Skip to main content

Beautiful brushwork 

Detail of pavise, 15th century, V.10. Royal Armouries, CC BY 4.0

Pavise (V.10)

This 15th century shield is of the type known as a pavise. Pavises were oblong shields used in the late Middle Ages all the way to at least the 16th century. They were smaller, like this object, or much larger and able to fully cover a crouching person. They were used by infantrymen in close combat accompanying a hand weapon, or by archers and crossbowmen. For the latter, smaller pavises would hang on their shoulder while they reloaded, while in the case of larger examples, they could hide behind them entirely. This pavise has a pronounced central ridge and is slightly curved inwards. It features the portrait of a spear-wielding man surrounded by foliage which has been painted - with real care - on a vibrant red background and uses a variety of fine brushwork. On the inside of the shield there is a grip made of wood bound with strips of leather. Originally there would have been a bar used to suspend a strap on the inside of the shield towards the top, but this is now missing.

View the Pavise in our collection