This Renaissance Rotella / Rodela shield is crafted from 16 gauge steel embellished with an encirclement of brass rivets and slashed decorative edging. The shield is 21 1/2” x 21 1/2” in its general dimension.
The blackened back of the shield is fitted with an leather hand-grip strap; a second adjustable strap of thick leather with a nickel-plated buckle fastens and secures the shield to the forearm. A thick pad of tough canvas cloth with internal padding protects the forearm.
Known to Italians as the Rotella and the Rodela to the Spaniards, this circular shield enjoyed notable popularity in the Renaissance because its design was thought to hearken back to the shields used in the Classical world. This perceived connection made the shield fashionable and some could be quite elaborate with substantial engraving and embellishment. Others, of course were more plain and utilitarian whilst some struck a middle ground like this recreated example.
The shield was considered part of the duelists repertoire and it is mentioned and illustrated in Spanish and Italian martial manuscripts. It was usually paired with a cut-and-thrust Sidesword, but is also shown being used in tandem with a spear or light partisan. The Rodela shield was not merely the purview of duelists however, it found great military success by Gonzalvo de Cordoba in the Italian Wars as a counter to Swiss Pike and Halberd formations. Needing to find a way to defeat the tough Swiss polearm formations employed by his French foes, Gonzalvo masterfully altered his own polearm formations by seeding them with his Spanish sword-and-buckler men. Whilst their own Pike-armed Spaniards engaged the Swiss, the sword-and-buckle men used quick footwork and a Rodela shield to exploit openings in the melee to close-in and strike down Swiss foes who could not respond as quickly.