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Brian Robson





Joined: 19 Feb 2007

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Aug, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject: 13c rigid body armour - looking for sources.         Reply with quote

Specifically, I'm looking for evidence of what appears to be a rigid or stiffened kind of body armour seen in a few 13c sources. Some examples are here:

Mac Bible - A few figures here show hints of some rigidity at the shoulder. Look at the grren surcoat on the right and the guy below him being struck by a lance.
http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/images...&d.gif

I forget the primary source, but the Osprey book on 12-13c knights shows hugely pronounced rigid shoulders over the sword arms. Front cover pic is here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=9EahIQZ0LFoC...mp;f=false

Wells Cathedral:
http://www.themcs.org/armour/knights/Wells%20...%20621.JPG


Mac Bible (possibly the best evidence) - the guy on the right sat in the cart
http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/images...&b.gif

I've also heard mentioned of something called a curie (some kind of leather body armour) but don't know where the primary literary source is for that. I'm assuming that would be the name attached to this kind of armour.

Basically I'm starting to think about having a go at making one to suppliment my 13c kit - and looking for as many sources/details/examples or simply views and ideas on it as I can get before I start.

My thoughts so far are that it could be a kind of rigid surcoat (as I've never seen it peep out in any artwork), but then the 2n'd mac bible pic shows what I'm thinking it is.
Looks short to allow bending at the waist. is narrower at the chest than the back (making the arm-hols kind of forward facing). Not sure if it simply leather, hardened leather, cloth-covered leather, or maybe even a very short, stiff textile armour.
if leather I'm thinking it should be one piece with the head-hole in the middle (to give the shoulders the shape)

Ideas?
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Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Aug, 2011 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The guy in the cart is wearing something rigid,

could be layers of linen, or leather, no way to tell.

I think if the shoulders are not tailored on a surcoat you can get a stiff look; also if you look through the manuscript there's always a different color material at the bottom on the inside slit. Maybe a double layer of cloth is giving the shoulders a stiff look?
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 26 Aug, 2011 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian, sorry about the repost, that picture of the cart sprung to mind and I didn't look at your last link.
Oakeshott mentions A fight between Guillaume le Breton and Richard I in the late 12thc. where they are both wearing plates of iron, so I would think some early COPs would be available during the 13thc. He also mentions cuir bouilli (hardened leather) being used from the third quarter of the 12th to 1350.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 26 Aug, 2011 3:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a link to a larger image of the guy in the cart (scroll down and click) http://www.tforum.info/forum/index.php?showtopic=11700&st=20 You can see someone else has the same idea.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 26 Aug, 2011 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You realise that cuirbouilli and layered cloth armour is rigid?
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 26 Aug, 2011 3:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian, as far as doing research on cuir bouilli, there isn't much to work with. These knees (poleyns) are the only examples I've seen. http://www.archive.org/stream/recordofeuropea...0/mode/2up
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Aug, 2011 4:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len i also remember that passage about richard lion heart where the two were about to joust each other and richard (basically asked parley) by yelling to Guillaume "don't i don't have my (mail shirt) on!" (ok i can't spell the word because it not in front of me - hurkaburk? hursaburg - i'm just making it worse) the translation of the story told that richard did have his mail on but this other armour had some kind of added protection shirt of plates or armoured surcoat came to mind right away - but wasn't sure they were developed that early so the passage didn't make much sense.

if i pick apart the art shown here, i look at these images as more like a buffet coat of some kind. the knight in the cart is clearly showing folds in the fabric as do the other knights depicted in the same gear. buffet coats in later centurys show the same attributes as what is shown here though not as much in the shoulder region as the mid section.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Fri 26 Aug, 2011 4:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And here's a good side picture of the Pershore knight http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidmxg/1485384...mentstoday It might be cuir bouilli.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Aug, 2011 12:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Wallace wrote:
Len i also remember that passage about richard lion heart where the two were about to joust each other and richard (basically asked parley) by yelling to Guillaume "don't i don't have my (mail shirt) on!" (ok i can't spell the word because it not in front of me - hurkaburk? hursaburg - i'm just making it worse) the translation of the story told that richard did have his mail on but this other armour had some kind of added protection shirt of plates or armoured surcoat came to mind right away - but wasn't sure they were developed that early so the passage didn't make much sense.

Guillaume le Breton wrote that Richard of Poitoiu wore a "plate of worked iron" under his hauberk during his joust with William de Barres.

Source: Philippide, Lib III, lines 494-8
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Brian Robson





Joined: 19 Feb 2007

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Aug, 2011 11:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for that pic Len. That's the first I've seen of anyone recreating this!

Any idea where the term cuirie came from and why it's generally been attached to this kind of armour?


(Also curious why the post was moved from the 'Historic arms talk' forum. Surely it's a discussion on reproduction and authentic arms and armour?).
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Davy Van Elst




Location: Belgium
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PostPosted: Mon 29 Aug, 2011 2:08 am    Post subject: Cuir Bouilli armour         Reply with quote

I can imagine that cuir bouilli was used far more than we imagine, but it is harder to find any evidence of that because on one hand it is harder to preserve something that is made of leather than it is for metal armour. Anyway, in reenactment I have up to now found only 1 shop that creates a body armour out of cuir bouilli and that is wulflund, you can find it here:
http://www.wulflund.com/armour/leather-armour...irass.html

But as I said before, I don't know of any historical evidence for this type of armour.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Aug, 2011 6:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cuir bouilli is mentioned in plenty of texts. The earliest is the Chanson d’ Antioche dating to 1185. Ffoulkes lists lots of references in his book. There are a few extant examples but not many. In western Europe it seems to have been more common in tournaments rather than the battlefield.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Mon 29 Aug, 2011 6:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Brian, I believe the word cuir comes from cuirass, but I'm not sure. I know were discussing 13thc. armour but here is a painting of some cuir boulli tournament armour from King Rene's Tournament Book (bottom right) http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/Document/Planche.js...=C&J=1This is dated 1460.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Aug, 2011 6:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
And here's a good side picture of the Pershore knight http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidmxg/1485384...mentstoday It might be cuir bouilli.

Coat of plates under a surcoat is my best guess.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Aug, 2011 6:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
Brian, I believe the word cuir comes from cuirass, but I'm not sure. I know were discussing 13thc. armour but here is a painting of some cuir boulli tournament armour from King Rene's Tournament Book (bottom right) http://visualiseur.bnf.fr/Document/Planche.js...=C&J=1This is dated 1460.

cuir means "leather".
cuir bouilli means "leather cooked in water".
It is likely that "cuirass" originally referred to a leather breastplate and later the word came to refer to metal armour as well.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Aug, 2011 6:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
Brian, I believe the word cuir comes from cuirass, but I'm not sure. I know were discussing 13thc.


One 13th C reference is the Roll of Purchases for the Tournament at Windsor Park, 1278. It mentions leather and whalebone (baleen) armour but, again, this is for tourney, not battle.
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Michele Hansen




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2012 10:41 pm    Post subject: Armor Enhancement, Surcotes, and 13th C. Fashion Trends         Reply with quote

Before you read my post, here is the URL to a similar topic here on MA. [ http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=2834 ]
It is much more comprehensive, focuses on Lanalear Armor, and is not period specific, but some posts reflect some comments in this thread. And, it includes a link that addresses this very topic.


I am editing this post because, based on response posts, I honestly feel I pulled this thread off-topic, and did not convey my ideas clearly.

1. I have seen that effigy with the buckles. I was very surprised, and wondered if it was carved some years after the knight had died. That practice was not uncommon. However, the Ely statues also appear to have some kind of rigid garment under their surcotes, and over their hauberks.

2. Like many of you, I also own a book that shows how this chest plate could have been formed. As discussed above, it covered the torso between the pectoral muscles, and the waistline.

3. There are many images showing that surcotes were fully lined. This means a stiff fabric could have been sewn between the layers. The term for this is "interfacing." Interfacings have been in use from antiquity in sleeveless garments. They are also sewn around the neckline. They help a garment hold its shape. A felt, or quilted linen construct could easlily be sewn both to the arm holes, and around the neckline of a surcote. This would add an additional layer of padding to the upper chest and shoulders. And might explain how those wings were tailored.

4. I find no reason to disregard those winged shoulders seen in the Macs Bible, and on those statues as simply being poorly tailored. I believe they were "in style."

EXAMPLES: In the 12th C surcotes were generally slit to the waste, and long. Later they were only slit to the groin or mid-thigh, and were knee length. In the 14th C.surcotes were form-fitted over the armor, and short like the cote hardies seen in civilian wear. Based on these examples, I would wager those wings were considered the epitomy of knightly fashion.

Fashion trends are a universal constant. Rich knights would be conscious of looking "modern" and not wearing outdated clothing like plebian hedge-knights. And if such surcotes were expensive, they would definitely be worn. A knight would want to show he had enough wealth to be ransomed, rather than killed outright in battle. It was true with helms. Why not with clothing?

Il est apelée de Montfort. Il est el Mond, et si est fort. Si ad grant chevalrie; Je vois et je m’ acort. Il eime le droit, et het le tort. Si avera le mestrie!


Last edited by Michele Hansen on Thu 12 Jan, 2012 3:52 pm; edited 2 times in total
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David Clark





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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In reference to the amount of maille-clad warriors being cloven in half, etc, in the Maciejowski Bible, I have heard the argument that it was the artist's way of showing a blow being stricken. Otherwise, going by the method of spacing, depth and detail the artist shows, blows might have looked like the weapons were merely sitting on the person being stricken. Hence the over dramatized results...
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 9:19 am    Post subject: Re: Surcotes vs. Fashion vs. Under-Armor         Reply with quote

Michele Hansen wrote:
The blood and gore shown in battle illustrations in our favorite reference book, The Maciejowski Bible, indicates that despite maille's utility, a man could still be literally cut in half or beheaded. Perhaps that was because the illustrator used artistic license to demonstrate the superiority of the Jewish army. (I'm notorious for using artistic license in my own work.)


Not to be dragging the thread off-topic, but any discussion of the Maciejowski Bible needs to based on the fact that it is a BIBLE, and the illustrations are simply depictions of Biblical stories with the characters dressed and equipped in a 13th century fashion. The battle damage shown can NOT be used as evidence of reality, since in most cases the Biblical text merely says "So-and-so slew so-and-so", with absolutely no reference to armor, weapons, wound location, etc. Lovely pictures, but don't read too much into them!

This fellow with his spiffy stiff-shouldered surcoat gets dragged into a number of discussions like this, but to me it has always just looked like a surcoat! Sure, it could be lined and the fabric is clearly stiff enough to hold its shape like that. Two layers of heavy linen will do that. But if it were meant to be *protective* in any way, it would NOT stick out at the shoulders like that because he wouldn't be able to raise his arms. Rigid or semi-rigid body armor is always very narrow at the shoulders, to allow free movement.

Valete,

Matthew
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2012 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are noumerous accounts and depicitons of the early "coat of plates" from the mid 13th c onwards.

The depicted examples are usually integrated into the surcote. In the texts they are usually a sepparate "chest protector", often worn under the hauberk.

A leather defence of this kind would make little sense, though. Especially since there is a documented and established practice of adding extra soft armour in the shape of a sleeveless/short armed cloth armour on top the hauberk. Or by simply making a thicker arming shirt.

The chest protector appears to be a simple plated vest covering the chest from nipples to waist, tightened by buckles on the side, or perhals a CoP-style wraparound design

"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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