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Markus Fischer




Location: Germany
Joined: 14 May 2020
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jun, 2020 12:03 pm    Post subject: How could a late medival knight be killed in combat?         Reply with quote

Very often I hear that the only way to kill a late medival knight with a sword is to stab into the gaps of the plate armour.
But recently I saw a test of historicaly accurate riveted chain mail....and surprisingly no sword penetrated deeper than 3 inches (even though it was a very late type of Longsword with a very narrow blade, which is designed for thrusting only) which is not a lethal wound.
And because every knight wore chain mail underneath his armour, I was wondering how it would be possible for an opponent to kill his enemy (in case he was wearing heavy plate armour).
The only wappon that stands a change in my opinion is a war hammer or a halberd.
What do you think?
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Houston P.




Location: United States
Joined: 20 Apr 2015

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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jun, 2020 12:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Markus. First of all, 3 inches is certainly able to be a lethal wound. Perhaps most obvious would be getting the point into the neck, which would be almost impossible on very late armor, but you can also hit arteries with a longsword by thrusting into the groin or armpit. You could even land a lethal shot by getting your point into the wrists or inside the elbows into the radial and brachial arteries. Altogether, armor works. It made it very hard to kill the wearer, but they certainly weren’t invincible.

I would agree that the easiest way to kill someone in armor would be a polearm. The beaks can pierce into armor, and the general impact they can deliver is tremendous. There’s a reason that they were the primary weapons and swords were just backup.

...and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. (‭Luke‬ ‭22‬:‭36‬)
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Bartek Strojek




Location: Poland
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jun, 2020 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thrown to the ground, tripped, immobilized. got his helm torn away, and then killed.

Generally grappled. Especially by multiple opponents.

Fall from horse or get overrun by one.

Got heavily tired leaves one more vulnerable to anything, or eventually completely unable to fight. This is obviously when armors harms you instead of helping.


Taken prisoner, and then slaughtered while defenseless, like at Agincourt.

And so on.


Even theoretical armor that leaves you 100%, totally, invulnerable to strikes of your opponent, doesn't make you invincible in any way.

Modern popular media concentrate on fighting just as exchanging some blows, from multiple reasons (everything is usually very fast paced too), but it's just a part of reality.
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T. Kew




Location: London, UK
Joined: 21 Apr 2012

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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jun, 2020 1:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The distance you can drive a thrust into mail depends significantly on two factors:

* What kind of mail it is
* What kind of thrust it is

Both can be important here. Mail isn't homogenous - sometimes it's thick and heavy as a standalone or near-standalone defence, while mail sleeves or voiders worn with plate harness can be much lighter wire that provides less resistance against a thrust. And thrusts aren't equal - a quick jab isn't the same as a heavy lunge, and neither are the same as the result of committing weight into the thrust by anchoring your sword or spear into your armpit like a lance. That can drive a point through mail which would turn aside a normal thrust.

Beyond that, armour isn't completely protected. Often a battlefield combatant might be wearing less armour for other reasons, such as fighting with a raised visor (for vision and breath) or without gauntlets (for grip and dexterity) which then leave openings for an attack. Thinner armour, such as plates on the limbs or feet, might be compromised with a strong thrust from a heavy weapon. Dynamic movement (or an opponent's actions) can cause mail voiders to come out of position, or plates to shift, exposing fabric and flesh underneath without any steel protection.

HEMA fencer and coach, New Cross Historical Fencing
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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
Joined: 16 Jun 2014
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jun, 2020 10:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to agree with just about everything said in the previous comments, especially with Houston P.

Three inches could be a fatal wound with death only moments away. A sword thrust to the groin, inner thigh or neck could open an artery or major vein with less than a three inch depth.

Did you also consider that a sword need not be used simply for cutting and thrusting? Some half-swording techniques could be used to disable a fully armored foe. Imagine the energy generated by a longsword held by the blade and swung in a three foot arc slamming the pommel or guard into the helm of an opponent. Such a blow could easily put an opponent off his feet and then using other half-swording techniques allow plenty of time to thrust into the face, neck or groin. Even if it didn't knock him down it would send him reeling, allowing for other options.

Warriors or soldiers wearing full plate would almost certainly be someone who would've been VERY well trained in just about every way imaginable to end his opponent!
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jun, 2020 1:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another method is to lift up the mail skirt and stab up into the groin or inner thigh. There is an account of one knight surviving this attack because he had sewn the hem of the mail to his hose.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jun, 2020 2:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding lethal penetration depths, it is worth keeping in mind in modern UK and US law enforcement standards, maximum permitted stab vest penetration is 20mm. Beyond this depth, the threat of serious injury or death is considered too high. So 3 in. (76mm) is plenty deep enough to cause big problems.
Anthony Clipsom
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jun, 2020 7:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Mail Unchained article has already covered this.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Ed W.




Location: New Zealand
Joined: 27 Mar 2016

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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jun, 2020 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The concentration of wounds on the skull of Richard III indicates he had lost or removed his helmet.

[url]https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)60804-7/fulltext[/url]

Ed.
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Victor R.




Location: Klein, Texas
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jun, 2020 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry - had to be done.


 Attachment: 132.76 KB
woundman.jpg

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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Jun, 2020 3:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

when in doubt, bring some friends
a trio of halberds and axes can absolutely put a knight on the floor just by pulling his legs out from under him, and then pull up his visor and ask, nicely or not, if he'd like to live

https://i.pinimg.com/564x/ca/69/bf/ca69bfc86369efe10e246c738c61b463.jpg these guys have a good idea
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Matthew Amt




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

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PostPosted: Thu 11 Jun, 2020 5:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
https://i.pinimg.com/564x/ca/69/bf/ca69bfc86369efe10e246c738c61b463.jpg these guys have a good idea


Oh, I hate that image! How did they trick that horse into lying down, before springing out from behind that handy concealing tree while the knight wakes up from his nap to drop his weapon?

Just sayin'...

Matthew
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Henry O.





Joined: 18 Jun 2016

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PostPosted: Thu 11 Jun, 2020 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
William P wrote:
https://i.pinimg.com/564x/ca/69/bf/ca69bfc86369efe10e246c738c61b463.jpg these guys have a good idea


Oh, I hate that image! How did they trick that horse into lying down, before springing out from behind that handy concealing tree while the knight wakes up from his nap to drop his weapon?

Just sayin'...

Matthew


lol, I wonder if this is what John Smythe had in mind when he was arguing that horses wounded by barbed arrows would panic, jerk, and leap about while horses wounded by bullets would either just keep going or else calmly lie down without too much of a fuss.
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Edward Lee




Location: New York
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Jun, 2020 5:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Victor R. wrote:
Sorry - had to be done.




I don't quite understand this image, is it demonstrating how weapon attacks should be done to a man? I am seeing some deadly wounds such as armpit and lunge piercing.
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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
Joined: 27 Jul 2009

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PostPosted: Fri 12 Jun, 2020 12:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No, its a medical diagram. According to wikipedia, they served as a contents page to medical texts on wounds. So, the surgeon looks for the type of injury and the writing by the weapon tells him where it is covered in the text.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wound_Man

Anthony Clipsom
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Iagoba Ferreira





Joined: 15 Sep 2008

Posts: 177

PostPosted: Fri 12 Jun, 2020 1:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know an interesting account of one killed by a bolt in the armpit. Writer doesn't say that he was wearing full plate, but otherwise the location is not usually mentioned in his texts.

Also, a couple others got bolts into neck or face, and in his long list of deaths, he never tells of anybody dying when his armour was perforated, only hits like those, to unprotected areas.

The same places that a bulletproof vest doesn't cover.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Jun, 2020 1:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Iagoba Ferreira wrote:
I know an interesting account of one killed by a bolt in the armpit. Writer doesn't say that he was wearing full plate, but otherwise the location is not usually mentioned in his texts.


During the Battle of Acre in 1291, William de Beaujeu, Master of the Temple, was killed by an arrow in the armpit - only the fletches were visible. He would have been wearing mail.

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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Jun, 2020 2:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It was said that , at the battle of Benevento in 1266 the German knights' armour appeared invulnerable until the French realised that, as they lifted their arms to strike with their swords, they exposed their armpit to a thrust. This would have been coat of plates over mail.
Anthony Clipsom
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Jun, 2020 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
It was said that , at the battle of Benevento in 1266 the German knights' armour appeared invulnerable until the French realised that, as they lifted their arms to strike with their swords, they exposed their armpit to a thrust. This would have been coat of plates over mail.


IIRC this was debunked a few years ago as a myth. Apparently none of the primary sources mention this at all.

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Anthony Clipsom




Location: YORKSHIRE, UK
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Jun, 2020 9:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Anthony Clipsom wrote:
It was said that , at the battle of Benevento in 1266 the German knights' armour appeared invulnerable until the French realised that, as they lifted their arms to strike with their swords, they exposed their armpit to a thrust. This would have been coat of plates over mail.


IIRC this was debunked a few years ago as a myth. Apparently none of the primary sources mention this at all.


Interesting - do you have a reference for the debunking?

The primary reference given by Oman and Oakeshott is

Primatus, in Martin Bouquet, Recueil des Historiens des Gaules et de France, XX, 28.

"Les Francois boutoient les espées grilles et agues sous les esselles d'icentre, on ils
apparoient touz désarmés, et les transpercoient si tort comme il levoient les bras
pour ferir, et leur boutoient les espées parmi les entrailles."

My French isn't great but this does seem to refer to striking people when they raise their arms

Anthony Clipsom
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