16th Century Shields

England from the Tudors to the Stewarts, Flight of the Irish Earls, the Discovery of the Americas and Global Trade

Moderator: the_power

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Mon Jul 04, 2011 12:32 am

kevin714 wrote:Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't there a difference between Irish Horseman/Cavalry and Kern. I seem to remember that the Horseman were usually of noble rank and were more heavily armored similar to gallowglass.


Hi Kevin, yes you'r right here on all counts, kern and Irish cavalry (or hobilars) were completely different, and I don't think there is anything in this thread to suggest otherwise, but sorry if the wording was confusing. The O'Donovan shield is actually one of my reasons for starting this thread, as IIRC it is only 19" in diametre, now to me this seems too small to be of much use from horseback, and as it was supposedly owned by a chieftain, thats where I would expect him to be fighting from. So what do the rest of you think, was it too small to be practical for a light cavalryman?
Stephen Curtin
Active Newbie
Full Name: Stephen Curtin
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:59 pm
Karma: 0

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby kevin714 on Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:18 am

Again it would make sense if they would frequently dismount and fight on foot. What about the scottish border reivers didn't they have small shields? And they were similar to Irish Horseman/Hobilars, have you looked into how and why they used small shields maybe there is some answers there?
Kevin Patrick Molloy
"The Prince of Firceall of the ancient sword is O'Molloy of the freeborn name, full power was granted to him and he held his country uncontrolled" O'Dugain(d.1372 AD)
kevin714
Active Newbie
Full Name: Kevin Molloy
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:00 am
Location: USA
Karma: 0

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:02 am

I'm not exactly sure why you think it would make sense for hobilars to frequently dismount and fight on foot. Irish armies of this time already had both heavy and light infantry. The heavily armoured gallowglass were better equipped for pitched battle but as a consequence less mobile than the unarmoured kern, who were better in a skermish. Hobilars had the same armour as gallowglass, but because of their horses were very mobile.

As for Anglo - Scottish border reivers, I've been looking into them as I agree with you that they are similar to Irish hobilars. I've heard some say that they used bucklers, but I haven't been able to confirm this by period source. If they did use bucklers then this probably means that it was a back up for on foot, so that might also be helpful in determining if hobilars did the same.
Last edited by Stephen Curtin on Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
Stephen Curtin
Active Newbie
Full Name: Stephen Curtin
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:59 pm
Karma: 0

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:37 am

the_power wrote:If you need a large shield to catch a javelin, you are doing it wrong. You can catch it single handed reasonably easily, but in combat, if there are a few coming in, you can bat them away with a small shield.


Hi John, I forgot to ask last time, but when you say you can use a small shield to bat away incoming javelins, are you referring to a centrally gripped buckler type shield, or a strapped to the arm targe type shield, or does it not matter? And is this opinion based on any experience, or is it just speculation?
Stephen Curtin
Active Newbie
Full Name: Stephen Curtin
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:59 pm
Karma: 0

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby kevin714 on Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:39 am

Stephen Curtin wrote:I'm not exactly sure why you think it would make sense for hobilars to frequently dismount and fight on foot. Irish armies of this time already had both heavy and light infantry. The heavily armoured gallowglass were better equipped for pitched battle but as a consequence less mobile than the unarmoured kern, who were better in a skermish. Hobilars had the same armour as gallowglass, but because of their horses were very mobile.

As for Anglo - Scottish border reivers, I've been looking into them as I agree with you that they are similar to Irish hobilars. I've heard some say that they used bucklers, but I haven't been able to confirm this by period source. If they did use bucklers then this probably means that it was a back up for on foot, so that might also be helpful in determining if hobilars did the same.


Stephen apparently you misunderstood my statement , I did not mean that it would make sense to dismount and fight on foot frequently, but that "IF" they did dismount and fight frequently on foot having a shield would make sense(at least to me). Since Cavalry would likely have a single handed sword or spear I don't see any problem having a shield on the other arm. Here is a quote from the Na Degad website so apparently they did dismount at times to fight. I'm no sword and shield fighting expert but others may know more about it.

From Na Degad;
"It wasn’t until the arrival of the Galloglaich that pitched battles became more commonplace and the Hobilars began to become more heavily armed and against other native Irish armies the Hobilar could dismount and fight with the infantry, bolstering the fighting quality of the traditionally unarmoured Gaelic warrior in a pitched battle. "

On a side note I just thought of, wouldn't it also make sense to have a shield if your opponent on horseback was charging you with a lance or stabbing at you with a spear??
Kevin Patrick Molloy
"The Prince of Firceall of the ancient sword is O'Molloy of the freeborn name, full power was granted to him and he held his country uncontrolled" O'Dugain(d.1372 AD)
kevin714
Active Newbie
Full Name: Kevin Molloy
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:00 am
Location: USA
Karma: 0

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:03 am

Oh I get you now Kevin. Yes in those cases when they might have chosen to dismount and fight on foot then a shield might come in handy, but they could also have fought with two handed weapons like the gallowglass and so not used a shield. As for using a shield as a defense against lances, I doubt that the Irish ever engaged in a head on charge against enemy cavalry, AFAIK thats not how they fought. I think that they mostly harassed the enemy with missile weapons, and if they broke and ran they chased them down. If they were confronted by a enemy charge with leveled lance then I think that they would retreat. So what does this mean for their use of shields, I think that if they did use shields, then they were first used a defense against incoming missiles, and second slung across the back as a defense while retreating.
Stephen Curtin
Active Newbie
Full Name: Stephen Curtin
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:59 pm
Karma: 0

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby finnobreanan on Tue Jul 05, 2011 1:49 pm

If you look at all the known images of Irish kern from the 1500s, the one thing that is not seen is a shield. Whether it is Derricke, Lucas de Heere, Durer, or the Ashmolean print, they are conspicuous by their absence. The Ashmolean print does show one Kern using an armored gauntlet as a shield, and that seems to be an exception.

Derrick's prints do show Irish cavalry with round shields, but what they would actually be made of would be pure speculation on my part. I would tend to agree that they would have been High Status pieces of equipment. As Stephen has also pointed out on another discussion board, the portrait of Thomas Lee, captain of the Queen's own Kern, depicts him with a round shield on his back. Unfortunately for us, you can only see the back of the rim!
http://www.lib.ed.ac.uk/about/bgallery/ ... 61_jpg.htm
Finn O'Breanan
Wood Kerne

"...The O'Brennans, a sept of thieves without any right or title, ... were a perpetual disturbance to the peace of the county,"
User avatar
finnobreanan
Active Newbie
Full Name: Scott Cross
 
Posts: 439
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 12:00 am
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Karma: 14

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Tue Jul 05, 2011 3:07 pm

finnobreanan wrote:If you look at all the known images of Irish kern from the 1500s, the one thing that is not seen is a shield. Whether it is Derricke, Lucas de Heere, Durer, or the Ashmolean print, they are conspicuous by their absence.


Hi Finn, I would add that javelins/darts are also conspicuous by their absence, but there is plenty of literaral evidence for both being used by kern. As for what material the shields from John Derricke's "Image of Irelande" were made of, I would say steel, because of their convex shape. Round wooden shields from this period tended to be flat, while the steel ones tended to be convex.
Stephen Curtin
Active Newbie
Full Name: Stephen Curtin
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:59 pm
Karma: 0

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby kevin714 on Wed Jul 06, 2011 2:20 am

Stephen,
I'm no expert by any means but if I was on horseback and there was even a chance that someone could come at me with a lance or stab at me overhand with a spear I wouldn't mind having a shield available to defend against it, I don't see how it could not benefit me even if I was not trying to engage. Sling it over my back just in case.
Also all evidence I have seen suggests that cavalry for the most part always used single handed swords since it was more practical from horseback. I have never heard of any accounts of western cavalry using two handed swords. Have you?
Kevin Patrick Molloy
"The Prince of Firceall of the ancient sword is O'Molloy of the freeborn name, full power was granted to him and he held his country uncontrolled" O'Dugain(d.1372 AD)
kevin714
Active Newbie
Full Name: Kevin Molloy
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:00 am
Location: USA
Karma: 0

Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:17 am

Kevin, I'm also far from any kind of expert, and I agree that a shield slung across the back would be a good idea, for just in case it was needed, but whether this was actually done or not is the question. The problem is that AFAIK there are only three period depictions of hobilars; John Derricke's Image of Irelande, the de burgo family bible, and one from the 14th century showing three hobilars charging downhill at an English army. Of the three only John Derricke's (which is probably the least reliable) has shields of any kind. So I think to find the answer we will have to find some literal evidence, do you know of any literal descriptions of hobilars carrying shield? I know you've got one description from a Spanish visiter in the late 14th century who describes the equipment of O'Neil's cavalry, and IIRC there was no mention of shields, is this correct? evidence, do you know of any literal descriptions of hobilars carrying shield? I know you've got one description from a Spanish visiter in the late 14th century who describes the equipment of O'Neil's cavalry, and IIRC there was no mention of shields, is this correct?
Stephen Curtin
Active Newbie
Full Name: Stephen Curtin
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 10:59 pm
Karma: 0

PreviousNext

Return to Early Modern

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron