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Mark A





Joined: 30 Nov 2004

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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 6:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

With swords becoming a better thruster (with a finer point) and with the point of percussion moving down the sword, how is the slashing ability of these weapons effected? I am refering from the development from the Norman/Viking sword to the more 'knightly' weapons of the 14th century.
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 8:04 pm    Post subject: Re: hmm....         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
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.


I hope it didn't sound like I was implying that. I meant Longbow vs Plate and Arab archery vs Mail are two good examples where period sources say archery didn't beat armor.
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Dave K




Location: Phoenix, AZ
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 8:21 pm    Post subject: "Chain mail nazis must die!"         Reply with quote

I don't mean to interupt the debate, but I actually just visited Mr. Schmid's website just now.

There's some interesting stuff on it, if one defines "interesting" to mean "holocaust denial links and poorly drawn anti-semitic cartoons." Eek!

So Erik, didja draw that one yourself, big guy?

-Dave
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 8:29 pm    Post subject: Re: Chain mail nazis must die!         Reply with quote

Dave K wrote:
I don't mean to interupt the debate, but I actually just visited Mr. Schmid's website just now.

There's some interesting stuff on it, if one defines "interesting" to mean "holocaust denial links and poorly drawn anti-semitic cartoons." Eek!

So Erik, didja draw that one yourself, big guy?

-Dave


Keep it on topic and relevant. This is your third post. If you'd like to retain the previledge of making post number 4 don't bring this stuff here *EVER AGAIN*.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus


Last edited by Patrick Kelly on Mon 06 Dec, 2004 8:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Dec, 2004 8:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Chain mail nazis must die!         Reply with quote

Dave K wrote:
I don't mean to interupt the debate, but I actually just visited Mr. Schmid's website just now.
There's some interesting stuff on it, if one defines "interesting" to mean "holocaust denial links and poorly drawn anti-semitic cartoons." Eek!
So Erik, didja draw that one yourself, big guy?

I don't care what your opinion is on this matter. Frankly, I don't even care what the matter is. All I know is it isn't related to the collecting hobby of arms and armour. If you have a problem with somebody or something unrelated and off-topic to this site, then deal with it elsewhere but not on my site. More to the point, big guy, don't use my forum to insult others or bring up stuff not pertaining to subjects that we cover here. You're completely out of bounds here on multiple levels. Consider this an official administrative warning. It will be your last one.

Carry on. Back on topic. This tangent is squelched.

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
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Erik D. Schmid




Location: St. Cloud, MN
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2004 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
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. Erik, would you be willing to comment on this?


Oh Kel... What is the saying, beware what you wish for? Razz

You know I have to say that it is amusing to post only once and then see what the thread evolves into after that. You folks are very interesting I must admit. Sean most of all. Cryptozoologists... That was a good one. Big Grin

Now I will not comment on the arrows vs. mail topic as this thread is about swords. Now, let's begin.

I have argued with people until I was blue in the face on this subject more times that I care to admit. The outcome of almost every one of those was the same and I am sure you know what that was. Anyway, you basically have two camps on this subject, those that believe swords were akin to lightsabers and those that think mail was impervious to even God himself. Both are totally clueless in my mind. Where do I stand you ask? Well that's an easy one. My experience in the areas of mail replication and the study of original pieces puts me in the middle which would be the common sense category.

Now, miracles aside, let's discuss mail armour; what it is and what it is not, what it is capable of and what it is not. Some of the following is going be old hat for a few, but I feel it is necessary for the discussion so please bear with me.

Mail has been around for argueably two and a half thousand years. Now, because of this there is an incredible amount of variance to be found in link design, metal composition etc. For this reason it is sheer foolishness to make broad sweeping statements saying such things as "swords can cleave mail" etc. People fail to take into account how widespread the use of mail really was and also what kinds of weapons it faced in the different regions of the world it was used.

The first finds of mail are from Eastern Europe. This mail was made from wrought iron and the links were on the fine side fo the spectrum. This type of mail was made using a combination of both riveted links and solid or whole links, meaning they have no joint and are basically like modern washers, which were woven in an alternating row fashion. This would remain the standard method of construction for the next two millenia in Europe proper. Much later in other areas such as the Middle East and India. Up until the demise of the Western Roman Empire we see the riveted links being made with their ends lapped left over right and were closed with a cylindrical rivet. After the fall we see the links lapped right over left still using the same type of rivet. Why the change? Nobody knows. This is an area of research that has yet to be looked into. It is also worth noting that the riveted links during the Roman era are also slightly flattened. However, mail found in England that is from the period before the accepted date of the Roman occupation is shown to have been made with links that have not been flattened. All the other characteristics are the same.

During this time, from the Pre-Roman era through the Viking age, swords did not change all that much. By 1066AD mail had been around for roughly fifteen hundred years. You wold have thought that during that time they would have develped weapons capable of rendering mail completely useless. I have heard it mentioned that the bodkin point was developed to counter mail in the Middle Ages. Unfortunately for those that think that, the Romans used bodkins and mail still continued to be the armour of choice. I still have to wonder if mail was so useless why was it still manufactured?

The original pieces I have examined from the pre-Roman era were amazingly similar with regards to the size and shape of the links used in their construction. This points to there being at least one center of production either in the UK or on the continent. I am sure there were several though. Now it seems we have another facet of this story to consider. We have now gone from simply an arms race deciding what type of weapons and armour were produced to the socio-economic factor of what and why. Mail requires a manufacturing infrastructure in order to be produced, it is simply not a one man operation. The consistency of the pieces I studied brought me to this realization. For a single shop to do this would require an incredible amount of time. The person ordering the shirt could realistically be dead of old age before the piece was finished. Taking that into consideration we can safely say that in addition to mail working well for its intended purpose, its manufacture was also an integral part of the economy.

Now then the evidence seems to indicate that mail was manufactured in this style up until the 13th/14th century. This includes mail produced by the Norse as well. The one thing that did vary through this time period was the size of the links. This included the actual diameter of the link as well as the thickness of the wire. Now, we start to see a change in the way the links are shaped. It seems that somewhere around Germany mail starts to be made with links that have been substantially flattened. They are also closed with a wedge/triangular shaped rivet. The solid links are still the same except they too are now much more broad. I would also like to note that Italy still continued to produce mail made with round sectioned links having cylindrical or square rivets well into the 14th century. In spite of the changes to the shape of the links, they were still made from wrought iron. I have a good deal of experience in making links from wrought iron and I have found that they are much stronger than those made from either mild steel or pure iron.

We also start to see mail garments being constructed of all riveted links rather than the alternating row construction seen earlier. Why did this happen? Good question. One of the best theories to come forth on this subject states that the plague had a good deal to do with it by reducing the workforce. As we know, mail manufacture is very labor intensive, so without a large workforce it simply cannot be produced in the large quantities it once was. Also, society is starting to change. We are starting to see the rise of city states. This results in the ability to produce larger blooms of iron thereby making it easier to produce plate armour. Plate armour only requires a fraction of the manpower that mail needed. This a pretty simplistic overview, but you get the idea. Since mail was not need in such vast quantities anymore, the need for it being produced as quickly was gone. Thus, there was no need to use the alternating row method of construction. Please bear in mind though that mail was still being produced in reasonable quantities, but nothing compared to the amount being produced prior to the plague.

One test I did was to take a wrought iron link that was flattened only at the lapped joint. The thickness was around 1mm and the inner diameter was around 6-7mm. It was closed with a wedge shaped rivet. I took this link and strung a piece of wire through it to hold it in place while another piece of wire held a bucket that was slowly filled with shot. The link failed at 85 lbs. The wrought iron in this link was of very poor quality I might add. The link itself failed and not the lapped joint. It is highly likely that the work hardening that the lapped joint received during the rivet setting process helped to strengthen it whereas the rest of the link was still in the normalized state.

This flattened mail is the main style used in Europe until mail is phased out. Another style that was used quite extensively was made from fine links having a round section. This type is often seen in mail sleeves and bishop's mantles. Pieces that are not used as a primary defense, but rather a secondary one protecting the wearer from incidental cuts. These would do nothing to protect the wearer from an arrow as the links would be either sheared through without much effort, or the lapped joint would burst.

By its very nature mail is a flexible armour, which means it needs something behind it to absorb the shock when it is used as a primary defense. Not so when it is used as a secondary one which was often the case when it was used in conjunction with plate. An example of this would be underarm voiders. As has been stated on numerous occassions, mail does not have to fail in order for the wearer to be fatally injured. Now, as I have stated on many occassions, mail could be compromised. Was this the norm? I doubt it. It was stated on this thread that after repeated blows the mail would probably fail. I agree. But, why would it matter? By the time the mail would fail the area it covered would be reduced to mush.

I can't stress enough the information contained in the above paragraph. Let me say it again or those that may have misunderstood me; The mail does not have to fail for the wearer to be incapacitated. It has also been stated that an historical treatise mentions a soldier not having any rents in his mail thereby he has not trained hard enough or something to that effect. With my experience making and wearing this armour, if get hit enough to put only one rent I will be out of the fight let alone several.

Look at it like this, place a piece of wire on top of an anvil. Place a chisel over the wire and strike it with a hammer. What happens? The wire is easily cut. Now, do the same thing, but instead of placing the wire directly on the anvil, put a pillow between the two. Now what happens? You can see where I'm going with this I hope. The padding worn beneth the mail and the human body are soft and yielding. Yes, the elbow and other joint areas are hard like the surface of the anvil, but a direct strike to one of them is going to shatter the joint before it severs the mail. This line of thought is for mail being used as a primary defense and not the lighter mail used for sleeves and such. Of course there was heavier mail used for these as well, but they did not utilize the thicker padding which was used during the 11th and 12th centuries.

Alright, let me comment on a few specific things that have been mentioned in this thread.

Quote:
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.


You are no doubt referring to the Song of Roland. This one always brings a smile to my face. Big Grin

Quote:
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.


All mail could be cut. Have you not ever heard of marketing? This concept was alive and well back then just as it is now. From a practical standpoint for mail to be so finely woven that it could not be cut, or at least extremely difficult to cut, it would be almost solid and as such it would act like a solid mass. Mail this dense was used on some shirts as underarm protection and for the collars of standards and mantles. Not for whole garments. I for one refuse to read too much into these types of statements because I do not know in what sense the person writing it was referring as I am not fluent in the Old English vernacular or any other old European language for that matter and I doubt many are. Could you be correct? Of course, but I would need more evidence first.

Quote:
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?


Actually a good deal of clothing has survived, at least enough to give an idea of how it was constructed. In some cases at least. You have to understand that it is not the objects we question in artwork, but rather the actions being done with them or to them. Everything has to be taken in the context it was intended. Of course this is context is very difficult to ascertain much of the time, so we have to make a value judgement based on our own personal experiences. Each of us will be drawing from different experiences so our perceptions of wat is actually going on will vary widely. Those variances have brought us here.

Quote:
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.


I couldn't agree more with this reasoning. Wink

Quote:
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!)


Jean, go over to SFI and look at the Antique Armour board and do a search for mail tests. You will find the answer to this question.

The study of arms and armour is still in its infancy. As such our opinions are likely to change as new information is uncovered. My own ideas have changed several times. Well, that's enough for now. What say you all?

Oh, and as for you Dave K., had you actually followed the links you would know the answer to your question. But, this is not the place for that discussion. If you want to discuss it feel free to pm or e-mail me as I would be more than happy to tell you why those links appear on my sight.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2004 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Erik;

Thanks for the very informative post and thanks for the heads-up about where I can read more about the subject.

I appreciate the time and trouble taken.

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




Location: Toronto, Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2004 5:31 pm    Post subject: your opinion, Erik is....         Reply with quote

Most gratefully received. This post belongs in an FAQ on every arms and armour forum.

Erik D. Schmid wrote:


Oh Kel... What is the saying, beware what you wish for? Razz

*massive snip*

The study of arms and armour is still in its infancy. As such our opinions are likely to change as new information is uncovered. My own ideas have changed several times. Well, that's enough for now. What say you all?


Discussion saved for further study. You've given me lots of new material to research.

Thank you for the time and patience you offered us by composing it. Big Grin

Respectfully your's,
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Joseph C.




Location: Pensacola, Florida
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PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2004 8:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I’d also like to thank you for reply, Mr. Schmid. I know that I learned a lot from it.
Hosea 4:6a
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
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Nate C.




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PostPosted: Tue 07 Dec, 2004 10:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd like to add my thanks too. I especially liked this part:
Quote:
...The mail does not have to fail for the wearer to be incapacitated...

Rant on: Lord of the rings: scene: Frodo is speared by a troll and survives without becoming a hobbit smoothy in his maille WTF?! . I know, I know. Fantasy no mixy with reality. Big Grin *sigh* Rant off.

Seriously though, it's great to read such a good summary. Have your talked to Nathan about doing a feature about maille? Complete with test pictures Cool ?

Thanks again,

Nate C.

Sapere Aude
"If you are going to kill the man, at least give him a decent salute." - A. Blansitt

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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 2:03 am    Post subject: Miracles aside...         Reply with quote

Quote:

Now, miracles aside,


But let's not forget that unusual events do take place, and the evidence is not confined to paintings that might be exaggerating what actually happened.
Case in point: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_stone.html. Some would call this a "miracle". Others might call it an "outlier in the statistical sample". Regardless, the sword in the stone is certainly unusual, and apparently we have no good, practical explanations for this. Perhaps this is a really good sword that could indeed cleave thru any mail. Wink
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Andrew Jackson




Location: Isle of Wight, UK
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 5:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Equally, of course, we have any number of examples of iron objects being embedded in stone: hooks, bars, rings, and so forth. It's not clear whether that sword is complete or whether it just goes a couple of inches into the rock, but in any case there's no evidence that it was stuck in there in a single thrust, rather than having a hole carved for it.

I know, I know, you weren't being entirely serious. But what the heck :-)

Going back to the apparent discrepancy between experimental archaeology and the manuscript depictions, how about going a bit further back in the thinking behind the pictures. When an illustrator shows a sword cutting into a mailed torso, or through a helmet, is that what he meant to be showing, or is it just a means to the end?

In language theories there is (or was ten years ago, anyway - things may have moved on since I was at university. On that note, apologies if my memory is awry and the terms are incorrect) the idea of there being various classed of act associated with speaking. Take the sentence "I bet you can't do that". There is the phonetic act, which is making the sounds aye-bet-yoo-carnt-doo-that. On a slightly higher level there is the semantic act: saying the words "I" "bet" "you" "can't" "do" and "that". There is the locutionary act, of saying a grammatical sentence. And then there is the perlocutionary (IIRC) act, of making a wager about something, which will have real tangible consequences and doesn't necessarily follow from the words spoken. Indeed, the same locutionary act could be used for several perlocutionary acts, depending on context: dissuading someone from doing X, urging them to, expressing disbelief, insulting someone, making a wager, etc.

In practice, what you do is start at the end and work backwards: having decided on the perlocutionary act you wish to perform you decide on a locutionary act which will implement it, which then determines the semantic and phonetic acts required.

Relating this to the drawing of a picture: I want to draw a knight killing another knight. How do I do it in such a way that it is clear he is killing him? I draw A sticking a sword through B's chest. I could draw A's sword simply impacting on B causing massive internal trauma leading to shock, haemmorhage and death, but this is hard to convey succinctly and could be confused with simply fighting, or with an ineffective blow. If B is dead - or even just wounded - I need to make this clear by showing the weapon in him, or blood spurting out, or his head falling off, or whatever.

In other words: is the artist in the Macjiekowsky Bible intending to show "one knight cutting through another's helm", or is he just showing "one knight killing another" unambiguously?

Cheers,

Andrew
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Erik D. Schmid




Location: St. Cloud, MN
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I appreciate the kind words Blush , I would just like to mention that what I wrote barely scratches the surface of the study of mail. Keep that in mind. Wink I think I will expand a bit on a few things stated above in order to give you a clearer view of things.

When one is discussing a weapons ability to compromise a given defense they need to be extremely specific. Without specifics the only answer one can give to the oft asked question of "can a sword shear/cleave mail?", is yes and no or it depends. These specifics I am referring to would include such things as time period, link diameter, wire thickness, link section, link hardness/toughness, rivet size/shape, sword size/type, angle of strike, power of strike, underpadding etc...

The reason there is a need for this type of specificity is because of the enormity fo the subject matter. Most people tend to look at the subject of arms and armour in a vacuum. That is, they tend to force the history of arms and armour into one little box. They don't look at the surrounding influences that helped shape arms and armour. They do not distinguish between the armour of 5th century Britain from that of 14th century Italy. The same is true for swords. If a 15th century two-handed sword from Germany can compromise armour, then they all can regardless of the century or the armour. I have run into this attitude more times than I care to admit. Once I start to explain the specifics to people the "deer in the headlights" look comes across their faces. You know what I am referring to. The eyes glaze over. The breathing becomes shallow. It is like they are in a waking coma. Obviously the discussion ends soon after.

Of course the above experience does not include all people, just the vast majority. They are not interested in the specifics, but rather the minimum information needed to vindicate what they saw on either TV or in the theater, or... what they saw in some period painting or manuscript. Wink The mindset of these people is very common amongst those who have a genuine interest in the subject as well. As an example, how many of you could curl up with a copy of Alan Williams Knight and the Blast Furnace for an evening read? That's what I thought. Razz I am not picking on any of you, rather I am just pointing out that we all see things differently based on our own predjudices.

With regards to the current subject, those with an extreme bias one way or the other need to take a step back and look at things the way I do... from a common sense standpoint. I will admit that there have been times I have been less than cordial, but those were instances where I was driven to the edge of insanity. The things brought up by Andrew's post are very thought provoking to say the least and should be taken to heart.

As for my previous post belonging on a FAQ page, forget it. I have learned that no matter what amount of information is presented on one, people will still ask questions to which they ahev already read the answer to. Besides, the information contained in this post is subject to constant review and as such will be changed quite often. Were this added to a FAQ it would have to be very generalised, which would take away its usefullness because it is a subject that is much too broad for this type of treatment.

Now that you have caused me to type these posts, the least you could do is ask questions dealing with specifics. Razz
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Alina Boyden





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Amazon says the knight and the blast furnace is approx a 300 dollar book. But I went ahead and checked the university library and we have a copy of it! Haha! The privileges of being a student. I think I'll pick it up for a little light reading. Wink
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Nathan Bell





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 9:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Erik D. Schmid wrote:


Now that you have caused me to type these posts, the least you could do is ask questions dealing with specifics. Razz


Hello,

I *do* have a specific question or two.

I recently had the pleasure of seeing a sample of your Roman maille (Caesarian period?) via Matt Amt at the last Roman days.

I understand that you were going to soon have a complete lorica hamata and were going to do some tests of the hamata (and subarmoralis). Did you get a chance to complete the shirt and test it? If so, what results?

Also, the earliest maille find you report, are you speaking of Eastern Scythian finds? What was the earliest maille find? I am aware of the Ciumesti find, of course, but earlier finds I only read of by reference to "even earlier Scythian finds".


As a side note, after viewing the particular piece of Roman maille, it almost immediately answered some of my questions, as to why it may have been superceded by segmentata in part, and as to its effectiveness, much more. Some of my amateur speculations about this follow Happy:

The Roman maille is so extremely fine, that is approaches a jeweler level of workmanship on each link. The cost to produce quality maille of this sort must have been tremendous. I would say that likely production cost played a large role in the rise of the segmentata over the hamata.

Also, looking at the maille sample, we were able to easily see that even a very fine point, it would be hard to find "purchase" on the mail. On later period maille, a fine point of spear or sword can often be placed at a 90 degree angle to the maille link, so that a portion of the point "penetrates" or rather rests inside the circle of the maile link. Theoretically, this would give the weapon some initial purchase to exert pressure, forcing the point into the ring, eventually causing it to fail (in theory). Obviously, the circumstances are artificial and it would be much harder to put a weapon's point exactly into the opening of a ring while the garment was being worn, much less if the wearer was moving....

With the Roman maille, it was very fine, so fine that we were scarcely able to get even a millimeter of our various blades inside a maille ring. I speculate what the effect of this would be. It would be very easy to see a blade "skating off" the flexible surface of the maille, unable to concentrate the force on any one point before the garment (and the padding and wearer underneath) would shift, displacing the force again.

I hope this description makes some sense?

I must also report that it pains me to levels you would not believe, that I cannot afford a historically accurate maille shirt such as this, and probably won't be able to in the future. Sad It was/is phenomenal piece of armor.
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Jeremy Scott Steimel




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Just like today there were good and bad qualities of Maille so that throws a huge variance into the argument.


That's always something I've thought about when reading a lot of thoughts on historical weaponry. We tend to take the best surviving examples of arms and armor and classify them as what was used during a certain period. However, as you said, there would of course be a wide variance in quality (and there are lots of reasons to assume that what still exists today is often on the higher bend of that curve).

But another question for those who are more scholarly -- even when bringing plate armour into the equation, is it not a fair statement to say that many, if not most, battles did not simply consist of one type of armor, but instead you would typically have soldiers wearing a variety of armor styles depend on rank and class?

Just curious.

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy Scott Steimel wrote:
Patrick Kelly wrote:
Just like today there were good and bad qualities of Maille so that throws a huge variance into the argument.


That's always something I've thought about when reading a lot of thoughts on historical weaponry. We tend to take the best surviving examples of arms and armor and classify them as what was used during a certain period. However, as you said, there would of course be a wide variance in quality (and there are lots of reasons to assume that what still exists today is often on the higher bend of that curve).

But another question for those who are more scholarly -- even when bringing plate armour into the equation, is it not a fair statement to say that many, if not most, battles did not simply consist of one type of armor, but instead you would typically have soldiers wearing a variety of armor styles depend on rank and class?

Just curious.


Absolutely. That's one of the most important things we should keep in mind when discussing these issues. The ancients were great recyclers. They never threw anything away as long as it was usable, especially labor intensive things like armor and weapons. There's also the issue of quality to consider. Marketing and profit were big issues then just like today. Not every weapon or piece of armor was of the highest quality. Some of it is downright crap, just like today.

Consequently you would have a wide range of armor and weapons being used on the battlefield. You'd encounter arms and armor of the latest style that had just come from the finest workshop, as well as equipment that was several decades or centuries old.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
how many of you could curl up with a copy of Alan Williams Knight and the Blast Furnace for an evening read?


I can't say that I ever have. I have done so with several books on arms development and/or metallurgy. Does that count?
Big Grin

I often have to spend several days or weeks at a time at my agencies academy during training sessions. It's funny when people ask me if I want to go out to one of the local clubs. The look on their faces can be rather amusing when I reply "No, I've got a new book on Viking age swords that I want to get into."

I see the deer in the headlights look quite often when people are at my home and ask about my swords. I can quickly tell that they're getting more information than they wanted, as well as thinking that they shouldn't have asked.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I should probably respond also since my name was mentioned. I have been accused of making a comment and not backing it up with sources. The only time this occurs is when I am repeating an assertion that I have made on a previous thread and if one would check the earlier thread they would usually find cited references.

My problem with this particular subject is that the only sources that support Alina's argument are so-called "literary" sources (poetry, sagas, biblical stories, etc) and they must be considered unreliable for all of the reasons mentioned above. All that would be required to bolster Alina's argument is a few eye-witness accounts. The best sources would be those who were considered experienced soldiers such as Joinville or Villehardouin but any eye-witness is better than someone who is recounting information that is second or third hand (such as Gerald of Wales). Another excellent place to look is in accounts of the Muslim participants in the crusades such as Usamah ibn Munquidh. I have read nothing in these sources that indicate anything other than that demonstrated by modern experimental results - i.e. that it is extremely difficult to cut mail with a sword. Based on this I would argue that the sword was never intended to be used in such a manner. To defeat a mail-clad opponent with a sword you either aim for unprotected areas, use the weapon to inflict blunt trauma, or attempt to thrust rather than cut.

Here are some of the more commonly cited accounts:

The Fair of Lincoln was a particularly nasty urban engagement including crossbows at short ranges but only two sergeants were killed. At the same engagement William Marshall took several solid sword-blows from the Count of Perche (who had a reputation as a capable combatant) on the head and shoulders yet his mail and helmet were not compromised.

King Stephen (another battle at Lincoln) had taken many blows from various weapons from multiple opponents but could only be captured after he had broken his axe and his sword.

A mail-armoured sergeant at Constantinople crawled through a postern gate while defenders attacked him with all sorts of weapons until he stood up unharmed and cleared a path for those following him.

Eye-witness accounts of the Battle of Bouvines specifically state that attacks by daggers and swords were foiled by hauberks. There were several hundred armoured knights present and only a couple were killed in the fighting.

The memoirs of Usamah ibn Munquidh recalls an anecdeote in which he jumped his horse over a hedge and solidly struck what he thought was an unarmoured knight with his lance with enough force to cause him to drop his helmet and shield. The knight was unharmed and sat waiting for a servant to retrieve the lost gear. A rip in his surcoat revealed a hauberk underneath.


Can someone produce even a single eye-witness account of mail being sheared through by a sword? There are likely to be a few since mail isn't invulnerable but I haven't seen any.


Last edited by Dan Howard on Wed 08 Dec, 2004 6:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 08 Dec, 2004 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What were the probable causes of the defeat of an armoured combatant? As stated just before: A cut to an unprotected area. blunt trauma, a thrust piercing the maille, the " possible" cutting through the maille?

A factor not mentionned is the weapons (Sword and daggers) would become the means of killing the opponent only after they were overwelmed by numbers or worn down to total exhaustion, at which point slipping a blade under the armour or through a visor or unprotected face would be easy. Not to mention turning the unfortunate loser into "purée" with impact weapons and then claiming their mostly intact, but messy, maille as a prise!

So against a heavily armoured knight lightly armoured opponents wouldn't initially have a chance until exhaustion set in or unless they attacked in overwelming numbers with the brave first few being almost certain to be killed.

A small group of Knight in a strategically favorable (Defendable) position could hold against tremendous odds if they were able to withdraw from combat and be relieved by an another group of fresh fighters. (Alternating groups)

In combat between equally well armoured knights, there would be very few initial casualties and the early stages of combat would be pushing and/or grappling matches, again until fatigue became a factor. (Superior skill, strenght or stamina might tilt the balance.)

(Just a theory: Does this make sense to any of you?)

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