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Dave Stephan




Location: Australia
Joined: 16 Mar 2012

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Sun 15 Apr, 2012 3:28 pm    Post subject: Maille Sleeves         Reply with quote

Hello again my friends.

I thought of something and now I'm curious to satisfy it. Were sleeves short or long? It seems like a lot of you guys wear maille with short sleeves, but in the Middle Ages I would think that'd be a horribly exposed area (especially in the age before plate).

I mean surely they wore long sleeved maille, or am I missing something? Are the short sleeves a modern reenactor thing? Another thing, when I see long sleeves they're sometimes baggy at the ends, far too big, is this true or another reenactment thing?

Thanks.

EDIT: I just thought of bracers, that'd solve the problem I suppose. But it still makes more sense to me for the sleeves to be long.

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Ian S LaSpina




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Apr, 2012 3:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As time progressed, maille shirts tended to get smaller. In the 14th century you see the progression of a full sized maille hauberk (down to the knees, long sleeves), to a haubergeon (or little hauberk), which went to about mid-thigh and had half to three-quarter sleeves.

The maille shirts got smaller because things were starting to be covered with plate instead of just maille and padding as the only defense like it was prior to this time period. By the 15th century, maille shirts are starting to disappear, and instead being replaced by maille faulds (just a skirt of maille secured at the waist), and voiders (bits of maille sewn in to the armpit area that protected the areas of the body not covered by the almost complete plate harness being worn by this time).

The big hanging sleeves are more of a modern manufacturing thing. Tailoring maille is difficult and labor intensive. Most people who buy modern reproductions don't bother to tailor their sleeves. In medieval times, a hauberk or haubergeon would have been tightly tailored to its owner, both for weight savings, and dramatically increased performance.

An exception to this would be 14th century Italian style arm harnesses where the man-at-arms or knight would forego plate shoulder defenses and just use maille on the shoulders from their haubergeon. They would sometimes keep the sleeves wider, so they would drape over the rerebrace or upper-cannon of their plate arm defenses. When you see maille 'bingo wings' in modern reenactment, that's mostly just poorly tailored maille.

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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Apr, 2012 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dave, you probably think of migration era and viking reenactment. And yes, for that era, short sleeves are historically accurate. And for the style of fighting, shieldwalls from which you strike with fast strikes and you don't "fence" with your hand exposed, short sleeves are good enough.
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JE Sarge
Industry Professional



PostPosted: Mon 16 Apr, 2012 7:31 am    Post subject: Re: Maille Sleeves         Reply with quote

Dave Stephan wrote:
Hello again my friends.

I thought of something and now I'm curious to satisfy it. Were sleeves short or long? It seems like a lot of you guys wear maille with short sleeves, but in the Middle Ages I would think that'd be a horribly exposed area (especially in the age before plate).

I mean surely they wore long sleeved maille, or am I missing something? Are the short sleeves a modern reenactor thing? Another thing, when I see long sleeves they're sometimes baggy at the ends, far too big, is this true or another reenactment thing?

Thanks.

EDIT: I just thought of bracers, that'd solve the problem I suppose. But it still makes more sense to me for the sleeves to be long.


As answered above, this would soley depend on context. Short sleeve, three-fourths sleeve, or in some cases (such as with lorica hamata), no sleeve maille did exist. It would just depend on what they were trying to portray. Most of the people I see are simply wearing maille as part of adult cosplay outfits, such as Ren Faires or conventions - and give little or no thought to any type of historical accuracy.

Modern mass-produced maille has baggy sleeves because it's easier to make a tube than to make a properly tapered arm. However, there have been a number of members here who have bought the riveting tools and extra rings which have been able to tailor themselves a decent fit.

In short, modern maille does not resemble it's historical counterparts very closely - regardless of sleeve length. There are so many differences, it's would be better to point you to the article here: Mail: Unchained

Here is a photo from that article with a couple different types of maille, both long and short sleeved:


J.E. Sarge
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Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
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PostPosted: Mon 16 Apr, 2012 6:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dave:
As you point out, it seems extremely intuitive to us that arm protection should be a priority. However, as it turns out, it was not.
This appears odd, as the arms would be exposed to sword blows.
Because we automaticaly asume that people are fighting with swords.
But looking at history, wars where not fought primarily with swords. They where fought with spears.
Spears are less likely to hit the arms (as people are aiming for eachothers heads), and a spear thrust to the arm is unlikely to leathal. They will however pierce the torso like butter, promting torso armour to be the top priority after the helmet.

Bracers, as we would asume to be used, is generally not seen in western europe except as part of a full armor, often in addition to mail.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Mon 16 Apr, 2012 8:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As JE Sarge notes, it depends. Certainly some suits of mail covered the body from head to toe, as depicted in texts such as the Maciejowski Bible.
Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Dave Stephan




Location: Australia
Joined: 16 Mar 2012

Posts: 25

PostPosted: Mon 16 Apr, 2012 10:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the feedback guys, this has been a lot of help. I'm happy I asked the question because I would have forgotten and never known why maille sleeves could be so customizable. Cool

But I have another maille question now. Several, even. I've tried to research it but the sources I find are either very shaky or so detailed I can't find what I'm looking for.

Just down to the very point, were maille rings generally flat or round? i've noticed with a lot of reproduction maille the rings will be rounded, but the more expensive ones are flat. What's the difference physically and historically?

Also, how does the size of the hole come into play? I see various sizes of reproduction armour like 8mm or 10mm, often the gaps between each link seems very large. Is this an accurate portrayal or does it save on labour and cost to leave it untightly knitted?

Lastly what is all this blackening I hear about? Some oxidization process in order to prevent steel and iron from corroding/rusting I assume, but I see aluminum blackened too and I thought it not to rust. What exactly are the benefits and downfalls to buying blackened maille? I've heard many horror stories where the 'blackening' would come off on everything.

I'm trying to make an informed purchase, that's where you guys come in! Obviously my price keeps me at LARP level aluminium, but I can still pick out the best among them I suppose.

I have no quarrel with you, good Sir Knight.
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Aleksei Sosnovski





Joined: 04 Mar 2008

Posts: 313

PostPosted: Mon 16 Apr, 2012 11:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dave Stephan wrote:

Just down to the very point, were maille rings generally flat or round? i've noticed with a lot of reproduction maille the rings will be rounded, but the more expensive ones are flat. What's the difference physically and historically?


Depends on time and place. Round wire links would suit almost any place and period, but you should make a little research if you want maille made of flattened links. Main benefit of flattened links for a modern reenactor is that they look thicker thus making maille look more dense.

Dave Stephan wrote:

Also, how does the size of the hole come into play? I see various sizes of reproduction armour like 8mm or 10mm, often the gaps between each link seems very large. Is this an accurate portrayal or does it save on labour and cost to leave it untightly knitted?


The thinner the wire the less dense is the maille but the lighter it is. Also for same weight maille made of larger links will look less dense. And maille made of round wire links will look less dense than maille made of flattened links. Overall 8mm inner diameter is a good compromise between weight, price and looks. 6-7mm links would look much better but such maille would most likely be heavier. And of course much more expensive. 10mm links are rare in historical maille but not unheard of. Actually we have an authentic 14-15 century maille in a local museum that has links of around 12mm inner diameter if not larger. Authentic maille was very different depending on its purpose. Some was very light and consequently had large "gaps" between links, other was so dense that you would not be able to push a thick needle between the links (just look at some aventails and standards!)

Dave Stephan wrote:

Lastly what is all this blackening I hear about? Some oxidization process in order to prevent steel and iron from corroding/rusting I assume, but I see aluminum blackened too and I thought it not to rust. What exactly are the benefits and downfalls to buying blackened maille? I've heard many horror stories where the 'blackening' would come off on everything.


When maille is made links have to be annealed, probably multiple times. When steel is heated it becomes black. So basically maille should be black unless it is cleaned. Aluminium maille is blackened on purpose to make it look like steel. Well maybe manufacturers also use some special process to blacken steel maille, but the maille I made was always black. And yes, maille will stain anything that it comes in contact with. It will leave black stains because the black oxide that is on the surface will wear off. Then the metal itself will wear off, oxidize and leave black stains. Then the oil will leave stains. And if you decide not to oil your maille it will rust and leave brown stains. So it's up to you what type of stains you prefer Wink
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Robin Smith




Location: Louisiana
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PostPosted: Sun 29 Apr, 2012 5:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sleeve Length, as well as hem length is basically a function of period. In my favorite period, short sleeves are authentic as is a hem length of around knee length.


A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,453

PostPosted: Mon 30 Apr, 2012 1:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

a quick guide to the roundness/ flatness of maile links over time.
vikings/ saxons in viking age, mostly round links either all rivited, or rivet links and solid links, (i.e gjermundbu was round links)
in the eastern steppes around the same time flat ring maile existed

later on flat ring maile became more common in the rest of europe.
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Sam Blincoe





Joined: 05 Jun 2013

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Mon 10 Jun, 2013 10:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could anyone give me advice or point me in the direction of guide on how to tailor the sleeves on a maille shirt.

Thanks

Sam
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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
Joined: 21 Apr 2012

Posts: 186

PostPosted: Mon 10 Jun, 2013 3:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewto...p;t=157253 is a good thread on the Armour Archive about reconstructing a tailored sleeve, which might be a decent place to start.
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Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

Posts: 374

PostPosted: Mon 10 Jun, 2013 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aleksei, I'm very curious about the 12mm ID maille you mentioned. Do you have any pictures, or know of any links to this shirt, or the name of this museum?
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