At our June meeting we welcomed Kindra Jones, a medieval knighthood expert. From the age of fifteen she has been involved in battle re-enactment, especially at Kentwell Hall. Details of knights are found on illustrated manuscripts, effigies, church paintings and the work of writers such as Chaucer.
Knights were part of a knightly class in the C11th with different levels of importance. By the C12th an Arthurian rose-tinted view had developed. By Victorian times the view was called ‘muddy evil’ with an idealised code of behaviour. The ideal of Chivalry was to keep the knights in order. These knights wore well designed armour including helmets, which rather restricted their line of sight. Wealthy landowners would equip their households and take up jousting as a sport. The King’s armour was decorated with gold. Various myths surround knighthood such as whether they were winched onto their horses. This had to be mastered otherwise remounting during battle would be near impossible.
The Bayeux Tapestry shows clear examples of the armour worn. By the C15th chain-mail was worn under the steel armour and leather was boiled in beeswax toughen it. Gauntlets covered the arms, and the armour was surprisingly flexible. Stab vests were worn to absorb the blows.
Kindra had examples of armour which she demonstrated, and also produced a long pointed sword and a broadsword for us to examine. History has a romantic view of Knights. In reality they were killing machines.