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Nathan Quarantillo




Location: Eastern Panhandle WV, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 3:39 pm    Post subject: historical evidence of black maille.         Reply with quote

hello all. I was wondering weather or not black mail is in fact something that a knight would have in fact used and wore. there seem to be a billion and a half makers of it, but I have yet to see and historical documentation on it.
all help is appreciated, thanks!

"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 3:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not in Europe. Japanese mail was usually lacquered and the most common colour for Japanese lacquered mail is black.
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Nathan Quarantillo




Location: Eastern Panhandle WV, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I always had a feeling something was funny about all of that black maille....
"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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Artis Aboltins




PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 4:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, one of the reasons why at least some of the mail might be dark, not black, but more like dark grey would be if it was boiled in the water with elm bark - that is quite effective rust preventhion method.
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Nathan Quarantillo




Location: Eastern Panhandle WV, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 5:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

like VERY dark, or just a BIT dark?
"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 5:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Artis Aboltins wrote:
Well, one of the reasons why at least some of the mail might be dark, not black, but more like dark grey would be if it was boiled in the water with elm bark - that is quite effective rust preventhion method.


I'd be very interested to see a primary text saying that this was done to mail
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Maurizio D'Angelo




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 5:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan,
your way of answering is incorrigible. But immediately find the idea ... Wink

Ciao
Maurizio


Last edited by Maurizio D'Angelo on Mon 08 Feb, 2010 5:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 5:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Heh. This time I'm genuinely interested. I'd truly like to know if anyone has English translations of a contemporary document where this technique is used to rustproof mail (or any armour).
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 6:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Heh. This time I'm genuinely interested. I'd truly like to know if anyone has English translations of a contemporary document where this technique is used to rustproof mail (or any armour).


First it might be interesting to know what unique chemical properties this treatment would give the surface of the steel: I assume some form of iron oxide but stable and protective like blued or browned steel.

It might have been used but only if it worked and was fairly resistant to wear or easy to repeat for on going maintenance.

Second historical proof of use as Dan said would be very interesting.

Third how easy to do it oneself and any hazards i.e. fumes, toxicity or potential allergic reactions.

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Patrik W





Joined: 17 Nov 2009

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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 7:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a painting in the book "Knight Noble Warrior of England" written by Christopher Gravett that depicts the battle of Wakefield in 1460. In the description of the painting it is stated that "One (knight) has his armour painted black, thought to protect it from rust". The plate armour and brigandine are black and the maille appears to be black also. However there are no specifics of date and origin of the painting.
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 7:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No one mentioned the Black prince and the semi-myth that he got the name from letting his armor darken. (yes Dan this is shaky ground for historical presidence but it is a relivant example of blackening)
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 7:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think a lot of knights would have "naturally darkened" armour if that was the case.

There's the Black Prince
Where?
Over there with the black armour
What? Next to all the other knights with black armour?
Yeah.
So why is he called the Black Prince?
Because he wears black armour.
Like all the other knights with black armour?
Yeah.


FWIW illustrations are by far the weakest form of evidence. They can be interpreted so many different ways. Without evidence from another discipline (archaeological or documentary) to support the interpretation, it is nothing but empty speculation.


Last edited by Dan Howard on Mon 08 Feb, 2010 7:55 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 7:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't take the Black Prince example to be anything more than a myth. The only surviving examples we have of his armor are from the statue at his tomb, which is not colored, and his funerary great helm of iron and gauntlets of latten covered in gilding.

As for Patrik's example - There are numerous examples of 15th century art that show almost all of the arms and armor on the field of battle as being very dark. This, I think, is less likely due to the fact that they were darkened but rather that it was artistic impression, since it does not match the finish commonly found on surviving examples from the era. The quote you've given from the caption sounds like the author's opinion on the matter, which is always something to be considered with a deal of scrutiny!

-Gregory

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Artis Aboltins




PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 10:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Artis Aboltins wrote:
Well, one of the reasons why at least some of the mail might be dark, not black, but more like dark grey would be if it was boiled in the water with elm bark - that is quite effective rust preventhion method.


I'd be very interested to see a primary text saying that this was done to mail


Dan, no texts for that as far as I know - hence why I said "might" as this method of temporary rustproofing has been used for iron things here for a long, long time and reenactors have been using it quite successfully for mail. I wish there was some hard evidence to back this up but so far it is just a hypothesis, nothing more.
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Jesse Eaton





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PostPosted: Mon 08 Feb, 2010 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Artis Aboltins wrote:

Dan, no texts for that as far as I know - hence why I said "might" as this method of temporary rustproofing has been used for iron things here for a long, long time and reenactors have been using it quite successfully for mail. I wish there was some hard evidence to back this up but so far it is just a hypothesis, nothing more.

What do you mean by 'temporary'? Does the finish tend to degrade or come off entirely? How temporary is this method?
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Toke Krebs Niclasen




Location: Copenhagen
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Feb, 2010 12:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It sounds interesting, and I will have access to elm bark tomorrow.

I just wonder, if it is so good why have no one bottled and sold it yet?
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Feb, 2010 3:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmm... how clean is mail generally after it's made authentically? The wire gets drawn and annealed repeatedly until it's the right thickness. If it's annealed after the last draw, it may be fairly black from the annealing phase, particularly after it's given a protective grease coating. That is unless the wire was cleaned up or drawn again after the last annealing (which should also clean it up a bit).
Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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Nathan Quarantillo




Location: Eastern Panhandle WV, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Feb, 2010 6:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick, I would be very interested in this illustration. If you could please post the illustration, or provide a link to it, it would be much appreciated.

and Dan, I would suspect that the whole "Black Prince" thing might be a phenomenon similar to a pro-league golfer whom my grandfather told me about. He prefers to wear 2 gloves (as opposed to the norm, 1) and it is enough of a novelty that he's been nicknamed "two gloves Tom". The wearing of black armour might have been known at the time, but rare. Enough to remember him by it.

Gregory, the artist's opinions must always be taken with a pinch of salt, but I personally do not think that the artists of the time would paint something that didn't exist. (I'm assuming that the picture is from the period). And we also have to take into account Victorian polishing. From what I have heard, they polished the absolute hell out of anything they got their hands on. This is why we have so few surviving pieces with painted designs on them, yet we see a bounty of period depictions of painted decoration.

Jeroen, I have to wonder, about the historical plausibility of black maille, maybe it was used by the lower class sergeants or foot (who could afford maille at all) who were buying in affect discount maille, that hadn't been totally polished.
I mean, who here hasn't bought armour at a lesser finish to save some money, or bought a very functional, yet basic looking sword?

"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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James Head





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PostPosted: Tue 09 Feb, 2010 7:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Concerning the 'Black Prince', I'm suprised that no-one has brought up the fact that he was never called by this title while he was alive. The whole idea of him earning the 'Black Prince' nickname because of his armour or tournament arms would require that it was given to him during his lifetime, which did not happen. Another theory is that the French began to refer to him as the Black Prince when they remembered back to all of he havoc and misery that he wreaked through their country during his frequent chevauchées. But that's just another theory. Either way, I doubt he was called the Black Prince because of blackened armour.
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Nathan Quarantillo




Location: Eastern Panhandle WV, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Feb, 2010 7:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aah yes, we forgot this one didn't we? He was just "The Prince" in his lifetime if I'm correct. Well, it's time to look for another source.
"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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