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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Sep, 2005 9:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I feel compelled to interject here, since the subject of firearms v. leather keeps coming up. Comparing damage (or
energy transfer) from a modern firearm to a medieval slashing or even piercing weapon is misleading, and while I'm lacking in my knowledge of the latter, I'm VERY familiar with the former.

Based on my studies of terminal ballistics and ballistic wounding (and life experience), a bullet smashes its way thru tissue. Think of a tiny mace being swung EXTREMELY fast. While it does penetrate, it does so by vaporizing liquid matter in front of it via hydrostatic shock, literally creating a small "sonic boom" within tissue that causes trauma far in excess of its actual mass. Its not cutting, shearing,or piercing in the same sense as a hand weapon or even a crossbow bolt, all of which rely on mass at low speed for kinetic enery. A bullet relies almost entirely on speed which is so far beyond the mechanical capabilities or leverage, it requires a chemical energy release. Anyone who has seen the difference between a 5.56 nato GSW and a .22cal GSW can testify the speed is the key.

I guess what I'm saying in a roundabout way is that this should be a discussion of leather v medieval weapons, or leather v firearms, not both. Its like comparing apples and mops.

That said, I think a combination of cuir boille over cloth, or cuir boille and soft leather would go far indeed against cuttung impliments, for all the reasons you've all mentioned, but the hard layer should be on the outside, so I'd think it would be commonly represented in period art if it were in use.

that's my 35cents.
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Felix Wang




PostPosted: Wed 14 Sep, 2005 3:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hisham Gaballa wrote:
What about Indian shields (dhals)? these were used until the 19th century and were often made of buffalo hide. They seem to have offered excellent protection against most weapons.


There seem to have been a fair number of places where hide shields were used, presumably rawhide with or without a frame. These were known in Al-Andalus, China, and the Great Plains of North America. I'm not sure exactly where to put rawhide as compared to cuir bouilli; it may even be a superior material for armour compared to the latter.

Incidently, flipping through H R Robinson's Oriental Armour, he refers to strengthening hide armour with sand mixed with glue (page 128) and to leather cured with lime (page 143). Does anyone know more about these techniques?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Sep, 2005 4:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Dan;
I know that it's unfair to ask one to prove a negative: Prove that leather armour was never used or what it looked like when little or no surviving samples or even decent artwork or even literary sources.

It just that if nothing better is available whatever can be made into useful armour would have been used somewhere / sometime. Wink Laughing Out Loud .


But we DO have something better. It is called textiles. They have been around since at least the neolithic period and have turned up as foundations for armour or as standalone armour in most cultures (except for areas such as the Asian steppes). Tests seem to demonstrate that textiles make better armour than leather, but are also likely to have been more expensive.
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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Wed 14 Sep, 2005 8:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually even if I started this topic focused on Leather any discussion of fabric armour, over / under or both in combination with maille or plate sound worth discussing.

I guess it depends on the fabric, how thick it is how strong or resistant to cutting are the individual fibres and what special way they were treated.

The Greeks and I think the Egyptians earlier, used multiple layers of linen hardened and glued together to make armour.

The type of glue or treatment should be critical to the results: Have there been modern attempts to reproduce and test these ?

As an aside, I have used white glue and layers of fabric to build up knife handles on homemade projects: The resulting material had a very hard to cut bonelike feel to it. I never tried this to mold a cuirass though, but it might work ?

Alternatively, using white glue and toilet paper gave me something resembling ivory or micarta: Doing the same using epoxy cement and black acetate fabric gave me a very hard ebony like material.

So using a period glue multilayer fabric armour should be very cut resistant and with some metal trim to protect edges and large closely spaced rivet head should increase cut resistance even more.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 12:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, there have been modern attempts to reconstruct this. Linen seems to have been the material of choice - from the ancient Egyptians right through the medieval period. The Egyptians did not use glue but simply stitched multiple layers together - the same as medieval padded jacks. Modern reconstructions of the Greek linothorax usually involve gluing the layers together but there is no evidence to support the use of glue in the sources, in fact the sources imply a specific lack of glue.
http://www.romanarmy.nl/rat/viewtopic.php?t=2630
Jason Hoffman is doing some in depth research into the linothorax at the moment and the results of his research will be very interesting.
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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 1:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Dan I went to the link and spent a good and enjoyable time reading all six pages of posts.

I went to the home page of the site and Bookmarked it for future reference. ( Good Roman and Ancient world period site. )
http://www.romanarmy.com/cms/

Really convincing stuff and if I was getting a new gambison I would prefer it made out of many layers of linen with the weave rotated 45 degrees for each layer rather than an outer shell and inner shell filled with cotton batting.

The cotton filled one probably works well enough as protection from blunt trauma under maille but the multilayer linen would have more protective qualities on its' own and make one just about arrow proof.

Usually the lowbow is given a lot of credit as one of the reasons why plate armour became popular: From what I just read thick multilayer linen would on its' own make one very arrow proof ! This making me question the lowbow theory ???

Maybe it was more heavy duty polearms and the couched cavalry lance that stimulated the transition to plate more than arrows from bows ?

Although very heavy pull crossbows may have been more effective against the linen & maille armour ?

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 2:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=41041

This outlines the main arguments why plate armour developed. The longbow had nothing to do with it.
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 4:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

How many layers of linen would one use in a gambeson? I'm thinking of starting on one soon and an all linen gambeson sounds interesting.
"I'd rather go upriver with 7 studs, than a 100 sh!theads." - COL Charlie Beckwith, founder SFODD
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 5:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
How many layers of linen would one use in a gambeson? I'm thinking of starting on one soon and an all linen gambeson sounds interesting.


Don't have resources available, but I recall seeing something in the range of 20 - 30 layers mentioned various places. Hand stitching this bad boy will possibly make your maille project look simple. Definitely use a palm needle pusher and pliers. Due to the number of layers, it may have to be sewn while on a form in order to generate integral curvature - that many layers could bind like heck if sewn flat and then bent. Remember, too... seams will be 40 - 60 layers thick, unless you alternately cut each layer short...



Totally separate issue - thinking on making the leather armour from the Osprey Templar book to go under the maille... reinforced with squares of heavier leather. Stupid Katrina wiped out the local leather supplier, or I would probably look at it this upcoming month.


And yes, I'm alright... please don't get off topic here. Appreciate everyone's support. Things are looking more towards normal every day.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Gordon Clark




PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
How many layers of linen would one use in a gambeson? I'm thinking of starting on one soon and an all linen gambeson sounds interesting.

Patrick -
It may matter a lot what type of fabric defense you are trying to produce. A layered Jack from the 15th century had 20 or more layers - but I'm not sure at all that something from earlier would not be different.
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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 9:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick;

I don't know if you had a look at the thread link Dan Howard posted a couple of posts back as there is a lot of info about experimentation with layers of linen and other things done to it. ( Some not relevant to a gambison. )

The quality of linen and strength of fibres was mentioned and some very effective test pieces seem to have been achieved even with so-so quality linen, also rotating the direction of the weave for each layer seemed to increase the cut or piercing resistance: I'm just summarizing a long series of posts.

Oh, and Aaron glad to see you back here. ( Avoiding getting off topic. Cool Big Grin )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
... also rotating the direction of the weave for each layer seemed to increase the cut or piercing resistance...


Like polarizing lenses... put the strain on a lot of different vectors, not just 2. Does potentially make for a fair amount of waste, though, if pieces are placed at random rotation. Placing pieces straight, 90 degrees, and on the bias may do equally well, as well as provide a touch more flexibility to the garment, which would be somewhat stiff as it is.

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Oh, and Aaron glad to see you back here. ( Avoiding getting off topic. Cool Big Grin )


... as long as I have a reliable open internet connection...

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Felix Wang




PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 10:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick,

I agree with Gordon - a jack is a stand-alone defense of the later Middle Ages, of layered fabric and maybe additional hard bits (small plates or mail). A gambeson more typically is a padded defense, which (in my mind) is more associated with the early and High Middle Ages; and was often used with other armour, although it might be the only protection available for poorer fighters.
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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron;

The posts mentioned something like rotating each layer by 45 degrees for each layer rather than a random or very tiny rotation: Basically the same idea as with plywood but with 45 degree instead of only 90 degree rotation. In any case on the third layer you get 90 degrees compared to the first layer. So as a practical matter your description of two layers at 90 degrees and one between at a bias is exactly right, and repeat until the desired number of layers is achieved.

The Roman forum site is worth having a look at like I mentioned before.
http://www.romanarmy.com/cms/

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Thu 15 Sep, 2005 8:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the responses guys.

I'm mainly looking at something to wear beneath my 11th cent. hauberk. I think a garment with that many layers of linen might be a bit bulkier than what I want. It's debatable that a padded undergarment was worn during this period but I'm in the "probable" camp. I'll probably go with cotton batting between an inner and outer layer of linen. My old gambeson that I used to wear beneath my 15th cent. harness is made with this method, and it always breathed pretty well even in the Arizona desert. Unfortunately, while it's well-made it's also a bit overbuilt (like we used to make everything in those days) and too bulky for me to wear beneath my mail.

"I'd rather go upriver with 7 studs, than a 100 sh!theads." - COL Charlie Beckwith, founder SFODD
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Sep, 2005 4:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
I'll probably go with cotton batting between an inner and outer layer of linen.


Of course you already know this, but for the sake of discussion and general awareness - 100% cotton - no poly/synthetic stuff, even as a cotton/poly blend - that won't breathe or absorb well... That's a mistake I have seen made before - commonly about 10 years ago in my stick jockey days - lots of people getting overheated.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Fri 16 Sep, 2005 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would say the arming jacket for use under mail could be as thin as ten layers. It does not need to be as thick as the jacks.
(Thats why its a Jack-Ette.... Wink http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=jacket )

13th cent. knights could also wear a sleveless or short sleved gambeson over the mail.
http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/images...&b.gif
The logic behind this is that too much padding under the hauberk hinders you more than 20 more layers on the outside.

Looking at the construction of the mac garments, you could also theorize that you cound wear your outer gambeson over your arming coat, as a independent light armour.

Another issue when it comes to leather vs cloth armour is availability. We might asume that all primitive societies would have ample access to leather. But this isn't necessarily so. Cattle is not a very good use of agricultural land. Before the great plague, the population in europe was quite high. At least in Norway, the population levels do not reach the high medevial estimates (450 000) again before 1700. Post-plauge, however, there was lots of land to go around, and cattle production probably went up.
Then there is the issue of the size of cattle, and so on...
[/img]

"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."
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Fri 16 Sep, 2005 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
Patrick Kelly wrote:
I'll probably go with cotton batting between an inner and outer layer of linen.


Of course you already know this, but for the sake of discussion and general awareness - 100% cotton - no poly/synthetic stuff, even as a cotton/poly blend - that won't breathe or absorb well... That's a mistake I have seen made before - commonly about 10 years ago in my stick jockey days - lots of people getting overheated.


Uh-huh. Wink

I think this will be a nice winter project for me. I'm in no rush to get it done so I have plenty of time to think about it. I'm thinking of something fairly light, maybe one or two layers of batting between an inner and outer layer of linen. As I've said before there isn't a lot of room between me and the mail. Anything really bulky will make me look ridiculous. Big Grin

"I'd rather go upriver with 7 studs, than a 100 sh!theads." - COL Charlie Beckwith, founder SFODD


Last edited by Patrick Kelly on Fri 16 Sep, 2005 9:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Fri 16 Sep, 2005 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling wrote:
Thats why its a Jack-Ette....


That's funny!

"I'd rather go upriver with 7 studs, than a 100 sh!theads." - COL Charlie Beckwith, founder SFODD
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