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Living by the SwordWeapons and Material Culture in France and Britain, 600-1600$
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Kristen B. Neuschel

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501753336

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501753336.001.0001

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Swords, Clothing, and Armor in the Late Middle Ages

Swords, Clothing, and Armor in the Late Middle Ages

(p.91) Chapter 3 Swords, Clothing, and Armor in the Late Middle Ages
Living by the Sword

Kristen B. Neuschel

Cornell University Press

This chapter explores warrior families and their material surroundings in the late Middle Ages, the late thirteenth through the fifteenth centuries, set in the contexts of the politics and warfare of the age as well as in that of the changing conditions of material life and the documentation that recorded it. It first considers changes in clothing and its ripple effects in the creation and use of other belongings and then treats the changes in metallurgy that permitted new varieties of armor as well as the production of swords in much greater number. The significance of swords must be weighed against the importance of and attention to these other goods that warrior bodies also carried and displayed. Often overlooked is the importance of tournament life for the way warriors invested in, and how they valued, armor. Finally, the chapter argues that written records barely capture the continued importance of a warrior's signature swords. Amid more belongings, and more swords, elites demonstrated their capacity to make a commonplace accoutrement, as swords increasingly were, into a signature belonging emblematic of their special status, by means of special decoration, deliberate collecting, or calculated display.

Keywords:   warrior families, warfare, material life, clothing, metallurgy, armor, swords, tournament life, signature swords, sword production

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