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Ben Kircher

Joined: 08 Feb 2015

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon 22 Feb, 2016 7:29 am    Post subject: Leg Protection in the 12th and 13th century.         Reply with quote

Hey all so I was hoping to get some assistance on the titled topic above. I'm more or less trying to discern what knights and men at arms would have worn for protection. I am attempting to create a German knight kit roughly around 1280 to the fall of acre in 1291. I have acquired a number of pieces of armor but ran across a question which I have to date been unable to answer. Did knights wear padded protection underneath the chainmail chausses or over them exclusively? I have seen references on effigies and other representations where knights wear what appears to be a padded upper leg armor. But I have not found any references to wearing padded garment underneath the chausses like an aketon which one would wear under their hauberk. Thanks in advance for any assistance.
Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
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Mart Shearer

Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

Posts: 1,302

PostPosted: Mon 22 Feb, 2016 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Although there is evidence for the gamboissed cuisses over the thigh from the first decade or two of the 13th century, there is no evidence for gamboissed chausses beneath the mail. The King's Mirror from c. 1250 gives this:
....gˇ­ar hosur ok linar, g÷rvar af blautu lÚrepti ok vel sv÷rtu­u, ok taki ■Šr alt til brˇkabeltis en utan yfir ■Šr gˇ­ar brynhosur....
....good hose and loose, made of soft linen canvas and well blacked, and take them up to the braies belt but outside them good mail hose...

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Gregory J. Liebau

Location: Dinuba, CA
Joined: 27 Nov 2004

Posts: 669

PostPosted: Mon 22 Feb, 2016 9:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Having considered the question a lot from a practical perspective, I think the trend that's erupted among Eastern European reenactment groups of using gamboised chausses beneath their leg harnesses is unfounded not only in a lack of sources but also from an analysis of historical priorities. The legs were the last major part of the body to be regularly armored by soldiers throughout the medieval period (with the exception of the hands). So, without any particular evidence to suggest that chausses were padded, we should not assume that mail was automatically expected to be worn over padding on the legs simply because it was common practice on the torso and arms. The legs were obviously considered less vital to protect than the upper body under normal circumstances, so it is reasonable to assume that their arming remained less developed without issue.

As far as the physiological argument goes, padding is simply less necessary on the legs. If a layer of stout mail protects the flesh of the leg from cuts and thrusts of sharpened weapons, then the mass of muscle and fatty tissues on the leg can bear a great deal of impact from blows without serious injury. Of course the knee is an exception to this statement, and also happens to be the area where we first see additional coverage in the form of rigid poleyns being worn over the chausses or gamboised cuisses.

Mail chausses should be worn over nice, stout linen or wool leggings and be well-fitted to the leg, and probably be pointed at the knee and ankle. This is all that we are sure of based on historical evidence.

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Philip Dyer

Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 507

PostPosted: Mon 22 Feb, 2016 8:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, the outside of the thighs as protect by the hauberk and lower ends of the gambeson or aketon. Really the only part that aren't well cushioned against shock are the lower legs. I think another consideration is how well fitting leg armor has to aviod to significantly reducing your ability to walk, crouch and run. having thickly padded hosen on the lower leg would make in more difficult to fit mail hosen or greaves around the lower leg. So much so that men that couldn't afford to ride to campaign often didn't wear lower leg armor because you are lifting the weight of the armor every time to you walk.
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Lafayette C Curtis

Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
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Posts: 2,698

PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2016 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Later panzerhosen were basically fabric hose with patches of mail sewn on. It's not impossible that earlier mail chausses could simply have had fabric backing (or maybe light padding) sewn onto them.
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