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Eric Rosenlof




Location: OR, USA
Joined: 29 Aug 2013

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu 29 Aug, 2013 3:00 pm    Post subject: Vendel period tunics/gambesons?         Reply with quote

Hey all,
First of all, I just registered here after several months of casual browsing, so this is my first post. I've read the guidelines but it will still take a bit for me to become accustomed to the culture of this particular feasting hall Wink . Anyway, I'm trying to find out what the consensus is as to what was worn under mail in the Vendel period. I've seen some posts which seem to specify that it was just mail with a woolen tunic or two underneath. Is this correct? I know the quilted gambeson seen in the middle ages was a later development, but were there 'proto-gambesons?' In other words, the warriors of the Vendel/Merovingian period (I'm not aware of late-republic Romans using supplemental clothing between tunic and mail--please correct me if I'm wrong) may have been aware of the advantages of some other sort of padding worn underneath the mail, if for no other reason than it would preserve their regular tunics. Then again, if they could afford mail, extra tunics may not have been an issue. But did they have quilted tunics, etc.? I'm assuming wool or linen would have been the most widely used materials.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Aug, 2013 9:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is no evidence for arming garments from the Vendel or Viking periods. Until some evidence shows up the only answer is "we don't know". If you are trying for historical accuracy then it would be best not to wear a gambeson. Mail functions perfectly fine with a separate woollen tunic or an integrated liner.
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 4:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah. AFAIK, there are a few small scraps of quilted cloth and leather surviving from roughly that era, but what scant evidence there is suggests they're not from armour.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 493

PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 9:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
There is no evidence for arming garments from the Vendel or Viking periods. Until some evidence shows up the only answer is "we don't know". If you are trying for historical accuracy then it would be best not to wear a gambeson. Mail functions perfectly fine with a separate woollen tunic or an integrated liner.

How would you fix and integrated liner to some as flexible as mail? Also, does Vendel refer to specific regiod as well? Because of does only refer to the Northern European Dark ages it would make perfect sense that there are no gambesons, thye clothing people wore to keep warm probably already served as blunt force protection enough. Also, when was maces first developed in Western Europe, from what I've read and watched there were first becoming prevalent in the high middle ages, after this period.
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 1:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You fix a liner to mail armour simply by sewing it on, mostly. Even Northern Europe gets pretty warm in the summer, and back then the climate was a fair bit warmer than it is now (Greenland actually used to be, well, green), so even up here winter clothing would be neither ubiquitous nor really that thick - and what thickness it did/does have is mostly trapped air (it's the best insulator) rather than dense, impact-resistant padding. And maces first became prevalent in the early stone age and never quite went away.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 493

PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 4:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
You fix a liner to mail armour simply by sewing it on, mostly. Even Northern Europe gets pretty warm in the summer, and back then the climate was a fair bit warmer than it is now (Greenland actually used to be, well, green), so even up here winter clothing would be neither ubiquitous nor really that thick - and what thickness it did/does have is mostly trapped air (it's the best insulator) rather than dense, impact-resistant padding. And maces first became prevalent in the early stone age and never quite went away.

What? I've heard that the Earth was overall 7 degrees cooler? Evidence? Any finds showing that maces were common in the Viking and Vendel periods?
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M Boyd




Location: Northern Midlands, Tasmania
Joined: 16 Aug 2013

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 8:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Yeah. AFAIK, there are a few small scraps of quilted cloth and leather surviving from roughly that era, but what scant evidence there is suggests they're not from armour.

One of the books I have states that:
Quote:
12 reindeer-hide corselets were brought from Lapland by Thore Hund in 1029, which 'no weapon could cut or pierce any more than if they had been made of mail, nor even as much.'


Leather must've been used in Lapland, at least.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 9:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not again. The only reason they couldn't be pieced by weapons is because they were magically enchanted. There are hundreds of pages on this forum about Viking leather armour and nobody has produce a single example.
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M Boyd




Location: Northern Midlands, Tasmania
Joined: 16 Aug 2013

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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 10:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Not again. The only reason they couldn't be pieced by weapons is because they were magically enchanted. There are hundreds of pages on this forum about Viking leather armour and nobody has produce a single example.

I think the important point is, in regards to leather, not that they were impervious but that they were present. If someone showed you some reindeer-hide armour and told you it is magic I imagine a reasonable person would first doubt the magical claim rather than doubt the physical presence of the item. The questionable part of the account would be the magical properties rather than the existence of leather armour. If there's hundreds of pages on this topic I'm sure the poor survivability of leather items has already been mentioned. Do we have surviving examples of leather sword sheaths?
I have no idea if any have made it through or not.
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 493

PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 10:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M Boyd wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
Not again. The only reason they couldn't be pieced by weapons is because they were magically enchanted. There are hundreds of pages on this forum about Viking leather armour and nobody has produce a single example.

I think the important point is, in regards to leather, not that they were impervious but that they were present. If someone showed you some reindeer-hide armour and told you it is magic I imagine a reasonable person would first doubt the magical claim rather than doubt the physical presence of the item. The questionable part of the account would be the magical properties rather than the existence of leather armour. If there's hundreds of pages on this topic I'm sure the poor survivability of leather items has already been mentioned. Do we have surviving examples of leather sword sheaths?
I have no idea if any have made it through or not.

The thing is that Europe is a huge penisula and rocky penisula don't tend themselves to huge ranges needed to support animals large enough to make large thick hides off leather to cover your body in, it's come to no surprise that the huge Western comsumption of beef as a daily item instead of a food item indicating didn't start until European involvement in the America's were land was more plentiful.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 10:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M Boyd wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
Not again. The only reason they couldn't be pieced by weapons is because they were magically enchanted. There are hundreds of pages on this forum about Viking leather armour and nobody has produce a single example.

I think the important point is, in regards to leather, not that they were impervious but that they were present. If someone showed you some reindeer-hide armour and told you it is magic I imagine a reasonable person would first doubt the magical claim rather than doubt the physical presence of the item. The questionable part of the account would be the magical properties rather than the existence of leather armour. .

The questionable part is you conflating leather clothing and leather armour. In any case, you are taking that passage completely out of context; the whole point of that part of the tale was to emphasis the fact that the Lapplanders were dishonourable witches who would stoop to cheating by using magic. We have covered this hundreds of times; leather clothing is not the same as leather armour.
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M Boyd




Location: Northern Midlands, Tasmania
Joined: 16 Aug 2013

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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 11:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not trying to upset anyone.
I just don't see why they'd need to describe it as armour with magical properties if magic leather clothes would be just as impervious and further enforce the whole idea of cheating witches.
When I had read this I had assumed that the reindeer hide armour was some sort of quilted or composite construction of multiple hides or layers rather than 1 hide thick. I don't have anything to back this up, though. I suppose my mind jumped to thinking about how a hide armour could be made to rival the protective qualities of mail.
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M Boyd




Location: Northern Midlands, Tasmania
Joined: 16 Aug 2013

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 11:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:

The thing is that Europe is a huge penisula and rocky penisula don't tend themselves to huge ranges needed to support animals large enough to make large thick hides off leather to cover your body in, it's come to no surprise that the huge Western comsumption of beef as a daily item instead of a food item indicating didn't start until European involvement in the America's were land was more plentiful.

Yes, I see what you're saying but Europe has had its share of large and massive animals like aurochs, mammoth, bear, bison, elk and megaloceros . Look at ancient cave paintings like:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cave_painting#Europe
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lascaux
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grotte_de_Cussac
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pech_Merle
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chauvet_Cave

Aurochs made it through to the early 1600's, for example.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurochs

[img]https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e1/Aurochs_liferestoration.jpg/800px-Aurochs_liferestoration.jpg[/img]
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Jonathan Fletcher





Joined: 04 Mar 2004

Posts: 100

PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2013 11:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

(Tongue in cheek) They were obviously buff coats... But that will open another massive can of worms!
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M Boyd




Location: Northern Midlands, Tasmania
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PostPosted: Sat 31 Aug, 2013 12:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

People certainly are passionate around here!
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Jonathan Fletcher





Joined: 04 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 31 Aug, 2013 1:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is off-topic off-topic but search 'buff coat' if you have a few minutes spare. Even better, try doing the same on www.livinghistory.co.uk , sit back and enjoy the fireworks.

Last edited by Jonathan Fletcher on Sat 31 Aug, 2013 1:10 am; edited 2 times in total
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 31 Aug, 2013 1:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Why waste time going over old ground? A 10 second search produced this.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=15219
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=12914
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=24474
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=7754
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=16419
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=6877
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=12510
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=18772
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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
Joined: 21 Apr 2012

Posts: 168

PostPosted: Sat 31 Aug, 2013 3:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M Boyd wrote:
I'm not trying to upset anyone.
I just don't see why they'd need to describe it as armour with magical properties if magic leather clothes would be just as impervious and further enforce the whole idea of cheating witches.
When I had read this I had assumed that the reindeer hide armour was some sort of quilted or composite construction of multiple hides or layers rather than 1 hide thick. I don't have anything to back this up, though. I suppose my mind jumped to thinking about how a hide armour could be made to rival the protective qualities of mail.


This argument seems to hinge on the use of the word 'corselet' in the translation to describe the garments in questionóbut making any argument about the presence of an item historically based on a word used in translation is a very shaky start.

Do you happen to have the original text, or a reference to it? That would be a much more solid place to start.

Instructor and scholar, Cambridge HEMA
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 31 Aug, 2013 5:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The word is hreinbjŠlfa - a reindeer fur coat. It is clothing, not armour. I've already posted several links where this exact subject is discussed.
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Matthew Amt




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

Posts: 1,272

PostPosted: Sat 31 Aug, 2013 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M Boyd wrote:
I'm not trying to upset anyone.


We're just a little sensitive! We've been beaten with leather so often that when someone picks up another hide we tend to flinch...

Quote:
I just don't see why they'd need to describe it as armour with magical properties if magic leather clothes would be just as impervious...


They did not describe it as "armor". It was described as a magic shirt.

Quote:
When I had read this I had assumed that the reindeer hide armour was some sort of quilted or composite construction of multiple hides or layers rather than 1 hide thick. I don't have anything to back this up, though.


There you go. Until you or someone else finds some reasonable evidence, it's not "history", it's really "fantasy". Not trying to sound mean, just saying how we've been trying to approach this issue. Interpolating from how we think it should have or could have been done is just making things up. I, for one, try very hard not to do that. (Granted, it's a difficult struggle!)

Quote:
I suppose my mind jumped to thinking about how a hide armour could be made to rival the protective qualities of mail.


Simple, make it really thick and stiff and hot and heavy. By the time it is as weapon-resistant as mail, it will be heavier than mail. And it won't bend much if at all, so you'll be limited to a sleeveless vest. Mail can cover your entire body with only slight restriction of movement. Your leather will be hot and stuffy, whereas mail is completely breathable. And at that point, your leather will also be pretty costly, not something the average farmer could afford if he wants to have something to pull his plow next spring, or have milk and cheese and little cows, etc.

As we've said in many other threads, there are only 2 or 3 other mentions of leather armor worth bringing up. One is the Norseman called "Leatherneck" because he was weird enough to make some kind of defensive corselet from leather. If you take that as proof that leather armor existed, you have to accept it as proof that he was pretty much the only guy around wearing it. Another is Chuchulain's war belt, which is from Ireland (never the same as the rest of the world) and may be Bronze Age or from 1200, no one's sure. Then there is a saga of a Viking hero who covers himself with a cowhide to protect himself from dragon venom. Obviously it's hard to take this one too literally, but it just seems that if leather jerkins were readily available, he wouldn't have had to do that.

However, we also have things like muster laws and regulations, that describe what qualified men are supposed to bring on militia duty or to equip Viking ships, etc. Minimum gear is typically a shield and spear, while helmets, swords, and mailshirts are added for men with increasing levels of wealth. Oddly, across a very wide span of time and place, leather armor is not listed! From the Roman Republic to the English Assize of Arms in 1183, nary a glimpse. In 1183 you first get *padded* armor for the poorer men. That, to me, is clear "evidence of absence" for leather armor.

But as Dan says, we've said all this before! Sorry if we go a little bonkers.

Matthew
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