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  • Writer's picturejulesfrusher

Knights, Battles and Martial Arts

A Bit Harsh!

The 14th century knight, Geoffrey de Charny wrote a famous book on chivalry, noting what chivalry was, and how knights should behave. One of his famous quotes was that if a knight failed to make a name for himself due to indulging too much in good food and wine then he ‘should have all [his] teeth pulled out, one by one.”

Fencing Lessons

Fencing, or swordplay with a sword and buckler, was a popular skill, although supposed to be learned only be the military elite. However, fencing schools became quite popular in London in the 13th and early 14th century. The authorities became worried that the schools were teaching skills to those who had no business to be carrying swords other than to commit crime or cause civil disruption. Hence, in the early years of Edward II’s reign, there was a big crack down. In 1310 Roger le Skirmisour (note how his name matches his profession), was indicted for keeping such a school ‘and for enticing thither the sons of respectable persons so as to waste and spend the property of their fathers and mothers upon bad practices; the result being that they themselves became bad men.’ He was found guilty and sent to prison.

Naughty Boy Makes Good

Bertrand du Guesclin (c. 1320-1380) was one of the most celebrated knights serving Brittany, France and Spain. However, whilst growing up, he was so naughty - picking fights and organising local tournaments with the village boys - that his father had to lock him up.

Battle of Loudon 1307

At the Battle of Loudon Hill in 1307, Robert the Bruce destroyed an English force under the command of Aymer de Valence, the Earl of Pembroke. Bruce chose his ground well, and de Valence was forced to attack up a narrow front, constricted by bogs either side. Running into the wider front of the Bruce's spearmen, the English ranks soon panicked and tried to flee, with heavy losses.

Maille and Harness

Did you know that a 'suit of armour' should, more properly, be termed a harness? Also, those little linked bits of metal commonly known as chain mail should just be called mail (or maille). The term chain mail first appeared in Sir Walter Scott's novel 'The Fortunes of Nigel' in 1822.

That's a Lot of Cloth!

When around 300 men were knighted at a ceremony by Edward I in 1306, each would-be knight was issued with enough cloth for their clothing and bedding. A receipt for these items exists and is as follows: ‘I, William Beler, have received from Master Thomas of Usflete, Clerk of the King’s Great Wardrobe, for the use of Henry le Vavasseur, for making him a new knight, by order of the lord King by privy seal, namely for his cointesia [mantle], 6 ells of cloth of Tarsus and one pena of squirrel fur of 8 rows. For his cape during vigil, 4 ells of brown mixed cloth. For his two robes, 10 ½ ells of azure blue cloth, 2 furs of ‘popple’ and 2 furs of squirrel, each of 6 rows, and 2 hoods of marten fur of 4 rows. Item, for his bed, that is for his quilt, 2 lengths of cloth of gold in Meseneaux and one piece of worsted, 24 els, and for that of his canvas, 10 ells.’

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