14th CENTURY CHRISTIAN ARMIES
The 14th century saw a further divergence from mainstream western European styles in the military equipment of Christian Iberia. There was, for example, very little plate armour in early 14th century Spain, whereas lighter equipment such as the coat-of-plates and scal-lined Jacque were popular. So were heavy gorgets to protect the throat, their popularity resulting from dislike of the even heavier great helm and visored bascinet. Further development of the open war-hat led to the typical Spanish cabacete.
Military organization were considered archaic by outside observers. At Najera in 1367 the defeated Castilian army of Henry of Trastamar consisted of armoured knights, few with horse-armour and all being loath to fight on foot, supported by an ill-trained militia of crossbowmen, spearmen, javelin-throwers and slingers Jinete light cavalry, including troops from Granada, fought on the flanks. Given the good record of Iberian soldiers against other northern invasions the catastrophe at Najera probably resulted from a mistaken decision to face their heavier foes in open battle.
Troops from Granada were, in fact, a common feature in late 13th and 14th century Castile. They were effective not only as allies but as foes during the endemic raiding of the Granadan frontier – so much so that Castile, and almost all other Iberian states, developed their own jinete light cavalry. The typical equipment of such troops originally consisted of a light steel helmet, leather shield, padded armour, light sword and two short spears or javelins. Some metal armour was added later, but not much. Even their name, jinete, was a corruption of Zenata, the Berber tribe which sent many warriors to fight for Granada during the period. Castilian heavy cavalry also shortened their lances, perhaps as a result of jinete influence. There was more external influence on Aragon than Castile, particularly from Italy, where the Aragonese ruling dynasty maintained a family empire and from which the country imported a great deal of arms and armour.
Navarre, in the far north of Iberia, had lost its frontier with Islam in the early 12th century. Although its armies took part in the fight against Andalus as allies to Castille and Aragon, Navarre was being drawn more and more into the orbit of southern france, from where it imported much military equipment. Small in population but revatively prosperous, Navarre almost always had foreign mercenaries and Muslim troops from the Tudela area in its service. The countries mountainous terrain also led to a greater emphasis on infantry than elsewhere. No major changes were seen in Portugal until the late 14th century. In the latter half of the 14th century the Hundred Years War spilled south of the Pyrenees, and this had a profound military impact. The French wanted to get rid of troublesome mercenaries during a brief spell of peace, while both sides hoped to improve their strategic positions by winning allies in the south. John I of castile not only reorganised his army along French lines under two senior marshals, but considered reducing its size to a professional core of 4000 men-at-arms, 1500 jinetes and 1000 mounted archers or crossbowmen. Meanwhile in Portugal reforms were more fundamental, breaking away from previous Andalusian military structures. The king’s vassals had to equip some of their men in English or French styles. The role of alferez mor was abolished and henceforth military and administrative duties were divided between constables and a marshal on the English model. The constable was also given greater disciplinary control over baronial forces, while the old Arabic tactical terms were finally abandoned.