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Daniel de Castro Caputo




Location: Brazil
Joined: 23 Jan 2008

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Fri 14 May, 2010 3:01 pm    Post subject: Leather and tissue armour weights?         Reply with quote

Iīve been searching throughout the internet for information about the weight of real leather and tissue (linen, cotton, etc.) body armour in the medieval period, but I canīt find any solid information about it.

Thereīs a lot of dubious and incomplete, or sourceless information... It seems that a linen gambeson, or cuir bouilli lamellar where excepcional, capable of resisting longbow arrowshots, being very lightweght...

There is an entire set of italian 13-15oz leather armour that is said to weight only 9 pounds and can hold against sword thrusts and arrows as much as maille... Itīs hard to believe, because a leather motorcycle jacket can weight 6 pounds by itself and I dontīt believe that a hardened and much thick leather armour would weight less than a piece of cloth...

I believe that a heavy cotton, or linen gambeson (20 to 30 layers) can hold against bodkin arrows, but I couldnīt find any information about the weight of these armour too...

It seems odd, for if a combination of cuir bouilli and poirpont can be almost as tough as maille, and much lighter, I donīt know why someone would have such a huge work to build a maille...

Daniel de Castro Caputo
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Naythan Goron




Location: ON, Canada
Joined: 03 Feb 2008

Posts: 40

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jul, 2010 10:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

hello Daniel
i can not help you with the weight of cloth, i can however help you with the leather armor part. ive recetly tested a pice of leather at 14oz thickness vs a small patch of rivited maille. suprisingly my 50lb long bow with armor piercing heads went clean through the maille, however the leather stoped the same arrow fiered from the same bow cold. i can however beleve the weight of that armor being only 9lb. im working on a breast and backplate of armor and right now all 3 pices together with buckels and straps cant weigh over 4.5 lb. i personaly think motercycel jackets are over heavy with all the padding and plates they have in it... or it might be the quality of the tanning process (oil tanned vs veg tanned)
i do know though that maille is more resistant to cuts and easer to fix then leather. if a pice of leather gets a cut in it, in order to properly fix your armor you have to replace the whole pice thats damaged.

for authentic armor i beleve each and every pice made would be drastically different from place to place.. or rather regon to regon.. southern briton may have leather armor made from cow hide ( it can be 13-15oz esaly) but leather from iceland or scandinavia would be out of elk buff, (10oz is what i think elk hide can get to) if you want to research different weights of leather i sugest going to a leather retailer like Tandy leather co. when i get my leather from them i normally get half a cow (im not exaggerating here) at a time and at a 14oz weight the box only weighs in at around 10-12 lb.
i do know that leather can stop a sword blow or stab.. and id trust a leather harness over my maille anyday now... id just hate to have to replace my breastplate every week from all the cuts and punctures on it... thats why i believe maille was so popular... its easy to fix and more durable then leather.. (although me being a fan of leather would wear a leather breastplate of a coat of maille Big Grin )

cloth stoping arrows...i have heard of mongols wearing silk tunics under their armor in order to stop arrows that pierced their chain maille.... if what ive heard is true (and someone please tell me if they heard something simaler) id love to test it out with my long bow.

times come and go but the blacksmith's spirit will live on.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Wed 28 Jul, 2010 6:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Naythan Goron wrote:

thats why i believe maille was so popular... its easy to fix and more durable then leather.. (although me being a fan of leather would wear a leather breastplate of a coat of maille Big Grin )

Mail was popular because it was highly effective against arrows and many other threats on the battlefield at the time. Your bow test only demonstrated how ineffective a lot of re-enactment mail is compared to historical mail.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19189

Quote:
cloth stoping arrows...i have heard of mongols wearing silk tunics under their armor in order to stop arrows that pierced their chain maille
Mongols primarily wore lamellar, not mail. The silk didn't stop the arrows, it merely wrapped around the head and reduced the severity of the injury (and made it easier to withdraw). The type of cloth armour in question consists of up to 30 layers of quilted linen. It is more than capable of stopping a longbow arrow. Williams' tests suggest that it is more effective than a similar weight of hardened leather.
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JG Elmslie
Industry Professional



Location: Scotland
Joined: 18 Jun 2009
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Posts: 254

PostPosted: Wed 28 Jul, 2010 6:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Naythan Goron wrote:

cloth stoping arrows...i have heard of mongols wearing silk tunics under their armor in order to stop arrows that pierced their chain maille.... if what ive heard is true (and someone please tell me if they heard something simaler) id love to test it out with my long bow.


this may be inaccurate, but I seem to recall that the silk and arrows thing is more that the silk does not tear when hit, so it will get pushed into the wound with the arrowhead.

in itself not a pleasant experience, but what that did was it allowed the extraction of the arrowhead (particularly gore, broadhead, or barbed arrows) through the entry wound by pulling the cloth, rather than being forced to push it out the other side as you would without the silk.

though that could be complete nonsesne, and I have no reference material to back it up. been a long time since I heard that one explained.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,190

PostPosted: Wed 28 Jul, 2010 6:16 am    Post subject: Re: Leather and tissue armour weights?         Reply with quote

Daniel de Castro Caputo wrote:
There is an entire set of italian 13-15oz leather armour that is said to weight only 9 pounds and can hold against sword thrusts and arrows as much as maille... Itīs hard to believe, because a leather motorcycle jacket can weight 6 pounds by itself and I dontīt believe that a hardened and much thick leather armour would weight less than a piece of cloth...

You are right to be dubious. It is complete bollocks. Any cloth or leather armour capable of stopping an arrow has to be much thicker and heavier than a metallic equivalent. That is the whole point of using metal. Pound for pound it provides better protection than any other historical material
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Brawn Barber




Location: In the shop
Joined: 20 Nov 2008

Posts: 60

PostPosted: Wed 28 Jul, 2010 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Naythan Goron wrote:

for authentic armor i beleve each and every pice made would be drastically different from place to place.. or rather regon to regon.. southern briton may have leather armor made from cow hide ( it can be 13-15oz esaly) but leather from iceland or scandinavia would be out of elk buff, (10oz is what i think elk hide can get to) if you want to research different weights of leather i sugest going to a leather retailer like Tandy leather co. when i get my leather from them i normally get half a cow (im not exaggerating here) at a time and at a 14oz weight the box only weighs in at around 10-12 lb.
i do know that leather can stop a sword blow or stab.. and id trust a leather harness over my maille anyday now... .


"13/15" oz leather from Tandy leather/Leather Factory is what we use for "lighter" leather items. I honestly don't know how they refer to it as such and know from doing business with them for 10 years across several locations. Numerous times I have asked them to pick out the heaviest they have and it is always the same.

Vague and absurd statements such as " an entire set of italian 13-15 oz leather armour that is said to weigh only 9 pounds" or "i do know that leather can stop a sword blow or stab" are simply conjecture and need to be documented or verified through some type of evidence or other proof of a factual nature.
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