Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Making a pauldron part 4

Research. Research. Research. Without research, you can't make anything that looks half decent. There are three types of research....primary, secondary, and tertiary research. There is some dispute on what constitutes secondary research, but no argument about what constitutes primary research. If you have the medieval artifact in your hand, you this is primary research. Unfortunately, this is usually not an option. Secondary research would be photographs of the object, hopefully made by somebody who knows what he is doing, like yourself, or a museum curator-photographer. Information on these pages, no matter how good it is, is still only secondary research. Tertiary research is information you get from paintings and stuatuary, all of which will be "adjusted" by the artist because, well, artists have artistic license to do that. Therefore, one must be very careful in using paintings, such as the painting of St. George by Andrea Montegna, dated 1460. Since we are making pauldrons, I shall try to stick to the subject, and see if we can get good information from this tertiary source.

Above, the famous painting of St. George by Andre Montegna, dated 1460. The original is in the Gallery dell Academia in Venice. The armour looks fairly straight forward, the five lame faulds and fancy big old tassets with rounded flutes are Italian right enough. The two piece breast plate is designed to cover the chest only. Either the legs are improbably long, or the armour is unusually high waisted. I lean towards the latter. But its the pauldrons we are here to see. The most immediate thing you notice is that they are assymetrical...the left one is big and solid, the right hand one is slimmer, with more mobility. The right hand pauldron has a haute piece (a fence) which are is designed to block a backhand strike to the neck, and the much larger left hand fence is clearly designed to deflect a thrust. Considering that this is a jousting armour (the lance rest is a dead giveaway!) the suspicion is that the left hand fence is designed to deflect a lance. The top edge of the fence is rolled, and there is an extra piece which goes down from the fence to stiffen the left shoulder defences...a whole great big piece of metal which covers the spaulder underneath, right from the fence down to under the flange of the elbow cop.

Moving right along, the magnificent painting of the battle of San Romano by Uccelo, from the Academea dell Arte in Florence. 1457. There are many foci in this painting, and it is worth clicking on the picture, and studying it for awhile. I particulary like the cross bow men in the back, who seem to have pretty much given up now that the battle is well and truly joined, a couple of messenger high tailing it out of there with the news, and all the pieces of broken lances and loose bits of armour littering the ground under the horses. Lets look closer at some of the details, click on the images below.

Above, a fully armed knight, standing on his stirrups. His visor is tilted up so he can see, and he has beautiful haute pieces and fences on his armour. A haute piece is not just the fence, you see clearly here, the term also includes supplementary pieces like the besague which is protecting his elbow, for instance. The fence is rounded at the top, looking very much like the one in Montegna's picture, above.

You so rarely see armour being used from the back. This fella has back faulds, and it looks like he even has back tassets. How complete is that!!! Both these warriours look like they are fighting in much the same armour as St. George is wearing in Montegna's picture.

Both of the above knights are well armoured, though in the interests of artisitic licence, it seems that the king on the left has left his helmet off. Though not unexampled...after all, it would enable him to shout orders, and often they would ride around with their helmet off to show that they are still alive regardless of rumours, one feels that it is not a common practice.

When Drurer makes a picture, you get the feeling that he has examined all the armour minutely,and possibly even worn it. The famous picture from 1498 shows germanic "gothic" armour, heavily fluted. Forget the fluting, thats mostly decorative.....what is really important is how big the "wings" are on the spaulders. See, the front wing is a little smaller than the back wing. And the fence is more fence like than usual. It seems a lot closer to the neck than is usual for fences, so it HAS to be mounted on the top lame. Otherwise it would simply dig into his neck whenever he lifted his arm. Again, the body armour is more high waisted than I usually make it, and this "ritter" has plenty of room inside to breathe. The elbow cops don't cover like they should...this long armed skinny individual is not wearing fitted armour. It is pretty nice armour though...six lames before you even get to the rere brace. Awesome!

And the only piece of secondary documentation I have...a famous harness of a gothic Ritter from the Tower of London Collection in of all places, Leeds, England. I really like the big baisin formed by the fences on these spaulders. I note that unlike the Italian armour, these fences tend to guard more from the front than from the sides.
So now I have to decide which armour I will choose as my inspiration to make the fences (haute pieces) of Charlie's armour.

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