Subject: miles knight
Setting: Norman Conquest, England 1066-1135
Context ( Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Norman/Pottinger 1979 p29-30
"Although the Normans were the descendants of the Norse war-band of Hrolf the Ganger and had only been settled in France for about 150 years, they had profited enormously by their contact with the French. Most important, they had learnt the art of cavalry warfare. By 993 the Norman contingent in the French army fought on horseback. The horse had carried the spearman into battle for many centuries but the spear had been used over-arm to thrust or had been thrown in the same way as the infantry spear. Now men began to tuck the spear under the arm, thus adding the weight of the rider and the speed of the horse to the force of the blow. This use of the spear probably developed because, due to the introduction of the stirrup, the rider sat more firmly in the saddle. Cavalry must be taught to manoeuvre together as a body, and this cannot be done hurriedly at the beginning of a campaign. Thus we find that, unlike the Saxons, who, with the exception of the housecarles, served only in time of war, were called out in time of peace also."
* Vuksic/Grbasic 1993 p66
"In 911, King Charles III ('the Simple') ceded them land which was named Normandie after its new inhabitants. There they found feudalism, and, with their inborn sense of organization, they developed an economic basis sufficient to support a powerful military caste (milites). Although similar processes were going on throughout Europe, the Normans paid most attention to knighthood and chivalry.
"Norman raiders gave a new dimension to mounted warfare, which became deadlier than ever before, and during the next four centuries, infantry could not deal with the Norman attacks. The secret was in the sheer strength of their attack with lances. Three elements contributed to this: a high wooden saddle with a protective pommel, fastened with two leather straps, one crossing the horse's chest, the other its belly; the rider's straight-legged position; and gripping the lance (when used) tightly between the chest and upper arm. Never before had the saddle been fastened to horse so firmly, rider planted in the saddle so securely, and lance gripped so tightly; never before had the impact of fully equipped rider and horse been transmitted so strongly. Equally, a rider thus firmly anchored could withstand a stronger lance blow without being unseated."
* Wilkinson 1971 p31
"The Vikings, after landing from their ships, had frequently rounded up all the available horses and turned themselves into mounted infantry. The Normans developed this into a real cavalry and when William, Duke of Normandy, landed in England in October 1066, the most important section of his army was composed of mailed cavalry. These knights, mounted on small horses, were covered from head to knee with mail, and their heads were also protected by conical helmets fitted with single-bar nasals. For extra protection they carried a kite-shaped shield, and this was sufficiently large to cover the rider from neck to toe."
* Royal Armouries Museum > War
"The Normans were descendants of Viking settlers who colonised north-western France. They adapted their military system to the heavy spear-armed cavalry tradition that had persisted from the late Romans through the armies of the Carolingians.
"The Norman army that conquered England from 1066 was based largely on heavy cavalry, charging with the lance, using sword for the second phase of close combat, wearing mail armour, plate helmet and kite-shaped shield.
"This type of mounted knight dominated the battlefields of Europe for the next four centuries."
* Wright 1996 p63-64
"Conical helmets were worn by both infantry and cavalry alike, sometimes over a coif, sometimes without one. These helmets were usually constructed of thin steel hammered to shape and riveted together with radial and circular bands, with the front panel extending downwards to form the nasal.
"Sir James Mann further points out that many illustrations in the Tapestry depict the lower rim and the nasal constructed in one piece and riveted to the body of the helmet. There was some variety in the Norman army both in the construction and the quality of the helmets used."
* Hermann/Wagner 1979 p8
"Die Helmform war im 11. Jahrhundert konisch, als Gesichtsschutz diente ein angeschmiedetes breites Nasenband. Die entweder aus einzelnen Segmenten zusammengenieteten oder aus einem Stück getriebenen Helme waren in der Regel schmucklos. Diese >>Normannenhelme<< wurden über die Ringkapuze gezogen, die frühernoch ein fester Bestandeil des Kettenhemdes war."
* Livingston/DeVries 2020 p132
"All the helmets shown in the Tapestry are of the same pattern: a close-fitting conical helmet with a somewhat pointed apex and a wide, flat nasal guard attached to the brim and descending down over the nose. While not depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, other artistic sources from the period show that these helmets were secured in place with a leather strap tied under the chin. All of the helmets appear to have been made from a single piece of iron forged into shape, although it is possible that some were made of several pieces of iron attached together -- spangenhelms."
* Wilkinson 1971 p42
"Norman helmets were delightfully functional, lacking all unnecessary 'frills' and designed t o afford maximum protection. There were two varieties of simple, conical helmet worn over the coif -- one hammered from a single piece of metal and perhaps reinforced with a band around the brim, and the other fashioned from a number of sections, with joints reinforced and covered by metal ribs. A nasal, a bar projecting down from the brim, gave some protection from a slash to the face. According to contemporary accounts, William had to raise his helmet during the Battle of Hastings to show that he was still alive, indicating that the nasal was probably large enough to obscure most of the face. A similar bar was sometimes fitted at the back of the helmet to guard the neck."
* Stone 1934 p165
"CASQUE NORMAND. The Norman helmet of the 12th century. It was conical with a broad, straight, fixed nasal." (reference omitted)
* Morillo 1994 p149
"[A]rmor protected relatively effectively against contemporary weapons. King Henry himself twice escaped injury thanks to the strength of his armor: his aerea cassis, or bronze helmet, deflected a stone from his head in a fierce fight outside Laigle in November 1118, and his capitium loricae, the collar or headpiece of his hauberk, saved him from a sword stroke to the head at Brémule."
* Yarwood 1967 p48
"Most men in Norman England went bareheaded. For inclement weather, however, or for older men, the Phrygian cap was still the commonest head-covering. Alternatively a felt or woollen flat cap was worn or a hood attached to a shorter cloak. The latter style was used mainly for travelling."
* Morillo 1994 p79-80
"The most important piece of defensive armor for Anglo-Norman soldiers was the hauberk, a shirt of chain mail. Mail required skill and a good deal of time to manufacture, and was therefore not an item bought in bulk either on county farms or very often king's chamber account. In all likelihood the mail shirt and the conical iron helmet which complemented it were supplied not by the employer but by the employee in twelfth century warfare. That is, each soldier provided his own armor. Undoubtedly some professional soldiers did not own a mail shirt and wore only the quilted gambeson which normally went under the mail (though they would not then qualify as milites, or knights); some members of the fyrd were probably incompletely armored, for instance. But most would have counted mail among the necessary equipment, along with helmet, sword horse, of a professional soldier. Mail was durable and was handed down from man to man, and could be repaired with damaged."
* Wright 1996 p63
"The cavalry were by far the best protected and armed section of William's army. They were equipped with the mail hauberk with the short wide sleeves and the skirt split front and back to make sitting on a horse possible; there was a high pommel and cantle at the front and rear of the saddle. Sometimes the hauberk was continued upwards to form a hood or coif to protect the head. There was a slit in the mail at waist level which permitted the sword to be drawn from the scabbard worn underneath. Some of the more important figures in the Tapestry may be seen wearing chausses or shin guards, also constructed of ring mail, that were tied at the back of the calf.
"In some illustrations of hauberks in the Tapestry there are squares at chest level. Their purpose is uncertain, but they may be some form of attachment for a pad inside designed to take the weight of the heavy suit off the shoulders and eliminate chafing. Clearly these suits, although providing reasonable protection, were extremely heavy, weighing about thirty pounds, and a great encumbrance to free and swift movement. They were usually put on at the last possible moment."
* Norman/Pottinger 1979 p31-33
"The armour of the Normans differed very little from that of the Saxons. Their mail shirt, which they called the 'hauberk', was usually knee-length and slit up to the fork of the legs so that the skirts could hang down on either side of the saddle. Most illustrations show a tight-fitting mail hood made in one with the shirt. Some hauberks were still used without hoods or were worn with what may have been cloth or leather hoods. A few of the leaders in the Bayeux Tapestry have cuff-length mail sleeves and mail hosen worn under the hauberk, but these were rare. The hauberk was worn over a long garment rather like a nightshirt which can have given little protection against the weight and rubbing of the mail. One feature observed only in the Bayeux Tapestry and in two manuscripts is a rectangle on the breast, outlined in colour and apparently sometimes with laces or ties hanging from the corners. No one knows for certain what this was but it may represent an additional layer of mail or an extra reinforce of some sort over the breast, or it may have been the flap which closed the neck opening."
* Livingston/DeVries 2020 p130-132
"Worn by both cavalry and infantry, the hauberk was a mail shirt reaching to the knees with short sleeves made all in one piece as indicated along the tapestry's border of corpses being stripped of their armour by pulling it over their heads -- also an indication of the continued value of the armour. The hauberk was probably worn over, but not attached to, a heavy quilted undergarment, the haubergeon, which added to the defensive capability of the armour, although this is not depicted in the Tapestry. Most hauberks in the Bayeux Tapestry are shown descending to the knees and divided down the front and back to allow greater freedom of movement and comfort, especially on horseback. one figure is depicted with a long-sleeved hauberk, but most have short, wide sleeves, which leave the forearms bare. Coloured bands along the edges of the sleeves and skirt may mean that cloth was sewn onto these to soften the roughness of the metal and to guard against irritation. One horseman is also depicted with additional protection for the forearms, although most are shown with no further protection for the arms or hands. Similarly, very few soldiers wear armour on their legs, although some leaders and other important soldiers, including William the Conqueror and Harold Godwinson, have mail leggings (or chausses). Other figures, again mostly leaders or important soldiers, are shown wearing a mail hood or coif over which their helmet fits. Whether this was connected to the hauberk or was an additional piece of mail, like the chausses, is unclear. Finally, several soldiers, all Norman horsemen, including William the Conqueror, have coloured rectangles on the breasts of their hauberks. These are most likely mail ventails (the face covering of a mail coif), which are unlaced for comfort when not in battle."
* Vuksic/Grbasic 1993 p66
"The mail hauberk grew in size (it now weighed up to 15 kg/33 lb), reaching the knees, and full-length sleeves were added."
* Withers 2010 p31 = Withers/Capwell 2010 p279
"Although it is called a lance, Norman knights used what could more accurately be described as a long wooden spear with a simple, spiked end. It would be held firmly under the arm in order that the maximum force of both man and horse could be transmitted into the charge. Once the enemy had been engaged, the lance could also be transformed into an effective close-combat thrusting weapon, or simply thrown."
* Ashdown 1995 p65-66
"The head of the lance was commonly of the leaf form, and sometimes approached that of the lozenge; it was very seldom barbed, although this variety, together with the others, appears upon the Bayeux Tapestry. The horizontal bar-guards, so characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon spear, are very rarely see at times in the MSS. written subsequently to the Conquest. Nearly all the Norman spears were embellished with pennons of from two to five points. The length of the spear appears to have differed little from that of the Anglo-Saxon, and like that weapon they were of uniform thickness throughout."
* Wright 1996 p64-65
"The lance was of the same type as was used by the infantry, with the same leaf-shaped head though without the cross-pieces of the infantry lance. The long shaft was usually more slender and therefore lighter; it was used over-arm above the head, which on horseback would have meant the lance had to be supported in one hand longer than was necessary for the infantryman. Normally the lance was thrown, and if used with a stabbing motion it would have required considerable skill to withdraw it for re-use while remaining mounted."
* Livingston/DeVries 2020 p133
"The spear was the most prominent weapon in the premodern world. It required little training to use and was versatile, in that it could be used as a thrusting weapon by both cavalry and infantry or thrown. .... Spears also could be of different lengths, although all in the Tapestry seem to be the same."
* Encyclopedia of European historical weapons 1993 p147
"Pictorial records of the 11th century, such as the Bayeux tapestry, depict both foot soldiers and horsemen with clubs or maces. The latter use some kind of elongated pear-shaped club but no more details about it can be deduced from the tapestry."
* Livingston/DeVries 2020 p134
"The Tapestry is the first artistic representation of maces. Although some have interpreted the short-handled, bulbous-headed weapons depicted -- one carried by William, one by Odo and one flying through the air -- to be simple clubs, the odd shapes at the end are more likely interpreted as separate heads secured to wooden sticks."
* Ashdown 1995 p67
"At Hastings the Saxons appear to have used the stone hammer and the Normans a mace having the head heart-shaped; they had recourse to this after the lance had been splintered."
* Wright 1996 p66
"The other weapon that appears in the Tapestry is the mace. It was used as an insignia of office and sometimes by combatant clergy, who by virtue of their office were precluded from using weapons that were likely to draw blood but could go to war with a blunt instrument."
* Wright 1996 p65-66
"After discharging his lance, the knight relied on his sword, a much more personal weapon than the expendable lance. It was broad-bladed and little changed from the original Viking sword. The end was slightly rounded with a hollow running down the length of the blade which aided quick withdrawal by reducing suction if a body had been cut through. However, this sword was usually used for cutting rather than thrusting -- as shown in the Tapestry. The handle was formed from a metal tang which was a continuation of the blade, protected by a short cross-piece. This metal tang was fitted with wooden grips on each side which were attached by binding.
"These swords with their Viking ancestry were very much personal weapons and a great deal of care was taken in their manufacture to achieve the right balance and a perfect temper of the blade. The Vikings knew how to convert iron into steel and the Normans inherited this skill, as well as the folding and tempering of iron by water. There was often much superstition and legend attached to a sword."
* Ashdown 1995 p66
"Remembering that the Normans were essentially a Scandinavian nation, we might fairly expect to discover traces of their origin in the sword of the period, and this we find to be the case. It was still straight, long, and double-edged, slightly tapering towards the acute-angled point. The quillons were straight at the time of the Conquest, but became bent in a small degree towards the close of the period; the grip was without swell, and a spherical knob formed the pommel. The scabbard was suspended upon the left side by a small cord round the waist, but occasionally was supported by the hauberk being passed through a hole in the garment, which thus concealed a portion of it."
* Boeheim 1890 p238
"Im Teppich von Bayeux erscheinen die Schwertklingen von verschiedener Länge, übermäßig lang bei Vornehmen, etwa 60 cm. bei Geringeren und Fußstreitern, meist spitz. Die Knäufe sind in Form einer halben Scheibe, die Griffe besitzen kurze, gerade Parierstangen und ein auffallend kurzes Griffholz. Wenig später treffen wir schon mit dem scheibenförmigen Knauf die etwas nach abwärts gebogene Parierstange. Der Knauf in seiner scheibenförmigen Gestalt hatte nicht allein die Gestimmung, das ausgleiten der Hand zu verhindern, sondern auch dem Gewichte der langen Klinge ein Gegengewicht zu bieten. Aus dieser Ursache werden auch die Knäufe in späterer Zeit immer massiver und schwerer."
* Livingston/DeVries 2020 p133
"The swords depicted are ... all of similar length and show no special construction or ornamentation."
* Bull 1991 p50
"Like its immediate predecessors, the Norman sword was straight, double-edged and suitable for slashing or thrusting. Cross-guards or 'quillons' were short and either straight or inclined slightly towards the blade. Most of the pommels appear to be disc-shaped or round, but some surviving examples, possibly from elsewhere in Europe, are of flattened or 'Brazil-nut' shape."
* Wilkinson-Latham 1973 p3
"When the Normans invaded Britain in 1066, their swords differed very little from those of the Vikings, from whom they had descended. The weapon had a double edged blade with rounded point, a wood or bone grip, a straight longish cross guard and a brazil nut shaped pommel. The scabbards were made of two pieces of wood which were covered in leather and then decorated. This basic style of cross hilted sword remained in use for many years with only slight variations such as the curving forward of the cross guard during the 12th century and the adoption of a round or wheel shaped pommel at the same period. The ornamentation of swords became more complexed [SIC] during this period and the shaping and decorating of the pommel and cross guard varied. During the 14th century triangular and conical pommels were used but in the hundred years that followed the pear shaped pommel came into vogue."
* Norman/Pottinger 1979 p30
"The sword used by the Normans was similar to that of the Danes but usually had a rather longer, straighter guard above the hand, and the tea-cosy-shaped pommel was longer and more like a Brazil nut in form. It was carried in a scabbard on a wide loose waist-belt which the weight of the sword pulled down low over the left hip. The belt was buckled or knotted at the front and was occasionally worn under the hauberk, presumably to prevent it being cut. In this case the sword hilt emerged from a slit in the hauberk."
* Wilkinson 1971 p34
"There was little real difference between the sword of the Norman warrior and that of his ancestors, the Danes or Vikings. All used their swords primarily as slashing weapons, although the Normans increasingly used the point in combat. The blade was fairly long and tapered slightly to the point, and its weight was reduced by the cutting of a shallow groove centrally along its length. This groove, known as the fuller, is often erroneously described as a blood gutter. Some of the earlier blades bore a maker's name inset in large letters.
"Protection for the hand was afforded by a cross-guard at the top of the blade; it had arms, quillons, normally straight but occasionally slightly down-curving. From the center top of the blade projected a narrow extension called the tang, and around this were secured two strips of wood, thightly bound in position by cord or leather thonging. To balance the weight of the blade and ensure easy handling, a weight, the pommel, was secured at the end of the tang. Pommels varied considerably and offer useful evidence in dating swords. Many of them were simply a semi-circular block fitted to a T-bar at the end of the tang. Norman swords tended to have longer, straighter guards than the earlier examples, and the pommel was less like a recumbent D and more like a brazil-nut in shape. All available evidence suggests that the Norman swords were designed for use in one hand and that the hilts offering room for a two-handed grip were a later development."
* Withers 2010 p30 = Withers/Capwell 2010 p278
"A double-edged, razor-sharp broadsword with an average length of around 75cm (29.5in), was the main battle weapon of the Norman knight of the medieval period. It was ideal for swinging at speed and downward slashing. It would be used one-handed and in conjunction with a large, kite-shaped shield."
* Vuksic/Grbasic 1993 p66
"The rider's left side was protected with a kite-shaped shield, which was held in the hand, but, because of its great weight, the shield strap was slung over the right shoulder."
* Norman/Pottinger 1979 p33-34
"The mounted man is particularly vulnerable down the left side. He can protect his right side with his sword but the left side must be covered by his shield, and for this purpose a long shield is better than a round one. In consequence a long kite-shaped shield was developed which covered the body and most of the left leg. It consisted of wood, probably covered with leather and bound with steel bands, usually with a boss in the centre of the upper part. The left forearm passed through a square of straps at the back of the shield, and the hand grapsed a handgrip. There was also a long strap, called the 'guige', which went round the neck over the right shoulder and supported the shield when not in use and took part of its weight from the left arm in action. The surface of the shield was covered with abstract designs, or crosses, or series of dots, and in some cases by winged dragons, but at this time no sign of systematic heraldry can be seen."
* Wright 1996 p64
"All the cavalry and many of the infantry were equipped with long kite-shaped shields. Sir James Mann interprets the fact that none has survived as indicating that they were made of perishable material such as wood or leather. Their size was approximately 36 inches by 15 inches, although they may have been wider, and it has been suggested that the wooden frame was likely to have been made of limewood. Their shape was most practical as the pointed end protected the vulnerable leg of the rider. They were worn suspended by a loose strap around the neck, and controlled in the left hand by a short strap attached to the inside. The outside or display face was often painted with insignia or symbols."
* Livingston/DeVries 2020 p132
"The shields depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, whether carried by infantry or cavalry, are almost all kite shields, long and narrow, rounded over the top and coming to a point at the bottom. Some appear to curve slightly, although how much and whether all kite shields had this characteristic cannot be determined. These were made of wood covered with leather, a metal boss and perhaps a metal rim, although this latter is impossible to ascertain from the Tapestry alone. The shields are shown held in a variety of ways by leather straps (or enarmes) riveted onto their inside. When not used, they are carried by a loose strap draped around the soldier's neck and under an arm. The Tapestry shows that the kite shield allowed foot soldiers to plant the sharper bottom edge into the ground and, by overlapping the wider upper part of each shield, form the shield wall. The shield was also frequently decorated, although there seems to be no consistency in their patterns -- and the late eleventh century is too early for heraldry. Among the designs which appear are birds, dragons, wavy crosses, diagonal lines and saltires, with the boss and rivets also sometimes incorporated into the pattern."
* Nicolle/McBride 1987 p
* Ashdown 1995 p73
"Under the gambeson or the hauberk or both was worn a tunic reaching nearly to the knees, and as a rule a little longer than the defensive garments."
* Black/Garland/Kennett 1980 p25
"The Norman short tunic was always somewhat longer than its Saxon counterpart, reaching two or three inches below the knee. In the case of noblemen, it was also much more richly decorated. Precious stones were even incorporated into the most magnificent of the garments. The Normans also introduced the hooded mantle ...."
* Yarwood 1967 p44
"The masculine tunic, at the time of William I, was little changed from the Anglo-Saxon version. There were still two lengths: knee-length in common use for all in everyday life, and ankle-length for the best dress of a nobleman. Apart from this the two styles were similar; decoration was mainly confined to border patterns of squares, circles, and other geometrical motifs, embroidered at the hem, sleeve edges, neck edge, and opening; sleeves were long, fitting or loose, three-quarter or full length, and usually fuller at the shoulder; the neck was round, and slit in front to permit donning over the head; the whole garment was loose-fitting and confined at the waist by a leather belt. Sometimes the skirt was slit up the sides, often showing the under-tunic at the bottom. Frequently several tight-sleeved under-tunics were worn, according to the rank of the wearer, and the weather conditions. The king, on State occasions, wore an ankle-length super-tunic of richer material and decoration. This was known as a dalmatic, a survival of the Eastern garment of similar name. Its belt was usually studded with jewels. During the reign of William II, the short tunic became longer and fuller, and the ankle-length style evolved into a long, trailing garment, held up in front or tucked in the belt to enable the wearer to walk. Sleeves also lengthened and eventually completely enveloped the hand. These modes continued into the reign of Henry I, become more ludicrous and unwieldy until, towards the end of his reign, Eastern styles, introduced by returning Crusaders, influenced the mode."
* Royal Armouries Museum > War
"Spurs with simple points, called 'prick' spurs, were developed in the Roman period, and continued to be used throughout the Middle Ages. They were worn by horsemen on their heels, and used to goad their horses forwards. As such they became symobols [SIC] of knighthood, and a young knight was said to 'win his spurs' when he became a miles Christi or 'soldier of Christ'."