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Jojo Zerach





Joined: 26 Dec 2009

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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jul, 2013 3:51 pm    Post subject: mail aginst weapons         Reply with quote

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4885/14173/
This could just be artistic license, but it also looks like the illustrator was trying to show realistic fighting techniques.
If the aim was just to deliver blunt trauma, then why were swords the knights preferred weapon of the period? I know most people didn't have full mail, but why would a knight chose a sub optimal weapon for fighting an equal?
I'm not trying to put mail down, since I'm sure it usually gave good protection, but I'm interested in information other than the same Alan Williams test we keep seeing. (especially historical accounts) Obviously there was a lot of variation in mail, so it isn't good to draw sweeping conclusions from a single test.
Later writers often mention thrusting at the gaps in plate armor where there was only mail, which shows they considered the mail covered areas weak points in the armor.


Last edited by Jojo Zerach on Fri 26 Jul, 2013 4:36 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jul, 2013 4:10 pm    Post subject: Re: mail aginst swords         Reply with quote

Jojo Zerach wrote:
http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4885/14173/

This could just be artistic license, but it also looks like the illustrator was trying to show realistic fighting techniques.
If the aim was just to deliver blunt trauma, then why were swords the knights preferred weapon of the period? I know most people didn't have full mail, but why would a knight chose a sub optimal weapon for fighting an equal?
I'm not trying to put mail down, since I'm sure it usually gave good protection, but I'm interested in information other than the same Alan Williams test we keep seeing. Obviously there was a lot of variation in mail, so it isn't good to draw sweeping conclusions from a single test.
Later writers often mention thrusting at the gaps in plate armor where there was only mail, meaning they considered the mail covered areas weak points in the armor that could be vulnerable to a thrust.

Well my guess is first off all, most soldier probably just had a helmet, shield, and maybe a chain shirt and hat styled helmet and in that case you can easily avoid hitting any armor at all and still kill your opponent. Also, if you were a noble with facing another, both of which would be most likely to having full mail leggings , hauberk, full face helmet etc, your opponent being taken alive could more useful to you than dead. Also, later period sword are built for plate armour combat are stiffer and longer, allowing to use them like bayonets, throws your whole body weight into a stab, increasing the likehood on punching on rivets and sinking in. Also, I wouldn't be surprised, given how expensive anything made out of metal was, that armour was used and recycled until just wasn't usable anymore. In that case, you can have large variation of levels of protectiveness even in the exact same type of armour
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jul, 2013 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm, it doesn't look very realistic to me! It could just be an illustration from a Bible or other book, an image for a passage that says nothing more than "So-and-so slew such-and-such." No, I don't think the artist is trying to show what swords actually did on the battlefield. There were plenty of other good targets for a sword than trying to chop or thrust through the strongest part of an opponent's armor.

Matthew
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 26 Jul, 2013 7:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Medieval illustrations are intended to grab your attention and convey a message. Anything else you want to interpret from the image is pure speculation.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 26 Jul, 2013 11:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Medieval illustrations are intended to grab your attention and convey a message. Anything else you want to interpret from the image is pure speculation.


Perhaps Dan, although I think this might be more of a modern perspective in understanding messages than a medieval one. More to the fact, it seems strange that medieval illustrations would show something fairly common and well-known in medieval society (fighting with weapons and armour) in a way that is completely inconsistent with reality and real life experience.

My personal view is that, given we have several period images from the 12th C, and many more in the 13th century, depicting armour being penetrated by stabs, that mail could be defeated by a thrust. I don't think it would be easy to do, and it would certainly be affected by the size of rings, their inner diameter, the type of material worn under the mail, and probably other factors I have not listed. From a biomechanical view point, I found that the key thing in making a thrust effective is having maximal stability in the motion. Trying to put force into a thrust is usually futile, because the unless the blow hits very squarely, it will be largely impotent, especially against a thicker medium. By contrast, when you can deliver power with a blow, and with maximal stability, it is often possible to penetrate surprisingly thick targets.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jul, 2013 1:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Hmm, it doesn't look very realistic to me! It could just be an illustration from a Bible or other book, an image for a passage that says nothing more than "So-and-so slew such-and-such."


Actually it's from a Speculum Virginum and is an allegorical battle showing the victory of "Humility" over "Pride". I think the dating is slightly off, and should be c.1210-1215. IIRC the heraldry was a later addition.

While the mail is being depicted as being defeated by a thrust, two of the early helms are also shown being cleaved or severely dented.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jul, 2013 2:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
My personal view is that, given we have several period images from the 12th C, and many more in the 13th century, depicting armour being penetrated by stabs, that mail could be defeated by a thrust. I don't think it would be easy to do, and it would certainly be affected by the size of rings, their inner diameter, the type of material worn under the mail, and probably other factors I have not listed. From a biomechanical view point, I found that the key thing in making a thrust effective is having maximal stability in the motion. Trying to put force into a thrust is usually futile, because the unless the blow hits very squarely, it will be largely impotent, especially against a thicker medium. By contrast, when you can deliver power with a blow, and with maximal stability, it is often possible to penetrate surprisingly thick targets.

Whether a sword thrust can defeat mail isn't relevant to these illustrations. They aren't depicting anything even remotely so specific. The only message they are trying to impart is the general concept of one character being defeated by another. The so-called weapons are nothing more than pictorial allegories and metaphors. If you want to build a case that a sword or any other weapon can or cannot defeat armour, then medieval illustrations are not a relevant evidential source. Get some real evidence - eye-witness accounts and practical experimentation.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jul, 2013 9:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
More to the fact, it seems strange that medieval illustrations would show something fairly common and well-known in medieval society (fighting with weapons and armour) in a way that is completely inconsistent with reality and real life experience.


So, seen a lot of movies with realisitically depicted gunshot wounds, fist fights, and car chases? Just sayin'...

Matthew
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Daniel Wallace




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jul, 2013 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Craig Peters wrote:
More to the fact, it seems strange that medieval illustrations would show something fairly common and well-known in medieval society (fighting with weapons and armour) in a way that is completely inconsistent with reality and real life experience.


So, seen a lot of movies with realisitically depicted gunshot wounds, fist fights, and car chases? Just sayin'...

Matthew


true, but these are also over dramatized. the artist of the illuminations could just be showing the defeat of another knight in a dramatic way. if you just saw one knight standing over another its not existing although you can still draw the same conclusion from the image.

i think the argument of how accurate art is in depicting the time period is worth considering, both sides of that argument have valid points. first is to consider, that the artists in using what is current to him in the depictions. artists of the times (and for most of history) are fairly detailed oriented people and yes sometimes they will exaggerate some parts of their work, but the root of their images are based on some facts. not saying that they seen a helm cut in half this could just be a devise that the artist is using to show the eminence strength of the individual giving him an superhuman like attribute.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jul, 2013 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Wallace wrote:
first is to consider, that the artists in using what is current to him in the depictions. artists of the times (and for most of history) are fairly detailed oriented people
"Detail oriented"? What on Earth does that mean? How can you prove that someone is "detail oriented"? How is it relevant to the subject of any particular piece of art?
Quote:
and yes sometimes they will exaggerate some parts of their work
How do you know which pieces of art are exaggerated and which are not?
Quote:
but the root of their images are based on some facts
What facts would those be?
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Bob Haynes




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Jul, 2013 10:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do we happen to have anyone in our midst who might know a thing or two about the artists who drew the manuscripts?
How versed are they in the war arts they depict, or how much do they study them at least?

I happen to be an artist myself. I'm rather detail oriented, at least I'd think. Sorry if I'm tooting my own horn, but I've been praised by all I've shown my work to for the amount of detail I put into my work. Apart of those details, even though I am a fantasy artist, I prefer to lean towards logic and realism in the same stroke.

In other words, I like to draw pictures would have many viewers say, "Whoa, that is badass!", while at the same time that isn't exaggerated to my knowledge.

To my knowledge.
That is my whole story here, that I why I'm here at myArmoury, to bask in the logical take on what may have been, in that way, though set in a mythical world, I'm aiming for realism.
However, its a tough thought, when thinking about my hopes and dreams connected to them. Which are that perhaps it would help teach or at least be relatable to the more reasonable minds out there of medieval life and combat.

A tough thought, thinking likewise realistically, many would probably just look upon my work say and think 'that's badass!', and that is it, end of story, not much more thought. Due to it being fantasy.


Last edited by Bob Haynes on Tue 30 Jul, 2013 3:18 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Jul, 2013 1:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:


Actually it's from a Speculum Virginum and is an allegorical battle showing the victory of "Humility" over "Pride".



I think that's the most important thing to consider.

We must remember that those medieval pictures weren't really exactly akin to someone drawing something today, for fun, money, or whatever.

Context is very important in analyzing them.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Jul, 2013 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think taking period art literally in every case is foolish. I think dismissing it entirely is foolish. History has left us 3 main things to study in this regard: surviving archeological specimens, period art (including drawings, sculpture, effigies, etc.), and written text (sometimes text and drawing go together like in a fencing treatise, sometimes not). Studying any of those 3 categories in isolation doesn't get you anywhere significant. Historical specimens by themselves tell you little that's concrete about their usage and context. Text by itself lacks the tactility of the historical specimens and the visuality of art and therefore doesn't create a full, accurate mental image of what's being discussed. Art by itself can be steeped in allegory or overly depictive of a concept and can be divorced from reality. So how do we learn use these things to get anything useful out of it?

Study all three and look for how they fit together. Is some activity seen in a picture corroborated by a contemporary textual source in any way? Can you look at a surviving specimen and decipher it could have been used in that way? That's how we arrive at good conclusions. By not over-relying on any one type of source and seeing where multiple sources (and types of sources) line up--or not. It's called research. Happy

I think the reality is that some period art is very good and very accurate. Some exaggerates to prove points. Some is pure fantasy. We can only start to distinguish which is which by comparing art to other art and to text and specimens from the time.

Happy

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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Jul, 2013 3:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Context is everything. Consider these mail-armed figures with ailettes in the Roman de Renart. (Reynard is a sly fox, and these are like the tales of Br'er Rabbit.)


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Bob Haynes




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Jul, 2013 6:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am very well aware not to rely on one source, such as art. Just merely my personal perspective being an artist myself.
If you read my post, I pretty much said the same thing, that art isn't always the best example, as it can be hard to tell what it's context is.
I apologize if my input didn't contribute much.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jul, 2013 11:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bob Haynes wrote:
I am very well aware not to rely on one source, such as art. Just merely my personal perspective being an artist myself.
If you read my post, I pretty much said the same thing, that art isn't always the best example, as it can be hard to tell what it's context is.
I apologize if my input didn't contribute much.


Bob,
I'm not sure if you're responding directly to me/my post or to other posts in the thread, too. I was only speaking generally on the idea of whether or not to take period art seriously; I wasn't responding to any one post.

I personally like the view of the artist injected into the conversation. It proves that there is a balance to be struck by the author between literality, technique, story-telling, etc. Not every artist balances things the same way and those receiving the art need to understand that. Happy

Happy

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Matt Lentzner




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jul, 2013 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's something related that has always intrigued me.

These period art often show a minority of knights wielding falchions as opposed to swords.

So I wonder:

Does this represent the reality of weapon choices, that some would prefer a falchion over a sword or is it just the artist trying to break up the monotony of swords? Certainly the falchions look stylized to me, but I lack the experience to say so with any authority.

If it is true that falchions were used how do that square with what we know about the relative protective qualities of mail? It seems to me that mail is essentially cut proof from any bladed implement. Does a falchion cross over into being an impact weapon that does blunt trauma to the person under the mail?
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Thomas R.




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jul, 2013 3:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Apart from the apparently not resolveable issue of the artist depicting real fighting or just fictional allegories, I find the quality of this specific illumination astounding. The knights are looking like they have been drawn by Hal Foster himself. I won't be surprised to find Prince Valiant on the next page. For the beginning of the 13th century it's a masterpiece, I guess.

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jul, 2013 4:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt Lentzner wrote:
If it is true that falchions were used how do that square with what we know about the relative protective qualities of mail? It seems to me that mail is essentially cut proof from any bladed implement. Does a falchion cross over into being an impact weapon that does blunt trauma to the person under the mail?


Since falchions tend to be about the same weight, or lighter, than knightly swords, and balanced similarly or closer to the guard, I don't see any reason why they would be better for blunt trauma than a regular knightly sword.

So, in brief, no.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Tue 30 Jul, 2013 10:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt Lentzner wrote:
Here's something related that has always intrigued me.

These period art often show a minority of knights wielding falchions as opposed to swords.

So I wonder:

Does this represent the reality of weapon choices, that some would prefer a falchion over a sword or is it just the artist trying to break up the monotony of swords? Certainly the falchions look stylized to me, but I lack the experience to say so with any authority.

If it is true that falchions were used how do that square with what we know about the relative protective qualities of mail? It seems to me that mail is essentially cut proof from any bladed implement. Does a falchion cross over into being an impact weapon that does blunt trauma to the person under the mail?

At least from what I understand about Falchions, they are shorter, for blade heavy, and because they bare single edged, more of a robust design and easier to make, thus being cheaper. Given that most people wouldn't be wearing any metal armour, if you are surrounded you would want a close quarter weapon, and that swords are expensive, arming swords probably more so than a Falchions, I would be surprised if some knights, exspecially from poorer areas, would use Falcions. Falchions being more blade heavy, would probably be a better shock deliever but if you truly were concerned about delievering shock first a formost, it would be easier and cheaper to utilize a mace.
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