Insights from Historical Artwork

A unique battle scene from the Holkham picture Bible, early 1300's. Not one fighter appears to have the same exact style of weapon. At least 14 distinct types of weapons are visible (!) including: two forms of sword, buckler, two different falchions, spear, dagger, warhammer, long axe, short axe, one other axe, bow and a strange curved hooked blade (bottom left). Note the slender thrusting style of sword associated more with the later age of plate and the use of axe & buckler below (which he uses to press against his striking opponent’s hands!). Seven different types of helm or head gear are also visible. The top panel depicts knights and the bottom common foot soldiers. Note the variety of armor. The knights wear full mail, one has a coat of plates of some sort. The foot men wear no armor (but one fallen figure has mail), while others may have aketons or gamebsons underneath. On has mail chausses with some additional protection (perhaps leather). Note the visible arming caps. Some of the knights fight bare handed while others wear mail mittens and at least two have rudimentary gauntlets. Interestingly, the footmen below also wear leather gloves. There are at least ten fallen fighters crammed into the illustration and four others clearly being killed.  On the bottom, a fighter at the far left wields an unusual two-handed convex falchion-like blade with a barbed point (it might possibly even be a pole-arm with the shaft cut off or not visible). His helm is also unusual. Next to him, a fighter in a short Corinthian-like helm fights with sword & buckler. He strikes overhead from the buckler side. His opponent employs a low thrust and a high buckler parry. On the right side, a fighter with a short ax held in two hands is stifled by the buckler of an axe wielding opponent. 

HolkhamPictureBibleearly13.JPG (103717 bytes)



Note: The word "ARMA" and its associated arms emblem is a federally registered trademark under U.S. Reg. No. 3831037. In addition, the content on this website is federally registered with the United States Copyright Office, © 2001-2022. All rights are reserved. No use of the ARMA name and emblem, or website content, is permitted without authorization. Reproduction of material from this site without written permission of The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts and its respective authors is strictly prohibited. Additional material may also appear from "HACA" The Historical Armed Combat Association copyright © 1999-2001 by John Clements. All rights are reserved to that material as well.