Subject: Ritter knight as Kriegsherr 'gentleman of war'
Culture: Imperial German
Setting: Holy Roman Empire, central Europe late 15thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Gravett ill. McBride 1985 p22
"As the fifteenth century wore on it became usual for Kriegsherren or gentlemen of war to hire troops. The authorities engaged 'pensioners' (Aüssoldner) to offset the power of the nobility, and paid them a small sum of half wages in time of peace. In Bavaria these men received between ten and 25 florins annually for each horse. The old aristocracy continued to supply the bulk of cavalry contingents and remained in positions of command. By the end of the century the Habsburg Maximilian of Austria (Emperor from 1493) was employing knights as line officers and captains of Landsknechts, allowing a spark of chivalry to remain in his professional armies."
* Vuksic & Grbasic 1993 p90
"Unlike Italian armour, which had smooth rounded plates, German armour was covered with fluting, which recalled the broken arches of gothic architecture and, besides being decorative, reinforced the plates. One of the greatest advantages of 'gothic' armour was that it was adapted to the human anatomy, offering maximum protection with minimum weight and limitation of movement. "... A whole gothic suit of armour was never more than 25 kg/55 lb in weight, and its plates were fastened to the corresponding body parts from the inside by leather straps, so that the weight was more evenly distributed and the armour more comfortable to wear. The insides of the shoulder and arm joints were not covered by plates so as to permit maximum mobility; they were protected by mail. But this was also its greatest weakness, as it could be pierced at these points with swords or daggers. Another drawback was that, for easier movement, the helmet was not fastened to the shoulders, as with later models. Thus, hard blows with clubs, swords or other weapons which were not sufficient to pierce the helmet were still enough to put the warrior out of combat, as the force of these blows was absorbed not by the shoulders but by the head. Because of these deficiencies, gothic armour was replaced in the sixteenth century by heavier and more compact styles."
* Talhoffer tr.ed. Rector 1998 p15 (Mark Rector, "Introduction" p9-19)
"Long Sword The long sword, war sword, hand-and-a-half sword, or bastard sword is the chief weapon of Talhoffer's arsenal .... The long sword is between four and four-and-a-half feet in length with a sharply tapering double-edged blade of diamond profile, a simple cross hilt, a fig-shaped pommel, and a handle long enough to be gripped with one or both hands. This weapon is surprisingly light, capable of making blindingly fast attacks, and is suitable for both cuts and thrusts. ... [T]he entire sword is used, either by gripping the blade with the off-hand for strong half-sword attacks, or reversing it to strike with the pommel or to employ the hilt as a hammer to batter through the opponent's defences."
* Edge & Paddock 1988 p128
"The mace and war hammer remained extremely popular secondary weapons. These were often slung from the saddle by a leather thong and weighed between 2 and 5 pounds (0.9 to 2.2kg). By the early fifteenth century maces were made entirely of iron and steel and were equipped with a disc to protect the hand. These maces were between 20 and 24 inches (50 and 60cm) long and were much lighter and more elegant than their fourteenth century counterparts. In keeping with the Gothic feel of the period, they often had sharply pointed flanges pierced to look like Gothic tracery."
* Encyclopedia of European historical weapons 1993 p148-149
"At about the mid-15th century the socket grew longer to finally produce an all-iron hilt, either tubular or faceted; there also appeared heads with ten to twelve flanges. Late Gothic maces of c. 1500 feature flanges profiled in a more complex way, spiked on the hitting side and often pierced on the flat surface. Hafts are often profiled with ribs and the grip at the bottom is confined within two discs. ... In the 15th century the mace became a symbol of commanding authority and maintained this character in the decades to follow."