5 (available from the publisher) Doug “Talbot” Strong, the author of An Analysis of 1300 Effigies Dated Between 1300 and 1450 has finally been able... Continue reading: Cross-Post: Doug Strong’s Armour Book in Preorder
#23: Vna cellata coperta velluto carmesi pilloso cum certis dindinellis racamatis viridis “One sallet covered with plush crimson velvet with certain green embroidered fringes” #25: Quadraginta tres cellate ferri “43 sallets of iron” #124: Triginta stufe a celata “30 coverings for sallets”
That is the oldest reference in Claude Blair, and his book in 1958 was the last book on European armour by someone who spent a lot of time reading medieval documents in the original. In fact, there are another group of references from this time which have not yet been brought into the debate. These are in the Archivio Datini di Prato in Tuscany and were published by Luciana Frangioni in her article “Bacinetti e altre difese della testa nella documentazione di un’azienda mercantile, 1366-1410.” She copied and printed all of the references to armour for the head in this archive, and now I have copied them for you.
from 1406 (ADP, n. 178/15, c. 1t) cappellina d’acciaio celata, buona: s. 18 “celata chaplet of steel: 18 soldi“ celate di ferro, di più fazioni, buone e cattiva, piccole: s. 8 una “celate of iron, of many styles, good and bad, small: s. 8 each”
In an earlier post, I talked about videos on making armour. But what if you prefer books? Whereas 20 years ago very little was available, today there are quite a few things to read and look at.
There is one textbook on making European plate armour: Brian R. Price, Techniques of Medieval Armour Reproduction: The 14th Century (Paladin Press: Boulder Colorado, 2000). The book is a reasonable introduction by a mid-level armourer with a troubling history. Brian R. Price (now an Associate Professor at Hawai’i Pacific University) once ran a small press (Chivalry Bookshelf) until it emerged that he had not been paying the agreed royalties, had not obtained rights to all the illustrations, and had not registered their works with the appropriate authorities. Many of his other business (Thornbird Arms, Revival Enterprises, Past Tents, Fettered Cock Pewter, agilitas.tv, Sirivitana printer in Thailand, Midpoint Distribution Services) and martial-arts (Schola Saint George) associates had similar stories dating back to the 1980s, and in the end a coalition of authors sued him and regained control of their works in exchange for a nondisclosure agreement.* While Techniques of Medieval Armour Reproduction was published by Paladin Press, an independent business, many people are uncomfortable with supporting the author. (Also, this book is specifically on late medieval European armour … if you are interested in ancient kinds or kinds outside of Catholic Europe you will need other resources).
Today all kinds of skilful artisans are describing their work on YouTube, and some documentaries and demonstrations are available there. This makes it possible to learn about armouring on your laptop in the same way that 20 years ago you could learn about cooking or home repair on TV. Unfortunately, a simple keyword search will turn up both videos on historical armour and rants about video games, the New Zealand Army’s video on a trade, a British soldier grumbling about a change in pay scales, and other things not very helpful to someone interested in ancient and medieval armour. So this week I thought I would suggest some channels by good craftsmen who know what they are talking about. All of these links are videos hosted on a site owned by an American company which makes its money by tracking you [Google], so let the privacy-conscious or low-bandwidth clicker beware.
Front view of a painted marble statue of a torso from Verona. Photo by Sean Manning, April 2017. I was travelling last week and am sick this week, so don’t have time for a full post. Instead, I thought I would post some photos of a statue in the Museo Archaeologico,... Continue reading: A Mysterious Armour from Verona