By: Jefferson Webb
Although my great helm served me faithfully for the better part of a decade, I was starting to look around for another helmet to go along with some upgrades to my harness and gear. As I looked around at the various helmets on the market that are mass-produced, I really did not find anything that I thought would be a good replacement. When I looked at custom helmets from some of the outstanding smiths and forges that exist, the price was just much MUCH more than what I was willing to pay. Some of those custom helms are worth it, but I did not want to, nor could I afford to foot that sort of bill. Part of my issue with my great helm I think came from the human desire to change things up sometimes (like redecorating the house, getting a new house or car…). But my research into a new helm also comes from a knowledge that the great helm (in particular this style) was an earlier helmet and as far as we can tell, did not see much use with a harness of plate armour like the bascinet helmets, sallets, and such did. So, the idea that it would be out of place with my harness was lingering there. That said, as a good friend of mine stated in a conversation recently, “The people depicted in most of the sources in harnesses were royalty or nobility, and were able to afford the most up-to-date and complete harnesses. Others such a lower knights and men-at-arms often had to piece together harnesses and this was not so well depicted.” Something that makes perfect sense, and that I already had lingering in the back of my mind as well. Given this conversation and that fact that my great helm has saved my head and face some pain several times over the span of its service to me, I decided to give it an exterior makeover and continue on with this helm. Since it is historically documented that helms were painted from time to time, why not? I decided to share the basic steps with you. (more…)
At many of the training sessions for officers and sergeants of New Ulster Steel Fighting, we enjoy taking time to deal with some of the many questions posed by famed French knight, Sir Geffroi De Charny (c.1306-1356) pertaining to tournaments, jousts and war. We believe these questions are extremely vital to our growth as learners and practitioners of Historical European Martial Arts. To take the time to re-ask De Charny’s questions and contemplate, debate, and explore the possible answers together brings about some very critical thinking, and thus often deep discussion. What’s more, we find that some of the answer possibilities can apply to matters of integrity, and the exercise of good character in everyday life, and not just when undertaking martial activities. (more…)
By Jefferson P Webb
Although the names of heroes throughout history have been recorded in both the written traditions of literate cultures, and oral tales of illiterate cultures, there is one hero whose name remains lost to us. His brief mention in the primary sources of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the Saga of Harald Hardrada speak of his courage and of his incredible martial skill, but his name is unknown to us. What we do know is that according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, this warrior was a Viking of Norwegian origin who fought at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September 1066.1 He fought in the Viking army of King Harald Hardrada against the Saxon army of King Harold Godwinson. After the death of Hardrada of Norway, the Viking army was in flight in what was described as a disorganized, perhaps even panicked retreat. In the midst of the Vikings’ retreat, one Viking warrior held his position on a small bridge that has been called Stamford Bridge in what has been speculated to have been a move to buy time for the other Vikings to regroup and reform a new battle line to face the advancing Saxon assault. Another explanation for his actions could be one of religious belief and a desire to die courageously rather than die on the run in retreat of an enemy. Whichever the case may be, the warrior commonly referred to as “The Viking of Stamford Bridge” made the incredibly brave decision to fight the Saxons alone as the Saxons moved to cross the small “bottle-neck” the bridge created in the movement of the Saxon army. (more…)
By: Jefferson P. Webb
Normally when researching a topic for steelfighting.com or engaging in other scholarly activities, it is recommended and I typically always adhere to utilizing multiple sources for an article, book, or paper. In this particular posting though I have found one primary source that I have found so very valuable that I have used it exclusively here. That source is authored by Chevalier Geoffroi De Charny, and is entitled, “A Knight’s Own Book of Chivalry.” While I have used his book as the only work of literature as a source, coupled with my own experiences and views on the matter of chivalry, which I might add are very much in line with De Charny’s beliefs, this posting is not a book review. Likewise this posting does not come close to covering the many details De Charny gave in his book and I highly recommend purchasing a copy and reading the book if this is a topic that interests you. I find it to be an authoritative work on the topic of chivalry. We at steelfighting.com hope you enjoy this brief look into the topic of chivalry and what it meant in the Medieval period, and furthermore we hope you enjoy reading De Charny’s work should you choose to do so. (more…)
In our imaginations we can picture white-clad knights on horseback with surcoats adorned with red crosses and swords held at the charge when we hear the title of Knights Templar. Surely they earned a reputation for ferocity in battle for their exploits and determination in carrying out their duties as Crusaders for the Church. But what aided in these men becoming the famed knights that they became? There are many things to take into consideration in answering this question. Physical fitness is certainly one obvious area of attention. As is the case with any individual or group of individuals for whom good physical fitness is a priority, dietary discipline is a key focal point in keeping the needed level of physical abilities and fitness. This need for a disciplined diet was not lost to the knights nor was it lost to the Church either.