Time for some medieval word definitions. This little lot come from a post on Alianore’s blog“Edward II’s Possessions, 1326” and form part of a list of items retrieved from Caerphilly castle in 1326 afterIsabella and Mortimer’s invasion. Alianore wasn’t sure what many of them meant either, so I thought I’d have a go! They all seem to be related to military clothing and equipment.
Aketon – no, not a Japanese martial art. This was a padded and quilted garment which was often the only armour possessed by foot soldiers. Knights also wore aketons under their armour, although in this case it was often sleeve-less. Also known as: acton; auqueton; gambeson; hacketon; haqueton; wambais; wambesium or wams.
Frettes – can’t find a direct translation, but if it comes from the Anglo-Norman verb fretter (to fasten)then it possibly means some kind of fastening. On the other hand, a fret could also be a criss-cross ornamentation. In context of Alianore’s post, where a pair of these are described as having 50 pewter eyelets I would hazard a guess towards something, maybe ornamental (or protective) that could be laced up in a criss-cross fashion.
Gisarme – a weapon carried by foot soldiers consisting of a blade on the end of a long staff.
Hauberk – long coat of mail worn over a gambeson. It was split up the middle front and back to make it easier to ride a horse. The sleeves could either be long, sometimes with a mail ‘mitt’ or else short.
Jazerant – a coat of linen upon which were attached small plates of metal – to be used as a form of body armour.
Pisan – probably the same as ‘pizaine’ or ‘puzane’ – a type of gorget or breastplate which could either be of steel or a jazerant. Common in 13th and 14th century warfare
Sutturre – again, difficult to come up with anything directly from this word. I do think, though, that it comes from the Latin to stitch or to bind. In the context of Alianore’s post “4 sutturres, twisted, of red silk”, I can only guess that these were some sort of special thread – maybe used as arming points to fasten plate armour to garments?
Ventail – the lower, moveable front of a helmet or else a mail coif that hung off the bottom of the helmet and protected the throat and neck.
Gasingale and Bidowes – I have absolutely no idea what these could be! I have searched everywhere and there is nothing even remotely close. Maybe someone out there will know?