Roundhead Armour

Roundhead ArmourRoundhead Armour

Very few Civil War units wore full "cuirassier" armour - the last echo of the medieval knight -with a "close" helmet or a burgonet and full torso, shoulder, arm and thigh armour. Although it gave very good protection it was expensive, difficult to maintain for whole units on campaign, and cxhaustingly heavy and hot to fight in for a generation of men who - unlike their ancestors - had not been raised from boyhood to bear it. After the rout, at Roundway Down in July 1643, of Parliamentarian Sir Arthur Haslerigge's regiment of so-called "Lobsters", cuirassier armour was probably only seen worn by some individual commanders (for its "knightly" prestige) and their bodyguards. However, the torso and arm sections of such armour were practical for use on their own, and were no doubt retained by those who had them, trading a little extra weight for improved protection. It was not unusual for earlier, even Elizabethan helmets and armour to be pressed into service from family armouries.

(Left) Second Battle of Newbury, SK: burgonet, rerebraccs and tassets being tried on in Merchant's Row. (Below) Weston Super Marc, SK: a member of Prince Rupert's Lifeguard of Horse wearing a burgonet and pauldrons.

(Above left) Powick Bridge: (he commander of Prince Rupert's Lifeguard, SK, in combat with the commander of I lungerford's Horse, Roundhead Association, ECWS. Single combats in front of the crowd are almost always practised and "choreographed" beforehand.

(Left) Powick Bridge: cavalry melee between the Cavaliers of Grenville's and the Roundhead troopers of Hungerford's. About 20 riders were unhorsed during this muster, but suffered no serious injuries; no more than slightly dazed and winded, they followed their training and lay still, letting the horses avoid them until the battle swirled away.

Roundhead Battle


Both sides ยก11 the Civil War fielded serveral units of dragoons. These were essentially "mounted infantry", enjoying the mobility of horse but dismounting to fight as skirmishing infantry. Various 17th century commentaries lay differing emphasis on their infantry/ cavalry roles, some recommending tactics for firing from the saddle; but in practice they seem mostly to have fought on foot while horse holders guarded their mounts. They were very useful for patrolling, foraging, local security and outpost duties. In pitched battles they were used in support of conventional cavalry, firing from cover on the flanks, or as a "forlorn hope" to seize advanced positions.

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