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Hĺvard Nygĺrd




Location: Norway
Joined: 27 Oct 2019

Posts: 18

PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 9:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my norse-norwegian dictionary here is some translations regarding silkclothing:

silkihjupr = ermlaus silketrřye, silkevest = sleeveless silkjumper, silkvest (prob. a surcoat under maille)

silkikyrtill = silkekjortel = silktunic

silkimottull = silkekappe = silkcape

silkipanzari = pansertrřye av silke = a gambeson of silk

silkiserkr = silkeserk = silktunic (undergarment)

silkitreyja = silketrřye = silk garment
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 367

PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Len,

The silk garment isn't armor; it's magic. The rest of the paragraph reads:

Quote:
King Ragnar was clad in the silken jacket Aslaug had given him at their parting. But as the defending army was so big that nothing could withstand them, so almost all his men were killed, but he himself charged four times through the ranks of King Ella, and iron just glanced off his silk shirt. Finally he was taken captive and put in a snake-pit, but the snakes wouldn’t come near him. King Ella had seen during the day, as they fought, that iron didn’t bite him, and now the snakes won’t harm him. So he had him stripped of the clothes that he’d been wearing on the day, and at once snakes were hanging off him on all sides, and he left his life there with much courage.
("The Tale of Ragnar’s Sons", Chapter 3: The Fall of Ragnar and the Vengeance of his Sons, translated by Peter Tunstall ©2005; italics mine)

The key point is that he wasn't protected from the snakes' bites although they were trying to bite him, but that they wouldn't approach him in the first place. This is very likely related to the episode at the beginning in which Ragnar wins his first wife, Ţóra (recall that Áslaug is his second wife (in this version; in some she's the third), married after Ţóra's death), by killing the giant snake she keeps (and please note also the similarities to Völsunga saga). In general, I'd be extremely wary of using fornaldarsögur as evidence of any real-world information about arms and armor that receive special mention because these sagas are so thoroughly suffused with supernatural occurrences.

Best,

Mark Millman


Last edited by Mark Millman on Wed 08 Apr, 2020 4:53 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 534

PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 10:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
It's being called a silkihjúp. The only translation I can find is silk coat.

Jupe or hup "upper garment" is another of those words borrowed into the Germanic languages in the 1200s from the Romance languages which borrowed it from Arabic (al-jubbah). A good word to study if you want to understand the 12th/13th century, not a word that anyone in Norway spoke in the year 1000!

www.bookandsword.com
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Dan Howard




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

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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Millman wrote:
Dear Len,

The silk garment isn't armor; it's magic...

Yep, it is like the magic reindeer fur coats (hreinbjálfa) the lapplanders sold to Tore Hund.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Kai Lawson




Location: Madison, WI
Joined: 26 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 7:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quick anecdotal aside: I've tried cutting linen over clay at my fencing club, using a polished and cleaned up Albion Jarl blade. It's not sharp enough to cut fingers if ran along the edge, but the geometry is all there, so it will cut if proper technique is used. I was surprised to actually feel no resistance against one layer of linen over clay when performing tip cuts or cuts with the weak of the blade. Two and three were no issue either, for both thrusts or cuts. My statistical analysis uses an N of 1, which makes it invalid mathematically, but I will say that I expected the linen to hold up MUCH better. Heavy modern canvas was likewise no issue. I used to suppose that swinging this sword at someone clothed in nice linen would result in a botched cut and blunt force trauma, but unless they were wearing 4+ layers and my sword were still unsharpened, they'd be toast. Linen is a poor cut resistor, and many layered jacks work because the successive layers rob force from the cut and it's difficult to get through 20-30 layers with a reasonable wound in a singly stroke, not including thrusts due to having to cut each layer individually, packed though they are.

I'm assuming (just a guess here) that packing with horsehair would help against cuts, as the hair is stronger and difficult to cut, but that seems more like a bonus side effect to stuffing with an available and loose material that isn't expected to stand up to cuts. Stuffed and padded garments would rob arrows of oomph, but wouldn't be much help against cuts or slashes. Hence the unstuffed layered cloth.

Wool is different, but not that different, unless it's felted. It gets notably harder to cut cleanly if it's heavily felted and thickened.



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Sword point in question

"And they crossed swords."
--William Goldman, alias S. Morgenstern
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Len Parker





Joined: 15 Apr 2011

Posts: 391

PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 10:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here Magnus barefoot and Eyvind are both wearing a silkihjúp into battle: https://is.wikisource.org/wiki/Heimskringla/Magn%C3%BAss_saga_berf%C3%A6tts/24 I don't see anything here about magic.
Leonard Parker
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 12:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:
Here Magnus barefoot and Eyvind are both wearing a silkihjúp into battle: https://is.wikisource.org/wiki/Heimskringla/Magn%C3%BAss_saga_berf%C3%A6tts/24 I don't see anything here about magic.


In English tranlation (I don't read Norse, I'm afraid) this reads

This was done, and the king and Eyvind went
before the line. King Magnus had a helmet on his head; a red
shield, in which was inlaid a gilded lion; and was girt with the
sword of Legbit, of which the hilt was of tooth (ivory), and
handgrip wound about with gold thread; and the sword was
extremely sharp. In his hand he had a short spear, and a red
silk short cloak, over his coat, on which, both before and
behind, was embroidered a lion in yellow silk; and all men
acknowledged that they never had seen a brisker, statelier man.
Eyvind had also a red silk cloak like the king's; and he also was
a stout, handsome, warlike man.


I see no reference to the silk "cloaks" being armour. Rather, they appear to be surcoats. Perhaps it reads differently in the original?

Anthony Clipsom
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Martin Kallander




Location: Sweden
Joined: 25 Sep 2018

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 1:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:

I see no reference to the silk "cloaks" being armour. Rather, they appear to be surcoats. Perhaps it reads differently in the original?


The original is quite different, can't tell you exactly how as I'm just swedish but I can make out that the text is talking about some kind of shirt-like-torso-clothing-thingy that is most definitely not any kind of surcoat
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 1:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Kallander wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:

I see no reference to the silk "cloaks" being armour. Rather, they appear to be surcoats. Perhaps it reads differently in the original?


The original is quite different, can't tell you exactly how as I'm just swedish but I can make out that the text is talking about some kind of shirt-like-torso-clothing-thingy that is most definitely not any kind of surcoat


So, a sleeved short garment? Again, still not sure this is describing armour as opposed to outer wear.

Anthony Clipsom
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 367

PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 2:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Len,

I apologize if I was unclear. I didn't mean to imply that every silkihjúp is magical. But the context makes clear that the particular one that Áslaug gave Ragnar, which he wore when fighting against Ella in England, was enchanted to protect the wearer.

As Dan points out, the situation here parallels the reindeer-skin coats (hreinbjálfa) that Óláfs saga helga explicitly says Ţórir hundr bought from a Lappish sorcerer. No doubt there were other reindeer-skin coats, but the ones worth mentioning in Óláfs saga are the magical ones.

In the chapter of Magnúss saga berfćtts that Anthony quotes, there's no suggestion that either King Magnús' silkihjúp or Eyvind's is anything other than a rich, elegant garment suitable for a man of high status.

I hope this proves helpful.

Best,

Mark Millman
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Martin Kallander




Location: Sweden
Joined: 25 Sep 2018

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 2:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Martin Kallander wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:

I see no reference to the silk "cloaks" being armour. Rather, they appear to be surcoats. Perhaps it reads differently in the original?


The original is quite different, can't tell you exactly how as I'm just swedish but I can make out that the text is talking about some kind of shirt-like-torso-clothing-thingy that is most definitely not any kind of surcoat


So, a sleeved short garment? Again, still not sure this is describing armour as opposed to outer wear.


Yea, I can't say whether or not it's describing armour
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Mark Millman





Joined: 10 Feb 2005

Posts: 367

PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 10:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Martin and Anthony,

The only references to armor are the mentions of King Magnús' helmet and shield, and the only references to weapons are to his sword Leggbítur (Legbiter) and the "short spear" he holds. He wears his silkihjúp over his skyrta--his tunic, kirtle, or in many translations, his coat (and compare the use of "cote" for early- and high-medieval sleeved, skirted, pull-over outer garments that can, depending on length, also be called gowns; I imagine you're aware that saga translations into English often make a point of using words with Germanic roots rather than Romance ones).

Eyvindur ölbogi's silkihjúp is only described as being red and "like the king's". Whether that means it was similarly embroidered as well as being a red silk hjúp is unclear. His weapons and armor are not described, and in fact there are no specific references to arms in the rest of the chapter or in the previous chapter, which describes Magnús' decision to raid in Ireland and his journey there.

The strong likelihood is that Magnús' clothes are being described as a rich, silk, probably sleeved garment (the hjúp) worn over a more basic garment (although probably still a rich one; but it's concealed beneath the hjúp) that is not described except for the fact that it's a skyrta--but that word is well understood. There is no reference to body armor here.

I hope this proves helpful.

Best,

Mark Millman
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Martin Kallander




Location: Sweden
Joined: 25 Sep 2018

Posts: 26

PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's basically what I was thinking, I was able to identify skyrta as being related to the modern word skjorta which we now use to describe buttoned shirts, but being illiterate in old norse I wasn't confident enough to definitely say it wasn't armour, thanks for confirming it!
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

Posts: 116

PostPosted: Thu 09 Apr, 2020 11:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Mark. I'd always read this as some sort of elite garment (I had thought embroidered surcoat but clearly not) rather than armour. What I had completely missed was the lack of mention of armour at all - I had assumed a mail coat. Good example of reading into evidence something not actually there. Though I'm not the only one



Morris Meredith Williams makes a similar mistake and also takes the translation of "short cloak" literally. Though, as a book illustration from 1913, its a pretty good rendition overall. Lots of artists were still sticking horns on helmets and wrapping Vikings in fur at this point.

Anthony Clipsom
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