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Larry R




PostPosted: Sat 02 Apr, 2011 2:37 pm    Post subject: Flat or Round Rings         Reply with quote

Hello all,

I've tried to find an answer to this question with no luck. In my research (this site and others) I've found examples of historic flattened and round ring mail. What are the time frames of each? Also, I think I understand how both types mail were made, but is one superior to the other? Is one method faster to make? Is one more durable than the other?
I've read (among other articles) "Mail:unchained" by Dan Howard. I also read some good info on spotlight topic "Riveted" does not equal "Historical", but neither one (that I saw) gave me a time frame for either style.

Thanks,
Larry
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Apr, 2011 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the 14th century and 15th we see both.

One Hauberk at the Royal Armouries is flat rings and wedge riveted and one at the Museum of London is round links and post. Both are from the 14th century. In the 15th there is an interesting mantle that has flat and round rings in them.

Something to keep in mind is that it seems the size of the rings, the thickness, flat vs. round and such may be tied to specfic uses. The mantle for example shows this.

RPM
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Apr, 2011 6:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Precisely. 14th century is when we start to see flat rings being in common use, but possibly some earlier examples of this technique exist.

Round rings were still used up to and including WWI. If you think about it, butchers aprons and clam gloves still use them to deflect blades.

A typical maille at the very intersection of the two types is the Kungslena maille (Sweden). Today it's just a rusty lump scientists hope to unravel with computer graphics, but you can still make out the round rings. This find is from the very end of the 13th century.
But just to add to the confusion I've seen roman statues wearing what looks like some type of flat ring maille. Artists license or actual proof of it being a lot older than 14th century, who can say? I was just baffled seeing it. No finds have this at that early age though as far as I know of.

For anyone interested in an in-depth analysis of maille from various ages, what the rings and rivets looked like, I highly recommend Vegard Vikes work Brynjevev. The original is in Norwegian but there's an english translation out on the web also. Try Google it. Wink

Also, IMO just as important as flat or round regarding historical accuracy in modern made maille replicas is riveting type and ring diameters and proportions. Again, Vegards amazing and unique work is a great way to learn more.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Mikael Ranelius




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr, 2011 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The 14th century mail coif from Tofta, Gotland, Sweden provides an interesting example of flat rings that are actually very similar to those currently manufactured in India. Also notice the comparatively large diameter of the rings:

http://www.actakonservering.se/acta/KonserveringTofta.html


Last edited by Mikael Ranelius on Sun 03 Apr, 2011 11:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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Larry R




PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr, 2011 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, if generally speaking, mail started out as round ring type why did it evolve into flat ring? I understand rivet type, ring diameter and type of metal all play a part in trying to recreate a historical piece of mail, but is their an advantage to flat or round rings?
Thanks,
Larry
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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr, 2011 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Flattening round wire rings "work-hardens" the iron which can make it tougher. Until I looked at the Gotland conservation images linked above - I had never seen completely flat mail links in a period construction. I know solid rings were punched from sheet stock but riveted rings? Flattened not flat. Hmm. Happy

To the OP: I believe the quality of the rivet set is more important to the strength of a particular cross section of link.
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr, 2011 4:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Normally one has to deep anneal the rings to be able to drift holes in them for the riveting, so in effect any work hardening is lost. But a harder ring and stronger riveting is still the reason for flattening it, so you're still right in a way.

Reaons to flatten the ring:
- The flat cross section naturally resists being bent open more than round cross section rings would, improving thrusting resistance.
- One can fit a wider, stronger die rivet that resists being sprung open from thrusting better.
- The weave becomes tighter, better deflecting thin piercing weapons. Or you can get the same protection as with small round ring while using larger diameter rings, resulting in fewer rings and a faster less time consuming build.
- Flat ring means less resistance to cutting if one is to only consider the thinner wall to be cut. But using steel instead of the earlier used material "soft" wrought iron both makes for a more cut resistant material and also opens up the option of case hardening it for even greater edge resistance. So this is material technology advances during that time directly affecting how armour was built, as can also be seen in helmets and other plate armour as well as shields being made smaller and less dominant on the battlefield.
Overall, a flat ring maille can have the same level of protection while being about 30% lighter. Or one could go for a same weight maille with superior protection.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Apr, 2011 5:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Soft" Wrought iron maille is best made round section to resist cutting. The soft ductile metal would be virtually impossible to smash open, but may be cut or stretced to breaking. So one needs to use thick rings, same as some unusally large and thick ones that have been found at Birka, or a tight weave with many very small rings bearing the spread out blow landing on it, same as can be seen in the Gjermundbu maille.

Steel maille, especially if one can case harden it effectively making it many times more resistive to cut with an edge tool or weapon, is best made flat section and can be made quite thin and also lighter. Poor tempering might lead to a brittle maille sensitiver to smashing open though.

Despite this I'm sure there were examples of either type made in the opposite material also. Part of any armour being made to look a specific way is also the current fashion.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Apr, 2011 4:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd be surprised if flat rings were devised because they worked better when hardened. The earliest flat rings predate the earliest case-hardened mail by a considerable margin.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Apr, 2011 4:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Larry R wrote:
So, if generally speaking, mail started out as round ring type why did it evolve into flat ring?

It didn't. Flat mail was mainly produced in parts of Germany. Round mail was stil being produced everywhere else.
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Larry R




PostPosted: Mon 04 Apr, 2011 5:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Larry R wrote:
So, if generally speaking, mail started out as round ring type why did it evolve into flat ring?

It didn't. Flat mail was mainly produced in parts of Germany. Round mail was still being produced everywhere else.


I'm curious, why when shopping for "historical mail" is "flat ring wedge riveted" almost always what is advertised as being the most historical; or the "least, less accurate" Confused ? I'm primarily interested in the 11th and 12th century France and England. Was William's army wearing flat or round?

Johan,
I think I understand your reasons for the use of flat rings. If I'm understanding you correctly, flat rings are better protection against piercing, but perhaps not against cutting attacks---unless, the flat rings are made from a harder metal (steel).

I understand their is more to mail than flat or round, but this is the (main) part that confuses me.

Thanks,
Larry
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Apr, 2011 4:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
I'd be surprised if flat rings were devised because they worked better when hardened.
Actually, I said they work well enough to match round ring section in cut resistance even when made thinner if they're also made from hardened steel rather than comparatively soft wrought iron. Probably this can make it even impervious to realistic cutting conditions with hand weapons, as seen in Dr. Williams work.

I also list a number of possible or even probable causes for this design. Conjecture, yes, certainly since the exact reason why or how they reasoned back then I don't think we can ever really know for sure today, but based on a modern technical viewpoint of what the flat design gives in physical terms.

Of course there could be other reasons though the dominance the flat design gained during the mid-to-late renessance does parallell those of steel making improvements as seen in plate armour. Going from local fashion to becoming the dominant way to make maille all over europe, certainly the reasons why are more than just this one, but I would not be surprised in the least if the greater part of flat ring renessance maille are made from steel, while the round section still in use was moslty made from iron. So far I'm just guessing, but I'll look into what research has been made on the materials and see if there is a statistical connection or not.


Dan Howard wrote:

The earliest flat rings predate the earliest case-hardened mail by a considerable margin.

The flat ring design has several gains over round ring regardless of hardening, I just meant that the one possible weakness of it would be negated by using steel instead of iron, especially superior made case hardened steel.

Another also quite possible reason for flat ring is that most solid rings in the weave were sort of flat already anyway and may look more attractive and uniform if one was to flatten all of them. In other words, for fashion -another possible reason I mentioned earlier.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Apr, 2011 4:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Larry R wrote:
So, if generally speaking, mail started out as round ring type why did it evolve into flat ring?

It didn't. Flat mail was mainly produced in parts of Germany. Round mail was stil being produced everywhere else.


So exactly all flat ring maille originate from Germany with no exceptions? Not made as a style rather than a geographically locked type, as with the Gothic plate armour style that was copied and even improved on by both English and Italian master smiths?
If so then given how common it is in armour collections and museums all over the world today, the germans must have been very good at selling their product, to say the least. Are there any scientific works on this subject I can study?

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Christian Borglum




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PostPosted: Tue 05 Apr, 2011 4:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Larry,

You asked what kind of maille was worn by the army of Duke William at Hastings. The maille worn by European soldiers in the 11th and 12th centuries would have been generally round in section. However, a section of each riveted link was flattened to allow an even surface for the rivet hole. The entire Haubergeon would be woven from alternating solid punched rings, and riveted links. Johan Gemvik has an excellent DIY post series going about historical maille construction, I'd recomend you check it out.

[url]http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=22224
[/url]

Christian
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Larry R




PostPosted: Tue 05 Apr, 2011 5:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Christian! I will.
Larry
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Robert Hinds




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Jul, 2011 9:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just thought I'd ask this here instead of starting a whole new topic.

If flat rings are better protection against thrusts, would it be better to get 9mm flat ring maille as opposed to 6mm round ring for my voiders even though the flat would be a larger diameter than the round?

Not that I'm expecting to actually have a sword thrust in my armpit, but I'd like to be as historical as possible. Happy

"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 2:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my experiance of modern reproduction maille, round links seem to be heavier than flattened. Rivets either or.
A Knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,/ That fro the tyme that he first bigan/ To riden out, he loved chivalrie,/ Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie./ ... He was a verray parfit gentil knyght./ But for to tellen yow of his array,/ His hors weren goode, but he was nat gay./ Of fustian he wered a gypoun,/ Al bismotered with his habergeoun;/ For he was late ycome from his viage,/ And wente for to doon his pilgrymage.
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Brian Robson




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 2:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can't speak for later periods, but for 12/13c where I've been looking (and where mail was the primary defence), flat rings are nothing like the flat rings you see from modern mail manufacturers..
Historically, they were more like round rings that have been flattened slightly (and therefore the same weight as contemporary round) - while most modern reproduction flat mail is generally very, very thin - and therefore very light. It looks the part from a few feet away, but on close inspection, the rings just don't have the depth (nor does it give anything like the equivalent protection).
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
In my experiance of modern reproduction maille, round links seem to be heavier than flattened. Rivets either or.


In general, when you make a flat ring maille you make it with a wider ring to wire ratio compared to most round ring weaves, then you flatten it to close the weave as much as possible while still retaining necessary flexibility. This makes the flat ring mailles stiffer and more resistive to pulling them on or off from the body of the wearer, but gives all kinds of positive effects. One being they normally are somewhat lighter while still not giving openings for thin blades or points.
Theoretically the material wall needed to be cut become thinner from this, but in reality a maille is a flexible protection able to absorb terrible amounts of energy before being properly cut. So it still works.

Of course there are exceptions, some flat ring mailles are from comparatively thick wire before flattening, resulting in a still comparatively heavy but superior protective maille instead. Generally these weren't entire hauberks but throat protectors or similar.
Other flat ring mailles were not flattened all that much, so they're something of a middle ground between round and fully flattened renessance maille.


Brian Robson wrote:
Can't speak for later periods, but for 12/13c where I've been looking (and where mail was the primary defence), flat rings are nothing like the flat rings you see from modern mail manufacturers..
Historically, they were more like round rings that have been flattened slightly (and therefore the same weight as contemporary round) - while most modern reproduction flat mail is generally very, very thin - and therefore very light. It looks the part from a few feet away, but on close inspection, the rings just don't have the depth (nor does it give anything like the equivalent protection).


Yes Brian, this is a very interesting point to make. Most early flat ring solids aren't modern washer flat and most solid link mailles today use much to thinned out washers. It's out of necessity, because these are pre fab industrial application standard washers, I'll explain why that is below. Even most really late period mailles arent this thinly flattened, but some were. Is it enough to say these modern repros are authentic? Well I think the best of them, with fairly thick flattened (but still) pre fab industrial washers and a nicely done wedge rivet look damn good these days. Would I like to see some lesser flattened mailles also to show the full range of variations throughout the age of maille, yes of course.

The problem with getting washers for solids is that the modern appications for them isn't mainly for maille use, and making them specifically for maille, i.e. less thin compared to cross section width, makes them expensive. This is the reason why I punch my own solids instead of buying them. Looks better but it's actually cheaper too. I'll adapt my punch tool to allow it to make larger rings when I get the time, then I can show some solids for both larger round ring as well as the barely flattened solids for that type of flat ring maille and photos of some historical examples to show the difference.
But in general, quality maille today, especially the flat ring maille is getting very good. It all depends on how picky you feel like being. Does it have to be wrought iron? If so does it have to be authentic quality wrought iron? For wearing and looking right it doesn't. But for weapon vs armour testing it's really hard to get it perfect.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Aug, 2011 7:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd love to see a single museum piece that even remotely resembles the imported Indian wedge-riveted mail. Some people are making excellent riveted mail but I can't think of any who sell their work commercially except for Erik.

Flexibility and protection is more related to the thickness of the wire and diameter of the link. The different cross-sections (round or flat) make little difference in flexibility of the weave, or the protection provided. As far as I can tell the only reason flat-link wedge-riveted mail was developed was to reduce manufacture time. There isn't much of a difference but it adds up when thousands of links are made and riveted. Erik is the person to ask about this.
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