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Johannes Lehtinen




Location: Tampere, Finland
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 7:58 am    Post subject: The development of armour in the early-middleages and before         Reply with quote

Hello! I am interested on any information about the arms and armour in the early middle-ages (900-1300) and the period before that. I would like to ask the opinion of anyone with more knowledge about the development of body armour, helmets, shields and so on in the ages I mentioned. For example can anyone give me information about the development and use of scale- and chain mail. I know that these both were used in the early middle-ages, but how early were they first used? Did roman legionaries or other warriors of the roman period wear scale mail or possibly chain mail in the later times? Which one was generally preferred in the use of european knights of the early middle-ages? Please comment.

PS: Forgive the possible mistakes in grammar english isn't my native tongue.

-Johannes-

Halbarad
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maille ,scale ,lamellar were all to be found in the Legions and in the middle ages . Maille was almost ubiquitiouse
in the upper classes during the middle ages and while scale or lamellar could be worn independently would usually
be worn over maille . Maille is the most unlikely form of armour as its a rather abstact thought process that says "if
I take a bunch of metal circles and join them together to make a garment of holes it will make a good defense ".The
prevelent theory on maille is that as the it was transmitted to Europe and the Roman Empire as the Celts and various
steppe tribes pushed west into Europe I believe . Loosely speaking lamellar was disseminated the same way .
Wherever you find horse archery as the primary form of combat you find lamellar as the primary form of armour (lamellar
is a scale variant where the scales are laced to each other usually but not always horizontally to make bodyarmour
that while ridgid is also springy ) . Both scale and lamellar could be made from metal or leather plates . For a quick cliffnotes look at the periods in question Ospery books are good however there are alot of good in print books on
the period 600-1800AD ( arms and armor of the medeival knight , an historical guide to arms and armor ect.)
for a great selection of archeological finds from Roman times on the aforementioned armours try and track down
a copy of Robinsons's Armour of Imperial Rome ( it'll cost ya as its been out of print for years but its worth it . I have
heard rumblings of a reprint though ) . Hope there's something usefull .
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oakeshott's "A Knight and his Armour," is an accessable and informative look at this issue. My area of interest is the early middle ages (1050-0300), and so I can provide some feedback on maile during this time. By the way I don't like calling it the Early Middle Ages anyway- as it is clearly the pinnacle of chivalry, feudalism, and the power of the Church- true hallmarks of the period we call "medieval." Knightshood had not yet sunk to the levels of the 14th and 15th century. I believe this is the best time for integration between the human spirit and the implements of war. My 2 cents. Thanks, Jeremy
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 12:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

1000-1300AD is usually reffered to as The High Middle Ages .
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, I am aware of this and I favor this term, and yet to many this is confusing. Some believe that the term "high," refers to the period of the full plate harness and the full flowering of the tournament system.
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Geoff Wood




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 1:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allan Senefelder wrote:
1000-1300AD is usually reffered to as The High Middle Ages .


That's interesting, I've seen the term used for the period ~1200 to 1430 (ish). Suppose it's rather a loose definition.
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 3:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Its my understanding that the term is applied for pretty much the reasons Jeremy preffers it ie.the church was at the
height of it power ect .
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Feb, 2004 5:55 pm    Post subject: Armor and Weapons development         Reply with quote

Johannes

Can you start with a couple of specifics you are interested in. The scope of your query is mind boggling. It would take volumes to even begin outlining the period and specifics you have set in your post. We would all be happy to share what we know, but it would be the start of several dissertations to just quantity the boundries of the topic you have touched on.

Best
Craig
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Feb, 2004 5:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johannes

If you can handle German, get a copy of Jan Kohlmorgen's Der Mittelalterliche Reiterschild. It discusses the development of shields in the High Middle Ages in considerable detail.

Very briefly, mail was the dominant form of armor during the period in question. The quantity of mail worn gradually increases from 900 to 1300 (i.e. from a shortsleeve, waist or hip length garment to mail covering the body from head to toe), and by the end of the period plate defenses are beginning to develop. Fabric armors may have been present in the first half of this period, but are definitely present and important by the end of this era. Helmets show a parallel gradual increase in the amount of head/face covered, with revolutionary (moveable parts) changes at the end of the period.

(edited for German spelling)


Last edited by Felix Wang on Mon 09 Feb, 2004 10:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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Johannes Lehtinen




Location: Tampere, Finland
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PostPosted: Sun 08 Feb, 2004 11:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Graig

I'm sorry not to have specified my topic more clearly. I am new on this forum. Lets say that I would like to hear your own discribtion of a typical armour of an European knight in the year 1190.

Allan
If you think that it's abstract to suppose that chain mail would have provided adequate defense then how do you explain it being so popular? Sorry if I didn't understand you correctly. To my knowledge a proper chain mail was quite effective defense agaist cutting and slashing blows. The thick garments worn underneath were supposed to protect the wearer from the crushing effect of the blows. Can you please comment?

As to the development of shields I'd like to draw your attention to the famed Lord of The Rings trilogy. I understand that the main type of cavalry shield in northern Europe in 900-1250 was a large kite shape shield. This was due to the inadequate defence of leg provided by the hauberks of that time. However in the Lotr films the Rohirrim who have for their entire history fought on horseback have round viking style shields. But were these not historically carried only by infantry units? Please comment?

-Johannes-

Halbarad
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2004 6:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johaness I think we have a bit of a language cross . Maille is a very effective form of armour properly used it is in my
opinion about the most unlikely to have conceptiallized when invented . Rigid materials having the ability to stop or at
least stunt blows is a pretty logical assumption , natures most durable examples are its "hardest" for the most part
and even in modern ballistic body armours while the plates are made of the most up to date materials they are still
ridgid plates . Soft things absorbing force also is pretty logical . The thought process behind waking up one day
and thinking "i'll bet that if I take a whole bunch of little metal rings and link them together into a fleixible shirt made out
of metal holes that it's going to make a great defense against sharp edges " is not a particularly logical thought
progression given the basic examples provided by nature -hard things stop things , soft things absorb them -
but more abstract - the maile is neither hard (its flexible and because its made from holes ) nor soft ( its made
from metal ) - but these two things actually combine to make it a pretty good defense . Thats at least for me personally one of the things that makes maille sort of neat . it found uses out side it intended roll as well small panels
of it being used as pot scrubbers early in the last century , and as an old wood working technique to burnish
wood a small panel was run ove rthe woods surface like sand paper .
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Feb, 2004 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kite shields are first seen around 1000, in the hands of both horsemen and foot soldiers. The advantage of guarding the lower leg applies to both mounted men and those on foot. In general, it seems that foot soldiers would rather not wear a lot of lower leg armor (try marching in heavy boots - maybe waterlogged- all day).

As far as LOTR goes, Tolkien says the Rohirrim used round shields, and in this case the movie-makers stuck with the text. Round shields were used by horsemen in the Migration Era, so there is nothing specifically wrong with their use in the movies.
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