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Author Topic: Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour  (Read 784 times)

Marchand

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For some reason, I decided to research whether it would actually be feasible for adventurers to go clanking around a dungeon in plate armour. I found this material on the Met Museum website that I thought I would share.

"An entire suit of field armor (that is, armor for battle) usually weighs between 45 and 55 lbs. (20 to 25 kg), with the helmet weighing between 4 and 8 lbs. (2 to 4 kg)--less than the full equipment of a fireman with oxygen gear, or what most modern soldiers have carried into battle since the nineteenth century. Moreover, while most modern equipment is chiefly suspended from the shoulders or waist, the weight of a well-fitted armor is distributed all over the body. "

In fact, "...historical sources tell us of the famous French knight Jean de Maingre (ca. 1366–1421), known as Maréchal Boucicault, who, in full armor, was able to climb up the underside of a ladder using only his hands."

And "chainmail" as such is apparently the wrong term (somebody should have told Gygax and Perren...)

"Defensive garments composed of interlinking rings should correctly be referred to as "mail" or "mail armor" (14.25.1540). The common term "chain mail" is in fact a modern pleonasm (a lingual mistake meaning "the use of more words than are necessary to express an idea": in this instance, both "chain" and "mail" refer to an object made of interlinking rings). In short, the term "chain mail" is saying the same thing twice."
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S'mon

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2020, 11:49:32 AM »
Quote from: Marchand;1130974
For some reason, I decided to research whether it would actually be feasible for adventurers to go clanking around a dungeon in plate armour.

They certainly could. Plate armour isn't 'heavy' to wear unless there's something badly wrong with it. The main problem is it retains heat very well, so it's impractical for hot climes (conversely, mail armour channels heat away nicely). Dungeons are usually cool, but I can imagine overheating during lengthy combat or other exertion being an issue.
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Libramarian

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2020, 12:03:13 PM »
Quote from: Marchand;1130974
"An entire suit of field armor (that is, armor for battle) usually weighs between 45 and 55 lbs. (20 to 25 kg), with the helmet weighing between 4 and 8 lbs. (2 to 4 kg)--less than the full equipment of a fireman with oxygen gear, or what most modern soldiers have carried into battle since the nineteenth century. Moreover, while most modern equipment is chiefly suspended from the shoulders or waist, the weight of a well-fitted armor is distributed all over the body. "


Weight distributed all over the body is more comfortable and allows superior bursts of mobility, but carrying weight on the limbs makes walking very metabolically demanding.

(Imagine walking in 5lb ankle weights vs. carrying 10lb in a backpack.)

This study found walking in plate armor requires 2.3x as much energy. They also found that when people ran in plate they tended to take rapid, shallow breaths, presumably because the chest plate restricted full expansion of the lungs.

I would NOT want to wear full plate armor on a dungeon crawl.

Godfather Punk

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2020, 12:10:43 PM »
Here's a short film on Youtube, where a firefighter, a modern soldier and an armoured knight run an obstacle course. They each carry approx. 30 kg of gear.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAzI1UvlQqw

GameDaddy

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2020, 12:54:43 PM »
Quote from: Marchand;1130974
"Defensive garments composed of interlinking rings should correctly be referred to as "mail" or "mail armor" (14.25.1540). The common term "chain mail" is in fact a modern pleonasm (a lingual mistake meaning "the use of more words than are necessary to express an idea": in this instance, both "chain" and "mail" refer to an object made of interlinking rings). In short, the term "chain mail" is saying the same thing twice."


I respectfully disagree. When some refers to mail, it could be splint mail, which is armor consisting of strips of metal attached to a cloth or leather backing, and overlay each other in a pattern. Ring mail is large interlocked rings which provide really good protection against slashing weapons. Chain Mail, even better with much finer and closer rings woven into a tight and neat mesh, much more advanced work and knowledge is required to create chain mail. saying just "mail" is extremely vague.

So precisely expressing the idea is what we need to do. Is it traditional splint mail made of strips? Is it Chain Mail? is it Mesh? So not a linguistic mistake.
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S'mon

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2020, 01:57:13 PM »
Quote from: GameDaddy;1130988
I respectfully disagree. When some refers to mail, it could be splint mail, which is armor consisting of strips of metal attached to a cloth or leather backing, and overlay each other in a pattern. Ring mail is large interlocked rings which provide really good protection against slashing weapons. Chain Mail, even better with much finer and closer rings woven into a tight and neat mesh, much more advanced work and knowledge is required to create chain mail. saying just "mail" is extremely vague.

So precisely expressing the idea is what we need to do. Is it traditional splint mail made of strips? Is it Chain Mail? is it Mesh? So not a linguistic mistake.

Eh, those are D&D armours, not real armours. The Met was talking about real chain (aka mail) armour.
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Marchand

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2020, 10:56:08 PM »
Quote from: S'mon;1130996
Eh, those are D&D armours, not real armours. The Met was talking about real chain (aka mail) armour.

I could have finished off what the Met had to say...

"As with so many misconceptions, the origins of this misnomer are to be found in the nineteenth century. When early scholars of armor looked at medieval artworks, they noticed what they thought to be depictions of many different forms of armor: rings, chains, bands of rings, scales, small plates, etc. With poetic license, all early armor was referred to as 'mail', distinguished only by its appearance, hence the terms 'ring-mail', 'chain-mail', 'banded mail', 'scale-mail', 'plate-mail', and so forth. It is today commonly accepted, however, that most of these different depictions are actually various attempts by artists to efficiently show the surface of a type of armor that is difficult to render both in paint or sculpture. Rather than showing each interlinking ring, the small links were stylized by dots, slashes, S-shapes, circles, and the like, which readily lent themselves to misinterpretation."
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JeremyR

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2020, 03:01:08 AM »
Quote from: S'mon;1130996
Eh, those are D&D armours, not real armours. The Met was talking about real chain (aka mail) armour.


Except they weren't invented for D&D, they were taken from a historical book about armor.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41676/41676-h/41676-h.htm

Quote

Another variety to be found in early illuminated manuscripts goes by the name of `Ringed' armour. It is quite probable that the
circular discs may have been solid, but on the other hand, from the practical point of view, a ring gives equal protection against a
cutting blow, and is of course much lighter. The illustration of this form of defensive armour is of rather earlier date than that at
which we commence our investigations, but it appears with some frequency in manuscripts of the twelfth century. Mr. J. G. Waller, in
his article on the Hauberk of mail in Archaeologia, vol. lix, is of opinion that all these arrangements of line represent interlinked
chain armour. If this is the case chain-mail must have been much more common than we imagine. From the very nature of its construction
and the labour expended on its intricate manufacture it would surely, at least in the earlier periods, have been only the defence of
the wealthy. When we examine the protective armour of primitive races we find quilted and studded garments used, even at the present
day, so it seems far more probable that our illustrations represent some similar forms of defensive garments than that they are all
incompetent renderings of the fabric of chain-mail only.



And there's a similar explanation about banded mail


Basically since there's almost no actual historical mail armor in existence, they are arguing over illustrations.  But it seems silly to think that given the amount of variety of weapons, some ludicrous, it's somehow crazy to think no one ever experimented with armor? That "mail" simply came into existence with no variations or attempted to improve it (with bands of metal or splints of leather in key locations)?
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S'mon

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2020, 03:31:54 AM »
Quote from: JeremyR;1131181
Except they weren't invented for D&D, they were taken from a historical book about armor.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/41676/41676-h/41676-h.htm


I know - and Gygax used a 1904 source for weapons, as I recall. He did do research, it's just his research sources from ca 1904-1909 were archaic even in 1974, and we know a lot more now.

At least for European armour:

Padded - padded linen gambeson was extremely common
Leather - didn't really exist, since padded was much better
Studded Leather - definitely didn't exist, misinterpretation of brigandine
Ringmail - didn't exist
Scalemail - scale existed in Roman times, not medieval, not very popular as too easy to attack 'up' against the scales & come in under them.
Chainmail - mail armour was very common until replaced by brigandine & plate
Splint & Banded - didn't exist as described, but coat-of-plates existed as a transitional armour to brigandine. Some non-European lamellar armours somewhat resemble the description of banded.
Platemail - plate & mail existed as a transitional to plate armour

I've bolded the armours that existed more or less as described. Brigandine is the main historical medieval armour that is not listed, it should take the place of splintmail & banded in the AC chart. But it looks like leather with studs from the outside, the strips of metal are inside & not visible.

For a 15th century setting, roughly speaking:

Lower Class - Padded Gambeson
Middle Class - Brigandine
Upper Class - Plate

But some upper class might choose to wear Brigandine, while plate got cheaper and more common over time.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 03:43:15 AM by S'mon »
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S'mon

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2020, 03:40:51 AM »
Quote from: JeremyR;1131181
Basically since there's almost no actual historical mail armor in existence, they are arguing over illustrations.  But it seems silly to think that given the amount of variety of weapons, some ludicrous, it's somehow crazy to think no one ever experimented with armor? That "mail" simply came into existence with no variations or attempted to improve it (with bands of metal or splints of leather in key locations)?

People did wear coat-of-plates over mail for added protection. But a good suit of mail gives very good protection (including against arrows), and the links are not particularly hard to make, they just take a lot of time. It's also easy to repair. There is good reason why mail was the protection of choice for over a thousand years.

Edit:
Mr. J. G. Waller, in
his article on the Hauberk of mail in Archaeologia, vol. lix, is of opinion that all these arrangements of line represent interlinked
chain armour. If this is the case chain-mail must have been much more common than we imagine


This is the mainstream view now. As Marchand pointed out above.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 03:45:50 AM by S'mon »
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Marchand

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2020, 07:31:53 AM »
There are a few pics of mail armour on the Met website. Found a few more on the Royal Armouries site.

Lion&Dragon seems to have it about right: padded jack, jack splint, brigandine, mail shirt, mail shirt and plate (of which Met has an example albeit a highly decorative one), full plate.
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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2020, 03:19:54 AM »
First, as people pointed out, armor was made to distribute weight along the body. So it feels a lot heavier to carry it than when you're wearing it.

Second, people could certainly go around a dungeon in plate armor, though it would be noisier. But there were footmen who wore partial plate armor.

Warriors were TRAINED in how to use armor, how to move and fight in it. If someone just put some armor on without training, they'd be slower and less effective in it.

That's why in Lion & Dragon, Warrior and Cleric PCs get better armor bonuses with the same kinds of armor than non-martial classes.
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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2020, 05:20:40 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;1132376
First, as people pointed out, armor was made to distribute weight along the body. So it feels a lot heavier to carry it than when you're wearing it.

Second, people could certainly go around a dungeon in plate armor, though it would be noisier. But there were footmen who wore partial plate armor.

Warriors were TRAINED in how to use armor, how to move and fight in it. If someone just put some armor on without training, they'd be slower and less effective in it.

That's why in Lion & Dragon, Warrior and Cleric PCs get better armor bonuses with the same kinds of armor than non-martial classes.

Hell, it's not a perfect comparison by any means, but ask the SCA types, LARPers, Battle of the Nations  and battle reenactors about what it's like to spend extended time in armor, usual answer is it's not to bad, it sucks after you take it off and find all the new sore/cramped/bruised areas you hadn't noticed you were picking up, but actually wearing it, as long as you can take a break every so often, to lean against something for a while (and this being you usually not exactly hyper fit armor nerd, the BoN and M1 Medieval guys are a different level) you can happily walk all day.

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2020, 09:21:05 AM »
Quote from: Godfather Punk;1130982
Here's a short film on Youtube, where a firefighter, a modern soldier and an armoured knight run an obstacle course. They each carry approx. 30 kg of gear.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAzI1UvlQqw


Thanks for sharing!

I can't help but think, though, that the firefighter and soldier are fully equipped save maybe a fire axe or a rifle, but the armored knight is wearing only his armor and has no other equipment. Even if he had most of his traveling gear on a pack horse, the knight's minimum actual loadout in the field would be significantly heavier, what with multiple weapons, a shield, and I'm guessing at least food and water. To say nothing of all the things a D&D character carts around.

Chris24601

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Interesting stuff from the Met Museum on late medieval armour
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2020, 11:14:33 AM »
Quote from: Lurkndog;1132771
the knight's minimum actual loadout in the field would be significantly heavier, what with multiple weapons, a shield, and I'm guessing at least food and water.

A) Knights are, by definition, mounted cavalry. Any weapons beyond their sword (i.e. their side arm, their main weapon was the lance) would be either carried on their horse or a pack animal.

B) The whole point of plate armor was to do away with the need for the shield. Shields were only used in periods when the armor was lighter.

C) Nor would soldiers carry large quantities of rations themselves. In the days before refrigeration and similar preservation methods food spoilage generally meant having to forage off the land (or, more accurately, take it from the peasants living on said land). They might have a bit of salted meat and hard tack, but only in the modern era have armies not had to rely on local foraging to keep fed... which is why armies of both sides were generally seen as plagues on the land by the common folk.

D) In hand with point B, the overall load of most troops throughout history has probably been pretty consistent (about as much as could be carried without slowing them down too much. All that reducing the weight of armor does is see that load shift to other types of gear.