Arms and Armour in the

Carved Column Capitals in the Cloister of Monreale Cathedral near Palermo in Sicily, 1174 to 1182 AD

The purpose of this site it to link photographs of the capitals to an article about them which can be downloaded as a PDF:
"The Monreale Capitals And The Military Equipment Of Later Norman Sicily" by David Nicolle in Gladius, Vol 15 (1980): pp87-103

THE carved capitals of the Monreale Cathedral cloister near Palermo in Sicily are widely recognised as superb examples of south European Romanesque art. They have been discussed in relation to Romanesque carvings throughout Italy and southern France, and have been used to demonstrate the varying degrees of Islamic influence apparent in Sicilian and southern Italian sculpture. Their dating is reasonably certain: from 1174 to 1182 AD according to Jacquiot and King,l and from 1176 to 1189 AD according to G. H. Crichton.2 The Monreale capitals are thus the last in a series of three important Italo-Norman collections of carvings to show military scenes. The others are those above the north door of the church of San Nicola in Bari which may date from 1099 to l106 AD, and the portal above the north door of the church of La Martorana in Palermo from around 1140 to 1143 AD.

Figures 13-14 & 25-26. Knights fighting Infidels
Man with mace
European with Sword
Figure 2. European Infantry
Figure 3. European with knife
Figure 4. European with face-mask helmet?
Figure 5. European with sword and shield
Figure 8. European with spear and quiver
Figure 10. Swordsmen
Figure 19. Negroid warriors with mace
Figure 20. Sleeping Soldiers at the Sepulchre
Figure 28. Infantry with Round-Ended Sword
Figure 35. Archer with Composite Recurve Bow
Killing a Serpent

Cited Manuscripts & paintings:
Liber ad honorem Augusti sive de rebus Siculis, 1196, by Peter of Eboli
  • Figure 39 - Bohemian archers & Bavarian crossbowmen
  • Figure 40 - Assault by the Salerni on the Terracina Palace, Salerno
  • Figure 41 - Episode of the assault on Capua by Count Richard of Acerra
    Saint-Sever Apocalypse by Beatus of Liébana, SW France, 1028-1072AD
    A Spearman in a Fresco from the Church of San Baudelio de Berlanga, Soria, Spain - 12th century
    Ivory book cover of Queen Melisende's Psalter, 12th century
    Fatimid Manuscript with Two Soldiers, Fustat, Egypt
    Fragment of a Fatimid Lustreware Plate with Spearman
    Fatimid Manuscript with 'Jazrafil who rides an Elephant', c. 1200 AD
    Camel Rider in The Painted Wooden Ceiling of the Cappella Palatina
    Carvings above the north door of the church of San Nicola in Bari-1099 to 1106 AD
    Carvings around the west door of the church of San Nicola in Bari, Italy, 1099 to 1106 AD
    A pair of warriors, one with closely curled and somewhat African hair & an archer in helmet with turban from Trani Cathedral, 1180s Bronze Doors made by Barisano da Trani
    Soldiers of Alfonso III of Asturias in Liber Testamentorum Eccleciae Ouetensis, Catedral de Oviedo, Spain
    Psalter Mount Athos, MS. Pantocrator 61, Byzantine, 9th century

  • Other 12th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
    Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers