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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Apr, 2011 3:07 pm    Post subject: Padded Jacks vs Buff Coats         Reply with quote

Hey everyone, heres something I've been wondering about lately. Buff coats seem pretty much come out of nowhere in early 17th century Europe, whereas padded jacks (and other items of padded armour) seem to have been abandoned in the 16th century. My question is why?

Now I know that the increased use of firearms is a factor in the decline of armour in this period, but melee weapons such as; swords, pikes, and arquibus / musket butts, where still a major force on the battlefields of the thirty years war, and the English civil war. So even if padded jacks were ineffective against the firearms of the day, wouldn't they be useful (as they had been for centuries before) against melee weapons?

From what I've heard about buff coats, they were effective against melee weapons, pistols, and perhaps long range musket fire, so you might think that they were an improvement over padded jacks but they were also much more expensive, more expensive than the helmet, gauntlet, and cuirass, which a heavy cavalryman of this time would have worn. While most pikemen of this time couldn't afford a buff coat, but could afford a helmet and cuirass, why is it that they didn't wear a padded jack under there cuirass? And as the men who couldn't even afford a cuirass, they surely could have afforded a padded jack, why didn't they at least wear one?

As always thanks in advance for any help.

Éirinn go Brách
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 2:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's hot under a padded jacket and at least the great German poet Schiller writes that a "Elenshaut"(=skin of an elk) could stop bullets. So you have pretty much an argument for thick leather out of the hope to withstand bullets (they also did some magic for this purpose).
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 2:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt Scholz wrote:
It's hot under a padded jacket and at least the great German poet Schiller writes that a "Elenshaut"(=skin of an elk) could stop bullets. So you have pretty much an argument for thick leather out of the hope to withstand bullets (they also did some magic for this purpose).


Hi Kert, yes I know that it gets pretty toasty under padded armour, but that never stopped soldiers from the previous centuries from wearing them.

Éirinn go Brách
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most likely there reason is technological and ranching development.

In the 16th c, plate armour manefactury had become so efficient that it was cheaper to buy a thin plate armour than a padded jack. The imense amounts of fabric used to make a jack also made them rather expesnsive.

By the 17th c, there had also been a hughe rise in cattle ranching. This can be seen in civilian fashion as well; Whereas large leather items are rare in the middle ages, the 17th fashion include tall boots, wide leather belts and wide brimmed leather hats.

Also, people forget quickly. A single generation is often enough for knowledge or tradition be lost.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Robert Hinds




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To 17th century eyes, a buff coat looks cooler. (In both senses of the word. Wink )
"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Mikael Ranelius




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 9:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To simplify the matter: fabric armour was "replaced" by the leather jerkin in the 16th century, which in turn preceeded the buff coat.
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Andrea Scattolin




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 11:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do love BUFF COATS,and it istypical 17th. cent.,when soldier,they hadonly a breast and back plate,or,the officials,a gorget,usually scalloped with leather lining in contrast.Brocco period was all about the looks,but,if you try real buff coat,as one from KARL ROBINSON UK,they preserve you fromswords cuts,nd,they say,from bullet,if was shotted from pretty far,o course.Then,they were done most times with wollen arms,in different colos,exmple,buff alwys lmost yellowish naturl color,arms,burgundy woll,with golden braids s embellishments,silk bottons,and silk lining,can cost 2000 usd,esy,good one.But,the heavy fighting version,was not easy to crry around,then,there were lighter leather types,used as doublets.
I did several copyes of them in Pakistan,were leather and labour is cheap,and you can find thousands o diferent braids,they came out perfectly and cheap,but you got to goto Asia.
Andrea
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Joel Minturn





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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From a practical perspecive is there an advantage to the Buff coat over the Padded Jack? Would a Buff coat be easier to keep clean and dry in the field? It would seem that if a padded jack got wet it is going to stay wet for what seems like forever and if not dried quickly it would get moldy.

During this time there was many changes in how wars were fought and I believe that one of those changes was that soldiers were spending more time campaining and more time in the field so having equipment that could take the weather may have become more of a priority.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A dozen layers of quilted linen provides as good or better protection than a buff coat against all attacks - especially thrusting attacks. But during the time in question the most common threats are from sword cuts and firearms. Pretty much anything will protect you from a sword cut and nothing except a heavy breastplate will protect you from firearms. I think Elling is right that cost is the main issue. By the 17th century a padded jack probably cost more than a buff coat. It would stay like this until the industrial revolution produced automated weaving mills.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joel Minturn wrote:
From a practical perspecive is there an advantage to the Buff coat over the Padded Jack? Would a Buff coat be easier to keep clean and dry in the field? It would seem that if a padded jack got wet it is going to stay wet for what seems like forever and if not dried quickly it would get moldy.

Interesting point. Though it is easy enough to cover a jack with a thin layer of leather to protect it from the elements. We have documents to say that this was done.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, I wasn't aware that padded jacks were that expensive. I suppose the question now is, which was more expensive, the padded jack, or the buff coat?
Éirinn go Brách
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Werner Stiegler





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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Probably the padded jack. Cloth prices were more stable and they were an established medium of exchange and credit. As has already been pointed out - leather prices did drop as many parts of europe stopped supporting anything but herding for a while, while cloth prices apparently only began to fall during the industrial revolution.
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 10:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Joel Minturn wrote:
From a practical perspecive is there an advantage to the Buff coat over the Padded Jack? Would a Buff coat be easier to keep clean and dry in the field? It would seem that if a padded jack got wet it is going to stay wet for what seems like forever and if not dried quickly it would get moldy.

Interesting point. Though it is easy enough to cover a jack with a thin layer of leather to protect it from the elements. We have documents to say that this was done.

Buff coats soak up water like a sponge and take forever to dry, Wallhausen, a 17th C military author complained that it took 2-3 days to dry and that it was absolutely necessary for the troopers to have cloaks to protect them from the weather.

A padded jack is much easier to dry by comparison as long as you get either dry & sunny weather or can get indoors were it is dry and warm. I've never had an trouble drying my 20 layers of linen nor had any problems with mold. Of course incessant rain with no place to dry would put a strain on the Jack but such weather was even worse for the buffcoat.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Apr, 2011 11:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting point Daniel, I'm learning quite a bit from this thread.
Éirinn go Brách
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Fri 15 Apr, 2011 1:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Staberg wrote:

Buff coats soak up water like a sponge and take forever to dry, Wallhausen, a 17th C military author complained that it took 2-3 days to dry and that it was absolutely necessary for the troopers to have cloaks to protect them from the weather.


Did he forget to prepare the leather with linseed oil (mixed with bile) that hardens on air and makes the whole thing waterproof and tougher? So you get an oilskin coat. Of course, this can also be done with the padded jacket.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Apr, 2011 2:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Buffcoats are threated in a special way to make them tough. This might make them suceptible to water as well.
Even modern biker jackets soaks through eventually, and when they do they take ages to dry.

One weakness of padded cloth is that friction will eventually wear through the outer layers. A buff coat would be more resistant to this kind of wear and tear.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Apr, 2011 10:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing I cant help wondering about with regards to the disappearance of the padded jack is a possible connection with the increasingly padded nature of fashion during the course of the 16th century. It took a whole lot of padding to build a doublet out to a good peascod shape, and perhaps this padding was enough to substitute for much of the protective value provided by padded armour?
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