And Your Father Smells of Elderberries

I know you’re thinking it’s not possible for me to talk about Nashville any more than I have.  Wrong.  With the exception of three trips to St. Louis to see Nonny (two of them medical issues), I haven’t traveled anywhere since before pandemic.  For someone who worked in the travel industry for 30+ years, 3 years is a long time between trips so Nashville was actually pretty special.  And have I mentioned that I had a great time with my friend Pat?

On my first morning in the city, we went downtown to see the Frist Museum; there was a display for Japanese textiles that we wanted to see.  It’s not a large museum and all they do is special shows – no permanent galleries.  The day we were there just happened to be the very last day of a special display of armor from the middle ages – so lucky!

I’m not a fan of military strategy or warfare in general but the lengths that we humans will go to is just amazing.  Having never seen any kind of armor up close, I was amazed that so much of it was covered in remarkable artistry, carvings in silver and gold adorning a lot of pieces.  Trying to figure out how a knight would be able to see took quite a bit of doing and I don’t even want to think about what happens when you’re all suited up and nature comes a’ calling!

Despite having seen Camelot several times as well as Ivanhoe and Robin Hood, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the armor that horses wore.  A full suit of armor for a horse is called a bard or barding but the piece that amazes me the most is the chanfron – the face mask.  I’m thinking that there was probably an industry for training horses to wear face masks.  I doubt you could just stroll into the stall and have a horse accept this easily.

The other amazing thing to me is the naming of armor pieces.  Every single little piece has a name, even the part that covers the armpit – the besagew.  Many of the names come from the French – guessing that armor trends started in that part of Europe and spread?  Here’s another suit that I found interesting – not sure why we needed to be reminded of the anatomical features of the wearer.

Another friend of mind who lives in St. Paul knows an enormous amount about medieval warfare and I can’t wait to see her next and show her my pictures.  I’m guessing she already knows all the names of the pieces.  Maybe I’ll quiz her.

Did you ever want to be a knight in shining armor when you were a kid?

46 thoughts on “And Your Father Smells of Elderberries”


  1. Yes.
    Also, the Moorhead, Minnesota public library had a summer reading program where you received a knight on horseback and with each book read moved up a circular path toward the top of a castle. I cannot recall if I made it to the top. Most likely did.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh, that sounds great. Maybe I should make myself something like that. Not that I really need to move over you a unicorn or a knight along a path toward the castle for every book I read, but why not?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is probably one of my favorite of their sketches, because it’s one of the very first ones I ever saw. They had a special magic, didn’t they?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. To answer the question, no, I don’t think so. But on both our trips to the UK, we made special effort to see a lot of castles.

    Your friend likely knows this, but there is an arms and armor museum in Alma, Wisconsin—Castlerock. I haven’t been there personally but I have friends who are aficionados and volunteer there.

    When we were in Montreal, a museum there was showing a collection of Japanese samurai armor. Japanese armor was lighter and more colorful, like this example from the Minneapolis Institute of Art:

    https://collections.artsmia.org/art/108860/red-and-blue-laced-suit-of-armor-from-the-kii-tokugawa-family-suit-by-unknown-japanese

    It also veered into the fantastic, as typified by this helmet:

    https://collections.artsmia.org/art/114440/helmet-in-dragonfly-shape-unknown-japanese

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You think that’s scary, come over and see some of the pretend Moor uniforms in the Moors and Christians parade. If I saw that coming over the hill in a real battle, I’d be long gone!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m sure I wanted to be a knight at least once when I was a little kid and played make-believe. I don’t specifically recall, but I would have been drawn to the profession because knights always seemed to get the prettiest girls. 🙂

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Yes.

    I wonder if the most elaborate armor you saw was tournament armor, rather than battle armor. In battle, a knight would want to be able to see and not have decorative bits sticking out of his armor for swords or polearms to catch on, whereas a knight would want to make an elaborate, expensive show at tourney. But I imagine the museum labels would have said so if it were.

    This reminds me, a year or two ago there were lots of critiques of women’s armor in movies and fantasy art, like this one: https://gamerant.com/combat-expert-women-armor-critique/ .
    Besides the ridiculously scanty armor that leaves the upper chest, legs and sometimes even the abdomen vulnerable, there’s the infamous “boob plate” that in real combat would direct a point straight at the heart (and that blow might not penetrate the armor, but it might well crack the sternum). Xena might look badass, but she wouldn’t have had a chance in real life.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am sure that if I had read every single plaque closely, I would be able to answer the question of whether this was tournament armor, or battle armor. I’m guessing because most of it was in spectacularly good shape is that it was tournament armor which may have seen less use.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think sword play was always fascinating. Not sure I ever wanted a suit of armor…
    I had no idea of the specific names of each piece. But of course they did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I probably said before about the trauma I suffered over the outfit I did actually get for birthday or Christmas. I don’t remember wearing it, though I must have. All I remember is the jacket getting inexplicably tangled up. And inextricably! I don’t know how it’s possible, but something to do with the sleeves got tangled, and I tried and tried, but it wouldn’t undo. Some of it was inside out and some wasn’t. It can’t really be true, except it was. I never could wear it again.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I was thinking of Ralphie wearing the bunny suit from his Aunt Clara in the movie aA Christmas Story. Because when we talk about costumes, we hate the most that’s the one that comes to mind first.

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  6. Ciudad de los Gatos : so I was due to pick up a cat from the vet yesterday. 7.30am, Chelo phoned Jane and said, we should have a little run with a house in it, to let the new cats get acclimatised. Good idea, we should maybe have thought of that a few days ago. “Well bad luck,” I said, “we haven’t got one.”
    Yes, I said I’d get on with it, ready for the cat’s arrival. Jane put the word out, Fenton’s got what he needs, and will do the job this morning. She said “Maybe Rafael will help.”
    “Not likely, he isn’t being paid to do that, and I don’t want help. He’ll want to take charge, and he’ll show concern for my age, and take things out my actual hands. (I was projecting someone else’s sins onto Rafa, to be truthful). You’d think Jane would know by now, I’m not a team worker.
    We both went about our business, and then Shere came on the catline and said, “say the word, I’ll help”. Well this is handy, isn’t it, the one thing I’d like in this world right now, and I’ve just explained to Jane why I didn’t want help.

    This is the story of my life, you know that?

    Well I got around it, and we had a nice time. Frustrating for her, a dog bit her hand in February, and she still can’t straighten two of her fingers, does a lot of rehab, but gets pain with it which is messing up her sleep. Her right hand. So she could only help a certain amount. But she came up with a different plan, which could even be better, I don’t know because we haven’t tried my plan. I’m sure mine would be quicker though. Still not finished.
    So to cut an endless story short- I brought the cat home and kept it quiet in the cage (away from the new run) for an hour, with a dish of food right there ready for when it came out. I let it out, and it tokk off and is now hiding, probably watching all our comings and goings.
    Chelo had caught another one yesterday! I took that one in when I picked up the first one. Fetched him back and put him in the still unfinished, but temporarily secured run. Opened the cage after a bit, and after ten minutes he went through the one gap I’d forgotten, and took off also.

    I’m working on it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I mean that….. I fetched the second cat today, after he had been sterilised. The run was still not finished, and it was starting to rain, Jane says there’s heavy rain coming. So I threw sheets over the run in a hurry, and fixed them so the rain would run off. The sheets took care of all remaining gaps but one small corner, which I suppose really, I ignored, rather than forgot. IF it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I will finish the job or die. Also, I’ll take a photo or two, but I warn you, it all looks pretty ramshackle and amateurish.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Husband made it home safely tonight driving 90 miles on very icy roads. I brought home my work computer preparatory to having a possible snow day tomorrow . I also have 10 lbs of russet potatoes for lefse.

    Liked by 4 people

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