Everyone has to start somewhere, and as I mentioned in General Research, the website Effigies and Brasses is an amazing resource. It has been invaluable tool in developing a better idea of what I really wanted out of the look of my armor, in the context of the time-period and region I want to portray. I’ve said a couple times that my impression is 1396 – 1420, but that’s always been a bit wider than I’d like. 1396 is a clearly defined starting point that I’ll write a post about in the future, but the 1420 end of the spectrum is thrown in there mostly to conform to the popular time frame among my friends at the Swordsman Guild of Kansas City. I’d say the 14-teens is really where I expected the cut off to be when I got into all this.
Perusing the effigies, I’ve gathered about 50 between 1400 and 1420 that contain elements of armor, even if just one piece, that interest me. That seems like a lot (and it really is.) However, when I look at effigies for the way they represent the look I want in their entirety, and not just because of a few interesting elements, there are only about four that resonate with me, and are ones that I will be referencing frequently as the foundation of my impression.
I would like to take a moment to reminding the reader here that I am not intending or interested in recreating any one person in particular. None of these people, the foundation-four or the other forty some odd other references are people I want to be. My goal is to create a unique look that is firmly rooted in historical fact and design without pretending to be any specific historical figure. I want to look authentic and sufficiently accurate (or less inaccurate depending on your take on that semantics argument), but I am my own person with my own unique backstory. Maybe it is petty, but I have no idea how Sir Fancypants of Gilder actually acted, or spoke, or behaved. It seems dishonest to try to present myself as him. The turnip-man is one of a kind, and I like it that way.
The effigies I will be basing the majority of my look off of are:
I do not know much about these people themselves, and I have not done much research into them as people. I’m just using them for their effigies as a way to get a good sense of how their armor was constructed and worn. They are also, coincidentally, all right around the period I expected. They conform to my own personal aesthetics and match, predominantly, where my perceptions line up with the reality of historical armor. Elements of later period armor (and by that I mean a few decades later) appeal to me, but not in their entirety. Pushing my kit into the late teens and early twenties of the fifteenth century would encourage me to drop some of the elements I adore about late fourteenth century armor. My primary contention is the loss of exposed mail as improvements in limb articulation and the neck protection of great bascinets starts to hedge out the older technology. Ponces, aventails, and exposed chain at the joints give late fourteenth century armor a “Mad Max” feel that I find attractive. Even if this makes me an easier target during tournaments in harness, it will just force me to up my game during practice instead of relying completely on my armor.
From here, in this particular line of thought, I will be following up with posts focusing on specific parts of the body. The next one will probably be all the things I like about various helmets from the effigies I selected. Each “piece by piece” compilation will allow me to create both rough sketches and perspective on what the final piece should look like. Using these posts, I can help keep myself on track when I look for stock pieces, or use them as detailed reference when I meet with an armorer to have them commissioned. Most important, I can put all my thoughts in one place and have more knowledgeable people weigh in on what I have and use their suggestions and guidance in settling on a thoroughly authentic, if original, suit of armor that wouldn’t stand out on the field of battle in 1400 ±10 years.
The full list of effigies that I will be referencing over the following series is: