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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2012 9:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kel,

Still not sure about the COP thing. Even with little overlap it should keep a massive number of injuries specifically here than a cuirass of plate. Having worked with both originals and reproductions I just cannot see the gap on a state of the art COp from Crecy or Poitiers having a drasitcally lasrger or smaller hole as some of the COPs even have gussets like that of the Hirshstein castle COP. It is possible some of the knights and MAA of Poitiers had no back plate like the Pistia Alterpiece and solid breastplates.

Part of the problem is that the main group promoting the flanking as the turning point miss the fact this was a very small number of men at arms and archers. The bulk of them remained to the front. So it may have been what tipped the battle but the bulk of the attack was still the men at arms and light infantry and archers before the French.

Baker states well before the flank this of the archers and crossbowmen of the English, "The men came togethre in a fearful conflict of lances, swords, and axes. NOr did the archers fail in their duty but, from a safe position protected by the mound (the hill they were on), they attacked those above the ditch and beyond the hedge, aiming arrows which defeated armed knights, while our crossbowmen let fly bolts fast and furious."

This is at the beginning of the battle. He does indicate both the archers and crossbowmen were unable to stop the french but I still think it is more numbers than archer issues.

I personally feel the Cleric was more accurate than most. He was there and while we have to be careful about exaggeration with any one I see nothing that makes me think he is incorrect.

RPM
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Mar, 2012 1:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clifford Rogers wrote:
Dan Howard wrote:
Arrows have plenty of bearing over many battles but not because they can compromise armour. The real reasons for the warbow's effectiveness are listed in the other thread.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=25486

There is a good list of them and none have anything to do with being able to punch through plate. Almost all of the accounts you have produced fall into point 2 or 3. The exceptions are just that. Occurrences that happen too rarely to have any influence on the outcome of a battle.


Dan,

Your point 2 is that "The whole point of any battle is to take out enemy soldiers. This does not mean that they have to be killed. An arrow through the foot will incapacitate a soldier just as surely as an arrow through the heart. The vast majority of arrow casualties were caused by non-fatal injuries as it has always been since the bow was first used in battle thousands of years ago."

When the target is a man-at-arms of 1415, who can be presumed to be wearing a sabaton (right?), how does he get "an arrow throught the foot" without the arrow punching through plate? Similarly, do you really think Sir John Paston's nephew Henry Fenyingley was "shot through the arms in three or four places" at St. Albans in 1455 without the arrows that did so having punched through plate?

I've never said that arrows can't punch through thin pieces of plate. Stretton has shown that they can at extremely short ranges.

Quote:
I agree that " The vast majority of arrow casualties were caused by non-fatal injuries." But against fifteenth-century men-at-arms, most (though certainly not all) of those non-fatal injuries would have to penetrate plate armor.

Even the best harness - especially in 1415 - has plenty of gaps that aren't covered with plate. If you are hit with enough arrows then eventually one of them is going to find these vulnerabilities.

Quote:
It is the ability of arrows to wound even those with cap-a-pie plate (e.g. virtually every man-at-arms in the wings or first division of the French at Agincourt) that makes the longbow effective in causing the disruption, demoralization, and bunching you mention.

Cap-a-pie plate doesn't actually cover the whole body. If you are hit with enough arrows then eventually one of them is going to find the vulnerabilities inherent in all armours.

Quote:
While it is theoretically possible, I suppose, that (per your point 3) all the wounds and deaths inflicted by the arrows were caused when arrows found gaps, that seems unlikely given how few gaps there were, especially on the surface of a man-at-arms advancing in formation with his head down rather than one fighting hand-to-hand (who might expose armits or whatever). Moreover, contemporary sources give many statements that men-at-arms were in substantial numbers killed as well as wounded by arrows. To add a couple of examples I haven't mentioned already in published works: in 1411 some Armagnac soldiers captured St.-Denis outside Paris. A large force of Parisians tried to drive them out but were badly defeated because the Armagnacs were well armored [bien armes] and the Parisians were not. However, the Duke of Burgundy then arrived with some Englishmen who went to skirmish with the Armagnacs "and killed many of the Armagancs and their horses by the force of their arrows" [tuerent moult des Arminacs et de leurs chvaux par force de trait."] [Bourgeois de Paris, 46].

So why couldn't these arrows have penetrated occulariums, mail collars, mail brayettes, armpits, etc etc. All such wounds can be fatal but none are covered by plate.

Quote:
Thomas Walsingham, describing a battle of 1383, says that English archers "surpassed all others...for they so struck the enemy with their flying arrows that of their armored men no more remained [unharmed? on the field?] than if they had been unarmored... Bodies were perforated, their armor [lorica] notwithstanding; breasts were wounded, the plates [lamina] not resisting; heads were shot through [transfigebantur], the helmets not helping; hands holding lances or shafts were nailed to them, gauntlets being no protection." [St Albans Chronicle, 680]. The targets were Flemings, probably mostly urban militamen with coats-of-plate rather than white harness, but the helmets are still plate and the word "lamina" means specifically plates, not (as the OMT translator has it) mail. OK, Walsingham was not an eye-witness, but he was clearly getting his information from people who were, and if nothing else this shows conclusively that _well-informed people at the time did believe longbow arrows could penetrate plate_.

Lorica includes mail hauberks and lighter jacks. There were plenty of enemy not wearing plate on their bodies. I have no problem with an occasional arrow penetrating a thin gauntlet or sabaton or vambrace but only at short ranges and it did not occur enough to influence the outcome of the battle.
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Clifford Rogers




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2012 4:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
I've never said that arrows can't punch through thin pieces of plate. Stretton has shown that they can at extremely short ranges.


Dan, you just said

Dan Howard wrote:
Arrows have plenty of bearing over many battles but not because they can compromise armour. The real reasons for the warbow's effectiveness are listed in the other thread.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=25486

There is a good list of them and none have anything to do with being able to punch through plate.


My point is that your list of reasons _does_ have to do with arrows punching through plate, to inflict _at least_ the non-lethal wounds you describe, e.g. an arrow through the foot-- your example.

Dan Howard wrote:
So why couldn't these arrows have penetrated occulariums, mail collars, mail brayettes, armpits, etc etc. All such wounds can be fatal but none are covered by plate.


As I already said, that is theoretically possible. But apply Occam's razor. We know arrows had a big impact on battles; even you say so, though you say not by punching through plate. We know that at Agincourt they had a big impact on an attack made entirely by men-at-arms. We know that men-at-arms in 1415 had most of their bodies covered by plate. The archers probably had around 24 arrows to loose per attacking man-at-arms. What is more likely: that enough of those arrows found the small areas not covered by plate to make a difference, or that in order to make a difference they had to punch through plate? Now also consider that we have contemporary testimony saying that arrows could and did penetrate plate, in a way that makes it clear the author did not consider it a rare occurence without impact, but rather a very major factor in winning a victory. Again, I think anyone with an open mind has to conclude that the balance of probability is that arrows punching through plate did have a big impact on the English victories of the HYW. I do think your position that few people were _killed_ by arrows that penetrated plate can be sustained as a _possibility_, though I don't think it is correct. But to say that arrows punching through plate had no effect on the battles makes no sense; it conflicts with the evidence and makes it too hard to understand how the English won so often, or why they _thought_ arrows could penetrate plate in important ways.

Dan Howard wrote:
Lorica includes mail hauberks and lighter jacks. There were plenty of enemy not wearing plate on their bodies. I have no problem with an occasional arrow penetrating a thin gauntlet or sabaton or vambrace but only at short ranges and it did not occur enough to influence the outcome of the battle.
Yes, that's why I translated "lorica" as "armor." But "lamina" is plates, and Walsingham has breasts wounded through them, and helmets are plate, and Walsingham has heads shot through despite them. And we have other independent testimony of that-- Froissart's example of an arrow shot at the captain of a castle that (from memory) "pierced through his bascinet and his head also." Just so I don't give the wrong impression, let me be clear that (as I've said many times) I think most arrows that hit helmets would not do this, due to a combination of range, metallurgical variation, and especially angle of impact vs. a glancing surface. But if some arrows can penetrate lamina and inflict a chest-wound, or penetrate bascinets and kill the target, then quite a few others will penetrate the easier targets (vambraces, rerebraces, leg harness, sabatons, gauntlets), or will pierce helmets and lodge in the skull [as seems to have happened to King David at Neville's Cross in 1346, again by Occam's razor, though one can find a way to explain the arrowhead that stayed in his skull without assuming that]. These minor wounds, I agree, will have a bigger role in determining the outcome of the battle than will arrows that kill their targets outright. But the evidence of the outcome of the battles is strong that they did have a big role, since, once again, if they hadn't had a big impact there would be no credible way to explain how the English beat such heavy odds so consistently. Unless you want to argue that "light on their feet" archers had an advantage in hand-to-hand combat vs. fully armored men-at-arms, but I'm pretty sure you wouldn't support that highly improbable assertion.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Mar, 2012 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think enough emphasis has been placed on the effects of exhaustion. The longbows obviously had an attritive effect, you can't stand under an arrow shower indefinitely. But when you look at other battles like Hattin, Nicopolis, even Towton and others (I know of several like this in the Baltic Crusades and the Hussite wars), there does seem to be a pattern of particularly armored troops reaching a sudden collapse point where they simply can't fight any more. I know from fencing in HEMA tournaments that even a really fit person (unlike me) is totally exhausted after just ten or fifteen minutes of hand to hand fighting. Mounted warriors would usually break off and ride away at that point, but if you are advancing on foot, especially in full cavalry harness, you are on a one way trip, victory or death. A lot of times, that ended up being death.


Also.. my understanding of the organization of a "lance" is that each knight or man-at-arms has 3 or 4 attendants who are not going to have full harness. I'm not sure where these people would be in Agincourt but from what I've read they were considered indispensable for the 'lance' to function effectively.

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Matt Easton




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 2:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the implication at Agincourt is that the 'knight's' attendants would have not been in the lead van (which advanced on foot), unless they happened to own complete harness.

Of course another point that many people overlook in these discussions is that whilst it is not necessarily easy to kill or incapacitate a fully armoured man with arrows, it is no easier with hand weapons. Numerous late-14th and 15th century sources (eg. Fiore dei Liberi's Fior di Battaglia) state this explicitly. Men in full armour were not easy to kill and even in single duels with pollaxes or in jousts serious injuries were rare.

We know that Henry's army took lots of prisoners, ergo, lots of men had survived the arrows to arrive at the English lines and be made prisoners. Boucicaut was one of these of course (and one of the few who was not executed!). I know of no evidence that Boucicaut was seriously wounded at Agincourt (or Nicopolis for that matter) - presumably he and men like him were simply battered and subdued.

As a question to the main contributors to this thread I am interested to know your view on something: What percentage of the French army at Agincourt do you think was wearing some form of complete plate harness? My assumption based on reading the common books by Barker, Curry etc is that we might only be looking at 20% of the French army in full harness (which may still number 2 or 3000 men...). Views?

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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 3:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

and also, the archers wouldnt have exactly been in tip top condition either
remember henrys army was wracked with illness, and also had problems wwith food supply, so they were starving alittle.

these guys have also been plugging away with arrows for however long the battle has gone, and while theire well trained, with bows that powerful,... thats still a tiring excercise.

and while we assert that not all plate was the best at agincourt..at the same time not all archers had 130-150lb longbows.. id be willing to bet most were 100-130lb's. which haave less effect on armour..

battlefield detectives also noted that there was a minor funnelling effect caused by the ground.causing men to bump into each other, knock into each other etc

and when you fall in mud, in harness, youll be quite hard pressed to get back up again.

its possible that the archers might have been a little more mobile, and been able to wear down the men at arms more easily.



its also interesting that henry supposedly had a few primative connons with him there at agincourt, but i think he never got to use them,, so no AK-47's but i think a couple of small biombards would have made massive difference even a small cannonball would TEAR through a file of armoured men, killing at least the first man in the file..

though apparently they wernt actually deployed so thats a moot point,.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 5:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean,

Seems much of the Lance attendants were used elsewhere. Several people take the term valet which is used in the period texts in the final group that does not join in the battle as being made up of this group.

William,

Hard to say what the draw weights are for any one but the archers of Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose. That said not sure we can assume it was markedly different.

As far as cannons go I'd be hesitant to put any real use of these there as none of the people present at the battle indicate they did much or anything, most not even mentioning them.

It is highly likely any cannons Henry had were left at Harfleur. They had issues with bringing enough supplies do to room, unlikely to bring large cannons along over arrows and food.

RPM
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 6:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:


I personally feel the Cleric was more accurate than most. He was there and while we have to be careful about exaggeration with any one I see nothing that makes me think he is incorrect.

RPM


You are much less critical of the "exaggeration" throughout the entire Gesta Henrici which can only be read as propaganda rather than the descriptive narrative of Le Waurin and the others who were also there but had less motive to exaggerate. I have no doubt there is much truth in the anonymous cleric's words but there seems to be significant manipulation of fact to put Henry in the most heroic light. Hey, you guys are the professionals - so I will politely disagree with your estimation of that particular source.
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 7:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clifford Rogers wrote:
... re Poitiers: the archers "caused their arrows to prevail over the armour of the knights" ("coegerunt sagittas armis militaribus prevalere.")

FWIW, very obviously, that passage translates literally not as "armour," but as "military arms" of the knights.

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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 7:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt Easton wrote:

As a question to the main contributors to this thread I am interested to know your view on something: What percentage of the French army at Agincourt do you think was wearing some form of complete plate harness? My assumption based on reading the common books by Barker, Curry etc is that we might only be looking at 20% of the French army in full harness (which may still number 2 or 3000 men...). Views?


What, including the valets and grooms? WTF?! More likely 4-5000 spread between the two main battles. Certainly the van was composed of the wealthiest and most powerful men who bickered for the position. "All the lords wanted to be in the vanguard, against the opinion of the constable and the experienced knights" as Dr Rogers comments in 2008.

Do you think that the large force shadowing the English for two weeks wasn't prepared for a pitched battle? As more troops joined them in the lead up to the battle, why wouldn't they be properly kitted out to deal with the well known effects of massed longbow archery? The gros valets were definitely not fully harnessed and were relegated to the second and third battle with the lesser lords and men-at-arms to stiffen them. No, Matt, I think the main battle suffered the worst from the arrow storm but were the ones most likely to survive it - because they were the ones with full harness. Depending on which source you choose to accept or who's interpretation is most plausible, there were many more than 2-3000 men in full harness for war. What quality of harness that might break down to.... some fascinating and imaginative speculation is already in print.

The fact that large numbers of French men at arms survived the arrow storm to fall in front of one of three English standards with English archers mauling the flanks with hand weapons surely makes one question the idea that these guys weren't wearing decent armour.
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Clifford Rogers




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 8:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Josh Warren wrote:
Clifford Rogers wrote:
... re Poitiers: the archers "caused their arrows to prevail over the armour of the knights" ("coegerunt sagittas armis militaribus prevalere.")

FWIW, very obviously, that passage translates literally not as "armour," but as "military arms" of the knights.


Well, as the "armis of the knights," [not both "military" and "of knights"]. But it is clearly used in the same sense as "homines ad arma "-- i.e. men with full armor, not men with weapons (which all soldiers have, and for which tela would probably have been used), or men with heraldic arms (which would make no sense in context, and at this time most homines ad arma did not have them anyway). Similarly, "inermes" does not mean weaponless, but unarmored.

My Cassel's Latin dictionary notes that the broad sense is "implements of war," and the narrower sense is "defensive armor" as opposed to tela for "offensive weapons."

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Clifford Rogers




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 9:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt Easton wrote:

As a question to the main contributors to this thread I am interested to know your view on something: What percentage of the French army at Agincourt do you think was wearing some form of complete plate harness? My assumption based on reading the common books by Barker, Curry etc is that we might only be looking at 20% of the French army in full harness (which may still number 2 or 3000 men...). Views?


There were about 10,000 men-at-arms, plus about the same number of _gros valets_ (each man-at-arms normally had at least one _gros valet_), plus some number-- maybe 4-6,000 or so-- urban militiamen and other miscellaneous foot.

Practically all of the men-at-arms would have had "full" armor, as that's basically what the term means. The wing cavalry and the vanguard of the French attack were composed entirely of men-at-arms. The second French division was mostly men-at-arms with the best-equipped _gros valets_. The (mounted) third division was made up mostly of _gros valets_ with some men-at-arms. The _gros valets_ would typically have at least a jack or haubergeon, gauntlets, and helmet.

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Matt Easton




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting, thanks.
I'm presuming that the number of French men-at-arms is to some degree a matter of conjecture still then? I am surprised that the French men-at-arms outnumbered the militias which had swelled the French force on the march. My impression previously had been that these militias, together with various less-armoured retainers, such as the more lightly armed gros valets probably outnumbered the men-at-arms. But you think not?

In regards to the equipment, I have been listing a few examples of armour left in wills from this period here:
http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/viewtopi...mp;t=18196

I find it interesting that on one hand some people who are listed as civilian tradesmen owned quite extensive amounts of armour in England at the time (presumably they had served as men-at-arms, or someone in the family had), but also the amount of armour left in wills suggests that a good percentage of lower status men-at-arms would have been equipped with somewhat of a mixture of armour, some perhaps a generation old. In some of these wills they list items of armour, but certain pieces we expect to see are not there - such as listing a bascinet, haubergeon and gauntlets, but in some cases no mention of arm or leg plates, or a breastplate/cuirass/coat of plates. This makes me wonder if actually a lot of men-at-arms were not as well equipped as we might have believed. Certainly some period art shows a great variation between what individual men-at-arms wore at this time. Not that this necessarily makes much difference, I just find it interesting. Happy

Great thread!

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Kurt Scholz




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could it be that in times of military deployment a great armour purchase started with peacetime prices skyrocketing the worse the organization and distribution system was? So it was perhaps handy to have some necessary and hard to procure items at home while not necessarily investing into a complete outfit if missing parts were deemed easy to obtain or unnecessary because they weren't priority items for recruitment. Could some families have had each a share of an armour suit? What would some communal organization or the king take care of to provide in what quantity?

So I'd be interested if we have sources on the increases of prices on the armour market.
If there's little increase we face a working system and have to find out how it works.
If prices skyrocket we like have a dysfunctional system with a high degree of individualism and little enforced regulations on uniform armouring.
The adoption of old and makeshift armour would in my opinion most like reflect direct repercussions on the iron market and the prices of iron tools (plows for example) without necessarily affecting the prices of more developed armours. This would equally mean a chaos with footprints in a different place. Such armour in my opinion will be good at range and weaker at close quarters.

So what do the sources say?
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 12:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pieces of armour and weapons are often mentioned in English wills of the time. They were left to specific people, just like any other belonging. Sometimes you can see that the deceased owned more than one example of a specific piece - for example there are wills where 2 or 3 bascinets are mentioned and each one was left to a different person. 'Pairs of plates', mail shirts, bascinets and 'gloves of plate' are mentioned a lot in wills of this period, arm and leg armour less so. I don't know why that is.
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Clifford Rogers




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt Easton wrote:
This makes me wonder if actually a lot of men-at-arms were not as well equipped as we might have believed. Certainly some period art shows a great variation between what individual men-at-arms wore at this time.


Men-at-arms were normally gentlemen, knights and esquires. Most of the guys whose wills you cite would likely not have been classed as men-at-arms in an English army, and certainly not in a French one. Their armor was probably for urban militia service. Members of the urban elite would often have enough armor to provide some for their servants as well.

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Clifford Rogers




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matt Easton wrote:
Very interesting, thanks.
I'm presuming that the number of French men-at-arms is to some degree a matter of conjecture still then? I am surprised that the French men-at-arms outnumbered the militias which had swelled the French force on the march. My impression previously had been that these militias, together with various less-armoured retainers, such as the more lightly armed gros valets probably outnumbered the men-at-arms. But you think not?


No, I think so-- the men-at-arms were the minority of the French forces present, about 10/24 or 10/26. But they were the large majority of the troops that actually fought.

There is some conjecture but really I think the numbers are pretty solid, based on numerous independent chronicles that give basically the same information in different ways.

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Graham Shearlaw




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 3:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

wars all aways lead to the price of weapons and armor going up, look at the spike in the cost of 7.62x39mm back when the Iraqi Army was rearmed.

so haveing some armor saved money and was often mandated by law.
but as your armor was only checked a few times a year so passing round the armor was often used to cheat the system.

i do think that on a familie and local level there was a lot of armor shareing, after all it is no use at home.
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 3:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clifford Rogers wrote:
No, I think so-- the men-at-arms were the minority of the French forces present, about 10/24 or 10/26. But they were the large majority of the troops that actually fought.


Ah okay, thanks.
I seem to recall that the population of France was about twice that of England at the time, so despite this number seeming very large I suppose it makes sense. I must admit I find the idea of 10,000 men in up to date plate harness quite incredible, but the Italian city states managed amazing levels of armour supply a decade later - two Milanese armourers in 1427 provided 6000 armours (4000 of which were for cavalry) from stock - off the shelf - in a matter of days! (cited in Chris Dobson's article on San Romano).

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Matt Easton




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Mar, 2012 3:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Clifford Rogers wrote:
Matt Easton wrote:
This makes me wonder if actually a lot of men-at-arms were not as well equipped as we might have believed. Certainly some period art shows a great variation between what individual men-at-arms wore at this time.


Men-at-arms were normally gentlemen, knights and esquires. Most of the guys whose wills you cite would likely not have been classed as men-at-arms in an English army, and certainly not in a French one. Their armor was probably for urban militia service. Members of the urban elite would often have enough armor to provide some for their servants as well.


This makes a lot of sense, thanks.

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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Arrows vs armour
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