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William P

Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,522

PostPosted: Sat 30 Jun, 2018 10:16 am    Post subject: the ways armour keeps you alive         Reply with quote

so, with the winterfest medievalk fair incoming, theres a concept i want to get in my head about armour so i can boil it down a bit to explain to laypeople
so i wanna run it by you guys and make sure im more or less on the right track
and this concept is twofold

the first is one genius little thing about being increasingly armoured is that, while its always possible to get through/ around said armour, to do so will always make your opponents job harder

for example skallagrim showed samples of gambeson material being cut by reasonably sharp swords, which failed mostly, it took a sword that was literally shaving sharp to cut it, and that was cheap gambeson material

i know one person argued that youd have a broken clavicle, but the alternative was much worse i.e the sword or axe burying itself in your ribcage,
and when he went the next level up in quality, even the razor sharp sword struggled to cut it and to put in harder cuts is less ideal since you have to step in which is slower, commit more energy to the cut which cuts down on your ability to recover if you dont land your cut and he counters.

of coujrse the best thing to do is go around the armour, but this, AGAIN is a less efficient move, halfswording to stab through the voiders on a suit of gothic plate means you have to commit a lot of force, shorten your weapon which is something that ideally you shouldnt do. and also by having to go around armour, it means you have a limited number of places you can attack, and if youre, for sake of argument just in tunic and hose, the dude in armour can just leasurely cut and thrust at you at full extension.

one thing i realised but wanted to confer with others is that in order to make a weapon more suitable to bust through resistive material, you start making it less lethal to the person underneath,
example, most blade start broad and thin, good for slicing as a blade enters a body cavity, nicking and slicing organs muscles and blood vessels as it goes in
by contrast, the square or diamond section spikes of an alschpiesse or pollaxe or rondel dagger are, i believe less likely to just slice up a persons various internals as it penetrates, and also likely has a smaller wounc channel in order to better concentrate force to pierce the defences

all of these 'examples are just me putting my idea down on paper as it were, and most are admittedly a tad hypothetical since no sane man would, wearing just clothes, attack a dude in plate armour with just a sword or dagger,,,
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Peter Lyon
Industry Professional

Location: New Zealand
Joined: 20 Nov 2006
Reading list: 39 books

Posts: 249

PostPosted: Sat 30 Jun, 2018 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You've got a lot of it right. This is also a huge subject and something of a can of worms, but I will add my take on things.

Anyone who has worn armour that really has to do its job (EG jousting, and especially today the BON/IMCF et al styles of tournament) treats it as ablative IE the armour takes the damage, even if it gets trashed in the process, so you don't have to. This is one of the common problems today with reenactors who want their armour to stay perfect, and one that took me many years to appreciate too, that period armour wasn't trying to protect itself so it would be perfect for the next combat (which would make it too heavy for field combat, with specialised jousting armour being an example), rather it took the damage of occasional serious combats and could be repaired or replaced afterwards.

Full armour is heavy; no matter how well designed, it must slow you down a bit, and poorly designed or overly heavy armour is much worse. The reason they accepted that was the protection it gave; random hits (EG arrows) would likely strike a well armoured part, and anyone trying to find a weakness has a limited number of places to attack, and if they are lightly armoured you can pick and choose where to strike them while they are probing for that weakness. Remember most people would be more interested in not dying themselves, rather than sacrificing themselves on the chance to take out a heavily armoured opponent.

Axes, maces, pole weapons and thrusting weapons became more popular as more people were in better armour in the late middle ages as they are more concussive and piercing, when cutting/slicing weapons such as earlier swords became less effective against good armour.

An important point to remember is that swords throughout history have always been secondary weapons, after arrows, spears, and pole weapons had been used. There is a lot of emphasis on swords today, but they were not the most common weapons throughout history.

Still hammering away
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