LANDSKNECHT c.1500

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



[Based on Battle at Old Älvsborg Castle in 1502, Västergötland, Sweden, by Paul Dolnstein]
120.      LANDSKNECHT c.1500

From a ms. of 1502 depicting German mercenaries in Danish employ, this is one of the earliest detailed depictions of a Landsknecht that has come down to us. Although armour was apparently uncommon amongst the early Landsknechts it is significant that in this source most men wear a breastplate with fauld and tassets, though no backplate (as was to become customary amongst them in the 16th century), and the majority wear pot-shaped sallets as depicted here, though soft caps are also to be seen. The slashed costume characteristic of 16th century Landsknechts had not yet been adopted, though bright colours certainly prevailed from the outset. Arms comprised the Katzbalger, a short sword about 28 inches long with S-shaped quillons that was generally worn hilt downwards as depicted, and either a pike or a halberd. Others were arquebus-armed handgunners. One of the illustrations in the original shows the Landsknechts drawn up in typical square battle-array with their pikemen forming the outer ranks with their halberdiers and banners enclosed in the centre.



Next: 121. BOHEMIAN INFANTRYMAN c.1400 in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 2 by Ian Heath