Boucicaut’s Workout du Jour

Friday, December 23rd, 2022

Jean le Maingre, called Boucicaut, (1366-1421) was a French knight known for his rigorous physical training:

And now he began to test himself by jumping onto a courser in full armor. At other times he would run or hike for a long way on foot, to train himself not to get out of breath and to endure long efforts. At other times he would strike with an axe or hammer for a long time to be able to hold out well in armor, and so his arms and hands would endure striking for a long time, and train himself to nimbly lift his arms. By these means he trained himself so well that at that time you couldn’t find another gentleman in equal physical condition. He would do a somersault armed in all his armor except his bascinet, and dance armed in a mail shirt…

When he was at his lodgings he would never ceased to test himself with the other squires at throwing the lance or other tests of war.

I was reminded of this when Ben Espen recently shared this video, demonstrating that plate armor was not especially cumbersome:


  1. Ezra says:

    A man of the period twice as strong pound for pound as the modern counterpart.

    Think of the Amish man today as compared to the average modern man.

    Men at arms of that period more than likely to fight from horseback and not of foot?

  2. Phil B says:

    If his suit of armour weighed 26.5 kilograms (or about 58.5 pounds) then that is a moderate combat load for a modern infantryman. However, as the armour was distributed around his body, then it would be easier to carry than the same weight on his back (which cramps your shoulders and arms).

    Impressive determination and a true warrior mindset which, as Ezra said above, is beyond the modern average man the street but not exceptional if someone today wants to be as physically fit. Where Boucicaut differed was that he would wear the armour as his normal clothes for weeks on end to build the stamina and coordination to ignore it and perform the tasks that he’d be expected to do on a daily basis and in battle.

  3. Lu An Li says:

    It is a pity the western style martial arts have been ignored to a large degree for a long time — boxing, sword-fighting, wrestling, etc. Asian martial arts have dominated in the western mind for a long time. I probably should not have here is enough that the western man asked to study with his own cultural domain that are just as probably good as what the Orientals have developed.

Leave a Reply