Saturday, January 21, 2012

Knights of the round table

When they actually used real armour in their fight scenes....

And the final scene from El Cid.

Love the horsie armour.

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Monday, January 16, 2012


The sun is going down on the battlefield, the third time since I slept last.
It hurts, and I am so very very tired.

Once I was great king!
Only last week I had won a great battle, and invaders who thought to lodge in my land's castles
now lodge in the crops of the crows and ravens up in the north.
Today, I lay, huddled in this chain byrnie, the horrible arrow lodged in the bone behind my eye.
Oh, it hurts.
This was the end of it. I did not fear dying...that was the simple and it comes to all men.
it is the pain of living.
but the king must not be half blind or the land will be half blind.
If the king be half dead, then the land will be half dead.
There were two great arrows that hit the land only weeks apart, one missed the eye...the other...well.
It is hard to concentrate...the pain is so intense, and there was so much yet to do.

My commitas is still tightly gathered around...the bastards had circled them on the hill, but my commitas had not run!
Oh no, not them! My brave fyrdmen had run right after the gaulish swine, only to find that it was a trick.
But they were first, warriors second, fighters always. Now mostly all dead.
The bastard faked a retreat, and stole them away from their wonderful defensive shield wall.
A wonderful wall it was too!
A hundred men wide, a great arc on the side of the hill facing the horsemen.
They refused to come close, those horsemen!
They had tried at first, then his shield wall had faded back a dozen paces revealing the slanted pikes,
planted pikes that even the horses recognized as a greater hazard than those shouting iron covered monsters with the axes.
Every pike had a name engraved on it....the owner, the clan, the district...the names of the owners.
All dead now, the last service their masters gave for me, their king,
was when the living dragged their prized boar spears from their bloody curled fingers.
I ordered them placed in shallow holes in the turf, to form an obstacls to the bastard's horses.

Oh has come to this!
Every quill on that hedghog of death is a dead fyrdman.
Upon becoming a warrior, his father gave him an ancient forged spear, and upon dying, I put them to use.
None will dare to charge into them...for they dance and flicker in the setting sun, the ghosts of their fallen owners still
guiding them into a foe's horse, or his chin strap. Or maybe it is merely the breeze catching the broad flat heads,
making them bounce on their slender shafts.
I prefer the mystical explanation. Maybe if the Normans believe it too, they will leave us alone until morning.
Oh it hurts. Look, over is Odo! The bastard's bishop!
Look at him whistle his great vine staff around his head like a centurion of old!
He likes to kill with that heavy stick. But he can always say he never shed blood!
A pious claim from a man of the cloth!

Oh my dear are not here to see me now.
And why should you be? You are not my wife, but you are the mother of my children.
Oh what will become of them now! The bastard will not let them live!
Enough. I must concentrate...I have orders to give.

Ho, priest...please come close.
Yes yes, I know...there is much work for an ankorite in this foul place.
But I need you now.
You must move swiftly to safeguard my family.
I have done all I can now...this is the charter for the abbey in Winchester that we spoke of, and another in Devon.
And I have a third charter right, you cannot have it yet you greedy man. I will sign it when you make me better.
The field is lost, and I shall retire with my commitas.
You and your gang of white clad ghosts will move me and what is left of my bodyguard out of here
I don't know where I will go. The battle is lost.
I am lost. The kingdom is lost.
And I am tired.
I feel sleep coming upon me. Move me to safety as far away from here as you can.

Good morning.
How long have I been asleep? I feel my wounds have actually begun to heal.
The sisters of St. Mary hmmm?
Wait...that is in Chester. My, I WAS asleep for a long time! You must tell me all the news!
No, there is nothing I can do.
They really brought my Edith on that foul battlefield to identify me?
Oh Edith of the Swan Neck. My precious lady.
Oh that was ill done! But they think I died there do they? Well good.
I cannot rule now with only one eye, and who knows...maybe my cousin the bastard will do a better job of it.
No, they call him the bastard because he IS a bastard.
The apple of his old man's eye, but still a by-blow, and the only country he will ever rule is one he takes by force.
But we got along well enough as children. He used to vist me, I would go hunting with him.
He is saying that I once offered him the kingdom if I was dead?
Bold words. But naught I can do about them is there.
No, it is time I simply vanish from the world, and the cloister is as good a place as any.
Better than most.

Ah yes, the charter. Well, here is my signature. You can see the bishop dated it last year.
The bastard might actually recognize its valididty.
There is much more. I do not have the power of a king, but I DO have plenty of gold.
And remember, it was I who was anointed at Kingston, not him!
If you want it, it is yours. A bit at a time mind, so it will reward you to keep me whole
healthy, and out of William the Bastard's hands.
Come close and I will tell of the hiding place of the first cache I put aside before I went up to Stamford Bridge.

Oh Edith. I did not intend to shock you with my presence...but no one could tell you before now.
I hear they walked you all over that place of death looking for me!
They dragged the armour off the still wrigging corpses did they? Well, it is only to be expected.
It is expensive stuff. Some of those chain shirts were worn by a half dozen men during the course of that week!
Each would take it from one who did not really need it any more.
And William has brought all the spears to Winchester?
Ah good. So many proud fathers will make songs about their sons.
Yes, it is the women's lot to weep. But the fathers do as well. While they sing.
I think we shall be safe here...though I understand if you wish to be with your father.
They killed him too did they? Oh I AM sorry. He is not wasting any time is he!

What is that? The Bastard's son, here? After so many years!
He is seeking a rumour that I might be alive? Well show him in.

What seek you here sir? The son of Godwin? No, he died at the lake of blood.
You think I look like him do you. Well look well.
See this great wound in my eye?
A man with one eye cannot be king. You know that as well as I do.
None would follow his banner.
None would rise with him at their head.
You would do well to seek a man sound in sight and limb, and let an old Ankorite like me be.
The bastard knows it too does he. So why are you here?
To assure me of my comfort?
A true son of a king are you, but I thank you to merely the sleeping dog lie in peace.
They are building a church on the spot where Godwinson fell?
Oh the foolishness of men.
Come join me on my daily walk.
It is the highlight of my day.
You wish you had this much peace and quiet? Be careful what you wish for!
I get very little peace.
Each day, the ghost of another person who depended upon me comes up to me.
Disturbes my walk. I must tell them to join me in the chapel.
Often they do! But never twice.

Who will comfort MY ghost when my time is come?

Odo choked on a chicken bone! Oh that old faker. Where did you bury him.
Ahh, back in Normandy. Good. I never liked him.
Good morrow you you sir, and may God bless.

(Harold Godwinson's ghost still walks from the Ankorite cottage outside the cathedral
to the chapel in Chester every night,
but it ignores mere men such as we! A royal ghost, much come down in the world.
I hear that once in a while, he is joined by a female in nun's clothing. It is popularly
supposed that is Edith, the lovely swan necked mother of Godwinson's children who went
to the Abbey of St Mary after the great battle of Hastings. They
are together, but still in hiding after centuries. I think it is because they love each
other too much to be parted...her to heaven, and him to hell, so they stay here.
A love eternal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Nesting is what you call it when you lay out your templates in an efficient a way as possible. I think I have achieved this. I suspect I might have been able to save a couple of square centimeters over in the far corner though!

This is a slightly new style for armour based on Richard Beauchamp's effigy.
Lots of people have fallen in love with Beauchamp's armour. In fact, the armour I made for Eric D. was the "Beauchamp" armour.
The Beauchamp armour is an over the top version of a fairly standard Italian style...Starkey Gardner's book has a great picture of the more "fightable" version of this armour. I think that is what we are going to "go for" rather than the over priced, over the top Beauchamp Armour. But without the fluting...grin!

Drawbacks? well, there is almost no room for "crunch" above the plaquart (what...two inches or so, and less with the strap?) so the armour needs to be super high waisted in order to not drive that plaquart up into your throat when the horse breaks into a canter. Straps are high and hidden away under the shoulders. Plusses...a very functional armour. Looks stunning.

I am making this armour for Phil S. and he knows all the drawbacks and is still okay with going with that style. We will come up with something different, more manoeverable than those big honking shoulders, and drop the waist a little lower in front. As you can see by the layout, I have made the plaquart an unusual length...a good eleven inches. His natural waist is 14 inches from waist to collarbone, so the long plaquart will certainly look good. I doesn't look so long in the picture does it? Well, they never DO until you bend 'em around the body!
What you don't see in the layout drawing above is the back plate. Beauchamp's back plate is a mirror image of the breast plate, well, maybe a little less scooped out on top. Wow! That IS unusual. I made one like that years ago for a guy who was generously proportioned. I didn't show the layout there because the back will be a 18 gauge piece of metal, not the heavy 16 gauge that the front is. The back plate and greaves of course will be eighteen gauge, as will the vambraces, rerebraces and gauntlets.

(I have never found out who did those really nice drawings...if you know, let me know, and I will provide links, or remove them if the owner desires. I find them to be so amazingly useful as a reference that I continually refer to them. I think they were all sent to me as a set several years ago sans info.)

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Grads 2011

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Brown Bess

In the days of lace-ruffles, perukes, and brocade
Brown Bess was a partner whom none could despise -
An out-spoken, flinty-lipped, brazen-faced jade,
With a habit of looking men straight in the eyes -
At Blenheim and Ramillies, fops would confess
They were pierced to the heart by the charms of Brown Bess.

Rudyard Kipling, "Brown Bess," 1911

The Brown Bess musket was the standard "all services" weapon for about a hundred and twenty years...putting the boots to Napoleon and was reliable enough to even find fifty year old guns in service in the war between the States. Its name is German actually, the German words Braun Buss mean "Brown Gun", with the word "brown" in this case having the connotation of being "strong". It shoots a three quarter inch ball twice a minute with a grouping of five inches at fifty yards.
The top picture is me at the Royal Armoury in Leeds, with a short Land Pattern Brown Bess with a MOST unusual rear site. I was not rifled.
The second picture down is a lock which I cleaned up...the third picture is what it looked like before I cleaned it. I had just got a wonderful tool...a vibrating tub filled with rice, barley, sand and brasso into which you drop those rusty old pieces and let them hum for a couple of days. Wonderful tool! Of course, we won't mention how hard it was to get some of those screws out!

And the next two down are from Pedersoli's musket repair manual. Just in case I need parts. Which of course I DID.

Gosh I like messing with flint locks!!!