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Michael Curl




Location: Northern California, US
Joined: 06 Jan 2008

Posts: 486

PostPosted: Mon 22 Dec, 2008 9:47 am    Post subject: Question on weight         Reply with quote

So I was under the impression that a suit of armor during the 15th century would weight 60-70lbs.

But in the features section on this site it says that a gothic harness only weighed 40lbs!!!!

Any knowledge on average weights to various harness's?

And do you know of a good book on the subject?

E Pluribus Unum
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Chad Arnow
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
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PostPosted: Mon 22 Dec, 2008 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael,
I used the search function and found this:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8023
(It's also one of our Spotlight Topics so can be found on that page, too)

Here's another, from the search function:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=11185

I'm sure there are more.

Regarding books, usually weight is mentioned on a few pieces, sometimes in passing in general reference works like Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight. Museum catalogues are a better source. Auction catalogues can be too.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,098

PostPosted: Mon 22 Dec, 2008 10:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is fairly relative. As I mentioned before not all armour covers the same places and even fairly similar suits can be made to various thicknesses. Seems like the transitional armour could actually be heaviest with a full hauberk and plate etc. A mail hauberk and coif could easily go from 20s to 30s, maybe even heavier I suppose. Plus another 20 pounds or more in plate then 5-10 in padded garments you could be in the 50s or 60s quite quickly. I still have to tailor my new riveted hauberk and coif but right now may harness is in the 60s but I hope to get it to the 50s after it is made to the proper lengths and proportions. If have seen written out in various locations 55 or thereabouts as a average for 15th century harnesses but usually without where this was derived.

So the answer is yes. A full harness could easily span from the 40s to the 60s maybe 70s for a field harness. Once you start getting into the 70s this likely is getting a bit on the high side I'd imagine.

Hope that helps

RPM
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Andres M. Chesini Remic




Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Joined: 17 Dec 2008

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PostPosted: Wed 24 Dec, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Plate armor is rather light (when comparing to mail).-
Early plate armor is crafted out of iron, wich means it had to be thicker, and thus, heavier.
When steelcraft got things easier, both armor and helms became thinner and more resistant.

If you consider the mail covered surface of a 12th century norman warrior, and you compare it to the plate covered surface of 15th century (or later) knight, you'd probably see they're the same.

I weight about 65kg, (This is roughly 140lbs, I think) and a full norman suit for me weights over 30kgs (65lbs).
And full plate armor of my size I tried on germany (a 16th century one) weighted about 20kg.. (45lbs)

I found the plate armor rather unconfortable, when comparing to mail, wich made those 20kgs more difficult to carry than the 30kgs of mail... But that's just a personal appraisal, and not a fact =P

Andrés

"El que no viene por donde debiera, no viene a lo que dice - P. B. Palacios ~ Almafuerte"
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Andres M. Chesini Remic




Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 33

PostPosted: Wed 24 Dec, 2008 6:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course, when firearms came in action, plate armor became heavier and heavier, until it fell out of use, but that's quite later than what we're discussing now... u^^
"El que no viene por donde debiera, no viene a lo que dice - P. B. Palacios ~ Almafuerte"
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R.M. Henson




Location: Honolulu Hawaii
Joined: 14 Feb 2008
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Posts: 49

PostPosted: Wed 24 Dec, 2008 7:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andres M. Chesini Remic wrote:
Plate armor is rather light (when comparing to mail).-
Early plate armor is crafted out of iron, wich means it had to be thicker, and thus, heavier.
When steelcraft got things easier, both armor and helms became thinner and more resistant.

If you consider the mail covered surface of a 12th century norman warrior, and you compare it to the plate covered surface of 15th century (or later) knight, you'd probably see they're the same.

I weight about 65kg, (This is roughly 140lbs, I think) and a full norman suit for me weights over 30kgs (65lbs).
And full plate armor of my size I tried on germany (a 16th century one) weighted about 20kg.. (45lbs)

I found the plate armor rather unconfortable, when comparing to mail, wich made those 20kgs more difficult to carry than the 30kgs of mail... But that's just a personal appraisal, and not a fact =P

Andrés


I agree, even if a suit of armor weighed up to 70 lbs, it's still light in comparison to a haubergeon I used to own that weighed nearly 52 lbs. alone (all the weight was bore on the shoulders, while plate is more evenly distributed on the shoulders, arms, waist, and thighs)! But after trimming it to fit my smaller frame, tthe mail was closer to 43 lbs. The fact that I alone bought the chain mail to use as a running weight to train in boxing is testament to its simple weight factor. But on the other hand I know many people who personally own haubergeon and even hauberks that are much lighter (around 35) and offer similar and sometime better protection due to weave pattern, rivets, gauge, steel type, etc.

I'm sure that this same notion applies to steel plate. Given different styles and the average frame of the fighting men of the time, sizes, shapes, thickness of the plate will change the average weight of armor depending on the popular style, period and country.

But worthy of mention, even an 80 lbs suit seemed not to phase some of the gentlemen who participate in some of the "Heavy Metal Combat" events found on you tube (one of the participants claimed his personal suit weighed about 86, and claimed some others were upwards of 90...whether its historically accurate is one thing, but this proves it doesn't impair short term mobility as much as it would seem). They appear quite nimble even in full plate suits, and even go as far as to jump up and down and perform wrestling type slams on each other.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tqwt_dh3PA&NR=1
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Peter Lyon
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Location: New Zealand
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Dec, 2008 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lots of good points have been made already, but there are a few things worth adding, especially when comparing modern reproductions of armour with period examples.

Modern reproductions are often heavier than the originals, as reenactors tend to want the armour to survive bashing week after week without continual and expensive repairs and replacements, where period armours might only have to really do their job a few times in a lifetime, and might only have to protect the wearer from a few really dangerous blows. Hence the armour tended to be thinner because damage from one battle could be repaired, and mobility was still very important, so weight was traded against protection. Also worth remembering, is that armour wasn't usually about absolute protection, it was usually about improving survivability, so taking a killing blow and turning it into something that left bruises or lesser cuts, was still a good thing if it allowed the wearer to get to battle in good shape, and keep fighting after being pummelled.

Questions of full versus partial protection come up, due to cost and weight, and special purpose armours, for example for jousting. Some late jousting harness weighed over 90 pounds, but that included doubling plates and thick plates for the most protection - an example where weight and loss of mobility don't matter much, as maximum protection was the goal, and the horse did a lot of the work. Foot combat harness was lighter as mobility and endurance became more important, and field harness tended to be lighter again, as it was important to be able to wear it all day without becoming exhausted.

I have handled a late full field harness or foot tourney harness (head to toe coverage) that was being mounted for display, and was amazed by how light and thin the plates were, yet perfectly shaped. I guessed it to be from about 1580, and the total weight of the plates would have been no more than 20kgs, or 44 pounds; add arming clothes and some maille for the exposed areas, and it would have been about 50 pounds.

Just as critical with plate harness, is the fit; if any part doesn't pivot in just the right place, the wearer wastes energy pushing it in ways it doesn't want to move, or runs up against movement limitations. If the armour doesn't work properly (as some modern reproductions don't) the wearer can become exhausted just fighting against their own armour. This is less of an issue with conformal armour such as maille, which means fit is less critical for some armour types.

My own jousting harness is c.1390-1410, a period before doubling plates and very thick plates became popular, and made of spring steel to allow a lighter weight. The thickest part, the breast, is 1.6mm thick, or 1/16". I am 6"3" tall and weigh 220 pounds; with maille for all the openings and padding, my harness weighs 35kg (77 pounds). If I had it made of mild steel, with the thicker plates needed to make up for the lower strength, it would be over 90 pounds. It is made for both foot and mounted combat, but I am wouldn't want to run around for long in it due to heat build-up issues (another of those factors besides shear weight, that you can only appreciate by wearing it).

Here are some actual numbers, from the appendix on page 192 of Claude Blair's book European Armour (still one of the best little books on the evolution of armour in medieval and renaissance Europe):

Field armour, German, c.1525: 41lb 13.5oz (the lightest in his listing)

Field Armour, Italian, c.1550-60: 45lb 13.5oz

Field Armour, Italian, c.1450: 57lbs

Field Armour, Greenwich, c.1590: 71lb 14oz

Cuirassier Armour, Augsburg, c. 1620-30: 69lb 5oz

Armour for the joust, c.1500: 90lb 1.5oz

Note that these will be without arming clothes and extra maille for the openings, so add a few pounds there. Blair also lists weights for helms, mail and brigandine, and horse armours. If you want to know more, I thorougly recommend you get the book.

This has moved off the original question a bit, but as so often, the simplest questions can involve complicated answers.
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