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
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.
By Jefferson P Webb
While the Knights Templar are famed for their courage and valor in combat against Islam in the Crusades, these famed and even legendary knights are responsible for more than just the protection of pilgrims to the holy land, or for facing off with Saladin’s forces from Syria. While there are many books and articles composed and published about the Templar Knights, some of which are quite fantastical to the point of science fiction, there are certain contributions that these knights made that have positively influenced western civilization to modern times that need due attention.
“The Order of the Temple was founded as the Order of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ by a French nobleman named Hugues de Payen in 1119 in Jerusalem. Hugues de Payen led the original order of nine knights by the names of Godfrey of Saint-Omer from Picardy, Payen de Montdidier, Andre de Montbard, Archombaud de St. Aignon, Geoffrey Bisol, Roland, Gondemar, and yet a ninth knight whose name is not known. All of these knights took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The Order was founded to protect pilgrims from robbers and bandits who attacked, robbed, and often murdered pilgrims to the Holy Land.”1 The pilgrims, “came in their droves, unaware of the dangers that lay ahead – the roads around Jerusalem were notorious for the bands of robbers that haunted them, preying on the travelers to the Holy Places. Sometimes these robbers were Saracens; sometimes they were lapsed crusaders. To counter this threat, Hugues de Payen gathered together a group of nine knights to protect the pilgrims.”2 “Together these nine knights took on the roll as protectors of the pilgrims in 1119, but the order was not officially established until 1129. “The Knights of the Temple of Solomon of Jerusalem ( Order of the Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ) were established as a religious Order of the Latin Church in 1129, when they were officially accepted at the Council of Troyes in Champagne. They were granted Rule which urged all secular knights to hasten to associate themselves with those ‘who God has chosen from the mass of perdition.’”3