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Steven H




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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jun, 2006 8:19 pm    Post subject: Coat of Plates vs. Brigandine         Reply with quote

From what I've seen, chronologically, the coat of plates precedes brigandine. And then brigandine entirely supplants the coat of plates type of armor. I've also seen it suggested that brigandine is more effective than the coat of plates.

Which confuses me. The distinguishing characteristic of coat of plates vs. brigandine is that the coat has larger plates. A larger plate would spread force out over a larger area, and therefore, it seems to me, make better armor.

So, the questions are, why did brigandine supplant coat of plates and is brigandine in fact better armor?

My only hypothesis is that coat of plates was hard enough to make that there was essentially no reason not to spend the time, materials and/or expertise on a breastplate instead once breastplates started being made.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 20 Jun, 2006 9:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve,

While I don't really know about this subject, are you sure that the brigandine is actually more effective than the coat of plates? What does this greater effectiveness mean in quantitative terms?

My suggestion why brigandine may be better is that brigandine may have more overlapping layers than a coat of plates. But, since I don't know enough about either type of armour, I could be dead wrong on this one.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 20 Jun, 2006 9:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I don't think it's quite as simple as "Armour A" is better than "Armour B", many brigandines have overlapping plates, from what I understand. I've also heard it told that they are more flexible than a standard COP.
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 7:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
While I don't think it's quite as simple as "Armour A" is better than "Armour B", many brigandines have overlapping plates, from what I understand. I've also heard it told that they are more flexible than a standard COP.


Bill's right, it isn't simple. Both categories feature overlapping plates. Coats of plate (or pairs of plate, as described in period documents) became common by the 1320's, ubiquitous by the 1340's and rare by the 1370's. Brigandines seemed to have appeared in the 1350's and survived well into the sixteenth century. Both were solutions to the need for heavier but still flexible armour to reinforce and eventually supplant mail harness.

Some researchers theorize the Wisby/Kussnach large plate patterns are a Northern European phenomenon. The brigandine of numerous small plates might be a development of Southern Europe under eastern influence. I don't particularly like this theory but I have little interest in the effort of refuting it.

My current opinion on the topic relates to rapidly improving iron production and distribution to armour making centres. Cheap and plentiful iron strips allowed for greater experimentation by armourers. Demand for better fitting and fashionable torso protection encouraged more flexible designs to suit clients' needs. Eventually someone with better resources will write a definitive survey of both designs. Until then, there are more questions than answers on this topic.

Did that help?
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can a brigantine be considered to be a more evolved and better tailored version of a coat of plates ? Adding maybe that the plate overlap more and are riveted to each other ? Would all coat of plate have overlapping plate or were they more plates riveted side by side leaving possible hairline gaps between the plates ? Oh, these might be more " fantasy " ren-fair
" Braveheart " inspired stuff ?

Still even if there are clear distinctions between a coat of plate and a brigantine they should be considered closely related.

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Steven H




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 12:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For this discussion I think 'better armor' = less likely to recieve a debilitating or lethal injury from a given attack.

As a breastplate is far less flexible than either brigandine or coat of plates, I think the flexibility issue is moot. The breastplate was an enormously popular type of armor, seeing use over a wide area and time periods, so its rigidity must've been acceptable.

Perhaps the answer is that I don't know enough about the construction of brigandine: was brigandine overlapped such that any given spot had two or more plates stacked? If the answer is yes, than I can see why it was more effective armor.

As to the assupmtion of its effectiveness: It supplanted the Coat of Plates and was used for five times as long and even remained in use alongside plate armor. If this was not because of its efficacy and usefulness than a very good alternative explanation is required Razz
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 12:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, we see the knighthood move from coats of plates to segmented breastplates (like on the famed Churburg harness) to solid ones. I don't believe the solid breastplate grew out of nothing. My personal opinion is that the coat of plates evolved from the reinforced surcoat into, eventually, the solid breastplates.

Brigandines may have seen less use among the knightly class if memory serves. If I had to guess I'd say 3 dimensionally-shaped plates like we see in developed coats of plates, segmented breastplates and solid ones, were likely expensive. Lots of small plates, mostly flat plates could be riveted to a lining with less skill and cost. But these are just my theories.

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, Alan Williams says a CoP over mail adds 70-90 J to the amount of energy an arrow or crossbow bolt needs to penetrate. Unless this due to some strange property of layering armor, brigandines must have provided more protection. For another thing, they were worn intstead of mail, rather than over it.

Quote:
Brigandines may have seen less use among the knightly class if memory serves.


I've actually heard they were quite popular. According to some folks over on swordforum.com, you see more brigandines than breastplates on the 1480 London port import rolls.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 1:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
I've actually heard they were quite popular. According to some folks over on swordforum.com, you see more brigandines than breastplates on the 1480 London port import rolls.


I didn't say they weren't popular Happy , I just said they didn't seem to be a mainstay of the knightly class. If we look at effigies and brasses, we don't really see many brigandines. Of course, the many other non-knightly people needed protection and may not have been able to afford mail or shaped plates.

Do the London port import rolls say who is importing them? Were they being bought in large groups, or individually, by nobility?

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure, but supposedly John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, bought a bunch of brigs during the late 15th century. More brigandines than any other type of armor.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
I'm not sure, but supposedly John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, bought a bunch of brigs during the late 15th century. More brigandines than any other type of armor.


If that's true, it's likely he was outfitting a retinue or other troops unless he was a retailer Happy . One man wouldn't need a pile of brigandines just for himself. True coats of plates (ones that clearly developed from reinforced surcoats) seem to be more a knightly thing, while brigandines seem to be more of a common man thing. Again, I'd have to think cost and ease of make were factors.

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Rod Parsons




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 2:14 pm    Post subject: Brigandines         Reply with quote

The brigandine was in fact typically worn as an outer layer torso protection over both maille and arming jack. There is a degree of overlap in construction of the small plates and it was adopted by men at arms as well as archers with a trend towards lighter equipment for fighting on foot.
Brigandines came to be prefered to full plate since it was thought that the brigandine over maille and jack combination gave better torso protection than full plate.
Given the relative difficulty of working larger pieces of plate it certainly must have been far more economical to make the brigandine, which is probably also a significant factor in it's growth in popularity as a widely used item.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 2:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My personal hypothesis is that the two garments have separate evolutionary trails, but possible a similar or common origin. Coats of plates seem to have grown from the reinforcing of the knightly surcoats and eventually became the solid breastplate (after a period where there were segmented breastplates), many times still beneath some kind of fabric covering like a tabard or jupon.

Brigandines may have grown out of the earlier coats of plates, but were likely easier and cheaper to produce, which is probably why they were bought en masse by nobles and saw great use among archers and foot soldiers. Stamping or cutting out a bunch of small plates to rivet or sew to a garment had to be faster than hammering larger sheets of iron or steel. Plus, a cloth-, linen- or leather-backed brigandine was probably more flexible and more easily fitted to a wide variety of body shapes.

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Bryce Felperin




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 2:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
My personal hypothesis is that the two garments have separate evolutionary trails, but possible a similar or common origin. Coats of plates seem to have grown from the reinforcing of the knightly surcoats and eventually became the solid breastplate (after a period where there were segmented breastplates), many times still beneath some kind of fabric covering like a tabard or jupon.

Brigandines may have grown out of the earlier coats of plates, but were likely easier and cheaper to produce, which is probably why they were bought en masse by nobles and saw great use among archers and foot soldiers. Stamping or cutting out a bunch of small plates to rivet or sew to a garment had to be faster than hammering larger sheets of iron or steel. Plus, a cloth-, linen- or leather-backed brigandine was probably more flexible and more easily fitted to a wide variety of body shapes.


Chad I think you are on to it. Economics seems to always play a part in decisions about armor or equipment for militaries in history. If I recall correctly, most of the armies and military forces in the later Middle Ages and Renaissance were developing into more nationalized militaries or mercenary forces rather than the Feudal levies of earlier eras. Therefore cheaper but better protection for the more highly trained and expensive troops would of been a consideration at the time.

Where before you would of had a lightly armed and equipped spearman who owed his lord 40 days service, now you had mercenary pikeman (German and Swiss), highly trained missile troops and expensive men-at-arms paid by the state rather than their local lord for extended and lengthy campaigns.

So equipping them with better protection and quality weapons that would of both been cheaper to make and easier to equip a soldier with would of probably of been preferred over custom fitted plate armor that only a few wealthy individuals could afford.
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Alexander Hinman




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Chad completely.

One must look at it in terms of 'non-noble' and 'noble' armour progress, rather than viewing them as in contention with one another.

The brigandine came around as a cheaper, 'non-noble' substitute for the shaped breastplate or coat of plates, which were the 'noble' armours of the time. Stamped plate armours of that type became available to the common man thanks in part to expanded iron production, as Kel noted. In other words, as Chad said, these armours evolved independently of one another.

They were related through basic design, but they were inteded for different wearers/purchasers.

In other words, the brigandine does not supplant the coat-of-plates, it supplants the maille shirt that was probably the top-of-the-line peasant armour that preceded it. The coat-of-plates was supplanted by the shaped breastplate.

As to which is better defensively, though (against a spear thrust to the sternum, let's say), I would put my money on the coat of plates.


Last edited by Alexander Hinman on Wed 21 Jun, 2006 2:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 2:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
One man wouldn't need a pile of brigandines just for himself.


Obviously not. But a Duke has buy for all sorts of people.

Quote:
True coats of plates (ones that clearly developed from reinforced surcoats) seem to be more a knightly thing, while brigandines seem to be more of a common man thing.


Coats of plates were more or less gone by the 15th century. And I believe brigandines were made at all levels of quality.

Quote:
The brigandine was in fact typically worn as an outer layer torso protection over both maille and arming jack.


Yes, you do see that claimed some places, but Bob Reed said otherwise in old swordforum.com thread. He wrote that they were worn with mail sleeves and other bits, not over a full mail shirt. Especially considering how much brigandines weigh (15-25 lbs), I suspect he's right. Putting one over a shirt of mail would be bulky and heavy.

I wish Dan would post on this topic. I suspect he'd have a lot to add.
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Rod Parsons




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 3:01 pm    Post subject: Brigandines and maille         Reply with quote

You are correct in saying that the brigandine (and indeed plate armour) most often had sleeves of mail (offering also extensive upper chest protection) attached to the arming jack, but it could also be worn over a more complete shirt of maille.
The use of the brigandine came to largely supplant plate as torso protection amongst all classes in later 15thC in England. for fighting on foot.
There was still no doubt some status attached to the ownership and wearing a full suit of plate of the highest quality, but in equpping an affinity, there is no doubt that the brigandine was both more economical and if anything, more effective as torso protection.
Looking at the example in the Royal Armouries, I doubt that the plates were stamped.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Obviously not. But a Duke has buy for all sorts of people.


Exactly. He'd be supplying non-nobles retainers and levies, etc. Nobles would be expected to have their own equipment he wouldn't be buying for many knights.

Quote:

Coats of plates were more or less gone by the 15th century. And I believe brigandines were made at all levels of quality.


I haven't seen a lot of knightly effigies or brasses with brigandines (if any). Granted, these are how the decedent wished to be memorialized so he'd want his best foot put forward.

I believe coats of plates were gone by the 15th century because they'd been replaced by plate breastplates.

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Rod Parsons




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 3:59 pm    Post subject: Confused sequence.         Reply with quote

The sequence is coats of plate, then full plate, then brigandines.
We have a lot of memorials round here (Lincolnshire) in old churches. Not all are cap a pie plate.
But they usually represent the fashion at the time the memorial was made (not always contemporaneous with the date of decease.
Sometimes plates of latten were commissioned many years after burial and they can often show the fashion then current.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 21 Jun, 2006 4:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Confused sequence.         Reply with quote

Rod Parsons wrote:
The sequence is coats of plate, then full plate, then brigandines.


Not necessarily. From Claude Blair:

Quote:
A development from the coat of plates that remained in general use until the 17th century was the brigandine. The word first occurs in Italy in the second half of the 14th century


Also, he says:

Quote:
The brigandine was widely used by all classes throughout the 15th and 16th centuries.


So I stand corrected on that point, though it is strange to see portraits of so many nobles wearing full plate and not brigandines.

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