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Håvard Nygård




Location: Norway
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PostPosted: Fri 27 Mar, 2020 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
The Frankish countries (ie. the ones who heard mass in Latin and liked fashions from what had once been Gaul) had words for quilted clothing like aketon, pourpoint, gambeson, and troye from the 12th century onwards. If they had those words much earlier, nobody can find evidence for it.


True, the word vapntreya is first seen written in the sagas and that was written in the 12th century. It`s not that the norse culture did not write things down. They did, but it was written on bark from trees and other degradable materials, so all we are left with that is written in the viking age is carved runestones.

Sean Manning wrote:
I don't think those are very good translations. A wappen-troye is an "arming-troye" (one of the words for quilted upper garments like aketon/pourpoint/gambeson). It has nothing to do with a shirt.

A wappen-rokkr is a "coat-armour" ie. a protective coat (or just possibly a coat of arms ie. a coat with heraldric arms on it).


I don`t think those are good translations either. I was just refering to it being a protective garment for war and not a regular every day clothing. Those are good translations to norwegian though. The norse word treya can a way be to describe a different garment than a regular clothing. The norwegian word trøye means to day an outfit/clothing you put over your head which can be everywher from hips to knees and elbow to wrist length. Something that would be accurate with a tunic that has some padding or extra thickness to it to separate it from a regular clothing.

The vapnrokkr to me is pretty straight forward. Rokkr is an outer garment worn for cold weather in a klappenrokk style opening in the front. easy to put on and off. Basically a long jacket. A very used piece of garment in the colder areas of europe. So a vapnrokkr has to be a rokkr that is more suitable in war or combat than a regular rokkr. What this is exactly we don`t know. But extra padding, sewn thicker or something that suits the situasion with a maille or as a standalone armor seems very likely.

BTW: A treya and trøye does not mean shirt in english. A shirt means skjorte in norwegian and skyrta in norse. That is a garment opend in front with buttons and a collar. Something fancy for fine occasions.

A treya or trøye means jersey in english.

Sean Manning wrote:
sources described how quilted clothing meant to resist weapons was made, they say again and again that wool is not a good stuffing.


Do you have examples? This is interesting.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Fri 27 Mar, 2020 2:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Håvard Nygård wrote:
Sean Manning wrote:
sources described how quilted clothing meant to resist weapons was made, they say again and again that wool is not a good stuffing.


Do you have examples? This is interesting.

Written Sources for Gambesons/Aketons/Pourpoints 1100-1350 (Herbort's von Fritslar liet von Troye is the oldest text with a wappen-rock in that list)

Armour in Texts

See especially the rules of the Paris guilds and Lieutenant-Colonel Fitzclarence who list the same standard stuffings: unspun cotton, waste silk, layers of linen/cotton/hemp cloth, and scraps of linen/cotton/hemp cloth

Most of the Old Norse and Germanic words are loanwords or loan-translations from French, so we need to study multiple languages to understand them. The medieval word troya/troye/troie "quilted upper garment" seems to derive from the town of Troyes in France, so it had to appear after the beginning of the Champagne Fairs. The first usage I can find is from Neidhart von Reuenthal who died in 1236.

Edit: the Norwegian Hirðskrá, written after 1270, seems to be the only Old Norse text with a vápn·treyja. Again, a great source for the 12th/13th century but much too late for a thread on the Viking Age!

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Håvard Nygård




Location: Norway
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PostPosted: Sat 04 Apr, 2020 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry for late reply and thank you for those links.

I could not find where it was written wool was a bad stuffing for gambeson though, maybe i read past it.
For våpntreya, vapnrokkr or gambeson in those links linen and hemp is mentioned. Linen is a strong garment for the gambeson against cuts, so that was probebly used as the outer garment. For garment sewn on the inside of the gambeson hemp could be used. Cotton was not available (i think or expensive) for vikings from 800-1050, but it was used later in the medieval age for padding.

So what was used for padding in a gambeson under the maille in the viking age?

If we assume that they had such a garment and not just a tunic underneath, what about stamping wool in a hot water bath, making vadmel wool?
Stamping the wool in hot water shrinks the wool to less material and makes it more dense and tough.
Vadmel wool was used in norway as coats/cape for very cold weather and as pants from at least 400ad up untill the 1960s.
It is better protection than regular wool because of the process the wool(vadmel) becomes tight and stiff, but it will get hot wearing it depending on the thickness of course.

This is not from historical source or anything, just my idea of what could be used of the material they had at their disposal.

BTW: What is blackened linen?
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Apr, 2020 12:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Håvard Nygård wrote:
Sorry for late reply and thank you for those links.

I could not find where it was written wool was a bad stuffing for gambeson though, maybe i read past it.

Wool stuffing does not appear in the guild rules. It does not appear in the lists of materials purchased for aketons/pourpoints/gambesons/doublets in the 12th, 13th, and 14th century. It does not appear when chroniclers and travellers describe how soft armour is made. In 1465, the doublet-makers of Amiens had to pass a special ordinance to allow themselves to substitute "white, neat, washed and guarded" wool for cotton because cotton was too expensive, and they only allowed this for a period of one year (and a doublet in 1465 is more like the coat of a suit today than a thick padded garment). So if there was ever a practice of using wool to stuff soft armour, it left no trace in the places and times where we know soft armour existed.

And in the Viking Age, the only parts of Europe where we have clear evidence for soft armour or special thick garments under armour, the East Roman parts, were the parts that grew cotton. Idea

Håvard Nygård wrote:
BTW: What is blackened linen?

We don't know! The sources I can remember are the Norwegian King's Mirror in the 13th century, the Lübeck jacks from the 15th century, and John Major's description of Scotland in the 16th century. If you want to know about the surviving Lübeck jacks buy Jessica Finley's excellent article.

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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Apr, 2020 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In terms of what modern or Viking Age fabrics would be most suitable against modern 'sharp' mail or Viking Age mail, I do not know Sad I am not an expert on Viking Age fabrics, but we have a lot of evidence that quilted garments were introduced into northern and western Europe after the year 1000, and the really clear evidence for quilted clothing is after 1160.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Apr, 2020 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I regularly wear mail over one undertunic and one tunic made of two layers of linen. You really need nothing more. Everybody in that period would have 2 or 3 layered clothing anyway.
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Håvard Nygård




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Apr, 2020 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are the undertunic your wearing also of linen, so that you have 3 layers of linen?
Have you tried different thicker garments under a maille to see if that makes a difference in absorbing the blows from a sword for instance?
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Apr, 2020 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Håvard Nygård wrote:
Are the undertunic your wearing also of linen, so that you have 3 layers of linen?
Have you tried different thicker garments under a maille to see if that makes a difference in absorbing the blows from a sword for instance?


Yes, also linen, so 3 layers of linen. But undershirt linen is thinner. I tried many combinations, and of course with real gambesons under the mail you feel blows less, but you lose flexibility and mail should be bigger for that, this I currently use is too small to wear over gambeson. But I think that's good, it's better to have additional padding over mail if you want extra padding.
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Håvard Nygård




Location: Norway
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Apr, 2020 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes there is always the question of flexibility vs protection. How thick the garment is under the maille is highly individualised of course.

I also think linen was the garment used as the outer layer of the gambeson as linen is tough material to cut trough so is very resistant.
The area of the body that is unprotected from wearing maille (arms from elbow and rest of thigh) would have a need for a fabric that resist cutting well.

What type of maille do you have? Is there alot of maintenance?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2020 2:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aketons were meant to stop chafing and to improve the fit of the armour, not to add protection. If you want textile protection, you wear it over the top of mail not underneath.

Mail only needs maintenance when it is not being worn regularly.

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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2020 3:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Håvard Nygård wrote:
Yes there is always the question of flexibility vs protection. How thick the garment is under the maille is highly individualised of course.

I also think linen was the garment used as the outer layer of the gambeson as linen is tough material to cut trough so is very resistant.
The area of the body that is unprotected from wearing maille (arms from elbow and rest of thigh) would have a need for a fabric that resist cutting well.

What type of maille do you have? Is there alot of maintenance?


I have a mail shirt made by Michael Zavatskiy from Ukraine. Very little maintenance, a bit of wd40 if I forget it outside over night.
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Håvard Nygård




Location: Norway
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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2020 7:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Aketons were meant to stop chafing and to improve the fit of the armour, not to add protection. If you want textile protection, you wear it over the top of mail not underneath.


Can it not do both? I mean you can have a medium thick size gambeson underneath to stop chafing, prevent cuts from the open areas and add a little protection from blunt force. The difference between a wool/linen tunic uderneath and a medium padded gambeson underneath could be the difference of severe cut or a broken bone.
And it is not like you are unable to move fluently in a medium padded gambeson under a maille armour.

I don`t understand this definitive conclusion that aketons were meant to stop chafing and only that function. If the sources around this is so scarce as it is in the viking age, how can you be so sure about the aketons function in this era? Aketon/gambeson is meant in this discussion to be a garment underneath a maille so we don`t have any confusion around that.

Things evolve over time and in later periods of the medieval age bows became more powerful and the use of archers were more prominent on the battlefield. Thus the need for better protection was more important than before and we know the difference from having a garment over maille and not having a garment over maille in the arrows penetration ability of 140-160 pound bows..

If a warrior of the viking age should be fully eqiupped with protection as you mention, he would have to have a linen tunic, then aketon to hinder chafing and improve the fitting of the maille, then the maille shirt and on top of that a thick garment to have over your maille shirt to protect you from blunt force and cuts.
That seems to me much more cumbersome to wear when you are dependent on speed and efficiency on the battlefield and not facing row after row of 140-160 pound warbowmen eager to launch thick sharp arrows at your midsection all day long.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2020 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Håvard Nygård wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
Aketons were meant to stop chafing and to improve the fit of the armour, not to add protection. If you want textile protection, you wear it over the top of mail not underneath.


Can it not do both? I mean you can have a medium thick size gambeson underneath to stop chafing, prevent cuts from the open areas and add a little protection from blunt force. The difference between a wool/linen tunic uderneath and a medium padded gambeson underneath could be the difference of severe cut or a broken bone.
And it is not like you are unable to move fluently in a medium padded gambeson under a maille armour.

I don`t understand this definitive conclusion that aketons were meant to stop chafing and only that function. If the sources around this is so scarce as it is in the viking age, how can you be so sure about the aketons function in this era? Aketon/gambeson is meant in this discussion to be a garment underneath a maille so we don`t have any confusion around that.

Things evolve over time and in later periods of the medieval age bows became more powerful and the use of archers were more prominent on the battlefield. Thus the need for better protection was more important than before and we know the difference from having a garment over maille and not having a garment over maille in the arrows penetration ability of 140-160 pound bows..

If a warrior of the viking age should be fully eqiupped with protection as you mention, he would have to have a linen tunic, then aketon to hinder chafing and improve the fitting of the maille, then the maille shirt and on top of that a thick garment to have over your maille shirt to protect you from blunt force and cuts.
That seems to me much more cumbersome to wear when you are dependent on speed and efficiency on the battlefield and not facing row after row of 140-160 pound warbowmen eager to launch thick sharp arrows at your midsection all day long.


Relatively thin gambeson and several layers of clothing is functionaly the same. Of course a real relatively thin gambeson is good thing to have under mail, but why would viking age warrior even think of such a garment when his normal clothing which he wears in several layers anyway works perfectly well. And in that period, already having a mail is a huge advantage over most warriors who don't have any body armour. Gambesons are first developed as a standalone armour for those who can't afford mail. And then the rich realized it's practical to use thinner variants under mail.
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Håvard Nygård




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2020 9:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Relatively thin gambeson and several layers of clothing is functionaly the same. Of course a real relatively thin gambeson is good thing to have under mail, but why would viking age warrior even think of such a garment when his normal clothing which he wears in several layers anyway works perfectly well.


My thought would be that an wool/linen tunic do not offer the same cushing effect from blows as a gambeson with two layers of linen and some sort of padding inbetween would. So that it would behave differently and you would feel more secure fighting with it than with a tunic.
If you had the money to buy a maille shirt, which was twice as expensive as a helmet or a sword, you would also have the money to buy a specialized garment to wear beneath the maille. A gambeson was already used as a standalone garment for protection in this era, so to make a gambeson with thinner padding to better suit it beneath a maille shirt would only be natural and practical.

Luka Borscak wrote:

And in that period, already having a mail is a huge advantage over most warriors who don't have any body armour. Gambesons are first developed as a standalone armour for those who can't afford mail. And then the rich realized it's practical to use thinner variants under mail.


And that process of thought went very quickly after maille was used. What would work best under a maille on the battlefield is not something that takes several hundred years to figure out imo. Certainly not since the tecknology is already there. Just needs to modify it.

As we progresses in the viking age maille would become more and more common, because of wealthier warriors and looting the maille from the enemy after battles won. The same goes for helmet, which is much more common than the 3-5 finds we have of viking helmets from archaeology. The reason for this is that it was not custom to bury people with maille and helmet as the cost was so great in aquiring it and the shield would represent the protection in the afterlife, which was always present in a viking burial.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2020 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Håvard Nygård wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
Relatively thin gambeson and several layers of clothing is functionaly the same. Of course a real relatively thin gambeson is good thing to have under mail, but why would viking age warrior even think of such a garment when his normal clothing which he wears in several layers anyway works perfectly well.


My thought would be that an wool/linen tunic do not offer the same cushing effect from blows as a gambeson with two layers of linen and some sort of padding inbetween would. So that it would behave differently and you would feel more secure fighting with it than with a tunic.
If you had the money to buy a maille shirt, which was twice as expensive as a helmet or a sword, you would also have the money to buy a specialized garment to wear beneath the maille. A gambeson was already used as a standalone garment for protection in this era, so to make a gambeson with thinner padding to better suit it beneath a maille shirt would only be natural and practical.

Luka Borscak wrote:

And in that period, already having a mail is a huge advantage over most warriors who don't have any body armour. Gambesons are first developed as a standalone armour for those who can't afford mail. And then the rich realized it's practical to use thinner variants under mail.


And that process of thought went very quickly after maille was used. What would work best under a maille on the battlefield is not something that takes several hundred years to figure out imo. Certainly not since the tecknology is already there. Just needs to modify it.

As we progresses in the viking age maille would become more and more common, because of wealthier warriors and looting the maille from the enemy after battles won. The same goes for helmet, which is much more common than the 3-5 finds we have of viking helmets from archaeology. The reason for this is that it was not custom to bury people with maille and helmet as the cost was so great in aquiring it and the shield would represent the protection in the afterlife, which was always present in a viking burial.


But gambeson wasn't used in that period and part of world. So the idea and technology wasn't around.
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Håvard Nygård




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2020 10:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quilted garments has been in europe since at least the 5th century, probably much longer than that. The germanic tribes have had contact with the roman empire 500 years before that. The method was known, and that knowledge spread to the norse people as well. So the tecknology was there. It`s only question is applying it.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2020 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Håvard Nygård wrote:
Quilted garments has been in europe since at least the 5th century, probably much longer than that. The germanic tribes have had contact with the roman empire 500 years before that. The method was known, and that knowledge spread to the norse people as well. So the tecknology was there. It`s only question is applying it.


A lot of things known to Romans weren't retained and remembered by germanic cultures of 6th to10th centuries, especially in the Scandinavia. Do you have any evidence of stuffed and quilted military garments during that period in northern europe? And if wool isn't very useful stuffing as above mentioned in period sources, northern europe didn't maybe even have appropriate material worth the trouble. If wool is poor stuffing to resist weapons, than there is no point in making a stuffed garment, several layers of heavy tunics is then preferable. and even the thickest gambeson I would consider practical under mail won't save you from broken bones by a hard hit. In the end, we can't know, but the evidence doesn't really support gambesons in northern europe in "viking age".
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Apr, 2020 4:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Håvard Nygård wrote:
Quilted garments has been in europe since at least the 5th century, probably much longer than that. The germanic tribes have had contact with the roman empire 500 years before that. The method was known, and that knowledge spread to the norse people as well. So the tecknology was there. It`s only question is applying it.

That argument leads to highlander ninjas.

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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 7:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a silk garment being worn as protection:
"King Ragnar was clad in the silk 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."
From: http://germanicmythology.com/FORNALDARSAGAS/T...Sonar.html

Leonard Parker
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Wed 08 Apr, 2020 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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