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David Lindberg





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PostPosted: Sat 28 May, 2005 11:33 pm    Post subject: Early Maille         Reply with quote

I was just thinking about the first few cultures to develop/wear maille. I was inspired by an earlier thread saying that the Vikings *must* have worn padded clothing under their maille.

SO. What about the Romans? Did they actually wear something under there besides their tunics?
How a bout the Celts? I seed to recall that they had a trend of... underdressing for batte...
Would those that could afford a maille shirt be willing to wear a paded garment under it?

What do you think?
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Chuck Russell




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PostPosted: Sun 29 May, 2005 6:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

saying the vikings must have worn something is pure myth. there is no proof either way. for the romans, theres a thing called a submaralis(sp?) design is pure conjecture. from what we know it had padding in teh shoulders and a chest covering to protect the tunica from the mail. but not padded. sorry, dont have any current sources other than legion XX website. www.larp.com/legioxx
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2005 7:22 am    Post subject: Viking mail near 1000 AD         Reply with quote

The television History/Discovery channel has a good show on the rise of the viking warrior. I have seen it more than once and believe it will be repeated at least once or twice per year.

This show advocates that at the hieght of their military might, Vikings wore a type of padded gambeson (not full sleeve length), and a specific weave ring/chain mail. In this show, several types of reproduction armor are tested using a modern basilica (spear gun) that shot a bolt with consistent velocity into the test armor. The bolts fired penetrated most types of period armor and chain used, but not the specific combination of chain/ring weave it claimed the vikings used when both the padded undergarment and mail were worn togather. I can't remember if the show tested any plate armor, but do believe an 18 gauge sheet of steel was shown to be easily penetrated by the bolt.
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Vince Labolito




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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2005 7:39 am    Post subject: Re: Viking mail near 1000 AD         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
In this show, several types of reproduction armor are tested using a modern basilica (spear gun) that shot a bolt with consistent velocity into the test armor.


I think you mean a ballista, which is an ancient military engine often in the form of a crossbow for hurling large missiles, and not a basilica, which is an oblong building ending in a semicircular apse used in ancient Rome especially for a court of justice and place of public assembly.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.
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Joseph Minarick




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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2005 8:20 am    Post subject: Re: Viking mail near 1000 AD         Reply with quote

Vince Labolito wrote:
Jared Smith wrote:
In this show, several types of reproduction armor are tested using a modern basilica (spear gun) that shot a bolt with consistent velocity into the test armor.


I think you mean a ballista, which is an ancient military engine often in the form of a crossbow for hurling large missiles, and not a basilica, which is an oblong building ending in a semicircular apse used in ancient Rome especially for a court of justice and place of public assembly.


Actually, you would be amazed at the speed with which roman justice could fire large bolts at people.


But seriously, I find the claim that any maille could resist a missile fired by what is in effect a small siege engine to be highly suspect. Even if it was possible for the armor to stop such a missile, the blunt trauma would surely kill the individual wearing it. If anyone sees this special please post a report here, as I will be without basic cable for a while.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2005 8:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also, if the vikings where so darned smart, why would anyone stop wearing the "Wonder Combo™"?

As for the lack of padding under armour, it could be a result of a relative lack of blunt impact weapons on the battlefield. Neither Gladii or one handed spears would hit hard enough to make a arming coat strictly neccesary. It helps a lot, but you are still much, much harder to kill without it...

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2005 8:51 am    Post subject: Re: Viking mail near 1000 AD         Reply with quote

Joseph Minarick wrote:
But seriously, I find the claim that any maille could resist a missile fired by what is in effect a small siege engine to be highly suspect. Even if it was possible for the armor to stop such a missile, the blunt trauma would surely kill the individual wearing it. If anyone sees this special please post a report here, as I will be without basic cable for a while.


Details may be a bit off, but here's what I recall...

High velocity, high mass siege engine? No. It was tamer than that... Three types of maille were brought in: Butted, riveted, and flat-section solid/riveted combo. The tests were performed at a ballistics testing lab (I think in the UK) that usually tests modern flak/riot/bulletproof stuff.

They used a highly reliable and repeatable form of cannon-type device to launch a replica spearhead at forces that a person could generate at patches of maille placed on a static stand. The spearhead penetrated all of these to varying depth, but all of them showed potentially fatal results. When the best performer was placed over a gambeson (don't recall the makeup or layers), the penetration was about an inch into the maille/gambeson combo. The program claimed this would still have inflicted a wound, but not enough to be deemed lethal on the battlefield.

The program was interesting from what I got to see of it - too much going on in the shop that day.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Fortior Qui Se Vincit
(He is stronger who conquers himself.)
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2005 3:25 pm    Post subject: Penetration results.         Reply with quote

I uess the right description would be ballista.

The show made some initial reference to tall tales of fearless warriors, seemingly invincible to spear thrusts and multiple arrow (probably not good longbows as I suspect these were less common until around 1300?) wounds. The producers sought to explore the possibility that the viking mail may have been good enough to actually have given them superior protection.

What I remember was that the representation of the viking combo utilized 3 layers consisting of leather, a specific type of chain mesh, and a padded under garment. There was some type of material behind this to simulate flesh. Yes the simulated spear head or bolt penetrated all of the layers, but as I remember the viking combo only permitted about 1/8" of the tip of the projectile to reach into what would be flesh area. The 1/8" tip penetration was pronounced superficial, such that the warrior would have been able to continue fighting, to the dismay of his opponent. Elimination of any one of the layers increased the depth of penetration into "flesh" such that it would have been serious (3/4" or more.) The bolt passed several inches through many of the representations of general period mail.

Why did'nt everyone use this type of mail? I don't really recall what the show said about this, but do believe there was some mention of the vikings originating and concentrating in cooler climate areas. I suspect this degree of layering would be too hot to march around in at most warm weather conditions. Also, this level of protection was only described as covering the chest and upper arm areas. The weave (type of celtic knot pattern, also found in some celtic artwork, not just their armor) was described as requiring more time to produce than other types of mail.
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Helen Miller




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PostPosted: Mon 30 May, 2005 4:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David,
Here's an interesting read on Roman mail. I don't know how accurate it is since it's a student essay. It mentions the use of a "padded doublet" underneath Roman armour:



http://rubens.anu.edu.au/student.projects97/armour/mail/mail.html

Perhaps the bibliography section used by the author would be helpful (if you had access to them of course):


http://rubens.anu.edu.au/student.projects97/a...raphy.html

Here's another website which seems to support the padded garment theory. The under garment was called a subarmalis or "under-armour."

http://www.redrampant.com/roma/armor.html

-"A woman's tongue is her sword, and she does not let it rust."
Proverb
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 31 May, 2005 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Avete!

Yeah, this is one of those topics we wish we had more evidence for! The term "subarmalis" is a Roman word that MIGHT refer to a garment worn under armor, but might be something else entirely. We simply use it to refer to that garment. The only known description comes from the 4th century AD and uses the word "thoracomachus", and mentions a construction of heavy cloth covered by leather (though it suggests that the leather is a separate garment!). So for the Late Roman period, we have direct evidence that such padding existed (at a time when mail was the primary type of armor, by the way), though this is hardly proof that its use was universal, especially in other eras.

And that's it! Like the controversy over Viking gambesons, we have no other direct evidence for the wearing of padding under mail by the Romans, particularly back in the Republic when mail first came into use. There is a theory that the Romans lined their mail with fabric, padding, or leather, since mailshirts are often depicted with a distinct border or edging. (You see the same effect and the same theory with the Bayeux Tapestry.) This has distant parallels in much later surviving examples, such as mail pieces from the 14th or 15th centuries that still have padding attached. The possibility is that mail as we know it is only the most visible and survivable layer of a multi-part defense, and that the ancient Romans simply assumed that "lorica hamata" included both mail and padded lining.

Alternatively, the Romans might simply have worn a couple thick tunics under mail. Or maybe they just wore the mail, and felt that it was good enough for their purposes "as is". We'd really love to know!

From what I've seen, Norse mail was almost identical to Roman mail, being alternating rows of solid and riveted rings, all of wrought iron. This was apparently the typical European form right through the 13th century. The major difference is that Roman mail was typically made of smaller rings. So I don't see much reason to believe in some sort of Viking "super mail".

There were Celtic warriors from certain places at certain times who fought naked. However, from what we know, those who could afford armor fought armored and fully clothed. Same thing with the Vikings, and most other medieval cultures--those who could afford it, wore it. Note that most combatants in a medieval battle would NOT have armor! It was expensive stuff, and generally reserved for nobility and their retainers.

And they wore it because it worked. There are certainly references here and there through history of armor being actually penetrated by arrows or weapons. There are many more references to armored men being wounded or killed by weapons which hit them in an unarmored spot (be careful of these!) (...the citations and the unarmored spots, I mean!). Then there are all kinds of references to armor protecting quite well from arrows and weapons of all sorts.

The ancients wore armor because they felt it was working just fine for them. I'm sure none of them had any delusions about it being invincible, but they'd rather wear it than go without. Nevertheless, weapons were still very effective in battle simply because most of the men fighting did not have the armor. But I digress, and this topic has been fought back and forth on a regular basis on every board and list I've ever been on.

Bottom line on the padding: We don't know! We KNOW the mail was used, and we know it was effective. We think it had to be padded to be that effective, so we want to assume that some sort of padding was there, even if we don't have direct evidence for it. From there, we can only speculate.

Here I go again, questioning the answers instead of answering the questions! Ain't it a great hobby?

Matthew/Quintus, Legio XX
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