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William P

Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,486

PostPosted: Thu 19 Sep, 2019 8:32 am    Post subject: wearing armour while travelling         Reply with quote

I got this question on a comment thread on youtube that went like this

"(If you say that) wearing a brigandine to town even then signals that youre a nutter or that you are VERY paranoid about getting stabbed. just like wearing a ballistic vest now"

So, I have a legit question about this. I get that in the area of a town, you can generally expect to be safe from random stabbings. But, would you wear it when travelling from town to town? I'm guessing it would kind of depend on the political climate of the given area, but I'm just wondering if it was normal to wear armor when going "on the road".

my gut feeling based on images of pilgrams is no.. but i thought id ask because 1, i am curious, 2. its useful to have a better idea when asked again . for reference and to cross check my own knowledge, my response is below.

generally no as well, we have a decent but of evidence for example, chaucers canterbury tales that armour wasnt terribly common while travelling.

especially because travelling for any decent length of time wasnt terribly common back then unless it was on pilgramage or if you were a merchant. (or rich ) and i will say that the main defence people ad when travelling wasnt to armour up, but to travel in groups.

and most images of pilgrams, dont show them as armoured, armed MAYBE. armoured no,. partially for reasons of having to haul it all day...

one exception to this was occasionally wearing a shirt of mail under your tunic/ coat also various jupons and doublets were very heavily layered and like alow grade gambeson did offer SOME degree of protection against being attacked,
i should point out though that, mail wasnt exactly cheap even as the medieval period went along and ironmaking improved. and if youre of a decent means, you might hire a professional to go with you.

but i will say i dont know 100% so i could be wrong

so yes, considering that in some times of the medieval period in some regions the rtegion , of france for example was maybe crawling with brigands and bandits. how might that effect peoples preperations when travelling in terms of, perhaps being more heavily armed or even wearing light armour??
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Edward Lee

Location: New York
Joined: 05 Jul 2013

Posts: 375

PostPosted: Thu 19 Sep, 2019 2:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my opinion it would make more sense to travel in a caravan if the group is hauling valuable goods. However if traveling alone I'm guessing some sort of mail might have been worn depending on the personal preference, that is to say if one does not get jumped by five armed bandits. Unless you are some sort of jedi knight then no matter the armor you will probabaly lose the fight.

I am uncertain about brigandine, might have been a personal preference as well. However I think a well made mail shirt would have been better mostly because it covered more parts of the body.

An interesting note, I played this game called "Kingdom come Deliverance" for a while, I'm not sure how historically accurate it depicts the period. More than often I would come across some wealthy Burgher getting ambushed by a bandit while traveling alone. Through a series of questioning the bandit would admit the attack was from behind. Although the Burgher did not wear any bodyarmor, if an attack was done from behind to the head then I suppose body protection would not have mattered at all.
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Dan Howard

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

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PostPosted: Thu 19 Sep, 2019 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is more than one source telling us that the wealthy had multiple sets of armour, one of which was specifically intended to be won while travelling or making an entrance into a town. Armour was a fashion statement and any noble worth his title would be wearing the latest fashion into town. Brigandine was often reserved for this task. It think it was De Commines who wrote about two brothers who had brigandines specifically made without the metal plates so that they had the fashionable cloth and rivet patterns but would not be a burden while travelling. These "faux brigandines" seem to have been rare in Western Europe; they were more popular in Asian courts.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Dan Howard

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

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PostPosted: Thu 19 Sep, 2019 4:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This might prove edifying. It is a letter written by Ulrich von Hutten in 1518. It is reply to a suggestion by Willibald Pirckheimer that if he was not happy, he could return to his peaceful life in the country after Pirckheimer read an earlier letter from von Hutten recounting his experiences at court. The second paragraph is pertinent here. It tells us why landholders had to be armoured and under heavy escort whenever they travelled.

"Do you know what sort of place it is to which you ask me to return? Do not make the mistake of equating your own situation with mine. You city people, who lead comfortable, placid easy going lives, seem to think that a man in my position can find peace and quiet in his country retreat. Are you so ignorant of the turmoil and insecurity to which my sort is subject? Do not imagine that your life has anything in common with mine. Even if our estates were large enough to support us and our patrimonies ample, there are many troubles that deprive our minds of peace. Our days are spent in the fields, in the woods and in fortified strongholds. We lease our land to a few starving peasants who barely manage to scratch a living from it. From such paupers we draw our revenues, an income hardly worth the labour spent on it. To increase our revenues would require enormous effort and unremitting diligence.

Most of us are, moreover in a position of dependence on some prince to whom our hope of safety is attached. Left to ourselves we would be at everyone's mercy, but under princely protection we still live in constant apprehension. Indeed, whenever I leave my tower I face danger. If I fall into the hands of those who are at war with my overlord, they seize me and carry me away. If my luck is bad I lose half my patrimony in ransom... No wonder we must spend large sums on horses and arms and employ retainers at great expense to ourselves. I cannot travel a mile from my home without putting on armour. I dare not even go hunting or fishing except clad in iron. Not a day passes without some dispute or altercation breaking out amongst our retainers. Often it is nothing more than a contention among stewards, but every quarrel must be approached with caution, for if I respond aggressively to a wrong done to one of my men, I may find myself embroiled in war while submission or concessions lay me open to extortion and a thousand new injuries springing from the first. And, remember, these quarrels arise not among foreign rivals but among neighbours, relatives and even brothers...

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Sean Manning

Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 602

PostPosted: Sat 21 Sep, 2019 2:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are quite a few sources from the 14th century to the 17th century for Europeans wearing concealed armour in town and at court. You might find this post of interest.
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J.D. Crawford

Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Sat 21 Sep, 2019 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wouldn't recommend it on international flights. Sets the metal detectors off like crazy.

(Sorry, read the title and couldn't help myself.)
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Karl G

Location: Australia
Joined: 25 Apr 2016

Posts: 66

PostPosted: Fri 27 Sep, 2019 9:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think like any military accoutrement or mode of dress it would be highly situation dependant. I am ex army and as an example I have worked in areas your body armour is always on in public whereas the normal mode of address back on barracks does not require it.

I think you would find enough variations in history and countries during times that armour was worn anytime you stepped out, to not being called upon unless you are suddenly going 'operational' much like a SWAT guy does.
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