The National Archives Uniting the Kingdoms?
Print page Close window
 
 

Enlarge

 
 
Enlarge
 

A Welsh view of soldiering

One (Welsh) observer wrote of the Welsh, about 1200, that

Not only the nobles, but all the people, are trained to war.They anxiously study the defence of their country and their liberty; for these they fight, for these they undergo hardships, and for these they willingly sacrifice their lives.They make use of light arms, which do not impede their agility, small coats of mail, bundles of arrows, and long lances. Gerald of Wales, Description of Wales, Everyman, 1908, ch. 9.

This image of a Welsh lanceman dates from the 1280s. It was used by the clerks of the English Exchequer, in a book containing copies of important letters, submissions and homages from Wales and other countries. Pictograms (or drawings) like these were used in the margins to denote the papers relating to diplomatic relations with different areas: they matched up with a similar pictogram on the particular chest that contained the original documents. This Welsh lancemen was chosen for a pictogram as being - for the crown servants who used it - typical of Wales. The lanceman has a sword as well as a lance, no visible armour, and bare legs.

Catalogue reference: E 36/274 (date: c.1282-92)

A Welsh view of soldiering. Cat ref: E 36/274
 
 
 
Go to top of page Print page Close window