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Armour from the Battle of Wisby 1361

Bengt Thordeman

On an unseasonably hot 27th day of July, 1361, outside the city of Wisby on the Swedish isle of Gotland, 1,800 hastily assembled peasants gathered to defend their city from the onslaught of King Waldemar of Denmark, then emboiled in a struggle to wrest the rich Hanseatic League city from the Swedish King.

Equipped in outmoded equipment but selecting a good defensive fhce for their stand, the levy was unable to replicate the victories of Ed,vard II or the Black Prince, and were slaughtered where they stood, cut down by heavy crossbows and hewn by axe and s,vord. Several days went by before the city capitulated while the bodies decayed in the hot sun. When Wisby's inhabitants were finally able to emerge and bury the dead, all that could be done was to dig large pits and quickly lmver the bodies, still encased in their outmoded armour.

The Battle of Wisby is perhaps the most celebrated medieval battles in Scandamvia. and yet were it not for the mass graves it would be all but unknown to students of medieval history. The peat bog into which the bodies were buried preserved not only their bones but also elements of their harness and accoutrement, leaving what is without doubt the most important archeological record for the period. Preserved in the graves are the bones of the slain--recording their grusome wounds for all time--elements of their armour, coins and dress accessories. The wealth of material is unmatched even in recently released studies of the lewksburv graves and are unique in the fine examples of armour for which there is no parallel find.

Published originally in 1939, Bengt Thordeman's work remains the most important record of the battle. It has been cited in virtually even: bibliography on the subject of arms and armour, but it has also proven a key work in the study of medieval wound pathology, chronicled what is known of the battle from a historical point of view and been used a key source for the dating of medieval coim. Long out of print, countless library copies have been harnessed by students of arms and armour, reenactors, wound pathologists.
Armour from the Battle of Wisby 1361


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