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Jonathan Cadman




Location: California
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 5:58 pm    Post subject: Underarmor in the Mac Bible         Reply with quote

Being new to the forum I feel I have to give the obligatory, "Sorry if this has been mentioned before" but after a couple quick searches I couldn't find anything on it! I've lurked for a while, but I'm proud to say I'm finally making my first post.

I was taking a look through the Maciejowski Bible again a couple days ago and had a few questions, specifically about the use of padded armour beneath mail. I've always been told that, according to the King's Mirror and just general consensus, that an aketon or a gambeson was almost always worn beneath mail (Except perhaps outside of the viking era), and in some cases as also shown in the Mac Bible, over the mail as well. When you look at other soldiers wearing mail in the manuscript however, they don't seem to be wearing any dedicated padding beneath their hauberks.

Whatever is under their armor looks exactly like the material of their surcoat (Really thin) and at one point you see someone dress up in armor and they just put it right over their regular knee length tunic. For example, when King Saul has David don a suit of armour. You would expect the king to have David wear only the best as far as armour is concerned- In this case he's given a great helm, mail, and a sword. Under the armour however, based on the colour, we can see he still has on his regular tunic.

http://www.themorgan.org/node/605/zoomify

And then, on the far right you see a man putting his mail on over a general tunic. You can see the difference between what he's wearing, and the gambeson/aketon/padded jack or whatever it is, that the man just to his left is wearing

http://www.themorgan.org/node/546/zoomify

This could be because he's being rushed by the surprise attack, but here you can see King Saul only seems to have a light tunic on as well:

http://www.themorgan.org/node/623/zoomify

Despite this there are several examples of a padded garment being worn -over- the armour like in these pages, as well as edges of a thin tunic rather than thick padding beneath their mail:

http://www.themorgan.org/node/559/zoomify

http://www.themorgan.org/node/572/zoomify

http://www.themorgan.org/node/591/zoomify

What's the general consensus on this? It's conflicting with the King's Mirror saying you wear padded armour both beneath and over armour, so I was curious about what any of you might have to say about it. Glad to be a part of the forum and I'm looking forward to some good conversations!
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 7:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You are correct concerning the Morgan depictions. Ten years ago I would have argued that aketons did not exist under mail this early, but a number of literary description from the late 12th century have forced me to change my opinion. I'm now certain that aketons and gambesons were sometimes worn beneath, over, and in place of mail starting from c.1160-1190 onwards. I have yet to find any evidence of these armors before that time. Neither is it proof that everyone adopted these new pieces of equipment immediately, and it seems likely the Morgan examples are reasonably correct in their depiction of mail over a tunic for some individuals.
ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 7:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well I've fought in a whole bunch of HEMA tournaments and often the blunt edged steel swords we use are stiffer and heavier than equivalent sharps would be. Many fighters, including myself, run pretty light jackets and we've survived just fine. Thrusts from stiff blades or impact from the ends of the cross are more likely to break ribs than cuts are and honestly padding doesn't help too much with that... you'd need A LOT of padding to properly protect you from such a thrust but surprisingly a thin plastic chest guard provides a lot of protection vs thrusts. Hardened leather breastplates were used with mail and they were much the same sort of thing.

You wouldn't want mail links being driven into your flesh by impact but a relatively thin layer of stout material would go a long way towards handling that. One of the main reasons a lot of modern fighters wear a light jacket is probably the same reason you're seeing lighter layers under armor in those historical sources, thick padding makes it hard to fight dexterously which means you'll be less effective on the offense and you'll get hit a lot more.
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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
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PostPosted: Tue 25 Nov, 2014 8:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's also some pretty decent indications that an integral liner of some sort of material was worn attached to the interior of the mail, at lease on part of the body of the mail, if not necessarily the arms/lower legs
"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Wed 26 Nov, 2014 3:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Medieval clothing already had more layers and was thicker than ours... If the tunics we see in Morgan Bible are not just regular tunics but maybe thicker or made of two or three layers, made to go under the mail, it is altogether quite enough. And if the tunic beneath the armour looks like regular civilian tunic, it doesn't mean that it isn't made thicker and tougher than civilian because it's made for wearing under armour... That it would look like civilian is logical... Armour was often made to look like civilian dress...
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Jonathan Cadman




Location: California
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PostPosted: Wed 26 Nov, 2014 9:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That was pretty much the assumption that I'd come to as well, just wanted to get some other opinions on it to make sure. Now that you mention it Luka, the tunics that men armed for combat are wearing seem like they could definitely be made of a thicker sort than those of civilians.

Compare the interior and exterior colour of surcoats compared to the tunic that the civilian is wearing in Fol. 3. The thin surcoat's exterior and interior are the same colour as the tunic of the unarmored man being run down.

http://www.themorgan.org/node/546/zoomify

When you look back at David however, his tunic is coloured differently on the outside than the inside.

http://www.themorgan.org/node/605/zoomify

So is the surcoat of King Saul and his knight to the left, but look at the pointed shoulders on their surcoats. I've heard the theory that the pointed shoulders in the Morgan bible represent a form of cuir bouilli worn during the middle 13th century, so it it possible that perhaps a thicker surcoat would have gone over the cuir bouilli, or perhaps a layer would have gone behind and then over it, but been stitched together to fully encompass it?

In the Wells Cathedral on a statue dates to 1240, contemporary of course with the Morgan Bible, some of the statues have the pointed shoulders but they seem to blend rather seamlessly into the surcoat. Either the points are made of cloth as well (Which I personally doubt, but I just haven't seen the evidence for it so my mind could be changed) or the cloth extends over and under it.

http://www.themcs.org/armour/knights/Wells%20...%20621.JPG

Another example here, but the 'surcoat' in this case is clearly a gambeson.

http://www.themcs.org/armour/knights/Wells%20...%20631.JPG

Once again a loose fitting example:

http://www.themcs.org/armour/knights/Wells%20...20631b.JPG

And so on and so forth.

Edit:

This one was interesting too. Around the chest it looks like the cloth might be pulled a bit more tightly compared to how loose it is as soon as the cloth gets past the waist where one would assume a piece of hardened leather armour would stop. No pointed shoulders however.

http://www.themcs.org/armour/knights/Chaddesl...0%2092.JPG
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Baard H




Location: Norway
Joined: 13 Mar 2013

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Wed 26 Nov, 2014 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another point: The Kings Mirror seems to consider a maille hauberk or a gambeson as heavy armour.

"But if you are in a borough or some such place where horses cannot be
used for recreation, you should take up this form of amusement: go to your
chambers and put on heavy armor; next look up some fellow henchman (he
may be a native or an alien) who likes to drill with you and whom you know
to be well trained to fight behind a shield or a buckler. Always bring
heavy armor to this exercise, either chain-mail or a thick gambison, and
carry a heavy sword and a weighty shield or buckler in your hand."



While the law of Magnus Lagabøte only require's one of them for the wealthiest partakers in the leidang:

"But a man who owns 18 weighted marks in addition to his clothes, he shall own shield and steel-helmet and panzer or maille and all the people's weapons."

(Panzer = a heavy gambeson. The weapons are sword or axe and a spear)


The Kings Mirror only states the combination of these to be important for the ones who will fight on horseback, where they will most likely be more exposed and able to carry more weight than foot-soldiers can.

"The rider himself should be equipped in this wise: he should wear good
soft breeches made of soft and thoroughly blackened linen cloth, which
should reach up to the belt; outside these, good mail hose
which should come up high enough to be girded on with a double strap; over
these he must have good trousers made of linen cloth of the sort that I
have already described; finally, over these he should have good knee-pieces
madeof thick iron and rivets hard as steel. Above and next to the body
he should Wear a soft gambison, which need not come lower than to the middle
of, the thigh. Over this he must have a strong breastplate made of good
iron covering the body from the nipples to the trousers belt; outside this,
a well-made hauberk and over the hauberk a firm gambison made in the manner
which I have already described but without sleeves. He must have a dirk
§ and two swords, one girded on and another hanging from the pommel
of the saddle. On his head he must have a dependable helmet made of good
steel and provided with a visor. He must also have a strong, thick shield
fastened to a durable shoulder belt and, in addition, a good sharp spear
with a firm shaft and pointed with fine steel. Now it seems needless to
speak further about the equipment of men who fight on horseback; there
are, however, other weapons which a mounted warrior may use, if he wishes;
among these are the "horn bow" and the weaker crossbow, which a man can
easily draw even when on horseback, and certain other weapons, too, if
he should want them."

At kveldi skal dag leyfa,
konu, er brennd er,
mæki, er reyndr er,
mey, er gefin er,
ís, er yfir kemr,
öl, er drukkit er.
-Hávamál, vísa 81
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Jonathan Cadman




Location: California
Joined: 23 Nov 2014

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed 26 Nov, 2014 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is there someowhere online with a full translation of Magnus VI's 1274 law code, or was that pulled from a book? I've looked for it before but haven't been able to find it, and I'd love to take a look.
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Baard H




Location: Norway
Joined: 13 Mar 2013

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Thu 27 Nov, 2014 4:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm afraid I translated that part of the law from Norwegian. If someone have an English version online I would like to have it too, makes English discussions much quicker.

The Kings Mirror I got from here: http://www.mediumaevum.com/75years/mirror/index.html

At kveldi skal dag leyfa,
konu, er brennd er,
mæki, er reyndr er,
mey, er gefin er,
ís, er yfir kemr,
öl, er drukkit er.
-Hávamál, vísa 81
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Jonathan Cadman




Location: California
Joined: 23 Nov 2014

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat 29 Nov, 2014 10:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just as a continuation of this- I know there are accounts of gambesons worn under armour as early as this outside of the Morgan bible, but does anyone have any links to illustrated examples of gambesons from the 11th century up to about the mid 13th century?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Nov, 2014 11:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are two distinct types of garment and they cannot be used interchangeably. One is thickly padded and meant to be worn by itself as a standalone defence. The other is a very lightly padded garment that was meant to be worn under armour (the subject of this thread). I usually use the terms "gambeson" or "jack" to refer to the former and "aketon", "pourpoint", or "arming doublet" to refer to the latter. The sources, however are not so clear and various terms seem to be used interchangeably to describe both types. Unless we have a text where, for example, both aketon and gambeson are used in the same context, it is impossible to determine which garment the author is referring to. Just becasue the word "gambeson" is used in some texts to describe under armour and in other texts to describe standalone armour, doesn't mean that they are the same thing. Proper padded armour can be up to thirty layers thick and cannot be worn under mail. It was either worn by itself (sometimes with an aketon underneath) or over the top of mail.
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Nov, 2014 7:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Cadman wrote:
Just as a continuation of this- I know there are accounts of gambesons worn under armour as early as this outside of the Morgan bible, but does anyone have any links to illustrated examples of gambesons from the 11th century up to about the mid 13th century?

Depictions of aketons/gambesons worn under mail are disputed, i.e. are folds or quilting lines being shown? One of the earliest examples which may show such a fabric armor without mail, can be seen in Verona's St. Giovanni in Fonte, Massacre of the Holy Innocents from c. 1200.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Verona_San_Giovanni_in_Fonte_-_Taufbecken_Kindermord_in_Bethlehem.jpg




Most of the earliest depictions of gambesons worn over mail appear to be found in Iberian sources.

Huelgas Apocalypse, Morgan M.429 fo. 149v, c. 1220, Toledo, Spain


Beatus d'Arroyo, BNF Nou.Acq.Lat. 2290 fol. 106v, 1201-1225, Castille, Spain



 Attachment: 68.49 KB
BNF NAL 2290 fo106v-dtl.jpg
BNF NAL 2290 fo.106v

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 30 Nov, 2014 12:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The bottom one could be depicting a COP over mail.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Sun 30 Nov, 2014 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Any evidence for a coat of plates that early, or of one with plates in the lower dags?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 30 Nov, 2014 7:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nope. But that argument is circular. The only reason we don't think it is a COP is becaiuse we assume that they didn't have any that early. If the illustration was a century or two later, we wouldn't even think about it.
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Jonathan Cadman




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Dec, 2014 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan:

Trying to distinguish what a source is talking about where aketons and gambesons is concerned really can be pretty frustrating! For the sake of this discussion we'll consider aketons as underarmor and gambesons as a quilted or baffled protection that goes over mail. I agree that's probably the proper terminology, like Claude Blair and David Edge use. Do either of you think there's a particular reason that the characters in the Morgan bible aren't wearing aketons when sources like the King's Mirror and the Chronicon Colmariense say that warriors during that time period did indeed wear quilted armour beneath their mail?

From the Chronicon Colmariense:

"Those were called Men-at-Arms who wore iron helms on their heads, and who had a wambais, i. e. a garment wadded with wool, tow, or old rags, stitched together, over which was placed the chemise de fer, i. e. a tunic of interwoven iron rings."
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Dec, 2014 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For some reason I thought you were interested in 11th-12th century sources. There is plenty of evidence for aketons in the 13th C.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2014 6:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it's important to consider the Maciejowski/Morgan Bible is the work of 6 or 7 different artists as well. Since these depiction of mail being donned or doffed occur on folios from differing artists, it can only be assumed that no aketons under mail were included in the original sketches.

As to why this might be the case, I think we can only hypothesize. Some possible explanations --

- Wearing an aketon under mail was not as fashionable in northern France as in the southern areas. A good number of the early sources mentioning aketons were written in langue d'oc rather than langue d'oil.

- The artist who sketched the miniatures was more familiar with urban militias than with nobility, hence the invaluable depictions of foot soldiers and the lack of identifiable heraldry.

- Aketons were worn beneath tunics.

- Aketons were made of felt rather than stitched and stuffed fabric at this time.

I doubt any of these suggestions could be proven as to the reason why we don't see aketons under mail in the Maciejowski Bible.

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