What equipment was supplied to members of the royal household for the 1415 campaign?


By Dan Spencer

In the medieval period when a king went to war he was accompanied by a large number of men from his household.

These included the knights and esquires of his chamber who waited on him, as well as officials and servants who fulfilled the different functions necessary for the running of the royal household. We know that in 1415 many of these men served on the campaign.

The men from the royal household who served as men-at-arms were generally expected to provide their own equipment. However they could on occasion make use of armour from the Great Wardrobe. The Great Wardrobe was responsible for supplying and maintaining goods for the royal household of the king, including items such as cloths, spices, furniture and furs. From the fourteenth century onwards this also included responsibility for arms and armour.

Some idea of the equipment available to the royal household in 1415 can be seen from the financial accounts of Robert Rolleston, who was appointed keeper of the Great Wardrobe on 10 June 1418, (no information survives for the year 1415 itself). This document is preserved at the National Archives in Kew, reference E 364/6 membrane 11 dorse. His accounts also include those of a John Hill for 1416-1418, who was an official tasked with looking after the king’s armour. The equipment he was responsible for included 9 bascinets, 13 pairs of plates, 8 pairs of rerebraces with 1 pauldron, 5 pairs of pauldrons, 4 pairs of sabatons, 1 pair of schynbalds with 1 poleyn and 7 pairs of vambraces. This gives some indication of the armour available to the king and his household. This principally consisted of bascinets to protect the head, pairs of plates to protect the torso, rerebraces, pauldrons together with vambraces to protect the arms, as well as schynbalds and poleyns to protect the legs and sabatons to protect the feet. Men-at-arms would also require additional items, such padded jackets to wear under their armour, and mail aventails to protect the neck, which would be attached to bascinets.
This information came from Anne Curry, Agincourt: A New History (Stroud: Tempus, 2005), A. L. Brown, The Governance of Late Medieval England 1272-1461 (London: Edward Arnold, 1989), Calendar of the Patent Rolls, 1416-1422, p. 150, The National Archives E361/6 m.11d, accessible from AALT, http://aalt.law.uh.edu/AALT7/E361/E361no6m11d_31413-31418/IMG_0109.htm

Picture of a pair of sabatons and leg armour, taken from Wikipedia and is in the Public Domain