Targets vs Heater Shields

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Targets vs Heater Shields

Postby Fortinbras » 10 May 2014 16:05

In terms of infantry combat, what are the relative advantages of the two designs (I'm talking about the round target shield that straps to your arm and the late 13th century and onward heater shield). Is there a reason that the round infantryman's shield seems to have fallen somewhat out of use sometime around the 11th century and then come back during the Renaissance (albeit in a somewhat different form with two straps instead of a center-grip) I recall reading someplace that the target was used by the Scots as early as the 12th century, does anybody know anything about this?

Also, does anyone know of records or depictions of members of the knightly class using round shields while dismounted during the 13th or 14th centuries? I'm putting together a kit for re-enactment purposes that consists of a mail shirt and great helm and one of my friends has offered to make me a rotella. I'm wondering how anachronistic that would be.
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Re: Targets vs Heater Shields

Postby Sean M » 10 May 2014 19:14

Fortinbras wrote:Also, does anyone know of records or depictions of members of the knightly class using round shields while dismounted during the 13th or 14th centuries? I'm putting together a kit for re-enactment purposes that consists of a mail shirt and great helm and one of my friends has offered to make me a rotella. I'm wondering how anachronistic that would be.

"Can I justify wearing X?" can be the start of a slippery slope while "what would the third man from the left in this 13th century illumination be wearing?" at least gives you a clear goal to shoot for.
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Re: Targets vs Heater Shields

Postby KeithFarrell » 12 May 2014 09:00

Fortinbras wrote:In terms of infantry combat, what are the relative advantages of the two designs (I'm talking about the round target shield that straps to your arm and the late 13th century and onward heater shield). Is there a reason that the round infantryman's shield seems to have fallen somewhat out of use sometime around the 11th century and then come back during the Renaissance (albeit in a somewhat different form with two straps instead of a center-grip) I recall reading someplace that the target was used by the Scots as early as the 12th century, does anybody know anything about this?


Some Highland Scots used bucklers until around the 16th century (if I recall correctly), then began to use the targe. However, for a long period of history, the majority of lowland Scots would have been armed in a similar fashion to English warriors, albeit perhaps a little behind the times. Different local areas in Scotland and the islands had slightly different fashions and customs; it is almost impossible to make general, sweeping statements about Scotland's arms and armour through medieval history, let alone Britain as a whole!

Fortinbras wrote:Also, does anyone know of records or depictions of members of the knightly class using round shields while dismounted during the 13th or 14th centuries? I'm putting together a kit for re-enactment purposes that consists of a mail shirt and great helm and one of my friends has offered to make me a rotella. I'm wondering how anachronistic that would be.


I suspect this would be painfully anachronistic. Furthermore, wearing just a mail shirt and a great helm will not be appropriate armour if you want to portray a knight in the 13th or 14th century - there will be other items that you will need as well if the portrayal is to be authentic and correct.

My suggestion is that you look into at least one of the following books. The more study you do, the better you will understand what you should be aiming for, and the more accurately you will be able to talk about the arms and armour of the character in that era. Each of these books will be comprehensive and a good starting place, but if you can manage two of them, or even three, you will be able to understand the subject much, much better. The list in descending order of priority:

Christopher Gravett. Knight: Noble Warrior of England 1200-1600. Osprey Publishing, 2008.

David Edge and John Miles Paddock. Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight. Crescent Books, 1988.

Ewart Oakeshott. European Weapons and Armour. Lutterworth Press, 1980.
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Re: Targets vs Heater Shields

Postby Dan Howard » 13 May 2014 09:58

Slightly off topic but I was wondering what the difference was between targes and targets. "Target" literally means "little targe" so it seems that the targe was bigger. Froissart mentions a knight being carried off the field on a targe so it has to be something fairly substantial, rather than a little round shield that only covers the forearm. Modern texts don't really help - they seem to use targe and target to refer to the same shield
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