Friday, August 18, 2006

Team Liveries and Badges for Deeds of Arms

Teams of jousters wearing a common livery were a fairly common feature of festive jousts in the 14th and 15th century, particularly when the team was fielded by a king or great noble. Royal jousts in 1389 and 1399 provide examples. In a 1390 joust, ladies also processed in matching livery.

For group combats on foot during the same period, the picture was somewhat different. Accounts of combats proposed or fought in 1406 and 1449 specify that each of the fighters wore their coat of arms rather than a group livery. In a 1415 combat both sides wore coats of arms, but the Portuguese team also wore a red cross on their coats of arms, which was the national badge of their English allies. These group combats on foot were particularly risky and prestigious, and a gentleman that might be willing to submerge his individual renown in a team livery for a festive joust might not be willing to do so for a higher stakes combat.

Devices were associated with such combats, or at least were worn beforehand by those offering to accept them. However, they differed from the badges usually associated with liveries. Such devices included diamonds and gold rods, plates and bracelets, all forms that were more suitable to portable, valuable and fungible ransoms than to easily recognizable badges. Unlike badges that might also be worn by servants and supporters, the devices seem only to have been worn by the champions themselves.

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