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B Beythien




Location: Germany
Joined: 15 Jul 2018

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Fri 31 Aug, 2018 9:17 am    Post subject: Wear and tear of mail         Reply with quote

Hi everybody

When is was reading other threads in this forum concerning the strength of mail, i noticed that usually only new armour is being discussed. I think historically a substantial amount of second hand armour must have been in use. Whether through reuse after looting or through inheritance there must have been some impact on the lifespan of mail. This again must have weakened said pieces of mail. Abrasion after generations of use or corrosion when not in use should have played a role here.

So in short my questions are:

1) Are there any historical accounts on the life span of armour; especially mail?

2) Are there any historical accounts on wear and tear of mail?

3) Do any of you, who are handling reproduction mail, have made experiences in terms of wear and tear over time?

4) What are your general, personal thoughts of this?

Thanks in advance, this keeps buggin me for quite a while now

infar wigandun
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Mart Shearer




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

Posts: 1,281

PostPosted: Fri 31 Aug, 2018 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

https://books.google.com/books?id=21JaAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA159&dq=&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CGMQ6AEwCGoVChMIyP2myevNyAIVCosNCh3LEAVF#v=onepage&q&f=false
1423 Inventory of Henry Bowet, Archbishop of York

Et de iij. s. iiij. d. receptis pro uno pare de qwysschewes de mayle rotund' pro defencione crurum.
And of 3 shillings 4 pence receipt for a pair of cuisses of round mail, for leg defense. (I believe round refers to wire section.)
Et de vj. s. iiij. d. receptis pro una lorica debili de mayle rotund'.
And of 6 shillings 4 pence for a weak haubergeon of round mail. (The Latin lorica, or body armor, usually refers to a hauberk, but given the date I have chosen haubergeon, as "coat of mail" is redundant.)
Et de vj. s. viij. d. receptis pro una lorica vetere de mayle rotund'.
6s. 8d. - an old haubergeon of round mail.
Et de xx. d. receptis pro uno parvo paunce, maxime debili, de mayle rotund'.
20d. - a small paunce, greatly weakened, of round mail. (debilitated likely meaning holed and/or with failing rivets.)
Et de xx. d. pro uno parvo ventayle vetere de mayle rotund'.
20d. - a small, old aventail of round mail.
Et de ij. d. receptis pro uno ventayle vetere pro gall' de mayle rotund'.
2d. - an old aventail of round mail for a helmet. (galea would usually refer to a great helm, though I suspect the bascinet is intended.)
Et de vj. d. receptis pro uno ventayle vetere et valde debuli pro gall' de mayle rotund'.
6d. - an old, and very weak aventail of round mail for a helmet.
Et de vj. d. receptis pro altere ventayle vetere et multum debili pro gall' de mayle rotund'.
6d. - another old and highly weakened aventail of round mail for a helmet.
Et de vj. d. receptis pro uno bordoure de mayle rotund' jaggyde cum latone pro gall'.
6d. - a dagged edging of round mail with latten for a helmet.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Aug, 2018 1:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, all armor was passed down from generation to generation, or gifted, just like swords. It was highly regarded, and repaired as needed. Mail was no different. Links would get broken or damaged, or just wear out from use. I could easily see a piece of mail, say a hauberk, lasting several hundred years with proper maintenance.

I own a set of riveted round/solid flat ring mail that I've had for a good many years now, and have only had to replace one of the round riveted links due to snagging it on a chain-link fence post. Worried With proper upkeep, armor will last for centuries, as seen in museum examples. Wink .........McM

''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Mart Shearer




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

Posts: 1,281

PostPosted: Fri 31 Aug, 2018 1:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thom Richardson's thesis shows a lot of the Tower's armor described as old and debilitated, with some of the aketons or linings gaining the descriptor "putrid".

xxvj loricas unde iij de alta clavatura iij pro torniamento debiles, j de maille iasrant’, j de latone et xviij communes
26 hauberks where 3 are of high nailing, 3 for the tournament-weak, 1 mail jazerant, 1 of latten, and 18 common

Thom Richardson wrote:
In Henry Snaith’s account of 1362 the receipt of mail comprised:
186 mail shirts, 29 with pisane collars, 112 with collars of new manufacture, 4 highly riveted
(de alta clavatura), 3 for the tournament, worn out, 1 of jazerant mail, 1 of latten, 18 of steel
and 18 ordinary (communes),
90 pairs of paunces, 40 pairs of various riveting, 48 pairs worn out and 2 pairs of mail of
Lombardy,
194 pairs of mail sleeves,
201 pisanes,
162 aventails, 28 of steel,
2 pairs of gussets,
3 pairs of chausses,
3˝ (7 pieces of) bards of mail, worn out, for horses, of which 1 bard of mail of Lombardy.

No new mail was purchased, but there are interesting records of its
maintenance and modification. For the cleaning of the mail, wages were paid to four
workmen each at 6d. per day for forty-five days rolling barrels with various mail
armour. Twenty-six mail shirts of various sorts were written off for enlargement
and repair of others, including the jazerant also recorded in the account of William
Rothwell.


Quote:
The one mail shirt ‘de maille iasserainto’, written off in 1362, reappears in the account of John Sleaford of 1369,
, presumably after replacing the fabric, but using the same mail.

The 1421 Louvre Inventory of Charles VI has,
206. Item, un jaseran d'acier, qui fu au roy Jehan.
Item, a steel jazerant which belonged to King John. (Jean II, "le Bon" ruled 1350-1364, so the mail was at least 50-60 years old.)

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Mart Shearer




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

Posts: 1,281

PostPosted: Fri 31 Aug, 2018 1:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
With proper upkeep, armor will last for centuries, as seen in museum examples. Wink .........McM


An EXCELLENT point. Happy

Some more thoughts and references on the topic of damage appear on this short thread -
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=33040

P.S. I should add that when examining historic mail, I'm always looking for rings with missing nails, or rings which have sprung open, or rings which don't match the main group of rings, etc. There's always some level of damage or repair when tens of thousands of rings are examined.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Sat 01 Sep, 2018 1:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is a difference between "lasting for centuries" and remaining functional. Some of the mail in museum collections have links that are so thin that you could tear them apart in your hands. At some point the links must wear down enough to render the armour ineffective against weapons. We also have found scraps of mail in cauldrons suggesting that they were used as pot scourers. This tells us that the mail had degraded to the point that it was considered not worth repairing and was repurposed for non-martial applications.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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