New Book: Beaten Black and Blue

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Keegan Ingrassia
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New Book: Beaten Black and Blue

Post by Keegan Ingrassia »

Posting here for those of you who do not haunt Facebook


Beaten Black and Blue
The Myth of the Medieval Knight in Shining Armour

This is a great book that should be on the bookshelf of all historical weapon enthusiasts! It has been written by Chris Dobson and was previously announced as a pre-order. Unfortunately Chris had become seriously ill (and still is) and production was delayed But now it has finally appeared in print, as an A4 format hardback, 322 pages with 376 illustrations, almost all in colour.

Limited edition of 300 numbered copies
Price: €95,00 plus shipping

Chris Dobson is now accepting new orders on his website:
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For centuries it has been assumed that Medieval and Renaissance European armour and edged weapons were generally very-highly polished ‘white’, and the use of coloured and hammer-finishes on armour was something that arrived around the end of the 15th century, and ran through until armour largely went out of use. It was only as Chris handled more and more of the real thing, and then carried out restoration work on it, that he began to find evidence of colour finishes everywhere, also on early pieces. The book is the product of what he found hidden away underneath rivets and between the plates of that armour. It is full of photography which has never been published before, including pieces from private collections, although some of the biggest surprises will come from iconic pieces well-known already.


A detailed examination of artistic techniques from the Middle Ages to the Baroque, explaining how armour and weapons were actually depicted by artists, and how artworks may have discoloured, if at all.

1. Mantua, Holy of Holies
The story of the consequences for the armours now in the Museo Diocesano in Mantua, following the intervention of an English antiquarian in 1937.

2. “What’s in a Name?”
Analysis of period descriptions of armour and weapons from documents and inventories from the 17th century back to the 14th century, compared with evidence of colour finishes on surviving pieces.

3. “through a glass, darkly”
The truth about ‘russet’ armour and weapons. Description of the ‘russeting’ technique. Surviving Italian and German armour and weapons given this finish. The ‘AVANT’ armour.

4. Black from the Hammer and Blackened
Hammer-finished and blackened surfaces. The different levels of quality of hammer-finished pieces. Description of the blackening technique for iron and steel. Early surviving examples.

5. Midnight Blue
Evidence of dark-blue colour oxide finishes. Description of how the colour finish is obtained. A surviving 14th century barbuta. The Imperial ceremonial sword of Frederick II.

6. Botticelli Blue
Pale-blue colour oxide finishes. Description of how the colour finish is obtained. The ‘AVANT’ armour. Friedrich the Victorious. A 14th century German barbuta.

7. Sanguine, Peacock Blue and Bronzed
Iridescent colour-oxide finishes. Different names for the same finish in different countries and at different times. Description of how the peacock-blue finish is obtained. The Helmschmid workshop.

8. A Touch of Colour
Painted armour. The influence of heraldry. Cuir bouilli armour. ‘Black sallets’.

9. Covered or Uncovered?
Textile and leather-covered armour. Examples of period textiles. The Munich breastplate. Tournament pieces and armoured clothing.

10. White Armour: “the armour of light”
Period descriptions of polished ‘white’ armour examined in context. Interpreting ‘white’ armour in art: the Berruguete portrait of Federico da Montefeltro. Silvered and tinned armour.

11. “everywhere the glint of gold”
Examples of gilded armour. Conrad Seusenhofer and the ‘Gift Armour’ of Henry VIII. Detailed explanation of the mercury-gilding technique.

The legend of ‘the knight in shining armour’. The reality of Medieval and Renaissance armour and edged weapons. Implications for arms and armour used in the Classical World.

Temperature charts.

A leaflet about the book can be downloaded here: [ ... eaflet.pdf]( ... eaflet.pdf)
"There is a tremendous amount of information in a picture, but getting at it is not a purely passive process. You have to work at it, but the more you work at it the easier it becomes." - Mac
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Otto von Teich
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Re: New Book: Beaten Black and Blue

Post by Otto von Teich »

Thanks for the heads up! Looks like an excellent reference work. Hope he's on the mend. Wishing him the best.
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Sean M
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Re: New Book: Beaten Black and Blue

Post by Sean M »

My copy arrived!

Chris Dobson has seen my working paper on the surface of plate armour in the 14th century. I expect that he interprets some things differently but that is to be expected. And his earlier books, like the one on armour in Piedmont, were good.
Check out Age of Datini: European Material Culture 1360-1410
ryn S
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Re: New Book: Beaten Black and Blue

Post by ryn S »

Does the book mention mail? After all, the "knight in shining armour" trope appears in literature during the time when mail was the primary body armour. Also, red armour is mentioned in Wolfram von Eschenbach´s Parzival, which I am guessing refers to mail.
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