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Diamond patterned garments. Gambesons?
So i have been thinking of making a kit suitable for the timeperiod between the battle of hastings and the second crusade, as there isnīt much of a change in equipment in that timeframe. Thus far i have been considering using layered tunics or gambeson underneath a mail hauberk. I have been searching for period illustrations of armoured combatants, and i have stumbled into a few interesting finds. Occasionally you see fighters wearing a garment with a diamond pattern on it. There are a few explanations i could think for it. They may represent gambesons with diamond quilting, or scale armour, and perhaps they could be a very odd representation of mail. So here are a few examples of what i am talking about:[ Linked Image ]
This is from the pillaging scene in the bayeux tapestry. The tapestry is quite simplistic so that diamond pattern might represent scale or gambeson. I tend to gravitate towards the gambeson theory as these riders dont have any head protection and the first piece of metallic protection you would get, was a helmet, as the head is the most vital part of your body. It is interesting to note that the frontmost rider is only wearing his hauberk. Perhaps he is the leader of the raiding party and he wants to be recognizable, as is the case with William at the battle of Hastings removing his helmet to show that he is still alive? Just pure speculation though :P. This pattern appears in the tapestry a few times worn with helmets.

[ Linked Image ]
Dated to 1101-1125, France.
This image is much more detailed than the Bayeux tapestry and im having a hard time imagining that as anything other than
a gambeson. Im open to other suggestions though.

[ Linked Image ]
Dated to 1108-1150, England.
Here is another one, but this one isn't as clear as the last one.

[ Linked Image ]
Dated to 1150, England.
Here are a number of different fighters wearing something with a diamond pattern, shown in multiple colors.

[ Linked Image ]
Dated to 1151-1175, France.
There are some illustrations showing this pattern with a metallic colour. Perhaps these are depictions of scale armor?

There are other depictions of this pattern but i chose this sample to illustrate what i am talking about. Its interesting to note that some of the depictions seem to have an integral padded coif in the same way as the hauberk of that time had an integral mail coif. Perhaps this type of padding was used under the hauberks of that time?

P.S These are just my ideas and opinions, and i am open to other interpretations.

Links to my sources

Bayeux tapestry: http://www.hs-augsburg.de/~harsch/Chronologia..._tama.html

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/3995/11385/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4169/12081/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/5006/15598/

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4111/12073/
It's all mail. Sometimes it's more or less obvious, Bayeux is harder to decipher, but all other examples are clearly mail if you ask me.
Luka Borscak wrote:
It's all mail. Sometimes it's more or less obvious, Bayeux is harder to decipher, but all other examples are clearly mail if you ask me.


The one after the Bayeux tapestry looks nothing like mail. If they were trying to depict mail they did quite a poor job.
Joonas Pessi wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
It's all mail. Sometimes it's more or less obvious, Bayeux is harder to decipher, but all other examples are clearly mail if you ask me.


The one after the Bayeux tapestry looks nothing like mail. If they were trying to depict mail they did quite a poor job.


I agree, but look here where they are transporting a shirt like item of same pattern on a long stick. There is no reason to transport gambeson like that.
http://anglosaxon.archeurope.info/index.php?page=scene-46-2
That item is exactly the same as mail beside it except the diamond pattern.
Luka Borscak wrote:
Joonas Pessi wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
It's all mail. Sometimes it's more or less obvious, Bayeux is harder to decipher, but all other examples are clearly mail if you ask me.


The one after the Bayeux tapestry looks nothing like mail. If they were trying to depict mail they did quite a poor job.


I agree, but look here where they are transporting a shirt like item of same pattern on a long stick. There is no reason to transport gambeson like that.
http://anglosaxon.archeurope.info/index.php?page=scene-46-2
That item is exactly the same as mail beside it except the diamond pattern.


Yes gambeson is ligther than mail so i dont see a real reason to carry it like that, but neither do i see a real reason to carry mail like that. For me it would be easier and more convenient to carry in a box at the back of a cart as is shown with the wine. Maybe the makers of the tapestry were trying to to make clear what they were transporting, even if it didnt align with the actual way they transported these items?
Crosshatching was a common method of rendering mail. If you want to argue that they are gambesons, you first have to provide evidence that gambesons were being used at the time. IIRC the earliest mention of this kind of armour in the sources is over a century later.

Gambesons are not lighter than mail. The whole point of using metal to make amour is that it weighs less than equivalent protection made from leather and cloth.

If you want an accurate portrayal of the armour used in the Battle of Hastings then you have two choices - mail or nothing. There is one possible depiction of Sir Guy wearing scale armour but it is more likely an embroidered tunic.
Dan Howard wrote:
Crosshatching was a common method of rendering mail. If you want to argue that they are gambesons, you first have to provide evidence that gambesons were being used at the time. IIRC the earliest mention of this kind of armour in the sources is over a century later.


I am in full agreement with this. Further, mail is often shown in various colors (whatever ink, or thread, was available) which seems to be used to differentiate multiple figures, or even separate pieces of armor such as coif or chausses and hauberk. Without documentary evidence of gambesons or aketons so early, it is most likely that these all represent mail.
Dan Howard wrote:
Crosshatching was a common method of rendering mail. If you want to argue that they are gambesons, you first have to provide evidence that gambesons were being used at the time. IIRC the earliest mention of this kind of armour in the sources is over a century later.

Gambesons are not lighter than mail. The whole point of using metal to make amour is that it weighs less than equivalent protection made from leather and cloth.

If you want an accurate portrayal of the armour used in the Battle of Hastings then you have two choices - mail or nothing. There is one possible depiction of Sir Guy wearing scale armour but it is more likely an embroidered tunic.
Not arguing that crosshatching is mail isn't,t the rule, but I can get the logic behind the OPs doubts. Why would someone to ride with a fully armor body and leave his head completely exposed? That is Hollywood logic. It is just wierd.
Philip Dyer wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
Crosshatching was a common method of rendering mail. If you want to argue that they are gambesons, you first have to provide evidence that gambesons were being used at the time. IIRC the earliest mention of this kind of armour in the sources is over a century later.

Gambesons are not lighter than mail. The whole point of using metal to make amour is that it weighs less than equivalent protection made from leather and cloth.

If you want an accurate portrayal of the armour used in the Battle of Hastings then you have two choices - mail or nothing. There is one possible depiction of Sir Guy wearing scale armour but it is more likely an embroidered tunic.

Not arguing that crosshatching is mail isn't,t the rule, but I can get the logic behind the OPs doubts. Why would someone to ride with a fully armor body and leave his head completely exposed? That is Hollywood logic. It is just wierd.


The helmet is the first piece of armour that a soldier wears. Nobody wears body armour, not even a gambeson, and no helmet. Keep in mind that it isn't a photo. The maker of this piece of art had no interest in accurately depicting a battle nor the equipment used in it. The artist wanted to convey a message. How does the artist tell the viewer who the subject is if the head is covered up? Hollywood does the same thing. Why pay all that money for a big star if you are going to cover his head?
Mart Shearer wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
Crosshatching was a common method of rendering mail. If you want to argue that they are gambesons, you first have to provide evidence that gambesons were being used at the time. IIRC the earliest mention of this kind of armour in the sources is over a century later.


I am in full agreement with this. Further, mail is often shown in various colors (whatever ink, or thread, was available) which seems to be used to differentiate multiple figures, or even separate pieces of armor such as coif or chausses and hauberk. Without documentary evidence of gambesons or aketons so early, it is most likely that these all represent mail.


Yes the earliest mention of gambesons is in the assisment of arms written in 1181, but i am not aware of any such detailed descriptions of equipment before this point. If you can provide a link to such a source i would be very interested in reading that. In depictions where this pattern appears it is often clearly distinct from the depiction of mail in that same manuscript. Here is an example of that:
[ Linked Image ]

As you can see the two guards on the right seem to be wearing mail and one seems to be unarmored, but the guard on the left is wearing something with a pattern and color that is clearly different from the depiction of mail.
I forgot to mention the dating, its dated to 1120-1145 England. Heres the link:http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4923/14636/
Dan Howard wrote:
Philip Dyer wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
Crosshatching was a common method of rendering mail. If you want to argue that they are gambesons, you first have to provide evidence that gambesons were being used at the time. IIRC the earliest mention of this kind of armour in the sources is over a century later.

Gambesons are not lighter than mail. The whole point of using metal to make amour is that it weighs less than equivalent protection made from leather and cloth.

If you want an accurate portrayal of the armour used in the Battle of Hastings then you have two choices - mail or nothing. There is one possible depiction of Sir Guy wearing scale armour but it is more likely an embroidered tunic.

Not arguing that crosshatching is mail isn't,t the rule, but I can get the logic behind the OPs doubts. Why would someone to ride with a fully armor body and leave his head completely exposed? That is Hollywood logic. It is just wierd.


The helmet is the first piece of armour that a soldier wears. Nobody wears body armour, not even a gambeson, and no helmet. Keep in mind that it isn't a photo. The maker of this piece of art had no interest in accurately depicting a battle nor the equipment used in it. The artist wanted to convey a message. How does the artist tell the viewer who the subject is if the head is covered up? Hollywood does the same thing. Why pay all that money for a big star if you are going to cover his head?


Well that part of the tapestry is depicting militiamen and not major characters, and as for the helmet always being the first piece of armour you would wear, this is not always the case, as illustrated by this soldier in the middle of this scene only wearing a padded coif and gambeson:

[ Linked Image ]
Morgan bible 1244-1254, France.
Also keep in mind that the bayeux tapestry is sewn and not drawn with brush, quill or silver point.

Regardless of how primitive the artistic style seems to modern eyes executing minute detail like mail with needle and thread would of been a challenge. I don’t think using repetitive pattern to represent that was a unreasonable solution to that challenge. And that the people of that era would of instantly understood what was being depicted.
Joonas Pessi wrote:
Well that part of the tapestry is depicting militiamen and not major characters, and as for the helmet always being the first piece of armour you would wear, this is not always the case, as illustrated by this soldier in the middle of this scene only wearing a padded coif and gambeson:.

You can't use illustrations to prove this. They aren't depicting a photo-realistic version of warfare. The artist needed to display the character's head so he did. He is trying to convey a message, not draw a realistic rendition of a battle.
Dan Howard wrote:
Joonas Pessi wrote:
Well that part of the tapestry is depicting militiamen and not major characters, and as for the helmet always being the first piece of armour you would wear, this is not always the case, as illustrated by this soldier in the middle of this scene only wearing a padded coif and gambeson:.

You can't use illustrations to prove this. They aren't depicting a photo-realistic version of warfare. The artist needed to display the character's head so he did. He is trying to convey a message, not draw a realistic rendition of a battle.


The Morgan bible depicts the characters wearing contemporary equipment, greathelms, cervelliers, kettle helmets, mail chausses, etc. That scene depicts Abraham and his men coming to rescue Lot, and the foot soldier in that depiction isn't even a named character in the story, so there is no reason to have his face visible for identification.
Joonas Pessi wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
Joonas Pessi wrote:
Well that part of the tapestry is depicting militiamen and not major characters, and as for the helmet always being the first piece of armour you would wear, this is not always the case, as illustrated by this soldier in the middle of this scene only wearing a padded coif and gambeson:.

You can't use illustrations to prove this. They aren't depicting a photo-realistic version of warfare. The artist needed to display the character's head so he did. He is trying to convey a message, not draw a realistic rendition of a battle.


The Morgan bible depicts the characters wearing contemporary equipment, greathelms, cervelliers, kettle helmets, mail chausses, etc. That scene depicts Abraham and his men coming to rescue Lot, and the foot soldier in that depiction isn't even a named character in the story, so there is no reason to have his face visible for identification.


The equipment is contemporary, The scene isn't. It tells us nothing about real practices on the battlefield. It is the equivalent of a modern comic. The characters in the Bible were seen as medieval superheroes.
There were certainly soldiers in the 13th century who were not able to afford a helmet but might be able to afford a gambeson and padded coif, so that doesn't seem out of place. I take it you're objecting to Dan's statement that could imply you either have a metal helmet or no armour whatsoever. Perhaps Dan's statement might be revised to "Of all the parts of armour made of metal, the helmet would be the first priority assuming one could afford it."
Cloth and leather armour weren't cheap; they weren't worn by poor soldiers. Poor soldiers wore nothing. If a soldier couldn't afford a helmet then he definitely couldn't afford a gambeson.

Cloth armour was cheaper than mail but you still had to be wealthy to afford it. Today it would be like comparing a $100,000 car with a $300,000 car. The average person can afford neither of them.
Philip Dyer wrote:
Not arguing that crosshatching is mail isn't,t the rule, but I can get the logic behind the OPs doubts. Why would someone to ride with a fully armor body and leave his head completely exposed? That is Hollywood logic. It is just wierd.


Well the section isn't exactly showing a proper battle. If it's just scouting or raiding then perhaps they opted to leave their helmets behind since the head is a small target anyways and a 2-3 lb iron hat can start to get hot and heavy after a while.
Dan Howard wrote:
Cloth and leather armour weren't cheap; they weren't worn by poor soldiers. Poor soldiers wore nothing. If a soldier couldn't afford a helmet then he definitely couldn't afford a gambeson.

Cloth armour was cheaper than mail but you still had to be wealthy to afford it. Today it would be like comparing a $100,000 car with a $300,000 car. The average person can afford neither of them.


Depends on the number of layers on the gambeson, the material it is stuffed with, for example scrap cloth is an economical choice of padding, and i certainly dont think that a gambeson would have been worth the amount of money equivalent to 100000 $ in modern currency, because in the assize of arms of 1181 all burgesses and freemen were required to own a gambeson.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assize_of_Arms_of_1181
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