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Michael Edelson




Location: New York
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know if some of you guys have seen this, but here are some tests that inlcude weapons other than a bow:

http://www.newyorklongsword.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=285

The following conclusions are from the results of two tests, one of cheap Indian mail and the other from a test of Julio Junco's superb riveted mail, and from other tests that have been done by others:

1. Any results obtained from butted mail should be ignored.
2. Any results obtained from mail hanging by it self or propped onto a wooden backround should be ignored.
3. Only results that incorporate a padded defense under the mail and a target with some degree of give are realistic.
4. Good quality mail cannot be cut with a hand held weapon, not even a poleaxe. However, the poleaxe will destroy what's underneath and break many links.
5. Mail, even cheap Indian riveted mail, cannot not be cut or even damaged (more than a few scratches or minor dents) with a sword cut.
6. Mail is easily defeated by stiff thrusting weapons, such as a type XV sword being half-sworded or a poleaxe spike or spear.
7. A poweful bow will penetrate even the best mail at point blank range.
8. A bow's ability to penetrate mail deteriorates rapidly as range increases. Even 20 feet makes a difference. So a bow that can penetrate the mail at 20 feet may bounce off at 40-60 feet.

New York Historical Fencing Association
www.newyorklongsword.com

Byakkokan Dojo
http://newyorkbattodo.com/
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Joel Minturn





Joined: 10 Dec 2007

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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 10:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That sounds about right for mail tests.

I just have one thing to add to this discussion. Low carbon iron is steel, unless you mean pure Iron which is only iron and i believe fairly rare and pretty worthless for armour making. Most of what we think of as iron, wrough iron and cast iron has much more carbon in it than steel. If it has more than 2% carbon it becomes iron. one other thing, working in a carbon rich environment ie charcoal forge, will add trace amounts of carbon to the surfaces of low carbon steels and improve there characteristics. this is known as surface hardening.

Sorry not really on topic but just had to throw that out there.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 1:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quite a scholarly and informative thread.

Somewhere (maybe David Miller's book about Richard the Lionheart) I read an anecdote that during the 3rd Crusade, the 'Saracens' were shocked at the effectiveness of European armor. In particular, of knights and men-at-arms effectively fighting on with arrows sticking out of them like a pin cushion. This sounds like the arrowheads were embedded in mail and perhaps the padding beneath without doing any serious damage. I know nothing about the bows being used in that time and place -presumably they were less effective that English long bows- but that's a convincing advertisement.

What is lacking in much of the above thread is a discussion of 'how effective was mail compared to the existing alternatives'. Whether someone were trying to shoot an arrow at me or slash me with a sword, I'd sure rather be wearing mail with padding than standing there in my T shirt. But how did it stack up against other light-medium armor alternatives?

For example, we know that the Romans had alternatives to traditional mail. Why did these not gain the same popularity as mail through to the early middle ages? Even when plate armor replaced mail as the high-end product of the nobleman & wealthy professional soldier, as far as I know, mail continued in use for centuries by average solders and in 'backward' spots like Scotland and Ireland. So why did mail remain the second choice to plate armor?

I suspect that the answer to these questions does not just relate to pure protection, but also to mobility, durability, comfort, availability, and cost of production.
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Logan L





Joined: 18 Mar 2008

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PostPosted: Tue 18 Mar, 2008 8:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've never realy worn armor. but I would never cound out chain maille. it is tough and flexable. a sword slash could easy glide across a well made piece of maille. however while cutting some one wear chain maille or even satbing them is hard crushing blows kinda finish the jobe.

this of corse comes from an 18 year old boy whos only worn it once but has had long talks with others who have seen its worth.

Are you part of the sword or is the sword part of you.
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Robin Palmer




Location: herne bay Kent UK
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 10:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi All

Reference Agincourt as I understand it the French loses fell into four groups There was an TV program last year which covered the battle and defined the losses the following is taken from the program best I can recall. The first were archery which seems to have been limited many of the French knights had new steel plate breasts while the English archers were still using older effectively iron arrowheads which failed to penetrate. The second lowest cause of French losses was close quater battle and a lot were killed due to being jammed in unable to fight. The third cause was the killing of the prisioners which was not huge lastly and probably the largest was caused by the muddy ground and the jammed French lines a large number simply fell over trampled and drowned possibly as high as 2000 men.

I have read a reference in one of the osprey books quoting an original text which describes a fight between two Muslim warriors both well armoured it states that neither could make any impression on the other. finally one noted that his opponents mail wasn't properly closed under his arm rushing in he tore the mail open and thrust his sword home ending the fight. Which seems to show that well made mail is at least sword proof at least islamic mail of the crusader period was. Another point to consider mention has been made of butted riveted and mixed riveted and solid yet mail comes in a lot of different weights by that I mean different thicknesses. The Wallis has both Islamic and European mail shirts on display all riveted yet they varie hugely in thickness of the wire used I do not have measurements but the thinnest is very fine.
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin,

Yeah that was kind of my point, no disrespect to anyone who liked the program or anyone in particular. If people want to get into the battle of Agincourt TV is a good intro and a step in the right direction but hardly conclusive or often accurate. If it is the program I am thinking of it was very 'lax' as far as information used from primary sources.

Best way to get into the battle I can think of is to look for Anne Curry's book on Agincourt; Sources and interpretations. This gives you the best overall picture I know of for what took place. It also goes over the accounts strengths and weaknesses.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Battle-Agincourt-Sour...0851158021

The gesta henrici is likely the account that was the closest of them to the actual event and clearly does not run in sync with a great deal out there right now. It has a few weaknesses but hey the gent who wrote it was there. I will not further detour this regarding Agincourt though....

RPM
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Bram Verbeek





Joined: 27 Mar 2007

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PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 12:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I will only answer the question about agincourt, then move on with the thread, yes, it was the discovery program combined with a teensy bit of own research (my own models of masses of people and effectiveness of arrows versus plate and horses, but this was not thorough), therefore "I thought" was in the post.

It is a bit out of my period, being plate (I am more of a mailman) and out of period for this thread as well. We do not care how people wearing plate died when talking about mail now do we?

I would hesitate to compare mail to other light weight alternatives, because, frankly, what do you propose we would compare it with? The only thing that comes to mind is scale and lamellar armor, and I would not see these as light weight (unless the lames would be made of leather, but period sources of these are doubtful at best). The other thing is, mail is not light weight, it is, in fact, quite heavy as armor goes, so where would you draw the line between heavy and light?
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Mar, 2008 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bram Verbeek wrote:
I would hesitate to compare mail to other light weight alternatives, because, frankly, what do you propose we would compare it with? The only thing that comes to mind is scale and lamellar armor, and I would not see these as light weight (unless the lames would be made of leather, but period sources of these are doubtful at best). The other thing is, mail is not light weight, it is, in fact, quite heavy as armor goes, so where would you draw the line between heavy and light?


I meant lighter than a full suit of plate armor, but obviously the more mail one is wearing the heavier it will be so, it's not a relevant measure. Let's pretend I never mentioned weight.

The important question is, how does mail stack up against other alternatives available in the same time frame, like scale and lamellar armor for example. I have a mail hauberk and know what it feels like, but I haven't worn these other types or heard much about them being tested in modern times. Not only for protection but also for mobility, long-term comfort, durability, etc. I suspect that this comparison would answer the original question in the thread.

In other words, I suspect that mail was simply the best overall available armor compared the other alternatives before plate armor. Whether it was perfect or not is not that important if it was the best you could get for X amount of medieval coins.

However I do not have enough knowledge or direct experience to make this claim with certainty so I put this out as a question to anyone who is familiar with all of these types of armor.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 4:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Somewhere (maybe David Miller's book about Richard the Lionheart) I read an anecdote that during the 3rd Crusade, the 'Saracens' were shocked at the effectiveness of European armor. In particular, of knights and men-at-arms effectively fighting on with arrows sticking out of them like a pin cushion. This sounds like the arrowheads were embedded in mail and perhaps the padding beneath without doing any serious damage. I know nothing about the bows being used in that time and place -presumably they were less effective that English long bows- but that's a convincing advertisement.


I wouldn't say "less effective"--yes, the bows used by the Middle-Eastern horse archers in the Crusaders were lighter than the English longbow, being mostly in the 50-80 pounds range of draw weights (according to evidence gathered from existing bows and medieval Islamic archery manuals), but they were quite effective for the kind of tactics that they were designed for--namely, riding up close to the enemy and shooting from nearly point-blank range and then hurrying back out before the enemy could retaliate. By the time of the 3rd Crusade, both the Latin principalities and the foreign Crusaders had learned enough to incorporate large numbers of crossbowmen into their major armies, and these crossbowmen prevented the horse archers from engaging in their optimal and favored tactics of shooting at short ranges. Instead, the horsemen were forced to make only harassing shots from long ranges and, as Michael (Edelson) has said, the effectiveness of arrows decreases rapidly with distance. An arrow that would have been a guaranteed kill from 50 yards would have made hardly any impression upon the target from along skirmishing range of 200 yards.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
The important question is, how does mail stack up against other alternatives available in the same time frame, like scale and lamellar armor for example. I have a mail hauberk and know what it feels like, but I haven't worn these other types or heard much about them being tested in modern times. Not only for protection but also for mobility, long-term comfort, durability, etc. I suspect that this comparison would answer the original question in the thread.


Somehow I have the suspicion that these alternative forms of armor (scale, lamellar, brigandine/coat-of-plates) were more likely to be worn in addition to mail rather than in its stead....
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Bram Verbeek





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PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 7:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not mongol armour, and lames are quite effective on their own right, they do not really need mail backing it up. Lamellar armour is very heavy however (two or three layers of steel everywhere). (there was this guy who tested different sorts of leather against cuts and thrusts, only the lamellar held out, if you imagine this in steel...)

On a side note, lamellar armor can be layered upwards or downwards, I always felt that layering it upward would be best for cavalry, and downward would be best for infantry, but this may just be speculation, as I recall no infantry having lamellar armor
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 10:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shawn Shaw wrote:
Well, I'm not an expert on maille but let me say this.

I make maille and, using 5/8" rings of 14 Ga steel wire, I hung a "sheet" of maille on a block of wood and tested that very question with a large fighting knife (nothing fancy, a homemade job a friend picked up for me one Christmas).

I hammered the maille and after a few good strokes I was able to shear through some of the maille.

2. I make butted mail, I'm sure that rivted mail would have performed a bit better. I'm sure also that a tighter weave (say, 3/8" for example) would also have performed better-but of course it would also be heavier.


Butted mail is basically unhistorical, the vast majority of historical I have ever heard of was welded or riveted. Every test i know of with reasonably realistic mail has shown it basically invulnerable to sword cuts.

J

System D'Armes Historical European fencing in New Orleans

Essays on Hroarr

Introducing the Codex Guide to the Medieval Baltic
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Marcos Cantu





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PostPosted: Sun 23 Mar, 2008 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

does anyone have any opinions on how hardened linothorax armor used by hoplites would perform as compared to maille?
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Bram Verbeek





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PostPosted: Sun 23 Mar, 2008 10:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think you can compare them to jacks with many layers. Effective, but best used in combination with mail.
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Marcos Cantu





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PostPosted: Sun 23 Mar, 2008 10:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

if i understand how linothorax was made, it's many layers of linen that are glued together and hardens when dry. i dont think that linothorax and maille were ever combined...
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Mar, 2008 5:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Unfortunately, we don't know for certain that the linothorax was glued. That's basically modern theory with no evidence behind it. We also don't know how thick it was. But I believe there is an ancient source that says it's not quite as good as bronze armor, if that helps at all! We probably don't need to go into the full debate here, since there's already a 21-page discussion on the Roman Army Talk board!

http://www.romanarmy.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=16574

The shape of the Roman mailshirt or lorica hamata is clearly copied from the linothorax, but no, I don't think mail was ever used OVER a linothorax. However, often the linothorax is shown with a band of scales around the middle, so sometimes it was reinforced.

Valete,

Matthew
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Bram Verbeek





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PostPosted: Mon 24 Mar, 2008 3:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Whoops, I did imply it was used over mail, but I did't mean to say that.

It was armor in its own right, and like a jack in that respect, but a jack is very very good when worn over mail and was used as such where a linothorax was not (that I know of), but not as good (though still very impressive) when worn on its own, and vice versa.
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Karl P




Location: Utah, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 26 Mar, 2008 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shawn Shaw wrote:
Did that link work for anyone else? I tried it and came up with the spanish equivalent of "this site doesn't exist".


As one who is bilingual, I found his site most interesting. The link for the english portion of his site where he discusses the archery tests is, as of 3/26/08:

http://www.cotasdemalla.es/ma1.htm

Enjoy!

Karl
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Bennison N




Location: Auckland, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Thu 27 Mar, 2008 6:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a question for you experts on chainmail...

Are you familiar with Chinese "Shan Wen Kai" (Mountain Pattern Scale) armour? It is called this because the shape of each interlocking piece resembles the Chinese character "Shan" or Mountain. It is a form of Scale, but apparently moves like Mail...

When trying to find an online picture of it, I came across this, from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_armour

It looks very tough... People say it is the pinnacle of Chinese armour development.

I would like to know if it worthwhile investing in a custom-made 3/4 length coat of this type of armour. I have a maker, who is confident he can make it to the level of quality I demand, but he is quite expensive (actually, he is VERY expensive, even in RMB). Hence the question... What is your more expert opinions of it?

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

अजयखड्गधारी
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Sean Smith





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PostPosted: Thu 27 Mar, 2008 1:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

AFAIK, there are no existing specimens of this, besides what we have on "effigies" and such like that. Talking to people, everyone agrees that it is one of the most wasteful designs people can come up with. With medieval tools, try cutting out several tiny little rectangles, out of the existing pieces (talking about between the center and the "arms"). There is no good way to get them out of sheet steel, without being incredibly wasteful. From what I have seen, there have been very few re-creations of this armour for the above reasons.
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