From Harleian Roll, Y. 6. The Life of Saint Guthlac. Date, about the close of the twelfth century. The figures wear the tunic, hauberk of chain-mail, and square-topped helmets, of which one only has the nasal. The triangular shields are suspended round the neck by the guige : their ornaments are mere fanciful patterns, not heraldic. No armour appears to be provided for the lower part of the figures.
Figure of Goliath, from a Latin Psalter of the tenth century in the British Museum
Additional MS., No. 18,043. The hauberk is coloured blue in the original, apparently indicating chain-mail. The curious combed helmet is of the same hue, clearly implying a defence of iron.
Anglo-Saxon spearmen, from the fine manuscript of Prudentius in the Tenison Library. Date, the beginning of the eleventh century. The drawings are in pen-and-ink only, but very carefully executed: the later subjects by a fresh hand, but all Anglo-Saxon work.
In the monumental effigy of Sir Robert Shurland, who was made a knight-banneret in 1300, we seem to have a curious and probably unique effigy of a knight in the gameson. We give a woodcut of it, reduced from Stothard’s engraving. The smaller figure of the man placed at the feet of the effigy is in the same costume, and affords us an additional example.
Saxon freemen seem to have universally borne arms. Tacitus tells us of their German ancestors, that swords were rare among them, and the majority did not use lances, but that spears, with a narrow, sharp and short head, were the common and universal weapon, used either in distant or close fight; and that even the cavalry were satisfied with a shield and one of these spears.
Saxon Soldier, in Leather Armour
Saxon soldier in armour
Next, round plates of metal, called placates or roundels, were applied to shield the armpits from a thrust; and sometimes they were used also at the elbow to protect the inner side of the joint where, for the convenience of motion, it was destitute of armour. An example of a roundel at the shoulder will be seen in one of the men-at-arms in the woodcut
The cut is a spirited little sketch of a mounted knight. The horse, it may be admitted, is very like those which children draw nowadays, but it has more life in it than most of the drawings of that day; and the way in which the knight sits his horse is much more artistic. The picture shows the equipment of the knight very clearly, and it is specially valuable as an early example of horse trappings, and as an authority for the shape of the saddle, with its high pommel and croupe.
The accompanying wood-cut represents various peculiarities of the armour in use towards the close of the thirteenth century.
Samnite Warriors (From painted vases)
The Romans completely beaten by the Samnites at the battle of the Caudine Forks
Persian Body-guard (from Frieze at Susa)
The Germans had brought with them over the Rhine none of the heroic virtues attributed to them by Tacitus when he wrote their history, with the evident intention of making a satire on his countrymen. Amongst the degenerate Romans whom those ferocious Germans had subjugated, civilisation was reconstituted on the ruins of vices common in the early history of a new society by the adoption of a series of loose and dissolute habits, both by the conquerors and the conquered.