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Jaroslaw Dominski

Joined: 11 Jul 2008

Posts: 12

PostPosted: Mon 04 Jan, 2010 11:54 am    Post subject: What was worn under 17th century armour?         Reply with quote


I am putting together a cuirassier /pl. rajtar/ kit, worn by prussian mercenary (non-regular soldier), on the territory of Polish Commonwealth, in last decade of 16th and first quarter of 17th century (with adjustements parts).

I have found a lot of information about hard equipment such a breastplate, gorgets, spaulders, helmets etc., but...
In fact I know almost nothing (only seculation) about what was worn under armour. To be honest, information about wearing buff coat (in pl. kolet), arming dublet (pl. wams) or woolen jacket are unsufficient.

There is a question about what kind of leather it should be: suede, painted (what pigments) or full grain? In one article about leather in costumes (C. Spiers, if I remember?), I`ve found information about using almost always suede and rarely painted and full grain leather (and this because its protection of water).
I`ve found several infrmation about wams used on huntings which were prepared in full grain leather - I had sewed that kind of wams and worn under my armour:
+ when armour is oiled jacket still looks good
+ it is hard to be stained
0 temperature - it is the same as in linen padded jacket, so it is not problem
- it is stiffier than suede
- in cut test full grain leather sleeves is not so good as suede (but worn under chainmail sleeves it is ok)

In few monographies about conflicts in this time I`ve found info about woolen wams (so it should be identical like civil?) and in Janet Arnold costume decription I found suede fencing jacket - but she seems to be not sure if it was fencing jacket or just kind of a fashion. Monography about polish battles usually are not focused on foreign autorament equipment.

So I would ask you collegues If you could provide me any info or articles, or just research field and hints.
I`m going to preprare historicaly correct reconstruction so any information would be welcome.

Best regards

(it is easier to read than speak in foregin language, so please do not mention my language mistakes)
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Randall Moffett

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

Posts: 2,121

PostPosted: Tue 05 Jan, 2010 6:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A type of padded garmet is also an option. I saw a lovely one that was partially padded. There was a nice picture of it up here on the myArmoury website. It is from York Castle. Some armour also has the remains of padding on the armour itself. I have seen breastplates and helmets and to a lesser extent, cuisses in this manner. Some of the padding was not very nice inside, some type of rough plant placed inside a liner. Some is nice and made of cotton or the likes.

AS far as the types of leather maybe someone who makes then would be able to help on this.

Hope that helps some.

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Daniel Staberg

Location: Gothenburg/Sweden
Joined: 30 Apr 2005
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Posts: 570

PostPosted: Thu 07 Jan, 2010 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote


This is a difficult subject because not only do few of these 'soft' items survive to our day (far, far fewer than the 'hard' items like armour) but because they were usually bought by the soldiers themselves rather than supplied by the Crown or State they do not appear in records.

The best source is probably the military manuals of the time, particularly those written by highly experienced military men like Mendoza, Basta, Melzo, or the slighty later authors like Schildknecht & Monck. Even somewhat controversial authors like the well known Wallhausen (from Gdansk) can contain rich detaisl about the equipment and dress used by soldiers.
Now these works are easy to find although some editions are online nowadays, and then there is the language barrier.
On top of that the authors were not as systematic as we would like, for example Basta does not mention soft defences when describing the defensive equipment of the cavalry but when he discusses the sword & the use of the sword he states that the sword blade must be shaped in a certain way to best be able to thrust through the "Collete" and "Büffel" worn by horsemen.
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