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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 1:08 pm    Post subject: Leather defences in High Medieval Era (Europe)         Reply with quote

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Many warriors also began to add reinforcements to their mail chausses and hauberks for additional protection. These additions came in the form of hardened leather (cuir-buolli) and steel plates strapped to vulnerable parts of the body. Against warriors clad in that fashion, cutting swords began to lose their effectiveness.

Quote from Type XIII Swords article by Chad Arnow.

I'm interested in those "cuir - buolli". I've got some generall idea how early plate greaves, coat of plates and similar defences looked like, but I've never seen example of such leather defences.

Do you know any examples (drawings, texts, archeo finds) of such things.

'Similar' question, do you know of any examples of wearing second gambeson over mail? I think that few sources suggest using such set in Middle East as improved defense against arrows.

I wonder about usefulness of such thing. Generally gambesons don't weight much, but can be a bit restricting, if not well sized. And TWO gambesons....

And of course the biggest problem - in few disscusions I've seen people were suggesting that such armors aren't really confirmed anyhow.
On the other hand, some reenactors appear to wear things like that.

http://www.grod.org/linki/freha_1.jpg
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 1:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are examples of quilted garments being worn above and below mail. Some brasses and effigies show this two garment system. The accepted terms today, though, are aketon for the quilted garment under mail and gambeson for the quilted garment worn over mail.

John de Creke wears an aketon under his mail, then mail, then another garment above the mail that might be quilted, then a surcoat atop them all:





Here's a thread on hardened leather: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=8011

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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 3:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Chad!

Are there any widely considered theories about purpose of this?

Actual increased protection? Protecting mail from dampness?
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bartek Strojek wrote:
Thanks Chad!

Are there any widely considered theories about purpose of this?

Actual increased protection? Protecting mail from dampness?


I would guess it's for protection. It's a lot of layers for no good reason (shirt, aketon, hauberk/haubergeon, gambeson, surcoat). Happy I would think that many layers would cause a great deal of sweat, which might increase dampness.

Mail by itself may be hard to penetrate but does little for blunt force trauma (ie it may keep you from getting cut, but you might have broken bones). A layer (or two) or padding greatly increases its effectiveness.

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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 4:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:


Mail by itself may be hard to penetrate but does little for blunt force trauma (ie it may keep you from getting cut, but you might have broken bones). A layer (or two) or padding greatly increases its effectiveness.


That's what I was thinking as well.

I was however wondering if so many layers haven't been impeding movement too much.

Guess they haven't though, if they were worn.

Does anybody know somebody who tried it? Or maybe someone did it themself?
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Rod Walker




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That would be a Coat of Plates that Sir John is wearing over his mail and under his surcoat.
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Boyd C-F




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 5:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have also read that they would wear padding over maille.

I started wearing my padded garment over the top of my maille shirt mainly because my maille shirt was butted. If some one did a glancing blow to my arms I would find that the rings were pulling apart. Hardly a justification for why they would wear it in period, but it would make sense to protect your expensive maille so it in turn can protect your expensive body!

The 'weave' of the rings on the body would also open more over the top of my padded garment, not a lot, but enough to catch tips etc. Whereas under my padding the 'weave' was closed which would possibly provide more protection in a life threatening situation.

I also found this cooler as I would just wear a medium weight shirt underneath as we were doing pulled blow rebated sword combat and didn't expect too heavier blows. So the maille would act like a heatsink - again hardly a justification for why they would wear it in period.

Hopefully someone with better maille may have some better ideas!
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Brawn Barber




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 7:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's no such thing as leather armour
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 7:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rod Walker wrote:
That would be a Coat of Plates that Sir John is wearing over his mail and under his surcoat.


How can you be sure? Decorative rivets don't have to indicate attachment of plates, right? It may very well be a coat of plates, but the vertical lines make the garment appear to either be quilted or not very stiff if the fabric naturally pleats into those lines.

There are other examples of aketon-mail-gambeson, even if this turns out not to be an example. Happy

Happy

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 8:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brawn Barber wrote:
There's no such thing as leather armour


I don't know that such a sweeping statement can be backed up. Doesn't the word cuirass have as its root cuir (leather)? Others, like Randall Moffett, can probably give specifics, but I believe there are references to things made a cuiri (or however you spell it), meaning of leather, in inventories.

A number of respected armour books mention armour of cuir boulli. Looking at some period art, it's easier to believe that some fancifully shaped poleyns and other things were moulded of leather rather than embossed (a technique not popular for armour until quite a while after).

Obviously, I'm speaking of the High Middle Ages--in this case, the 13th and early 14th centuries. Viking stuff is another matter and that topic and a horse, I believe, have been beaten to death on these fora before. Happy

I'm guessing you're joking, as your own website says:

http://schmitthenner.com/ wrote:
Was leather really used as armour? Of course it was! Plenty of documentation from the 13th, 14th and 15th Centuries clearly define leather armour used (especially "Cuirbouille") in tournament combats. A rare find from circa 6th Century B.C. has been located and is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC (see our "Cuirasses" page for a photo of this proof of early leather armour).

The arguement that there is no "evidence" or leather being used as armour is now an invalid point. Leather, due to its organic nature would never have survived to the present day, nor would have likely been recorded in wills. The early decoration of 13th Century cuirbouille leather armour account for the expense associated with it and was in fact not to be used by squires but by the king and his knights in tournaments fought "a la plaisance", which is the foundation of todays SCA.


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Brawn Barber




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Big Grin
Just kidding, Chad. I wanted to give Dan a smile..
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 8:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brawn Barber wrote:
Big Grin
Just kidding, Chad. I wanted to give Dan a smile..


Or a stroke. Razz Laughing Out Loud ( As they say humour doesn't always make itself clear in written comments. Laughing Out Loud ).

Almost started a whole long series of flogging the dead horse posts. Wink ( Oh, " Humour " ).

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Brawn Barber




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 8:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Big Grin Thanks Jean

Sorry Chad, didn't mean to get you all worked up.
Laughing Out Loud
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 10:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We also have a great number of accounts that come up indicating the use of padding and other armour.

Our good friend Endre here on the forum wrote this.

'The King's Mirror, ca 1250, says:
This get-up the man himself needs have: good and fine hosen made from soft and well "svorta"(?) canvas that reach all the way to the belt of the breeches and outside these a pair of maille hose, so tall he can fasten them to a belt that goes around the body twice and outside those a pair of "maille pants" made from the same kind of canvas and the same way before said, and outside those good kneescreens of iron with steel-hard rivets. On the torso he must closest to the body have a soft pannzara that does not reach longer than mid-thigh, then a good breast-screen of iron and outside that maille and outside the maille a good panzzara, made on the same way before said, but armless.

(Pannzara and vapntræiu are used in the literature interchangeably. A "soft pannzara" or vapntræiu seems to be a textile armour worn closest to the body, inside the maille, whereas the "good pannzara" or "strengthened vapntræiu" is worn outside maille or as armour in itself. '

From it is a good example of how a knight would have been armed and the order it took place. People have been very slow to accept padding in the 13th, usually pointing to artwork, which I think is not a very string foundation for it. While artwork is nice it is very limited, though all period sources have limitations, artwork I think has more than others. By the early fourteenth century you see coat of plates everywhere in literature. I'd be very surprised if by 1310-1320 event he lowliest knight did not won one as in the 1320s you see commoners required to wear them to war and in their ownership.

Now regarding existing leather armour…. Only one I know of is a 14th century leather rerebrace. We do get leather equipment pop up in various accounts (Register of the Black Prince has 300-500 leather helmets bought for archers at one point).

As far as aketons and gambesons. In Western Europe in period there is little, perhaps 0, difference. We have decided modernly how it is easiest to use them. That said I agree we need some order or it makes such talk online impossible. There are only two ordinances that give weights I know of so I’d avoid any general ideas like that. A Parisian 1311 and a Royal Wardrobe Account (English) 1323 or 1326. The first is 3.1lbs. of cotton and the second 2.3lbs I think (going off a very tired brain). One issue is we do not know if these were stand alone armours or under armours. The English one indicates it an under armour. With decent weight linen my aketon had 3.4lbs cotton (I added some as I am above average medieval height) mine weighted less than 5lbs in total, linen, thread and cotton. That said if I were to use it as stand alone armour I’d bolster the cotton. I think both these examples were for earlier under armours.


RPM
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Harry Marinakis




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Sep, 2013 3:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was looking through this thread and had another idea about why they wore padded garments over the mail.

Mail is heavy. If you want to wear several layers of padding under then mail, you would have to wear an even larger mail garment. Bigger is heavier.

Just a thought....
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Steven Janus




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Sep, 2013 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well as someone who has an armor kit that consists of mail with a leather chest plate over it I feel I can say a few things. Again, I am from the 20th century and have only fought a few bouts with stage swords. Mail can be very heavy or a fair weight. It depends on two things. One, what gauge wire are you using and two, what diameter rings are you using? With the right gauge and right diameter rings it isn't too bad. What has said before is correct, mail alone is not good as it can only protect against glancing blows. It does nothing for blunt force trauma. So my kit that I use has a leather placard protecting the kidney and my soft belly. I also have leather faulds also. The leather I am using is 12 to 15 oz unboiled and it does its job. I've been struck several times in the chest with sword blows and didn't feel much of anything.

Of course my group doesn't go bone crushing force either but they are plenty forceful with their strikes. Even unboiled thick leather can add a fair layer of protection and yes leather armor has been used in history. Go look up Lamellar armour. The reason historical examples are so hard to find is because leather rots in time! Leather can be good by it self or mixed with other types of armor like mail. For the record, the mail I am using is butted 16 gauge with 8mm outer rings. I would eventually like to switch to 16 gauge 9mm outer rings as I made a mistake and thought 8mm outer was required in my group and it is 9mm. If were to get a shirt like that, I could cut off a few more pounds of weight Big Grin. Then again I'm working to drop the leather and mail all together as I am building a 16 gauge cold rolled steel brigandine using heavy canvas with a friend of mine and it is mostly finished.

Newbie Sword collector
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Sep, 2013 1:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Of course (archers bracers being a subset of leather defences that I'll ignore here) there are the extant items of leather armour. In the British Museum there is this item:
[url]
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/attachment.php?...&stc=1

[/url]

which is a defence for the upper arm and the Met in NY plus Royal Armouries in Leeds both have horse cruppers and other bits of made from leather.

Chris Dobson is the only person I know who has done a serious study on making reconstructions of this. Unfortunately all my ref books are still in store so the title and journal it was published in eludes me but an example of his work is on this page:

http://www.chrisdobson.net/master_armourer.html

In all leather amours for knights you need to bear in mind that no-one is going to wear it undecorated. It was was embellished and decorated so as per Chris's example, the carving, painting and gilding was an important part. The Met example is gessoed and painted although very plainly so its assumed it was not for someone of v high status.


Last edited by Mark Griffin on Wed 02 Oct, 2013 1:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Oct, 2013 12:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Griffin wrote:
Chris Dobson is the only person I know who has done a serious study on making reconstructions of this. Unfortunately all my ref books are still in store so the title and journal it was published in eludes me

‘As Tough as Old Boots’? A Study of Hardened Leather Armour. Part 1: Techniques of Manufacture (lecture and paper, IAA Conference, Art and Arms. Florence, 2003).
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Oct, 2013 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Dan, that's the fellow. Don't think he's done part 2 yet....
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Oct, 2013 1:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I should also mention Simon Brindle who runs/ran Artisan Armoury.

For a short while he was making very good hardened leather armour suitable for some periods but then switched focus to the film industry so have no idea what he's up to now. His website doesn't give much away but that's a pretty funky cuirass on the front!

http://www.artisanarmours.co.uk/lrphome.htm

He has a facebook presence but as I'm not on it, no idea what its like.
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