Your night in shining armor? Maybe not.
|Pictures from Philly Museum|
I recently had the opportunity to listen to Dirk Breiding an Assistant Curator and Armor expert of the Armor Gallery of Metropolitan Museum of Art. The information shared over that hour was so fascinating and great at debunking armor misconceptions that I had to share it.
Because the further you go back in time the less documentations survive and also the less objects that survive. There are actually very few experts in the field of Armor, which also adds to much of the problems of misconceptions. There are very few items that have survived in the true medieval time period (15th century and earlier). To add to that there are very few people who have handled true pieces of armor and their weapons.
What does survive are the stories. There is the hero, the damsel in distress, the hero's horse and romance. These are at the bases of the misconceptions. What is the first thing you think of when someone mentions a knight or damsel in distress or just medieval times? Is your first thought 'A Knight in Shining Armor?' According to Dirk Breiding that is the first misconception.
|Picture from Philly Museum|
Why do you ask? Well, when we hear of the age of chivalery it is actually the 13th and 14th centuries. During this time armor wasn't really that shiny at all other than possibly the helmets. The rest of the armor was made of mail. These small interlinking rings don't really make up for shiny armor. Just for a little extra debunking mail was never called chainmail.
|Pictures from Philly Museum|
Another misconception is that the armor was extremely heavy, about 100 pounds. I have to admit that in my online research and even some book research that I too believed this was correct but as it turns out, armor weighed about 60 pounds. That is close to what our troops today are required to haul around with all their equipment and backpacks.
And because of that misconception another one was formed. The assistant curator partly blames this one on Mark Twain poking fun in his book A Yankee Knight in King Arthur's Court where Twain talks about how hard it is too get around with armor on and to get on your horse. A screen play from the 19th century, When Knights were Bold also makes fun of Knights getting on their horses and moving around. People latched onto this idea and by 1944 when Sir Laurence Olivier played Henry V he went against his 2 armor experts who advised him not to do the scene where they showed him being hoisted onto his horse.
So how did one get on his horse. Interestingly enough the same way I do. He put one hand on the saddle, one foot in the stirrup and swung up in it. There are pictures starting from the 12th century on up into the 16th century that portray knights mounting their horses this way. In some pictures they show someone holding the saddle. I'm guessing to keep it from slipping off to the side as they put all that weight in the stirrup. What was really fascinating about this curator's video is that they had come by some real armor that had been badly restored so one of the employees put the armor on and showed how easy it was to mount a horse. They also show a sword fight, lounging on the ground and getting up. All movement was really quite easy.
He also mentioned that in the Marshal of France autobiography (from the 15th century) he tells how he could do cartwheels, jump over his horse, do somersaults, jump into the saddle of his horse, and he climbed on the underside of a ladder using just his arms. The Met museum showed a picture of one of their employees doing a cartwheel in full armor!
Mr. Breiding mentions that we sometimes think of these people as not being inferior and less intelligent than us. He also brings up the point that these are the same people that built buildings that are so well built that hundreds of years later they are still standing and they are so breathtaking people travel from all over the world to see them because they are a work of art. These are the same people that invented the eye glasses and built ships to sail on the ocean. The armor that the medieval people made (he showed on this video) was nothing short of a well oiled piece of machinery. The foot piece he demonstrated moved better than any cowboy or work boot made out there today. If you'd like to watch the video yourself, here is the link.
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After the death of her cruel father, Brithwin is determined never again to live under the harsh rule of any man. Independent and resourceful, she longs to be left alone to manage her father’s estate. But she soon discovers a woman has few choices when the king decrees she is to marry Royce, the Lord of Rosen Craig. As if the unwelcome marriage isn’t enough, her new husband accuses her of murdering his family, and she is faced with a challenge of either proving her innocence or facing possible execution.
Royce of Hawkwood returns home after setting down a rebellion to find his family brutally murdered. When all fingers point to his betrothed and attempts are made on his life, Royce must wade through murky waters to uncover the truth. Yet Brithwin’s wise and kind nature begin to break down the walls of his heart, and he soon finds himself in a race to discover who is behind the evil plot before Brithwin is the next victim.
Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children's Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses.