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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Aug, 2019 6:55 am    Post subject: Yet another thread on leather armor         Reply with quote

Yes, I know there are plenty of discussions on the historicall accuracy of leather armor, and yes, I know there is artistical -and possibly documental - evidence for brest, leg and arm harness since at least late 13th century, and that we've rerebrace findings in Netherlands about it and so on.

Those, however, were always armor for the richest knights, those who could or would afford extra pieces of armor over their mail. Apparently, the use of leather pieces over mail was popular only in Italy, Netherlands and Spain. When I read Osprey's "Italian Militiamen" the author mentions a variety of leather armor being produced in Italy, also providing a speculative apperance of a so called Ciroteca of rawhide (check the archives). This appears too much similar to a piece I found in traditional parade that happens in Italy:


Information about it: https://www.maremmaguide.com/medieval-crossbow.html

My question relates to how reliable both evidences are, since I don't think such corselts would provide much armor and would be inferior to a gambeson anyways. Also, it does seens it was only used in Italy.

Also, is there evidence for cuir boili pieces of armor being used by MAA outside Italy, Netherlands and Spain in 13th and 14th centuries?



 Attachment: 390.66 KB
Rawhide Armor.png


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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Sat 17 Aug, 2019 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, we have the Tower inventories, which are discussed in Thom Richardson's thesis e.g.

In 1353 Rothwell received:
106 pairs of vambraces, 2 of iron with latten couters, 4 covered in cloth of Cologne, 6 of iron
and 93 of leather,
57 pairs of rerebraces, 47 were of iron covered with cloth of various colours, 5 of uncovered
iron, 7 of leather, 2 for the joust, one pair with couters and lunets painted with the old arms
of England,
13 pairs of shoulder defences or spaudlers, 10 of them worn out,
240 pairs and a single cuisse, 13 of which were of iron, 2 covered in cloth of Cologne, 103
pairs and the single cuisse of leather and small plates covered in red leather, 12 pairs for the
tournament of which 10 were worn out, one pair covered in cloth of gold and decorated with
latten, one pair covered in red silk with the old arms of England,
228 pairs of poleyns and a singleton, 13 of iron, 2 covered in cloth of Cologne, 103 pairs and
the single poleyn of leather and small plates covered in red leather, 12 pairs of leather for the
tournament of which 9 were worn out, one pair covered in cloth of gold and decorated with
latten, one pair covered in red silk with the old arms of England,
146 pairs of lower leg defences, 32 of iron, 2 covered in cloth of Cologne, 100 of leather and
12 pairs for the tournament, all worn out.


These are by no means unique. Also of note are quirres, which appear to be leather breastplates for tournament use.

Anthony Clipsom
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Jonathan Dean




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PostPosted: Sun 18 Aug, 2019 8:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not the 13th or 14th centuries, but Len Parker has discovered that the early 12th century Gesta Herewardi contains a reference to "well cooked leather" ("coria valde coctis") being worn by men from what was probably the islands on the Scheldt River as an alternative to felt armour.

In addition to this, John of Salisbury mentions the Welsh wearing some form of "hard leather" armour (it literally translates as a breast band, but probably refers to chest protection in general), Wace refers to archers wearing either "cuiries" or gambesons in his Roman de Rou, and Walter Map speaks of Henry II's routiers being armoured with "leather and steel".
(Read the old thread on viking leather armour from this post on).

For the 13th century, the only references I have are Italian. There is a list of median prices for mail, leather and textile armour in 13th century Genoa in “Some industrial price movements in medieval genoa (1155–1255)”, by William N Bonds, Explorations in Economic History, Volume 7, Issues 1–2, Autumn–Winter 1969, Pages 123-139, and Jürg Glassman's article on the Bolognese armed societies lists leather armour as an acceptable choice for those in the Cervi armed society. Given that only the Cervi and the Vari allow leather helmets, and the Cervi has a much broader list of armour than the other societies, including more expensive options, the leather armour is probably at the low end of the scale, not the high, and the generally lower median price of leather armour in Genoa adds to this theory.

Regarding leather armour worn by men-at-arms specifically, the Chronique des ducs de Normandie mentions Norman knights wearing it as reinforcement for their mail, as does william the Breton in his Philippidos (Book 11, lines 126-7). Mart Shearer has also found a reference to leather and linen armour worn in addition to mail by knights in a late 12th century English source. It's also possible that the ""paires de cuiraces"" belonging to Eudes, Comte de Nevers, were of hardened leather. This effigy of the late 13th century could be how Eudes' armour looked, as we have no evidence of any coat-of-plates fastening in this manner and what we can see of the breastplate appears to be solid, without rivets.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Aug, 2019 7:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, as far as I know ciroteca is another word for "gloves" (from Greek cheir "hand"). Its different from a cuirie which is a leather/hide (cuir) reinforcement for the chest, often combined with other armour, and its also different from the leather jackets worn by those crossbowmen today.

Chaucer's Sir Topaz wears a piece of leather armour (greaves/jambiers I think).

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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Aug, 2019 8:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Also, as far as I know ciroteca is another word for "gloves" (from Greek cheir "hand"). Its different from a cuirie which is a leather/hide (cuir) reinforcement for the chest, often combined with other armour, and its also different from the leather jackets worn by those crossbowmen today.


"The cerothes or cerotheca were gauntlets forming part of early plate harness
for war." according to Richardson. These are presumably the same as ciroteca.

Quote:


Chaucer's Sir Topaz wears a piece of leather armour (greaves/jambiers I think).


" Hise jambeux were of quyrboilly," Topaz (or Thopas) seems to dress rather extravagantly, as if going to a tournament.

Anthony Clipsom
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 19 Aug, 2019 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A lot of leather protection used in Western Europe was for sport not combat. When we see pieces of leather armour mentioned in various sources, we need to be able to distinguish between tourney and field armour or they aren't much use.
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Tue 20 Aug, 2019 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
A lot of leather protection used in Western Europe was for sport not combat. When we see pieces of leather armour mentioned in various sources, we need to be able to distinguish between tourney and field armour or they aren't much use.


Good point, though the amount of leather armour and the circumstances of issue on some occassions in the Tower inventories does suggest field use for at least some of it.

Anthony Clipsom
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 20 Aug, 2019 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
A lot of leather protection used in Western Europe was for sport not combat. When we see pieces of leather armour mentioned in various sources, we need to be able to distinguish between tourney and field armour or they aren't much use.

Good point, though the amount of leather armour and the circumstances of issue on some occassions in the Tower inventories does suggest field use for at least some of it.

Absolutely. Leather armour might have been a lot less common than further east but it was used.

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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Aug, 2019 1:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While we are talking about 14th century leather armour, I came across this recently

The armour of the common soldier in the late middle ages. Harnischrödel as sources for the history of urban
martial culture
Regula Schmid, University of Berne,

Harnischrödel are listings of a community's armour holdings.

In Luzern’s oldest Harnischrödel, from 1349/1353, the most numerous item is called currit or currisia. Using a chronological argument, the editor of this source (in accordance with the then leading specialist for medieval armour in Switzerland), stated that currisia meant a long shirt made of leather worn over the chain-mail. However, in this particular list, far fewer Panzer than currisia are mentioned, and the two items never appear in the same hands. The only solution I can imagine is that a large number of people did not own a chain-mail but only a protective gear made out of leather, and that panzer meant either chain-mail plus leather jacket or the chain-mail alone. Ganzer harnisch or arma totum would then comprise currisia, chain mail, helmet, and probably arm protection (although this latter is not mentioned in this particular list). A helmet is mentioned in this list only once: A woman called Bermendera owns a currisia with a Göller and a Beckenhaube. The editor of the list identified the word Göller as “breast protection made out of leather”, a meaning attested without further explanation also in the Swiss Dialect Lexikon. Usually, however, the word (from lat. collarium) means neck gear.

I would suggest the definition of currisia is at least debateable.

Anthony Clipsom
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Andrew Gill





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PostPosted: Wed 21 Aug, 2019 3:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is a currisia not perhaps another name for or a near-relation of a corrazina? That's a fabric- or leather-covered transitional coat of plates that was popular in the later 1300s. If so, it may often have had a leather covering, but the steel plates inside where what provided the protection.

An honest question - I don't know if there's anything in it.

Regards

Andrew
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Aug, 2019 5:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Gill wrote:
Is a currisia not perhaps another name for or a near-relation of a corrazina? That's a fabric- or leather-covered transitional coat of plates that was popular in the later 1300s. If so, it may often have had a leather covering, but the steel plates inside where what provided the protection.

An honest question - I don't know if there's anything in it.

Regards

Andrew


It's possible but maybe a bit early? Corraza seems a more likely parallel in Italian. A possibility is that it is a coat of plates though, if corazza can be used for that. Corrazina means small corazza, IIRC correctly, so there may be a connection.

Anthony Clipsom
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Aug, 2019 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Gill wrote:
Is a currisia not perhaps another name for or a near-relation of a corrazina?

I would guess its the Latinized German of Kürass or Küriss (the Grímm brothers list it as Küris), English cuirass, and Italian corazza. In 1349/1350, I would expect both words to mean "pair of plates." Corazzina is the diminutive ("little cuirass") like Anthony says.

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Jonathan Dean




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PostPosted: Wed 21 Aug, 2019 11:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

According to Hoffmeyer's Short Survey, by the 14th century the Spanish were using "cuirass" to describe a coat-of plates (p132-134 if the preview doesn't work for anyone) in the 14th century, based on details of their construction, even if they're almost always referred to as a "pair", so that adds to the coat-of-plate idea.
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Andrew Gill





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PostPosted: Thu 22 Aug, 2019 2:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Jonathan, Sean and Anthony.

So if they are all pretty much the same thing, ie a coat of plates, I'd suggest that this probably isn't a good example of leather armour, at least as I'd understand the term (as the leather is more to hold the protective steel plates together and protect them from corrosion, etc, than to provide the actual protection in combat). Unless, of course, there are cases where hardened leather plates were used in lieu of steel?

cheers

Andrew
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Thu 22 Aug, 2019 2:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Gill wrote:
Thanks Jonathan, Sean and Anthony.

So if they are all pretty much the same thing, ie a coat of plates, I'd suggest that this probably isn't a good example of leather armour, at least as I'd understand the term (as the leather is more to hold the protective steel plates together and protect them from corrosion, etc, than to provide the actual protection in combat). Unless, of course, there are cases where hardened leather plates were used in lieu of steel?

cheers

Andrew


To me, what we are doing is exploring a source which may refer to leather armour in the 14th century. The words used have been interpreted as meaning leather. But some (me included) suspect that they actually refer to a pair of plates in this instance. That said, all the "cuirass" words derive from a leather original - they are thought to derive from coriacea (vestis) Late latin for leather garment. The medieval version of this was clearly armour for the torso and it was this function that stuck with the name, rather than the material. In this case, we are probably dealing with a transitional period - English records still talk of a leather quirre or quirret at this time for tournament use.

Anthony Clipsom
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Pedro Paulo Gaião




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Aug, 2019 10:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess he mistranslated ciroteca, in the book's glossary he keeps saying it was a sort of cuirass
--------------
Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Well, we have the Tower inventories, which are discussed in Thom Richardson's thesis e.g.

These are by no means unique. Also of note are quirres, which appear to be leather breastplates for tournament use.


I'm quite ignorant in some of English Documents, so I did a research in these days to understand for why the Tower kept registers of arms and who exactly is Rothwell. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Rothwell was the clerk of the Wardrobe of the Tower, responsible for the keeping and manutention of the King's arm stocks, right? So theorically these were intended for the King's court only?

By the way, what exactly was "Cloth of cologne"? Equipment covered in such cloth was of brigandine-like appearance?

Jonathan Dean wrote:
Not the 13th or 14th centuries, but Len Parker has discovered that the early 12th century Gesta Herewardi contains a reference to "well cooked leather" ("coria valde coctis") being worn by men from what was probably the islands on the Scheldt River as an alternative to felt armour.

In addition to this, John of Salisbury mentions the Welsh wearing some form of "hard leather" armour (it literally translates as a breast band, but probably refers to chest protection in general), Wace refers to archers wearing either "cuiries" or gambesons in his Roman de Rou, and Walter Map speaks of Henry II's routiers being armoured with "leather and steel".
(Read the old thread on viking leather armour from this post on).


Wace is describing welsh equipment as well? I look after references of Welsh Leather Armor and found this book. Gerald of Wales gives more references for them, saying "in some conditions such protection was preferable to iron armor".
The author suggests it was basically a universal type of armor for the poorer welsh for couldn't afford mail, perhaps that's plausible. What I find interesting, however, is in Heath's Armies of Middle Ages vol. , where he argues that English 14th century payrolls pays the smallest salaries to Welsh due to "the total lack of armor", and all the artistic evidence of Welsh soldiers we have (like, 3 references) usually shows them barefooted wearing a large tunic. I don't know if the Welsh eventually dropped leather armor in 14th century or if they would wear them under the armor; perhaps the lower pay meant that leather armor was so inferior to gambeson that its soldiers would receive lesser pay.

Besides, thanks for all the other information.

Dan Howard wrote:
A lot of leather protection used in Western Europe was for sport not combat. When we see pieces of leather armour mentioned in various sources, we need to be able to distinguish between tourney and field armour or they aren't much use.


King Renée Tournament Book prescribes leather armor too. I don't for what purpose, however. I don't remember if it was in Osprey's Knight of the Outremer or in Italian Militiamen, but the author says leather pieces of armor was a lighter alternative to metal ones. I don't know if thats actually true.

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Jonathan Dean




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Aug, 2019 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
Jonathan Dean wrote:
Not the 13th or 14th centuries, but Len Parker has discovered that the early 12th century Gesta Herewardi contains a reference to "well cooked leather" ("coria valde coctis") being worn by men from what was probably the islands on the Scheldt River as an alternative to felt armour.

In addition to this, John of Salisbury mentions the Welsh wearing some form of "hard leather" armour (it literally translates as a breast band, but probably refers to chest protection in general), Wace refers to archers wearing either "cuiries" or gambesons in his Roman de Rou, and Walter Map speaks of Henry II's routiers being armoured with "leather and steel".
(Read the old thread on viking leather armour from this post on).


Wace is describing welsh equipment as well? I look after references of Welsh Leather Armor and found this book. Gerald of Wales gives more references for them, saying "in some conditions such protection was preferable to iron armor".
The author suggests it was basically a universal type of armor for the poorer welsh for couldn't afford mail, perhaps that's plausible. What I find interesting, however, is in Heath's Armies of Middle Ages vol. , where he argues that English 14th century payrolls pays the smallest salaries to Welsh due to "the total lack of armor", and all the artistic evidence of Welsh soldiers we have (like, 3 references) usually shows them barefooted wearing a large tunic. I don't know if the Welsh eventually dropped leather armor in 14th century or if they would wear them under the armor; perhaps the lower pay meant that leather armor was so inferior to gambeson that its soldiers would receive lesser pay.

Besides, thanks for all the other information.


Sorry, I should have been clearer there. Wace was describing mercenary archers from the Continent. Where they came from isn't specified, although it's possible he was describing archers from the Low Countries or the very north of France, since there are a few references which suggest that archers from this region were especially good in the 12th century (The Murder of Charles the Good, Raoul de Cambrai).

Regarding Wales, Sean Davies unfortunately follows Alcock too closely when it comes to the translation of "lluric", and Alcock makes heavy use of old 19th century Latin dictionaries that still thought "lorica" was a word for "leather armour" rather than a generic term for armour most often used for mail. The translator of Gerald of Wales Davies used was either using the same old dictionary or relied on Alcock's expertise when translating, so what should have been "small coats of mail" became "small leather corselets".

This leaves John of Salisbury as the only source attesting to the Welsh wearing leather armour, and that makes the possibility he was soapboxing and advocating more use of Continental mercenaries/infantry armour more likely in my opinion.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Aug, 2019 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:
I don't remember if it was in Osprey's Knight of the Outremer or in Italian Militiamen, but the author says leather pieces of armor was a lighter alternative to metal ones. I don't know if thats actually true.

It's not true. In order for leather to provide similar protection to metal, it has to be significantly thicker and heavier than metal. The whole point of going to the trouble and expense of using metal is that it was the lightest material available. That remained true until the development of aramid (Kevlar).

The primary threat on a battlefield for thousands of years was from spears and arrows. Single-layered leather armour is useless against these weapons, even when it is hardened into cuirbouilli; which is why it was layered over mail. The leather provided the concussion resistance while mail provided the point resistance. Proper, stand-alone leather armour was multi-layered and very thick. Seven layers is the most I've seen but 2-4 layers were common, depending on the thickness of the hide.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 24 Aug, 2019 5:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding Gerald of Wales, I've read through his entire "Description of Wales" and only found two references to hide or leather. One was regarding shoes [Ch. VIII] and the other was talking about hide boats [Ch. XVII]. No mention of leather armour or clothing anywhere in the text. The phrase that is mistranslated as "leather cuirass" is loricus minoribus, which simply means "little armour". IMO the phrase is used to distinguish between a full-length mail hauberk and a shorter haubergeon.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sun 25 Aug, 2019 5:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, it looks to me like the cuirie was basically a reinforcement for mail, I can't think of any source where someone wears just a cuirie. The Modus Armandi Milites from before 1333 says that a knight should wear a cuirie over his hauberk for a tournament, but German plates for war and a gambeson for a joust.

It says that either steel or leather greaves are acceptable. There are a few references from the Hundred Years' War to poor footsoldiers wearing leather or wicker caps instead of iron headpieces.

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