Scottish Archers of Charles VII’s Guard, c.1455, in the
Adoration of the Magi
Hours of Etienne Chevalier, illuminated by Jean Fouquet
Musée Condé, Chantilly, France
Les trois rois mages s'approchent de la crèche où se trouvent Joseph et la Vierge tenant le Christ sur ses genoux.
Devant eux est agenouillé l'un des rois représenté sous les traits de Charles VII, sur un tapis fleurdelysé, un chapeau à ses pieds et entouré de gardes armés.
En arrière plan est représentée une bataille proche d'un château, surplombée par une étoile. Cette miniature illustrait le début de l'extrait de l'évangile selon saint Matthieu du livre d'heures.
The three wise men are approaching the manger where they find Joseph and the Virgin holding Christ on her lap.
Before them kneels one of the kings represented as Charles VII, on a fleur-de-lis carpet, a hat at his feet and surrounded by armed guards.
In the background is shown a battle near a castle, topped by a star.
This miniature illustrating the beginning of the excerpt from the Gospel according to Matthew in the book of hours.
The star of the Magi stopped above the stable where stays the Holy Family in Bethlehem.
A king, depicted as Charles VII, kneeling on a fleur-de-lis carpet, gold is offered to Child and Mary.
The other two Magi approaching, escorted by the royal guard. On the left, in the distance, three trumpeters sound the end of a fight.
The star's ray is directed to Charles VII, the battle is possibly an allusion to the victory of Castillon (1453) over the English.
An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1
by Ian Heath
Mathieu d’Escouchy described the Scottish archers of the Guard in 1449 as ‘archers and crossbowmen of the king’s bodyguard to the number of 5or 6 score,
who were more sumptuously equipped than the rest, and had haquetons (aketons) without sleeves, of red, white and green, all charged with gold,
having plumes on their sallets of the same colours, and their swords and leg-armour were richly adorned in silver.’
The accuracy of this description is borne out by the figure depicted here,
which comes from a miniature attributed to Jean Fouquet and painted between 1452 and 1461 in which 17 such guardsmen are visible.
The body of the jacket is red on the right and green on the left with a white central panel and a vertically striped green/white/red skirt,
the entirety being embroidered with a pattern of white-spotted black or dark brown stalks and white flowers (rose-stalks being Charles VII’s badge and red,
white and green his livery colours).
The plumes are green/white/red, the puffed sleeves black with white decoration, the belt and scabbard are also black, gloves are white and the quiver is red.
His hose, visible on the backs of his thighs (only the fronts and sides being armoured), are also red.
Moving on to the guardsmen’s arms, the bow was of course their principal weapon, though they also included some crossbowmen until 1455.
Fouquet’s picture, however, shows at least 6 of the guardsmen, including their captain, with glaives,
at least 2 such glaive-armed guardsmen also substituting 18" deep oval shields in place of the buckler carried here.
Probably either weapon might be used according to circumstances; when on duty in court, for example, the glaive was certainly carried.
The larger shields were tan with an iron boss and the same floral pattern as was worn on the jacket.
Note the spurs, the guardsmen being mounted infantry, in which role they were to distinguish themselves in the war between Louis XI and Charles the Bold in 1470-72.
Referenced on p42, French Armies of the Hundred Years War by David Nicolle
King Charles VII of France and his elite Scottish guard on a panel painting by Jean Fouquet, made around 1450.
The kneeling monarch is dressed for riding while his guardsmen have full armour, relatively light salets and decorative lively jackets.
(Adoration of the Magi, Musée Condé, Paris)
See also 52. SCOTTISH ARCHER, CHARLES VII’s GUARD c.1455 in Armies of the Middle Ages, Volume 1 by Ian Heath
Other 15th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers