An extract from Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291
by Ian Heath

[Based on illustrations in Raschid al-Din's Jami' al-Tawarikh]


The armour worn here is typical of that depicted in many late-13th century sources and throughout Raschid al-Din's mss., comprising a long, lamellar corselet (often completely covered by a heavily embroidered 'surcoat') and a spiked helmet with aventail. Buckles and laces are very clearly depicted across the shoulders and down the chests of some corselets in Raschid's illustrations, indicating that they were constructed of several different pieces as described under 85. The arm-pieces are flaps rather than short sleeves. On many corselets alternate rows of lamellae are sometimes shown painted or otherwise decorated. The helmet, with its cloth or leather aventail, is almost invariably depicted a blue colour (probably indicating iron) with the spike coloured gold.

Other items of armour in use before the end of the 13th century included tubular vambraces, kneeguards, greaves and 'mirror' armour (i.e. plates on chest and back secured by straps).

Note the clever if somewhat impractical method of stowing away the lance when both hands are needed, stuffing it through the waist-belt and passing the foot through a small loop near the butt. Lances seem to have varied in length between about 9 and 12 feet, or sometimes more, and were held in a variety of ways including the underarm couch and the 2-hand overarm thrust. A bow was also carried, together with a sabre and frequently a mace.

Shields seem to have been mostly 12-20" in diameter, apparently held by a single central grip.

Next: 90. MONGOL STANDARDS in Armies and Enemies of the Crusades 1096-1291 by Ian Heath