Laking, Sir Guy: An early twentieth century scholar of arms and armour, whose book the Arms and Armour in Europe through Seven Centuries remains a cornerstone work in the field.
Lames: The term commonly applied to the plates added between major components to facilitate articulation
. During the 14th century, this was generally accomplished with a maximum of three plates in the arm (two is better), and three in the leg. The vast majority of 14th century articulated harnesses
use only two plates, and the author's handling of two examples indicates that most harnesses probably did not allow for a full range of motion. In all probability, the motions allowed were what was required for the prevailing combat forms of the day, and the styles were in turn probably influenced by the armour technology available. Most lames were formed from very thin iron
plate, generally 18 or 20 or even 22 gage steel
. SCA lames are formed from 18 or 16 or even 14 gage steel, depending on the style of the armourer and the location to be defended. In my experience, hammer
-hardening lames helps to reduce the stress on the plate and gives it a resistance to tearing that helps a piece to endure. Additionally, most lames on the arms and the legs are rarely flat, as they are usually made in the SCA, but are rather slightly dished
. See also Articulation
, Arm Harness
, and Leg Harness
for more details.
Lance (weapon used in the joust): The long shaft of ash
tipped with a sharp iron
tip, varying in length from 9 to 14 feet in length. A vamplate was developed near the end of the 15th century to protect the hand and arm, and lance rests were built into breastplates
from the late 14th century onwards to help steady the lance as the horse galloped towards the target.
Latten: Brass, Bronze or a mixture of the two. Generally a copper base metal with elements of tin or zinc plus other trace elements. During the 14th century latten might well have been used for select armour bits, such as knuckle gatlings
, and for trim on armour during the latter part of the century. This trim might be further enhanced by engraving
(especially Latin phrases from the bible or local mottoes) or by punchwork designed to emulate rivet
Leather, as a material during the 14th century: Before 1350, leather was a common material used to augment mail
defenses. The vambraces
, and greaves
were reinforced with leather that might have been something like modern sole leather, sometimes boiled or painted with beeswax (cuirboille
) or sometimes simply shaped, and finished with something like lacquer. The chief piece of evidence are the funerary brasses
of knights from the period, but these brasses do not help us to determine whether the defenses were gamboised (quilted), leather, or something else.
Legs, defense of
: (See Leg Harness
Leg Harness: Referring to all of the armour pieces defending the knight's leg, including the cuisse
(connecting plates), and greave
or shynbald. During the 14th century the transition was made from the mail
defenses called chausses to the fully articulated leg harness, although the development was not even from place to place. By 1400 the fully leg harness had developed in the form that would survive until the 16th century.
- Major Developments during the 14th century
- 1320-1360 Poleyns are laced directly to the chausse, defending the knee. These poleyns appear to have extended around the knee and to have provided a flared lower edge to ease the transition to the shynbald or chausses for the calf.
- 1320-1340 Poleyns are occasionally reinforced with the addition of a small rondel to the side, additional protection for the back of the knee.
- 1330-1375 The chausse is eliminated in some harnesses in place of a plate cuisse that defends the thigh. By 1375 this plate was made in a single piece and articulated with the poleyn through the use of two or three lames (only one lame is used to articulate the cuisse to the poleyn; two lames are sometimes used for the demi-greave attachment).
- 1340-1400 Instead of a rondel attached by a central rivet, the poleyn itself is extended to form a "wing" on the side of the knee cop, usually some variant on the heart shape. As the century progresses the poleyn is reduced in size and the wing flared in the beginnings of the very broad flair seen on 15th century leg harnesses.
- 1340-1400 Plate greaves become increasingly popular, being made in two pieces front and back, hinged on the outer edge and latching by snaps or buckles on the inside.
- 1375-1400 The full leg harnsses is complete and becomes fully adopted throughout Europe.
: The weapon of the archer
, used for launching arrows, developed in Europe. Compare it with the shorter composite bow of the Saracen, which had a shorter draw but was easier to use from horseback. Longbows were the preferred weapon of the English after the middle 14th century, Edward III recognizing the power of massed artillery (archers) used in combination with dismounted cavalry and infantry. The longbow, with a draw from 30 - 36", could launch an arrow more than 300 yards, deadly against opponents not defended by plate