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Jaroslav Jakubov




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Apr, 2014 7:35 am    Post subject: Resistance of shields against projectiles         Reply with quote

While there is a lot of material to be found about protective ability of armors, finding anything about shields is quite rare thing. Do you guys have any good sources on shield resistance against weapons and projectiles? from what i read over years, some historians claim arrows had no problem to penetrate shields, while others claim opposite. From what i saw in some TV documentaries, medium bows were not able to pierce through properly made shield covered with leather.

is there any material that would suggest how much effective wooden shields were? i guess it would be quite hard to anyhow realistically measure this, as any impact should incorporate also the way shield was held, the elasticity of posture etc..

From article here, it is especially interesting that Roman Scutum and late Medieval Pavises, were practically quite similar in size and weight. Is it OK to assume they provided similar level of protection?
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Apr, 2014 10:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

By Alan Williams's numbers, a 16th-century Filippo Negroli steel parade shield would require approximately 155 J to pierce with an arrowhead based on an estimated 1.8mm thickness based on its weight (8.125lbs) and diameter (22.25in). Hardened steel would increase the required energy to about 210 J. For reference, based on The Great Warbow an English bow shooting a heavy arrow wouldn't manage more than 150 J up close.

I don't know of any formula for wooden shields, but if we assume they provided no more protection per unit of weight than hardened steel - which strikes me as likely - then you can use Williams's formula to establish an upper limit for protective ability. But shields you also have to consider that arrows need to penetrate farther to cause harm to anything other than the wielder's arm, and the shaft passing through the shield would probably cause significant energy loss from friction.

We do have various historical accounts of arrows killing through shields. There's one the Crusades in which mail in addition to the shield isn't specifically mention but likely. There's one from medieval Spain in which a single bolt from a windlass-drawn crossbow pierces through two men both carrying shields. It's unclear whether they were armored.

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Raman A




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Apr, 2014 10:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's an excerpt from the chronicle of De Soto's exploration of Florida:

"If the arrow does not find armor, it penetrates as deeply as a crossbow. The bows are very long and the arrows are made of certain reeds like canes, very heavy and so tough that a sharpened cane passes through a shield. Some are pointed with a fish bone, as sharp as an awl, and others with a certain stone like a diamond point. Generally when these strike against armor, they break off at the place where they are fastened on."

Source:
http://www.floridahistory.com/elvas-1.html
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Apr, 2014 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Barry Molloy's "The Cutting Edge" has an article on his own experiments against Bronze Age shields and another article about Scythian bow reconstructions and their penetrative capability against various shields: 10 made of wood and covered with hide or cloth, 10 Persian shields made of cane, and 5 Roman scutums.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Apr, 2014 2:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Resistance of shields against projectiles         Reply with quote

Jaroslav Jakubov wrote:
While there is a lot of material to be found about protective ability of armors

Is there? I could find very little that meets even basic scientific standards. For example, WIlliams' book has the only useful data on the protective capacity of mail and even that is very limited.

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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Wed 09 Apr, 2014 7:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know how scientific this is, or if it is what you are looking for, but the guys at Hurstwic did some experimentation to determine the effectiveness of having linen or leather facing on a shield. See: http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manu...ields.htm, about half way down the page.
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Ben Coomer




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PostPosted: Thu 10 Apr, 2014 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, keeping in mind that this isn't a scientific (or even an intentional) test of of wood's resistance, my 65# longbow firing fairly heavy arrows at a range of 30 yards easily penetrates a good 3/4 inch into 2x4 seasoned cedar, and goes through 1/2 in plywood for about 4 inches or so. Obviously, these are not shields, but even with a bow that is underpowered for a warbow, a relatively thin piece of wood, un-reinforced, is going to have a hard time protecting you at fairly close ranges.

That being said, neither is it completely useless as that arrow from my bow at that range is going to go mostly through you without that shield.
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William P




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Apr, 2014 2:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Colt Reeves wrote:
I don't know how scientific this is, or if it is what you are looking for, but the guys at Hurstwic did some experimentation to determine the effectiveness of having linen or leather facing on a shield. See: http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manu...ields.htm, about half way down the page.


not to mention the testng mike loades did for the weapons that made britain series, it doesnt gie much in terms of precise numbers for us to look at but it does give some idea as to how much benefit adding a facing and rim provides, and how vulnerable a plank only shield will be. not too scientififc but gives some ballpark notions of what can destroy what how easily etc.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2014 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We can also assume that battlefield efficiency of the weapons, as used in the period, would dictate the further development of tactics and equipment.

Thus, if bows where able to penetrate shields with ease, we would see more bows, and/or thicker shields. As it is, dark age armies use large, relatively ligth shields, even if it is their primary defense. Large scale use of dedicated archers seems uncommon.
This would indicate that dark age shield wall infantry, and those figthing them, considered the shields adequate to protect them from archers.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Jaroslav Jakubov




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2014 10:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
We can also assume that battlefield efficiency of the weapons, as used in the period, would dictate the further development of tactics and equipment.

Thus, if bows where able to penetrate shields with ease, we would see more bows, and/or thicker shields. As it is, dark age armies use large, relatively ligth shields, even if it is their primary defense. Large scale use of dedicated archers seems uncommon.
This would indicate that dark age shield wall infantry, and those figthing them, considered the shields adequate to protect them from archers.



i guess same then can be said about Romans, especially considering them reducing the size and weight of Scutum during Imperial times..
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2014 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jaroslav Jakubov wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:
We can also assume that battlefield efficiency of the weapons, as used in the period, would dictate the further development of tactics and equipment.

Thus, if bows where able to penetrate shields with ease, we would see more bows, and/or thicker shields. As it is, dark age armies use large, relatively ligth shields, even if it is their primary defense. Large scale use of dedicated archers seems uncommon.
This would indicate that dark age shield wall infantry, and those figthing them, considered the shields adequate to protect them from archers.



i guess same then can be said about Romans, especially considering them reducing the size and weight of Scutum during Imperial times..


Somewhere I read a theory that imperial Romans spent more time fighting each other in civil wars and rebellions than enemies from outside. If that is true, then scutum would not face that much archery...
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2014 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka: This is only true during certian periods. The scutum equipped legions where copied from the Samnites after these defeated the roman hoplite phalanx army.
After that they where used against chataginians, greeks, celts, iberians... pretty much everyone.

The greek and Macedonian phalanxes where supported by peltasts, slingers and archers. Troop types used by the romans themselves as well. Ceasar had contingents of balearic slingers and Cretan Archers with him in Gaul.
Celts and germans used missile weapons and javelins, as well as everything else that could be thrown.

Siege warfare also saw large amounts of missile fire.

And, of course, romes enemies on the eastern frontiers used foot and mounted archers on a large scale.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2014 12:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Luka: This is only true during certian periods. The scutum equipped legions where copied from the Samnites after these defeated the roman hoplite phalanx army.
After that they where used against chataginians, greeks, celts, iberians... pretty much everyone.

The greek and Macedonian phalanxes where supported by peltasts, slingers and archers. Troop types used by the romans themselves as well. Ceasar had contingents of balearic slingers and Cretan Archers with him in Gaul.
Celts and germans used missile weapons and javelins, as well as everything else that could be thrown.

Siege warfare also saw large amounts of missile fire.

And, of course, romes enemies on the eastern frontiers used foot and mounted archers on a large scale.


True, true. But for imperial period, civil wars, where legionaries and auxilia fought other legionaries and auxilia, were far more dangerous to the whole Empire than any outside enemy. Celts were no more around except in some mini areas in eastern Europe, Germans were behind borders well protected, Greeks were already part of the Empire for over hundred years and only Sassanids proved to be worthy enemy over a long period. I can totally believed during such times Emperors feared civil wars and rebellions much more than any foreign invasion.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2014 1:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:

Somewhere I read a theory that imperial Romans spent more time fighting each other in civil wars and rebellions than enemies from outside. If that is true, then scutum would not face that much archery...


But plenty of javelins. The pilum is an excellent armour and shield piercing javelin.

"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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Ben Coomer




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2014 10:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
We can also assume that battlefield efficiency of the weapons, as used in the period, would dictate the further development of tactics and equipment.

Thus, if bows where able to penetrate shields with ease, we would see more bows, and/or thicker shields. As it is, dark age armies use large, relatively ligth shields, even if it is their primary defense. Large scale use of dedicated archers seems uncommon.
This would indicate that dark age shield wall infantry, and those figthing them, considered the shields adequate to protect them from archers.


But massed archery with heavy bows was a relatively late development in Medieval warfare. Add in chainmail and padding and the threat of a lot of arrows is significantly lessened, so possibly light shields were sufficient. Certainly when the bigger threat was melee weapons where a maneuverable shield is better than a dead weight.

Even then, we have to remember that people had to carry this equipment around with them. As nice as a 2 inch thick shield is if an arrow hits it, carrying it on a march is significantly less so. And on a campaign? Keeping in mind, a lot of time, logistics of the time were fairly basic so YOU are probably carrying it.

I think we get too involved in the idea that absolute protection was the goal of armor. While certainly a desire, but maneuverability, comfort, the ability to carry the damn stuff for days probably played a role as well. Accepting trade offs is probably not a surprising idea when warriors were choosing their equipment.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Apr, 2014 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you look at the much emphasized English use of massed archers in the 100 years war, there are a number of things to consider.

First of all, it is something of an anomaly. Despite their successes the system was not copied. The french response was not to employ more archers, but to fight dismounted and in more ordered formations.
Also, the presence of archers was nothing new. The difference lies in the deployment of dismounted knights in strong defensive positions, supported by large numbers of archers.
The doctrine also focused on rapid movement and destruction of the countryside, while avoiding battle whenever possible. For a conflict lasting over 120 years it has very few battles.

My theory is that one of the reasons to bring huge numbers of (often mounted) archers to France was the lack of other effective troops. 7000 light infantrymen at Crecy would have been nothing but a soft spot for the french cavalry to overrun, while 7000 archers behind a compact front of fully armoured knights is a huge force multiplier.

The english themselves abandon the archer companies in the early 1500's, when pike drill enables effective conscript regiments to be raised more easily.
And if the high estimates of the efficency of archers held true, a pike square would be the ideal target for archers. As history turned out, early firearms came to fill the role instead.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Apr, 2014 6:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling,

'First of all, it is something of an anomaly. Despite their successes the system was not copied. The french response was not to employ more archers, but to fight dismounted and in more ordered formations. '

Ahhhh.... This is more or less completely wrong. From the very beginning under Philip VI we see an increase use of Crossbowmen and what they often call 'country archers' they had them at St. Pol even. And Under Charles V and Charles VII much of the French forces are made up of archers and crossbowmen. It is not an accident that successful French kings almost always focus on increase archery as part of their agenda. And it is copied by the Burgundians for much of the late 14th into most of the 15th. It is fairly widely copied. The end of the 100 Years War in large part can be tied to an increase in archers on French lines often surpassing those in English forces. The reason why some battle such as Agincourt actually are lost is poor leadership usually by the princes of blood.

And much of Europe outside these areas already had many types of archery tradition from crossbows to horse archery.

Now as to shields. Truth is we do not know but something telling is that the MArshal of the French during the Agincourt era and those after recommend all be well armoured and paivased....

RPM
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Jaroslav Jakubov




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Apr, 2014 7:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

reading the Shield article here made me wonder - Scutum size and weight is practically the same as weight and size of Infantry Pavises used in 14.century... and maybe Scutum sctructure was inferior to Pavise structure, yet, effectivity of ancient projectiles was probably a bit lesser than ability of Late Medieval projectiles.. To me it seems like Roman legionaries were quite resistant to ranged attacks if they kept the formation.. even if we look at battle of Carrhae, based on some statistics i saw lately, there was relatively low number of casualties during first day of battle, where Romans were being shot at by 9000 archers practically whole day... some historians suggested there was just around 500 casualties and several thousands wounded ( excluding the casualties of the chase group of Publius Crassus which was wiped out completely by Parthian Cataphracts)

there is a mention Parthians killed or captured about 4000 men in the Roman provisional camp, which suggest that everybody who was capable moving left the camp, and only those who couldnt stayed.. Parthians most likely killed everybody who cound not be moved as a prisoner..

It is interesting and quite overlooked fact that most of casualties taken at Carhae happened after Romans actually left the Carrhae city and tried to get to Armenia... apparently, it was impossible to escape from fast and light cavalry force like this...

anyway that battle clearly show Roman equipment was not inferior and could hold, but the decisions of their commander and skills of commander on the opposite side were just way too decisive.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Apr, 2014 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aren't all of the surviving medieval escutcheons (heater shields) both covered and gessoed?
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Apr, 2014 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
The english themselves abandon the archer companies in the early 1500's, when pike drill enables effective conscript regiments to be raised more easily.


The English military didn't abandon archery until the late 1500s. English archers performed relatively poorly at Flodden Field 1513 because of Scottish armor, but bows remained a key weapon through Henry VIII's reign. The Mary Rose attests to this. In the 1540s Fourquevaux, an experienced French commander, still considered crossbows and bows superior to guns, though he accepted the gun's dominance in practice. It was only in the 1590s that the most English forces discontinued the use of the bow.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

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To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
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