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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Gambeson, mail, plate, and leather armor Reply to topic
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 4:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart,

That could mean several things, not sure it means the thickness of the mail has changed specifically though. He could be looking at armour as in aketon, mail etc. over each other being thicker combined and now impossible to pierce.

It is an interesting line to be sure though.

RPM
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If we find an extant example of mail that seems too light to resist the most common weapons of the time then it obviously wasn't intended to do such. Either it was thicker when it was being used and it has lost some mass during burial/restoration, or it was intended to be layered with another defense - either another layer of mail or some other type of armour. We have plenty of evidence that a fighter would continue to layer defenses until he was confident it would help him survive an engagement.

Last edited by Dan Howard on Sat 27 Apr, 2013 5:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 5:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Perhaps. Guillaume gives us two accounts of Gérard Scropha, dit La Truie's attack on Otto.
http://www.bouvines1214.org/admin/voir_perso.php?id_perso=16

The first is in Vie de Phillipe Auguste, where we only have impenetrable arms, armes impénétrables.
Quote:
Gérard Scropha lui frappa la poitrine d’un couteau qu’il tenait nu dans la main. N’ayant pu le blesser, à cause de l’épaisseur des armes impénétrables qui défendent les chevaliers de notre temps, il réitéra son coup ;


The second is in La Phillipide which specifies iron, armes de fer.
Quote:
Scropha accourt alors, et de son poignard bien acéré, porte à Othon un coup vigoureux dans le milieu de la poitrine, mais les armes de fer dont il avait recouvert ses membres ne plient point sous le fer.


Of course this doesn't eliminate that the added thickness of an aketon beneath might not have helped, or even the exictence of a "trauma plate" iron dish like Guillaume mentions in his joust with Richard I . On the other hand, the near contemporary but heavily corroded hauberk from Kungslena, probably dating to the battle of 1208, weighs 15.3 kg (33.7 lbs).

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 5:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could you provide translations, Mart? Most people here (including me) can't read those passages in their original language. I'd also have more confidence in your attempt rather than a published translation or an online translator.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 5:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like this sentence from the Bouvines account

"As those who witnessed the following have since recounted, at this point he [the Count of Saint-Pol] came into great mortal danger as he was hit by twelve lances at the same time, and yet, with the help of his outstanding virtue, no one could bring either him or his horse down."

Methinks that he was perhaps saved by more than just his virtue. Perhaps a trivial thing called "armour" might have helped a little too.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
Mart,

That could mean several things, not sure it means the thickness of the mail has changed specifically though. He could be looking at armour as in aketon, mail etc. over each other being thicker combined and now impossible to pierce.

It is an interesting line to be sure though.

RPM

Or he could be contrasting modern warfare with that of the biblical and ancient worlds. At least one High Medieval chronicler considered the huge numbers of dead in Old Testament and ancient battle narratives, and decided that the ancients must have had worse armour than warriors in the chronicler's own day.
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Bob Haynes




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 6:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed, imop, its a good thing to live by karma's guidelines of "What goes around comes around.", and whatnot for moral structure, but its the same as leaning solely on a prayer for a solution and reason. You just can't only rely on an invisible force, so to speak.

Though part of me wonders if this is an exaggeration. If so, by how much?
Or is it? I know I'm sure as hell interested in knowing just how much punishment maille could be made to take. And how this would be done.


Last edited by Bob Haynes on Sun 28 Apr, 2013 3:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 6:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Or he could be contrasting modern warfare with that of the biblical and ancient worlds. At least one High Medieval chronicler considered the huge numbers of dead in Old Testament and ancient battle narratives, and decided that the ancients must have had worse armour than warriors in the chronicler's own day.

Yep. In any case, William seems to think that the armour worn at Bouvines was impenetrable.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 7:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart,

Thanks for the excerpts. Still not seeing it clearly indicating solely mail. It seems rather general how I am reading it regarding armaments.

Dan,

Maybe. Could have been exaggeration as well. Even now we say things like this about things that are really not. I am the first to think that there was mail and then other mail but this excerpt to me is just not clear enough for that. As well I do not think there ever was a time period that armour made a man 100% safe against arms. Against a large number of injuries and dangers perhaps but not 100%. I think we need to be careful with reading such accounts so literally. It is like watching the young and the restless and thinking that everyone in real life is self centered and out to get everyone else. This is wrote to be exciting and amazing not boring more going to work everyday and having to stop and get milk and eggs at the store....

I still think the idea that they layered armour up until they felt safe is slippery. This discounts cost and a million other factors. For the wealthy knights even cost played a part in armaments. The better off you were the more likely you could afford armour that would help you survive. I have seen very little period evidence and modern testing to prove that a padded jack that was usable was equal to a well heat treated cuirass. That said it is clear the heat treated breastplate was many times as expensive as the padded armour.

RPM
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 8:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan,
Your confidence in my translation abilites is much undeserved. I also use available translations, and online translators, only resorting to a word-by-word translation using a dictionary in difficult passages.

Since the battle occurred in 1214, it is difficult to imagine the arms of iron defending Otto's chest were anything other than mail or some exceptionally early use of an unmentioned plate. With Otto being Emperor, I would suggest he could afford the highest quality of arms.

It seems clear to me that Otto is stabbed in the chest with the point of a knife -- perhaps one made for the pupose of stabbing, but his armor due to it's thickness (l'épaisseur) is impenetrable. This doesn't seem unusual to Guillaume as it is imparted to the armor worn by knights of the time. The account is full of men with knives wrestling off the helms and gorgets of others to perform successful stabs. In two cases, stabs are attempted by lifting the skirt of the hauberk, but are foiled because the chausses are sewn or laced to the hauberk in some way. Mail might not have ben impenetrable to a sparth, or a lance thrust during a charge, but it seems proof against single handed thrusts at least. The fact that it was mentioned "in our time" seems to me to indicate this had not always been the case. Certainly mail became more enveloping by the early 13th century with attached coifs, mufflers, and chausses becoming normal, but the account specifically say beacuse of the thickness of arms worn the blow was stopped.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 8:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart,

That is just it though. 'Thickness of arms' itself could easily be mail, aketon or even some type of early iron plate or just mail but the line is not wrote clear enough to be sure. Why assume it is the mail alone? I have read the passage a few times and am not getting that from it.

In other places in his work he mentions early plate armour. My guess is on this over thicker mail myself. I have never found any evidence linking thicker mail to stand alone armour. Wish I could. Makes sense but clear evidence is what is lacking. The only examples of super light fine ones are hidden mail shirts worn outside of war that one can see a clear trend. Otherwise in war we have objects for war that use heavy and more light ring that clearly were used in war in the same capacity. Mail aventails come to mind. I have seen super fine wire used and rather thick wire used. I wish I had found some strong tie to this but am not seeing one and I have looked at in person scores if not hundreds of mail garments. My gut feeling here is the iron plate but I could not prove it as it remains vague. Could be thicker mail, could be mail and plate, could be something else, maybe not.

RPM
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 9:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed with Randall. There is no way to tell whether William is talking about heavier mail or multiple layers of armour. An account of the Siege of Cologne (1114) talks about one group of the Emperor's army wearing horn armour that was impervious to arrows and that is even earlier than Bouvines - but it is unclear whether the horn corselet was worn over mail or by itself.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Apr, 2013 9:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

King Philip's armour was singled out as being somehow "special".

While they were fighting Otto and the Germans, the Teuton foot soldiers who had gone on ahead suddenly reached the King and, with lances and iron hooks, brought him to the ground. If the outstanding virtue of the special armour with which his body was enclosed had not protected him, they would have killed him on the spot.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Apr, 2013 9:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Perhaps it's time to dig out Guillaume's original Latin....

The Phillipide, lines 1514-1516:
Quote:
Advolat, et strictum dat eidem Scropha cutellum
Pectoris in medio, nee cedere ferrea ferro
Arma volunt, quibus Otho suos muniverat artus.


Ferrea ferro is lierally iron-iron, but might be translated unyielding iron, or iron-like iron. A 19th century translator might have used the adjective "steely", but it's not. Again, we find Otto covered with arma rather than the slightly more specific lorica.

Now to see if we can find the language for the "thick arms" in Gesta Philippi H. regis Francorum.....

EDIT
(Had to take a few hours off to pass a kidney stone. Blech.)
http://www.archive.org/stream/uvresderigordet...t_djvu.txt
pp.283-4

Quote:
Girardus Scropha cultellum quem nudum in manu
habebat, dédit in pectus ejus ; sed ipsum propter
armorum densitatem, quibus milites nostri temporis
impenetrabiliter muniuntur, ledere non valens, ictum
reiteravit* ;


"Thickness (density) of arms"seems to be a good translation to describe the armor worn by "knights of our time". Sorry it's not more specific.

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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Sun 28 Apr, 2013 9:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
King Philip's armour was singled out as being somehow "special".

While they were fighting Otto and the Germans, the Teuton foot soldiers who had gone on ahead suddenly reached the King and, with lances and iron hooks, brought him to the ground. If the outstanding virtue of the special armour with which his body was enclosed had not protected him, they would have killed him on the spot.


Seems to be in Book 282, as "incomparable arms".
Quote:
Theutonicorum virtute
admirabili impedientibus, pedites Theutonici circum-
vallaverunt regem et ab equo uncinis et lanceis graci-
libus in terram ab equo^ provoiverunt ; et nisi dextra
superna et incomparabili armatora protegeretur, eum
penitus occidissent.

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Apr, 2013 5:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart,

Actually the use of arma over lorica is one of the interesting aspects of this. If he was saying lorica alone I'd assume it was mail at this period of time. To me arma usually seems to mean general armour, so thickness of armour would be mean in total to my mind. Usually I see arma as used in general, check the mens defensive armour or the men were well armoured or in armed men.

I do like that the king had incomparable armour. Sort of what one would expect.

RPM
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Apr, 2013 6:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall.

One of those concepts of densus beyond thick is "crowded", e.g. There was a dense crowd at the concert. The Phillipide accounting of the same incident emphasizes the iron-like iron of the arms, so I'm not sure I'd ascribe the defense to anything beyond mail; yet we still see Guillame using "arms" to descibe the Emperor's equipment. While arma is used, there is little doubt that Otto was struck in the center of the breast, an area certainly covered with a mail hauberk, lorica, at least.

Just mulling this over....

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Apr, 2013 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart Shearer wrote:
Randall.

One of those concepts of densus beyond thick is "crowded", e.g. There was a dense crowd at the concert. The Phillipide accounting of the same incident emphasizes the iron-like iron of the arms, so I'm not sure I'd ascribe the defense to anything beyond mail; yet we still see Guillame using "arms" to descibe the Emperor's equipment. While arma is used, there is little doubt that Otto was struck in the center of the breast, an area certainly covered with a mail hauberk, lorica, at least.

Just mulling this over....

I would render "et strictum dat eidem Scropha cutellum/Pectoris in medio, nee cedere ferrea ferro/Arma volunt, quibus Otho suos muniverat artus" into English as "and Scropha struck him with a keen dagger in the middle of the breast, but the iron equipment, with which Otho had fortified his limbs, did not consent to yield to the iron."

The passage about Philip is interesting because the Latin attributes his survival to his superior right hand (dextra superna) and his incomparable kit (incomparabilis armatura), whereas the English seems to just mention the armour.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Apr, 2013 12:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean,

I think that looks about right to me as well.

Mart,

It can mean several things but even if you used crowded it still cannot be clearly applied to mail. He just does not say that.

RPM
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