Friday, June 27, 2014


According to The Medieval Classroom,
The banner, the most common of all the medieval flags and banners, was a personal flag of nobility and knighthood, usually fixed to a traverse bar painted or embroidered with arms of its bearer, its size denoting rank in a proportional manner. Here, follows the rankings prescribed: Emperor- six feet square, King- five feet square, Prince or Duke- four feet square, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, or Baron- three feet square, Baronet to knight bachelor- two feet square or less (Richard; ND). Banners were generally made up on a stiff or rigid foundation to prevent flapping. They were decorated with a gold or coloured fringe all around the edge (Norris; 1066-1485).  It was common to carry the banner fixed to a spear. Banners were also attached to long trumpets and were blazoned with the arms of the lord who employed the trumpeters (Norris; 1066-1485). Truly authentic banners were made by authentic materials, ideally wool, linen or silk and hand sewn (Silverlock; ND).
I found this information to be interesting to say the least.  I had never considered that the size of the banner mattered on the field, but obviously it did and in many ways still does, or should for practical authenticity.  Everything has a significance.  Also, the fact that banners were rigid and not free-flowing...  Again, I had never considered this aspect to banner construction, but it makes sense considering that identification on the field was imperative in the heat of battle.  The more rigid the cloth, the easier the identification.

A little further down the page, The Medieval Classroom goes on to describe the fabric and techniques used:
The above flags and banners where decorated with unique custom and hand crafted designs. Various methods were used to make a unique banner. Fabric paint was used and a fabric pen was incorporated to sketch the outline of the design.  The paint was then used to colour in the chosen design. Oil paints were utilised also. Appliqué was another decoration method, where the design was cut out on another fabric and either sewn or glued on to the banner. Embroidery was easy when used with thick wool or cotton thread. The design was outlined in a chain stitch. Solid satin stitch also worked well and created a well presented banner. However, embroidery took at least a month to complete (Silverlock; ND).
These would all be viable methods for general period banner construction, but are not specific enough for my area of research.  So I wanted to find visual representations and I came up with the following:

Codex Manesse, Fol 184v

Visual examples are definitely helpful, but, sadly, they are not proof that these rigid banners existed in my area of study.  Regardless though, they are close enough proof for my uses.

While searching for more examples, I ran across a blog entry for another groups method for creating silk banners, which appears to follow aspects of Cennini's instructions, which I quoted in a previous post.

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