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Elisabethan pictures

Queen Elisabeth attends a wedding in Blackfriars.


This is one of my favorite Elisabethan pictures. It's clear evidence that rapiers weren't just for street thugs or pirates. Starting at the left we have Edmund Sheffield, later Earl of Mulgrave, in pink; Thomas Howard, Lord Howard of Effingham and Lord Admiral in white; George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, in orange; Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, in a dark cloak with brown canions; an unknown knight (possibly Robert Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex--also shown below) in white; and Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, in green and carrying the Sword of State. Note that all of these men are Knights of the Garter, England's most prestigious order of knighthood, as is the figure in the foreground, Edward Somerset, the Earl of Worcester.

The fellows with the polearms lining the parade route are the Gentlemen Pensioners, Her Majesty's bodyguard.

Another Elisabethan favorite, the Pelican Portrait.

Pelican portrait.PNG

Tourney Toys

Were rapiers used in tournaments? I've yet to find conclusive evidence.

Robert Radcliffe, Earl of Sussex, armed for combat at the barriers.

This is one of several pictures suggesting that rapiers might have been used in Renaissance tournaments. The original is on display at the Royal Armoury in Leeds.

There is a similar picture in the National Gallery in London. if you go here and type "Moroni knight" in the search box, it's the top image. Once you get that image, there's a toolbar on the right edge that allows you expand the image and scan across it to get lots of details. The picture is dated 1554-58. (It's copyrighted by the National Gallery, so I can't put the image itself here, but it's well worth a look.)

Here's another suggestive image, taken from the Valois Tapestries of the early 1580s.

Valois Tapestry barrier color closeup.PNG

While the fighters are wearing rapiers, they're actually fighting with spears.

The entire tapestry can be seen here

But on the other hand, there are these sketches of Elisabethan tournaments:

Elisabethan tournament0001.jpg

Combat at the barriers. Note that the swords used do not look like rapiers. Note also the baskets of extra swords to either side. This suggests that the fighters are using wooden wasters, not steel blades.

Elisabethan tournament0003.PNG

More Elisabethan barrier combat. Note the screen in the background. It was set up to protect Her Majesty from flying splinters--another indication that the fighters were using wasters instead of metal swords. (Note also that the fighter in the foreground is fighting left-handed.)

Elisabethan tournament0002.PNG

The entire picture from which the previous image was taken. Tilt, tourney (mounted sword against sword) and barriers (spear and/or sword.) This was the standard format for Elisabethan tournaments.

Mask drape

This is a technique I've used ever since the rules were changed back in AS XIV (1979) to include covering the back of the head. Instead of a separate hood worn under my mask, I attach the hood directly to the mask. The major advantage is that once I take the mask off, my entire head is free to enjoy the balmy Ansteorran breezes. The only disadvantage of this technique is that you have to have a fairly high collar on your doublet to prevent blades from sliding under the edge of the mask drape and hitting skin.

Mask drape front and right.PNG

View of the front and right side. Note that the hood is sewn to the back edge of the mask. That means there is no fabric covering my ears or the sides and top of my head--again, slightly cooler than a hood. You can also see the strap I use to keep the mask in place.

Mask drape rear and left.PNG

View of the back and left side. Since the cloth is sewn to the inside of the mask, there is no rim of fabric to catch a blade tip as it slides by. You can also see the snap hook and D-ring I use for fastening my mask. This gives a nice, secure fit, but can be unfastened quickly and easily, even when wearing gloves.

Armor Requirements

Torso protection 3.PNG

A reasonably accurate (but not "official") diagram of what armor is required for various parts of the body in SCA Rapier and Cut & Thrust combat.

Women in duels

Here are several similar images from combat manuals of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The common themes are that the male combatant has limited mobility--he's either in a hole in the ground or, in the last image, in a large bucket--and that the woman is using some sort of flail weapon. Talhoffer describes it as a 4 or 5 pound rock either in her sleeve or her veil.

Solothurner Fechtbuch 1423 a.PNG

From the Solothurner Fechtbuch (or "Fight-book) of 1423. In this instance, the man appears to be unarmed, but obviously still able to defend himself.

Talhoffer 1467.PNG

A couple of very similar images from Talhoffer's Fechtbuch of 1467. This one is described as being a duel between a husband and wife.

Talhoffer, 1459.PNG

Another image, from the 1459 edition of Talhoffer.

Unknown combat picture.PNG

A slightly different method here. Unfortunately, the website where I found this gives no indication of what it is, or where it comes from. Judging by the woman's dress, I'd guess mid-1500s.

Period Practice Weapons

This is a practice rapier belonging to Don Hans Durmast von der Wanderlust. When he bought it, the tip has a rounded point slightly wider than the blade itself--roughly the size and shape of a grape. He has since sharpened it.

Dormouse practice rapier.PNG

A main gauche and a practice main gauche on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Note how the practice dagger blade resembles a modern flexidagger. Judging by the hilt design, I'd say these are from around 1620. Another, slightly earlier practice dagger is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Here's a picture.

Dagger and Practise Dagger Met.PNG

An Italian practice rapier from around 1580, on display at the Royal Armoury in Leeds. The blade has a rectangular cross-section, somewhat like a modern Italian foil. Note the pyramid-shaped button on the tip.

Italian Practice rapier.PNG

Long Rapiers

A selection of blades from Egerton Castle's "Schools and Masters of Fence." Note especially items 7 and 9, a couple of rapiers that are nearly as long as the great sword, item 5.

Here is Castle's description of the various blades:

  1. Sword, early fourteenth century, with plain cross hilt, stiff double edged blade and disk pommel.
  2. Ancient Gothic two-handed sword (attributed to Wallace.)
  3. Italian sword, end of fifteenth century, with square Venetian pommel, quillons horizontally counter-curved, and long flat blade.
  4. Braquemar, middle sixteenth century, with short broad blade, incurved quillons, imperfect pas d'ane and broad side ring.
  5. Two hander, early sixteenth century, with long blade (5' 1") and extraordinarily long quillons. Inscribed "Je pense plus." [I think more.]
  6. Elisabethan rapier, close of sixteenth century.
  7. Italian rapier , close of sixteenth century, with ringed guard and blade of prodigious length (5' 5".)
  8. Elisabethan rapier, (blade 4' 2".)
  9. Rapier with conventional bar hilt (blade 5' 1" long.)
  10. German rapier, close of sixteenth century, showing straight quillons, with side ring, pas d'ane and shells.
  11. Rapier, first years seventeenth century, with small hilt, showing an approach to the Transition shape.
  12. Italian flamboyant sword. Hilt without pas d'ane.
  13. Venetian schiavona, with Spanish blade inscribed "Un Dios, una Ley, un Rey." [One God, one Law, one King.] Date about 1570.
  14. Venetian schiavona, with Spanish blade inscribed "Viva el Rey de Espana." [Long live the King of Spain.] Date, about 1580.
  15. Venetian schiavona in its original sheath. Date about 1580.
  16. Venetian schiavona, 1590.
  17. Italian basket-hilted sword, by Andrea Ferrara.
  18. Transition rapier, early seventeenth century.
  19. Broadsword, temp. Charles I. Blade by Andrea Ferrara.
  20. Long horseman's sword (claymore) middle seventeenth century.
  21. Rapier or spadroon without pas d'ane, middle seventeenth century. Blade inscribed "Sahagum."
  22. Broadsword, latter part of seventeenth century, by Abraham Stamp, Solingen.
  23. Colichmarde with silver hilt, temp. Charles II.
  24. Small sword, temp. George I.

Crossbow Test

This is the result of a discussion about the efficacy of crossbows during a D&D game. Elapsed time, one minute. Eight bolts shot from a distance of 30 or 40 feet, all hitting lethal target areas.

Using an SCA combat crossbow at a distance of 30 or 40 feet, shooting as rapidly as possible.

Lantern Buckler

These are some pictures of a combination buckler and dark lantern from the Higgins Armory in Massachusetts. It was on display at the Mayborn Museum at Baylor University in Waco TX, in conjunction with a Lego Castle exhibit.

The description card for the lantern buckler
Front view, with the light flap open.
Another view of the front of the buckler.
Side view, showing details of the grip and lantern design.

And, just for fun, some pictures from the Lego part of the exhibit.

A pair of life-size Lego knights.
A dragon and its hoard.
A Lego copy of the maze at Leeds Castle in England.

Ansteorran Mastodons

Ansteorran Cadets have a history of pulling off some rather amusing pranks on their Dons from time to time. These are pictures from their most recent one: They got a batch of stuffed mastodons, and decorated them appropriately for all the Master- (and Mistress) Dons who were at Queen's Champion in May of AS XLVI (2011.)

All the Mastodons
Tivar's Mastodon
Showing my black-and-red trunkhose.

Robin's Mastodon

Robin of Gilwell's moustache is famous (or pehaps notorious is a better word, since it was once used as an excuse to start an inter-baronial war.) It's even displayed on his coat of arms.

Simonn's Mastodon
Eule's Mastodon
Robert's Mastodon
Don Robert has a very nice set of red leather boots.

Gwenneth's Mastodon
Ansgar's Mastodon
Some years back, it was noticed that Don Ansgar bears a disturbing resemblance to General Zod from the 1980 movie Superman II.

Modius's Mastodon
Don Modius is famous for only wearing black and white, including a rather impressive feathered hat.

Duncan Hepburn's Mastodon
Don Duncan is currently the Baron of The Steppes in Ansteorra. Part of the barony's device is an oak tree, hence the squirrels.

Iago's Mastodon
Conal's Mastodon

Miscellaneous Pictures

Mostly from our trip to England in 2003. Castles, cathedrals, swords, armor and suchlike.


Ruins of Acre Castle
A motte and baily design, dating from around the time of the Norman conquest. As with many castles in the British Isles, this one is best described as "orderly piles of stones."
Bridge over the motte
We attended an SCA tournament at Acre. This is some of the tourney-goers crossing the motte on a modern bridge.
Bridge battle
Armored bridge battle at Acre Castle. Curiously, the powers-that-be allowed armored combat but not rapier fighting in the castle itself. We had to do the rapier tourney outside the motte.