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Selected illustrations of military interest from the

Treatise of Walter de Milemete, London, England, 1326-1327


















Christ Church MS. 92
Walter of Milemete, Liber de nobilitatibus, sapientiis et prudentiis regum; England (London), 1326-1327
Language(s): Latin
The full-page illuminations include:
Fol. 3: St George presenting Edward III with the arms of England
Fol. 3v: mounted knights, approaching the facing recto
Fol. 4: the storming of the Castle of Love with ladies throwing flowers at the attackers
Fol. 4v: Edward III seated to the left of his mother, Isabella of France, above their blazons, and with an angel presenting each with a flower
Fols 5-70v Walter of Milemete, Liber de nobilitatibus, sapientiis et prudentiis regum
Fols 59v-60, a full opening: a battle scene among mounted warriors (those in the arms of England on the left), with the wounded, severed heads, and a ‘pilour’ stripping a corpse at the page foot
Fols 72-78v: outline drawings of various military pursuits.
The line drawings of fols 72-78v, perhaps only unfinished outlines for painted pages, depict:
fols 72, 73: knights defending a castle;
fol. 72v: a man-propelled rolling siege engine;
fol. 73v: defenders repelling an effort to scale the walls of their castle;
fol. 74: two soldiers operating an engine to throw flaming materials;
fols 74v-75: a similar machine, in this case windmill-like, throwing beehives, with the bees flying out to attack a castle and its defenders opposite;
fol. 75v: miners with pickaxes being protected from defenders’ stones by soldiers with raised shields;
fol. 76: a bowman with a flaming pot attached to his bolt;
fols 76v-77: soldiers erecting a rolling siege tower with ropes, and defenders of the castle;
fols 77v-78: soldiers control a balloon with a hauser, while it floats over a walled city with a flaming bomb to be dropped;
fol. 78v: a soldier operating a catapult.
These are likely to represent a history of Richard I’s exploits on the Third Crusade
The codex was certainly prepared in London for Edward of Windsor, the eldest child of Edward II and Isabella of France, the keeper of the realm from 26th October 1326, and king as Edward III, crowned on 1st February 1327.
Source: Christ Church, Oxford

Referenced as figure 223 in Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era, 1050-1350, Western Europe and the Crusader States by David Nicolle.
223A-M Treatise of Walter de Milemete, London, c.1326
(Christ Church Library Ms. E. 11, Oxford, England)

The early illustration of a cannon in Walter de Milemete’s treatise on Nobility, Wisdom and the Prudence of Kings has tended to divert attention away from other interesting pieces of armour and weaponry in this manuscript. The picture of a gun (A) is perhaps slightly more accurate than has sometimes been thought. Small bottle-shaped bronze hand-guns of more elongated form than the object shown here were apparently mounted on shafts about a metre long. The large cannon in the Milemete illumination seems to be based on such small guns. Perhaps these were the only firearms with which the artist was familiar. In reality, larger early cannon were generally tubular in shape, being built up of strips and hoops of iron. Nor were they, of course, mounted on flimsy trestles as shown here. All firearms were almost certainly fired by a red-hot metal touche, as shown in this manuscript. Other interesting pieces of arms and armour in Walter de Milemete’s treatise include a round-topped great helm with a movable visor (B). Such helmets may, at least as far as their visors are concerned, be seen as a transitional stage leading to the later visored bassinet. Other helmets include a large and almost pointed great helm with a crest (C), a tall and broad-brimmed chapel de-fer war-hat of somewhat Germanic form (D), and many close-fitting cervelliéres or early bassinets (E-G and I-M). Another figure (D) also has an early example of a throat-covering barbote. Such a piece of armour would become popular in various parts of 15th-century Europe but at this period seems mostly to have been limited to Italy and the Balkans. Mail hauberks with mittens and coifs are seen (E, F, H and J-M). Roundels protect some shoulders (C-G and M) while rectangular ailettes are seen twice (H and I). One or two men have roundels at their elbows (D and E) and tubular arm defences are shown in a somewhat rudimentary manner (E-G), as are greaves (E, H, M and K). A series of small circles might indicate a coat-of-plates worn by a figure without a surcoat (I). This figure also shields himself with a large round-based infantry mantlet. Spears are widely used, but another foot soldier also carries a spiked weapon with a hook at the back (K).

For terms in italics see Terminology in Armour of the Crusading Era, 1050-1350 - Western Europe and the Crusader States - David Nicolle

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