Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > stamina of medieval soldiers while wearing armour Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Jeton Osmani





Joined: 25 Apr 2018

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 2:13 am    Post subject: stamina of medieval soldiers while wearing armour         Reply with quote

Hello there, just a silly question, here goes.

Was it practical (Stamina wise) to go into battle wearing a full plate or maille harness covering your whole body head to toe while fighting on foot?

did most medieval foot soldiers get exhuasted really quickly if they fought with full body protection while fighting on foot, or was foot combat something relegated to lightly armed soldiers wearing breastplates or maille huebergons.

what armour did medieval footsoldiers ranging from the 11th century all the way to the late 15th century equip themselves with.




sorry for a nitpicky questions

and sorry again for my terrible english
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,370

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 2:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Leg armour seems to be the first thing that soldiers discard when marching long distances.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message
Jeton Osmani





Joined: 25 Apr 2018

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 3:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

what about on battles

i saw a video of a guy lasting 2 mins doing strenous activity on full plate armour
View user's profile Send private message
Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 48

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 4:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeton Osmani wrote:
what about on battles

i saw a video of a guy lasting 2 mins doing strenous activity on full plate armour


Try this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAzI1UvlQqw

It's actually a complicated issue, but generally speaking, medieval armour wasn't as much of an impediment to the trained fighter as popular belief might have us suppose.

Anthony Clipsom
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,363

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 6:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fully armored men certainly did fight on foot quite often, but certainly not all soldiers were fully armored. And armor absolutely affects stamina, but training can compensate for at least some of that.

Since the men with the most armor are more likely to be your *best* troops, not to mention the ones who will be most effective in combat, you're hardly going to make them sit and watch the battle just because they might get tired, eh?

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Hardy Lewis




Location: United States
Joined: 23 Jul 2018

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 6:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm really curious about heat stress from long amounts of time in full harness.

All those layers of cloth and metal are going to act like insulation, and hold heat close to the body.

A hot summer day must have been extremely dangerous for someone wearing support garments, maille, and plate, even if a horse is making most of the physical exertion.
View user's profile Send private message
Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
Joined: 01 Oct 2003
Likes: 6 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 2,291

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can say from personal experience that just walking around at a Ren Fest wearing mail and partial plate can get tiring pretty quickly...but I'm 52 years old with a bad back. Worried

Just ask a modern-day soldier in full combat gear. Wink ............

''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
View user's profile Send private message
Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 1,028

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 4:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hardy Lewis wrote:
I'm really curious about heat stress from long amounts of time in full harness.

All those layers of cloth and metal are going to act like insulation, and hold heat close to the body.

A hot summer day must have been extremely dangerous for someone wearing support garments, maille, and plate, even if a horse is making most of the physical exertion.

There shouldn't be any real danger - of heatstroke, say - as long as you stay hydrated and keep your head reasonably cool. Which is why people had a habit of doffing their helmets, specifically, every chance they got (even though it sometimes meant taking a stray arrow in the face).

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
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,370

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 5:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
Hardy Lewis wrote:
I'm really curious about heat stress from long amounts of time in full harness.

All those layers of cloth and metal are going to act like insulation, and hold heat close to the body.

A hot summer day must have been extremely dangerous for someone wearing support garments, maille, and plate, even if a horse is making most of the physical exertion.

There shouldn't be any real danger - of heatstroke, say - as long as you stay hydrated and keep your head reasonably cool. Which is why people had a habit of doffing their helmets, specifically, every chance they got (even though it sometimes meant taking a stray arrow in the face).


Yep. Heat stress in armour is no worse than heat stress in regular clothing. It is enclosed helmets that cause the problem.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message
Augusto Boer Bront
Industry Professional



Location: Cividale del Friuli (UD) Italy
Joined: 12 Nov 2009

Posts: 266

PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 10:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They did get tired of course, like we do.

We have accounts from the Battle of Crecy where the English were swapping their tired and wounded men at arms with fresh ones.

So the contemporary were aware that fighting in armour was tiresome. How they dealt with that I guess depended on the army commander and experience of the fighters.

Armourer-Artist-Blacksmith
www.magisterarmorum.com

Pinterest albums to almost all existing XIVth century armour.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 1,028

PostPosted: Thu 05 Sep, 2019 1:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Augusto Boer Bront wrote:
They did get tired of course, like we do.

We have accounts from the Battle of Crecy where the English were swapping their tired and wounded men at arms with fresh ones.

So the contemporary were aware that fighting in armour was tiresome. How they dealt with that I guess depended on the army commander and experience of the fighters.

And the battle! Sometimes you have lots of fresh reserves you can keep rotating in, and sometimes... you don't.

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
View user's profile Send private message
Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 48

PostPosted: Thu 05 Sep, 2019 2:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The battle of Mons-en-Pevele in 1304 contains examples of issues with fighting a long battle in armour on a very hot day in August. Some are said to have died from the heat, others to have suffered from thirst. This was, however, a long battle by Medieval standards, beginning in the morning and lasting to evening. However, I can't recall other European battles where the heat factor is so explicit.
Anthony Clipsom
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,370

PostPosted: Thu 05 Sep, 2019 2:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Augusto Boer Bront wrote:
They did get tired of course, like we do.

We have accounts from the Battle of Crecy where the English were swapping their tired and wounded men at arms with fresh ones.

So the contemporary were aware that fighting in armour was tiresome. How they dealt with that I guess depended on the army commander and experience of the fighters.


A lot of fighters were not wearing much in the way of armour. The texts don't tell us whether only the armoured fighters were swapped. One would think that everyone grew exhausted, not just those wearing armour.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message
Johannes Zenker





Joined: 15 Sep 2014

Posts: 88

PostPosted: Thu 05 Sep, 2019 5:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Having done some exercise in armour and also worn it for some extended periods I'd say the following:

Wearing the armour and moving in it is not particularly strenuous for quite a while.

What kills your stamina is repeated bouts of intense exercise, especially with a closed visor.

I can wear my armour for hours on end, but if I put on my (heavy) bascinet and close the visor I'll be temporarily winded after at most a two-minute bohurt-style bout. Doing about seven of those over 120 minutes gets me really winded, for more than just a few minutes.

I think it's mostly the helm and its visor (pig-face), though, so wearing a lighter, open-faced helm might provide much more stamina already.
View user's profile Send private message
Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 48

PostPosted: Thu 05 Sep, 2019 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I think it's mostly the helm and its visor (pig-face), though, so wearing a lighter, open-faced helm might provide much more stamina already.


I know work has been done on the effect of armour on e.g. breathing, heart rate etc. but does anyone know of any scientific tests on effect of open v. closed helmets?

Anthony Clipsom
View user's profile Send private message
Harry Marinakis




PostPosted: Sat 07 Sep, 2019 9:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Modern people are incredibly soft and weak, compared to people of the past. We are so soft that it is difficult for us to even imagine the physical prowess of people of the past.

Remember that the ancient Greeks ran 25 miles in full armor and then beat off a Persian invasion.

I am sure that a maille kit was no big deal for these people.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,164

PostPosted: Sat 07 Sep, 2019 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think plate harness in particular was a bit problematic in the heat because it doesn't "breathe" as they say. But certainly the helmet is the worst of that.

You can see in art, and read in detailed battle descriptions, many cases where soldiers or warriors were rotated out of the front line to rest. Sometimes troops moving back for any reason could cause panic so it had to be done carefully and with discipline. The Romans did this and the practice was described in their military manuals which came down to the medieval scholars of the arts of war. The Swiss did this as well as did Landsknechts.

I do believe it was normal when fighting hand to hand to have an open face or the visor open, so as both to see and breathe easier. You can read accounts like that of Jörg von Ehingen in his famous duel against the Moorish champion at Ceuta in ~ 1450, where he killed the other guy by cutting him in the face because his face was exposed.

Visor down was mainly during the lance charge or when under attack by arrows or other missiles.

It was also normal for infantry to be armored on the upper body but not the legs, especially the lower legs. So those would often be exposed too.

In this contemporaneous and pretty realistic painting of the Battle of Orsha, you can see Polish warriors or knights, clad in plate harness, rotating out of the fight, some wounded and removing their armor (center right)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/Autor_nieznany_%28malarz_z_kr%C4%99gu_Lukasa_Cranacha_Starszego%29%2C_Bitwa_pod_Orsz%C4%85.jpg

There were also many battles in which one side or the other became overheated and / or exhausted and were overwhelmed. I believe this is what happened at Towton (despite the battle taking place amid snow flurries) and in many battles in the Middle East. The Ottomans had a routine tactic of using 'cannon fodder' (Azap volunteers and foreign auxiliaries) to absorb the initial enemy attack and then hit with their elite troops (Sipahi or Janissaries) when the enemy was 'spent'. This was how they won several of their major victories against Crusading armies.




One other thing to consider about wearing armor of any kind in the heat, aside from general fitness, most of these guys in pre-industrial times were very used to and familiar with their kit. Their kit in most cases would fit much better than most of our modern re-enactor gear (with certain notable exceptions like Daniels fine harness in that obstacle course video) and have all the little tweaks necessary to 'smooth over all the rough patches' so to speak. I remember when I was in the Army in boot camp back in the 80's, when we first started marching everything chafed, suffocated, poked, choked and unbalanced me. Five miles of hiking with that gear was seriously kicking my ass. But after a few weeks, switching out gear, careful balancing, numerous other adjustments (as well as rapidly increasing fitness) I was able to march longer and longer distance with heavy gear without getting so exhausted.

If you were a handgunner or a lancer in 1450, you would have probably grown up with a lot of your gear and had it fine-tuned to your needs. It would fit you much better and you would be much more adapted to it, in terms of your muscles and even your skeleton.

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,370

PostPosted: Sat 07 Sep, 2019 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No armour breathes. It doesn't matter whether it is made of metal or cloth or leather or kevlar. Leather and cloth are even worse than metal because they start out by being heavier and then they absorb moisture, which makes them even heavier and more onerous. Lice, ants, fleas, and flies love them.

Most of the accounts of people becoming overcome with heat stress in battle would have happened even if they were simply wearing heavy clothing. That heat stress is accelerated by wearing enclosed helmets, not armour.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,363

PostPosted: Sun 08 Sep, 2019 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harry Marinakis wrote:
Remember that the ancient Greeks ran 25 miles in full armor and then beat off a Persian invasion.


Well, they *marched* to Marathon, camped for several days, then beat the Persians. Immediately after which they marched quickly back to Athens, but the Persians didn't land there.

But yes, they were tough, definitely agree with that!

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 502

PostPosted: Sun 08 Sep, 2019 8:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
No armour breathes. It doesn't matter whether it is made of metal or cloth or leather or kevlar. Leather and cloth are even worse than metal because they start out by being heavier and then they absorb moisture, which makes them even heavier and more onerous. Lice, ants, fleas, and flies love them.

Most of the accounts of people becoming overcome with heat stress in battle would have happened even if they were simply wearing heavy clothing. That heat stress is accelerated by wearing enclosed helmets, not armour.

But most cloth armors are semi flexible. Breastplates squezze around the natural waist,so they constrict breathing a little in order so you don't have steel pressing into your shoulder blades. You take swallower breathes wearing rigid armor. It is nothing compared to breathing detriment of a fully enclosed helmet, but is does restrict your breathing a little.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > stamina of medieval soldiers while wearing armour
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2019 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum