Read The Ill-Made Knight Online

Authors: Christian Cameron

The Ill-Made Knight

Also by Christian Cameron



Tyrant: Storm of Arrows

Tyrant: Funeral Games

Tyrant: King of the Bosporus

Tyrant: Destroyer of Cities


Killer of Men


Poseidon’s Spear


Part One: Castillon

Part Two: Venice

Part Three: Constantinople

Part Four: Rome

Part Five: Rhodes

Part Six: Chios


Washington and Caesar

God of War


For Dr Richard Kaeuper, my mentor into
the world of the fourteenth century.



Prologue Calais, June, 1381

Poitiers 1356

Chapter Two

Paris 1357–59

Brignais, 1362

Italy 1362–1364


Historical Note



Arming sword
– A single-handed sword, thirty inches or so long, with a simple cross guard and a heavy pommel, usually double-edged and pointed.

Arming coat
– A doublet either stuffed, padded, or cut from multiple layers of linen or canvas to be worn under armour.

Alderman –
One of the officers or magistrates of a town or

– A form of helmet that evolved during the late middle ages, the basinet was a helmet that came down to the nape of the neck everywhere but over the face, which was left unprotected. It was almost always worn with an aventail made of maille, which fell from the helmet like a short cloak over the shoulders. By 1350, the basinet had begun to develop a moveable visor, although it was some time before the technology was perfected and made able to lock.

– A period term for foot soldiers that has made it into our lexicon as a form of bandit – brigands.

– A member of the town council, or sometimes, just a prosperous townsman.

– In the period, powerful towns and cities were called communes and had the power of a great feudal lord over their own people, and over trade.

Coat of plates
– In period, the plate armour breast and back plate were just beginning ot appear on European battlefields by the time of Poitiers – mostly due to advances in metallurgy which allowed larger chunks of steel to be produced in furnaces. Because large pieces of steel were comparatively rare at the beginning of William Gold’s career, most soldiers wore a coat of small plates – varying from a breastplate made of six or seven carefully formed plates, to a jacket made up of hundreds of very small plates riveted to a leather or linen canvas backing. The protection offered was superb, but the garment was heavy and the junctions of the plates were not resistant to a strong thrust, which had a major impact on the sword styles of the day.

– In the novel I use the period term cote to describe what might then have been called a gown – a man’s over-garment worn atop shirt and doublet or pourpoint or jupon, sometimes furred, fitting tightly across the shoulders and then dropping away like a large bell. They could go all the way to the floor with buttons all the way, or only to the middle of the thigh. They were sometimes worn with fur, and were warm and practical.

– The central holdings of a lord – his actual lands, as opposed to lands to which he may have political rights but not taxation rights or where he does not control the peasantry.

– The word from which we get dungeon.

– A small garment worn over the shirt, very much like a modern vest, that held up the hose and sometimes to which armour was attached. Almost every man would have one. Name comes from the requirement of the Paris Tailors’ guild that the doublet be made – at the very least – of a piece of linen doubled, thus heavy enough to hold the grommets and hold the strain of the laced-on hose.

Gauntlets –
Covering for the hands was essential for combat. Men wore
or scale gauntlets or even very heavy leather gloves, but by William Gold’s time, the richest men wore articulated steel gauntlets with fingers.

– An over-garment worn in Northern Europe (at least) over the kirtle, it might have dagged or magnificently pointed sleeves and a very high collar and could be worn belted to be warm, or open, to daringly reveal the kirtle. Sometimes lined in fur, often made of wool.

– Derived from hauberk, the haubergeon is a small, comparatively light maille shirt. It does not go down past the thighs, nor does it usually have long sleeves, and may sometimes have had leather reinforcement at the hems.

Helm or haum –
The great helm had become smaller and slimmer since the thirteenth century, but continued to be very popular, especially in Italy, where a full helm that covered the face and head was part of most harnesses until the armet took over in the early fifteenth century. Edward III and the Black Prince both seem to have worn helms. Late in the period, helms began to have moveable visors like basinets.

– A non-knightly man-at-arms in England.

– Horses were a mainstay of medieval society, and they were expensive, even the worst of them. A good horse cost many days wages for a poor man; a war horse cost almost a year’s income for a knight, and the loss of a warhorse was so serious that most mercenary companies specified in their contracts (or
) that the employer would replace the horse. A second level of horse was the lady’s palfrey – often smaller and finer, but the medieval warhorse was
a giant farm horse, but a solid beast like a modern Hanoverian. Also, ronceys, which are generally inferior, smaller horses ridden by archers.

– The medieval day was divided – at least in most parts of Europe – by the canonical periods observed in churches and religious houses. The day started with matins very early, past nonnes in the middle of the day, and came around to vespers towards evening. This is a vast simplification, but I have tried to keep to the flavor of medieval time by avoiding minutes and seconds.

– A close-fitting garment, in this period often laced, and sometimes used to support other garments. As far as I can tell, the term is almost interchangeable with doublet and with pourpoint. As fashion moved from loose garments based on simply cut squares and rectangles to the skintight, fitted clothes of the mid-to-late 14
century, it became necessary for men to lace their hose (stockings) to their upper garment – to hold them up! The simplest doublet (the term comes from the guild requirement that they be made of two thicknesses of linen or more, ‘doubled’) was a skin-tight vest worn over a shirt, with lacing holes for ‘points’ that tied up the hose. The pourpoint (literally, For Points) started as the same garment. The pourpoint became quite elaborate, as you can see by looking at the original that belonged to Charles of Blois online. A jupon could also be worn as a padded garment to support armour (still with lacing holes, to which armour attach) or even over armour, as a tight-fitting garment over the breastplate or coat of plates, sometimes bearing the owner’s arms.

– A women’s equivalent of the doublet or pourpoint. In Italy, young women might wear one daringly as an outer garment. It is skintight from neck to hips, and then falls into a skirt. Fancy ones were buttoned or laced from the navel. Moralists decried them.

Leman –
A lover.

Longsword –
One of the period’s most important military innovations, a double-edged sword almost forty-five inches long, with a sharp, armour-piercing point and a simple cross guard and heavy pommel. The cross guard and pommel could be swung like an axe, holding the blade – some men only sharpened the last foot or so for cutting. But the main use was the point of the weapon which, with skill, could puncture maille or even coats of plates.

– I use the somewhat period term maille to avoid confusion. I mean what most people call chain mail or ring mail. The manufacturing process was very labor intensive, as real mail has to have each ling either welded closed or riveted. A fully armoured man-at-arms would have a haubergeon and aventail of maille. Riveted maille was almost proof against the cutting power of most weapons – although concussive damage could still occur! And even the most strongly made
is ineffective against powerful archery, spears, or well-thrust swords in period.

Malle –
Easy to confuse with maille, malle is a word found in Chaucer and other sources for a leather bag worn across the back of a horse’s saddle – possibly like a round-ended portmanteau, as we see these for hundreds of years in English art. Any person travelling, be he or she pilgrim or soldier or monk, needed a way to carry clothing and other necessities. Like a piece of luggage, for horse travel.

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