Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Sealed Knot, A Historical Mystery And A Need To Pee


OK I just know I have your interest now. But what has all these things got in common? Well for those who don't know, The Sealed Knot is one of two English Civil War reenactment societies based in the UK. They were formed by Brigadier Peter Young to promote one of his books (Edgehill I think) and from promotion work to charity work was a little bit of a long journey but lots of beer was spilt and blood drunk between. Er, or maybe the other way round! Anyways, the SK grew to become rather large and amongst it's membership was a number of part time historian's, you know the type, the ones the real historians loath with a vengeance (well some do for sure, paging Mr Newman). Well you won't have noticed but many sets of Back and Breast are missing a single Tasset (leg armour that hangs from the Brest plate as shown above). This means a lot of Back and Brests in Stately Homes tend to be missing Tassets. As many soldiers would discard their tassets as soon as they could on campaign this is no surprise. The issue is that it was almost always the right tasset that was missing and mostly from Garrisoned sets. The Professional Historians had yet to figure out why but it was at one of many musters that the mystery was solved. As SK members started to buy armour it became like mini arms race. My Regiment (The Kings Lifeguard) soon found that having the whole front rank in armour put the fear on anyone tasked with taking us on. We were the biggest Regiment in the Knot and were known at the time for being tough to fight. Anyway I digress, imagine the scene. It is Sunday morning, some of us will have made it to our tents sometime between midnight and dawn, some of us may well have had a drink or two. You tend to form up at least an hour before you march onto the battlefield and the public eye. So maybe just maybe you want a pee? So imagine the scene, 20-40 men in B&B with tassets on all pissing for all we were worth. Every one of us had lifted up our left tasset so that we could get to our friend and point him at, well bushes mostly! I always had a horrible image of dropping the tasset as they almost joined down the middle!!!!!! Anyway, why is this relevant? Even with a slight wind, that right tasset got somewhat splashed. Pee is corrosive you know and repeated leaks would have a steady effect. Why Garrison troops? These not only fail to discard their tassets (and are often forced to wear them, more so the less likely they were to be attacked) but these guys often stood round for hours and often relieved themselves at their posts.
As a quick note, my tassets shown above could also give rise to a second and possibly more correct reason for the ruin of a tasset. Mine was stored with the rusty one under the none rusty one, both in the same good condition. It is clear to see the result. I question this though as a greater mix of odd tassets would be rusted rather than almost always the right one.
At a later point I will do another post on my observations of wearing Armour.

7 comments:

  1. Urine, the unseen ruster and nut smasher.....

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  2. Well in fact horse urine was used in the 17th centry to Russet armour. If you ever see a polished set of armour from the 17th Cen that has a red glow to it. Chances are you are looking at a rather rich mans armour that was rubbed with horse pee and control rusted. Now theres a job everyone wants!!!!!


    Oh and crushed nuts was not what I was worried about, decapitated sausage was on my mind!!!!!!

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  3. Decapitated sausage, Ouch! It doesn't even bare thinking about! Facinating hypothesis though

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  4. LOL!! What a great post, though it rather put me off my sausage sandwich I'm trying to chomp into........

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  5. decapitated sausage? Surely a dis-membered ... errr... member?

    To quote John Lithgow's character in The World According to Garp: "I mean, I had mine removed surgically under general anesthesia. But to have it bitten off in a Buick... "

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  6. sure there is joke about taking the p@ss here somewhere...

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