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Ailettes appeared around about 1200 AD. They say that the simplest ideas are the best, and the ailette was indeed a simple and great idea. Two flat pieces of metal that tie onto the upper arms or shoulders (worn forward over the collar bones): they were in fact but extra shields for the defence of the knight's body. Through four centrally placed holes they were simply tied onto the wearer’s chain mail with leather thongs or with silk ribbon. The ailette also served a secondary role as a placard for heraldic symbolism to designate rank, army or personal identity (an ensign), although in many cases they had no heraldic bearing at all: sometimes they had a cross only, sometimes a diaper pattern, and sometimes they were quite blank. See examples of all these varieties in the Tewkesbury glass paintings, the Gorleston brass and the Buslingthorpe brass. In vellum pictures it is often seen worn by knights in the tilt; where the heraldic bearings already exhibited on the shield, crest, and surcoat of the rider, and on the caparisons of the horse, would to no useful purpose be repeated on the ailette, which reinforces the supposition that their use as ensigns was of minor consideration. In Germany they were called Tartschen (small shields). The knights, indeed, not content with their panoply of chain mail, seem in the course of the middle-ages to have fortified themselves with a complete outwork of these smaller shields. By the mid 1300’s armour was becoming yet more sophisticated, and such simple flat plates were replaced with armour sections such as pauldrons, gorgets and spalders. By 1400 the ailette had passed into history, although an echo of them still remains with us to this day in the form of epaulettes, both in the word itself and in their usage as bearers of insignia. Back in their day, ailettes were very common. Illuminated manuscripts furnish abundant examples. If you are dressing for battle for the 1200’s or early 1300’s, then these ailettes are a good investment, not just for visual authenticity but for the very real protection they afford (during re-enactment shenanigans). You will be amazed at their practicality: they’re easy to attach, secure, unobtrusive and useful. Ailettes came in many shapes and sizes but rectangular ones such as these were the most common variant. We have resisted the temptation to paint them - we will leave it to you to decide your team! And, as mentioned, blank ailettes are perfectly acceptable in the historic context anyway. Ours are made from sixteen gauge stainless steel. The edges are nicely rounded for extra strength and safety. If you already own a chain mail shirt, then this will be an excellent accessory to your outfit. Only available at The Medieval Shoppe.
Each ailette 15 x 20 cm.