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Kuo Xie




Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 29 Feb 2012

Posts: 76

PostPosted: Fri 16 Jan, 2015 6:45 am    Post subject: The double-breasted mail hauberk: how common?         Reply with quote

Hello, I've recently been thinking about a piece of armor I saw in Paris last year. This one comes from the Musee d'Armee:



You can see that it's an open-front design, with overlapping "lapels". As an amateur mail maker I find this interesting because it seems like the only way to achieve a tailored waist on a hauberk. With the more common closed-front design, a narrow waist makes it impossible to pull over the head and shoulders. Some questions on this piece:

1) I don't remember what was on the placard. What time/place would you estimate this came from?
2) The fasteners are covered up by plates so you can't see them. How would a piece like this be held closed in front?
3) Would medieval people have consider the double breasted cut to be a defensive advantage - with double layers on the front of the chest - or was it chiefly an ergonomic feature?
4) This design seems uncommon both in period examples and in artwork. Anyone aware of other pieces like this one?
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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
Joined: 21 Apr 2012

Posts: 174

PostPosted: Fri 16 Jan, 2015 6:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An idle musing.

The asymmetric stretching of mail means that you can actually get a relatively tailored waist without any fastenings at all. The trick is to construct the hauberk such that the waist at maximum expansion is just wide enough to fit over the shoulders + padding. The weight of the rest of the skirt then pulls it narrower around the waist when it's in place.

You can normally get a good few inches of stretch out of a mail shirt, which is generally enough for typical waist:shoulder ratios.
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Kuo Xie




Location: Chicago, IL
Joined: 29 Feb 2012

Posts: 76

PostPosted: Fri 16 Jan, 2015 8:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
An idle musing.

The asymmetric stretching of mail means that you can actually get a relatively tailored waist without any fastenings at all. The trick is to construct the hauberk such that the waist at maximum expansion is just wide enough to fit over the shoulders + padding. The weight of the rest of the skirt then pulls it narrower around the waist when it's in place.

You can normally get a good few inches of stretch out of a mail shirt, which is generally enough for typical waist:shoulder ratios.


That's true, the mail will automatically drape to form a visual waistline, but it will still weigh the same. When I do my trimming the chief objective is to remove excess weight from the hauberk so I prefer a true tailored waistline.
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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
Joined: 21 Apr 2012

Posts: 174

PostPosted: Fri 16 Jan, 2015 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kuo Xie wrote:
That's true, the mail will automatically drape to form a visual waistline, but it will still weigh the same. When I do my trimming the chief objective is to remove excess weight from the hauberk so I prefer a true tailored waistline.


This does remove excess weight. Instead of the body being the width of the shoulders (so an untapered tube) it's a few inches narrower.

Less weight than would be removed by a more tailored method, but the need to have some slack for movement prevents you from getting skin-tight anyway.
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2015 12:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is another hauberk with a front overlap.

European (Germany) riveted mail hauberk, 1450 to 1500, with a brass makers mark on the chest, Germanisches National Museum, Nürnberg, Bayern, Germany.
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 1,532

PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2015 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am wondering how the inner breast flap that gets covered over by the top flap is initially secured when putting it on? It obviously looks very functional and attractive as a reproduction possibility.
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 17 Jan, 2015 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the above example the double-breasted part looks like an additional flap over the top of a regular hauberk.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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