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Here is another one, from the Munchner Stadtmuseum. I believe it's a hand pavise.


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Bohemian pavise, Musée National du Moeyn Age, Paris (Cl.2381)

The museum has very recently remade its arms and armour room, and several of these are now on display, along with other objects of high interest.
This is a Pavise from Schloss Tirol (Tirol, close to the city of Meran)


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It's on a revolving display stand ! How clever....:)
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Thanks, Kessler! That's a fantastic contribution!
does anyone know something about any iron reinforcements in the pavises? if it's clean soft wood construction it's easy to crack it(especially when layers are vertical). maybe there was any leather reinforcement on the rim to protect planks for split after have slash?

what is thickness of the planks?
Bjorn Hagstrom wrote:
Adam O'Byrne wrote:


Completely uneducated guess here but it looked to me like the ridge and beak might be some sort of interlocking system to place a third pavise on top of two others to form a ceiling?

In some other pictures ( like the last few in this post ) there are a few specimens with what look like hooks or rings protruding from the top center of the pavise, my first thought when I saw them was if the ring or hook in the center of the top of two separate pavises was used to seat the spikes on either side of the bottom of a third then you could have a more versatile construction block for defense, using it as either a larger vertical wall or possibly angling the top row back to form a roof.

Just brainstorming , I'm not a professor or anything - but I am also interested in these medieval multi tools.


That is not a bad theory at all. I suppose in a siege situation where the enemy has very high ground it would be a good idea to add a protective layer on top.

Another theory, depending on the height of the pavise, could the beak be there to be a support to aim a crossbow?


I like both of these theories and I think they both could be the correct answer for specific circumstances. I figured I'd throw in a third from my perspective: I've fought with center grip shields, including a round-guttered hand pavise in an SCA setting. Sometimes a strong horizontal shot ("flat snap") aimed at my head can push past the top edge of my center grip shield. The shield just rotates backwards a bit and the sword (in this case a rattan stick) slides past it, often with enough force to get a "kill."

The projecting beak would catch pretty much any horizontal shot falling under it and even if the pavise spun back a great deal the shot would not slide past. I would love to try building in such a beak for SCA-style fighting. THe historical reality however, is that I'm betting real edged weapons would just bite into the wood of the pavise and stick rather than pushing through, so my theoretical benefit is probably more just a coincidence. Still, in some circumstances I could see it being a significant benefit, so maybe it's a theory worth presenting.
Note: I am only referring to the hand pavises, since large pavises would (again, I assume) not deal directly with opposing swords, but rather opposing missiles and at closest maybe pikes. I notice, of course, that very few of the smaller hand pavises have that beak, but in smaller pavises the rotation problem is not so pronounced (distance from handle decreases -> leverage increases) , so maybe this theory would only apply to the larger hand pavises.

Thanks for the great posts guys!
I am looking for a books , articles about pavises , the best catalogues.
I know only Polish articles and Denkstein's books. I thank for every help.
Yours faithfully
Dear all,

first I would like to thank you for this wonderful collection of pavises and information. This thread has been highly educational to me! I'm currently building my own pavise, with the aim of being quite close to historical accuracy. The wooden corpus is already finished (see attached image), and now I'm looking into the issue of covering it with canvas.

In my search for information I haven't yet found a detailed account of the covering technique. Is it supposed to be just a single layer of linen canvas, or more? Also, I'm wondering if a single sheet of canvas was used or multiple adjoining strips. I guess at least the "beak" must be covered separately to avoid wrinkles in the surface.

The process of covering is also unclear to me. Is it neccessary to tightly stretch the fabric over the surface (for stability), or would it suffice to loosely cover it? In the former case, I would need to somehow fix the canvas to the wood, maybe with small nails, to keep it tightly strung while gluing. It would be interesting to see if historical evidence supports either technique.

It would be great if some of you who built a replica pavise could share your experiences. I'll also make a web page documenting the building process and post the link here later.


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Hello Karsten!
Me and a friend made two simple pavises for our cannon crew last spring. They are about 5' tall and very simple with a flat surface. Not as tricky to cover as yours but I hope I can share some valuable information.
We used hideglue which we melted in an ordinary kitchen pot mixed with water. If you paint a layer on teh wood before you put the canvas on it's stickier but dries quite fast. We tried that method but also to water the gluemix down a bit and applying the glu/watermix on top of the canvas (which was now lying on the wood) and found this to be easier. I htink it might be easiest if the cloth is a bit damp. Use lots and lots of the glue so it soaks through the cloth and into the wood. Done outside in the sunshine it dried really fast for us. The canvas was not folded around the edges on this first layer and we cut the excess off after it had dried. We then applied a second layer of cloth with the same method and this time we folded the cloth and nailed them down along the sides after trimming the edges a bit.

I put up some pictures on the web for you all if you're interested. You can find them HERE.

And thanks for the pictures Kessler!


edit* Just added more pictures of the painting of the pavises.
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