Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Painting a 14th century Horse Armour 'The Chamfron and Crinet'. A short study in the 'All enveloping Crinet'.

Henri de Ferrières, « Le Livre du roi Modus et de la royne Racio ». Date d'édition : 1401-1425 Type : manuscrit Langue : Français  Droits : domaine public Identifiant : ark:/12148/btv1b530841494
My Illustration of John de Bermingham died 1390? (Used in my book THe History of armour 1100-1700 published in 2013) His horse wears a Chamfron similar to the one found in Warwick  and now housed in The Royal armouries Leeds. The Crinet is conjectural being taken from the manuscripts discussed.

The effigy of John de Bermingham d 1390?. Note the coat of arms displayed on his jupon

Firstly I must say that these are my thoughts on a subject that has no hard factual evidence (Such as an existing example of a 14th century crinet).  All I have to present my argument are the Illustrations in the manuscripts that I have found. These images can be interpreted other than my view and as such I will leave it to the viewer to make their own mind up as to whether or not they show a Crinet that covers the front and rear of the horses neck. 

Whilst researching my book 'The History of Armour 1100-1700 I came across the effigy of John de Bermingham in St Martins church, Birmingham. The effigy displayed interesting features one of which were the markings of his coat of arms on his jupon. Encouraged by this find I decided to paint John as he may have been seen whilst alive. I decided to paint him on horseback and spent time researching his heraldic colours.

A Royal comparison as employed by Edward III. 

Sir Johns horse was to have a Comparison or Trapper that would display his coat of arms. During this period the comparison covered the majority of the horses body and could be made to terminate at the base of the horses neck, or cover the neck and head. The development of plate armour extended into protection of the horses head and the Chamfron was commonly used (as is seen in many period illustrations). 

Royal comparison emblazoned with Lions anFleur de Lys in gold and silver thread.

A section of the Royal coat of arms, 14th century situated in the V&A.

Whilst making sketches I decided it would be suitable to place a Chamfron upon his mounts head and almost without thinking I decided upon the Warwick Chamfron as it was from the same period. After much research I decided upon making a conjectural crinet to protect the horses neck. this would follow a similar design to the 1450 'All Enveloping' (AE) crinet that is still in existence.  Unfortunately my need for accuracy would not allow me to complete this drawing until I was satisfied that such a crinet could have existed in the late 14th century. After much searching I have discovered only two sources, both manuscript illustrations which I will discuss below. 

Detail of An Unfinished illumination from Chroniques de France ou de St Denis (from 1270 to 1380) 
Royal manuscript 20, c 7

Here we will discuss early examples of illustrated manuscript that show the all enveloping Crinet, that is to say the metal plates protect the head and front and back of the neck. 

The Chamfron and Crinet was made to protect a Horses head and neck during battle or the joust. Developed in ancient Greece the Chamfron was initially made from leather but later made in metal. the crinet soon followed.

Many horse armours in museums today are 15th and 16th century, early armours being lost and recycled. The 'All Enveloping' crinet is almost exclusively found on 16th and 17th century armours, Prior to this during the 15th  century most crinets only covered the back of the horses neck, the front being protected by maille. Earlier still during the 14th century the crinet was usually shorter and only covered the top half of the length of the neck. Unfortunately no examples from this early period exist and we must rely on manuscript illustrations and sculptures to get an idea of how they looked. 

For my painting I needed to find an example of a crinet that covered the neck completely, this however was harder than I first thought as the earliest example of an 'AE' Crinet is from 1450 and is on a horse armour or Bard which is classed as heavy horse armour by Pier Innocenzo da Faerno in Milan.  It is now in the Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Wien, Austria.   

The Crinet on this horse armour does completely cover the neck of the horse, being made from curved plates that are riveted front to back. The Shamfron covers the head and is made from a plate that covers the top of the head with side plates being riveted to this.

This armour can be seen by clicking here

and here

To find any reference to the type of crinet I intended to paint It would be necessary to plough through many Illuminated manuscripts. Various chamfrons and half crinets could be found, Often I saw the horizontal lines that I thought were a crinet only to be disapointed on closer inspection and finding the horses mane or fold marks in the skin.

Almost resigned to give up and change my illustration I eventually found two manuscripts that had clear examples of what I needed in illustrations. 

What I believe to be the Earliest example of the 'AE' Crinet can be seen in a manuscript that dates from the late 14th century. The Chroniques de France ou de St Denis (1270 to 1380) Royal manuscript 20, c 7,  The illustration Entitled 'Meeting of Henry of Lancaster and Otto of Brunswick'.  

Although the illustration is unfinished it clearly shows the plates that surround the necks of two horses. Both connect to a Chamfron, which has raised eye pieces, the one chamfron having a raised muzzle. 

Other finished and unfinished illustrations in the manuscript show horses without armour, none of which have lines such as these and as such the lines could not be confused with the mane hair or folds of the trapper.

Unfinished illumination clearly showing lines of crinet plates, from Chroniques de France ou de St Denis (from 1270 to 1380) 
Royal manuscript 20, c 7

On another page in the same manuscript entitled 'Charles of Anjou' is a tantalising glimpse of the crinet beneath the horses cloth Trapper. This also is connected to a Chamfron. but its full extent cannot be seen as it is covered by the neck of the horses trapper. This could however show an extension of the chamfron plates. 

Illumination from Chroniques de France ou de St Denis (from 1270 to 1380) 
Royal manuscript 20, c 7

Detail showing the Chamfron covering the possible crinet at the back of the head.
 illumination from Chroniques de France ou de St Denis (from 1270 to 1380) 
Royal manuscript 20, c 7

Another manuscript dated from 1401-1425 entitled Henri de Ferrieres, "The Book of the King and the Queen Modus Racio".  Shows what appear to be metal 'AE' crinets  in two illustrations

Henri de Ferrières, « Le Livre du roi Modus et de la royne Racio ». Date d'édition : 1401-1425 Type : manuscrit Langue : Français  Droits : domaine public Identifiant : ark:/12148/btv1b530841494
Henri de Ferrieres, "The Book of the King and the Queen Modus Racio".

Both illustrations show two horses that clearly have neck protection that is riveted along the lames. and both appear to be connected to the Chamfron
Henri de Ferrières, « Le Livre du roi Modus et de la royne Racio ». Date d'édition : 1401-1425 Type : manuscrit Langue : Français  Droits : domaine public Identifiant : ark:/12148/btv1b530841494
 Henri de Ferrieres, "The Book of the King and the Queen Modus Racio".

Even though this manuscript is dated to the early 15th century I believe that the Illustrator must have been familiar enough with this type of design to make a competent drawing of it. In all cases the images show horizontal lines that could represent plates that surround the neck. each having rivets around the plate.  The knights are dressed in early 15th century armour such as that they might have been worn at Agincourt. 

Conventional thought would have assumed that the plate armour of the horse would have followed the development of the knight, but, It is interesting to note that these horses have better protection for their throats than the riders do! (both knights having mail aventails)

An example of chamfron with mail neck protection can be seen on a chess piece dated 14th century and it would be conventional to believe that this is the norm for this period 
click below to see the 14th century chess piece that shows Chamfron and mail neck protection 

The unfinished artwork on the first manuscript which dates from the 14th century, could be interpreted as showing an extension of the chamfon, (something that is seen in other manuscripts from this period) however, the lines that run around the neck of the horses do appear to extend to the front in the same manner as a crinet. I may be wrong in this case, but in the second manuscript the images clearly show neck protection that appears to be of metal plates that surround the neck of the horse. in the form of a crinet.

I would like to believe that It may have been possible for for a crinet that covered the front and rear of the neck to have existed during the life of John de BerminghaBut, without hard evidence this illustration will only be my own personal theory.

Below are the Images with some enhancement

Above.   The Image with colour removed showing lines on the neck of the horse.
                                                          Below.   Image with enhancement via Removal of the text that shows through the back of the page.

Below are Three alternative versions of how the armour may have looked.
The Crinet in this version follows the Henri de Ferrieres  illumination seen earlier. The Crinet is wrapped  around the neck.

This version loosely follows the chess piece with a maille crinet and trapper.
click below to see the 14th century chess piece that shows Chamfron and mail neck protection 

The Crinet loosely following the 145Pier Innocenzo da Faerno Italian crinet. The original photograph of this armour can be seen by clicking here

Monday, 15 June 2015

Visually Reconstructing effigies.

Effigies are often a great source of detail were armour is concerned. Unfortunately not all are in pristine condition and some are almost just fragments.

In this article I will talk about two effigies that I illustrated in my book in 2012. Both are painted in such a way as to reconstruct them to their original state. Short histories of both characters can be found at the bottom of the page.

Sir Roger Hilary 1399

The effigy of Sir Roger Hilary 1399 in St Mathews church Walsall, West Midlands has always fascinated me. Partly because it is so damaged but also due to some very unusual features.

Sir Roger Hilary 1399 Lines used to aid detail positioning. 

A Victorian Drawing and engraving was made of this effigy which shows a belt with a bag and dagger. (Now almost eroded away) See link below. then click back button to return

A short History of Sir Roger can be found on the link at the bottom of this page, Sir Roger's effigy is, to say the least poorly. Its life has seen it dumped outside the church, cut up to fit into tight areas and used as a target by small schoolboys to through stones at. The armour is typical for the period  but almost worn away.

My first concern was to take as many photographs as possible with various lighting position to enhance what little detail was left. these photographs were then placed into photoshop where I proceeded to draw lines of possible detail and positioning of legs and head. When happy with the lines I then made drawings of the areas needed to be added such as greaves (leg armour) and Sabatons (Foot armour). Other effigies and paintings contemporary to Sir Roger's effigy were researched See Link below

The final painting was made in watercolour on board and shows the effigy as it may have been painted when new. The omission of the dagger was due to various accounts of its accuracy in the earlier Victorian drawing.
A reconstruction of Roger de Hilary 1399 from his effigy in St Matthew's Church, Walsall. West Midlands.
Roger de Hilary effigy Lines made to aid reconstruction. 1399 from his effigy in St Matthew's Church, Walsall. West Midlands.
The Reconstruction of Sir Roger Hilary

The details include.

The shield. 
Sir Roger holds a heater type shield in his left hand, crossed over his body as if protecting his chest. Fortunately this position has preserved the leather straps that are used to hold the shield. 

The rear of the shield 

The shape of the shield is triangular with a convex curve and on closer inspection there are traces of the original relief carving that show the coat of arms. (This carving is minimal and does not in any way give direct clues to the coat of arms born by Sir Roger).

At the rear of the shield are three straps and a handle. The first strap, which is long runs from the top left to the top right of the shield and was used to carry it when not in use. This strap is broken but can be seen running around the shoulders of Sir Roger.

There are two crossed straps that are used to hold the shield tightly next to the arm. This would have been imperative to keep the shield from moving unnecessarily when hit.
The handle takes the form of a shallow letter U. this could have been made from wood or it may be a thickly bound leather strap.

The Purse bag
A civilian purse bag that is evident suspended on a horizontal belt the dagger is no longer in existence but it was most probable that it would have been a ballock dagger. This form of purse was popular in civilian life and effigies such as the one in Stanford-on-Soar in Leicestershire display bags suspended in a similar manor.

The bag clearly has two suspending loops at either end with a gap in the centre where the belt can be seen. The bottom of the bag is pointed but it is not central, which leads me to believe a dagger hung behind. (This too was a popular method of wearing ones dagger in civilian life).
The use of civilian accessories on military effigies is not common, which makes this an interesting addition.

The belt that the bag hangs from is void of detail, it is possible that it had plaquarts but it is more likely to have been plain or tooled with floral patterns. Also of interest is a narrow sword belt. This form of narrow sword belt does not become popular until much later in the 15th century. 

The Legs
The armour on the legs take the form of a stud and splint design. the cuisses (thigh protection) are leather which is hardened by boiling. Metal studs are driven into the leather that are then fixed at the rear to thin strips or splints of metal. The greaves and sabatons (Lower leg and foot protection) take the form of plate metal. The rear of the legs are protected by maille leggings called chausses.

The helmet
The helmet is a typical bascinet from the period. The neck being protected by a maille aventail. Sir Roger's face dons a moustache as was the fashion.

Composite image of effigy and my  illustration

Earl Roger de Montgomerie d1094

The much dilapidated effigy of Earl Roger de Montgomerie d1094 is situated in Shrewsbury abbey and was made one hundred years after the Earls death. 

A short history of the Earl can be seen at the bottom of this 

Two key features intrigued me about this effigy, the shield design which is taken from that period and although similar to the Norman design that would have been familiar to Roger this shield is cut across the top and is coloured with the Earls coat-of-arms, (a newly burgeoning concept in the 12th century). Secondly and more obvious is the totally eroded head.

Research on the Earls coat of arms was made which decided the colours that would have been painted onto the effigy when new.

The head was reconstructed from effigies of a similar date, as were the feet. 
Sir Hugo Mauvoisin's effigy showing head and mail coif detail.

Reconstruction of the Earl's effigy painted when new.

It is interesting to note that the effigy shows a 13th c knight and that the Earl would have looked more in keeping with the knights depicted on the Bayeux tapestry.

My illustration of how the Earl may have actually looked in his period armour.

Details included are.

The maille coif 
The early padded coif protected the head and hair from the mail hood that was made of iron rings riveted together. This hood was also known as a coif and without the helmet still gave the head some protection from glancing blows and cuts. 
The method of producing mail was already ancient by the 11th century, and the ability to make complex shapes that fit the head would not have been difficult to the skilled armourers of the time.
 The process of making mail is fairly simple, but very labour intensive.   Wire must be obtained by pulling hot iron through a series of holes that reduce in size.   Eventually a long strip of wire is produced, which is then wound around a rod called the mandrel, thus making a spring. This is then cut along its centre, which makes individual rings. The heating and slow cooling of the rings softens the metal making it easy to bend, flatten and pierce.  

Each ring, or the joint ends are flattened and overlapped where a hole is punched through, this hole receives a rivet, which closes the link tight.  Linking each ring to create a chain begins the process of making mail, followed by adding links to each alternating ring. When the garment was complete, the mail was heated and quenched to harden the metal.
Creating such large amounts of mail employed whole villages on an industrial scale.

The maille of Earl Roger extends down to the shoulders and covers the head ears and neck. Around the head is a band that could be mistaken for a leather strap but in this case is more likely to be a circlet. (A badge of office that could be a simple gilt band, a coronet or even a crown depending on the status of the knight). 

Many mail coifs had leather-edging strips and a leather lace that held the hood onto the arming cap, in some cases, the mail had a flap that could be tied up from the chin to cover the mouth when in battle, the effigy of a 13th century knight in Dacre, Cumbria displays a band around the forehead. 

The mail coif was commonly used throughout the 12th, 13th and early 14th centuries, and remained in use much later by lower foot soldiers. Its primary use was to protect the neck and retain flexibility but with the development of the gorget and bevor, its use became outmoded.

Maille Hauberk

The  knee length 'Hauberk', as it is known at this period, is covered by a blue surcoat. The wrist of the sleeve extends to make a mitten and is slashed so that the hand could pass outside when not in combat.  A mail hood, which extends up from the main hauberk, protects the head and neck

Although mail was to be used for many years, its ability to protect became lessened with the changes in warfare throughout the 13th and 14th century. Probably the biggest factor in its demotion to secondary protection was the use of the lance in large numbers.  

Blue Surcoat
A development of the hauberk happens in the 12th century with the addition of a cloth covering known as a 'surcoat'. This simple garment is usually sleeveless and follows the same shape of the hauberk with splits at the front and rear to enable horse riding. The purpose of the surcoat ranges from weather protection (heat of the sun on crusade) to recognition in battle, and its defensive qualities should not be ignored. The coat was usually tight fitting across the chest and waist but would splay out below the waist to contain many folds, which suggests a large amount of material was used to produce it. This excess of material is in itself a statement of the Earls wealth.

In the Bayeux tapestry 1066-82, mail leggings or ‘Chausses’ are worn by some riders beneath their hauberk but the majority wear loose hose. Throughout the 12th century, mail chausses increase in popularity and by the end of the century manuscripts show chausses on almost all but the lowliest men at arms.  
Chausses were worn in the same manner as hose, that is to say, a tube of mail, shaped to fit each leg in the same manner as a stocking, which is tied to a belt worn at the waist.    A 12th century stone carving on Verona Cathedral shows a knight with just one leg covered in mail, the other is bare and shows his shoe.
From the mid 12th century the upper leg could be protected further by additional soft armour known as a ‘Gamboised cuisse’. This quilted legging was worn either under or over the chausses and looked like a pair of long padded shorts that terminated just below the knee.                     
Some manuscript from the period show chausses made from a strip of mail covering the front and sides of the leg only, these strips were tied with leather points at intervals down the rear of the leg.

Knee cop's
The earl has knee protection in the form of a rounded cup or 'Cop' which is used to reinforce the vulnerable joint of the leg.  Made from hardened leather, known as Cuir bouilli or beaten metal plates, many poleyns were highly decorated with foliate patterns.  

Details not seen on the effigy
Beneath the hauberk a padded tunic or Aketon (Taken from the Arabic ‘al-qutun’ meaning cotton) would have afforded some comfort, but was primarily a form of soft armour protecting the wearer from direct blows from a sword or axe. Without the aketon a firm strike could easily drive the mail links through a shirt and into soft flesh. The heavily padded aketon acted as a form of suspension absorbing the sword impact and forming a barrier between the skin and the mail. 

History of Sir Roger de Hilary 1399

History of Earl Roger de Montgomerie,_1st_Earl_of_Shrewsbury