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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
Joined: 26 Aug 2010
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Posts: 508

PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 10:21 am    Post subject: Mail conformation         Reply with quote

Hello everyone.


I have a question about mail (collective groan) in period depictions (groan, pt. 2.) If the first line didn't put you off the topic, let me ask: how much padding would be worn under mail for north and central europe at the end of the 11th and into the early 12th centuries, and how closely would the mail be tailored to fit the individual? In later depictions such as statues and artwork, the mail is almost skin-tight, and tailored well; in the earliest miniatures I could find (dated 1000-1100, and 1099-1109 on manuscript miniatures) show relatively tight fitting garments, without the looser look of most reenactments (I have read and seen Patrick Kelly's norman articles, and prefer that more conforming look.) Additionally, the presence of full sleeves as opposed to the more commonly assumed elbow-length sleeves makes me wonder: was there a full length gambeson or akton below, or was it partial, or not present at all? (more specifically, I wish to both increase my knowledge of mail, as well as assemble a 1st or 2nd crusade dismounted knight from either normandy or sicily. As I understand it, I would need round, riveted mail, possibly alternating solid/riveted, maybe thigh length. Integral coif included. Could I get away with full sleeves, can they be tightly tailored, and what would one wear underneath the mail in such a case?)



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365-1_gallery.jpg
French, 1099-1109. Note full sleves

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365-2_gallery.jpg
French, 1099-1109. Note full sleeves

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365-3_gallery.jpg
Hard to see, but conforming mail with full sleeves, sharing the time period listed in the other pics

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Robert Rootslane




Location: Estonia
Joined: 06 Aug 2007

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 11:14 am    Post subject: Re: Mail conformation         Reply with quote

Kai Lawson wrote:
Hello everyone.


I have a question about mail (collective groan) in period depictions (groan, pt. 2.) If the first line didn't put you off the topic, let me ask: how much padding would be worn under mail for north and central europe at the end of the 11th and into the early 12th centuries, and how closely would the mail be tailored to fit the individual? In later depictions such as statues and artwork, the mail is almost skin-tight, and tailored well; in the earliest miniatures I could find (dated 1000-1100, and 1099-1109 on manuscript miniatures) show relatively tight fitting garments, without the looser look of most reenactments (I have read and seen Patrick Kelly's norman articles, and prefer that more conforming look.) Additionally, the presence of full sleeves as opposed to the more commonly assumed elbow-length sleeves makes me wonder: was there a full length gambeson or akton below, or was it partial, or not present at all? (more specifically, I wish to both increase my knowledge of mail, as well as assemble a 1st or 2nd crusade dismounted knight from either normandy or sicily. As I understand it, I would need round, riveted mail, possibly alternating solid/riveted, maybe thigh length. Integral coif included. Could I get away with full sleeves, can they be tightly tailored, and what would one wear underneath the mail in such a case?)



Well i am by no standards an expert in mail, but i have been giving it a little bit of research myself lately.

About the padding. As much as i know no extant gambeson finds have been found from 11 or 12 century. The artwork surviving from that time doesent give any clear evidence as wel. If we look at the bayeux tapestry, than we see that the men theare wear 3 types of armour. One is made of little rings, that is definetly mail armour. However tho other widely represented types are little sqares and little rhombs. This may be caused by different sewing styles of the tapestry makers, or by the fact that it was a different kind of armour. A quilted gambeson for example.


I agree that the sloppy mail armour worn by some overweight reenactors nowadays might be unnessesarily large.

Anyway, the main reason why im posting is personal experience. I have worn a full sleeved shirt and it is pretty comfordable. And yes the long sleeves can be tailored to fit your arms. Im working on some myself.

A thin gambeson would be quite comfordable under the sleeves but you can also get away with a thick woolen tunic. I myself for example have worn tunic+mail combination in many full contact battles and dont have many complains. Perhaps the shoulders would need some extra padding, but that is only if you mind bruises.

By the way, look at Erik Smiths web page. He has some close examples of 12 century mail weave there.

R.
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Doug Lester




Location: Decatur, IL
Joined: 12 Dec 2007

Posts: 167

PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 11:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that the gambesons were something like 10,15, or even 20 layers thick. Probably determined by how much could have been afforded more than comfort. Though it seems reasonable that if someone experienced serious overheating fighting in a 20 layer garment that he'd go to a lighter one. Remember that the gambesons were not just worn to reduce blunt trauma but could also cut down on penetration from edged weapons that might have penitrated the maile. It would also help the maile work by dispersing the impact over the gambeson which would allow some give to absorb energy.
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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
Joined: 26 Aug 2010
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 508

PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the practical insight--valuable in the context of a person giving input, having worn the thing for longer periods in contact fights. I have also sent an email to Erik, in response to him prompting me to email him if I had any questions. I have seen his site, and have looked at historic examples of mail from the period of interest, but would like to 'double check,' as it were. Thank you to everyone who posts good intel.
"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Robert Rootslane




Location: Estonia
Joined: 06 Aug 2007

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

nice.

Keep us posted if anything intresting turns up from the conversation with Erik.

R
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Dan Howard




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

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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug Lester wrote:
I think that the gambesons were something like 10,15, or even 20 layers thick. Probably determined by how much could have been afforded more than comfort. Though it seems reasonable that if someone experienced serious overheating fighting in a 20 layer garment that he'd go to a lighter one. Remember that the gambesons were not just worn to reduce blunt trauma but could also cut down on penetration from edged weapons that might have penitrated the maile. It would also help the maile work by dispersing the impact over the gambeson which would allow some give to absorb energy.


There are two types of padded garment. One is intended to be worn as a standalone defense and could have up to thirty layers of cloth. The other is intended to be worn under the real armour - such as mail. This is a lot lighter and could probably be substituted for a winter tunic. The sources use gambeson, aketon, pourpoint and many variants to describe both of these padded garments. Unless they were both mentioned in the same text is isn't possible to know which one they were referring to. I tend to use "gambeson" to describe standalone armour and "aketon" to describe underarmour but that is just a modern convention to avoid confusion.

There are very few, if any, mentions of underarmour in the sources before the 12th century but after that you see them mentioned a lot. IMO this does not mean that they never wore padding under their armour before the 12th C, but implies a shift from integrated liners to standalone padding. I think that a lot more armour than we suspect made use of integrated padded liners rather than a separate padded garment.

Climate is irrelevant. There is plenty of evidence for the thickest and heaviest armours being worn in desert climates for three thousand years. I've worn heavy armour all day in the middle of an Australian summer with no more difficulty than wearing heavy clothing. There is no difference in overheating between a thirty layer garment and a ten layer garment. The head is the key. Keep it ventillated and stay hydrated and there is no issue with overheating. If you wore an enclosed helmet for an extended period of time then you would have overheating issues even if the rest of your body was naked.

Cost is irrelevant. If someone could afford a mail hauberk then they could afford a dozen of any kind of padded garment that they wanted.

One thing is certain and that is that historical mail was a lot more carefully tailored than most of the mail worn by re-enactors today. It would have been custom-fitted to the owner just like plate armour.
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Robert Rootslane




Location: Estonia
Joined: 06 Aug 2007

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:



There are very few, if any, mentions of underarmour in the sources before the 12th century but after that you see them mentioned a lot. IMO this does not mean that they never wore padding under their armour before the 12th C, but implies a shift from integrated liners to standalone padding. I think that a lot more armour than we suspect made use of integrated padded liners rather than a separate padded garment.


Are you talking about any certain sources? If yes, than could you please point me towards them. Im very interested.


R
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Doug Lester




Location: Decatur, IL
Joined: 12 Dec 2007

Posts: 167

PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I too would be interested in any references that referred to armour with integral padding. No references that I have, not that they are extensive, make any mention of integral padding (I'm not challenging you with that statement-I'm just saying what I have)

It does make sense that a padded garment intended for stand alone armour would be thicker than one worn under armour. I see no reason that if it was worn under plate reinforced maile or under a harness of plate that it would need to be much more than a heavy undergarment like an arming doublet.

I believe that it is also not always clear in writing what constitutes a gambeson, an askelon, or a doublet. It might well be that the name varied by time and place. Like where I lived in Virginia none of the people I met at a hardware store had ever heard of a plumber's probe being referred to as plumbers snake. Around where I live now, that's the only thing that I have ever heard it called.
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Rod Walker




Location: NSW, Australia.
Joined: 05 Feb 2004

Posts: 220

PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 5:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A couple of years ago myself and Joram Van Essen ran a mid 13thC joust as accurately as we could. This meant tailored rivetted mail, solid wooden lances with steel coronels etc etc. We both searched around for proof of a padded garment under the mail and couldn't come up with anything conclusive. I wore a lined linen tunic and Joram wore a thin felt tunic under our mail, and that was it.

We ran the joust passes perfectly fine and even did some mounted sword combat ala the tournament. We both landed full power blows upon each other and we both pulled up fine. Bruised and battered, but fine. The swords were blades made by Peter Lyon and have a thin edge.

What this showed us was that you don't neccasarly need much in the way of padding under mail. In fact our testing showed that padding over the mail worked better than under. Even just having the surcoat helped with dissapating the sword blows.

One thing that really stood out was that unlike the movies,,,, do not ditch your shield or helmet. Very important bits of kit. Wink


Cheers

Rod
Jouster
www.jousting.com.au

"Come! Let us lay a lance in rest,
And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
For who would live so petty and unblessed
That dare not tilt at something, ere he die?"
--Errantry, John Galsworthy
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Sat 03 Mar, 2012 6:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not know of any evidence that early but by late 12th we know something was in use as Richard I was supposedly wearing some type of textile armour with mail. That is the earliest I know of for western Europe.

I can only imagine before they used this type of textile armour they wore some type of heavy tunic or something but hard to say what without evidence.

RPM
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2012 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Rootslane wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:



There are very few, if any, mentions of underarmour in the sources before the 12th century but after that you see them mentioned a lot. IMO this does not mean that they never wore padding under their armour before the 12th C, but implies a shift from integrated liners to standalone padding. I think that a lot more armour than we suspect made use of integrated padded liners rather than a separate padded garment.


Are you talking about any certain sources? If yes, than could you please point me towards them. Im very interested.


R


At least one of the mail coifs from the Korsbeting finds on Gotland (1361 battle of Wisby) had a sewn in wool cap. If it belonged to a Gjute warrior it might well be of much older design. Being old and outdated might explain why it was dumped in a mass grave and not salvaged by the victorious Danes.
Perhaps not the timeframe asked for, but certainly a good example of maille with a sewn in liner.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Dan Howard




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

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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2012 6:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Doug Lester wrote:
I too would be interested in any references that referred to armour with integral padding.

There aren't any that I'm aware of. We have surviving examples dating from the Bronze Age onwards so we know that integrated padding has always been used to some extent. We have illustrations showing what looks like a leather edge around some types of mail. I can't think of a reason for this except to facilitate the attachment of a liner. There are also types of mail such as jazerants, kazaghands, gestrons etc., that have padding on the inside and outside. As Rod said, padding on the outside can be just as effective, if not more so, as padding on the inside.
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2012 10:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

although as dan pointed out in his article maile unchained, due to the fact when under gravity, a tube of maile automatically langthens and contacts, meaning its somewhat form fitting, kind of like elastic, and this flexible property means you can equip many different people of slightly different body sizes with the same shirt and it will reasonably fit all of them.

but having something fit you more snugly and thus having less excess material is always better.
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Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

Posts: 340

PostPosted: Fri 09 Mar, 2012 8:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anyone speak french? This is Chretien de Troyes Le Conte du Graal c.1180. http://www.stanford.edu/~patricia/Lecoy1040.html
I see in line 1154 ganbeisiee. Is this a gambeson, and does it say anything about it's construction?
I read the english translation a while back and I remembered Percival not wanting to trade his canvas shirt for what the knight was wearing. I thought I remembered it being a silk padded shirt, but I'm probably wrong about the padded part. I believe Percival was also wearing some sort of deerskin coat or hood (line 502), not sure which. Percival didn't think the knight's garment would keep the rain off as good as his own. I do remember Chretien saying he was dressed in the Welsh fashion.
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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
Joined: 26 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Sat 10 Mar, 2012 4:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If a liner were to be used, what would have been the more likely material? Leather? Wool? Canvas? And--supposing a liner were used--how thick might it have been, and would a heavy tunic style garment be worn underneath?
"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 10 Mar, 2012 4:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A few layers of linen would probably do. Tut's scale armour had a liner consisting of six layers of quilted linen and a seventh of fine leather.
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