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Joshua McGee





Joined: 14 Jun 2011

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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2017 11:56 am    Post subject: Gambesons and Mail         Reply with quote

Where did the idea come from that soldiers in the 13th and early 14th centuries wore gambesons under mail as a double layer defense? All of the period artwork seems to show men wearing gambesons OR mail, not both; under mail it looks like just tunics are worn in period depictions, as in the Maciejowski Bible. We know that later lightly padded arming jackets are worn under plate (Charles de Blois Pourpoint, etc), but is there any sort of historical evidence of gambesons being worn under mail in earlier periods? If not, then where did people get this idea?

King Saul is pointing here saying "look bro, just a tunic under there."


Here is a padded garment OVER mail.


Where did people get the idea that one of these was underneath the mail armoured soldiers' hauberks?
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2017 12:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Gambesons and Mail         Reply with quote

Joshua McGee wrote:
Where did the idea come from that soldiers in the 13th and early 14th centuries wore gambesons under mail as a double layer defense? All of the period artwork seems to show men wearing gambesons OR mail, not both; under mail it looks like just tunics are worn in period depictions, as in the Maciejowski Bible. We know that later lightly padded arming jackets are worn under plate (Charles de Blois Pourpoint, etc), but is there any sort of historical evidence of gambesons being worn under mail in earlier periods? If not, then where did people get this idea?

King Saul is pointing here saying "look bro, just a tunic under there."


Here is a padded garment OVER mail.


Where did people get the idea that one of these was underneath the mail armored soldiers' hauberks?

Because that is only one source. Read the Kings mirror, it talks about wearing a lightly padded garment underneath mail and heavily padded sleeveless garment above mail. Above and next to the body he should wear a soft gambeson, which need not come lower than to the middle of the thigh http://deremilitari.org/2014/04/medieval-warf...gian-text/
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2017 12:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All I wear under my mail is a thick cotton tunic with a padded, high collar gorget. Anything I wear OVER it depends on the weather....I live in Texas, so.....there ya go. If anything over it, maybe just a belted tabard. Happy I've found that gambesons underneath mail make it harder for me to move. But....that's just me. Happy ........McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Joshua McGee





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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2017 6:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Gambesons and Mail         Reply with quote

[/quote]
Because that is only one source. Read the Kings mirror, it talks about wearing a lightly padded garment underneath mail and heavily padded sleeveless garment above mail. Above and next to the body he should wear a soft gambeson, which need not come lower than to the middle of the thigh http://deremilitari.org/2014/04/medieval-warf...t/[/quote]

What is the original word translated as "soft gambeson" in the Norwegian text? In any case, this garment is likely not the big puffy padded one that we see in so much reenactment. Are there any examples in period art of a quilted/padded/layered garment worn under mail during the 13th century? The translated text also talks about breastplates, blackened gambesons, and visored helms, which seem odd for 13th century.

Also, the Mac Bible IS just one source, but it was one source that had everything I was talking about in one package. There are many examples of period art that show what looks like mail being worn over a tunic and some examples of a sleeveless or short sleeved padded garment worn on top of mail rather than under it, in this earlier period.

Dudes on the right






No thick gambeson under here
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2017 6:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since we can't see beneath the surcoats and mail in miniatures or statuary, we have to look for literary descriptions. From the last few decades of the 12th century, we start reading of aketons and hauberks used together. A number of early 13th century descriptions such as the King's Mirror, mentioned above, or Diu Crne mention textile armours worn both beneath and above the hauberk:

Aliscans, 1180-1190
The baron throws it with great force
and it tears the brilliant hauberk (hauberc)
and pierces the aketon (auketon)
it even tears the vermilion gown (ciglaton)
and pierces the chest as far as the lungs.


Diu Crne, 1220-1230
When the time came the following morning for every man to get ready for the tournament, many were plainly concerned with the contests ahead, because they dressed slowly and with care. They put on mail chausses (hosen), knee cops (schellier) over them, then a gambeson (wambeis) and a collar (collier). They had to have a hauberk (halsperc), of course, and two or three squires to tie on the coif (coifen) and arrange the armor (wfen) so that it fit well. After that they needed a plate in front of their chest (vr die brst ein blat): they had to have one in the arena since it was very useful in a joust. After everything was covered by a gambeson (wambeis) or a silk surcoat (wfenroc sdn), they were indeed dressed like knights.

King's Mirror/Speculum Regale/Konungs-skuggsj, c. 1250
Above and next to the body he should wear a soft gambeson (blautan panzara), which need not come lower than to the middle of the thigh. Over this he must have good breast-plates (gar brjstbjrg) made of good iron covering the body from the nipples to the trousers belt ; outside this, a well-made hauberk (gar brynju) and over the hauberk (brynju) a good gambeson (gan panzara) made in the manner which I have already described but without sleeves.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Jan, 2017 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It might be worth considering the early 14th century Modus armandi milites, "How a knight shall be armed" text.

For Tournament, Deinde aketoun, et deinde camisia de Chartres - Then the aketon, then the chemise of Chartres. So the aketon is worn beneath a shirt.
For War, aketoun, plates de Alemayne ou autres cum, aketoun ut supra - aketon, with German pairs of plates or other, an aketon above. So two aketons, one beneath the pair of plates, and another above it.
For the Joust: aketoun, haubert, gambisoun, aketon, hauberk, and gambeson.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Joshua McGee





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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 2:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is there any indication that the aketon was padded, layered, or quilted though? In any case it doesn't seem that it was a thick full on gambeson. Do we even have any idea what an aketon really was?
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 4:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I know, the 1296 Paris Armourer's Ordinances are the earliest detailed description for making gambesons. Fabric coverings are filled with cotton and rags, with a minimum weight given, but not a thickness given.
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k55440899/f329.item.zoom

The 1320 London Armourer's Ordinance listed in ffoulkes also gives detail of the filling material for aketons and gambesons, but the distinction isn't between aketons and gambesons, but between white ones and colored ones which used silk.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 9:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Based on art, I think we see aketons, and they weren't quilted, at least not in 12th and early 13th century. We often see end of sleeves, hems or even whole garments worn under mail and we don't see any quilting lines. But we often see a differently coloured second layer of the same garment underneath. So I would say aketons weren't quilted in the 12th and early 13th century, but the were layered and probably made of quite thick cloth. I wear an aketon of two layers of linen and I find it enough for under mail. Especially with another layer or even two of linen underneath from regular tunic and sometimes undertunic.
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Joshua McGee





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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 1:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Based on art, I think we see aketons, and they weren't quilted, at least not in 12th and early 13th century. We often see end of sleeves, hems or even whole garments worn under mail and we don't see any quilting lines. But we often see a differently coloured second layer of the same garment underneath. So I would say aketons weren't quilted in the 12th and early 13th century, but the were layered and probably made of quite thick cloth. I wear an aketon of two layers of linen and I find it enough for under mail. Especially with another layer or even two of linen underneath from regular tunic and sometimes undertunic.


This right here is kind of what conclusion I have arrived at as well.
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would still suggest a padded gorget for comfort's sake. It really does help distribute the weight of the mail, especially when the mail is belted at the waist. It may not be 100% correct, but it sure will save you aches and pains from wearing heavy mail for extended periods of time. Get one large enough to cover your shoulders and the mail will drape off of this. You barely even notice the weight, and there is zero interference with bodily movement. Just my two cents... Happy ....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
I would still suggest a padded gorget for comfort's sake. It really does help distribute the weight of the mail, especially when the mail is belted at the waist. It may not be 100% correct, but it sure will save you aches and pains from wearing heavy mail for extended periods of time. Get one large enough to cover your shoulders and the mail will drape off of this. You barely even notice the weight, and there is zero interference with bodily movement. Just my two cents... Happy ....McM

That can still be apadded aketon or gambeson, just not heavy moving blanket thickness . I concur with your sentiment as well. But wearing gambeson thick enough to work as independent armor wasn't worn under mail because that can be extremely hot and restrict movement. But something can still be padded or quilted without being Tire ad man thickness.
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Joshua McGee





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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 3:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Mark Moore wrote:
I would still suggest a padded gorget for comfort's sake. It really does help distribute the weight of the mail, especially when the mail is belted at the waist. It may not be 100% correct, but it sure will save you aches and pains from wearing heavy mail for extended periods of time. Get one large enough to cover your shoulders and the mail will drape off of this. You barely even notice the weight, and there is zero interference with bodily movement. Just my two cents... Happy ....McM

That can still be apadded aketon or gambeson, just not heavy moving blanket thickness . I concur with your sentiment as well. But wearing gambeson thick enough to work as independent armor wasn't worn under mail because that can be extremely hot and restrict movement. But something can still be padded or quilted without being Tire ad man thickness.


Right, so where did the idea come from that people DID do that and adopted the practice in the reenactment community?
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 5:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have no in-depth answer for you....I was just stating what works for ME. My suggestions might as well be a hiccup in the wind. Thanks....McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 5:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Dublin leather fragment, dated by archaeological context to 1150-1190 shows clear signs of being stitched through.


The Baptismal Font from San Giovanni, Verona Italy dates to c. 1200 and might show aketons over tunics. If so, the short length might explain why they are rarely seen once the mail is put on.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Verona_San_Giovanni_in_Fonte_-_Taufbecken_Kindermord_in_Bethlehem.jpg (larger image)

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Joshua McGee





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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 6:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great find Mart, something like this is exactly what I was looking for.
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Mon 30 Jan, 2017 6:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
The Baptismal Font from San Giovanni, Verona Italy dates to c. 1200 and might show aketons over tunics. If so, the short length might explain why they are rarely seen once the mail is put on.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Verona_San_Giovanni_in_Fonte_-_Taufbecken_Kindermord_in_Bethlehem.jpg (larger image)


That's the Massacre of the Innocents, so be careful--the soldiers might be dressed in something fanciful to make them "Roman" or "ancient". I'd be leery of using whatever they're wearing as evidence for something historical.

Matthew
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jan, 2017 3:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Mart Shearer wrote:
The Baptismal Font from San Giovanni, Verona Italy dates to c. 1200 and might show aketons over tunics. If so, the short length might explain why they are rarely seen once the mail is put on.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Verona_San_Giovanni_in_Fonte_-_Taufbecken_Kindermord_in_Bethlehem.jpg (larger image)


That's the Massacre of the Innocents, so be careful--the soldiers might be dressed in something fanciful to make them "Roman" or "ancient". I'd be leery of using whatever they're wearing as evidence for something historical.

Matthew


The rest of the clothing and swords look ok. It is no definite proof, but it would explain why we don't see quilted aketons protruding from under mail...
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Joshua McGee





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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jan, 2017 3:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah I thought that at first too, but the swords and rest of the clothing look pretty 12th c.-early 13th c.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 31 Jan, 2017 4:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Be careful when casting aside literary sources for art. Laws like Mart posted are well.... laws. In essence in this period if you make a law like Mart posted selling anything other than that in town would be illegal. And suffer major consequence, like being ejected from sales forever in a town or later the pillory.

That said we have enough text to know that it was done. For me, I feel much more confident in text than art, especially legal and such docs. There is just no comparison. Now does that mean it was always done.... I do not think so. Earlier I suspect less likely to be.

By the 14th century we know mail shirts with an aketon or later a pair of plates with one is the default. As well we know aketons were rejected in England for being defective, which means these things were checked and verified (as well could nto be a simple tunic unless the guys showed up naked.... unlikely). By this period if you showed up without the aketon and mail shirt I suspect the fines came into play. I have a listing of people fined for not having equipment.

Best,

RPM
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