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
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 12:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard-
Please play nice. I understand the frustration. Just play nice. Others are not able to read the matter-of-fact tone you wish to convey and instead get baited into a bad place. Stay aware of this.

J R Johnson-
Your most recent post seems to be straying into the area of a personal attack. I ask that you not go there. If you have a problem with the posts made by others and cannot handle it without further attacks, you are advised (per our rules) to contact a moderator to handle it for you. There is no need to publicly announce your discontinuation of participation in a topic. Simply don't participate. No swan song and final swipe are required.

Everyone else-
Stay professional.

If there are any questions or comments about any of this, contact me privately, not here.

.:. 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
Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 385

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've followed this thread for a while, and found contributions from both sides of the fence interesting. I have a genuine question about something though (genuine as in I aam not being rhetorical or smart arsed, I actually would like to know). One of the things from the "maille stops arrows and swords) pretty good" camp is that maille was the dominant form of armour amoungst those who could afford it for a long period of time. O.k. seems a fair point. my question, though, is: if maille were so effective, why the shift to plate? surely the R&D money must have been imense, if maille of the late 13th early 14th was so proof, why go to the substantial effort of putting together the full plate harnes of the early 15th? Was it perhaps a reason other than protective value?
Secondarry question. I have seen a few people include "and the skill of the archer" in the list of things that affect the penetration of an arrow into armour. I don't see how 2 folks with similar poundage bows firing at similarly armoured targets would achieve difering penetration based on skill (except for shooting at unarmoured areas like raised visors etc, but that isn't 'penetration' so much as 'efectiveness'). Am I just being to literal or am I missing something?
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Quarantillo




Location: Eastern Panhandle WV, USA
Joined: 14 Aug 2009

Posts: 279

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 5:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ill try to answer your questions nat. maille was a good defense, but it was still susceptible to blunt trauma. plate is a very good defense for both cutting and trauma. and plate didint just magically appear in a full suit when everyone realized thier armour totally sucked.it developed in pieces. first were elbow and knee copps, which were the most susceptible to blunt force wounds. (instant crippling) then came greaves, and anyone whos been hit thier by ANYTHING will tell you that that bone right under the skin is no place you want to be hit by someone trying to kill you. Maille protected the whole body from cuts, but these places needed extra. from there, it evolved to bracers, and once everyone started realizing that these once more vulnerable spots became the best protected, it expanded into the entire suits you see in late 14th cent. and perfected in the 15th cent. if im wrong on any of this, may a better knowleged individual correct me. dont quote me on this, its just what ive seen through my years of obsessing about this kinda stuff.

maybe skill of the archer not only means aim, but the poundage that they could pull back for several hours during a battle.

"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
View user's profile Send private message
Bartek Strojek




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

Posts: 450

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 6:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:

Secondarry question. I have seen a few people include "and the skill of the archer" in the list of things that affect the penetration of an arrow into armour. I don't see how 2 folks with similar poundage bows firing at similarly armoured targets would achieve difering penetration based on skill (except for shooting at unarmoured areas like raised visors etc, but that isn't 'penetration' so much as 'efectiveness'). Am I just being to literal or am I missing something?


The fact that, one can loose an arrow badly, correctly, or perfeclty (and off course "between" phases). Draw up to the optimal draw lenght, etc...

I don't even know the details, I'm not even decent archer, but when I draw my bow fully, I can shoot further than 100 meters, while my many other people like my sister can achieve sometimes just half the distance - even though they draw it almost fully too.


Everything about bow is skill thing - if 2 guys fire two identical rounds from brand new M 16 at say 24 deegres shots can be indeed pretty identical - with bows it's not so.
View user's profile Send private message
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 8:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Skill certainly plays a huge part in determining penetration. A bad release could lead to the string not imparting its energy to the arrow in an optimal manner due to a number of factors, like an overly large sideways component imparted to the string's motion (very common among novice archers), a "snapping" release that slaps the string sideways rather than loosing it smoothly with a relaxation of the draw-hand muscles, shaking in the bow arm and the draw hand before and during the release, lack of an afterhold/follow through, and so on. Moreover, even after the arrow has left the bow, it's still going to lose more energy through the porpoising (nodding up and down) and fishtailing (wagging side-by-side) motions introduced by the bad release. The arrow will wag anyway, even with a good release, but in a good shot the wagging would be amply compensated by the arrow's rotation and a gradual dampening that eventually straightens out the course of the flight. With a bad release...well, the arrow would just keep veering off somewhere into the blue rather than spiraling in towards the target, and when it hits the target (or something else) it'd have a fairly large sideways component to its movement, which is going to waste a considerable amount of energy that would otherwise have gone into deeper and/or more effective penetration.
View user's profile Send private message
Justin King
Industry Professional



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

Posts: 551

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The original topic of this thread has little or nothing to do with archery.
View user's profile Send private message
Gary Cain




Location: Carson City Nevada
Joined: 04 Sep 2009

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 10:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Plate was rendered obsolete because of firearms and modern logistics. It had nothing to do with rapiers and fencing."

Hi Dan,

This is not true. Feel free to look up the many examples of proof tested armour. It was not till the 1700's that rifles came into wide enough usage to become a factor. Arquebus's and muskets after them lacked the power to penetrate steel plate till very late in their development. Add to that the early firearms lack of accuaracy (the reason why they had to mass the troops in a line was because beyond 50 yards the chances of a hit were almost nil. R PAYNE-GALLWEY wrote in his book on the crossbow that during the Peninsualr Campaign a British officer was concerned about a particularly capable French officer so pulled a noted marksman from the line and tasked him with shooting said officer. After much preperation the soldier was able to shoot the target at the unheard of range of 80 yards!

Plate was rendered obsolete by a whole legion of factors, the people wearing it didn't like it, it required a tremendous amount of maintenance, the good stuff was horribly expensive affordable by only the highest levels of the gentry and their champions, the skill of fence had developed to the point where capable swordsmen could pick their targets and actually hit them nearly at will, especially when the target was encumbered by 30 pounds of armor, and a few more I will let others to come up with.

Your assertion that rapiers were the weapon of the peasants is also a little off the mark as no peasant could afford one, not to mention that with the Sumptuary Laws then in effect they were not allowed weapons of that calibre. Heck even prosperous merchants who could afford the rapiers weren't allowed to have them for large periods of time.

And Nat in a nutshell the reason why plate supplanted maile was it was easier to wear and use. To cover my body with my mail hauberk, coif and mantle is an all up weight of about 62 pounds. The same defence level can be obtained with about 35-40 pounds of plate. Also the mobility issues with plate armor had to be overcome. Maile moves very well with the body so it does not mechanically impair your movement, plate on the other hand does unless it is of the very highest (and expensive) quality. It took quite a while to develop the proper techniques to make good plate armor, not do to lack of skill on the part of the armourers, they just hadn't thought of the solutions yet. In other words they had to invent the systems and that takes time for a whole host of reasons.

Cheers
Gary

YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH RED WINE, TOO MANY BOOKS, OR TOO MUCH AMMUNITION.
Rudyard Kipling
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
Likes: 7 pages

Posts: 2,244

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 12:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nobody said rapiers were peasant weapons but civilian weapons. Nobles and anybody else in a civilian not military occasions are civilians. And in civilian occasions people wore rapiers, not military swords.
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,228

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary Cain wrote:
This is not true. Feel free to look up the many examples of proof tested armour. It was not till the 1700's that rifles came into wide enough usage to become a factor. Arquebus's and muskets after them lacked the power to penetrate steel plate till very late in their development.

And right throughout this time plate armour was worn. Plate started to be phased out only after firearms had the power to penetrate it. There is an obvious period of overlap when armourers attempted to develop shot proof plate but they couldn't keep up with firearms innovations.

Quote:
Add to that the early firearms lack of accuaracy (the reason why they had to mass the troops in a line was because beyond 50 yards the chances of a hit were almost nil. R PAYNE-GALLWEY wrote in his book on the crossbow that during the Peninsualr Campaign a British officer was concerned about a particularly capable French officer so pulled a noted marksman from the line and tasked him with shooting said officer. After much preperation the soldier was able to shoot the target at the unheard of range of 80 yards!

Firearms were used the same as longbows - massed volley fire. Individual accuracy is irrelevant on these battlefields.

Quote:
Plate was rendered obsolete by a whole legion of factors, the people wearing it didn't like it, it required a tremendous amount of maintenance, the good stuff was horribly expensive affordable by only the highest levels of the gentry and their champions

All of which fall under "logistical issues". You can add the fact that these armies were much larger and expected to march for longer periods of time.

Quote:
the skill of fence had developed to the point where capable swordsmen could pick their targets and actually hit them nearly at will, especially when the target was encumbered by 30 pounds of armor, and a few more I will let others to come up with.

I'd like to see a single manual advocating the use of the rapier on the battlefield. There are plenty that mention how unsuitable they are.

Quote:
Your assertion that rapiers were the weapon of the peasants is also a little off the mark as no peasant could afford one, not to mention that with the Sumptuary Laws then in effect they were not allowed weapons of that calibre. Heck even prosperous merchants who could afford the rapiers weren't allowed to have them for large periods of time.

I think you are confusing "peasant" with "civilian". Rapiers had no place on the battlefield and, as such, can't possibly have had anything to do with the type of armour being worn.


Last edited by Dan Howard on Sun 06 Sep, 2009 4:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message
J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,633

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 4:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Quarantillo wrote:
ill try to answer your questions nat. maille was a good defense, but it was still susceptible to blunt trauma. plate is a very good defense for both cutting and trauma. and plate didint just magically appear in a full suit.


This seems logical, and yet it still bothers me that the age of mail is associated with weapons optimized for cutting, not for blunt force. Yes, a type X sword will inflict blunt force trauma, bet even a baseball bat would be better. And as pointed out by several people above, even the war axes of this period were light slicing weapons rather than heavy 'tree choppers'. It seems odd that early-high medieval knights would not figure this out, but instead persist in using sub-optimal weapons to face mail for hundreds of years. To my knowledge, maces and war hammers became more popular during the age of plate, which seems counterintuitive if mail was especially vulnerable to such weapons.

Something does not quite add up.

Perhaps what does not add up is trying to pin-hole one weapon against one type of armor in one situation instead of thinking of the broader context. For example, in viking times a wealthy warrior might have a mail byrne, but famously was still vulnerable in the legs which became the main target in any dual or battle. In high medieval times knights were more likely to have armored legs but were primarily charging each other on horseback with lances that could inflict incredibly concentrated blunt force trauma (and perhaps penetration...but that's where the arguments start).

Personally I'm of the opinion that swords in the age of mail were primarily used against unarmored targets, but could, given enough force, the right angle, and the right resistance, do some meaningful damage to a mailed surface. However, I am willing to change my mind as evidence accumulates. Speaking from 25 years experience as a professional researcher, I will vouch that a state of open minded inquiry is more likely to lead to the truth than a dogmatic position. Some of my most important discoveries (in my 'real life') came from proving myself wrong.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,228

PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2009 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
This seems logical, and yet it still bothers me that the age of mail is associated with weapons optimized for cutting, not for blunt force. Yes, a type X sword will inflict blunt force trauma, bet even a baseball bat would be better. And as pointed out by several people above, even the war axes of this period were light slicing weapons rather than heavy 'tree choppers'. It seems odd that early-high medieval knights would not figure this out, but instead persist in using sub-optimal weapons to face mail for hundreds of years.

They are suboptimal for attacking mail. All swords are suboptimal for attacking mail. Swords are suboptimal for attacking any kind of armour. If one assumes that medieval warriors were not stupid then we must conclude that their swords were not intended to cut through armour. The vast majority of any host during this time period was not wearing armour (except for a helmet if they were lucky). There are plenty of targets for cutting blades.
View user's profile Send private message
Matthew Amt




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

Posts: 1,316

PostPosted: Mon 07 Sep, 2009 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Nathan Quarantillo wrote:
ill try to answer your questions nat. maille was a good defense, but it was still susceptible to blunt trauma. plate is a very good defense for both cutting and trauma. and plate didint just magically appear in a full suit.


This seems logical, and yet it still bothers me that the age of mail is associated with weapons optimized for cutting, not for blunt force. Yes, a type X sword will inflict blunt force trauma, bet even a baseball bat would be better. And as pointed out by several people above, even the war axes of this period were light slicing weapons rather than heavy 'tree choppers'. It seems odd that early-high medieval knights would not figure this out, but instead persist in using sub-optimal weapons to face mail for hundreds of years. To my knowledge, maces and war hammers became more popular during the age of plate, which seems counterintuitive if mail was especially vulnerable to such weapons.

Something does not quite add up.


I think the problem is assuming that a weapon has to penetrate the armor to be effective. It does not. A knight's spear is perfect for unhorsing an opponent, and a nice tight formation of knights is used to break up the opposing formation. Alone and unhorsed, a knight does not have to be injured or even struck to capture him. So far, the victorious knight's weapons are all working admirably, and there isn't necessarily a single drop of blood shed! You could literally win a whole battle without any weapon ever meeting flesh, though I'd be surprised if that happened in anything other than a small skirmish.

Also remember that you can wreck any number of knights simply by wounding and killing their unarmored horses! Peasant spears and arrows are made for that. Knights' swords, on the other hand, are dying for a chance to wreck any number of peasants...

Quote:
Perhaps what does not add up is trying to pin-hole one weapon against one type of armor in one situation instead of thinking of the broader context. For example, in viking times a wealthy warrior might have a mail byrne, but famously was still vulnerable in the legs which became the main target in any dual or battle. In high medieval times knights were more likely to have armored legs but were primarily charging each other on horseback with lances that could inflict incredibly concentrated blunt force trauma (and perhaps penetration...but that's where the arguments start).


I think you're on the right track. Most armor is good (not perfect!) against most weapons, but most people don't have armor. And in many eras, even armored people are not completely covered.

Quote:
Personally I'm of the opinion that swords in the age of mail were primarily used against unarmored targets, but could, given enough force, the right angle, and the right resistance, do some meaningful damage to a mailed surface. However, I am willing to change my mind as evidence accumulates. Speaking from 25 years experience as a professional researcher, I will vouch that a state of open minded inquiry is more likely to lead to the truth than a dogmatic position. Some of my most important discoveries (in my 'real life') came from proving myself wrong.


Love it!! Nothing like that bit of evidence that makes us all sit back and say, with slightly crazed grins, "We were ALL WRONG!" Vale,

Matthew
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Nathan Quarantillo




Location: Eastern Panhandle WV, USA
Joined: 14 Aug 2009

Posts: 279

PostPosted: Mon 07 Sep, 2009 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan has some very good points. swords are definatly (or at least "age of mail" period swords) not the weapons i would want to have on hand to kill a mail-armoured dude. id rather nail them with a polearm of some sort. nice concussive blows there. of course, broad bladed cutting swords would be wonderful to mash peasants who no-one really cares about. if you look at the weapons, it was almost as if the social classes were against each other more than the armies were. and really in a way, they were. knights kept each other for ransom and maybe werent even TRYING to kill each other. there was no nationalism yet, so the german knights didnt hate the french knights, and vise versa or however. heck, they even held opponents who were their equalivent in other cultures, (the muslim cavalrymen) in a high esteem as worthy adversaries. so they all didnt spread propaganda and hated each other, were more likely than not having freinds and maybe relatives on the other side, and remember, a dead body, nomatter who it was, is worth nothing monetary wise. makes much more sense for the knights to A) beat senseless with weapons (remember, while it cant penetrate mail, it still IS 3lbs of steel) B)round up and force the opposing knights to surrender C) disarm or unhorse them in some way (battlefield grappling has always been important to knights) however, no-one will pay a ransom for a peasant. knights just kill them, and their weaponry reflects that. and peasant weaponry seems quite anti-knight. think long spears (kill horses) morgansterns (im sure i spelled it wrong, plz correct me someone, but you know what i mean, and whatzitscalled still has alot of concussive force and a spearpoint) pole-arms (more pointy long concussive things) flails (concussive) bows and projectile weapons (horses from a long range) and im sure they werent tryin to capture knights, as im sure any self-respecting knight would more likeley die before gatting captured and paying a ransom to a peasant. and is one or 2 did, im sure the knights from thier own side would take them from the peasant. so the knight are out to kill the peasants, and vise-versa, and thier weaponry seems to support this theory. correct me if i am wrong on any points.
"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
View user's profile Send private message
Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 385

PostPosted: Mon 07 Sep, 2009 10:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:

They are suboptimal for attacking mail. All swords are suboptimal for attacking mail. Swords are suboptimal for attacking any kind of armour. If one assumes that medieval warriors were not stupid then we must conclude that their swords were not intended to cut through armour. The vast majority of any host during this time period was not wearing armour (except for a helmet if they were lucky). There are plenty of targets for cutting blades.


I wonder about this (in a "taking a piss in the wind"way, not a "I know what I am talking about" way). It does seem that swords were more dificult to produce to a reasonable quality. I am pretty sure I could, with my limited blacksmithing skills, bang out a funtional poleax / bec du corbon, but no way in hell I could make a sword that is worthy of the name. So if they are hard to make, but popular, (again, assuming that the folks buying them werent idiots) then there must have been some god reason they were saught after.
I am not sure I am going to manage to phrase this the way I mean it but here goes. Is it possible that when we say "swords are suboptimal for attacking armour" we should maybe phrase it as "all weapons are impaired in their function by armour, some such as swords moreso, others like poleaxes less so"?

So using a "report card" system, "suboptimal vs maille" sounds like a poleax gets an A+, a flanged mace gets a B, an axe gets a C- and a sword is barely scraping by with a passing grade (MUST TRY HARDER!)

Should we perhaps be looking at it more along the lines of
Sword
Vs unarmoured schmuck: A+
Vs Maille: B-
Vs Plate: C-

Poleax
Vs unarmoured schmuck: B
Vs Maille: B
Vs Plate: B

Just a thought.
(and on reading Nathan's post, I now have a potential candidate for why the sword was a popular 'knightly weapon',,, really interesting idea.)
View user's profile Send private message
Lukasz Papaj




Location: Malbork, Poland
Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 59

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 12:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I may add 0.02 PLN, Things that come to mind are:
1. Sword was through all period of mail was secondary weapon on battlefield; so were sword analogues in other cultures (AFAIK- in Japan Bow was no1, then Yari, only then a Tachi); in Europe it seems to me that it is more the spear/lance in the first place, followed by bow (but that wary from period/culture); bow usage also varied, either en-masse or highly estemed sharpshooters (like Einar Silverbow from sagas)
2. Sword is a status symbol, was so in Celtic culture (AFAIK that is), and got special status as a ruler emblem in Dark Ages; when cruciform hilts become common one can seek analogy in religious terms too, as augmentation of status function.
3. It is possible to use sword as everyday sidearm, ready to use when needed and not much in a way of normal functioning (spear must be wielded in hand all the time- I'm not aware of any period harnesses for that, bow must be strung before use); given that in urban fight or ambush scenario use of armour of even shield is unlikely that makes perfect tool for "everyday use" - in modern terms that would be equivalent of a pistol rather than assault rifle; for me emergence of rapier form stems directly from that function.
4. I will second aforementioned thing about knight not willing to kill other knights while lower ranks being viable target for killing. Psychology/sociology is too often forgotten while discussing things technical.
5. Mail vs plate - isn't it possible that in sufficiently advanced civilisation cost of producing plate armour would be much lower in terms of material and labor than producing plate? Easier to mass produce? Mail of course can be produced without much advanced tech - if one can produce wire, one can make mail, I think. I can be wrong though.
6.Then there is a matter of extensive use of mail in supporting units in Polish Cavalry in XVIIc , while plate being status symbol, when century before mail-clad units are rarity. And that is another period with abundance of slashing weapons with quite slash-proof armour in higher ranks on battlefield. Nevertheless we know for sure from period works that sabre was status symbol, dueling weapon, everyday use self defence tool, while being nearly last-ditch weapon on battlefield; cult surrounding sabre was/is nevertheless enormous in Poland (and think it is so in other cultures that has extensive cavalry traditions - think all steppe nations)

Things that not entirely make sense in such view is emergence of "Great Swords Of War" .. I have problems with visualizing what kinds of targets they were intended for, especially when used from horseback; seems bit overkill for mowing down peasants/fleeing infantry ... still, some people think Desert Eagle .50 good choice for self-defence ...Happy

While I'm at it - think on a long run slashing secondary weapons are mark of cavalry-oriented culture. When charging on horseback thrust-oriented weapon is quite single-serving, while slashing is really handy when running-down fleeing troops. Now that would need some extensive searching in period sources, but wasn't it that most of casualities in battles were when one of sides fleed or ranks were in some other way broken ? Hastings, Grunwald, Agincourt definitely fit this bill - broken formation and massacring of fleeing /disabled troops, in Agincourt augmented by order of executing captured French knights. My theory would be that causalities in battle proper were relatively low, mainly due sufficient protection (guess that in age of mail thing that was most dangerous in that part of battle was unhorsing and trampling by other horses, or direct penetrating hit in some vital area - lance-delivered) . In period accounts we have often fleeing troops discarding their gear ... which make them perfect target for slashing weapons wielded by cavalry.

So it might be that "sword in the age mail" is more a question of "when" than "how". Battles were not duels multiplied, and technology used was important, but not crucial. Tactics and strategy were.
View user's profile Send private message
Gary Cain




Location: Carson City Nevada
Joined: 04 Sep 2009

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue 08 Sep, 2009 1:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes swords were a status symbol because they were very difficult to make. At least to make a good one which is why places that could consistently do so were revered in their time (think Damascus and Toledo). But the major point that you need to remember is that up until the High Middle Ages most combatants had no armor. Dan mentioned that they would be lucky to have a helmet and he is correct. In an average battle of 8000 people on a side you would have maybe 1000 total that had good armor. So figure 500 out of 8000 on a side is decently protected. That is why the sword remained dominant for so long.

Dan I agree with you that Rapiers were not the best battlefield weapon but Gustavus Adolphus still seemed to prefer going into battle with his over any other weapon in his rather extensive collection of swords. I also agree with you that there were social reasons (see comment below) for why swords changed but there were also military reasons (your logistics covers part of that) and technological reasons, and training reasons. Plate armor continued to be used all through the 1700's at least by generals (and other high ranking commanders who could afford it) simply because that was the only way to survive on the battlefield. Guns were easier and cheaper to produce than arbalests which is why they so rapidly supplanted them. It was also far easier to train a peasant in the use of a gun or crossbow than a Longbow which is why only the English really developed the Longbow to the extent they did and even then that only lasted for about 100 years and the gun replaced them.

So my point is that swords changed for a whole host of reasons as did the armor of the era. The good armor made the wealthy proof agains most things on the battlefield. The gun included. The sword changed to meet a whole host of new requirements and it is not too far off to say that the sword changed because the people using them changed.


Cheers
Gary

YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH RED WINE, TOO MANY BOOKS, OR TOO MUCH AMMUNITION.
Rudyard Kipling
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,633

PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2009 5:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think this thread has considered Ingelmark's analysis of bones and armor recovered from the site of the Battle of Visby, Gotland in 1361. The damage is thought to come from swords and axes in hand-to-hand combat. Unfortunately I don't have the original source article, but here is a quote from page 197 of 'The sword in Anglo-Saxon England' by Davidson:

"One man had both lower legs cut of, 'probably by a single blow'; in several cases the steel coif worn on the head had been cut to pieces and the blows and penetrated the bones of the cranium, while in other cases part of the skull was cut away. In some cases repeated wounds had been dealt, although a single one would be sufficient to cause death. Ingelmark comments: ' It is almost incomprehensible that such blows could have been struck'."

I am not sure what is meant by 'Steel Coif', but it sounds like mail. At any rate, if this is correct, it sounds like the best possible archeological evidence that one could expect to show that edged weapons could sometimes cut through period armor and definitely cause a lot of bodily harm in real battle situations. Similar results have been found at other battle sites.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Dan Howard




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

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,228

PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2009 5:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd like to know how anyone can conclude that the injuries described by Ingelmark were done by swords. I'd also like to see the evidence that leg armour was worn by these victims. Go back and look at all the injuries done to the torso. You won't find any.
View user's profile Send private message
Artis Aboltins




PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2009 6:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not have time right now but have the book and will try to look up apropriate passages about the wound distribution and characteristics from the investigation of the Battle of Visby site in nearest future.
View user's profile Send private message
J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,633

PostPosted: Sat 26 Sep, 2009 7:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
I'd like to know how anyone can conclude that the injuries described by Ingelmark were done by swords. I'd also like to see the evidence that leg armour was worn by these victims. Go back and look at all the injuries done to the torso. You won't find any.


Dan, there was no implication of any leg armor in this quote, and I doubt there was any.

The key point for the arguments in this thread was the claim that 'steel coifs' of some kind had been cut through to the bone by some kind of edged weaponry. I do not know exactly what kind of head armor that was, or what level of quality it was. I suppose one might determine whether it was a sword or an axe doing the cutting by analyzing the breadth and radius of the cut, but I do not know if the study went into that detail. Does anyone have access to the details of this 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 8 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