Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Question from Paul - Tudor soldiers


My son is in Year 5 of Primary Schol and is doing a project on soldiers in tudor times.

Can you help with any information on the dress and weapons used by soldiers in battle and any other general information on tudor soldiers.

Many thanks and any help much appreciated.

Paul Ellingham


Anonymous said...

I did a Google search and this seemed helpful:

Quite a lot of websites came up, aimed at children.

Foose said...

One of the most interesting aspects of Henry VIII's reign from a military standpoint was the shift from the traditional "bow and bill" (bow and halberd) to artillery and big guns, made more difficult by the fact that England had no standing army so the transition was somewhat haphazard. I have a copy of James Raymond's very excellent "Henry VIII's Military Revolution" (the only defect, really, is the villainously small print), which focuses on how England progressed from the bow and bill approach that won Flodden in 1514, to utilizing huge guns and importing foreign gunners to man them, by the time of Henry's 1540s invasion of France.

The use of the pike by Swiss and German mercenaries was taken note of by European monarchs in the early part of the century, although what they usually did was just hire Swiss and "Almayn" (German) troops specially trained in this technique. Raymond says of the English army: "In 1523, the majority of the army, 8,311 men (out of a total of 10,688) was armed with the longbow and bilhook or halberd... The English expeditionary force was to be supported by 4,000 Almayn mercenaries."

Again, as Henry increased his investment in ordnance, foreign specialists were imported. According to Raymond, "England was adopting a policy of new and old weapons, and tactical systems. This was achieved through gradual expansion of English practitioners and the support provided by mercenary and auxiliary soldiers."

Foose said...

On the question of soldier clothing, I've been chewing through Maria Hayward's "Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII," and in the chapter on "Tudor Military Splendour," she writes:

"Some of the levies, that is the troops raised, were issued with a conduct coat or jacket to identify their being in the king's service. The coats were usually green and white (Tudor colors, my note) but the colors were not always specified...

"Occasionally the king provided armour for the troops...

"Henry VIII also employed mercenary companies and the leading mercenaries were given livery to indicate that the whole company was in his service ...."

Henry seems to have inclined to splash the money about when the fighting was in France, as opposed to Scotland, perhaps because of the publicity value to be found on the Continent. "Livery costs were supplied in large numbers for the kng's troops fighting in France ... Clothing was used to indicate rank." There follows a long and elaborate list of clothes supplied, with intricate coloring and slashing distinctions noted, for various officers, trumpeters, grooms, singing children, captains and petty captains, "javelins and northern men," and others who went along on the expedition.

In Scotland in 1541, by contrast, "Henry VIII sent troops north dressed in 'the old fashion with jacks or coats of mail.'" He coughed up more money for "conduct coats" during the invasion of 1543.