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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Oct, 2006 7:34 am    Post subject: medieval armour weights         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Nathan,
I wondered if you were going to want this started in a new topic! Here you go, Blair's table again:

Field armour, Italian, c. 1450: 57 lbs.
Field armour, German, c. 1525: 41 lbs. 13.5 oz.
Field armour, Italian, c. 1550-60: 45 lbs. 13.5 oz.
Field armour, Greenwich, c. 1590: 71 lbs. 14 oz.
Cuirassier armour, Augsburg, c. 1620-30: 69 lbs. 5 oz.
Armour for the joust, Augsburg, c. 1500: 90 lbs. 1.5 oz.
(The later field armour and cuirasser armour were probably "pistol proof", with heavier breastplates than earlier harness. Also, armour for the joust was often much heavier than that for the field.)

Haubergeon, probably Italian, 14th. century: 31 lbs.
Haubergeon, German, 15th. century: 20 lbs. 11 oz.
Brigandine, probably German, early 16th. century: 19lbs. 9 oz.

All the above are from the appendix in Claude Blair's European Armour Circa 1066-Circa 1700. I realize these may be in dispute, so I found a few more as well:

From Brassey's Book of Body Armour by Robert Woosnam Savage and Anthony Hall: 30 lbs. (13 kg.) (approx.) for mail hauberk; 60-70 lbs. (26-32 kg.) for 15th century Italian plate harness.

From A Knight and His Armor by Ewart Oakeshott: 57 lbs. average for plate harness of 1470.

From The Armourer and His Craft by Charles ffoulkes: 93 lbs. for jousting armour from c. 1530; 64 lbs. 13 oz. for a war harness of 1514; 92 lbs. 6 oz. for a war harness of 1588 (this may be "pistol proof).

From Brassey's Master Class: Living History by Philip J.C. Elliot-Wright: 50+ lbs. for calf-length hauberk of 1066-1199, 70 lbs. approx. for complete kit (describing re-enactors); 52 lbs. for average weight of late 15th century harness.

From Treasures from the Tower of London: Arms and Armour by A.V.B. Norman and G.M. Wilson: 94 lbs. (42.64 kg.) for Henry VIII's armour for combat on foot (tourney); 72 lbs. (32.66 kg.) for Robert Dudley's tilting armour.

From Arms and Armour: the Cleveland Museum by Stephen N. Fliegel: 30 lbs. for hauberk. 9.58 kg., 10 kg., 10 kg., 9.29 kg., and 10.47 kg. for different 15th century hauberks in the Severance Collection.

I know some of my sources are old, and Blair's figures have been disputed, but I'm just quoting my sources. If anyone out there has any more up-to-date figures, I would love it if you posted them!

(I also added some figures for individuals pieces, mostly helmets, on my first try to post this, but I timed out as I was typing it in!)

Hope everyone finds this information interesting!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 3:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is a fairly complicated deal though thinking about it. Not all suits were created equal. Some have fuller covereage, (for example totally enclosed greaves, only frontal or none- open faces bascients opposed to great bascinets). Some have plates that are heavier and thicker or lighter and thinner in general and at times of specific parts. The Wallace has weights for much of its armour but I do not have the catalogue anymore to add anymore. It is something that should be looked into more, both weights but thickness as well. I was taking readings on thickness and weight on some armour from the 14th and 15th and was suprised that two armets I looked at were much, MUCH thicker than I had anticipated. There are also some helmets that I have seen that were much thinner. Most of the armour I started working with was 16th and 17th century and the lobstertail helmet for example can go from 1.5mm to 3.5mm thick. I think Blair likely is right on. Not only did he have access to many armouries in Europe but he owns a significant amount of armour (The RA got a donation from him and another collector of a 14th century arm harness a while back). I do not doubt he can easily have weighed a suit of that date in the least. I think the closest one could do would get as many suits weights make a chart and find the middle as a good idea of an average. Looks like you have gotten some good information up on the site though! Thanks for the post.

RPM
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 8:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Randall Moffett wrote:

It is a fairly complicated deal though thinking about it. Not all suits were created equal.


Randall,
Agreed! Any general statement about armour weights must be a rough average at best. Even if Blair's numbers are off a bit, I think they're in the ballpark; they seem to fit within the "rough average".
In Brassey's Book of the Crusades by David Miller, the author states that a hauberk of 200,000 to 300,000 links (?) would weigh approximately 25 lbs. (11 kg.) This might be a bit off, but is it a hauberk with full-length or mid-length sleeves? Is it one with a thigh-length or knee-length skirt? Does this include an integral coif? Even with mail, there are many variables determining its exact weight.
Plate armour could vary even more. Like you mentioned, thicknesses could vary even with similar pieces. Some armour was made proof against crossbow bolts, others were made "pistol proof", with a corresponding increase in weight. Armour for the tournament was heavier than armour for battle.
I'm going to post a few more weights in my next post, including a few helmets. I want to break it up so I'm not typing in like a "mad keyboardist" (plus, I have to look it all up first).
Stay safe!

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 9:49 am    Post subject: more weights...         Reply with quote

Hello again!
Like I promised, here are more weights. Some are specific weights of individual objects, and some are general statements of average weight. I know some of my sources are undoubtedly more reliable than others, and some may rely heavily on earlier authors, like Blair. I thought I would include everything I found to be thorough.

From Battle Dress by Frederick Wilkinson: 19 lbs. 14 oz. for a 15th century German mail shirt in the Wallace Collection; 19 lbs. 8 oz. for another 15th century German mail shirt in the same collection; 9 lbs. for a 16th century Italian anime breastplate in the Gynell Collection; 41 lbs. 13.5 oz. for a German maximilian style armour in the Wallace Collection; 57 lbs. 15 oz. for Otto Heinrich's armour in the same collection; 27 lbs. for a black-and-white Landknecht's armour in the same collection.

Here are some general statements about armour weight:

From Medieval Warfare by Terence Wise: mail weighed about 30 lbs, "all white" armour of the early 15th century weighed between 60 and 70 lbs.

From Medieval Warfare: a History edited by Maurice Keen. In the chapter "Arms, Armour, and Horses" by Andrew Ayton: about 25 lbs. for a late 11th century hauberk; 60-70 lbs. for a plate harness of 1450.

From Osprey Publishing's Warrior 35: English Medieval Knight 1400-1500 by Christopher Gravett: complete harness weighed 45-55 lbs. (25-35 kg.)

From Osprey Publishing's Warrior 1: Norman Knight 950-1204 AD by Christopher Gravett: later medieval mail shirts weighed approximately 30 lbs.

And here are some of the helmet weights I promised. First from the Checklist of the Severance Collection in Arms & Armor: the Cleveland Museum of Art by Stephen N. Fliegel:
49. Armet a Rondel c. 1460-75: 3.10 kg.
50. War Hat c. 1475-1500: 1.78 kg.
55. Close Helmet in Maximilian Style: 2.82 kg.
61. Close Helmet in Maximilian Style: 3.50 kg.
63. War Hat c. 1460: 5.52 kg. (heavy)
64. Close Helmet for the Field c. 1550-1570: 2.96 kg.
68. Barbute c. 1350-1420: 1.58 kg.

And from Treasure from the Tower of London: Arms and Armour by Norman and Wilson:
7. Great Helm late 14th century: 5 lbs. 8 oz. (2.49 kg.)
8. Visored Basinet c. 1370-80: Skull: 3 lbs. 2 oz. (1.42 kg.); Visor: 1 lb. (0.453 kg.)
9. Open-Faced Helmet (sallet) 1490-1500: 4 lbs. 12 oz. (2.15 kg.)

I hope someone finds this interesting!

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar


Last edited by Richard Fay on Tue 10 Oct, 2006 4:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Torsten F.H. Wilke




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was perusing the weights above, and noticed one very odd thing. The Pembridge helm was listed at 5 1/2 lbs. In my estimation, that would mean an approximately 18 guage construction at best, and that seems very thin. A great helm is a substantialy large helm. On the other hand though, I have to agree with the weights reported, based upon my gut feelings. I have never taken scientific measurements of historical pieces, but I have been able to view build details and visual thicknesses of actual pieces and whole harnesses up close on numerous occasions, and have training as an engineer. The weights listed here all seem relevant and trustworthy, but the 150 lb figure for the jousting harness from the previous thread seemed off in left field, put bluntly. My feelings anyway...
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 3:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Torsten F.H. Wilke wrote:

I was perusing the weights above, and noticed one very odd thing. The Pembridge helm was listed at 5 1/2 lbs. In my estimation, that would mean an approximately 18 guage construction at best, and that seems very thin.


I mistyped a bit with the description; this is a helm possibly from the same workshop as the Pembridge helm. This particular helm has no known provenance, but may have come from an English church. It looks similar to the Pembridge, though.
I was just quoting my source, but since it was a catalogue of an exhibition from the Tower Armouries, I assume that the information is fairly accurate. Perhaps the helm lost a bit of weight due to corrosion? Or, perhaps it's a funeral item? Or, maybe it was on the thin side anyway?

Stay safe!

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!
I edited my previous post where I referred to the helm in Treasures from the Tower of London as the Pembridge helm.
Here's a question, though; does anyone have information regarding the weight of the actual Pembridge helm? The above source states that the Pembridge helm is (was?) in the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh (Reg. no. 1905.489). I would love to compare the weights of the Pembridge helm and this very similar one.
So, can anyone post a weight for the Pembridge helm?
How about the weight of the helm of the Black Prince?
Thanks for any information you can dig up!
Stay safe!

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Torsten F.H. Wilke




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 7:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard, definately many thanks for all this information...
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Oct, 2006 9:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Torsten F.H. Wilke wrote:
The weights listed here all seem relevant and trustworthy, but the 150 lb figure for the jousting harness from the previous thread seemed off in left field, put bluntly. My feelings anyway...


And right you'd be Torsten. I didn't express sufficient sarcasm for "factual" claims made by specific local jousters here in Canada. But that topic has been thoroughly beaten.... Razz

Cheers,

Kel
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Oct, 2006 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I really wanted to get in an examine the Pembridge helmet when I was in Edinburgh but had some complications and was unable (it was getting a good clean). It also is possible the back is much lighter than the fron so 18 guage might be off if the front is close to 2mm and the back 1mm. I have not looked at it but most medieval and early modern armour is not uniform thickness.

I hope to get into my notes this week after I get my new place in order and my thesis more started. Hopefully I can add some weights down and thicknesses.

RPM
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Oct, 2006 9:37 am    Post subject: armour weights and thicknesses...         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Randall Moffett wrote:

I have not looked at it but most medieval and early modern armour is not uniform thickness.
I hope to get into my notes this week after I get my new place in order and my thesis more started. Hopefully I can add some weights down and thicknesses.


Randall,
Absolutely! Medieval armourers did tend to make armour pieces with varying thicknesses. The front of a helm could be thicker than the back, and the top may be yet a different thickness. Back plates were thinner than breast plates.
Any weights and thicknesses you could add would be great! I found a few thicknesses for some pieces listed in a table in an appendix from Longbow: a Social and Military History by Robert Hardy (note the varying thicknesses between the thickest parts and the thinnest).
German Bascinet 1380: Top Front: 150 thou (3.81 mm); Visor Snout: 60 thou (1.52 mm)
German Bascinet c. 1375: Top Front: 96 thou (2.44 mm); Side: 50 thou (1.27 mm)
Italian Bascinet c. 1375: Top Front: 120 thou (3.05 mm); Back: 60 thou (1.52 mm)
Italian Bascinet c. 1375: Top Front: 180 thou (4.57 mm); Side and Back: 100 thou (2.54 mm)
Italian Half-Armour c. 1470: 80-110 thou (2.03-2.79 mm)

An amazingly heavy piece of armour was the "frog-mouthed" jousting helm. In The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms and Weapons, edited by Leonid Tarrasuk and Claude Blair, the entry on helms states that these jousting helms could weigh up to 9-10 kg (20-22 lbs.)!
Oakeshott, in The Archaeology of Weapons, stated that the helm from Bozen, in the Castel St. Angelo in Rome, weighs a little over 5 lbs. in its present state. He said that it probably weighed about 6 lbs. with its lining and fittings. Interestingly, this weight is comparable to the helm in the Royal Armouries (the "Pembridge" style helm that weighs 5 lbs. 8 oz.).
One question, does anyone have a conversion chart or formula for thous to millimeters to gauge? I'm not sure how some of the thickness measurements would translate to "gauge". Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated!
Stay safe!

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Oct, 2006 9:44 am    Post subject: Re: armour weights and thicknesses...         Reply with quote

There's a frog-mouther tiliting helm of Charles V in the Real Armeria that weighs 19 pounds, 13 ounces.
Happy

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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Oct, 2006 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

There's a frog-mouther tiliting helm of Charles V in the Real Armeria that weighs 19 pounds, 13 ounces


Thanks, Chad! That just about fits what Tarrasuk and Blair said.

Here are a few more helmet weights I found. All are from photo captions in Battle Dress by Frederick Wilkinson.
Maximillian Style Close Helm, German, c. 1530, in the Wallace Collection: 6 lbs. 14.5 oz.
Early Armet, Italian, mid 15th century, in the same collection: 7 lbs. 7 oz.
Italian "Corinthian" Barbuta, c. 1450-70, in the same collection: 7 lbs.
English tilting helm from c. 1490: over 20 lbs.
English tilting helm c. 1515: 16 lbs. 10 oz.

And a heavy tilting armour for the Gestech, German c. 1500-1520, in the Wallace Collection: 90 lbs.

I'm not sure if any of these are repeats of what I already posted, but even if they are, the numbers are from a different source.

Stay safe!

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Torsten F.H. Wilke




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Oct, 2006 10:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If my memory serves me well, Randall M. stated in a previous thread that 1.2 mm was equivalent to 18 guage and 1.5 mm to 16 guage. I read somewhere very long ago in an arms & armour book that some of the FrogMouth helms were close to 1/4 in thick in places. This book was in a university library, but I have no knowledge of it's accurateness. It would be interesting to see the weights associated with the following thickness specs supplied by Richard, if they are available.

German Bascinet 1380: Top Front: 150 thou (3.81 mm); Visor Snout: 60 thou (1.52 mm)
German Bascinet c. 1375: Top Front: 96 thou (2.44 mm); Side: 50 thou (1.27 mm)
Italian Bascinet c. 1375: Top Front: 120 thou (3.05 mm); Back: 60 thou (1.52 mm)
Italian Bascinet c. 1375: Top Front: 180 thou (4.57 mm); Side and Back: 100 thou (2.54 mm)
Italian Half-Armour c. 1470: 80-110 thou (2.03-2.79 mm)

They seem on the beefy side, but realistic. Is it possible that armourers of inferior capabilities simply couldn't control the workmanship of form and thickness as well as the top echelon of plattners, resulting in heavier and/or bulkier pieces? Maybe the price of higher grade plate stock was the factor in choosing lower grade, weaker iron for commercial rather than performance grade projects, also resulting in heavier stuff? Similar economic and industrial principles probably existed back then, as they do nowadays.
EDIT: I also realized that there are easier (ie: cheaper) and harder (ie: more expensive) ways to smith the same armour piece. For instance, a breast plate dished from a single piece of plate stock would result in a thin medial ridge area and thick sides, but would be easier to manufacture. A helm made from two dished side pieces welded together would also be easier and cheaper to make than a single raised piece. It's interesting to note though, that final size and shape control in a singular raised piece depends heavily upon the starting size and initial distribution, and upon the re-distribution of material during working. Starting from standard sheet stock sure makes consistancy control simpler. It would be very easy for an inexperienced or inept armourer to mess-up on the even-ness of a piece that has to be raised to a certain size and finished shape. Try making an accurate model of a sallet out of a single lump of Play-Dough, and you will quickly see what I'm getting at. I believe that armour made with the technique of raising would inherently have the most variations in cross-sectional thickness, due to the level of workmanship required to end up with a perfect piece. Thanks go to Randall for getting me to think 'bout this more...
2ndEDIT: How about another point? I was previously supposing that sheet stock or thin plate was made to relatively close tolerances, like a thickness callout tolerance of maybe 5 -10 mils. 1mm = 40 mils (thousandths), for those interested. I guess making it flat was probably a good idea too. Flatness is defined as the distance over the nominal thickness between two parallel planes, in between which all portions of the flat material in question will reside without any protrusions above or below, in case you really wanted to know, lol. It now has me wondering how even or consistant historical sheet and plate could actually have been made. Methods of manufacture would definately have a profound effect on the results. Anybody in the know on this?


Last edited by Torsten F.H. Wilke on Fri 13 Oct, 2006 4:24 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Oct, 2006 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all!

Torsten F.H. Wilke wrote:

They seem on the beefy side, but realistic.


Unfortunately, the book I used for my source didn't list the weights associated with these helmets. I do have a bit more information regarding my source. Like I said, it was in an appendix in Longbow: a Social and Military History by Robert Hardy. The appendix section "The Target" was written by Peter Jones. He states that the thicknesses come from recent work by the authors on material from the Tower of London (would these pieces now be in Leeds?) using calipers and an ultrasonic thickness meter.
Now, since it was a study to determine the effectiveness of the longbow arrow against armour plate of varying thicknesses, I wonder if they chose the thickest pieces to study? Of course, this could be average for armour meant to stand up against arrows. The thickest part of each was the top front; the side and back were much thinner on most pieces.
I'm sorry I couldn't find more information regarding the pieces measured, but I hope this clarifies things a little!
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Oct, 2006 4:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The study there are doing could be at the Tower as a the Royal Armouries is spread over 4 main locations. I have looked at some of the R.A. collection in storage and display and the thicknesses are not suprising. One armet had 3mm skull as well as a wrap plate over it of at least 1.5mm. Likewise some helmets were thinner. I wonder if it has to do with quality sometimes? a person with some more finnacial ability going for something more likely to keep him changing O to CO2.

Torsten seems to bring up a good point. Is the varying thicknesses caused on purpose or accident? I have not figured it out. it is possible it depended on the smith. I saw some images taken of a few 17th century breastplates where the thinnest part (2mm) was at the medial ridge of it??? Not where I want the thinnest place!!! It would take a great smaple size to make a good guess, but would be a great task to undertake.

RPM
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Oct, 2006 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not exactly medieval armours but hopefully stil of interest. In 1572 the Swedish Royal Armoury carried out large scale of all stored armour includign weighing many examples. Some of the records survived and the weights were converted into kilos by the historians of the Swedish General Staff.

Footsoldiers harness
Burgonet: 3.06 kilos
Gorget: 2.72 kilos
Breastplate: 2.72 kilos
Backplate: 2.04 kilos
Arm harness: 1.7 kilos
Gauntlets: 1.26 kilos
Cuisses, covering the leg to the knee: 1.7 kilos

Instead of the heavy burgonet some harness' camewith a 'Spanish' morion wich weigjed only 1.1 kilos.

Heavu horseman's harness
Close-helmet: 3.4 kilos
Gorget: 1.7 kilos
Shot-proof breast and back plates: 6.8 kilos
Pauldrons: 2.72 kilos
Arm harness 3.4 kilos
gauntlets 1. 02 kilos
Cuisses with attached poleyns: 2.38 kilos
If the harness came with a burgonet instead of a close-helmet a bevor weighing 1.36 kilos was part of the harness.

Light horseman's harness
Burgonet: 2.04 kilos
Gorget: 2.72 kilos
Shot-proof breast and back plates: 6.8 kilos
Arm harness: 3.4 kilos
Cuissies:2.38 kilos
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Torsten F.H. Wilke




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PostPosted: Fri 13 Oct, 2006 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I noticed something very interesting in the above post. The "shot-proof" breast- and back-plates are listed as weighing about 15 lbs. I am led to believe by the writing style that this weight refers to both front and back together! As a comparison, my Milanese Gothic style cuirass weighs just a hair under 20 lbs with 4-5 lame faulds. It's a metric equivalent of just over 18 guage mild steel construction, and in NO way would I ever consider that shot-proof, unless the steels in the late 1500's were super alloys. I don't think that was the case...
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PostPosted: Fri 13 Oct, 2006 10:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Torsten F.H. Wilke wrote:
I noticed something very interesting in the above post. The "shot-proof" breast- and back-plates are listed as weighing about 15 lbs. I am led to believe by the writing style that this weight refers to both front and back together! As a comparison, my Milanese Gothic style cuirass weighs just a hair under 20 lbs with 4-5 lame faulds. It's a metric equivalent of just over 18 guage mild steel construction, and in NO way would I ever consider that shot-proof, unless the steels in the late 1500's were super alloys. I don't think that was the case...

Mild steel has a hardness rating of about 100 VPN, high class armour could reach a hardness of 400-500 VPN.
I suspect it's a it's a question of size, a 1572 back-and-breast isn't the same size as a Milanses cuirass with fauld to begin with, add in the fact that the 1572 armour is made for a man who's shorter and weighs less than his 21st Century counterpart.
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PostPosted: Sat 14 Oct, 2006 2:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel, those are some very good points. You wouldn't happen to know how the VPN ratings tie in with tensile strengths in ksi? I am not familiar with those units. Are they metric? I was under the impression that modern mild steels were in the 70 ksi range, modern high strength aluminum alloys in the 35-65 ksi range, and ultra-high strength steel alloys were in the 270-290 ksi range, at which point they have already become far too brittle for any impact resistance. As I recall, modern Cr-Mo-Va high strength alloys, far surpassing any medievil alloys obtainable, had great toughness strengths in the 170- 230 ksi range. Those numbers are only 2-3 times as strong as figures for mild steels. I'd say that it's pretty safe to assume a medievil iron alloy only attaining a strength 1.5-2 times as great as a modern mild steel, but I would love to see data supporting the 4-5 times as strong a figure implied by the VPN numbers. Because that would mean they REALLY knew their stuff back then, on par with our most modern ultra-high strength steels. And That would amaze me slightly, since they had not yet been capable of refining the necessary alloying metals. Or, maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about anymore, lol... Can anyone else shed some more light upon these things?
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