The Archers Medieval Shields - The Pavise
On the battlefield the English Medieval crossbowman was particularly vulnerable when he was reloading his crossbow. Crossbowmen therefore protected themselves with a tall shield which was known as a pavise. The crossbowman would duck behind the pavise to re-load his crossbow during a battle.
Description of the Pavise Shield
The pavise was a a large convex shield, measuring 4 to 5 ft. high and broad enough to cover the entire body. A pavise shield would be carried slung on the back of the crossbowman. These shields were then propped up in front of them, in a permanent position, before the Medieval battle commenced. The pavise shields of the crossbowman could also be used as defensive screen formed by linking pavise shields together. Such a defensive screen was known as a 'Pavisade'. These shields were also known as Wall Shields.
Pavise Shield Decorations
The Medieval times of the Middle Ages was strongly religious. English Crossbowman would have fought in crusades, as well as battles in England. Many Pavise shields were therefore painted with religious scenes. The crossbow archers hoped that the enemy would believe that they were committing a sacrilegious act if the Holy images on the shields were damaged.