Harquebusier armour

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The armour worn by a harquebusier was a helmet, a breastplate, a backplate and sometimes an elbow gauntlet. Not all harquebusiers wore armour. Some wore just a buff-coat, some wore armour without a buff-coat and some wore both.

The helmet worn by most harquebusiers was the three-barred pot. It is called this because there are three bars on the front of the helmet to protect the face. In modern times it has been called a lobster pot because the neck protection looks like a lobsters tail. This type of helmet was worn by both sides.

Another type of helmet worn by harquebusiers looks very similar but has a single, nasal bar protecting the face that slides up and down. This is a European style of helmet and came from Holland or Germany.

Most armour made in Britain was made in London. During the civil wars London was controlled by Parliament, which made it very difficult for the Royalists to get arms and armour. They had to buy in arms and armour from Europe, which is why a lot of European arms and armour was used. In 1642 Henrietta Maria, Charles I’s wife, went to Holland and pawned some of the Crown Jewels to pay for arms and armour. She landed at Bridlington with enough for 1,000 men.

One Royalist wrote; “Amongst the horse, the officers had their full desire if they were able to procure old backs and breasts and pots, with pistols or carbines for their two or three first ranks, and swords for the rest; themselves (and some soldiers by their example) having gotten besides their pistols and swords, a short poleaxe.”

Quite often a small circular dent can be seen on the breastplate of harquebusier armour. This was made by a pistol ball, but not in battle. If a piece of armour was supposed to be bullet proof this proved by firing a gun at it to see if it was.

The elbow gauntlet was a steel gauntlet with a long steel sleeve that reached up to the elbow. This was worn on the left hand and arm to protect the hand that controlled the horse.

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It was customary for a man to walk with a lady on his left so that his right arm – his sword arm – remained free.