Equipment Requirements for Deeds of Arms

What follows are the weapons and armour requirements that Hoplologia has chosen to follow when hosting late 14th to early 15th century deeds of arms. This is just a brief summary. For more information please refer to The IAS Concord. (A Governing Covenant for Conducting Chivalric Deeds of Arms under the auspices of the International Armizare Society. Adapted from the Dekoven Concord, developed by the Companions of the Seven Swords and the Chivalric Fighting Arts Association.) For the rules regarding multi-opponant deeds of arms, please follow the link.

If you need further clarifications, or if you have questions, please contact the event organiser.

BL Harley 4431 The Book of the Queen, folio135, 1410-1414, france

BL Harley 4431 The Book of the Queen, folio135, 1410-1414, france

Weapons

We acknowledge that safety trumps authenticity. This is non-negotiable.

We expect that weapons will be consistent, in both style and materials, with historical models from within the lifetime of Fiore di Liberi (approximately 1350-1420). Weapons from outside this period may be forbidden, limited, or altered by the marshals or host, in order to ensure a combination of safety and ease of scoring, which we believe is optimized in the ‘plate and maille’ period.

Swords, daggers and spear point should be of flexible steel and safe, in the opinion of the marshal and host. The tips should be either ball tipped, “nail” tipped, or covered with a blunting cap.

  • Poleaxe heads should be made of a flexible material, such as rubber.
  • Butt spikes on spears and poleaxes should be rubber blunts.
  • The minimum size for a weapon tip or blunt is 3/8” by 5/8”.
  • Spear and poleaxes should have hardwood shafts.

Use of particular weapons, whether variant or not, in combination with particular armours is at the discretion of the chief marshal.

Weapon Efficacy

This section outlines how weapons and armour will interact, that is, how blows will be judged. 

Details are also presented in a table below. The rules for effective blows against armour are:

  • Thrusts (for dagger, spear, sword and poleaxe head and foot) are effective against Unprotected and Light Armour, ineffective against Heavy Armour.
  • Swords cuts are effective against Unprotected, ineffective against Light and Heavy Armour.
  • Poleaxes cuts (with the hammer/blade or hook) are effective against Unprotected, Light and Heavy Armour.
  • Pommel, quillion, handle or shaft strikes are not effective against armour but may be used to set up follow on strikes/techniques

Armour

We expect that the armour worn will be consistent with styles that were worn by persons of rank chivalric rank during the lifetime of Fiore di Liberi (approximately 1350 to 1420).

As these events are meant to replicate a deed of arms such as would be fought by gentlemen (and, modernly, gentlewomen) at a time when showing ones wealth was important, combatants should wear full armour. These events are not a “war situation,” where a fighter might make different kit decisions, because war is not single combat or brawls between foot soldiers where any combination of armour might appear.

The style should be:

  • chronologically consistent (for example, a coat of plates and an armet would not meet this criterion); and
  • preferably be based either on surviving examples or artistic depiction.

However, as safety is paramount, this does not allow armour that would compromise participant safety. In such cases, discrete additions or modern reinforcements may be required.

This armour will offer protection and clear and viable targets for strikes to the throat, underarms, portions of the back, and so on. Full plate harnesses of the later 15th century, which lack such targets, are not as suitable for the use of these rules. Therefore, the marshals or host may need to modify the rules to accommodate armour from outside the stated period, or forbid, limit, or require alterations.

Any modification of armour to provide less target area, or to give unfair advantage is just that – unfair – and will be judged as such by marshals and conclave.

Combatants will have armour that fits well, functions properly and safely for the wearer, and is well maintained. Rusty steel is not well-maintained and does not fit the ideal of suitable display.

The regulations for a particular deed’s armour will be announced in advance.

Historically consistent armour will most likely be treated as such. Safety equipment, not being consistent with historical armour, may not count as armour with respect to valid blows.

In every case, the final decision about suitability of armour for safety and authenticity is that of the marshal and host.

Armour Definitions

Whatever armour a combatant actually wears is to be judged to fall into one of three generalized categories: Unprotected, Light Armour, and Heavy Armour. The category defines how effective weapons can be. See Weapon Efficacy.

Unprotected: This is anything that does not fall into the other armour categories (including required modern equipment that protects gaps in a combatant’s armour), such as soft leather and lightly padded and unpadded cloth. It specifically includes perforated plate (such as fencing mask mesh). Any blow struck against an Unprotected target is an effective blow and may be deemed ‘fight ending’ by the marshal.

Light Armour: This is maille (which, being the default exemplar, is often used as a shorthand term for the category), hardened leather, properly constructed padded garments and other armours. Unless otherwise specified, Light Armour is proof against cuts but vulnerable to thrusts.

Heavy Armour: This is steel or iron plate, whether hardened or not. Armour of small plates, properly overlapped can also count as Heavy. Unless otherwise specified, Heavy Armour is proof against all blows.

Requirements (include, but are not limited to)

Head

Helmets will be worn and will have full face protection.

  • Helmet steel should at least be 16 gauge, skull and sides.
  • Visors must be tied closed, and not be able to be opened with a blow to the base of the visor or any other part.
  • Any opening in the visor must not allow a 1/4" x 1/2" bar to enter in such a way that it can touch the wearer’s face. Any other gaps in the helmet must not allow unimpeded access to the wearer by a 1/2" square bar. Wider eye slots and other openings must be protected by perforated steel, such as a fencing mask mesh.
  • Pierced steel plate used as face protection, if of a historically appropriate style and size, will count as plate. Other pierced face protection shall count as Light Armour.
  • The use of “open-faced” helmets is allowed with the addition perforated plates (such as fencing mask mesh) to cover any open areas of a helmet. Such perforated plate is considered as “Unprotected” for the purposes of determining armour protection.

Neck/Throat

Solid neck protection for cervical area, clavicles, and larynx will be worn, regardless of its historical suitability for the armour style chosen. This will preferably be of period form such as a plate gorget or bevor.

  • Neck protection may be of impact resistant modern materials if such are concealed.
  • A maille pisane (standard) with a concealed trauma plate for the throat is acceptable.
  • A maille aventail alone is insufficient to protect the front of the throat.
  • Cloth or padded aventails without reinforcement are not suitable. Cloth aventails under maille aventails are deemed suitable and safe.

Hands

Steel gauntlets will be worn that protect the hand, fingers and wrist with a minimum of 18-gauge unhardened steel.

Body

Plate should be a minimum of 18 gauge unhardened steel.

A maille shirt, made with riveted rings, that covers the armpit and any such areas of the torso not covered by plate, will be worn. Sleeves must be secured to the arm at the “cuff” to prevent accidental entry of a thrust, and the shirt must be belted or otherwise secured at the waist.

  • Suitable separate items such as voiders and separate skirts that work with the plate armour worn are acceptable, at the marshal’s discretion.
  • A combatant’s maille may, with permission of the host/presider, be welded. It may not be butted.
  • Safety trumps authenticity. Combatants are expected to wear modern elements of protection to provide a safety margin where historical kit does not.

Footwear

Footwear with a minimal tread will be worn and will not have a blatantly obvious appearance form a spectator’s viewing distance.

Non-historical footwear should be black and generally unobtrusive or hidden beneath sabatons or maille coverings.

Hiking shoes and similar items with pronounced tread are forbidden as they can “lock” a foot into the ground and cause serious injury if the leg is then subjected to force.

Modern Requirements

  • Groin protection (an athletic cup or “box”) for men.
  • Solid chest protection for women. A modern plastic fencing plastron worn under the arming coat or gambeson is acceptable when the combatant is not wearing a formed steel or other breastplate.

 

Text edited by Jean-François Gagné