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Jeton Osmani





Joined: 25 Apr 2018

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue 10 Sep, 2019 10:21 pm    Post subject: Effectiveness and cost of islamic maille and plate armour?         Reply with quote

good day to you's

i have 2 questions regarding islamic ( and russian/indian) maille and plate armour?

1. how effective was maille and plate armour at stopping heavy crossbow/longbow and lance strikes, i know that maille by itself is very effective against peircing strikes(although i have seen maille being peirced by heavy longbow/crossbow attacks and lance strikes), but most maille and plate armours i have seen have plates protecting the stomach and neglect reaching all the way to the chest area, so how did maille and plate armour protect if heavy peircing blows missed the plate sections.

2. how much did it cost to make such armour and who could afford it, i heard that such armour was only affordable by the emirs and pashas?


thank you for your time

p.s this is my faviroute armour. so thats why i am asking
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James Arlen Gillaspie
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Location: upstate NY
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Sep, 2019 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello, Jeton, the type of armour you are describing existed in the thousands. Though often shown in museums on horseback, I think it best suited light cavalry use, with the shield protecting the upper chest. I would not be surprised if it was common for infantry use as well, but hopefully someone more qualified than I can comment on that. I have one in the shop right now, and the plates in their present condition are not that thick; perhaps about 0.050" thick. The attachment I have added shows the sort of thing that the heavy cavalry would have worn, although some of the details look a little off to me, such as the lower legs and gauntlet/bazubands.


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Pedro Paulo Gaião




Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Joined: 14 Mar 2015

Posts: 302

PostPosted: Sat 14 Sep, 2019 9:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Arlen Gillaspie wrote:
Hello, Jeton, the type of armour you are describing existed in the thousands. Though often shown in museums on horseback, I think it best suited light cavalry use, with the shield protecting the upper chest. I would not be surprised if it was common for infantry use as well, but hopefully someone more qualified than I can comment on that. I have one in the shop right now, and the plates in their present condition are not that thick; perhaps about 0.050" thick. The attachment I have added shows the sort of thing that the heavy cavalry would have worn, although some of the details look a little off to me, such as the lower legs and gauntlet/bazubands.


I would disagree with this notion of "thousands", Islamic Word (with the exception of Persia perhaps) had a noted lack of armor in their armies, that's something even their enemies would recognize. For example, the 14-15th century Mamluk infantry is described by Catholic Sources as "miserably armed" and even the Ottomans, during their apex of power, had a fairly amount of poorly armed infantry in their raids on Central and Eastern Europe; a western source, a French traveller if I remember correctly, said some would be even armed with nothing more than slings or quarterstaffs.

Although the Islamic World was undoubtedly richer than Byzantine or Catholic areas, they would lack the density of arms and armor industry their enemies had. If we could get an earlier example, Mohammed once gave a mail shirt to a local Arab authority as dowry to marry his daughter. In the first stages of Islamic Conquest of Arabia, Mohammed had to attack a local jewish tribe of Banu Qurayza, which was known for its production of swords, in order to better equip his followers for upcoming wars.

I remember also that in a whole 11-12th century army of Seljuk Turks only a small number of horsemen would have a lamellar cuirass. And during arab conquest only a small portion of the army would have actual iron armor..

That's why Ottomans sometimes imported munition-grade sabers and mail armor from Milan and Venice (canons too, through smugglers). Artistic evidence for Moorish enemies in Granada or Morocco shall also point to a relative lack of armor even in cavalry. To all effects, 10-16th century muslim infantry didn't used armor, with the exception of the Ottoman Janissaries, private bodyguards, infantry officers and so ...
From what I've seen, Ottomans were also the most densely equipped military faction of the entire Muslim World, whether in the sense of armor or in firearms and canon adoption. Even still, Turkish Cavalry had a sort of rejection to the adoption of pistols compared to their German enemies in 16th and 17th centuries, considering it unfair and for cowards.

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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Sat 14 Sep, 2019 2:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pedro Paulo Gaião wrote:

From what I've seen, Ottomans were also the most densely equipped military faction of the entire Muslim World, whether in the sense of armor or in firearms and canon adoption. Even still, Turkish Cavalry had a sort of rejection to the adoption of pistols compared to their German enemies in 16th and 17th centuries, considering it unfair and for cowards.


With regards to the pistol it was an advance weapon for it's time due to the skill needed to make the wheel lock mechanism, the Ottomans never mastered making it and instead went with various forms of snaphaunce, firelock or flint lock for their pistols once they began making them.

And it was not just supply pistols which was a problem, pistols required new skills to use and mantain, together with the cost this add layers of difficulty when it came to adopting pistols even if there had not been a cultural resistance to fire arms among the feudal Ottoman cavalry. (It is worth noting that even western cavalry who could purchase pistols a lot easier had some trouble getting these skills, for example French writers complain that their nobles made poor use of their pistols compared to the Germans because the French left loading and mantainance to their servants who did not have the necessary skills.)

Last but not least the Ottomans did not experience the effectiveness of cavalry with pistols until very late in the 16th Century (1593-1606 war with the Habsburgs) and they still had some success in that to which they could cling to as justification to not upgrade their weaponry. It did not help that 17th C Ottoman rulers were disinterested in making military reforms.

"There is nothing more hazardous than to venture a battle. One can lose it
by a thousand unforseen circumstances, even when one has thorougly taken all
precautions that the most perfect military skill allows for."
-Fieldmarshal Lennart Torstensson.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 488

PostPosted: Sun 15 Sep, 2019 12:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, Pedro, today there are whole wheeled racks of Ottoman armour in Istanbul, there is so much that some of it is rusting away. And keep in mind that a favourite kind of Central European cavalry helmet in the 16th/17th century, the zischägge, was copied from the Ottomans!

I would recommend reading some books by specialists in Ottoman, Mughal, and Safavid warfare. It sounds like you are projecting some of the stereotypes which arose when Frankish milites encounted Turkomen cavalry who fought on horseback but did it in a completely different way than the Franks. But in the 12th century Arab, Armenian, etc. cavalry were just as heavily armed as the Franks, check out the works of David Niccole.

Every culture with a militia had soldiers with just a staff and no iron armour, because those were the only weapons poor people could afford. You need to compare like with like. Saying that if metal armour was rare in Arabia in Mohammed's day, it must have been rare for all Arabs a thousand years later, is like saying that because ancient Germanic warriors used bone-tipped spears and shields with wooden bosses, stories of an armour industry in 15th century Innsbruck and Nürnberg and Augsburg must be exaggerated Happy

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Niels Just Rasmussen




Location: Nykøbing Falster, Denmark
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PostPosted: Sun 15 Sep, 2019 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:

Every culture with a militia had soldiers with just a staff and no iron armour, because those were the only weapons poor people could afford. You need to compare like with like. Saying that if metal armour was rare in Arabia in Mohammed's day, it must have been rare for all Arabs a thousand years later, is like saying that because ancient Germanic warriors used bone-tipped spears and shields with wooden bosses, stories of an armour industry in 15th century Innsbruck and Nürnberg and Augsburg must be exaggerated Happy


Another factor is also that in some places militia soldiers were given equipment by the "state" or had the opportunity to buy at reduced cost. That means that certain militias would be vastly better equipped than others.

In Scandinavia middles ages [certainly from the 13th century] the leding soldiers were supplied by their local community, that each equipped a man from their own pocket (and a greater area had the responsibility of having a ship ready with supplies for the campaign). If they didn't do it adequately they would get an extra fine making it more expensive, so that not equipping their elected solider well would end being more expensive!
Later in Norway the Danish-Norwegian King sold tessaks to the Norwegian peasant militia to much reduced prices.

To what extend smilar systems were used around the world impact greatly the equipment quality of the militia. Unfortunately I have no knowledge of whether it was used in the middle east; but didn't India at least at a later time have arsenals of german produced swords, they could supply to their soldiers?

Could a somewhat similar system account for the heavily armoured arabs and armenians in the 12th hundreds or are they a nobility comparable to western european knights??
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 488

PostPosted: Sun 15 Sep, 2019 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, remember that the Franks exported iron products to the Moslem world, but from the 12th century onwards they imported cotton by the shipload to stuff their aketons, gambesons, jupons, pourpoints, jacks, and doublets. Technologies like counterweight trebuchets and gunpowder probably came from the east as well. So its important to look at the whole picture, not just pick one technology that your favourite culture was good at.

Niels Just Rasmussen wrote:
Sean Manning wrote:

Every culture with a militia had soldiers with just a staff and no iron armour, because those were the only weapons poor people could afford. You need to compare like with like. Saying that if metal armour was rare in Arabia in Mohammed's day, it must have been rare for all Arabs a thousand years later, is like saying that because ancient Germanic warriors used bone-tipped spears and shields with wooden bosses, stories of an armour industry in 15th century Innsbruck and Nürnberg and Augsburg must be exaggerated Happy


Another factor is also that in some places militia soldiers were given equipment by the "state" or had the opportunity to buy at reduced cost. That means that certain militias would be vastly better equipped than others.

In Scandinavia middles ages [certainly from the 13th century] the leding soldiers were supplied by their local community, that each equipped a man from their own pocket (and a greater area had the responsibility of having a ship ready with supplies for the campaign). If they didn't do it adequately they would get an extra fine making it more expensive, so that not equipping their elected solider well would end being more expensive!
Later in Norway the Danish-Norwegian King sold tessaks to the Norwegian peasant militia to much reduced prices.

To what extend smilar systems were used around the world impact greatly the equipment quality of the militia. Unfortunately I have no knowledge of whether it was used in the middle east; but didn't India at least at a later time have arsenals of german produced swords, they could supply to their soldiers?

Could a somewhat similar system account for the heavily armoured arabs and armenians in the 12th hundreds or are they a nobility comparable to western european knights??

I am not a specialist in the Near East in the Middle Ages and my books on that period are in Canada, but when the First Crusade arrived I think many settled societies relied on the old land-for-service system which kings kept reinventing when they realized that they could not pay as many soldiers as they wanted (and if the king is strong, he often announces that everyone with a certain amount of property has to provide that amount of service). But the Middle East is a big, diverse place and its always safer to look somewhere specific than try to generalize!

Pretty much any army had some hangers-on with a knife or a club who just wanted to steal things, and some eager, well-trained, well-armed soldiers. If you want to disparage an army, you present the first guy as typical, if you want to praise it you present the second guy.

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Jeton Osmani





Joined: 25 Apr 2018

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon 16 Sep, 2019 1:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i will ask questions of how common armour was in the medieval islamic nations in another topic.


the question of how effective maille and plate armour was against crossbows and lances still needs to be answered fully.




i tend to think that becuase islamic armies where much bigger than european armies, that the ratio of soldiers wearing armour must be smaller than european armies, but then i could be wrong.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
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PostPosted: Today at 1:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeton Osmani wrote:
the question of how effective maille and plate armour was against crossbows and lances still needs to be answered fully.

I don't know of anyone who has measured even one of these armours (the thickness of the plates and the wire, the size of the rings). Then after they had measured several dozen armours and analysed the metal, and figured out which were for which kinds of soldiers (a pasha probably wears stronger armour than an ordinary timariot horseman), they could start building and testing replicas or scraps of original armour. Some European plate armour in the same period will barely stop a sword thrust, and some will stop a musket ball, it all depends on how thick it is, how carefully the metal is distributed, what kind of metal is used and how it was heat treated. Even Alan Williams' study of what kinds of arrows and bullets plate armour could stop is a bit 'theoretical.'

LindyBeige owns one of these from Bikaner, India, with an inscription saying it was captured at a siege of Adoni, probably the siege in 1688/1689 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gPrBbXykwM

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