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Shield resistance
I have a problem with shield resistance.
1.5 mm of pine wood shield vs 340 lb crossbow @ 20 feet : shield win
The test :
http://www.guerre-chevalerie.com/tests/boucli...l%C3%A8te/

The shield is covered by 3 layers of fabric on front and 1 on back
http://www.lesboucliersdelandlau.fr/crbst_4.html

40lb bow @ 30 feet vs 1m plywood*3 : shield totally cleared.
http://www.amazon.com/Roman-Shields-John-Trav...B00LNLGTQO

there is something i don't understand X), plywood is not more resistant than regular plank ?
Shield resistance
I guess that's a tough question whether plywood is more resistant to arrows than a regular plank, Alexis. We need an expert on this!
It looks 15mm rather than 1.5mm. The crossbow looks like it could be fairly powerful. I'd love to see the technical details on that crossbow.
Like other armor, shields aren't designed to be damage free, but to ensure the life of the user. The penetration through 15mm of wood is insufficient to kill the user. Even if the bolt struck directly over the arm (which may have had additional padding or wood thickness), the wound would not likely be fatal.

Is the final link saying 3 x 1mm layers?


Last edited by Mart Shearer on Tue 23 Jun, 2015 7:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
My guess would be that technology of plywood would be crucial case here.

For this purposes, a plank will be a plank - of course there will be potentially large differences depending on climate, moisture, method of spiting planks from the log etc. But it will still be roughly similar, assuming similar way of assembling the shield itself from the planks.

While plywood can be obvioulsy made in many different ways, way more variation here.
Not arrow or bolt penetration, but evidence that shields were disposable commodities.
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=add_ms_10294_f084r


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The same illustrations show swords cutting through armour and helmets too. They are medieval comic books depicting super heroes and mythological stories.
I don't think shields were disposable nor that the bolt here is showing any real serious problem if a soldier had been behind it, at least not fatal.

I think like most equipment the shield needed to be repaired and at times did fail.

RPM
Probably depends on the era, shields throughout the middle ages were largely wood covered in linen , parchment or rawhide. The most type of shields from the high medieval ages outward were shields which strapped to the arm. This makes them tactically less disposable because you can't just drop a shield a grab another because it is buckled to your arm. This however, from a hysics oint, means they can be made thicker and heavier than center grips but with the same felt weight because they straped to the arm. Thicker, heavier substances tend to be more durable than lighter, flimsier ones but if a largely wooden object gets hit even times by metal objects without repair, it will probably fail. Based on this, I would probably guess that strapped shield were regraded as less disposable objects that center grips were, at least by men would didn't possess allot of armor.
Shields were generally considered as a "limited-life" object in the viking period..One only has to read their sagas where they often detail duels. In some 'rule sets', opponents were entitled to use up to 3 shields , once these were destroyed, the duel could continue without them. I doubt that later medieval shields, despite differing shapes, were any more resistant to heavy damage. And consider this - the illustration shown above of the knight with his sword deeply buried in his opponent's shield is going to be disarmed in a very short time if the shield bearer flips his shield to the side. So, having a 'disposable" shield may not be the disadvantage it may appear at first glance.
Ralph,

There is 0 evidence the shields they take to these specialized judicial duels are the same as those they use in war. As in many cultures they have used specialized equipment for judicial duels I am not sure I'd assume they were the same.

As stated above the artists have a high likelihood of having little or nothing to do with battle and could be showing exaggerated strength.

RPM
[quote="Ralph Grinly"]Shields were generally considered as a "limited-life" object in the viking period..One only has to read their sagas where they often detail duels. In some 'rule sets', opponents were entitled to use up to 3 shields , once these were destroyed, the duel could continue without them. I doubt that later medieval shields, despite differing shapes, were any more resistant to heavy damage. And consider this - the illustration shown above of the knight with his sword deeply buried in his opponent's shield is going to be disarmed in a very short time if the shield bearer flips his shield to the side. So, having a 'disposable" shield may not be the disadvantage it may appear at first glance.[/quote it is not just a shape difference, there is a grip difference as well. High medieval shields were attached to the forearm, early medieval shields were gripped in the center. In order to rotate the a strapped shield, requires a rotation of the arm and shoulder. Because the early medieval shields are only gripped by the hand, you can turn it by rotating the wrist . They can also be dropped and picked up easier for that same reason and be held farther way from the body, this you can get more durability put of a flimsier construction. Strap shields harder to be agile since they are more secure. But, you cam build the shield thicker and heavier and still have the same felt wieght on your body because the load is spread out across your forearm. Look at Ancient Greek shields and how they were used. What you are saying is analogous to saying that oranges and apples are interchangeable even though they are very different.
In north of france there is research about shield and sword fight in duel.
Some talks about striking intentionaly the shield not to destroy it but to open/rotate the shield.
After some violent strike i can understand that even a regular shield around 1 cm thick can fail.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kj1_uNHjzo4
What do you guys actually make of this shield?

Is it like the talhoffer duel shield, just a large siege manlet or artistic freedom.

[ Linked Image ]
Dan Howard wrote:
The same illustrations show swords cutting through armour and helmets too. They are medieval comic books depicting super heroes and mythological stories.


In regards to a sword's ability to hew through armour, I cannot comment. However, in regards to a sword's ability to hew deeply into a shield, I'm not sure that I would agree, Dan. I have not specifically tried to cut against a historically accurate medieval shield, which is an important qualifier to my forthcoming observations. I have, however, cut through other types of targets that are quite resilient with long swords, single-handed swords, and messers. In particular, I have cut through coconuts, small trees, and chemically treated bamboo. I would be surprised to discover that medieval shields were substantially stronger than any of these media.

Anyone who has cut through coconuts knows that you must have good form. Even a reasonably strong blow, if you hit with poor edge alignment and follow-through, can simply put a small gash in the outer husk, or even a slice that causes no real harm at all. However, if one strikes well, it's possible to carve deeply into a coconut or hew right through it.

Fairly recently, I completely cut through a small softwood tree with my Albion Soldat. This was a surprise even to me; I thought the Soldat would make a substantial gash but fail to go through. Instead, in one blow I had cleanly severed the trunk, cutting through a section that was approximately 1 ľ to 1 Ĺ inches in diameter. Granted, the Soldat's curved blade probably makes it more effective than the average double-edged medieval sword, and granted, a living tree is probably easier to cut than dried shield wood. But most shields are nowhere near that thick, either.

That brings us to the chemically treated bamboo. Without a doubt, bamboo that has been dried and treated well is one of the most difficult mediums to cut with a sword, especially if the bamboo is of a reasonably thick diameter. With thicker bamboo, strikes made with the weak fail to penetrate at all, such that the strike needs to impact closer to the middle of the blade to effectively split the bamboo. I have also found that thicker bamboo requires strikes to come from above and behind your head, somewhat similar to an oberhau chambered from zornhut. As before, though, it's possible to carve quite deeply into bamboo with the right edge alignment and the aforementioned blade placement and striking position against thicker bamboo. I highly doubt that medieval shields are stronger than chemically treated bamboo that is dry and in good condition.

Let me also add for the record that I do not work out. Any strength that I have at a given time is entirely a function of how much I've been practicing recently with my swords. In the case of the tree, I had not been practicing at all, so that's not a meaningful factor in the equation of how well I cut that time. Likewise, even when I have been practicing fairly frequently, I am sure my strength is quite feeble compared to a reasonably serious athlete who regularly hits the gym. Give that, I don't think we can include physique as a deciding factor in whether shields could be cut.

So could shields be hewn-open as seen in Mart's picture? In my view, the answer is ďMost likely, yesĒ. There is nothing to prevent a knight, man-at-arms or other warrior from striking with the same amount of power I delivered, especially when fighting for their life. My cuts on a variety of media suggest that wood is not an especially difficult target to hew into with a sword, especially given that most medieval shields are not all that thick. Although medieval shields almost certainly had the benefit of being made from dried wood which is tougher than green wood, my experiments suggest that a reasonably powerful descending diagonal blow (from either side) or a descending vertical blow could quite feasibly hew deeply into a shield.
Craig Peters wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
The same illustrations show swords cutting through armour and helmets too. They are medieval comic books depicting super heroes and mythological stories.


In regards to a sword's ability to hew through armour, I cannot comment. However, in regards to a sword's ability to hew deeply into a shield, I'm not sure that I would agree, Dan. I have not specifically tried to cut against a historically accurate medieval shield, which is an important qualifier to my forthcoming observations. I have, however, cut through other types of targets that are quite resilient with long swords, single-handed swords, and messers. In particular, I have cut through coconuts, small trees, and chemically treated bamboo. I would be surprised to discover that medieval shields were substantially stronger than any of these media.

Anyone who has cut through coconuts knows that you must have good form. Even a reasonably strong blow, if you hit with poor edge alignment and follow-through, can simply put a small gash in the outer husk, or even a slice that causes no real harm at all. However, if one strikes well, it's possible to carve deeply into a coconut or hew right through it.

Fairly recently, I completely cut through a small softwood tree with my Albion Soldat. This was a surprise even to me; I thought the Soldat would make a substantial gash but fail to go through. Instead, in one blow I had cleanly severed the trunk, cutting through a section that was approximately 1 ľ to 1 Ĺ inches in diameter. Granted, the Soldat's curved blade probably makes it more effective than the average double-edged medieval sword, and granted, a living tree is probably easier to cut than dried shield wood. But most shields are nowhere near that thick, either.

That brings us to the chemically treated bamboo. Without a doubt, bamboo that has been dried and treated well is one of the most difficult mediums to cut with a sword, especially if the bamboo is of a reasonably thick diameter. With thicker bamboo, strikes made with the weak fail to penetrate at all, such that the strike needs to impact closer to the middle of the blade to effectively split the bamboo. I have also found that thicker bamboo requires strikes to come from above and behind your head, somewhat similar to an oberhau chambered from zornhut. As before, though, it's possible to carve quite deeply into bamboo with the right edge alignment and the aforementioned blade placement and striking position against thicker bamboo. I highly doubt that medieval shields are stronger than chemically treated bamboo that is dry and in good condition.

Let me also add for the record that I do not work out. Any strength that I have at a given time is entirely a function of how much I've been practicing recently with my swords. In the case of the tree, I had not been practicing at all, so that's not a meaningful factor in the equation of how well I cut that time. Likewise, even when I have been practicing fairly frequently, I am sure my strength is quite feeble compared to a reasonably serious athlete who regularly hits the gym. Give that, I don't think we can include physique as a deciding factor in whether shields could be cut.

So could shields be hewn-open as seen in Mart's picture? In my view, the answer is ďMost likely, yesĒ. There is nothing to prevent a knight, man-at-arms or other warrior from striking with the same amount of power I delivered, especially when fighting for their life. My cuts on a variety of media suggest that wood is not an especially difficult target to hew into with a sword, especially given that most medieval shields are not all that thick. Although medieval shields almost certainly had the benefit of being made from dried wood which is tougher than green wood, my experiments suggest that a reasonably powerful descending diagonal blow (from either side) or a descending vertical blow could quite feasibly hew deeply into a shield.

Well, there is a ton of big differences between what you are doing and what the artist is depicting. First of all, you have state that your targets are off a single type at a time, a ton of shields are of multiple different types of materiel into one item. Second, armor and shields were made for people expected to be actively attacking, moving closer to and away from you, and actively defending themselves it way which makes attacking you easier. It is allot hard to impart destructive force on a moving target than a stationary one. I man which can land hand blow the a blow in the first lace which could cleave through armour, shields, weapons hafts in the midst of combat , probably wasn't common and sparked stories which inspired these artists which depcits them, like in the Morgan Bible, like such actions are a common occurence.
Philip,

Yes, itís true that shields were made with more than one type of material, although one might argue that coconuts are a fairly accurate representation different materials, since the outer husk is a of different thickness and resiliency than the flesh itself. However, one must ask, does this feature of shields make them more difficult to cut through than the targets I mentioned in a meaningful way? I would doubt that a linden plank shield, covered with a sheet of parchment or linen, would be that much more difficult to cut than a coconut, much less a small tree or chemically treated bamboo.

In regards to your second point, itís absolutely true that a shield might be moving and be significantly less easy to cut than a stationary target. The original point made by Dan, though, was suggesting that cutting deeply into a shield as seen in Martís image was mere hyperbole and not be relied upon. Given my experiences in cutting against the media I described, it seems more than reasonable to suggest that a sword could hew as deeply as seen in the image. Would it be easy to do? Certainly not under less ideal circumstances, such as when the opponent is actively seeking to bind the sword by turning the shield inwards or outwards against the blow. Yet thatís beside the point, because we were discussing about whether it was possible to cut that deeply, and not about how easy it was.

Besides, it isnít always the case that the swordsman will be actively binding and displacing with the shield. In Martís image, itís pretty clear that the knight on the left was trying to raise his shield to cover against a descending blow to the upper opening. If you lift your shield up into the line of the strike to intercept it, the opponentís sword will probably have relatively little difficulty cleaving into the shield assuming the strike has good power, follow through and edge alignment. Likewise, flat top kite shields, and, optionally, some of the curved heater shields are typically held quite close to the body and employed comparatively passively. Check out some later 12th century images from Manuscript Miniatures for examples of this. That being so, it should be comparatively easy for the attackerís sword to hew fairly deeply into the defenderís shield. So even during the midst of a battle, siege, or skirmish, a shield may well be presented in such a way that makes it comparatively easy to cut into.
I just looked through the link in which Mart posted the description from, whether it was a common occurrence of shield cleaving to be i8ndicative of how Medieval fighters of their shield doesn't matter, the illustration he used is picture to accompany a King Arthur and Holy Grail story. It is, in fact, a equivalent using a comic books or fantasy novel as evidence to support for your agrument.
What youíve said is fair enough, yet it has no bearing on the validity of cutting experiments with replica swords against various targets whose resilience is similar to, if not greater than, an actual shield. We can argue endlessly, and fruitlessly, about whether shield hewing is possible based upon manuscript images alone. Alternatively, we can take the more Shakespearean (and empirical) approach, which is to prioritize the concrete and the tangible over the theoretical and abstract.

If your main point was simply that we need to be careful relying on visual sources alone, as Mart did, I would agree. Point noted. Thatís precisely why cutting experiments fill an important void: they can tell us things that manuscript analysis alone cannot.
Do we know anything in regard to axes and shields? IIRC the Franks used throwing axes and the vikings were fond of them too so it's not impossible that one handed axes faced shields. Of course these are not woodcutting axes but it might be worth looking in too, perhaps socioeconomic factors and body armor aren't the only explanation for axe usage in (early)medieval times.
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