Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Swords and the age of Mail Reply to topic
This is a Spotlight Topic Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9  Next 
Author Message
Mike Fawk





Joined: 25 Aug 2009

Posts: 7

PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mr. King,
You are under the assumption then that I am an American? That is irrelevant, I do not need to explain personal governmental opinion. This is also not a democratic website, we have moderators to remove people and ban saying things.
Mr. Howard
I respect your opinion, but not your approach, you come off as quite rude. As to "maille" or "mail" I specifically did not bring this up. There were not specific spelling rules prior to at least the 18th cent. Early manuscripts show all sorts of spelling variations. I have a beef with improper word choice, but not spelling.
View user's profile
Justin King
Industry Professional



Location: flagstaff,arizona
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 551

PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 7:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm going to suggest that the off-topic disagreements be moved to another venue, if they must continue. Let's not waste the Mod's time with this, they have better things to do, I'm sure.
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 9:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Please take your personal arguments off line and out of this forum's view. Thank you. Discuss the subject, not the person.
.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,354

PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Taylor Ellis wrote:
Dan, if you don't mind me asking you directly, what is you opinion on the robustness of mail in say late 12th century Europe?

Mail that was intended to be worn as a primary defense tends to be heavier than mail that was intended to be worn in conjunction with another defense. It doesn't really matter which period you are discussing.

Quote:
I can appreciate that knights of this period were hard if not impossible, to kill without forcing a dagger or lance through the mail. My question is why did Europeans of this period persist with the lenticular type X, XI and XII swords? Obviously swords were not the primary weapon of the knightly class, nor were all potential opponents fully armoured. Making the assumption that our ancestors were intelligent and capable of adapting their weapons to their environment, why did type XV (et al) swords not turn up in the late 11th century instead of the mid 14th? Why use a sword that would be obviously more ineffective than it had to be?

One must conclude that the swords they had were the best choice for the task for which they were applied. We can only speculate on what those tasks were. It is fairly clear though that one cannot cut through most types of mail with a one-handed sword. The typology of that sword is largely irrelevant. So the change from one type of sword to another must not have had anything to do with whether it could cut through armour.

During the time in question the knight's objective was not to kill fellow knights. Ransom was the goal. Would it have been a priority for a knight's sword to be able to shear through his opponent's armour? During the transition from mail to plate knightly atitudes started to change from ransoming armoured opponents to killing them which might have caused him to reevaluate his weapons. During this same period more lower classes were paid professionals and a greater percentage of a host was more heavily armoured. There were more non-knightly armoured oppenents for a knight to deal with than, say, during the 12th century. I would suggest that even if plate was never developed the knightly sword would still have changed because of new social factors.
View user's profile Send private message
Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Wed 26 Aug, 2009 6:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cheers for the reply mate.

Dan Howard wrote:

Mail that was intended to be worn as a primary defense tends to be heavier than mail that was intended to be worn in conjunction with another defense. It doesn't really matter which period you are discussing.

Fair enough, I just wanted to give a specific period as I'm not as well versed on the historical development of mail as opposed to swords.

Quote:
One must conclude that the swords they had were the best choice for the task for which they were applied. We can only speculate on what those tasks were. It is fairly clear though that one cannot cut through most types of mail with a one-handed sword. The typology of that sword is largely irrelevant. So the change from one type of sword to another must not have had anything to do with whether it could cut through armour.

By typology I was referring to the broad bladed cutting swords early on in Oakeshott's typology as opposed to the more thrusting orientated versions you see later on.

Quote:
During the time in question the knight's objective was not to kill fellow knights. Ransom was the goal.

Was this always the case though? Surely certain opponents were worthy of ransom, but it wouldnt have been so much of an issue for certain groups (such as bodyguards, the military orders etc). I wonder why they persisted with the broad bladed swords for so long.

Quote:
Would it have been a priority for a knight's sword to be able to shear through his opponent's armour? During the transition from mail to plate knightly atitudes started to change from ransoming armoured opponents to killing them which might have caused him to reevaluate his weapons. During this same period more lower classes were paid professionals and a greater percentage of a host was more heavily armoured. There were more non-knightly armoured oppenents for a knight to deal with than, say, during the 12th century. I would suggest that even if plate was never developed the knightly sword would still have changed because of new social factors.

That's certainly an interesting point. I guess my modern viewpoint is clouding my perspective: as a soldier (and a commoner!) I couldnt imagine using or even carrying a weapon that couldnt be reliably lethal when or if I needed it to be. Especially when an alternative (ie more thrusting sword types) was so easily found.
View user's profile Send private message
Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,576

PostPosted: Thu 27 Aug, 2009 12:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The long striking swords of the 12th and 13th centuries might as well be linked with the use of kite/heater shields as with mail.

While mail is essentially cut proof, 13th c greathelms generally did not cover the neck, which would still be a viable target for a striking sword; Blunt trauma to the head and neck is still not very plesant.
With the intoduction of full length helmets and gorgets, this opening closed, prompting the transition to thrusting swords.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website MSN Messenger
Daniel Lip





Joined: 19 Aug 2009

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu 27 Aug, 2009 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
During the time in question the knight's objective was not to kill fellow knights. Ransom was the goal.

Quote:
Was this always the case though? Surely certain opponents were worthy of ransom, but it wouldnt have been so much of an issue for certain groups.


A lone dueling knight may prefer to capture his opponent for ransom. But I find it hard to imagine hundreds of knights on the battle field tying up their opponents rather than killing them while swords were swinging and arrows were landing all around.

I guess that the battlefield wasn't as bloody as may be expected. Broken bones and internal damage but very little open wounds (at least for those in armour)

Quote:

I couldnt imagine using or even carrying a weapon that couldnt be reliably lethal when or if I needed it to be. Especially when an alternative (ie more thrusting sword types) was so easily found.


Very true. Why would I take a sword into battle, knowing that it would be hard to cause damage with it. An axe may have been a better choice and yet most knights (I think) preferred the sword.
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Amt




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

Posts: 1,362

PostPosted: Thu 27 Aug, 2009 5:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Taylor Ellis wrote:
I guess my modern viewpoint is clouding my perspective: as a soldier (and a commoner!) I couldnt imagine using or even carrying a weapon that couldnt be reliably lethal when or if I needed it to be. Especially when an alternative (ie more thrusting sword types) was so easily found.


But a commoner's spear would be a very effective weapon, even if it had no hope of penetrating a knight's armor (though I do think it had SOME hope!). If the infantry stuck together and presented a nice solid hedgehog of spears, they had a good chance of holding off cavalry. And they could kill horses, making the knights much less dangerous.

Daniel Lip wrote:
A lone dueling knight may prefer to capture his opponent for ransom. But I find it hard to imagine hundreds of knights on the battle field tying up their opponents rather than killing them while swords were swinging and arrows were landing all around.


Very generally speaking, the object was to disrupt the enemy's formation and drive them off the battlefield. Knights who were unhorsed or surrounded in the process might very well surrender rather than go through the tedium of some messy "last stand". Any knight who yielded to another would be helped off the field by the winner's squires, courteously, without any need for being tied up. Then he'd spend a few days or weeks at his captor's castle, feasting and hunting until the ransom showed up. Or he might just be sent home to arrange his own ransom payment. It's all on the honor system--these guys were all friends and relatives, after all!

Remember, an army is designed with victory in mind. So your knights are planning to disrupt the opposing knights, send them fleeing, and capture a few, after which their swords will be excellent for mowing down panicked infantry. The infantry, on the other hand, is planning to stand out there making faces at their counterparts while the cavalry dukes it out. Once their own cavalry wins they can advance and help drive off the broken enemy cavalry, and help rout the enemy infantry.

So everyone's weapons are perfectly adequate to all this. They don't *have* to be capable of going easily through any kind of armor.

Valete,

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Christopher VaughnStrever




Location: San Antonio, TX
Joined: 13 Jun 2008
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 382

PostPosted: Thu 27 Aug, 2009 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard
Quote:
During the time in question the knight's objective was not to kill fellow knights. Ransom was the goal. Would it have been a priority for a knight's sword to be able to shear through his opponent's armour? During the transition from mail to plate knightly atitudes started to change from ransoming armoured opponents to killing them which might have caused him to reevaluate his weapons. During this same period more lower classes were paid professionals and a greater percentage of a host was more heavily armoured. There were more non-knightly armoured oppenents for a knight to deal with than, say, during the 12th century. I would suggest that even if plate was never developed the knightly sword would still have changed because of new social factors.


This statement shows the topic leading off into a direction towards plate defense, and unless I am mistaken could be expounded towards this thread. . . and please Dan, at the least please elborate on that comment you made, I am intrigued to hear more of this topic.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=17366


All this seems to contribute to the idea that I have come to have, that when knights fought knights, the sword was not the most likely weapon pulled out. More so would have been the mace or war hammer or weapon of the like. If you were using a sword with knight vs. knight; then wouldn't the knights be using the half swording method of fighting. And in the battlefield with people all around you, would not a knight strive to kill quick and move unto another foe. then as previously commented on, the infantry and lesser men at arms would have been mowed down with the sword by the knights (unless theinfantry were well defended in some method)

And all of this also contributes towards the trueness of chivalry. That chivalry was like a code of greed and self gain. I say that with respects to that code the knights had, But this chivalry does not seem to be kind to someone else (your enemy) just to be kind, but for selfish reasons of wanting to live and profit finacial gain.

Experience and learning from such defines maturity, not a number of age
View user's profile Send private message
Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Thu 27 Aug, 2009 11:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Taylor Ellis wrote:
My own opinion leans toward lenticular sectioned swords generating the most concussive power without compromising their cutting effectiveness against unarmoured foes. If this is right, perhaps plate armour's primary advantage over mail is protection against that percussive force?


Hello,

I think you do a good job of answereing your own question. An opponent may be beaten to the point where they yield without being killed. Mail armour vs. concussive swords would do just that.

As to ransoming - a knight would attack with his squires right behind him, in part to help with captured foes.

Christopher -
It seems that you are missing one point. In the "Age of Mail" the knight isn't necessarily trying to kill his opponents. The sword however is a versatile weapon. It can subdue a mail armoured knight and kill a less armoured infantryman while still being an excellent weapon for defense. The fact is that axes, hammers and half-swording are more rare in depictions of this age.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Christopher VaughnStrever




Location: San Antonio, TX
Joined: 13 Jun 2008
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 382

PostPosted: Thu 27 Aug, 2009 12:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To clarify my comment, it was directed more to plate defense of knights, and not towards a "Age of Mail" only attired knight. See as the afore mentioned comments were leading towards Plate armor and that transition period, rather than the maile standard.
Experience and learning from such defines maturity, not a number of age
View user's profile Send private message
Harry J. Fletcher




Location: Lost in Texas
Joined: 19 Aug 2009
Likes: 9 pages
Reading list: 44 books

Posts: 260

PostPosted: Wed 02 Sep, 2009 7:47 pm    Post subject: Mail As Effective Sword Cut Protection         Reply with quote

Gentlemen when we speak of mail, maile, or chainmail we all agree that we are speaking of one and the same thing. The sine qua non here is that mail stopped a cut from a sword most of the time. Tests have proved that it did not stop arrows or axe cuts. For a few centuries before and around the time of the battle of Hastings and for a considerable period after slashing was the preferred method of dispatching one's adversaries when using a sword but...as Mike Loades pointed out and I paraphrase him here "...swords were just sharpened iron bars." He even demonstrates how one position could be used to diabled an adversary with a sword blow to his mail protected spine. It was the smashing effect of the sword and the sometimes cutting effect it had which caused death and injury to mail clad opponents. This what led to the padding worn under the mail by knights and men at arms. One might say this was an early form of composite armor.

The warriors of the medieval era did not abandon their swords but appreciated their limitations and supplemented them as has been pointed in this discussion several times. They were aware of the limitations of their armor and sought to improve upon it whenever they could. Lorica Segmentata was a very effective Roman armor of the 1st Century A.D. and was only issued to standard legions, not auxilliaries who got standard mail. One of the principal reasons that this armor stop being used was that the technique was lost when Roman battle tactics changed and the distinction between what an actual Roman legion was and a Barbarian soldier was blurred until the Barbarians became the Roman army itself.

Little by little the technique of making plate was relearned until larger and larger pieces of plate were finally being made but supplemented in the cracks and crevices by mail and with padded defenses worn underneath.

This is my observation. You can agree with it or reject it ...but semantics aside it is reasonably accurate. Happy Happy Happy

To Study The Edge of History
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,354

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 3:11 am    Post subject: Re: Mail As Effective Sword Cut Protection         Reply with quote

Harry J. Fletcher wrote:
Tests have proved that it did not stop arrows or axe cuts.

There has yet to be a single test that uses both a decent reconstruction of mail and a decent reconstruction of bow/arrow. Dr Williams did the best test and his results suggest that mail was very effective against arrows though he underestimated the amount of energy that a heavy warbow could deliver.

Quote:
For a few centuries before and around the time of the battle of Hastings and for a considerable period after slashing was the preferred method of dispatching one's adversaries when using a sword
Only if he was not wearing mail.

Quote:
..as Mike Loades pointed out and I paraphrase him here "...swords were just sharpened iron bars."
Along with many things Mr Loades has said, this, too, is wrong.

Quote:
Lorica Segmentata was a very effective Roman armor of the 1st Century A.D. and was only issued to standard legions, not auxilliaries who got standard mail.
This is an old theory that has been disproved. The poorest ranks were issued segmentata regardless of whether they were legionaires or auxilliaries. Keep in mind that many auxilliaries were wealthier than legionaries since they could supply their own horse. If you were wealthy enough to supply a warhorse, no way would you be caught dead wearing peasant armour (segmentata).

Quote:
One of the principal reasons that this armor stop being used was that the technique was lost when Roman battle tactics changed and the distinction between what an actual Roman legion was and a Barbarian soldier was blurred until the Barbarians became the Roman army itself.
The most likely reason for the discontinuation of segmentata was the mass production techniques of the state-run fabricae of the 3rd-4th centuries enabled mail to be produced quickly and cheaply enough that segmentata was made redundant.

Quote:
Little by little the technique of making plate was relearned until larger and larger pieces of plate were finally being made but supplemented in the cracks and crevices by mail and with padded defenses worn underneath.
The techniques were never lost. It takes at least as much skill to raise a helmet from a single piece of iron as it does to fashion a breastplate. This skill is evident right throughout the so-called "age of mail". Lack of skill had nothing to do with the lack of solid plate body armour during this time.

All of your arguments seem to be based on a lack of understanding of the true effectvemess of properly riveted mail armour.
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Amt




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

Posts: 1,362

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 7:28 am    Post subject: Re: Mail As Effective Sword Cut Protection         Reply with quote

Harry J. Fletcher wrote:
The sine qua non here is that mail stopped a cut from a sword most of the time.


Agreed!

Quote:
Tests have proved that it did not stop arrows or axe cuts.


Proved it?? Huh, I must have missed something! Funny that it took the guys wearing the stuff about 1500 years to figure out it was so worthless, eh?

Quote:
as Mike Loades pointed out and I paraphrase him here "...swords were just sharpened iron bars."


Funny, that's exactly the opposite of what everyone who has been able to examine medieval swords up close has said. Kind of an insult to the incredible craftsmanship that went into those finely crafted weapons, too.

Quote:
The warriors of the medieval era did not abandon their swords but appreciated their limitations and supplemented them as has been pointed in this discussion several times.


Agreed in general. I might say rather that swords were used to supplement the spear and lance, but that could be construed as bantering semantics.

Quote:
They were aware of the limitations of their armor and sought to improve upon it whenever they could.


Then they should have skipped from the armor of the third century AD to the 15th century a lot more quickly. The fact that they did not implies to me that most warriors were satisfied with the performance of their armor. Changes came only very slowly.

Quote:
Lorica Segmentata was a very effective Roman armor of the 1st Century A.D. and was only issued to standard legions, not auxilliaries who got standard mail.


As Dan has pointed out, that is no longer thought to be the case. I certainly agree that segmentata is very effective, but it's curious that it does not seem to have been worn by any sort of officer.

Quote:
One of the principal reasons that this armor stop being used was that the technique was lost when Roman battle tactics changed and the distinction between what an actual Roman legion was and a Barbarian soldier was blurred until the Barbarians became the Roman army itself.


Again, as Dan has pointed out, tactics most likely had nothing to do with it. Especially since more of Rome's opponents at that time were using axes and bows, eh? We've had HUGE long discussions on this very topic on the Roman Army Talk board, and all we can conclude is that it was simply easier to mass-produce mail, it was easier to store and maintain, and it did not need to be tailored to fit like segmentata did. Far more sensible for centralized production. There is a vast amount of very good sheet iron work from the Late Roman and early medieval periods, so clearly the *ability* to make armor plates was not lost at all.

Vale,

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,725

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

About 35 years ago I read a story in 'Outdoor Life' about someone who took a real historical mail hauberk, draped it over a 1" thick piece of wood, and then shot at it with a modern hunting bow and arrow. He said the arrow went through both layers of mail and the board. This proves nothing, except that people have been arguing and telling anecdotes about this for a long time.

What I would like to see are video and photos from some real tests, done with the proper materials (and backing) by someone who knows how to do it right. We have seen videos of swords cutting mail, but was it done right? Enough of the theorizing! Lets see some experiments. I would do it myself but all of my mail is butted, so no one would accept the results.

Can someone take up this challenge? It could not be that hard if you are willing to sacrifice some materials for knowledge.

PS - I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but mail is still in use today by divers who swim in dangerous waters.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
Joined: 05 Aug 2008
Likes: 23 pages

Posts: 456

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 3:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's some rather nice test. Sand bags aren't ideal realistic backup for mail and gambeson, but they're better than wood boards, certainly. Wink

http://www.cotasdemalla.es/ma1.htm
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,354

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 3:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Can someone take up this challenge? It could not be that hard if you are willing to sacrifice some materials for knowledge.

It is extraordinarily difficult. There are only a handful of people in the world with the skills and knowledge to make mail that resembles historical pieces. There are very few sources of bloomery iron. It takes money to analyse a surviving piece of mail to ensure that the metallurgy of your replica is correct. Even then, that only tells you what ONE type of mail is capable of. Then you need to replicate the procedure for as many surviving examples as possible in order to use the data to draw some general conclusions. In addition there is no consensus on what was worn UNDER the mail so all of the above examples need to be tested in conjunction with the various theories about underpadding. And the same rigorousness needs to be applied to getting this underpadding constructed using period materials and techniques. Just writing up the experiment would take a lot of research even before a single link is riveted.
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,354

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 3:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bartek Strojek wrote:
Here's some rather nice test. Sand bags aren't ideal realistic backup for mail and gambeson, but they're better than wood boards, certainly. Wink

http://www.cotasdemalla.es/ma1.htm


While I like Julio's work this experiment only shows what decent quality modern riveted mail and modern weapons can do. It doesn't tell us a lot about period weapons or armour.
View user's profile Send private message
Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
Joined: 05 Aug 2008
Likes: 23 pages

Posts: 456

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 3:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bartek Strojek wrote:

While I like Julio's work this experiment only shows what decent quality modern riveted mail and modern weapons can do. It doesn't tell us a lot about period weapons or armour.


Well, of course, it's only test shooting.

The test shows arrow from wooden bow though, against wool gambeson, and riveted mail. It doesn't sound like that much, but it's anyway better than almost other "test" which usually contain shooting some butted reenacting mail, for example.

And it's too bad that there's no data about arrows mass, velocity, other that the bow is 50.
View user's profile Send private message
Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Thu 03 Sep, 2009 8:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Can someone take up this challenge? It could not be that hard if you are willing to sacrifice some materials for knowledge.


There's a not a compelling need for such tests (though they would be quite nice). The accounts of battles that survive make the answer clear: most mail is proof against penetration by most weapons.

The search function here will bring up plenty of discussion on the subject. But the short version is that. there are individual accounts of mail being pierced by arrows and the like. However, descriptions of large battles are clear that mail doesn't penetrate armour often.

Cheers,
Steven

P.S. A test that I'd love to see would be spears against mail. The mass of a spear shaft would probably make them more effective than daggers and type XV swords etc.

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Swords and the age of Mail
Page 6 of 9 Reply to topic
Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9  Next 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