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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar, 2015 5:02 am    Post subject: mail in hot climates         Reply with quote

Hi gents, is there any combination of mail and gambeson more suited for use in extremely hot weather, or was the full use of mail and thick gambesons best suited for European climates? I am in the tropics, and in choosing a period to get into some collection and re enactment with armour, I was wondering if there are any historical examples/cultures which would be more comfortable to follow. I was wondering how mail wearing muslims in the crusades fared, what differences they may have had from European setups? Or even the medtirraenean regions knights?
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Daniel Gorringe




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar, 2015 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are ample examples of mail and lamellar armours from the Middle East, central Asia, and even India and the sweltering nations of Southeast Asia.
I know that Middle Eastern warriors were fairly fond of wearing fabric over their mail, either simply donning a robe or tunic over it, or wearing kazaghand ; tunics with mail lining.
I'm not entirely sure if that was done to mitigate heat; people seem to have managed to wear extensive armour in miserably hot climes throughout history; Spain, Greece, and Italy get damned hot in summer; the Crusaders weren't stopped by heat stroke, and modern soldiers slog through the middle east with heavy Kevlar attire that, I'm told, gets pretty gross and uncomfortable by the end of a day's patrolling.

Given the seasonal nature of much pre-industrial warfare, perhaps in at least some of these countries, war was engaged upon in the cooler parts of the year, and/or avoided during the hottest parts of the day?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar, 2015 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The only evidence we have about the purpose of surcoats suggests that they were intended to protect armour them from rain, not the sun. As has been said, climate has never been a reason why a soldier chose a particular type of armour. We know that the heaviest armours ever invented were worn on summer campaigns in the arid regions of the Middle East for thousands of years. I've worn these armours all day in the middle of an Australain summer with no more difficulty than wearing regular cloithing. The only problem is caused by helmets, not body armour. Keep your head ventilated and stay hydrated and there will be no problem.

The main issue is acclimatisation. If you grew up in a temperate climate or have spent your life in air conditioning then you are going to have trouble being out in the summer sun regardless of whether you wear armour or not.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Mon 09 Mar, 2015 1:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's very possible if not probable that all those gambeson/aketon ideas actually came to Northern Europe from Middle East.

See most probable etymology of 'aketon'.

History of armors in general starts from Middle East too, starting with bronze ones.

So based on that it doesn't seem sun and heat is problem enough to stop people from wearing them.
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Michael Brudon




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 1:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the opinions and also from another Aussie. Though I think our summers might be a bit worse 1200 miles closer to the equator than Maitland Happy Regards the middle east. I think the heat has a good historical parallel. However having been in the army full kit in a dry outback type heat is easier than tropical or jungle humidity. Tropical ops are considered different level of exertion for soldiers.

That said its a good point made regards people becoming acclimatised to temperature and discomfort. Guys do get used to wearing full kit in tropical ops, just take a lot more regular breaks, removing gear to cool off etc. I'll just have to be smart in that way, and get tougher basically. Good point about the helmet too. This is all good news as I can keep original plan for full Euro mail at its peak.
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 2:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The only evidence we have about the purpose of surcoats suggests that they were intended to protect armour them from rain,


Which is true, but obviously wrong. A linen/silk surcoat will hold moisture against mail, thus defeating the object. I prefer the sun option as a more rational explanation but having wandered about the Jordan valley in mail I can vouch that it makes sod all difference! You are hot and that's that. Pace yourself, find shade where possible and exert yourself at sensible times of the day unless your life depends on it. Oh and be a lot fitter....

Currently working on projects ranging from Stonehenge to a WW1 Tank, Magna Carta projects, Waterloo and several ongoing harness projects. Oh and we joust loads! We run over 200 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mart cited this from Ramon Llull's Book of the Order of Chivalry

"A coat is given to a Knight to symbolize the great ordeals that he must suffer in order to honor chivalry. For just as the coat is worn above the other garments of iron, and faces the rain, and receives blows before they reach the hauberk or other armor, so a Knight is chosen to sustain larger burdens than another man."

And this from the Avowynge of King Arthur

With scharpe weppun and scherie,
Gay gownus of grene,
To hold thayre armur clene,
And were hitte fro the wete.


It seems pretty clear that the surcoat was to keep armour clean and protect it from rain.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books


Last edited by Dan Howard on Tue 10 Mar, 2015 5:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 5:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

(Post moved d'oh!)

what does the knight do about his mail clad arms?

Currently working on projects ranging from Stonehenge to a WW1 Tank, Magna Carta projects, Waterloo and several ongoing harness projects. Oh and we joust loads! We run over 200 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 5:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Griffin wrote:
what does the knight do about his mail clad arms?

We have two independent sources telling us that the surcoat was intended to protect the armour from the rain. That fact doesn't change just because we can't see the sense in it.

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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
A linen/silk surcoat will hold moisture against mail


Properly treated wool could very well keep it off the mail though.

Especially if it apparently was thick enough to make some kind of difference against 'blows'.
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Philip Dyer




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 7:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Griffin wrote:
Quote:
The only evidence we have about the purpose of surcoats suggests that they were intended to protect armour them from rain,


Which is true, but obviously wrong. A linen/silk surcoat will hold moisture against mail, thus defeating the object. I prefer the sun option as a more rational explanation but having wandered about the Jordan valley in mail I can vouch that it makes sod all difference! You are hot and that's that. Pace yourself, find shade where possible and exert yourself at sensible times of the day unless your life depends on it. Oh and be a lot fitter....

So... you take the surcoat off clean it, and let in dry when you find shade when you find shade, it is not like it attached to your body. The arms thing is necessary problem because they also functioned as a heraldic combat device, thus you would need to have your arms free in combat. I think the problem in that they were probably at bfirst improvised, or designed as multipurposed garments.
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A lot of my thoughts are practical experience grounded. I have ridden in all this stuff in a variety of 'crusade' type environments. Yes there are times when you can take it off (bearing in mind that's at least 3 leather belts) if you are dismounted and your servants are to hand. Other than that it stays on. I can't imagine surcoated knights going to all the bother of derigging after a soaking, that's an end of day thing if the situation allows.

In all periods12th-19th I've experienced crappy weather in across Europe and the middle east I generally find us mounted folks just find somewhere to shelter or carry on and dry out later thank to nature. No NCO does himself any favours getting his troop to unravel wet weather kit from amongst 18th/19th cent accoutrements certainly. As we have to put the bl**dy things back again.

Currently working on projects ranging from Stonehenge to a WW1 Tank, Magna Carta projects, Waterloo and several ongoing harness projects. Oh and we joust loads! We run over 200 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Philip Dyer




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 8:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Griffin wrote:
A lot of my thoughts are practical experience grounded. I have ridden in all this stuff in a variety of 'crusade' type environments. Yes there are times when you can take it off (bearing in mind that's at least 3 leather belts) if you are dismounted and your servants are to hand. Other than that it stays on. I can't imagine surcoated knights going to all the bother of derigging after a soaking, that's an end of day thing if the situation allows.

In all periods12th-19th I've experienced crappy weather in across Europe and the middle east I generally find us mounted folks just find somewhere to shelter or carry on and dry out later thank to nature. No NCO does himself any favours getting his troop to unravel wet weather kit from amongst 18th/19th cent accoutrements certainly. As we have to put the bl**dy things back again.
Could you elaborate on what you mean by ridden in all this stuff?
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 8:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have done various tv recon documentary stuff in UK, France, Morrocco, Tunisia, Jordan (with a little excursion into Syria we won't mention) and here in wet windy Wales. 12th, 13th, 15th, 17th, 18th and 19th. cent rigs. Plus the odd private live out the saddle thing here and there.
Currently working on projects ranging from Stonehenge to a WW1 Tank, Magna Carta projects, Waterloo and several ongoing harness projects. Oh and we joust loads! We run over 200 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do we have any surviving surcoats from 13th or 14th centuries? I'm aware of none, and I would really like to see one. Graphic depictions often look like surcoats are thin and swaying, I can definitely see logic in them being thick, maybe even from several layers, to protect from both weather and blows...
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 1:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Griffin wrote:
A lot of my thoughts are practical experience grounded. I have ridden in all this stuff in a variety of 'crusade' type environments..

You have ridden in a modern interpretation of this stuff. We don't have any surviving surcoats, so we don't know how to make them, so we don't know how they actually performed in the field.

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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Mar, 2015 2:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

But we can make well educated guesses. I'm happy that a thin linen, silk or at the outside a very fine wool surcoat is what is depicted in the source material.

I think the question here is the weight of the fabric even, not the material used. I'd be very interested in seeing any sources where there is a hint that the type of surcoat I wore when I did the c1250 stuff is some kind of added layer of quilted or padded armour. Its the famous Matthew paris depiction. I chose one image and went for that. I did not fish around or use the many possible sources like a sears catalogue. How many extra layers would be needed to make some kind of valid difference to a blow's power vs the ability to move about? Certainly there are armoured surcoats, but if we are talking about say anything in the Chartres Rose windows i cannot see how those can be interpreted as anything other than a thin flowing garment.

I'm happy with my conclusions. Yes they are modern replicas. Let me know an alternative method of trying these things out.

Currently working on projects ranging from Stonehenge to a WW1 Tank, Magna Carta projects, Waterloo and several ongoing harness projects. Oh and we joust loads! We run over 200 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar, 2015 2:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My point is that the people who actually lived during the time in question thought that the surcoat was intended to protect armour from the rain. If our reconstructions don't do this then we are making them wrong.
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Mark Griffin




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar, 2015 2:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dont' get me wrong Dan, it will protect a fair bit. But there is a pay off as at some point it becomes saturated. Then you have an issue.
Currently working on projects ranging from Stonehenge to a WW1 Tank, Magna Carta projects, Waterloo and several ongoing harness projects. Oh and we joust loads! We run over 200 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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William P




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Mar, 2015 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

speaking for the ancient greeks and byzantines, the annual campaign season for most troops was during the summer months, leaving about 3 months off each year
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