Shield of Aodh O Conor

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Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby kevin714 on Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:47 am

In Katherine Simms article Warfare in Medieval Gaelic Lordships there is a shield mentioned that was carried by Aodh O Conor King of Connacht from 1293 to 1309. The description is from a poem called Co'ir Connacht Ar Chath Laighen which is in the Book of O Conor Don in the Royal Irish Academy. The shield is described as white, depicting a dragon and golden branches. Does anyone have any idea of what this shield looked like and what it was made of and what shape it was. My impression is that it was probably a round targe painted white with the dragon and golden branches also painted on. What are everyone elses opinion's or perhaps someone knows exactly what it was. I find it interesting that there might be some evidence of the Gaelic Irish painting heraldic symbols on the their shields, I'm only speculating on that though. Also it seems this might explain the quote I have seen which says there shields were "coloured in the spanish fashion"?? Perhaps the targes that we are replicating for collecting and living history are too drab. If anyone can provide more info on this it would be appreciated. I'd love to have a replica of this shield made or something like it if I could be semi sure of the historical accuracy.
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"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: Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby Conn Cullach on Thu Dec 30, 2010 3:30 pm

For the period, "Spanish fashion" might mean the shield was quartered.
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Re: Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby kevin714 on Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:57 pm

Conn Cullach wrote:For the period, "Spanish fashion" might mean the shield was quartered.


What would quartered mean exactly,forgive my ignorance. In my limited research into that quote I found that the spainish painted their heart shape shields which they adopted from the moors. Also interestingly those who carried the shield if I remember correctly were the spanish jinettes who were light cavalry skirmishers who used javelins, sounds very similiar to the gaelic irish horse of the time. I'm not sure if thats what the quote is refering to or not I have never verified it,hoping maybe someone here can help.
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"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: Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby Conn Cullach on Fri Dec 31, 2010 7:22 am

In heraldic terms it means the shield would be cut into four (or more) sections, with each section indicating a different set of arms depending on things like marriage, vassalage, etc. But they could be referring to something more mysterious and hard to trace, like painting devices in the style of the Spanish. This would translate, possibly, as a boar blazoned on some Irish arms would be painted much like (or in the same fashion) a Boar on Spanish arms.

I mention quartered devices because the Spanish started doing that right around the time of your quotes.
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Re: Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby kevin714 on Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:05 pm

Here is an example of the painted spanish shield I was refering to. Its called an Adarga. As an interesting side note according to the book "Circa 1492 art in the age of exploration" by Jay Levinson the word adarga comes form the arabic al-daraq(shield) which is the origin of the english word "targe" and the french "adargne".
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Re: Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby consmiles on Mon Jan 10, 2011 10:49 pm

[quote=The shield is described as white, depicting a dragon and golden branches.
[/quote]

Hi Kevin,
thank you for sharing such info re a shield of Aodh O Conor King of Connacht from 1293 to 1309
I'd never heard of this before. My researches have not returned much regarding Gaelic Shields for the high medieval period.
When in Clonalis I notice that the family crest of the O'Conor Don is of oak leaves and acorns but when you look online all you get is an oak tree with golden dots/balls (acorns) - so it seems the family retains a copyright on the family crest/colours. There is no photographing allowed inside the house and the entire collection is presented and preserved as if in a museum. The old golden fringed flag showing the golden harp is now almost green when at one time it was a bright blue. I shall inquire when the house opens again in early June.
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Re: Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby Stephen Curtin on Fri May 13, 2011 9:24 pm

Hi Kevin I've been thinking more about this one lately, and I remembered that the warriors on some 14th century west highland grave slabs have heater type shields. Some of these even have clan symbols, such as boats or castles, on them. I think that this is probably a better bet than a targe type shield. Lately I've been trying to find the earliest examples I can of the targe, and the earliest I know of is the 16th century O'Donovan targe, I've heard that there are mentions of targes in poetry as early as the 12th century, but its not certain if this means a targe as we would think of it today or some other form of shield.
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Re: Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby Stephen Curtin on Fri May 13, 2011 11:31 pm

Hi again, one other thing. If this shield was to be shaped like a targe I think that it might have looked something like the piece here http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=15325

This might also explain the "coloured after the spanish fashion" reference. Even though this one is Italian, the spanish also used them, it might also be possible that these were adapted and modified from the moorish adarga.
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Re: Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby kevin714 on Sat May 14, 2011 1:04 am

Stephen Curtin wrote:Hi again, one other thing. If this shield was to be shaped like a targe I think that it might have looked something like the piece here http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=15325

This might also explain the "coloured after the spanish fashion" reference. Even though this one is Italian, the spanish also used them, it might also be possible that these were adapted and modified from the moorish adarga.


That is more in line to what I was thinking. What do you think of the historical claims and accuracy of these targes? http://www.electricscotland.com/webclan ... targes.htm
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: Shield of Aodh O Conor

Postby Stephen Curtin on Sat May 14, 2011 10:54 am

kevin714 wrote:That is more in line to what I was thinking. What do you think of the historical claims and accuracy of these targes? http://www.electricscotland.com/webclan ... targes.htm


AFAIK these targes are not based on any surviving pieces, and were just made as a sort of tribute to prehistoric figures e.g. Conn of the hundred battles. I still think that a heater would be a better fit for Aodh O Connor's shield, but its possible that shields like the ones in the above link were used in the 15th century as a transitional style from heater to targe, this is just speculation on my part though. For what its worth I really like MacIntyre's targes and have thought about getting him to make me one someday, whether they are historically accurate or not.
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