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Joseph C.




Location: Pensacola, Florida
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 6:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alina,
I think that there can be some reconciliation between the period sources and contemporary experiments. One of the best is the theory I’ve read about on these boards that concludes that a Medieval battle was something like a boxing match. While maille was rarely (if at all) cut through with a single blow, it could be breached by repeated blows to the same area. This could account for some of the instances of swords cutting through armour, and makes sense because fighters tend to have areas they do not protect as well as others. For instance, my extremely brief SCA fighting experience showed that I couldn’t protect my head very well! Back to the point, it could explain why there are a lot of figures in the Maciejowski Bible with wounds that are obviously not fatal. In those instances, it could be that only a few links had given way.

However, to bolster the effectiveness of armour, there is Beowulf. If I remember correctly, maille was considered quite effective by the author who called it, "the bane of swords." So, at least one Medieval source considered it proof against swords.

Then there is the romance and mythology that surrounded swords to consider. First, swords are mentioned in the Bible as being an instrument of God. In Ephesians chapter six, verse seventeen is says, "Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." In John’s Revelation it mentions, speaking of Christ, that, "From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron…" (Revelation 19:15) Angels are also mentioned being armed with swords throughout the Bible. Perhaps because of that, and the pagan belief that some well made swords were magical, the myths about swords flourished.

And they did flourish. Take into account that a crusading king was said to have cut through a bar of iron with his sword. There are several pictorial representations of fully armored men being cut down to the saddle. And let us not forget that the legend of King Arthur was written down in the High Middle Ages, and in it is the famous Excalibur. While I think that many of the claims in Medieval art and literature are true, these are obviously trumped up claims.

That brings me around to another point. I think that it is wrong to assume that the mindset of a contemporary soldier is the same as that of any person in the Middle Ages. You see, we are products of the post-Enlightenment era and of the Scientific Era. We tend to want things believable and scoff at anything that can not be proved. However, Medieval knights lived before every mystery in our universe was explained (or at least claimed to explain) by the process of science. So, they probably were more open to believe in miraculous things. Furthermore, there is no evidence that they distained exaggeration. Not only that, but the events that most authors/artists depicted happened many years beforehand. There was time for the "fish story" to grow into something more akin to a "whale" one. Happy

I personally believe that, since battles and tournaments lasted all day long, maille could have been defeated by the end of the day. However, since knights tended to live through both war and tournament (with sharp swords) I believe that their armour was quite effective at keeping them alive.

I hope that is of some use,
Joseph

Disclaimer: I do not speak/write with any authority. I do not have a history degree, nor am I an Experimental Archeologist. My opinions are based on the wisdom of others, much of it from this board—so I can not take credit for it myself. In addition, it may have seemed like I called Bible passages "myth." This was not the case as I am an Evangelical Christian. I was merely pointing out that anything associated with God can be taken out of context and exaggerated.

Hosea 4:6a
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.


Last edited by Joseph C. on Mon 06 Dec, 2004 12:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joseph C.




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy,
I feel your pain regarding non-historical maille. My period of interest is close to yours, 1050 to 1320—the quintessential Age of Maille. However, I’ll never be able to afford a realistic hauberk either. Sad

~Joseph

Hosea 4:6a
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 7:06 am    Post subject: hmm....         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
Alina Boyden wrote:

My sources tell me that not only could longbows not penetrate plate, but that archers in the East had an incredibly difficult time piercing the mail armour of the crusaders. In fact, the sources describe the Europeans as looking like porcupines but being completely unharmed within their armour.


I'm far from an expert on this, but I don't believe the "archers in the East" would have had a true longbow. I think the long bow ("borrowed" from the Welsh), it's usage and ammo are different than what armies opposing the crusaders might have used.


Could you define "true longbow" please?
Do you have any data as to the typical draw weight of Arab composite bows in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries?
Certainly, the Mongols had more powerful composite bows in the thirteenth. Mail clad Poles and Russians made a very poor show against them. Perhaps they made the mistake of buying substandard Indian mail? WTF?!

I am very pleased to see Erik weigh in on this subject. His studies of period artifacts and experiments reproducing them have been enormously useful to this community. I hope Erik will offer his opinion as to why so many period references mention damage or even lethal compromise of mail when his rather thorough studies and experiments demonstrate this cannot be true. I used the search feature on this site and several others trying to find his opinion on this. I must have missed something. (for the record, I am firmly in the middle on this topic, much like Pat Kelly)

Erik, would you be willing to comment on this?
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 7:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know of a 15th c. painting depicting a cut & thrust, single-hand sword cleanly splitting down the middle, head to crotch, a fully plate-armored horseman. Is anyone here willing to argue that such a feat is possible? Contemporary artists asserted that it was.

How many medieval statues/paintings depict St. George slaying a dragon? Yet, I don't hear any serious person arguing that dragons existed anywhere other than deep inside our collective monkey-brain (which, according to one theory, combines in one creature the threats of snakes, raptors and big cats). No scholar is going to argue that dragons existed even though contemporary documents clearly describe them. But one can't simply reject those accounts "because we know they're not true," then turn around and say "I must accept contemporary martial depictions because the artists knew best and I don't know why they'd depict anything other than the literal truth." That's faith, not scholarship. Why did medieval people depict dragons if no such creature existed? Why did they believe the Earth was the center of the universe, when all available natural evidence suggested otherwise? Why did they believe in religious miracles, witchcraft and similar violations of the (now) known laws of physics?

It seems safest, if not most productive, to assume that nothing in contemporary documents can be accepted as literal truth until such is proved.

Cue the experimental archaeologists and cryptozoologists!

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)


Last edited by Sean Flynt on Mon 06 Dec, 2004 11:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 7:52 am    Post subject: Re: hmm....         Reply with quote

Kel Rekuta wrote:

Could you define "true longbow" please?
Do you have any data as to the typical draw weight of Arab composite bows in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries?
Certainly, the Mongols had more powerful composite bows in the thirteenth. Mail clad Poles and Russians made a very poor show against them.


There is a chapter concerning Turkish composite bows in Sir Ralph Payne-Gallway's book on crossbows, in which he goes to great lengths to describe the power of these bows as being much greater than European longbows. He states that they could launch an arrow of over 2 feet in length between 600 and 800 yards, when utilized by the best trained archers. The bows are described as having such extreme draw weights that Europeans could not even string them , let alone make practical use of them. He mentions a famous example of the use of the Turkish bow in England, the 1795 effort of the Secretary to the Turkish Ambassador in London, who launched an arrow of more than 25 inches length over a distance of 480 yards. He estimates the draw weight of Turkish bows available in the late 19th Century at between 150 and 160 pounds.

Penetration is heavily dependent on the arrow's head configuration. A broad hunting point that would work well on game or soft targets would likely not penetrate mail at all, while the same bow could perhaps put a more pointed shaft through mail rings much more easily.
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd like to take my hat off to Alina for being willing to bring this topic up again. While I expect there was a collective groan when the subject heading popped up on people's screens, I, personally, don't think other threads have always done justice to the question. I am not saying that balanced opinions have never been given-- only that the two opposites (maille is nigh invincible/ obviously swords could cut through maille) were expressed with such strength that any other voices were drowned out. This is, of course, subjective, but that is how it seemed to me.

Between the two extremes I was drawn towards the "maille is nigh invincible" side (notwithstanding the effects of percussive strikes etc) as demonstrated by experimental archaeology... but I still felt some unease with regards to contemporary literature and art. I am totally open to there being room for both artistic and literary device in descriptions of warfare-- but the idea that it is all "Hollywood" ( or should that be "Holywoode"?) does'nt sit easily with me.

So... I think this thread has done justice to the whole discussion. Thanks Patrick and others who have taken the more moderate view. In the case of this thread, that's the flavour I'll be left with.

Cheers,

David
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 8:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Quote:
Why did they believe in religious miracles... and similar violations of the (now) known laws of physics?


Hi Sean,

Don't want to hijack the thread but thought I would touch on this briefly.

The point of miracles is precisely that they do violate the known laws of physics. While no one can argue that our knowledge of physics has multiplied astronomically, the ancients had a pretty good grasp of the basics. The fact that things happened that weren't supposed to happen defined them as miracles.

The fact that people believe(d) in miracles doesn't mean that they do not understand physics per se-- they do understand. The issue is worldview-- they didn't see the universe in terms of "simple physicality". They believed that the laws of physics were created by a "lawgiver" so to speak. One who could put such laws in place would have both the ability and the right to suspend said laws-- then you would have a miracle.

I have placed this in the context of a theistic worldview, but it could be as easily adapted to other religious beliefs.

Cheers Happy

David
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed-To say that miracles violate the laws of physics is redundant. The main point is that medieval folks readily accepted as fact things that cannot have happened barring a suspension of the physical laws of the universe. That calls into question the reliability of the contemporary witness, and must be considered when reading/viewing contemporary accounts of combat. To accept that anything is possible via a miracle is to accept the possibility that St. George did slaughter a dragon and, more to the point, that a sword can shear through maile and plate armour even though nobody can reproduce such results today. Again, that's faith, not scholarship. It's essential that we argue about scholarship, but pointless to argue about faith. Cultural concepts of reality is a fascinating subject, but not really helpful in understanding what can and cannot happen when solid objects collide.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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David McElrea




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Quote:
Agreed-To say that miracles violate the laws of physics is redundant. The main point is that medieval folks readily accepted as fact things that cannot have happened barring a suspension of the physical laws of the universe. That calls into question the reliability of the contemporary witness, and must be considered when reading/viewing contemporary accounts of combat. To accept that anything is possible via a miracle is to accept the possibility that St. George did slaughter a dragon and, more to the point, that a sword can shear through maile and plate armour even though nobody can reproduce such results today. Again, that's faith, not scholarship. It's essential that we argue about scholarship, but pointless to argue about faith. Cultural concepts of reality is a fascinating subject, but not really helpful in understanding what can and cannot happen when solid objects collide.


Hi Sean,

Well said-- and you make a valid point, but... Cultural concepts of reality may need to be taken into account if we are going to dismiss contemporary accounts based on their "faulty" view of reality.

If, miracles are understood as the suspension of the normal rules of the universe, that doesn't mean one doesn't understand the normal rules. For example, just because one believes in miracles or even accepts the possibility of strange creatures (St George's dragon) it doesn't follow that one would therefore have no problem believing one could "crack plate" with an egg whisk Happy ... or in this case with a sword. What I'm getting at is, they still knew that it was bad to jump out of high windows, even before Newton extrapolated the idea of "gravity". They may very well believe that God could save them from their fall, but they wouldn't be likely to assume his intervention. Unless we are willing to say that the period illustrations of armour being defeated is always referring to the miraculous, I think it might be fair to say that it is within the realms of possibility that swords could defeat armour... at least sometimes.

I don't think that is faith vs. scholarship-- it's just a scholarship that tries to balance all of the information. I may be wrong of course, but hey! Happy

David
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Yet, I don't hear any serious person arguing that dragons existed anywhere other than deep inside our collective monkey-brain (which, according to one theory, combines in one creature the threats of snakes, raptors and big cats). No scholar is going to argue that dragons existed even though contemporary documents clearly describe them.
It seems safest, if not most productive, to assume that nothing in contemporary documents can be accepted as literal truth until such is proved.



Mr Flynt
I take, and agree with, a lot of your point, though I do think we can be a little too absolute about such things. Taking your example, in England, they would probably not have had too much contact with large scaly monsters, but that doesn't mean that the occasional local wouldn't have found a fossil dinosaur or plesiosaur eroding out of a coastal cliff, or a rotting whale washed up on a beach (just recently we clever modern folk mistook one of the latter for a giant cephalopod). Going further, the more educated would have known of the existence of crocodiles, for example. How much of this is in a name?Whales were once called fish. Maybe some bits of evidence that were named parts of a dragon would have been known by another name nowadays. Does the use of the term dragon automatically make the witnesses liars or fools.
Alina appears to be arguing that depictions are a type of evidence that should not be rejected out of hand. Your suggested approach, of not accepting any value to it until it can be proven by other means, while rigorous, may be risking throwing the baby out with the bathwater. How do we know that the types of modern maille tested are representative of all types of maille that were once used, in all levels of quality and all stages of corrosion. Like David above, I tend towards think that most good maille would stop most cuts (I intend to get some sometime, it is wonderful stuff from what I've seen so far), but also like David, I admire Alina for bringing the subject up.
Geoff Wood
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 10:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed on all points. I really think the best approach is simply to present the contemporary account together with informed qualification when the veracity of the original document is important to the subject at hand-- e.g., "This painting depicts the severing of a mail-clad arm. Although modern scientific experiments with historically accurate reproduction armour and swords have failed to yield similar results, we cannot completely rule out the possibility of such injuries. Similar injuries are commonly shown in contemporary artwork and few modern sword and armour manufacturers claim to perfectly match the skill of their professional ancestors."
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to add something to this in regard to the period sources. Accepting the period sources is not faith - it is common sense. I'm not saying that I believe everything I read. What I am saying is that real historians have to back up their opinions with proof. That proof almost always comes from what contemporary chroniclers had to say about things. Why? Because they are our only witnesses. We have court trials today. In our trials we are doing something very similar to history - we are trying to find the truth of what happened at an event none of us have witnessed. However, we call witnesses of the event to the stand to testify. The period sources are like a person on the witness stand. Now, if someone tells you he saw a man shot and explains the effects of that gunshot wound are we going to disbelieve that person's testimony because he wasn't a ballistics expert? Are we going to throw out the testimony until we can test what that caliber handgun could reasonably do to that particular man's body? I don't believe so.

What I'm saying then, is that while we certainly can't take every depiction or every description at face value, neither can we simply say that experimental archaeology is the "truth." Experimental archaeology and modern reproductions such as those done by Mr. Schmid are like the ballistics expert testifying in the trial. He wasn't there, but he knows a lot about guns and can tell you what that firearm could be reasonably expected to do. As a Historian, I am the judge. I have to take what the witnesses (historical sources) tell me, what the experts (archaeologists) tell me, and then I have to apply a little common sense and reach a decision over what is the most verisimilar explanation of events. Note that I'm not deciding veracity but merely verisimilitude. It is the best I can hope to accomplish.

Now, in regards to the sources I'm drawing upon, I'm not taking the most outlandish things and holding them up for scrutiny. One of my sources also speaks of a man being cleaved to the saddle. This man was wearing full mail armour and a great helm or the literary equivalent. I don't believe that this was possible. However, when the same author describes a hauberk of being so finely woven that it could not be cut - that's when my ears perk up. If not being able to be cut made the armor superlative then that means that lesser quality armor COULD be cut. Otherwise, the description would be pointless. Given that the target audience of this literary work is known to be the nobility of France in the 12th century and given what we know about 12th century French nobility, we can say that they would have known firsthand what mail could and could not do on the battlefield. So, if this writer was immensely popular, then his descriptions must have been clever and verisimilar.

The thought that medieval people, being religious, would believe anything is one that as been debunked by every twentieth century medievalist in existence. This is a 19th century egocentric view that has absolutely no bearing on reality. People who believe in miracles don't believe everything they hear. I'm an Orthodox Christian and I believe in miracles but clearly I'm also capable of thinking for myself outside of the scope of my religion. To say that medieval people could not do the same is a major mistake. In fact, there were many medieval people questioning religion, questioning miracles, and questioning the world around them. They may not have always come to the correct conclusions but that doesn't make them stupid and ignorant - it just means that science had not advanced as far as it has today. We stand on the shoulders of giants - some of those giants are medieval individuals who did great levels of critical thinking for themselves.

On to the subject of accepting documents as literal truth without it being proved by an outside source. My flippant answer would be "Like what?" A lot of things have survived from the middle ages archaeologically speaking but much has not. Look at the Maciejowski bible for example. I haven't heard anyone claim that hauberks did not have attached mittens and coifs in the mid 13th century. To my knowledge, we do not have a full hauberk in mint condition that has survived from the 13th century. But even if we do I think my point has been made. If you do any sort of re-enacting then where do you derive your kit from? Are you going to tell me that you wear clothing that is reproduced from an extant set of medieval clothes that has survived? No, you turn to art. So, what you're telling me is that it is okay to trust medieval art with the fact that knights rode horses. It is okay to trust art that depicts those high cantled saddles. It is ok to trust art that shows specific types of swords and shields, bows and crossbows. But it is not okay to trust anything being done by the people within the artwork? We trust the fact that people played music, feasted, jousted. You yourself probably use medieval manuals to further your sword training. How do you know Ringeck or Fiore de Liberi didn't just make it all up? Because it works? And then we come back to your standard of experimental archaeology. I would agree with you that it would be the best way to do things - if it were perfect. But no mail we have is a perfect replication of medieval mail. How thick would the padding be underneath? We can't measure it so we have to look at --- A SOURCE! Surprised So there is no way for us to even begin to use experimental archaeology without drawing upon the sources. And what I'm arguing is not that we should take the sources at face value without scrutinizing them, but rather, that we should accept that there is truth in what the sources say as well - and most importantly, when the sources say something that disagrees with archaeology we shouldn't throw either form of evidence out but we should stop and think and try our best to resolve those disagreements in an intellectual environment.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alina Boyden wrote:
what I'm arguing is not that we should take the sources at face value without scrutinizing them, but rather, that we should accept that there is truth in what the sources say as well - and most importantly, when the sources say something that disagrees with archaeology we shouldn't throw either form of evidence out but we should stop and think and try our best to resolve those disagreements in an intellectual environment.


We don't disagree. I, too, am a trained historian and sometimes find conflicting contemporary accounts in the course of my research. I resolve those conflicts in exactly this manner, when possible, and simply describe the conflicts when resolution is not possible.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alina Boyden wrote:
On to the subject of accepting documents as literal truth without it being proved by an outside source. My flippant answer would be "Like what?" A lot of things have survived from the middle ages archaeologically speaking but much has not...


The point is not that we should ignore these things, but rather that we shouldn't present them as fact only because they're in contemporary documents. Also, we're not discussing saddles and turnshoes. We're discussing arms and armour. It seems more likely that contemporary sources would make extraordinary claims about arms and armour. And, if a claim in contemporary documents seems extraordinary, I think the historian should defend it only on the strength of extraordinary evidence.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alina;

Getting back to the original question about swords versus mail I would find any experimental results interesting in at least giving a general impression about what to expect as being the level of protection offered by maille.

Obviously the quality of sword versus the quality of mail would give a wide range of results.

It seem strange to me that this subject should bring out so much negative emotion when all I would want is to satisfy my curiousity. If there is no one answer then the various results of tests done with swords to maille would still be worth trying to reconcile with historical records.

At the very least we could quantify what a good modern sword can or cannot do to modern maille.(O.K. the information is probably out there and very familiar to others, but I haven't run across it yet, and haven't really tried to find it yet!)

Maybe some people here have had too many bad experiences trying to discuss this on various forums over many years: I am too new to this forum and forums in general to be bored, jaded or upset by this subject and would like to hear about test results.

Hope that none of this is taken as a rant, and thanks for bringing the subject up. (I always find your post worth reading.)

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 3:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Alina;

Getting back to the original question about swords versus mail I would find any experimental results interesting in at least giving a general impression about what to expect as being the level of protection offered by maille.

Obviously the quality of sword versus the quality of mail would give a wide range of results.

It seem strange to me that this subject should bring out so much negative emotion when all I would want is to satisfy my curiousity. If there is no one answer then the various results of tests done with swords to maille would still be worth trying to reconcile with historical records.

At the very least we could quantify what a good modern sword can or cannot do to modern maille.(O.K. the information is probably out there and very familiar to others, but I haven't run across it yet, and haven't really tried to find it yet!)

Maybe some people here have had too many bad experiences trying to discuss this on various forums over many years: I am too new to this forum and forums in general to be bored, jaded or upset by this subject and would like to hear about test results.

Hope that none of this is taken as a rant, and thanks for bringing the subject up. (I always find your post worth reading.)



Unfortunately, emotion cannot be divorced from anything in the human experience. I honestly hope that I haven't been a harbinger of negative emotions in posting this. I've tried to approach this from as neutral a stance as I could. I agree with what Sean Flynt said about discussing difficulties when two sources are in conflict - that is what I've tried to accomplish with this thread. However, I can't agree that my sources both literary and artistic can be said to be making "extraordinary" claims when they discuss mail armor being defeated by swords. In fact, extraordinary is such a subjective term that it doesn't work as a criteria for judging sources. However, what one person finds believable or even obvious, another person might find outlandish. This is why we have professional historians and this is why often two historians disagree with one another based on the same evidence.
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 3:42 pm    Post subject: Re: hmm....         Reply with quote

Kel Rekuta wrote:

Could you define "true longbow" please?
Do you have any data as to the typical draw weight of Arab composite bows in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries?
Certainly, the Mongols had more powerful composite bows in the thirteenth. Mail clad Poles and Russians made a very poor show against them. Perhaps they made the mistake of buying substandard Indian mail? WTF?!


Longbows have been defined as "A long, hand-drawn bow, such as that used in medieval England, which sometimes exceeded 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length." I'm sure that's as disputed a definition as "longsword" in some circles. Here's an article that was published in Journal of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries, volume 23, 1980: [url]http://www.student.utwente.nl/~sagi/artikel/longbow/longbow.html [/url]. That article says that experts differ on the typically draw, but it could be as little as 80 pounds or as much as 110.

As I made sure to disclaim, I'm not an expert on bows. Far from it in fact. My reading over the years, admittedly more limited than some folks, leads me to believe the Welsh longbow was more powerful than the bows in use on the continent.

I have no data on Arab composite bows of the period, or any period.

Alina made a statement impying that longbows were used against the Crusaders. As I understand the term, it's not the correct one. That was my only point.

Happy

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Allen W





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 4:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

FWIW having witnessed some experiments on butted mail with gamboised padding and pork loins, some links were cut each time but not enough to be considered a significant cut into the armor. However, the flesh beneath is often severed in line with the blade and to a depth of several inches. This flesh is clearly mashed apart rather than cleanly cut but is still effectively cut through beneath the armor. Because of this I interpret many of the period depictions to be simple attempts to reconcile or at least depict the wounds dealt in spite of the armor even if all contemporary parties understand that the mail was not slit open.
As to helms, there is the possibility of bad welds/rivets/forging errors resulting in a helm being cracked and the underlying skull split from the impact even if the blade never sliced through both.

What I am rather sloppily trying to say is that contemporary audiences would have been familiar with contemporary artistic conventions and that the wounds and the fact of mail/helm penetration are probably genuine the degree of depicted armor mutilation is merely communicative.
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Mark A





Joined: 30 Nov 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 4:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From my understanding, most armor fairs poorly versus very powerful crossbows, not just mail.

One thing I have asked myself while reading these posts is when what the 'Age of Mail'?
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Allen W





Joined: 02 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Now for longbows...
When discussing the average weight of the longbow I think we have to consider the possibility of two averages 1) for the professional Archer, this is probably around 110# as established from the Mary Rose finds with individuals going up to at least 165# in one example...and 2) the yeoman archer who shot as required by law and for whom every increment in increased bow power meant an undesirable expense in a new bow(as opposed to the investment it would represent to a mercenary) . That this was undesirable is implied from the continual reissue of edicts banning ball games and requiring weakly practice at the butts. Considering that Henry VIII specified a range of 220yrds the yeoman bow might be just powerful enough to reliably shoot at this distance. Whether this is eighty pounds draw weight or whatever, I can't say.
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