Lady Knight, by Jessie Lam

knight1Lady Knight, by Jessie Lam

“There is still life in the tradition which the Middle Ages inaugurated. But the maintenance of that life depends, in part, on knowing that the knightly character is art not nature—something that needs to be achieved, not something that can be relied upon to happen.” —C.S. Lewis

Though Jessie’s DeviantArt page refers to this as a “speedpaint,” I have to admit that it’s one of the more impressive speedpaints I’ve seen browsing DA. I love the overall look of our Lady Knight. First off, the red hair and grey eyes suggest a Scottish descent, and being around a quarter Scottish, I’ve long had an interest in Highland and Lowland soldiers. Too, she has a competent, introspective, good-humored air about her—as a soldier who respects her foes and isn’t out for honor and glory, nor to prove that she’s tougher than all the men. I like also that she doesn’t have an idealized face: her nose is slightly mannish and her eyes are noticeably misaligned—which I find far sexier than the perfectly-proportioned, doll-faced girls found throughout a lot of digital art. Couple all this with my attraction to confident redheads, and it’s difficult for me to not have a crush on this Lady Knight.

While my historical interests lean more toward Ancient History, I’ll admit that I have kind of a thing for late-Medieval Gothic armor. Though full-plate armor was more often worn by cavalry soldiers than infantry, there’s nothing from the picture that identifies her as one or the other. If she had a lance mount at her right armpit or if we could see if her boots are pointed or rounded, we’d be able to tell for sure. As such, it requires certain assumptions on our part as to her particular role on the battlefield.

knight2Admittedly, full-plate armor could be bulky and cumbersome, plus it took half the morning just to put on. But it was also one of the most durable, highly protective armors ever designed. Though hardly invincible, a knight in heavy plate mail could handle an impressive amount of punishment and still keep swinging. It was strong against bludgeoning and slashing, and could deflect most arrows from any angle but a straight shot. Spears were fairly useless against it (though a sturdy poleaxe could peel it back like a can opener through cheap aluminum). And, quite honestly, I don’t know that a more intimidating form of armor ever existed.

While difficult to see in, her helm keeps our knight’s lovely head protected from swords and maces. Her shoulder pauldrons are symmetrical, rather than having a larger pauldron on the left—telling us that she doesn’t joust in this particular suit of armor but not necessarily ruling it out as cavalry armor. Steel plates and gauntlets protect her upper and lower arms, though interestingly there’s no plating for the elbows, suggesting to me that she relies on a shield to keep her left arm better protected. Her torso is protected by a thick iron cuirass, curved to deflect spearheads and glancing arrows, and is not shaped like her breasts. Her lower armor is difficult to discern due to the picture’s shadowing. Her hips and upper legs are protected by segmented plates, allowing for flexibility whether running or riding. But as far as the rest goes, it’s difficult to say. We can’t see enough of the front to tell if her armor is designed for riding, nor how much protection she has afforded to her legs.

Though she has no visible weaponry, I can imagine our lady wielding any manner of late-Medieval killing devices. If she’s a mounted knight, she’ll definitely have a shield among her armament, and most likely carry a lance of some sort. As a sidearm, she’d most likely carry a broadsword, battleaxe, or flanged mace. A sword, axe, flail, or mace are also probable if she’s a shield-bearing infantrywoman. Or she might carry a polearm such as a halberd, bill, or glaive. In fact, if she is indeed a Scotswoman, it’s not improbable that she might be part of a pike regiment. Other options might include a warhammer or claymore.

In the past I’ve seen research indicating that lady knights may have been more common than previously believed—particularly throughout the Holy Roman Empire, if I remember right. How much more common is still up for debate. Thanks once again to Jessie for letting me discuss her painting, and as always, thanks for reading, folks. Take care and stay awesome.

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2 Responses to Lady Knight, by Jessie Lam

  1. Endoperez says:

    I’m going to be a bit pedantic, sorry about this. You might already know this, but all your readers might not… The way you wrote this gives the impression that if you’re fighting against someone in full plate you could try to *break through it*… and you usually couldn’t, and wouldn’t.

    Plate armor was bulky, but not as bulky as many stories say. Putting it on won’t take THAT long. From the videos I’ve seen I think half an hour would be it, and that with only a little help.

    Here’s a nice video about hitting the suit with a sword, climbing a ladder in armour and a fight demonstration:

    A sword won’t penetrate a good metal armor such a full plate except occassionally. Neither will a spear or a dagger or (at a distance) an arrow or a crossbow bolt OR (most of) the bullets of the time! While it’s theoretically possible to penetrate the armor with those weapons, doing that in combat while the knight knows how to stop you, well, it wasn’t something you’d want to try unless you had armor of your own. They did use various sturdy spikes on weapons to try to penetrate it – like the spike-end of a pollaxe or a halberd, or a pick – but that also required a good hit, and they certainly wouldn’t peel the armor off! On a good hit it PENETRATEs, but that’s a totally different thing. I can’t imagine what sort of a hand-held tool could cut through the metal.

    Also, here’s some clips of Theresa Wendland sparring with sword and armour because you might find it interesting.

    • By all means! Pedantry is often a sign you care enough about something to make sure everyone has the right understanding. Thank you so much for your discussion and videos.

      My understanding is that the earilier full plate was cumbersome and bulky, but got easier to move in as the art of making it improved. Indeed it was highly effective against musket fire, the reason it became less common in combat had to do with cost-effectiveness, rather than vulnerability.

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