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Brian Robson





Joined: 19 Feb 2007

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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 5:45 am    Post subject: Blackened linen cloth gambeson?         Reply with quote

I'm wondering if anyone can shed any light on what is meant by 'thoroughly blackened linen cloth' as is mentioned several times in the kingsmirror in describing both textile armour construction or clothing:

Quote:
made like a gambison of soft and thoroughly blackened linen cloth


http://www.mediumaevum.com/75years/mirror/sec2.html#XXXVII

Is it some kind of treatment/process applied to the linen, or is it simply saying that the kings men it's referring to should wear black (which doesn't seem to make sense because it then says that it can be decorated in any fashion)?
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 6:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe hardening with some kind of a pitch? I think we already had a similar discussion here... But I don't know what was concluded... Wink
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Brian Robson





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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 6:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ahh, found it:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ened+linen

Thanks. At least now I know that we don't know Confused
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 8:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I read the thread that was linked to.

Someone I had spoken with, forget who, was strongly under the impression that armour was either metal or if a composed of textile or leather that it was of no real use.

The above link reminds me of the different testing of various sorts of textile armours, and they appear to have been rather effective armour on their own it many cases. Of course they were not as hard as metal and could be compromised by a dtermined attack, but they also seem to be able to ward of many strikes with some effectiveness.

It's hard to get a rid of the 21st century mindset as to the value of clothing though, when our technology makes clothes inexpensive relatively speaking, unlike when maniking the thread and weaving the cloth was a very labor intense project. Many of these textile armours are 20+ layers of cloth, and when looking back in the times where having 3-4 sets of clothes meant wealth, they were hardly a poor man armour.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Fri 15 Jun, 2012 11:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have been working on the mystery of "blackened linen" for some time now. Currently, my best theory is that it is simply linen that has been treated with iron filings and tannins. The color is just a side effect, the real purpose I think was to protect the linen from rot. This is especially important for a multi-layer garment that takes a long time to dry out when it gets wet. The kings mirror suggests blackened linen panzers as the best armor on board ship. I know the evidence is circumstantial, but it is the best theory I have seen. Pieces of linen have been found that have been preserved by corrosion products of iron for over a thousand years, so we know it works really well.
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Ryan S.





Joined: 04 May 2012

Posts: 132

PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2012 12:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Teuscher wrote:
I read the thread that was linked to.

Someone I had spoken with, forget who, was strongly under the impression that armour was either metal or if a composed of textile or leather that it was of no real use.

The above link reminds me of the different testing of various sorts of textile armours, and they appear to have been rather effective armour on their own it many cases. Of course they were not as hard as metal and could be compromised by a dtermined attack, but they also seem to be able to ward of many strikes with some effectiveness.

It's hard to get a rid of the 21st century mindset as to the value of clothing though, when our technology makes clothes inexpensive relatively speaking, unlike when maniking the thread and weaving the cloth was a very labor intense project. Many of these textile armours are 20+ layers of cloth, and when looking back in the times where having 3-4 sets of clothes meant wealth, they were hardly a poor man armour.


are there any videos of such tests?
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Brian Robson





Joined: 19 Feb 2007

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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2012 5:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not a video, but theres a good thread here on testing textile and mail armour:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...mp;start=0

Bear in mind that not many (if any at all) of the weapons used were typical of the age of mail - some were more advanced weapons from the 'age of plate' - also (as all tests) they show the ideal strike as opposed to glancing blows on a moving opponent etc. But they do give a really good view of the relevent strangths/weaknesses of a good range of weapons on the armour shown.
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Johan S. Moen




Location: Kristiansand, Norway
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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jun, 2012 10:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
I have been working on the mystery of "blackened linen" for some time now. Currently, my best theory is that it is simply linen that has been treated with iron filings and tannins. The color is just a side effect, the real purpose I think was to protect the linen from rot. This is especially important for a multi-layer garment that takes a long time to dry out when it gets wet. The kings mirror suggests blackened linen panzers as the best armor on board ship. I know the evidence is circumstantial, but it is the best theory I have seen. Pieces of linen have been found that have been preserved by corrosion products of iron for over a thousand years, so we know it works really well.


Using iron as a dye would indeed prevent rot, but it would also make the linen brittle. Not a quality you'd want in a gambeson.

You could, I suppose, boil it together with bark(oak for example) as was done with sails and fishing nets to prevent decay.

Johan Schubert Moen
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun, 2012 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Almost all of the linen clothing in my Viking Age reenactment kit is thoroughly blackened with iron and tannins and none of it is the least brittle, quite the contrary, it is extremely soft and flexible , exactly as described in Kings Mirrror.
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Brian Robson





Joined: 19 Feb 2007

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PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun, 2012 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
Almost all of the linen clothing in my Viking Age reenactment kit is thoroughly blackened with iron and tannins and none of it is the least brittle, quite the contrary, it is extremely soft and flexible , exactly as described in Kings Mirrror.


What is the purpose of it? Is it simply for the colouring?

(I was about to say that It didn't make a lot of sense for it to be for hardening or waterproofing since kingsmirror also describes thotoughly blackened breeches too - surely you want those soft and washable)
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Sun 17 Jun, 2012 11:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
... surely you want those soft and washable...

And therein lies another point. If it's blackened (or just a dark colour) grime is less likely to be obvious.

This idea of iron oxide reminds me of something I watched on tarps recently. Fine "rust" + boiled linseed oil + bee's wax + mixed together whilst warm = tough, water resistant coating when applied to canvas.

In fact that reminds me of how, in Companion to Medieval Arms and Armour, if I recall correctly, on the subject of Middle Eastern cuir bouilli armour a period recipe suggested applying a complicated mixture as a lacquer to the leather, it itself containing "rust". I suppose the idea being that, beside a nice colour and finish, rust is iron ergo offering more resistance to steel cutting/slicing weapons?

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
Founder of The Van Dieman's Land Stage Gladiators.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Jun, 2012 8:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote]are there any videos of such tests?[/quote

Not videos, but illustrations:

http://costumegirl.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/t...l-gambeson

The bow testing does not mean much, as the bow is a 45 pound draw, but it is interesting that broadheads fare much better than bodkins. Looking at viking age arrowheads though, it seems a type similar to a bodkin was the most common arrowhead.

The other tests show the gambeson to be fairly resistant, though certainly not proof by any means. One thing I'd say when comparing results to the tests above on the thread - the gambeson fared well when testing against less acutely pointed weapons, those that were more from the 10th-11th centuries. The tests on the thread showed testing against weapons that were a few centuries later in development, the gambeson was less effective agains tthese.

Perhaps that's why in the later middle ages the Jack was more the cheaper armour of choice, and it was often reinforced with metal above and beyond what the ealrier gambeson had?
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Johan S. Moen




Location: Kristiansand, Norway
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Posts: 259

PostPosted: Tue 19 Jun, 2012 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Woodruff wrote:
Almost all of the linen clothing in my Viking Age reenactment kit is thoroughly blackened with iron and tannins and none of it is the least brittle, quite the contrary, it is extremely soft and flexible , exactly as described in Kings Mirrror.


Linen gets softer with use(and washing), so that's no surprise really. If you read manuals/descriptions/how to's on dying with natural dyestuffs they almost always warn about the fact that iron can deteriorate the fibers. (See this link, for example: www.bayrose.org/Poppy_Run/dyeing1-web.pdf ). It might not be an issue, depending on how much pigment is used and how the cloth is used, but I can't see it being an advantage for the durability of the fibers.

Johan Schubert Moen
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