Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1356 English knight
Subjectknyȝt knight
Culture: late Plantagenet English
Setting: early Hundred Years War, France mid-late 14thc
Object: armor


* Bull 1991 p63
"The 'basinet' was a typical fourteenth-century head defence, with a conical skullpiece extending to cover the cheeks and neck, often worn with a visor.  This visor, which could usually be raised or removed, was of several possible patterns.  Best known are the so-called 'pig faces', sharply pointed with 'breaths' or breathing-holes and slot-like 'sights' or vision ports, common towards the end of the century.  Various globular types with barred or perforated fronts are found."

* Norman & Pottinger 1979 p90
"The basinet became first rather egg-shaped and then very pointed.  Those of the nobility were often encircled by a jewelled wreath or coronet.  The front of the visor was drawn out to a sharp point to provide a glancing surface over the face.  The vision and breathing slots were placed at the crest of ridges so that a weapon point could not slide into them off the surface of the visor.  Since the left side, the shield side, was if possible always kept towards the enemy, that the side of the visor was made without breaths so as not to weaken it."

* Prestwich 2010 p40
"At the start of the 14th century this was little more than a steel skull cap, which you could even wear under a great helm.  Then a moveable visor was added, which could be fixed in a raised position until combat began.  This way you could see and hear what was going on, but still have proper protection.  Your neck would be protected by a piece of mail.  Modern bascinets may seem rather odd, for the visor is normally conical in shape, making you look rather like a dog, or even a pig.  Yet this shape is very practical.  It leaves enough air in front of your face so you can breathe, and you are not likely to get a broken nose from hitting your head against the visor.  At the battle of Nogent-sur-Seine in 1359, Eustace d'Auberchicourt commanded the English forces.  One of the French managed to hurl his lance at Eustace.  It hit him on the visor and penetrated it.  Eustace suffered three broken teeth, but he was still able to continue the fight; the visor had taken most of the force of the blow."

* Nickel 1969 p53
"The big helmets that might have given many knights claustrophobia were gradually abolishsed for 'hounskulls', close-fitting steel caps with pointed visors that could be flicked open for easier breathing."


* Edge & Paddock 1988 p77
"In addition to all these [plate] forms of body defence, a garment known as the coat armour was also worn.  These were often used to display the wearer's coat of arms as an aid to identification on the field.  At the very beginning of the century the knight still wore a surcoat or flowing gown over his armour, which probably proved a hindrance while fighting on foot, as it is often depicted tucked up into the belt.  Later, the front of the gown was shortened to expose the bottom of the coat of plates.  By the late 1340s it had risen to knee level both at the front and at the back.  The coat armour, as it was known, was worn in different forms in different countries, but in Germany after 1360 [CONTRA p76 caption]  it ceased to be worn at all.  However, in general, especially in England, it was a tight-fitting padded garment which was sleeveless [CONTRA p79 caption] and reached to just below the hips.  There are two surviving coat armours, both dating to the last quarter of the fourteenth century.  The most complete is preserved in the Cathedral of Chartres and was probably deposited there around the year 1400 by Charles VI of France.  The other, perhaps more famous, is that of the Black Prince in Canterbury Cathedral.  Both garments are quilted vertically."  

* Norman & Pottinger 1979 p88
"By 1360 the whole breast of the 'pair of plates' often consisted of a single plate, although the skirt was still made of small plates or long narrow horizontal strips so that the wearer could bend.  The silhouette of the knight changed a little as a coat armour fitting tightly to the hips became fashionable.  Although this was usually simply a heraldic coat, some were quilted like an aketon to give additional protection, such as the coat armour of the Black Prince which is still in Canterbury Cathedral.  A few coat armours were actually fixed to the body-armour, and in paintings of monuments the hinges can be seen at the join under the arm or on top of the shoulders."

* Bull 1991 p63
"A yet more sophisticated defence was the 'coat armour' or 'jupon'.  Shaped like a civilian coat, this was stuffed with wool; used in conjunction with other defences, it was good at absorbing shock or slashing cuts."

* Oakeshott 1999 p52-53
"Until about 1420 the body armor was still covered by a form of surcoat.  No longer the flowing nightshirt-like robe of the thirteenth century, the surcoat was now a neat, closely fitting garment a bit like a sailor's shirt, fitting closely to the elegantly waisted 'plates' beneath it.  These coats (called today 'jupon' or 'gipoun' after the fashionable civilian garment that it resembled) were usually richly decorated with the arms of their wearers.  In England this garment was called a 'coat of arms' -- the origin of the modern expression denoting armorial bearings."


* Bull 1991 p62-63
"Better armoured protection was continually sought during this so-called 'transitional' period.  By the mid fourteenth century, the metal breastplate was becoming more common, as were 'greaves' and 'cuisses' to protect the shin and thigh respectively.  'Vambraces' were now sometimes added to protect the arms.  Late in the fourteenth century came the 'brigandine', small plates riveted to a canvas coat -- light, flexible and relatively inexpensive.  Often the plates were riveted inside or in pockets, leaving a characteristic pattern of rivet heads on the outside of the garment.  This covering, and tinning of the plates, helped to prevent rusting."

* Norman & Pottinger 1979


* Pettit 1958 p66
"As early as 1350, ... the so-called 'hour-glass' form of gauntlet had been introduced.  This consisted of a single plate protecting the back and sides of the hand -- where it was embossed to the shape of the knuckles and base of the thumb -- narrowing at the wrist and then flaring out to form a short, almost bell-shaped cuff.  The fingers and thumb were protected by small, overlapping plates riveted to leathers which were in turn riveted by their ends to the main plate.  An ordinary leather glove was stitched inside to hold the gauntlet to the hand, while the outside was sometimes covered with fabric as before.
    "After c. 1370 the hour-glass gauntlet seems to have been used to the almost complete exclusion of every other type and a number of examples have survived."