Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Viking age mail, thick clothing or a lining underneath? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4 
Author Message
Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,317

PostPosted: Fri 30 Nov, 2018 5:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Long wrote:
Henry O. wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:
[
Um, to keep from getting cut? It's *armor*, right? Not sure I understand the question...

Matthew


I guess I mean if there was any reason to wear one instead of an iron skullcap of some sort.


A skullcup covers the top half of the head. A coif protects the lower half of the head, plus the neck, chin and throat. If you see someone wearing a coif in battle, you can usually assume that there is a skullcap underneath.


An *iron* skullcap? I don't think that's a safe assumption. A padded cap, sure, but I think mail coifs were around for a long time before we see any evidence of iron caps *under* them. Most often the coif is worn under a helmet of some sort.

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

Posts: 169

PostPosted: Fri 30 Nov, 2018 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know there are some later sources such as Pietro Monte which recommend wearing a smaller secret helmet underneath the regular helmet. It could be that what we see in the Maciejowski Bible is that some soldiers would wear an arming cap, then a skull cap, then a mail coif, then a great helm. Just in case they got hit in the head really hard.
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Long





Joined: 10 Apr 2018

Posts: 17

PostPosted: Fri 30 Nov, 2018 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Michael Long wrote:
Henry O. wrote:
Matthew Amt wrote:
[
Um, to keep from getting cut? It's *armor*, right? Not sure I understand the question...

Matthew


I guess I mean if there was any reason to wear one instead of an iron skullcap of some sort.


A skullcup covers the top half of the head. A coif protects the lower half of the head, plus the neck, chin and throat. If you see someone wearing a coif in battle, you can usually assume that there is a skullcap underneath.


An *iron* skullcap? I don't think that's a safe assumption. A padded cap, sure, but I think mail coifs were around for a long time before we see any evidence of iron caps *under* them. Most often the coif is worn under a helmet of some sort.

Matthew


Right, so if someone is depicted fighting a battle in just a mail coif, they probably either lost their helmet or are wearing a skullcap.
View user's profile Send private message
Arne G.





Joined: 31 Jul 2014

Posts: 67

PostPosted: Fri 30 Nov, 2018 3:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Henry O. wrote:
I know there are some later sources such as Pietro Monte which recommend wearing a smaller secret helmet underneath the regular helmet. It could be that what we see in the Maciejowski Bible is that some soldiers would wear an arming cap, then a skull cap, then a mail coif, then a great helm. Just in case they got hit in the head really hard.


Michael Long wrote:


Right, so if someone is depicted fighting a battle in just a mail coif, they probably either lost their helmet or are wearing a skullcap.


This is probably not correct. Setting aside the discussion about skullcaps (with one niggle: Pietro Monte's writings are *much* later than the period being discussed here, being formulated in the 1480's and thus not terribly relevant to the 13th century...), it is my theory that one wore coif under a great helm because the latter was intended to be removable and would be taken off in close quarters fighting, to enhance visibility and ventilation.

For limited proof, consider that some German effigies clearly show chains being attached to great helms (along with swords, etc.) to prevent loss in battle. Now, if the helm were intended to be strapped on firmly and not removed, why then the chain attachment, given that only the most freakish hit would ever dislodge it? Look also at the helm illustrated by Matthew Paris in the mid-1200's (see attached image) - note the straps dangling down, which appear to have small knobs rather than a buckle. If this interpretation is correct, it is worth noting that while a buckle would be difficult to undo with one hand, a simple knot could be untied one handed to allow easy removal of the helm. So I don't think a lost helm is being depicted in period art - merely that the helms have been set aside and they are fighting without them because they are in close melee and need the visibility and ventilation to avoid heat exhaustion.

As for warding off "really hard" blows, I would point out that even mail, alone, is proof against most human powered attacks, let alone a helm. Layers of metal armor don't make a lot of sense thereby. If, however, the helm is intended to protect the knight in the early phase of the battle from missiles (arrows, stones, quarrels, etc.) and couched lances, then the situation makes more sense. Once they are in close combat, where missiles and lances are not the main threat, the helm is more of an impediment and can be discarded in favor of the coif (or, later, small bascinet with aventail) underneath. It's also worth noting that as great helms go into decline, the helmets that replace them frequently have visors and either an aventail or, later, gorget, but otherwise do not have a skullcap or mail coif underneath. The simple visor obviates the need for a second "helmet" (whether skullcap or mail coif) underneath the primary helmet - raising the visor provides visibility and ventilation, rather than removing an entire separate helm.

This is only a theory, and I may be quite wrong, but I think its worth discussing.



 Attachment: 185.81 KB
[ Download ]
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

Posts: 169

PostPosted: Fri 30 Nov, 2018 5:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's not consistent, but the Maciejowski Bible does have examples of soldiers wearing their coif draped behind their backs while still wearing a small iron skullcap. So it presumably was done at least some of the time.

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4673/7956/

I think the iron skullcap option is definitely a very appealing one since even a relatively thin layer of solid metal would likely be much better at absorbing blunt force trauma and require much less padding than mail alone. Unless your coif is made out of extremely fine mail or worn over some pretty thick padding, a strong sword cut would be likely to crack your skull long before it manages to actually or pierce your mail anywhere.

As far as overall protection goes, likely the most efficient design would be a single very thick and strong helmet with very thick mail attached directly to the edges of the helmet so that it only protects places where that extra mobility is necessary. But what if it's a very hot day or you have a headache and you don't want to wear such a heavy piece of headgear at all times? Maybe it would be better to instead have two lighter helmets so that you can instead wear just one for everyday marching and patrolling then put the second one over the top of it whenever you need the extra protection for pitched battles, or maybe it was more comfortable to let the mail coif hang down much of the time with only a light skullcap on your head until you decide you need that second layer of protection?
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Long





Joined: 10 Apr 2018

Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sat 01 Dec, 2018 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Arne G."]
Henry O. wrote:

As for warding off "really hard" blows, I would point out that even mail, alone, is proof against most human powered attacks, let alone a helm. Layers of metal armor don't make a lot of sense thereby.


Sure mail is proof against most attacks, but weapons like maces and axes can easily break bones through mail, so a coif alone is very dubious protection for the skull, especially in an era plate defenses are becoming standard.

You don't want to end up like that militiaman from Visby with two arrows sticking in his skull through the coif.
View user's profile Send private message
Philip Dyer





Joined: 25 Jul 2013

Posts: 496

PostPosted: Thu 06 Dec, 2018 9:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
The translation for the description of the gambeson in Chretien is correct. Mole et tanvre does mean soft and frail/delicate. So it looks like a thinner garment being worn under the mail. The King's Mirror c.1250 gives three different descriptions for gambesons/pannzara: a heavy gambeson for fighting on foot, a soft (blautan) gambeson worn under mail, and a sleeveless (godan) gambeson over top. I'm not sure of the word godan. I think it might mean good.
the first one is interesting becuase it is doesn't describe how the gambeson is worn or what it is worn with. The soft gambeson is probably thin and the good gambeson is probably like a proto padded jack, but is the heavy gambeson heavy compare to the soft gambeson or the sleeveless gambeson and what is it worn with?
View user's profile Send private message
Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

Posts: 320

PostPosted: Thu 06 Dec, 2018 5:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For fighting on foot he writes: "Always bring heavy armor to the exercise, either chain-mail or a thick gambeson." Here it's one or the other. He's not actually describing battle here, but training. I don't know if there's a difference.

For fighting on horse it's a soft, long sleeved pansar, then mail, then a good sleeveless pansar.
What if there isn't any kind of thick gambison here. What if the good sleeveless pansar is a surcoat?

Leonard
View user's profile Send private message
Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

Posts: 320

PostPosted: Fri 07 Dec, 2018 10:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This has got too confusing. Here's why I thought the sleeveless good panzara might be a surcoat. The volsunga saga was written down about the same time as the kings mirror. Sigurd wears mail and a vapenrock with a dragon on it. This sounds like a surcoat.

But there's this from the saga of King Sverrer (late 12th century):
"Sverrer himself was dressed in a good byrnie, above it a strong gambeson and over all a red surcoat."

Leonard
View user's profile Send private message
Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

Posts: 320

PostPosted: Tue 01 Jan, 2019 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scroll down to Theories on Norse Padded Armour http://sagy.vikingove.cz/author/skald/page/6/ There's a 6th century Byzantine mention of padding of at least a finger thick being worn under armour.

This site http://sagy.vikingove.cz/author/skald/ is definitely worth looking through for viking stuff.

Leonard
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,238

PostPosted: Tue 01 Jan, 2019 7:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
There's a 6th century Byzantine mention of padding of at least a finger thick being worn under armour.

It was worn under lamellar, not mail. The Arabs had a similar garment called a qarqal.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message
Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

Posts: 320

PostPosted: Tue 01 Jan, 2019 10:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was thinking that as soon as I posted it. Two things good here though. It gives the thickness for the padding, and tells us padding was optional. Normal clothing was good enough under armour.
Leonard
View user's profile Send private message
Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 440

PostPosted: Tue 01 Jan, 2019 1:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
Scroll down to Theories on Norse Padded Armour http://sagy.vikingove.cz/author/skald/page/6/ There's a 6th century Byzantine mention of padding of at least a finger thick being worn under armour.

This site http://sagy.vikingove.cz/author/skald/ is definitely worth looking through for viking stuff.

Len, that 6th century date raised some eyebrows because the firmly dated and very practical Strategikon of Maurice does not mention such a garment. So I dug around in my folder of articles (check academia.edu if you want the full article):

Philip Rance, THE DATE OF THE MILITARY COMPENDIUM OF SYRIANUS MAGISTER (FORMERLY THE SIXTH-CENTURY ANONYMUS BYZANTINUS) wrote:


The Greek military manual known by the modern titles περὶ στρατηγικῆς or De Re Strategica, and conventionally ascribed to the sixth-century Anonymus Byzantinus, has been substantially transformed by recent scholarship. ... Thanks to Constantine Zuckerman's magisterial study of 1990, De Re Strategica has at last been reunited with two other sections of the same work preserved separately in the manuscript tradition, an anonymous Rhetorica Militaris and a Naumachia, both of which had been edited independently. ... The evidence upon which Köchly and Röstow originally granted De Re Strategica a Justinianic date was never more than tissue-thin and has been left yet more threadbare by recent scholarship. This paper is intended to complement the insights of Baldwin, Lee and Sheppard, and Cosentino by identifying five additional dating criteria that are incongruent with a sixth-century date and more consistent with a middle Byzantine context.

So the treatise which George T. Dennis translated as The Anonymous Byzantine Treatise on Strategy and which that Polish site quotes is missing the page which gives the author and dedicatee, but Rance thinks it is later than Dennis thought.

Rance never defines "middle Byzantine," but I think it roughly means after the Arab conquests and before the Latin sack of Constantinople in 1204, or in this article between say 800 and 1100 CE. That is important, because Europeans seem to have started wearing quilted armour after cotton had become a staple crop in Anatolia, Syria, Sicily and Egypt under Turkish and Arab rule. So if the text has a later date, the thick garment may not be a carry over from earlier practices in Italy (which might have spread to Norway as easily as to Egypt), but an innovation in the eastern Mediterranean in the early middle ages which we are pretty sure did not spread to the rest of Europe until the 12th century.

www.bookandsword.com
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,238

PostPosted: Tue 01 Jan, 2019 3:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many thanks Sean. So if the Arabs were in control of Byzantium when that book was written, everything in that book is more likely to be describing Arabic military practices rather than Greek or Italian.

Len Parker wrote:
I was thinking that as soon as I posted it. Two things good here though. It gives the thickness for the padding, and tells us padding was optional. Normal clothing was good enough under armour.

Sean's post suggests that the Arab qarqal and the Byzantine garment might have been the same thing. In any case, it only gives the thickness for lamellar underpadding. Arming garments for mail are not made the same. A direction that might prove edifying would be a survey of Arabic sources to see if they described what they wore under mail and how it my have differed from lamellar padding. However, none of this is relevant for a Scandinavian context.

There is a lot of confusion with Byzantine military texts and which book contained which information. Maurice's 6th C Strategikon is often confused with the above anonymous work, which we now think was written in the Middle Byzantine period. And there are actually two Strategikons, one written in the 6th C by Maurice and another written in the 11th C by Kekaumenos. And all of these get mixed up with De Rebus Bellicus, which is a Roman source written in the 4th or 5th century.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
View user's profile Send private message
Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

Posts: 320

PostPosted: Tue 01 Jan, 2019 6:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Sean. I appreciate your research.
Leonard
View user's profile Send private message
Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 440

PostPosted: Wed 02 Jan, 2019 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You're welcome Len. And again, I would not say "we know that Scandinavians did/did not wear ... under their byrnie when they went a-viking." We have much better evidence for the imperial Roman army than the North Sea in the Viking Age, but I can't prove what Roman soldiers typically wore under their armour.

The rise of quilted cotton clothing in the Moslem world in the early middle ages could be a good research project for someone willing to learn some Arabic. We know what this armour looked like when it was adopted in Europe from the 12th century onward, but not so much about the garments European tailors were imitating.

www.bookandsword.com
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Viking age mail, thick clothing or a lining underneath?
Page 4 of 4 Reply to topic
Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4 All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
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 2003-2019 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum