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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Chicken or the Egg: Reply to topic
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Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2016 8:02 pm    Post subject: Chicken or the Egg:         Reply with quote

Just interested want do ya'll think was more driving influence from mostly mail to mostly plate for the most well off in the 14th century. Did the development of more powerful, larger, more precise weapons spur the development armor, or did the development of better armor drove the development of more percise, or larger, more powerful weapons?
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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Thu 19 May, 2016 9:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Certain advancements in metallurgy and, probably even more importantly, centralization of industry and economy. Plate simply became cost effective.
The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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John Hardy




Location: Saskatoon SK Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 3:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Certain advancements in metallurgy and, probably even more importantly, centralization of industry and economy. Plate simply became cost effective.


Yes, I think the armour came first. Just like with the development of antitank guns in the WW1 to Korean War era -- nobody upgunned while the existing weapons would punch adequate holes in anything the enemy had. They did so when the shells started bouncing off the next gen tanks.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 5:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is some support for the idea that the armour did precede changes in arms from manuscript evidence. It's not until quite late, post 1370 AD if I recall correctly, that swords are mostly represented with thin points consistent with Type XV, XVa and XVII swords. Assuming this is accurate to reality, that means that a surprising number of warriors were still using Type XII and Type XVI family blades in the 1350's and 60's.

Likewise, there is evidence for early forms of coats-of-plates prior to any confirmed examples of Type XV swords, XIVs, and XVIs. Although mail seems to have predominated throughout the century, transitions in armour seemed to have preceded transformations in swords. However, it is worth notimg that swords with points acute enough to pierce the articulations of full plate, the XV family, predate full plate.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 2:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No sword can punch through plate. It doesn't matter what kind of point or geometry it has. The new sword types must have been developed for some other reason. If they were designed to punch through the gaps in plate then they were really designed to punch through mail. If this is the case then why were they not developed when mail covered all of the body?
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 2:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I must agree with Mikko to a point. Advances in metallurgy drastically lowered the cost of sheet iron and alloys. However to argue this change alone ignores significant changes in labour cost associated with the Black Death wiping out huge swathes of the population. More importantly, this line of argument - technological determinism - is deeply flawed in the study of 14thC European history.

The very nature of warfare began to change in the early 14thC, from cavalry accustomed to the safety of presumed ransom if captured to absolute slaughter by base infantry. (see Kelly DeVries numerous books and papers) Military professionalism also accounts for some of the rapid changes in demand for more complete but manageable improvements in protection. These are social constructs.

The concept of a medieval "arms race" is fairly dated by today's state of historical research, as well as being somewhat anachronistic.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 2:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Isn't this covered in the Mail Unchained article. I've seen some criticism of the article but there hasn't been any criticism of that part.
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 2:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Isn't this covered in the Mail Unchained article. I've seen some criticism of the article but there hasn't been any criticism of that part.


Sorry Dan, that wasn't directed at you. My comments were for the OP and Craig Peters.

You probably did cover it, I haven't read the article in a while although I regularly point folks at it.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry back at you Kel. It wasn't directed at you but rather it was a general response to the OP. The last section is called "Plate Development" and answers the OPs question. To summarise, as you said, it was a combination of technological and social developments.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 20 May, 2016 6:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
No sword can punch through plate. It doesn't matter what kind of point or geometry it has. The new sword types must have been developed for some other reason. If they were designed to punch through the gaps in plate then they were really designed to punch through mail. If this is the case then why were they not developed when mail covered all of the body?


It seems to me that XV type swords may well have developed as a response to coats of plates and mail paired together. However, Kel's point about the idea of an "arms race" as being an antiquated form of thinking and anachronistic seems valid, so perhaps my hypothesis should be discarded. This would be especially true if cutting oriented swords did, in fact, remain common after the proliferation of the coat of plates.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 21 May, 2016 12:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
It seems to me that XV type swords may well have developed as a response to coats of plates and mail paired together.

You can't cut through mail with a sword. You can't cut through plate with a sword. A thrusting sword is better against mail alone than a combination of mail and plate.

Quote:
This would be especially true if cutting oriented swords did, in fact, remain common after the proliferation of the coat of plates.

Cutting swords are just as useless against mail. Why didn't these thrusting swords develop when mail was the dominant armour?

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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
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PostPosted: Sat 21 May, 2016 3:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kel Rekuta wrote:
I must agree with Mikko to a point. Advances in metallurgy drastically lowered the cost of sheet iron and alloys. However to argue this change alone ignores significant changes in labour cost associated with the Black Death wiping out huge swathes of the population. More importantly, this line of argument - technological determinism - is deeply flawed in the study of 14thC European history.

The very nature of warfare began to change in the early 14thC, from cavalry accustomed to the safety of presumed ransom if captured to absolute slaughter by base infantry. (see Kelly DeVries numerous books and papers) Military professionalism also accounts for some of the rapid changes in demand for more complete but manageable improvements in protection. These are social constructs.

The concept of a medieval "arms race" is fairly dated by today's state of historical research, as well as being somewhat anachronistic.

Oh, I agree entirely! Nothing happens in a vacuum, and social factors influence everything people do, to a far greater degree than is often realized or admitted. It was just late (enough so to be early) and I wanted to post something snappy, is all. Happy

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Michael Kelly





Joined: 22 Sep 2015

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PostPosted: Sat 21 May, 2016 3:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have limited knowledge in this and am likely wrong. But while I believe few historical changes can be boiled down to single factors, if I had to say 'this is why' I would say cost. It is my understanding that advances in metallurgy and metal working eventually led to plate being less costly in both time and money to produce than chainmail. From the little practical experiments I've seen or heard about it doesn't appear that plate really offered significantly more protection over chainmail... Which really surprised me.
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sat 21 May, 2016 12:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Kelly wrote:
I believe few historical changes can be boiled down to single factors.


Do you happen to be the narrator of Air Crash Investigation? Razz


Another consideration for people in this thread: Is it possible that armor worked even when it didn't? Seeing a guy with some form of torso protection an assailant might be more inclined to try an attack unarmored locations such as the limbs or head without even testing or jabbing to see if the protection would stop his attacks.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 21 May, 2016 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieter B. wrote:
...Another consideration for people in this thread: Is it possible that armor worked even when it didn't? Seeing a guy with some form of torso protection an assailant might be more inclined to try an attack unarmored locations such as the limbs or head without even testing or jabbing to see if the protection would stop his attacks.


Absolutely! I've been saying for years that you don't (as a rule) try to go *through* armor, you go AROUND it. Because you *might* get through, IF you are really lucky, and hit full force, and hit squarely, and have the right weapon for the job in the first place. But you'll have to hit a lot harder, meaning you tire yourself out more quickly, and you'll probably be telegraphing your moves as well.

Armor doesn't have to be *good* to be effective. It limits your opponents options.

Matthew
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 21 May, 2016 5:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Wisby battlefield has been discussed here before. We have dozens and dozens of wounds on many bodies yet there isn't a single one on the torso. Either body armour was invulnerable to the weapons of the time or people simply didn't attack the torso because of the presence of armour. IMO it was a bit of both.
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sat 21 May, 2016 7:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, two things, soft tissue damage like being speared in the gut wouldn't show up on remains. Secondly, Any decent sized shield does a damn good at protecting your torso so even if your where not armored in the torso, so there is an incentive to aim for the neck, limbs, arms and head even if you are lacking decent torso armour.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 21 May, 2016 11:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Well, two things, soft tissue damage like being speared in the gut wouldn't show up on remains.

So the weapons magically avoided leaving a scratch on every rib and every spine?

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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Sun 22 May, 2016 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How lethal are gut wounds anyways? Outside of getting hit in a major blood vessel or getting something like your liver punctured there doesn't seem to be an awful lot there that would instantly render you dead or incapacitated. A lot of people get stabbed in the gut in modern knife attacks don't they?
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Joe Pittman




Location: Memphis, Tenn.
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PostPosted: Sun 22 May, 2016 5:25 pm    Post subject: Intestines are guts         Reply with quote

And any puncture of the intestines goes septic very quickly and the dying is slow and painful
Long Life
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