Saturday, November 08, 2014

The Bridport Muster: 1457

The Bridport muster  roll gives an unusually complete record of one of the musters held by the Lancastrians in 1457. Held at Bridport in Dorset, it records the arms owned, or that should have been owned, or in 82 cases were not owned, by 201 named individuals. Frequently the contraction ordinab occurs, probably for the Latin ordinabitur, or "he was instructed". Presumably it reflects equipment the individual should have had, but didn't bring to the muster. It's unclear how many of them the authorities expected to actually make good the deficiency, and how many would simply by fined.

For those that actually had bow and arrows, the most common kit was was jack, sallet, bow and arrows, often with a sword and dagger, for 33 individuals. Two had jack, sallet and habergeon: the 1473 Burgundian ordinance of St. Maximin de Tréves expected mounted archers to wear a a habergeon beneath their jack. One had jack, wallet and leg harness. One had a sallet and habergeon. 20 had bow and arrow, but no armor. 7 of the archers had a sallet as their only armor.  5 had a jack but no sallet.  Two had brigandines but no sallet.

This is somewhat at variance with Le Fèvre and Waurin's report that most of the English archers at Agincourt were unarmored: one would expect an expeditionary force to be better equipped than a local muster. Probably the many Welsh foot archers were less likely to have armor, and so brought down the average prevalence of armor among the archers as a whole.

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