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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 4:25 pm    Post subject: Metal armour in winter         Reply with quote

Dominic Mancini (1483) wrote this about the archers in Richard III's army:
They do not wear any metal armour on their breast nor any other part of their body, except for the better sort who have breastplates and suits of armour. Indeed, the common soldiery have more comfortable doublets that reach down below the loins and are stuffed with tow or some other material. They say that the softer the garment the better do they withstand the blows of arrows and swords, and besides that in summer they are lighter and in the winter they are more serviceable than iron.

The last sentence has me intrigued. I don't live in a climate that has a significant winter and have no idea about how armour performs in colder temperatures. What difficulties could wearing iron armour in a European winter present that aren't evident in summer? Why would textile armour be "more serviceable" in winter than iron armour?
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Ian S LaSpina




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 4:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From a purely practical standpoint, I think there are two factors to consider about winter; temperature and moisture. I've worn my late 14th century harness in the cold before (below freezing temps), and the only thing I've noticed with regard to the low temperatures it that it's not fun putting on from the shock of the cold steel against the skin, but once you get over that it's just fine. I've noticed no performance difference in the cold. Textile armor is more heavily padded than the garments worn beneath plate, so it would no doubt keep you warmer in the cold.

Now temperature aside, I think he may be referring to the possibility that in snowy winters the iron armor is constantly in a wet environment and therefore would need more frequent maintenance and protection against corrosion. Summer and spring rains are temporary and may be able to be avoided, but heavy snowfall stays on the ground for days to possibly months at a time and would expose iron to a constantly moist environment.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 4:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

But textile armour could have its weight more than doubled when wet, it would become brittle when frozen, it would take a lot longer to dry out, and rotting seems likely to destroy textile armour a lot more quickly than rust could destroy iron armour.
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Boris Bedrosov
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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 5:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I know these could be pure speculations, but I'll try to make some notes:
* When it's cold, the metal would likely "drain" more and more warmth from the soldier's body (even through the gambeson/akeon), thus effectively over-cooling him. And colder the weather was, quicker this process would be. At the same time the padded garment would act as an additional coat, preventing the warmth to escape.
For example, here in Bulgaria we close the re-enacment season with an event in the beginning of November (in Europe this is right in the middlle of the autumn). And although the temperatures usually are about 10 degrees C, I've always feel quite drained after the event.

** There is a very interesting effect with iron/steel when it's extremely cold - around minus 5-10 degrees C and less (it strongly depends on humidity and wind). In such cases, the metal becomes "sticky" - you literally would get stuck to it, if touched with bare (not protected with gloves) hands. This effect could pose some limitaton for the own movement of the soldier, especially for such specialist troop as an archer.

I hope, this would help.

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Jason Daub




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Metal against your clothing in winter sucks the heat out of you once you get to about -20C and the closer you get to -40C the worse it gets. At below -40C it doesn't matter what you are wearing, contact with metal is instantly noticeable and it will leave you chilled within minutes. I would expect that where the weight of the armour bears directly against the arming doublet would become chilled in a very short time. Plus, a well fitted arming garment is comparatively thin and is not terribly warm on it's own. A well stuffed garment that comes below the loins is still the best cold weather jacket available (local record low -49.9C/-57.8F).
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Dan K. F.




Location: Calgary, Alberta
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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 6:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've never worn armour before so I wouldn't know, but do the joints have to be oiled? Is it possible that extreme cold could freeze oil and prevent articulated joints from moving freely?

Quote:
But textile armour could have its weight more than doubled when wet, it would become brittle when frozen, it would take a lot longer to dry out, and rotting seems likely to destroy textile armour a lot more quickly than rust could destroy iron armour.


Compared to rain, snow really doesn't soak through clothes nearly as fast. Unless you fall in it or get caught in a blizzard, a few flakes generally won't soak you through to the skin. Here in Calgary we tend to get lighter, less dense snow so I can stand outside in moderate snowfall for a bit without much moisture getting through.

I'm not sure how the cold could make textile armour brittle. I've never noticed that even in -30 to -40 below Celcius temperatures, even with leather.
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Quinn W.




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 7:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In really extreme cases it might drain heat from you, but generally speaking I'm guessing it's a moisture and rust issue. Especially if you're dealing with substantial variation over time, like day/night or out and about vs sitting in front of a fire. In cases like that the metal could possible "sweat" and collect moisture, like when you take a beer/coke/water out of the fridge.
I haven't worn my armor in extreme cold conditions though so I'm not speaking from experience.

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Ian S LaSpina




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 7:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
But textile armour could have its weight more than doubled when wet, it would become brittle when frozen, it would take a lot longer to dry out, and rotting seems likely to destroy textile armour a lot more quickly than rust could destroy iron armour.


Unless they're rolling in the snow, the textile garments shouldn't really get soaked except in a heavy blizzard with no shelter. That scenario is of course a possibility, but shouldn't be a constant threat. The metal armor on the other hand would not fair as well with exposure to frequent but light moisture.

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Michael Curl




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 8:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Would the armor become brittle in cold temperatures
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 8:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have fought in the cold and snow in my mid-fourteenth century kit and I much prefer it to fighting in the muggy summer months! Living in the land of two seasons (winter and road construction) leads one to “make the best of it”.

At 0 degrees Fahrenheit I have found that heat buildup under the arming coat & COP is a non-issue. There is no additional sting when hit, nor any additional damage to the armour or fittings from the cold in SCA style combat. The winter months have not required more (or less) post combat armour maintenance than summer months. I have never been cold, nor experienced frostbite, while fighting in the snow. The body is simply generating too much heat due to physical exertion.

I have not marched for hours on end in the cold. I (obviously) have not been on campaign for months in the cold. This may be what Dominic Mancini is referencing. I would not want to wear any metal components of my kit in the cold while on march as this would lead to excessive heat loss and frost bite in short order. I would like to wear a fluffy padded doublet and comfy boots though. Happy

As a point of reference from someone who grew up in northern Minnesota:
20~ F = balmy
0~ F = chilly
-20~ F = cold
-40 ~ F damn cold Wink

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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Oct, 2013 8:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Curl wrote:
Would the armor become brittle in cold temperatures


No, the metal components do not become more brittle in the cold. Leather strapping and lacing could become more brittle after extended exposure though.

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Oct, 2013 4:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure what was the climate trend there and then, in times of Richard III, but I still suspect that we should be talking about English Winter.

So generally about lots of moisture, muddy, melted snow, and so on - not freezing colds, metal so chilled it stings etc.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Oct, 2013 6:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Battle of Towton occurred at the end of March, supposedly in early Spring, and it was fought during a snowstorm. The Little Ice Age was well established by the time of Richard III.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Oct, 2013 7:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan,

Having worn both into colder weather I have no idea what he is talking about. My only guess is comfort I think a dry aketon that is well padded or layered would be warm. He actually makes some very odd comments about other things as well wish we could ask for clarification from him on a few things.

RPM
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Greg Ballantyne




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Oct, 2013 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Winters in Europe are much warmer now than they were 600-800 years ago - emergence from the mini ice age, and current global warming, etc...... I don't know it for fact, but temperature has got to be the reason.
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Oct, 2013 5:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott H has the right of it. Our weather locally isn't quite as bad as his but my experience is similar. Spend the day in kit for a demo on a fair autumn day and your's will be too. Once you break a sweat, the foundation garment wicks moisture and heat right out of you into the steel. Even with a cloak over it, harness sucks the heat from your core. This is a sunny calm day at 5C or less as the afternoon wears on.

I really wouldn't care to stand duty in full harness in a blustery drizzle let alone a snowstorm. That's pretty much winter at its worst in England, isn't it?
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Oct, 2013 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kel,

Yes but you could if required. So far the biggest issue would be it is nt fun.... compared to death not so bad. I live in a place with nasty winters that I assume are as bad as if not worse than they likely were from what I have read on the topic. I just am not seeing huge issues.

RPM
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Oct, 2013 6:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, Randall its simple. Morale. Soldiers will do anything to make their lives slightly less miserable on duty. If a quilted garment serves as well as munition plate for protection and is more comfortable in most weather, it will be the hands down favorite.

Look at the late Elizabethan English army cast into Ireland. They tossed their breast and backs on the march as the cheap munition iron was brutally heavy and possibly fit less comfortably than a tractor fender. Wink These guys knew they were facing rebels with firearms as well as hand weapons but they didn't care. Just marching in that stuff through woodland and bog was too much to bear.

Having suffered innumerable forced marches with modern battle equipment in my youth... I completely understand the desire to ditch anything not absolutely required. Nice to have it all when we got there but not if it keeps you from getting there.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Oct, 2013 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Remember that Mancini indicated that those who could afford it did wear metal armor. So the quotation itself runs counter to the idea that folks who could have been wearing plate wore fabric armor instead.
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Simon G. Bourdin




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PostPosted: Mon 07 Oct, 2013 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm sorry to butt in, I'm rather new at this, but it seems to me that metal deforms under a change in temperature. Maybe prolonged exposure to great cold would make plate armor very uncomfortable, messing with the joints and the adjustment of the different pieces?
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