Table of Medieval and Renaissance Tent Pictures

The British Library, once again, has moved many of its images and broken my links. I'm looking for them....

Subject Book title MS Origin Date Comments Picture
English Getelds Anglo-Catalan Psalter Folio 44v of a ms of which the first 184 pages were illustrated in Canterbury, c. 1200, and the remaining pages in Catalonia, c. 1340. Canterbury, England c. 1200 Five getelds, with the characteristic ridge-pole extending beyond both ends of the fabric, and the characteristic trapezoidal walls, wider at the ground than at the ridge. Of the two unobstructed getelds, one has blue walls with regularly spaced white spots and red lining, a white ridge pole with blue knobs on the ends, and the other has walls of alternating red and blue stripes, a red ridge pole and blue knobs on the ends. A "bat-wing" effect is clearly visible where the walls are staked to the ground.
Knight and King Chanson d'Aspremont (a version of the Legend of Roland) BL Lansdowne 782 f. 10v France c. 1240-1250 A pyramidal tent with small apple-core-shaped finial. The walls seem to stop short of the ground, as there are short ropes continuing in the same direction (presumably to stakes, although no stakes are visible). Colors dubious, but possibly white with green stripes.
Baptism of Balan Chanson d'Aspremont (a version of the Legend of Roland) BL Lansdowne 782 f. 18v France c. 1240-1250 The star of the show is the hot-tub, built like a barrel or bucket, in which Balan is being baptized by Pope Milon with four archbishops. There is no visible center pole, but a spherical finial and some kind of loops where the walls meet the ground. Colors dubious, but possibly white with green stripes.
An army pitches camp Chanson d'Aspremont (a version of the Legend of Roland) BL Lansdowne 782 f. 34v France c. 1240-1250 A pyramidal tent with center pole, small apple-core-shaped finial, and a bunch of J-shaped stakes holding the walls down. Three men are pitching the tent: one holding the center pole, one holding a guy rope that goes to the finial, and one driving stacks with a mallet. Colors dubious, but possibly white with green stripes.
Link broken
Judith and Holofernes Li livre des ansienes estoires BL Add. 15268 f. 181 France c. 1285 Round tent with red roof, blue walls decorated with speckles of gold and white, red checkerboard wall lining, animal finial. No visible means of support; there's one white thing that might be a perimeter pole, but there's only one, and it's not clear whether it goes all the way to the ground.
Guinevere Besieged in Tower La Mort le Roi Artus BL Add. 10294 f. 81v France c. 1316 Three single--peaked pavilions (two white, one red) with striped rooves and ball-shaped finials, are barely visible behind the besieging troops, who also have a nicely-illustrated trebuchet and scaling ladder.
Mordred Hears of Arthur's Return La Mort le Roi Artus BL Add. 10294 f. 87 France c. 1316 Several single- and double-peaked pavilions with no visible means of support; one has narrow linear decorations, and the rest are striped with bands of color. All have ball-shaped finials. This was at the British Library, but my link to it has broken and I can't find it now.
Detail from fresco of Guidoriccio da Fogliano N/A Fresco by Simone Martini (probably) Italy 1328-1330 (although some scholars attribute the painting to a later artist) Shows one large oval and one large round tent, both decorated with colored finials and stripes and heraldic devices on the fabric, and surrounded by numerous thatched lean-to shelters. 3-way crow's-feet are visible both at the shoulders and at the base of the walls, connecting the stakes to the walls.
Preparations for a tournament Roman du Roy Meliadus de Leonnoys BL Add. 12228 f. 150 Italy (Naples) 1352-1362

One rectangular and six round pavilions in various pastel colors, most with acorn-shaped finials on short banner-poles. Some of the round pavilions have dome-shaped rooves. Two pavilions have rectangular doorways and contain horses. All pavilions have dagged valence-edges and no visible means of support.

Shows a wide variety of tent constructions. Note, for example, the dagged valence on one, the painted arches on another, the mix of round and rectangular pavilions, the clear presence of horses inside several of the tents, and the complete absence of visible guy-ropes.

Israelites with Moabite Women Paduan Bible Picture Book BL Addl. 15277 f. 51 Italy (Padua) 1350-1399 Several round tents, two showing center poles; no visible means of shoulder support. Some tent pegs visible; all have round finials, wider than they are high. Also one pup-tent/geteld partly visible, including ridge-pole and decoration on side. Picture also includes some pretty striped and fringed blankets, a coif and pink hat, a bench with legs coming through the board, and some beds.
Link broken
The Capture of Don Pedro Life of Bertrand du Guesclin BL Yates Thompson 35 f. 246 France c. 1400 Several single- and double-peaked pavilions with no visible means of support, but nice lacy decorations.
Link broken
Chess players in front of tents ??? ??? ??? c. 1410 by armor The pictures shows parts of four tents (one circular, three rectangular), decorated variously with circles and fringes, and with "crow's-foot" guy ropes emerging from grommets, possibly metal, in the tent wall just below the shoulder. In the foreground, two fashionably-dressed gentlemen in tights and fur-lined mantles sit on benches playing chess while two military men (one in articulated plate armor, one in a quilted arming-coat) and a horse (note the curious straps around its chest) look on.
Siege of some city Grandes chroniques de France BL Sloane 2433 vol. 2 fol. 113 near Paris 1410-1420 A king sits on a throne in a white round tent with two visible guy ropes (emerging from the shoulder through reinforced grommets), a spherical finial, and a banner pole. His troops shoot at the castle with longbows, crossbows, and cannon, while the inhabitants of the castle throw rocks at them from above.
Angels taking Louis IX to heaven Grandes chroniques de France BL Sloane 2433 vol. 3 fol. 7v near Paris 1410-1420 King Louis IX lies in his bed inside a round white tent with several single guy ropes, a band at the shoulder, and a small spherical finial. Angels surround the bed, and armed men in prayer stand outside the tent.
Alexander's camp Le Tresor des Histoires BL Cotton Augustus V, f. 124 France 15th century Several single-peaked pavilions, one double-peaked; no visible means of support; most are solid-colored, with tracery decoration in gold. All have ball-shaped finials with short banner-poles.
Link broken
The death of Mark Antony Vita Antonii BL Add. 22318, f. 44v Italy c. 1450 A battle scene with about eight circular tents with ball-shaped finials and dagged valences.
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Ajax and Ulysses with Agamemnon Troy Book BL Royal 17 D. II f. 128 England (London?) c. 1455-1462 Foreground: white rectangular tent with semee of small, colored decorations, nearly-flat roof, narrow gold fringe, gold ball-shaped finials. Background: some round and some rectangular/oval tents, all white, valences with narrow gold fringe, either red or gold ball-shaped finials.
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Agamemnon at council Troy Book of John Lydgate BL Royal 18 D. II f. 95 England (London?) 1455-1462 Foreground: King and his knights sitting under an unusual hexagonal canopy with a flat roof; white with red speckled decorations, white fringe. Background: One rectangular and 13 circular tents, all white with white fringe, red or gold spherical finials, and 3-way crow's feet at top of valence. One has visible red wall linings (and bedclothes).
Link broken
An army breaking camp Hesperides Oxford Bodleian Canon. Class. Lat.81 f49v Rimini, Italy 1457-1468 This picture shows clearly several steps in the process of striking camp.
  1. The tent in the lower right is still up, with two thirds of its walls attached and someone standing inside, reaching up to finish detaching the walls (whether with toggles, buttons, or something else we don't know).
  2. The tent in the upper right is still up, with both storm- and roof-guys staked down and someone bending over a storm-guy stake.
  3. The tent on the right is having its center pole lowered by one of the storm-guys; at least two of the other storm-guys are still staked down, which helps keep the center pole under control.
  4. The tent in the upper left is being carried to the pack animals, with guy-lines and stakes still dangling from it.
A joust at St. Inglivère Froissart's Chronicles (Vol. IV, part 1) BL Harley 4379 f. 23v S. Netherlands (Bruges) 1470-1475 (Parts of) three large pavilions, light red with castle-shaped rooves, blue valences with gold curlicues, white and gold(?) fringe, no visible means of support.
A joust at St. Inglivère Froissart's Chronicles (Vol. IV, part 1) BL Harley 4379 f. 43 S. Netherlands (Bruges) 1470-1475 Very similar to 23v above.
Siege of pirate stronghold Froissart's Chronicles (Vol. IV, part 1) BL Harley 4379 f. 104v S. Netherlands (Bruges) 1470-1475 A number of round pavilions, some red, some blue, all with spherical finials with protruding banner poles, external guy lines going to the finials.
King of Hungary holds council Froissart's Chronicles (Vol. IV, part 2) BL Harley 4380 f. 84 S. Netherlands (Bruges) 1470-1475 Foreground: large rectangular tent with spike-and-ball finials, red roof with gold arch-shaped decoration, blue valence with gold leafy decoration, red-white-and-green fringe, red walls, white wall lining, millefiore hangings, no visible means of support. Background: three circular tents with ball-shaped finials and no visible means of support; one tent is red with gold curlicues, one white with green cap and valence, and one blue with red valence, gold decorations on roof, valence, and walls.
Link broken
Richard II meets his child bride, Isabel of France Froissart's Chronicles (Vol. IV, part 2) BL Harley 4380 f. 89 S. Netherlands (Bruges) 1470-1475 Two round tents with no visible means of support: one red with green lining, valence decorated azure, fleur-de-lis Or, red-white-and-green fringe, roof and walls decorated with gold arch-shapes; one green with red lining, valence decorated gules, lions Or, red-white-and-blue fringe, roof decorated with gold arch-shapes.
Link broken
Nature appears in author's dream Chemin de Vaillance BL Royal 14 E. II f. 1 S. Netherlands (Bruges) c. 1473-1483 Solid red single-peaked pavilion, tracery decorations in gold, lined with blue, also decorated in gold. Narrow valence, also red with gold decorations. Allegorical figure. This was at the British Library, but my link to it has broken and I can't find it now.
The Capitulation of Colle di Val d'Elsa   Cover of Sienese account book for 1479 Siena, Italy 1479 A variety of tent shapes: circular with external guys, rectangular "cabin" tents, and simple, undecorated pup tents, which seem to be a rectangle of fabric draped over two short vertical poles, staked down at the ends, with the vertical poles staked straight out. The non-pup tents are decorated with stripes, have golden spherical finials topped with flags, and have rectangular doors flapping around inside.
Discovery of body of Holofernes Bible Historiale of Edward IV BL Royal 15 D. I, f. 76v S. Netherlands (Bruges) c. 1479 Several single- and double-peaked tents, solid pastel colors, some with narrow decorations. Valences either solid colors or gold-decorated; walls staked to ground; no visible guy lines; sharp peaks, some with ball-shaped finials.
Siege of Jerusalem by Saladin Chronique d'Ernoul et de Bernard le Trésorier BL Royal 15 E. I, f. 438 S. Netherlands (Bruges) late 15th century One (and parts of two others) single-poled round white pavilion. Shoulder is quite pronounced, with (apparently slack) guy lines descending from top of valence at steep angle to pegs.
Design for a royal pavilion ??? BL Cotton Augustus III, f. 11 S. Netherlands before 1520 An enormous tent with sixteen single- and double-peaked bodies connected by passages, held in place by dozens of guy-lines. Solid dark blue, with lacy decoration in gold, ridges and finials in gold, valences or fringes alternating Tudor green and white. Said to be for Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.
Another design for a royal pavilion ??? BL Cotton Augustus III, f. 18 S. Netherlands before 1520 An enormous tent with four rectangular sections connected by galleries, with ten circular chambers on the sides, held in place by dozens of guy-lines. Red with gold decorations, gold ridge decorations, various royal beasts as finials, light-colored valences or fringes. Said to be for Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.
A third design for a royal pavilion ??? BL Cotton Augustus III, f. 19 S. Netherlands before 1520 An enormous tent with two large oval sections connected by several galleries and oval cross-pieces, held in place by dozens of guy-lines. Green and white striped, with ridges and finials in gold, valences or fringes alternating green and red. Said to be for Henry VIII at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.

If you have, or know the whereabouts of, other good surviving pictures of medieval tents and pavilions, please contact me!


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Stephen Bloch / sbloch@adelphi.edu

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