Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>800 Carolingian schola
Subjectschola heavy cavalry
Culture: Frankish
Setting: Carolingian empire, western Europe 8th-10thc


* Venner 1986 p39
"A Poitiers, en 732, on estime que l'armée de Charles Martel compte un cavalier pour cinq fantassins.  Son fils, Pépin le Bref, augmente la proportion de cavaliers: un combattant sur deux.  Quelques années plus tard, avec Charlemagne, la proportion est complètement renversée, les cavaliers sont plus nombreux que les fantassins.  La raison est claire.  Un armée montée gagne en mobilité et l'empire carolingien est immense.
"Le noble guerrier franc est donc devenu par nécessité un homme de cheval: un chevalier."

* Carey, Allfree, & Cairns 2006 p49
"Initially, the Carolingian army comprised mostly infantry, but as campaigning took him farther and farther from his base in Austrasia, Charlemagne soon relied increasingly on mounted troops over infantry.  His numerous capitularies point to the raised status of cavalry.  Between 792 and 793 he issued regulations requiring vassals to have a horse, shield, lance, sword, dagger, bow, quiver and arrows.  In other royal decrees wealthier nobles were ordered to come to war wearing mail and were asked to bring rations for three months of service and clothing for six.  Furthermore, these great magnates were to make certain their own vassals came on campaign with a standarized panoply consisting of shield, spear, bow and twelve arrows.  Even attendants were required to be armed with bows."

* Hábitos y costumbres del pasado 1996 p127 caption
"Soldados francos  Los caballeros montados eran la espina dorsal del sistema feudal.  Fue durante el reinado de Carlomagno que apareció la caballería armada: usaban los estribas para controlar las monturas durante las batallas.  Desde entonces, la caballería se impuso en la estrategia medieval."

* Reid 1976 p32-34
"Charlemagne's accession in 800 AD marked the start of a new phase in the art of war in Europe.  He consolidated the Frankish use of cavalry and enforced a strict code of discipline on a levy whose maintenance was the responsibility of the state.  Instead of calling every adult male to service, Charlemagne's hereban ordered small groups of men to supply the arms and equipment for one soldier.
​    "To match the Avar horse-archers and the armored hosts of Lombardy and the Saracens, the proportion of cavalry in Charlemagne's army had to be increased.  The mandate does not mention mail, decreeing only that the cavalry were to be equipped with shield, lance, sword and dagger.  By 803 AD, owners of a total of four mansi were to supply these items and one man to bear them."


* Nicolle ill. McBride 1984 p11-12
"Spears were the most common and cheapest weapons for all warriors.  Those Frankish followers of King Carloman's envoy Dodo, who sacked the Lateran Palace in 769 AD, were seemingly only armed with spears, though they also wore mail.  Such weapons for both horsemen and infantry had large horizontal lugs or wings beneath their blades.  These were not to stop the weapon from penetrating too deeply into its victim, nor were they particularly suited to cavalry warfare as has sometimes been suggested.  Lugs first appeared on 4th-century Germanic weapons, and probably indicated a parrying, almost fencing use of the spear.  In other words the weapons were designed as pole-arms for both cut and thrust.  Such a style of spear fighting is also indicated by the languets extending from the blade some way down the shaft. These clearly protected the wooden shaft from sideways cuts by an enemy, and were well known from the 7th century onwards. Neither lugs nor languets are relevant to the couched style of lance-play." 


* Vuksic & Grbasic 1993 p60
"It is now impossible to determine whether burnia was a particular type of armour, named after the metal platelets and rings (brynja) sewn on to a goatskin shirt, or just a generic term for body-armour.  Carolingian knights used armour found  throughout Europe, of the type worn by Avars and Byzantines: lamellar, mail or scale hauberk and mail coif."

* Carey, Allfree, & Cairns 2006 p67
"The mail shirt lengthened to cover the hips, and mail greaves or chausses also appeared.  The round shield gave way to a kite-shaped shield in order to protect the equestrian's leg.  These changes offered superior protection for the knight against his unmounted foes, while giving him the necessary reach to kill them."


* Vuksic & Grbasic 1993 p60
"The sword was the most expensive and important piece of equipment; its production required great forging skill, and its quality reflected the status of its owner."

* Calizzano 1989 p58
"La période carolingienne produit des épées à lame nettement plus longue et atteignant le mètre.  Pour équilibrer le poids, le pommeau terminal de la poignée devient plus massif et la plaque ovale de la garde se transforme en une barrette à section quadrangulaire d'environ 12 cm de long.  Cette arme convient essentiellement aux coups du tranchant et aux fendants à la poitrine, et ppermet manifestement d'appliquer des coups puissants, spectaculaires et décisifs.  La littérature chevaleresque de l'époque fait état de combats réglés par un coup bien asséné qui défonçait un casque ou tranchait net une cotte d'armes et une bonne partie du chevalier qui se trouvait dessous.  De célèbres épées appartiennent à ces deux périodes: ScaleborDurendal ou Joueuse de Charlemagne qui, d'après la légende, portait planté dans son pommeau un clou de la Sainte Croix."

* Carey, Allfree, & Cairns 2006 p66-67
"The rise of medieval heavy cavalry can be traced in the technological evolution of arms and armour, with the centrepiece of the knight's offensive arsenal being his sword.  The evolution of the cavalry sword in Europe dates back to the Roman spatha and Germanic swords of antiquity, long narrow weapons designed for slashing rather than thrusting.  In the Germanic world, the sword was a symbol of manhood, sometimes given to a boy at birth or at his naming, or presented at his majority as a symbol of his rite of passage from child to warrior.  These weapons were often given personal names and became heirlooms passed on from generation to generation.  In Charlemagne's many capitularies that refer to weapons, the sword is always prominent and was often represented as the cavalryman's primary weapon.
    ​"Evidence of the primacy of the sword in the Carolingian cavalryman's panoply can be seen in the disappearance of the francisca and single-eged scramasax in the eighth century, replaced by the 44 inch long sword, better suited by its reach for combat on horseback."

* Tarassuk & Blair 1979 p471
"In the Carolingian period the various parts of the grip became more defined and specialized in their function; the elongated small oval plate peculiar to the Merovingian period was turned into a small four-sided bar about 10 cm. (4 in.) long, i.e., the guard. The wooden grip ended in a pommel with a rectangular base which was larger and more massive at the center. The form of the Carolingian sword clearly shows that it was an excellent fighting weapon designed for cutting; larger and longer than the earlier swords, it measured 95 cm. (37-40 in.), the increase in length, and thus weight, being counterbalanced by a more massive pommel."


* Nicolle ill. McBride 1984 p12
"By Carolingian times the Frankish throwing axe or fransiska had been abandoned in favour of the seax, a single-edged short-sword or large dagger.  This may again have been of nomadic Asiatic inspiration, as was the contemporary Islamic khanjar.  While in Scandinavia the seax developed into a sizeable single-edged sword, in Frankish Europe it became a shorter dagger known as a scramasax."