In spite of the ubiquity, usefulness, and desirability of fine arms and armor in the Middle Ages, records about the makers themselves are scarce. What we do have, though, are material marks punched into pieces of armor and on some blades. These marks localize the object to a particular place, workshop, and at times individual artisan, with the most respected workshops in Germany and Italy producing marks recognized all over Europe. Using marks drawn from the Oakeshott Institute’s collection of arms and armor and several American and European museum collections, this paper argues that these material traces of artisanal identity provide insight into the social structure of medieval guilds and workshops.
Frequently overlooked by historians of chivalry, medieval spurs, as insignias of knights and knighthood, had a strong symbolic value and were at the centre of various social uses. Between the 12th and the 14th century, discourses on spurs and their social meaning appeared in sermons, chansons de geste, romans, and legal literature. Building upon an array of examples taken from those literary genres, I aim to discuss the many social practices in which spurs were used, as well as the evolving representations, either positive or negative, which made ideologically complex a very simple object.
The use of photogrammetry to make 3D models is well established for large subjects and topographical studies, but focus on objects like swords is still in the early stages. In this paper I discuss recent progress made in collaboration with the Oakeshott Institute to develop specialized methods for digitizing arms, armor, and other artefacts, as well as ongoing work to present these items in a modern archive. These models provide unparalleled access to these items. Using several Oakeshott models, I argue that these digital archives create engaging and educational experiences for anyone with access to a cell phone or computer.