QUIETNESS and peace were not among the most prominent characteristics of those ages, in which, unfettered by the sage power of judicious and efficient laws, people were taught to seek justice rather by their own strength, than by the intermediation of others. At that period, the songs which sounded most musical to the ears of the iron-cased barons were the romances that told of hard blows and doughty adventures, and the pictures most beautiful to their eyes were such as those which we here give in ouer plate.
The Volume from which they are taken, a fine manuscript of the middle or latter half of the thirteenth century (MS. Reg. 20 D, I.) is well fitted for knightly eyes as well as knightly ears; for it contains a large mass of the romantic history, adorned with a profusion of warlike pictures. In the margin, no less than in the text, the heroes of Thebes and Troy, and other worthies of ancient story, are represented combating with all the arms and attributes of medieval knights.
Our wood-cuts represent some of the instruments used, during the middle ages, in carrying on sieges. In the one at the head of the next page, taken from the manuscript just described, whilst a party are preparing to attempt the breach which has been made in the tower, others are raised by means of a wooden machine to fight on an equality with the soldiers on the walls. On the other side of the picture, similar expedients are adopted to raise the men in the ships.
The other two cuts are taken from MS. Reg. 16 G, VI. a chronicle of France written at the end of the fourteenth century. One of them represents a machine used for throwing great stones at the walls, or into the castle; while in the other we see the assailants, under cover of a kind of shed which has been moved by wheels up to the walls, and which the besieged are attempting to destroy with stones and Greek fire, undermining the tower. This instrument was called, perhaps under different forms, by the different names of, a sow, a vine, or a cat. The latter name was also given sometimes to a machine for throwing stones.
The warlike machines used during the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, seem to have been extremely numerous and complicated, and the knowledge of them was probably brought from the east. Many descriptions of these machines are found in the old chronicles. Their names were generally in the feminine gender; and William of Tudela, in his account of the war against the Albigenses, mentions, among others used by Simon de Montfort, the ill neighbour (la méchante voisine), the lady, and the queen,—
“E dressa sos calabres, et fai mala vezina, E sas autras peireiras, e dona, e reina; Pessia los autz murs e la sala peirina.”
He prepared his calabres, and the ill neighbour, And his other machines for throwing stones, and the lady, and the queen; He breaks the lofty walls and the hall of stone.
The machine called calabra, or carabaga, was also used for throwing large stones. According to William de Rishanger, it was the second Simon de Montfort, son of the preceding, and so famous in our barons’ wars of the thirteenth century, who introduced most of these machines into England.
At the siege of Rochester, garrisoned by the partisans of the king (Hen. III.), he used against the castle a machine which threw stones of the weight of upwards of a hundred pounds.
The initial letter at the beginning of the present article is taken from a MS. in the Royal Library at Paris, of the thirteenth century.
Source: Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages by Henry Shaw F.S.A. London William Pickering 1843.
Byzantine, Medieval, Gothic, Burgundian, Renaisance fashion history
- The Barbarian Invasions. The Migration Period. (Historical Atlas)
- The Gallic and Gallo-Roman costume period. 3rd to 4th century
- Byzantine costume history. 5th to 6th century.
- Frankish Merovingian costume history. 4th and 5th century
- Carolingian Period 752-987. Reign of Charlemagne.
- The Carolingian Fashion Period 987 to 1270.
- Europe in the time of Charles the Great 768 – 814. (Maps, Places).
- The Corset and the Crinolin. Fashion history from Ancient until 19th century.
- 11th to 13th century. French fashion history.
- 11th to 13th century. German fashion history.
- 11th to 15th century. Caps and Hoods fashion.
- 13th century. French male fashion history.
- 14th century. German fashion history.
- 15th century. German male fashion history.
- 15th century. German female fashion history.
- 14th, 15th century. Italian fashion history.
- Eleanor of Aquitaine, Medieval Queen in the 12th century. Fashion history.
- Eleanor of Castile first wife of King Edward I. England 13th century
- Reigns of John and of Charles V. 1350 to 1380. (Medieval, Byzantine, Gothic)
- Reigns of Charles VI. and Charles VII. 1380 to 1461. (Medieval, Gothic, Burgundy)
- Headdresses of the 14th Century.
- Headdresses of the 15th century. The Hennin.
- Headdresses 15th century. The Reticulated Headdress.
- The Influence of the Crusaders to the French clothing. 13th to 14th century.
- The Knights Hospitallers. The First Crusade. 11th century.
- The Knights of the Teutonic Order of Knighthood. History of German Crusaders 12th century.
- The Crusades. The Knights Templar. Medieval military religious order. 12th century.
- Syria during the period of the crusades. Maps, Names, Places. Historical Atlas.
- Life-size warrior figures in full armor and equipment. Greek, Roman, Gallic, Merovingian, Carolingian.
- Armor in England from the 10th to the 18th century
- The Rise of Monachism. Monastic costumes history.
- The Romance of the Rose. The Art of courtly love.
- The Lady of Tournament delivering the Price.
- On the history of costumes. From Ancient until the 19th century.