Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Sir Miles Stapleton 1320?–1364.

My Illustration of Sir Miles Stapleton 1320?–1364. He was one of the Knights Founder of the Order of the Garter, was at the Siege of Tournai in 1340. He died of wounds received in the battle of Auray. Sir Miles is seen here as he would have looked if wearing the armour he is depicted in on his Brass monument.

My Illustration in watercolour

The Brass of Sir Miles Stapleton displays the typical Stud and Splint armour of the mid to late-fourteenth century. The design of the brass is stylized, being elongated, which gives the figure a graceful composure but it is unlikely that Sir Miles was anything as tall and slender as his monument suggests. Having said this, most knights and men-at-arms would have been exceptionally fit, and examples of breastplates in the Royal armouries and other museums bear witness to the wasp-wasted figures that some men possessed during this period.
The helmet is of the Bascinet and aventail design, the mail being short, just reaching the shoulders and beneath would have been a padded  lining, the vervelles that hold the mail to the Bascinet are clearly be seen. This type of helmet would have had a removable visor that pivoted from studs at the sides. The shape of the visor for this type of helmet was usually pointed to a greater or lesser degree with varying numbers of breathing holes called Breathes. 

Usually a higher number of breathes occurred on the right  side of the visor, the left being the shielded side and expected to receive more blows in combat. The point of the visor gave the helmet a dog’s skull appearance giving rise to its name ‘hounskull’ but its main occupation was to deflect blows or arrow strikes away from the face. The visor was fixed with removable pins that hinged, enabling it to be taken off the helmet. The pins were usually suspended from the visor on a short chain so that they would not be lost. In Germany, the Hounskull visor was employed with a different fixing. A single hinge situated at the forehead was permanently fixed to the visor via rivets and was in turn attached to the helmet via two or three studs, a pivoted flat plate could then be swivelled over the hinge to lock it into place. This type of visor was known as a Klappvisier.

Often, especially during tournaments, a Helm was worn above the bascinet without the visor.

The body armour of Sir Miles consist of a short mail coat reaching down to the hips called a Haubergeon, this garment had sleeves that protected the armpits and inner elbow gussets.  Above this is a studded garment, which is a representation of either a cloth, covered breastplate or a coat of plates, the evenly spaced studs suggest the latter.  The Brass of Sir Ralph de Kneyvnton, Aveley, Essex, c1370, however displays a garment that has two semicircles of studs at the chest and a series of studs in rows below the waist. We can determine that his coat is of a covered plate design due its rounded appearance and to the chains depicted suspended from it. These chains were designed to hold a sword and dagger if dropped in battle and would have required a metal plate to support the weight of the weapons or in some cases a helmet. 

The studs at the lower half of this body armour could have been to hold a set of plates that surrounded the hips known as a Fauld. Earlier depictions of support chains show the fixings terminating at the belt (brass of Sir Roger de Trumpington 1289 Cambs) but by the 1340’s the coat of plates is seen in sculptures and manuscripts with chain fixings. (Statue of the Guard at the holy Sepuchre 1345 Musee de l’Oeuvres Notre Dame) and by the time of Sir Miles death the breastplate was employed by those wealthy enough to afford the expense.

Gutter shaped plates with a spaudler and three lames covering the shoulder and a couter with two lames protecting the elbow protect the arms. These are of typical design for the period and two small straps can be seen to hold the upper canon as it is known, also a strap holding the couter is seen on his right arm. The lower cannons have no discernable fixings but on other brasses, hinges can clearly be seen and in some cases, a fixing stud that clips into place when the hinges are closed is visible.

The leg armour of Sir Miles clearly shows the Stud and Splint method. The cuisses have rows of studs that reinforce leather plates. The knees have cup shaped poleyns that are riveted to the cuisses at the top and have a leather decoration riveted to the lower edge. The poleyns are also leather that has been moulded to fit the calf and ankle. Vertical metal strips have then been riveted to the plates to reinforce the armour.

The sabatons are pointed, which followed the common civilian shoe fashion and the gauntlets, which are of the hourglass design, are the only pieces that have ornamental edging strips.

An interesting illustration of Sir Miles in later armour and robes can be seen in the Bruges Garter Book.  This beautifully illustrated book was made for William Bruges (1375-1450) in the 15th-century and portrays the founder knights of the Order of the Garter.  Sir Miles is depicted in later full plate armour with fingerless gauntlets, worn above the armour is a tabard bearing his coat of arms and above this is his garter robe. 

My First pencil sketch

Learn about my illustrated book on armour

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