I found another collection of medieval documentaries that talk about the earliest knights in the tenth century Holy Roman Empire. Back in those days, some knights would start out as peasants who were called to war by the king. If the peasants achieved great deeds in battle, they were elevated into the nobility with lands, titles, and wealth. While later knights were mostly raised from the nobility, the first knights became nobles due to their own merits. In addition to knights raised from the peasants, there were knights who were born nobles and inherited everything from their fathers. The first tournaments were more brutal and less fancy than later ones because deaths were common even though they were mock battles. When a knight was beaten into submission, the victor claimed their foes and their armor for ransom. When the ransom was paid, these knights would share it amongst others. They were generous mainly for two reasons. First, sharing one’s winnings with other knights, strengthened bonds between them and formed alliances. Second, it made the peasants more willing to work for this knight. Apart from real wars and tournaments, the first knights also engaged in private skirmishes to settle disputes between them. Knights who lost their lands and wealth became robber knights who plundered and pillaged. I am thinking of basing the knights in my new fantasy works on these early knights because the fall of the various monarchies make many knights fall from grace and become less civil.
At my local museum, they showed this video in one of their displays in the Medieval Exhibit. This video depicted a very interesting style of sword fighting called “half-swording”. This style of fighting requires the wielder to hold the sword by the blade instead of the hilt, which sounds dangerous. However, some wordsmiths forged swords that had blades that were partially dulled, which would allow the duelist to grip the sword by the blade. Also, these swords would have heavier pommels that would be used as bludgeoning weapons against a knight’s helmet. The crossguard would be sharpened with spikes that would puncture a knight’s skull. After being struck with either the pommel or crossguard, the knight would be dazed and off balance, which would allow the duelist to exploit the weak points in his opponent’s armor. This was a form of fighting that was almost totally alien to me, but it was fun to learn about it and watch it in action. I might include it in my fantasy series for the sake of authenticity.
The Knights of the Round Table have always filled us with hope, admiration, and joy towards the ideals of chivalry. They have also been King Arthur’s most notable sidekicks apart from Merlin. I am thinking of drawing inspiration from some of these knights for supporting characters in my new fantasy book. Because there are at least 25 knights to choose from, I decided to loosely base them on Lancelot, Gawain, Bors, Tristan, and Percival. These new characters will not be knights at first. Instead, they will start as commoners such as carpenters, butchers, hunters, storytellers, and drunken vagabonds. They will be a band of anti-heroes who are a sharp contrast to the chivalrous knights we have known.
At the museum, I saw a wide variety of different medieval weapons. There were pollards that ranged from billhooks to halberds, crossbows, stiletto daggers, sabers that ranged from sabers to schiavonas, normal swords that ranged from claymores to longswords, strange swords that ranged from hunting swords to katzbalgers, and even smallswords like Arya Stark’s Needle were there. It was a combination between a gallery to an armory. Many of these weapons I included in my fantasy series and I plan to include several more in future works. I was like a kid in a candy store because these rooms were a goldmine of inspiration.
At the museum, I saw all kinds of medieval armor that ranged from plate armor to chainmail. Some of the armor was fluted, others were trimmed with gold, and a few were forged into segmented scale plates. I included some of these designs in my fantasy series and I plan to include more of them in future works. It was like walking through a gallery full of superhero suits.
I went to my local museum today and it had a rich collection of medieval artifacts that came all the way from Florence, Italy. Among the artifacts were armor and equipment of jousting knights. A knight’s lance was tipped with a three-pronged piece of iron. It was designed this way so that the lance would not penetrate a knight’s armor too much and still be able to knock an opponent off their horse. Back in those days, jousting would have been completely pointless if it was completely safe. Imagine being struck in the face with a lance with the force of a 40 mph car crash.
Great news! I discovered that my local museum, the Bowers Museum, will be exhibiting medieval weapons and armor all the way from Florence, Italy. This is just the kind of exhibit I would like to see. I am checking off the days on the calendar as the big day draws near. I will keep you updated on this new development.