16th Century Shields

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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby kevin714 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:17 am

Hello Stephen seems long but I am never far from all things involving Irish History on the net, always watching searching learning. I think the cavalry are using arm straps like a targe, I'm leaning towards arm straps on the spear figure and just not sure about the kneeling figure.
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)
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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby kevin714 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 3:46 am

Stephen Curtin wrote:Oh I almost forgot. As far as cavalry shields used by the Irish, I dont know of a single literal or pictural piece of evidence for them, other John Derricke's "Image of Irelande" and this might not be the most accurate source. The shields shown in this book appear to be steel targets, and are used by both Irish and English cavalry, thing is that I don't know of any other piece of evidence for English light cavalry using shields like this, or any other country for that matter. This probably means that they weren't used. I'm still not sure if shields like the one from the portrait of Sir Neil O'Neill would have been used (or even practical) from horseback.


The Spanish were famous for there light cavalry jinetes and their shields. Most famous is their heart shaped ones but they also used round ones as can be seen from this painting of the battle of La Higueruela in 1431. The jinetes were still in use through the 16th century and even in the new world much later. In the first picture its Spanish vs Moorish cavalry both using shields. I find it interesting that the moor is holding his spear in overhand fashion much like the Irish have been said to have done. I could easily picture this type of skirmish happening in Ireland between Irish and English not in a full out charge but in a skirmish much like this and a shield looks very useful in this situation. In the bottom picture of the same battle you can see Spanish cavalry with round shields in the bottom right and heart shape on the bottom left.
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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)
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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:41 am

Very nice painting Kevin, thanks for sharing. I have looked into the similarities between he Irish hobelar and Spanish jinetes. Though lately my attention has shifted towards comparing the kern with the almogavurs, who were Spanish light infantry javelineers. One difference I did note between Spanish and Irish light cavalry was the use of stirrups. As a side note many of the figures in the paintings you posted seem to be wearing saffron dyed clothing, which is a habit that we apparently took from the Spanish.
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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby kevin714 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 5:50 pm

Yes I too have noticed many Iberian/Hibernian similarities. And even without stirrups that shield would be very handy deflecting that lance in a skirmish, it might knock me off the horse but I'd be alive to jump back on and ride away. The painting also shows many examples of light cavalry carrying round shields like what is portrayed in Derricke's image of Ireland, I'm surprised you missed this in your research.
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)
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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby kevin714 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:00 pm

In this picture I can see 3 round shields with arm straps and the one in the middle looks a lot like the one on the ground in Derricke's picture(ie. the arm straps).

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Higueruela.jpg
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)
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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:14 pm

Hi again Kevin, as we're discussing things that I said earlier in this thread, I think that I should point out where my opinions have changed. I no longer believe that a large shield would be better than a targe sized shield for kerns, in fact I now believe the exact opposite. A large shield could slow the kern down, whereas as John Looney pointed out a small sield can be used to parry or deflect an incoming projectile. I still believe a targe sized shid would not have been practical from horseback. While I now agree that a larger shield can be practical for light cavalry, there is still no literal or pictorial evidence for their use among the Irish hobelars of the13th through 16th centuries. While there are shields in Derricke's Image of Irelande, as Daithi pointed out even the English soldiers are incorrectly deicted with shields, so I don't believe that we can thrust this source.
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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby kevin714 on Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:05 am

Well you were mistaken when you said you could not find any evidence of light cavalry from any country using shields as shown above and I believe you are mistaken when you said there is still no evidence for shield use among Irish cavalry between the 13th through 16th century. Here is literary evidence from a bardic poem to Aodh O Conor, King of Connacht 1293-1309, it describes the king as clad in a cotton undershirt (cotun), a coat of mail (luireach) a pisane or collar of mail (coilear) reaching from shoulder to breast, golden spurs (spuir) and armed with a sword, a spear and a white shield, on which was depicted a dragon (or dragons) and golden branches. This is from Kathrine Simms, Warfare in the Medieval Gaelic Lordships page 105 and 106. I have more literary evidence from the 16th century I will post tomorrow if I have time.
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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:08 am

Well Kevin it appears I will have to concede that point. I was aware (thanks to your thread) of the shield of Aodh O Connor, but I didn't know that the peom described the rest of the chief's equipment, making it c hat clear that he intended to fight from horseback. If I might be allowed to save a little face, can I just point out that when I spoke of the lack of light cavalry using shields, I meant contemporary with John Derricke's Image of Irelande, by which time I believe the Spanish had abandoned the jinetes. Kevin If you have more 16th century sources I would be glad to see them.
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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby kevin714 on Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:25 am

Stephen Curtin wrote:Well Kevin it appears I will have to concede that point. I was aware (thanks to your thread) of the shield of Aodh O Connor, but I didn't know that the peom described the rest of the chief's equipment, making it c hat clear that he intended to fight from horseback. If I might be allowed to save a little face, can I just point out that when I spoke of the lack of light cavalry using shields, I meant contemporary with John Derricke's Image of Irelande, by which time I believe the Spanish had abandoned the jinetes. Kevin If you have more 16th century sources I would be glad to see them.


Here is the additional literary evidence from the 16th century(Thanks to Bob Gresh) it is from 1590 even later than the Derricke images;

"The German visitor von Munchausen from Cologne in Feb. 1590 was quoted in the book "Diaries of Ireland: An Anthology 1590-1987", 1998, by Melissa Lennox-Coyngham. It was the earliest diary in the book, and he says "When they ride upon a horse they have neither stirrups, nor boots, nor spurs. They wear a coat of mail over their bodies, a shield hanging from their arm, and they have a long spike in front of their saddle (spear-point?), and a servant running 10 or 20 steps behind. The servants only wear a helmet and carry a broadsword at their sides, the upper part of their bodies being naked." (This may simply mean they are unarmoured in the torso.)"
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)
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Re: 16th Century Shields

Postby Stephen Curtin on Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:10 am

Thanks Kevin, thats great. Would this be the same Bob Gresh that wrote the article for myArmoury?
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