Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Castle Thun at War; Metalwork. Castle Chillon. Armor for Women and Men, Castle Defenses

Part III. Women in War 

Men in War
Metalwork, War, Culture

Without the forge, the smith, there could have been no weapons or defenses as effective as were developed in medieval-renaissance times.  Look at the detail work on the mechanisms, the suits of armor for both women and men here at the Chillon Castle.  The woman's is (obviously) third from right. Room for the busty-chesty (not quite Rubenesque, who would have come later) and with an efficient, tidy, defined waist. 

How was the metalwork done. Forges used to be commonplace. See a forge, for farm implements - like scythes - at :// For a history of medieval technology, see ://  It sounds like a short step from the sharp heavy blade of the scythe to the fine steel of the sword, but the differences in tempering, honing, took centuries. Locks, bolts, hinges, not just the swords and armor, all needed for survival. Anything could be a weapon. See ://

The sword - mastery of it began in childhood, with gradual strength building so that the young adult and adult eventually had the shoulder, back, core and arm, hand and wrist strength to wield the 4-foot blade, length estimated here.
Castle stairs as a defense.  The coiled stairs to the tall towers wound up to the right, so that the attacker coming up the stairs (assuming a right-handed assailant) could not swing his sword from his strong side.  The defender, however, looking down at the attacker, had the room and advantage of a full right-arm swing at him.  Ropes were used to thread through as railings, so that if attacked, the rope could be severed and not interfere with the sword's action. A metal railing would obstruct.

Armor.  Armor that covered the entire body was designed for equestrian use. Thus, it is logical that a woman could play that part as needed, and did. Some armor has a female appearance.  It takes time to recognize it, however, because we are not taught that role in history classes. It takes seeing. Then do the research and find that it was so.

Other armor has no such suggestion, just accommodations for different body types.  These do not look at all female.

Now look back at the woman's armor, in its position next to the man's at Thun Castle Museum.  The two are intentionally juxtaposed to show the difference. See Women and Knighthood in the Middle Ages at

Women in war.  Not unusual. Done as needed, and done as the skills and interest warranted.  Then quietly slipped out of the history books as her cultural role became as constricted as the castle coiling staircases, deny the one trying to get up.

Medieval Female Knights.

There were female orders of knights.  See Women Knights at ://   Read about the Order of the Hatchet in Catalonia (Spain) 1149 AD - and the women who defended Tortona against the Moors.  A dame so admitted to the order received benefits, tax exemptions, "and took precedence over men in public assemblies." They were called cavalleros or knights - the author suggests using cavalleras,

Read on there about the Order of the Glorious Saint Mary in 1223, where women of Bologna were granted the rank of militessa. Pope Sixtus dissolved this group in 1558.

On and on.  Netherlands, England, military orders, the female grand-cross. Modern military orders include the French Legion of Honor where the women are called "chevaliers".  Take a day with the heraldica site.  Order thee some armor, lass.

No comments: