Smugglers, slavery, Scandinavians, and sheep: the fourteenth-century origins of English armour “fitting for footsoldiers”

Oplægget ved Brad Kirkland, ph.d.-stipendiat, finder sted mandag d. 8. september i lokale 27.1.49 på KUA1 kl. 17.15.

Fourteenth-century English armourers were tasked with outfitting large armies with armour “fitting for footsoldiers” while lacking both the infrastructure and native iron supplies required to manufacture large iron plates. As a result, the London armourers specialised in mass-producing cheap armour made from combinations of cloth, leather, whalebone, and small blooms of imported Swedish iron. In order to keep English armour costs down, the crown barred armourers from exporting their wares, encouraged import competition, restricted local armour prices, seized armourers’ property, and regularly impressed armourers into forced labour in the Tower of London. These policies incentivised the illegal export market, which increasingly resulted in London-made armour being smuggled to Scotland and throughout the North Sea. This paper will examine the development of the London armour industry and the effects of these royal controls both within London and on the international market.

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