Pavise

Pavise shield (with Bartolomeo Vivarini's "St. Martin and the Beggar" painting on it) and a crossbowman of the middle-ages
Pavise shield (with Bartolomeo Vivarini's "St. Martin and the Beggar" painting on it) and a crossbowman of the middle-ages

A pavise (sometimes pavis) is a large convex shield of European origin used to protect the entire body. The pavise was also made in a smaller version for hand to hand combat and for wearing on the back of men-at-arms. It is characterized by its prominent central ridge.

The pavise was primarily used by archers and crossbowmen in the medieval period, particularly during sieges. It was carried by a pavisier, who was usually an archer. The pavise was held in place by the pavisier or sometimes deployed in the ground with a spike attached to the bottom. While reloading their weapons, crossbowmen would crouch behind them to shelter against incoming missile attacks.

Pavises were often painted with the town's coat of arms where it was made or sometimes stored in the town arsenal for when the town came under attack. Religious icons such as St. Barbara and St. George were featured on the front of pavises. Even the Hussite chalice was featured on pavises during the Hussite Wars. Most pavises were covered in linen or leather before painting and painted with oil and egg-based paints. Few exist today but many were present in period.


See also

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