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Matt J.





Joined: 26 May 2010

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 5:07 pm    Post subject: Weapon Replacement/Breakage/Degrading         Reply with quote

Between battles, I imagine most of your gear needed maintenance unless you were very lucky. But, I'm curious... anyone know how often weapons and armour needed replacement?

I've heard that spears tended to need replacement more frequently than swords, for example (part of the reason swords were popular, I've heard).


Last edited by Matt J. on Sun 12 Aug, 2012 7:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 6:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why would "most" of it need replacement? A lot of combatants would never be hit during battle, and at least in the eras when shields were popular, the shield would take most of the blows, if not all. And while shields were rarely meant to be permanent things, they could certainly last a number of battles, depending. (Though in a particular ferocious action, I suppose a man might go through several!) A helmet can stop an awful large number of lethal blows without needing much more than having a few dents tapped out (easily done with the butt of an axe, for instance)--I know a few of mine have! Remember that a blow with a spear or sword REALLY does not need much power behind it to cleave flesh. And most warriors would be wise enough to go *around* armor rather than to try going *through* it.

Spears were MUCH more common than swords, always! Even if the shaft breaks, which again is by no means guaranteed to happen each battle, it would be simple enough to get it replaced. And I'd guess you can put a spear through a lot more abuse than a sword before needing maintanence.

There are surviving Roman helmets with the names of 3 or more owners punched into the neckguards, so a decent piece of equipment could literally last for generations--longer than the soldier, in fact!

Matthew
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Matt J.





Joined: 26 May 2010

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 7:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Err, just meant it would probably need a check up, since stuff like rain and mud would be a problem.

You're right about spears being more popular. I fixed my post.

Hmm... even shields lasted several battles? Guess equipment is pretty durable.
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Ralph Grinly





Joined: 19 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 8:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It'd be interesting to know, in a 'typical' ( IS there such a thing ??) medieval battle, just what percentage of those on the field actually came to blow's with the opposition ?. What percentage were actual combatants, and what were hangers on or support staff ??
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

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PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
And while shields were rarely meant to be permanent things, they could certainly last a number of battles, depending. (Though in a particular ferocious action, I suppose a man might go through several!)


Ummmm... Norse dueling rules specially state each man shall have several shields for a single duel. The sagas often mention blows passing through shields as well, something that can hardly be good for the shield (or the owner!) Lastly, shields were not given names, as were swords, axes, spears, etc.

It is thusly my understanding shields were considered something of a disposible piece of equipment in that era and were not expected to last for multiple battles.

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown.
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small.
For Iron, Cold Iron, must be master of men all..."
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David Hohl




Location: Oregon
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Aug, 2012 11:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The sagas often mention blows passing through shields as well, something that can hardly be good for the shield (or the owner!)


Right, though in many of those cases, I think it's a narrative convention to emphasize how particularly fierce the blow or the fighting is, to heighten the drama of the story. It seems to me that if the shields were being blown through all the time, at the risk of the owner, they'd have changed the design so it worked.

Another thing to keep in mind however is that if a weapon penetrates the shield without harming the owner, the shield can be used to yank on the weapon, which might be worthwhile.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Aug, 2012 5:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Colt Reeves wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:
And while shields were rarely meant to be permanent things, they could certainly last a number of battles, depending. (Though in a particular ferocious action, I suppose a man might go through several!)


Ummmm... Norse dueling rules specially state each man shall have several shields for a single duel. The sagas often mention blows passing through shields as well, something that can hardly be good for the shield (or the owner!) Lastly, shields were not given names, as were swords, axes, spears, etc.

It is thusly my understanding shields were considered something of a disposible piece of equipment in that era and were not expected to last for multiple battles.


RIght, I know about that, but I was already getting a little wordy! There are also accounts from Greek hoplite battles of shields being "crushed". On the other hand, the Roman scutum was very laboriously built of layered strips to make a plywood core, and the surviving ones are gloriously painted or decorated with embossed brass or even gilded silver. So it seems pretty clear these are expected to last a while! As with everything else, there was a lot of variation.

And as David points out, some of the damage mentioned in the saga could be literary emphasis. I'm sure weapons did go through shields at times, but I doubt they did that *most* of the time--or you'd really want a tougher shield...


Matt J. wrote:
Err, just meant it would probably need a check up, since stuff like rain and mud would be a problem.


OH! Gotcha. Sure, keeping the rust off is a constant battle! (Har har...) In some eras, helmets and armor could be painted or blackened, in some they just used oil or wax or grease or probably stuff we haven't heard of yet. Shiny is important. Keep an eye on your straps and laces, too, of course.

Matthew
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