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