Mail Demi-Mittens
Mart Shearer posted this image in another thread about scabbards. I want to focus on the mail mittens. This image shows demi-mittens, mail gloves that cover the back of the hand, but not the fingers. I have not seen mail mittens like this before. Do we have any idea how common they were from period art? When were they in use? My understanding is that full mail mittens appear around the close of the 12th century to the start of the 13th century, so it seems they must have existed before then, but probably after the 11th century.

[ Linked Image ]
Look at the hand holding the shield. It appears to wrap around the front of the thumb and fingers, not just cover the back of the hand - like gloves with the fingers cut off at the first knuckle.
True. I had missed that. Do you have any idea for time frame and commonality of these mittens Dan?
No idea. Mart would be the best person to ask.
Effigies & Brasses, Manuscript Miniatures, and Armor in Art seem to be down this morning, so rapid references are not readily at hand...

Claude Blair, European Armour, p.29 wrote:
During the last quarter of the 12th century it became increasingly
common for the long sleeves of the hauberk to be extended to form
mittens (so-called mufflers). An apparently unique illustration of what
is probably the first stage in this development occurs in the illuminated
initial in the Winchester Bible, mentioned above. This shows knights
wearing hauberks with sleeves that extend over the backs of the hands
but leave the fingers and thumbs bare.

[ Linked Image ]

The Winchester Bible (Winchester Cathedral MS 17, though one leaf is now in the Morgan Library, M.619), was believed to be commissioned in 1160. Unusually, the entire text was copied by a single hand, which is thought to have taken 3 or 4 years with decoration and miniatures being added for the next 15 years by various hands. Usually seen with a dating of c.1170, though 1180 isn't out of the question.

In the Morgan Leaf, Goliath seems to have exposed fingers on his right hand while standing, but has his hands covered by full mail mittens as David decapitates him.

The Spoleto Martyrdom of Becket wall painting shows a full mail mitten on fitzUrse's sword hand, with the left hand having no mail at all. I suspect you'll only see this transitional type of hand protection shown in images during the 1170-1200 time frame.

 Attachment: 191.62 KB
Spoleto Becket-clr (2).jpg

 Attachment: 75.01 KB
Morgan M.619 V-1-hand.jpg

These look like they tie around the thumb. (at bottom)
Interesting you should mention...
I've been doing some research specifically in this area. The accepted knowledge on the topic is that maille hand protection emerges in the late 12th century, and takes the form, invariably, of 'bag mufflers'.
Upon inspecting manuscripts closely, this really isn't the case.
Having experimented with these designs above, I developed a hauberk with a sleeve that extended to my finger-bases, with the 'palm' side of the sleeve made of leather (I didn't want to damage my sword hilt), with a lace to secure it around the wrist, and a 'side hole' for the thumb- a bit like some modern hoodies. It worked pretty well, albeit obviously leaving the fingers exposed.

The other possible explanation is the system Kingdom of Heaven went with- of a flap of maille laced down to the back of the hand. Whilst I don't really hold to this interpretation, it does offer some practical protection and passes the 'makes sense, speculative but practical'.

The second interesting development doing research in this area was finding a few corroborating sources showing integrated maille -gloves- with distinctly separate fingers. Whilst these have been circling around reenactment for a while, I'd always assumed that they were a LARP'ish fix for the problem- but in reality, individually fingered mufflers do seem to have been about as well.
Search- FitzWalter Seal Die (zoom in and observe the separate fingers).
Death of Absalom- Morgan bible. Zoom into the hand of the 'shocked' knight- and observe that the artist has taken some pains to show those fingers as separate.
(Some people may claim artistic convention- but given that this isn't Early Romanesque when physical features are shown through layers regardless of what you would actually see, and instead, a more observationally naturalistic style that would in turn evolve towards Early Gothic).

Page 1 of 1

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 2003-2006 — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Full-featured Version of the forum