FOOT-SOLDIERS OF THE ORDENSSTAAT, 15th CENTURY

An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2
by Ian Heath



100 & 101.      FOOT-SOLDIERS OF THE ORDENSSTAAT, 15th CENTURY

These two figures, representing sergeants or mercenaries of the Order, come from a woodcut illustration in a 16th century Polish chronicle depicting the Battle of Tannenberg that is clearly based on an earlier original. The spearman wears a jupon, similar to that of 98, which may conceal some sort of body-armour, but other than the helmet the only armour clearly in evidence is his leg-harness which, as is usual for a foot-soldier, leaves his feet unarmoured. He is armed with a spear some 10 feet in length and a sword, but carries no shield. Unlike those of brethren, the cross on his jupon would not have had silver piping.

His companion, undoubtedly one of the Order’s bow and crossbow-armed mercenaries (he is shown in the original with a bow, but the crossbow was far more common), is of distinctly mid to late-15th century appearance. He wears a brigandine, poleyns, mail hood and kettle-helmet. His pavise is based on a surviving example once in Marienburg Castle and is constructed of wood covered in leather, white-washed and painted with a large black cross. It is 41¼ inches tall, 18¼ inches wide at the bottom and 22 inches at the top. 101a, a pavise of the larger type often called a mantlet, comes from a 15th century Polish painting of the siege of Marienburg in 1410, in which armoured and unarmoured crossbowmen are shown sheltering behind such shields. The Order apparently began to re-equip its crossbowmen with handguns during the first half of the 15th century and certainly had some at Tannenberg. A troop of 60 men raised by the Order in Prussia in 1449 included as many as 8 handguns, as well as 2 light cannon, amongst its equipment.

These same 2 figures appear, inaccurately rendered and in fictional colour schemes, in Saxtorph’s Warriors and Weapons of Early Times (figures 268 and 271), where they are rather inexplicably described as a French archer and an English standard-bearer!




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