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Military Living History

Trained Band 2019

The sixteenth century is fascinating from a military perspective as it is a period of great transition. Henry Tudor (Henry VII) could be described as the last medieval king of England. His soldiers at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 wore a great deal of plate armour, the favoured weapons were the bill and the poll axe, and while there were guns present at Bosworth the Longbow was still the primary missile weapon of the day. By the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign, one hundred and eighteen years later, soldiers looked quite different. For many of them there was far less armour and while old fashioned weapons like bows and bills were still in evidence, the main weapons were now the pike and gun. Armies looked far more like what you might picture on an English Civil War battlefield. How we got from the one case of affairs, to the other is something we enjoy researching and recreating.

Musketeers Although we can portray soldiers across the sixteenth century, given the choice we will usually take the role of a Trained Band from around the time the first Great Armada threatened England's shores in 1588. At this time there were few professional soldiers in England and most able bodied men were means tested and obliged to proved some form of military service if required. Quality of soldiers and equipment could vary considerably; trained bands from London were the finest equipped and trained soldiers and the men from the wealthier counties surrounding London were also fairly well equipped and trained. But this wasn't always the case and in poorer, rural counties trained bands were often ill equipped and they trained irregularly.
The Suffolk Free Company's Trained band represents a fairly well equipped and drilled force. We can field soldiers with a variety of weaponry. We have some excellent archers and some very experienced musketeers armed with caliver and musket. All men can wield a bill or pike if neccessary, although there may be some complaining as they are unwieldy and hard work.


Not only are the Suffolks accomplished with personal arms whenever given the opportunity we love to provide crews for great ordnance. The Suffolks are proud to serve as the garrison of Pendennis Castle in Cornwall and when in residence our gun teams serve the sakers that sit upon the chemise of the castle.


We love having the opportunity to work with big ordnance pieces. At Pendennis we man the two sakers (6 pounders) which are on the chemise of the Tudor keep. Moving them can take a lot of effort and team work.

Gun crew in action

Our team works hard to recreate the gun drill (as best we can find) of the sixteenth century. Firing these weapons is a privillage which we treasure and we love to include them in our displays.



Gun crew
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