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James Rogers





Joined: 31 May 2010

Posts: 17

PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 5:17 am    Post subject: 15th century lower-grade armor for the limbs         Reply with quote

I'm currently trying to plan an early-to-mid 15th century harness for a professional soldier of a non-knightly class. I know from various sources that a brigandine would have been a likely form of torso protection for such a person instead of a plate cuirass, but every instance of hand, arm, leg, or foot protection I see dated to the 15th century is the most advanced plate-armor form of the day, which would have likely made it expensive and therefore less likely for a person not of extreme wealth and/or noble blood.

I've seen a lot of folks going for this kind of "economically middling" armor on 14th century portrayals, and using what appears to be splinted armor on the limbs, and gauntlets that are basically heavy gloves with plates riveted on, not the international hourglass pattern or later more complex forms. The only foot protection I see anywhere for this time frame is the sabaton; earlier medieval periods seem to turn up mail foot protection, but what I've seen from 15th century reenactors and makers is either plate or nothing on the feet.

Would the same 14th century style "sub-plate" grade of armor be inappropriate for an early-to-mid 15th century soldier of average means? Is there some other type of armor for the extremities and limbs that would have been common during that time period for those (like me) who couldn't afford custom-tailored plate elements?

Thanks for your help. Planning a series of purchases this intricate and expensive is pretty daunting, and I'm sure I'll have *lots* more questions to ask before I actually start buying anything.
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 8:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First of all, give us a year and a location. Like 1428 - Tüchersfed (that 's in Germany Wink ) (Damn those Hussites by the way!).
This way it will be a lot easier to show you period pieces.
Second click on this link here, download the 3gb and start searching. A big part of the extant pieces of armour from 1350-1500 can be found in it.
By doing so you will (hopefully) get something different and not wear the same armour everyone else does Happy
"professional soldier of a non-knightly class" - so a mercenary?
You are a professional soldier, why would you be wearing shitty armour and leftovers? You are not a peasant that gets forced to fight. Fighting is your job, therefore your equipment has to be good. You are not a citizen of a city that has to own armour and weapons but you are one that uses his.
So time and location and a bit more explanation what you want to re-enact.

Peter Happy
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 8:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not entirely sure when they came on the scene, but for arm defense, you might consider 'jack chains'. As I understand it, these were often worn by the common, lower-class soldiers who couldn't afford full plate arms. Happy ......McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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James Rogers





Joined: 31 May 2010

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PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 9:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Location: My ancestry is predominately English, with small bits of Italian and French thrown in. Given the totality of that, I would probably gravitate toward being of English descent, if not necessarily English in location. As you say, mercenary. They tend to move. I believe, from my limited study of such things, that mercenary companies would have been most active in northern Italy. I'm really open to recommendations on this front, because the research I've been doing has been partially focused on trying to avoid anything that would overtly tie me to one specific place. I don't know enough to avoid inadvertently combining two such things and rendering myself a walking anachronism, so my instinct is to play it safe by avoiding region-locked items, but that might not be possible.

As for time, I'm most interested in the window starting at Agincourt and ending around 1450, before the Wars of the Roses start. I don't know if that's too broad; I don't think the medieval world's material culture changed as rapidly as ours today, but it was still a constant process. Again, recommendations and advice are welcome. Overall, the options that cover the broadest range are of more interest to me just for the inherent "safety net of accuracy" they offer. Given that I have a fondness for barbute helmets and type XVIII swords, would it be best to aim for the later part of that window?

I don't necessarily want to end up with "shitty armor and leftovers," but I don't envision myself being wealthy enough to afford an elaborate set of custom-fitted plate. In part this is because I find that less aesthetic, and in part because everyone and his brother seems to enjoy portraying knights so I find it dull and overdone, but mostly it's just because I'm not wealthy enough IRL to afford custom-fit plate. With the exception of mail (which is nutso expensive for good quality), it seems like the stuff that was less expensive then is also less expensive now, and it would also be less weird to gradually add pieces to my kit just as a soldier beginning his career might gradually expand his equipment as he gains wealth. (And yes, I do want to avoid looking just like everyone else. Movies have given the illusion of standardization when there was none, and everyone likes to stand out a little anyway). I'm also compensating somewhat for the quality of gear by spending a slightly disproportionate amount on a weapon upfront; I'm starting with either a Kingmaker or Earl from Albion, so I won't look like peasant rabble even if the armor starts out on the minimalist side.

Also thank you for the link. I'm not in a position to download it right now, but if it's the giant compilation of images of period art and artifacts with verified dates that I think it is, that's exactly the resource I've been hunting for and I'll be downloading it ASAP. I've used that resource floating around detailing the armor types found on funeral effigies, but since only the very wealthy got funeral effigies at all, I think that was artificially selecting more toward the higher end of what was available at the time.

And yes, Mark, I'm familiar with jack chains and have them included in my list of possible routes to go. The issue there is how they would work with whatever armor's on my torso. I eventually want to get a brigandine, and I don't know if the padded jack would have been worn with that or not. I'm also not sure if the jack chains were compatible with spaulders attached to a brigandine, or if the jack to which they would be attached fits more into the "aketon under armor" or "gambeson over armor" category. If you've got any insight into that barrage of unknowns, I welcome it. I've found very little information on jack chains.
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 9:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've seen jack chains made with large shoulder and elbow plates built-in and connected with smaller plates. I've never really seen them worn with anything but a gambeson. I don't see why they wouldn't work with a sleeveless brig, if it has points to tie onto. This style of armor is really not a strong point of my knowledge...of which I have little of anything. Laughing Out Loud ...McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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James Rogers





Joined: 31 May 2010

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PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote



I can't tell if this is a brigandine or not, but if they were worn with any kind of chest/back protective garment over the jack, I'd reckon a brigandine was okay. This particular image makes me wonder if the jack chains would be compatible with spaulders attached to the brig, since these chains don't seem to offer any direct protection to the shoulders, they just point there.
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Peter Spätling
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 10:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"starting at Agincourt and ending around 1450" - so you want to cover a period of 35 years in one display. That 's not possible. A more obvious example. Take a late gothic suit from 1490 and a Riefelharnisch from 1525 - 35 years apart. They look completely different, the clothing is completely different, basically everything has changed after 35 years. (Well not really, but a great deal) Same goes for the year 1415 and the year 1450.
If you want to wear a barbute you _have_ to display an Italian soldier. Most of the time you see barbutes being worn with something like a shield, spear and greaves, sometimes also a cuirass. This is an infantry helmet, of course riders had them as well. But it 's not such a good idea to fight on horseback with a barbute....

As for briganindes, if it is east of the Rhine, there basically were no brigandines, so you have to stay in England/France/Swiss/Italy. A good brigandine is expensive, don't get fouled by the idea that these were "middle class" armours. They are heavy, offer great protection and cost quite a deal. If we are talking about brigandines like this one. Earlier coat of plates types are different.

From what you wrote I assume you are from the US. Therefore it doesn't really matter what you re-enact. If you were somewhere in Europe I'd tell you to make something regional.

A good soft kit at the beginning is very important. I'm going to have a new suit of armour. But before I will sew lots of clothing (even though I hate sewing). Pinpoint your time and location and get good clothing. Hosen, shirt, doublet, skirt, hat, shoes and so on. You can wear the hosen, shirt and doublet beneath your armour. Put a jacket above your doublet and no one will notice that your doublet got a bit dirty because of your armour Wink

What you can always wear as a soldier is a helmet. Helmets were mass produced, just like breastplates and even if you get a custom fit piece it is not really unhistorical as "back then" you bought the pieces of armour that fitted you. If you couldn't find fitting armour you went on to the next merchant that had a breastplate/arm harness/... that did fit you. Of course custom fit is always the best solution but a floating couter for example can fit a lot of people. A pair of greaves on the other hand will be harder but still doable.

Try figuring out a year and place you want to display first.
We already know that you are going to be a mercenary. But when and where?
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James Rogers





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PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If 35 years is too broad for the rate of change at that point in history, what is an acceptable range? Do most living historians pick a particular event and dress to that? My only experience with living history here in the US is tied to the French and Indian War era (Seven Years War for Europeans, I believe they were the same conflict), so over here we can span about a decade safely with the same clothing and equipment.

I knew the barbute was of Italian origin, but wasn't aware that it never really went elsewhere. Was it just not popular because of the lack of visor?

Given my heritage and the presumably greater number of sources available in English, I'll likely stick with an Englishman. That would mean involvement in the Hundred Years War at the earliest part of my window of interest, and the beginning of the Wars of the Roses at the end. I know, however, that mercenaries fought outside their own countries; John Hawkwood comes to mind, an Englishman leading a group of multicultural (including German?) mercenaries fighting in Italy. According to Wikipedia (yeah, not a real source, but it helps as a quick reference) the free companies like that were pretty much gone by the mid-1400s, but I don't know how prevalent they were in the early 1400s. That might affect the time I'd prefer to portray, as a mercenary abroad would presumably create more freedom when it comes to equipment choices.

I was specifically thinking of going for an infantryman, too, I should have mentioned that. Even if I liked riding on the back of an animal heavy enough to crush my bones and jumpy enough to get scared by an empty candy wrapper on the ground, I have no horse and definitely no one willing to let me ride one in armor. XD This means I'm also looking toward some kind of polearm in the ensemble, though I haven't decided what kind.

As for order of equipment purchase, I know I need the soft kit first. I'm not sure if we're allowed to link/reference specific sellers here, but I've found a company out of Poland that offers the basic undergarments (hosen, braies, shirt, doublets, etc) and even packages them in "starter kits." I just want to fully plan out how my armor purchases will go so I know upfront what kind of points I'll need and how they'll be used. Wouldn't want to have to replace any expensive things later because they lack the ties needed to put my fancy new greaves on! I'm also not sure at this point whether I need an arming doublet or a padded aketon as the layer immediately over the shirt. Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria indicated that a mail shirt was commonly worn under a brigandine for common soldiers at the time, which would mean some padding is needed, but that seems to preclude most of the dedicated harness elements for the limbs. (I'm also not sure that seems like a good idea in the first place, since mail under the brigandine wouldn't be contributing a whole lot while still weighing a ton and costing a lot to purchase).

Since you also mention making your own clothes, and I don't have a ton of money to throw at this, is there a good resource for patterns for those basic garments? And maybe a tutorial on period-correct hand stitching?

(I was also not aware that helmets and such were ready-made and you just bought to fit. That helps explain why some plated elements like that were indeed so common).

Thanks for the help so far, quite informative.
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Peter Spätling
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Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Aug, 2017 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In Germany the biggest 15. century scene is the year 1475. Charles the bold besieged the city of Neuss in the year 1474, for about a year. Emperor Friedrich III. ordered that the cities send troops to break the siege. So you can basically pick your home town or a city nearby which sent troops and portray a citizen or mercenary in the service of said town. As for the space of time most try to use stuff + - 5 years. So 1470-1480. But if you have a hat from 1467 no one is really going to complain. Right now there are bigger problems we need to take care of.

The barbute became popular in Italy because of the Renaissance which started there. The barbutes are inspired by greek helmets, which is also the reason why the Italians started to fight with spear, shield and greaves.

As for the maille - aketon thing. I'll wear a complete maille shirt made by this guy beneath my armour. My arming doublet will be made of two layers of linen. Keep in mind that every layer of textile you add, needs to be moved. A thicker garment moves the armour away from your body and the textile needs to be compressed if you bend your arm for example so it 's more exhausting. It also heats you up.

"is there a good resource for patterns for those basic garments?" There is a German book called "Um 1504", however it is quite late. To late for you, but the patterns can be adjusted for 1-2 decades earlier but not half a century earlier. I'm sure someone here knows more about sewing.
If you let someone make your clothing do not let them add the arming points for your armour. Do these yourself, it is not so complicated and they will be in the right spot afterwards. You also save some money.

"helmets and such were ready-made and you just bought to fit" EVERY piece of armour, except for tournament equipment I guess, could be bought.

So lets say you are from England. And now, what time?
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Alan E




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Mon 21 Aug, 2017 5:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For what mercenaries may have been employed doing in England "between Agincourt and the HYW", take a look at the Paston Letters. https://www.amazon.com/Medieval-Family-Pastons-Fifteenth-Century-England/dp/0060172649/ref=sr_1_5?s=books is a reasonable starting point.
Member of Exiles Medieval Martial Arts.
Currently teaching Fiore's art in Ceredigion
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Jon Makar




Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 6:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a great pattern book for the Charles de Blois pourpoint, which would work for the early 15th century:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/...44252.html

The author also has a great site with a plethora of information concerning the garment, and well as articles about other garments.

http://cottesimple.com/articles/
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James Rogers





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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter: After a lot of reading over the last few days, I believe I've settled on Agincourt in 1415 for my moment in time. I could go for either side of the conflict genetically (thank you, French Huguenot immigrants), but since the majority of my ancestry is English I'll go with that. (From what I know of the war I think the French were more justified there, but realistically I wouldn't have had much choice of side at that point in history).

As for attaching arming points to clothes, that does sound like a better option. Presumably these would *not* be attached to true padded armor, but to an unpadded or minimally padded arming doublet, yes? That should make the sewing easier.

Do you know anything about the difficulty and expense of making one's own mail? I've found some fine craftsmen that make historically accurate riveted mail, but the prices are so insane I can't justify it. Evidently this is mostly due to time involved, so if I could find a source of quality rings and a way to do my own rivets, it might be easier just to make my own haubergeon.

Jon: Ah, I didn't realize that particular pourpoint would work for early 15th. It looks *extremely* comfortable and mobile from what I've seen of it, so I'm glad to hear it's usable. Would adding a raised collar to it be appropriate? It seems like that would be more comfortable, especially with a mail standard around the neck. What about dyes, too? Is it feasible to get it in a color other than the natural tan?
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Jon Makar




Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 8:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It appears that, rather than a raised collar being added, the would have a padded and/or lightly quilted collar that a short maille collar would be seen directly on to. Somebody correct me if I am wrong. Also, while it is likely that this type of pourpoint was used as an arming garment, I am not sure how late it is used, for, as you pointed out, thinner arming doublets seemed to be where the trend was headed, as full plate harness had little need for padded pourpoint beneath.

Lastly, and most significant to the point I made about the trend being to point to thinner doublets: on the website of the author of the pattern book that I linked above, she claims to have been allowed a closer look at the de Blois pourpoint, and says that the manequin is not of human proportions, and that it is a manequin that fully fills out the inside of the garment, making it appear, firstly, perfectly body formed, which is impossible, as then the grand assiette sleeves and other tailoring would be rendered useless (i.e. if the garment were on a real human form, we would expect a baggy look at the elbows and in the armpits). Secondly, it appears that Charles de Blois was REALLY thin and sucked in his stomach when he wore the garment (the garment on display was made of printed silk, and so was a civilian version of a garment that was thought to have originated as an arming pourpoint). The puffed out looking chest of the garment was not because there was extra padding on the chest, but because of the shape of his body/how he held his body. Therefore, one made for practical military purpose would be made from a few layers of densely woven linen between an inner and outer shell. You may also opt for a thin layer of batting or tow between the shells depending on the price.

Just food for thought if you intend on making the garment.
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Peter Spätling
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@Jon Makar about the sucking in of his stomach. You don't need to. I am (according to a lot of people) very thin. When I put my arming doublet on I get a waist like it can be seen on 1470s doublets. REALLY tight. It just comes down to the construction of the garment. Most modern doublets are far to wide, you have a lot of room in your waist which can be squeezed, without impeding your ability to breath at all.
Little note: If someone of you guys wants to sew himself an arming doublet. Get those grand assiette sleeves otherwise you can't lift your arm. The cuirass sits in the waist. The grand assiettes give you enough textile that can "unfold" (it doesn't really unfold but there is textile that can move in the right manner). If you use a modern t-shirt pattern the arm will start pulling up the textile at your waist. Which won't move as the cuiass keeps it in place. Try this on your own. Put on a t-shirt and lift up your arm. In front of a mirror you can see how the whole shirt is lifted. (Unless your t-shirt is far too wide)

@James Rogers check out Ian LaSpinas youtube channel. His stuff is from 1400 but close to your time.
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James Rogers





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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 11:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The assiette sleeves are something I've been leaning toward doing, so long as I could make sure they were accurate to the rest of the kit. My modern-tailored clothes piss me off, preventing me from raising my arms just during normal activities. The thought of trying to fight in a modern suit jacket sounds like some variant of hell. (I seem to remember hearing that the actors playing James Bond are often given totally different jackets for scenes where his arms are lifted; it wouldn't surprise me)

I've watched nearly everything Ian's got posted. Big Grin Somehow I thought his gear was older, but it's good to know it should be at least somewhat similar to what I'm doing.

As for armor on the upper legs and arms, especially, I see the most variation in 14th century equipment largely thanks to splinted armor. It seems like that was pretty much phased out by 1400, though. It strikes me as a little unusual that there would only really be plate leg/arm harness and only one type of gauntlet (international hourglass) fielded at a battle, but I guess those designs had been pretty proven by that point in history and not yet significantly improved on. In other words, splint armor and Visby style gauntlets would have been proven so inferior that no one in the early 15th c would have worn them, by my understanding, which means that any accurate kit for a reasonably well-equipped man would have full plate protection on the arms and legs. Less well-equipped men (like the commoners comprising most of the English army's longbowmen) would presumably just not have those extremities armored at all, or perhaps covered by a mail shirt and nothing else. Does that understanding sound accurate?

And another question, in the line of "not looking like everyone else." In older centuries when mail was the primary defense, tabards and other over-mail garments could provide some individualization. Was there any kind of visible garment worn with late 14th or early 15th century armor that filled a similar purpose for identification and expression, or did people look a bit more...faceless?
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Jon Makar




Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Speaking of "gaining a face" on the field, it appears that one of the best ways people made their harness stand out was via differing visor designs, shapes, and details. From different styles of ocular, to different shapes of "pig face", and, in certain regions, like Germany, even the retaining of the klappvisor form of visor attachment (as opposed to side pivot) well into the early couple decades of the 15th century (correct me if I'm wrong).

The other thing that people used to stand out were different styles and colours of "jupons", worn in a variety of configurations. The English tended to cover their entire breastplate and arm harness with a large, quilted jupon that was fashioned similarly to the pourpoint (but obviously much larger to accommodate the harness). Germans, on the other hand, tended to wear jupons that had long, trailing sleeves with scalloped or slit fringes along their edges. These German jupons were worn under the Cuirass/breastplate and over the arm harness, so that the bottom fringes poked out from under the faulds and the decorative sleeves were visible.

Speaking of plate lame faulds, some harnesses had them, while others only had a maille skirt, and some northern harnesses had faulds of scaled, overlapping plates.

You gauntlets can set you apart in a variety of ways, from types of rivets (some large or decorative), to knuckle shape (rounded or squared off). Around 1420, gauntlets with elongated, and smoother knuckle plates began to be used (to cover a little more of the fingers), paired with the finger style where there were small plates along the length of the finger were used. This is sort of seen as a transition between the earlier hourglass and later Milanese gothic style gauntlets.

Last thing I can think of is the use of decorative brass on the visor, face opening of the bascinet, counters/poleyns, and/or gauntlets.

Oh, and your plaque belt!

As far as actually identifying one on the field, that was the duty of the standard bearer or one's shield, and respective heraldic estucheon.

I would suggest looking on:

www.effigiesandbrasses.com

Entering your preferred time period(s) and region(s) in the advanced search.

P.s. Peter Spätling
I haven't quite made my pourpoint yet, as I am finishing up my Masters, so I wouldn't know exactly how it was supposed to feel when worn, but the author of the website did claim that either de Blois was scrawny or sucked it in! I think her main point pertaining to the appearance of the pourpoint in real life vs. in pictures was that it was certain that there wasn't extra padding in the chest region, contrary to what was believed in the past, and that the wasp waisted shape was more the shape of the man beneath than the chest of the pourpoint being extra puffy.
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Peter Spätling
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@Jon Makar I understand what you mean. But with a slim figure and some good tailloring you can get a pourpoint look like the one of Charles. Modern tailors are used to completely different clothing, such wasp waists as they can be seen in the late middle ages are no longer in use, therefore the eye will end up telling you, "hmm.. this might be uncomfortable". But it isn't, if you wear such cloth on a daily base your body gets shaped a bit (just a bit) and the rest is just flesh and a few organs which can be pushed aside easily. The big chest area is also needed for breathing. So big chest, tight waist, not so magical in the end ^^ Modern people are often just to fat :/
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Jon Makar




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think we are at more or less of an accord! I totally agree that this is how the garment was meant to be tailored. I was just contradicting the previous belief that there were extra layers of padding in the chest area to make it appear larger (a number of pattern books and versions of the pourpoint that you can buy online require/have this extra padding), but, as you point out, it is merely the contrast between the tailoring of the chest and waist that gives this appearance!
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Spätling wrote:
@Jon Makar I understand what you mean. But with a slim figure and some good tailloring you can get a pourpoint look like the one of Charles. Modern tailors are used to completely different clothing, such wasp waists as they can be seen in the late middle ages are no longer in use, therefore the eye will end up telling you, "hmm.. this might be uncomfortable". But it isn't, if you wear such cloth on a daily base your body gets shaped a bit (just a bit) and the rest is just flesh and a few organs which can be pushed aside easily. The big chest area is also needed for breathing. So big chest, tight waist, not so magical in the end ^^ Modern people are often just to fat :/

Ummm, study of what corsets did to Victoria women's bodies sorta show that having your organs pushed aside is something to be concerned about.
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Jon Makar




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Aug, 2017 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It appears not to be nearly as extreme as a Victorian bodice - more along the lines of the body, where the waist of the garment are thinner than the waist, which allows the garment to rest on your hips, allowing leg harness to be hanged from points along the lower edges of it. This prevents the leg harness from pulling at your shoulders, which would unnecessary fatigue you. (Forgive me if you already knew this, but my pattern book and what you see in manuscripts does not suggest the pourpoint is "too tight" in the waist)
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