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Warriors: Past to Present – A writer’s reference, and a writing challenge – Part 4 – Trained Band Caliverman, Tilbury 1588

How would it feel to go into battle with this?

Trained Band Caliverman – Tilbury 1588

The amazing photographer, Thom Atkinson has recently published what he calls ‘Soldiers Inventories’ on his website. These photos are clearly a work of art and show a love for the subject that is sublime. Each piece is laid out as if it were part of a puzzle and every time I look at them, I spot something different, or work out a different combination as to how something might be used.

This is a fabulous resource for budding authors who want to write either historical fiction, historical fantasy or fantasy of any sort. As such, I thought I would share a photograph a week, with the added challenge that you also get to write a story about the man (or woman if fantasy) who got to wear the gear and use it in anger.

This week’s challenge and resource features the weapons of a Trained Band Caliverman, Tilbury 1588.

You can see a massive leap forward in from the previous article which showed the equipment from a soldier in 1485. Gone is the heavy armour, to be replaced by a leather jerkin (which could turn or diminish the effects of a sword strike). More important however, is the weapon at the bottom of the photo. A Caliver, also known as an Arquebus. The word caliber is derived from the English corruption of calibre as this gun was of standard bore, increasing combat effectiveness as troops could load bullets that would fit their guns (before, they would have to modify shot to fit, force it in, or cast their own before the battle).

Interestingly, at this time, although it was a known fact that longbows were still far more effective at killing enemy soldiers, politics meant that the wondrous gunpowder weapons were being pushed. Indeed, it’s argued that even up to the Battle of Waterloo, that longbows would have been more effective and ended battles much quicker had they been used.

The location that this man was at, was Tilbury, and he was there at the orders of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 1st.

The Speech to the Troops at Tilbury was delivered on 9 August Old Style (19 August New Style) 1588 by Queen Elizabeth I of England to the land forces earlier assembled at Tilbury in Essex in preparation for repelling the expected invasion by the Spanish Armada.

Before the speech the Armada had been driven from the Strait of Dover in the Battle of Gravelines eleven days earlier, and had by then rounded Scotlandon its way home, but troops were still held at ready in case the Spanish army of Alexander Farnese, the Duke of Parma, might yet attempt to invade from Dunkirk; two days later they were discharged. On the day of the speech, the Queen left her bodyguard before Tilbury Fort and went among her subjects with an escort of six men. Lord Ormonde walked ahead with the Sword of State; he was followed by a page leading the Queen’s charger and another bearing her silver helmet on a cushion; then came the Queen herself, in white with a silver cuirass and mounted on a grey gelding. She was flanked on horseback by her lieutenant general the Earl of Leicester on the right, and on the left by the Earl of Essex, her Master of the Horse. Sir John Norreysbrought up the rear.

The text was found in a letter from Leonel Sharp sometime after 1624 to the Duke of Buckingham.

My loving people,
We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.
I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field.
I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over these enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.

Imagine the fear, anger and excitement that would have been coursing through the veins of the English soldiers as they listened to such a speech from one of the most powerful rulers of that time. Here was the chance to do battle with the Papist forces of Spain.

This is certainly something that should excite any writer, and which should also give them a great starting point for an alternate history story, one where battle is joined, maybe with the Spanish gaining a foothold in England, or with England amassing her own forces to invade Spain. Whatever you do, I’m sure it will be fun!

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7.


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