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Old 04-07-2020, 01:31 AM   #1
Ultraviolet
 
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Default [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

Greetings esteemed community

I'm looking to make a short and simple list of specific, historical armour types found in Western Europe in the era 1220 and perhaps 50 years on.
Can anybody enlighten me?

Low Tech is a really cool book, and I've enjoyed it. But it feels too generic for this purpose, and encompasses a lot of armours not found in the era and place I'm looking at. I've only been researching supercicially, browsing wikipedia and watching Shadiversity on Youtube.

Body armour:
Textile: It seems the Gambesson was popular, probably a sleeved coat hanging down below the hips. Used by itself or as padding for mail. But LT has several options for both padded and layered textile.
Leather: It seems leather was not used much for armour? Leather is said to have been both too expensive and too heavy when compared to textile. Leather Lamellar seems to have been as Asian and Eastern European thing, I found little evidence of it for my time and place. Boiled Leather/Cuirboulli I really have no idea about.
Mail: This was clearly in use and popular as hauberks and haubergons. I'm unsure where and when the light or heavy types were in use. LT I think reference heavy mail as having been used by Romans and Vikings. I'm unsure if heavy mail is intended to be worn alone while light mail can be augmented by plate worn on top?
Scale: The Romans used the Lorica Squamata, but was metal scale actually used im my place and period?
Metal Plate: My era is way before 'real plate armour' and even brigandine, but a coat of plates seems to have been used. I think mostly over mail, but perhaps even just on top of a padded Gambesson? Roman sused Lorica Segmentata but this seems to have fallen out of style. At some point Segmented Plate appeared, but perhaps later than my era.

[I]Headgear
Padded coifs or mail coifs I think.
Metal helmets would be skullcaps, perhaps with noseguards or reinforced spectacles.
For knights, an early form of the enclosed- or great helm seems to have appeared at this time.

Limbs
Textile gambessons and mail hauberks can be, and often were, sleeved to protect the arms. Vambraces, rerebraces, pauldrons were still not implemented.
For legs textile hose or mail chausses. Greaves, cuisse, poleyn were still not implemented. Greaves were used in Antiquity but fell out of use. But it seems Schynbalds, front-only proto greaves, started to appear perhaps as early as 1230s but were uncommon.

As for layering of armour, I assume that a light textile could be layered with a mail (light or heavy). But a heavy textile would be too bulky with mail on top. And light mail could be layered by a coat of plates, but a heavy mail would make it too bulky.

Comments and additional information would be appreciated.
Thanks
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Old 04-07-2020, 03:10 AM   #2
exalted
 
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Default Re: [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

A quick scan through the books I've got on it say long mails probably heavy ones from coif to below the knees is the armour of choice for those who can afford it. A lot of people have to make do with cloth and leather, even the wealthiest seem to use leather shoes or boots.

Seen examples of small sewn together plates worn over cloth and scale mail worn over mail. Neither seems to have been common or the prefered type of armour.

Some helmets seems to be developing brims and side protection with great helms being available towards the end of the period. Also an example of face mask and mail coif.

Mail leg protection is available and do at least sometimes cover the top of the foot as are mail mittens.

Seen some examples of single side plate appearing also towards the end protecting the neck (gorgets), knees, elbow, upper arms and lower legs. The examples plate on arms is on the sword arm. The plate is layered on top of regular mail so probably light plate or something like it.

All in all a lot of people probably carried no real armour or only a helm to battle. Less wealthy areas will have less armour and the new stuff is arriving first in the wealthiest areas, especially it seems Italy. So where the game is set is important, western europe is very large place in those days.

Last edited by exalted; 04-07-2020 at 03:36 AM.
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Old 04-07-2020, 07:01 AM   #3
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Default Re: [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

The problem with leather as an armor is that it was VERY situational. It did exist, it just doesnt seem to have been a prevalent as our romantic construction of that time period would suggest.

You need a specific confluence of events, mostly having to do with resources, technology and what weapons your opponents were using, to make leather worth while. Even more specific; boiled, reinforced or "scale" (I dont know of any historical example of leather scale BTW, I include it only because its "possible" in terms of technology and ability that it could have existed) being useful and worth the resource expenditure (man hours, curing time, technology, and harvesting).

The real answer probably lies some where in a shady grey area where it probably did happen in certain places at certain times, but it was never a thriving industry that typical "Med-Fan" or Medieval RPGs seem to think makes sense from a min/max weight/armor. There is no reason to think that a "thief" ever wore leather as the pinnacle of proper equipment, thats a Fantasy idea based on game system mechanics.

The time when "hard/boiled" leather would have been a viable material/technology (say 1150 ish) up into the 1300s, a time you fought short/mid length swords, Maces (edged and blunt), alot of Axes, Spears, Polearms, Bow and Arrow (but more sniper than volley), possibly War Hammers.... this is sort of a span from the end of the Normans, to the Moors, through the Crusades so pick your poison. The world was very different and a distance of 100miles (160km) could easily result in completely different technologies and problems. Linen was problematic to finish compared to wool. Wool is more problematic to "grow" in quantity. Iron was something you had or you didnt.

This was also the transition to larger scales of textile production, and metal fabrication (smithing) depending on your area. If you are in an area that is particularly lacking in both of these technologies but has an abundance of leather and tanning, then you may well turn to it as an option. At some point you will succeed in conquering your neighbors that have linen and or metal and then you will probably also turn to those industries instead. If on the other hand you are killed off, there is no reason for the victor to try to use your inferior products. Either way ultimately Leather as armor is much more wasteful than linen (which doesnt run away), wool (sheep are reusable) or metal (that has many uses after processing), because it comes from one time harvest of animals that you have to grow or hunt and you need large quantities of specific kinds of animals to make "ARMOR". A conservative estimate would be the heavy leather from 3 or more Oxen to make a suit of boiled leather for a less than 6 foot tall person.

I suspect leather was sometimes used as a base for a version of Splint, but I also suspect that the leather involved would be thin to the point it wouldn't really be armor so much as something durable you hung the armor bits on. It was definitely used as "padding" on neck holes, hinges and fasteners on metal armors.

At some point you are just going to have to make a decision for your game. Pick your list and call it cannon and move on. If you allow it as its listed in Low Tech, it wont over balance a campaign if you also look at the cost and time involved. RPG Game wise leather only becomes really a thing when magic or encumbrance enters into the equation, but I find that Low Tech does a really good job of keeping it pretty grounded in technology/cost/protection.
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Old 04-07-2020, 11:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bocephus View Post
The problem with leather as an armor is that it was VERY situational. It did exist, it just doesnt seem to have been a prevalent as our romantic construction of that time period would suggest.
Completely agree the examples of leather in western europe I find is rarely if ever complete sets of armour more likely skull caps, leg guards fairly frequently, gloves and the like, but also chest and shoulders covering armour worn over a gambeson or some similiar underclothing as well as long coats probably not much tougher then thick cloth but possibly more plentiful at the edges of europe where hunting was more common. Elk hide is said to be decent for scandinavia for one.

Also by 1250 its probably fairly common with enclosed helms or helms with a face mask, usually worn over chain mail, mail covering the entire body and plate for lower legs and knees at least for the rich knights.

One other thing is that historically well paid professional soldiers wore lots of armour in layers that seems less then optimal to players but probably makes sense in the real world. Probably because they where more interested in survival than killing people unlike most PC's I've met. Wearing three layers of armour did happen quite a lot especially for heads, lower legs and other vulnerable parts.

Last edited by exalted; 04-07-2020 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 04-07-2020, 12:01 PM   #5
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Default Re: [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

I went ahead and did a search on manuscript miniatures for Western European countries from 1200-1225. If you click on this link you can look through it:

http://manuscriptminiatures.com/sear...n=&manuscript=

My summary is this:
Lots of mail, both short and long sleeved, with leggings and without, coifs look integrated (with a few exceptions that seem to have a square bib).

Some possible textile armor that is thicker (http://manuscriptminiatures.com/4649/12028/), but most of it looks just like thick clothing and flexible, maybe count it as light layered cloth.

There is an image that looks like it has leather knee and thigh armor over mail leggings (but under the hauberk).

For helmets it looks like there is a mix of skull caps, skull caps with nasals, helms with brims, and full faced closed helms that are not yet great helms.

There are also some images of stuff that looks like scale that is drawn differently than mail in the same image, but it is hard to tell if that is trying to represent ancient armors or a current armor.

EDIT: And it also looks like hand and foot armor, when present, is integrated into the sleeves and leggings. Otherwise it does not typically look like gloves/gauntlets were worn.
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Old 04-07-2020, 09:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

Circa. 1220, the "High Middle Ages" mail over padded cloth and/or leather would be state-of-the art, with plate armor pieces covering the head, vitals, and front shins. Later in the century you start to see more plate pieces covering the shoulder, elbow, and knee joints.

Helmets would either be open-faced conical helmets like those used by the Normans 150 years before at Hastings, or else more modern flat- or dome-topped helms which extended downwards to cover some or all of the face and sides and back of the head.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cervelliere

Sappers, infantry, and some knights wore the Kettle hat

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettle_hat

Jousters and state-of-the-art equipped mounted men-at-arms wore the Great Helm:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_helm

There's also the option of wearing a padded jupon or similar over mail. This had the advantage of catching any arrows that hit, keeping them from glancing off metal plate armor or mail rings.

Loadouts:

Light Infantry
Padded Cloth Jupon which covers arms, torso, groin and upper legs. (DR 1 or 2 depending on materials and thickness)
Possibly a padded cloth coif which covers the neck head except for the face.
Possibly a cuir bouilli (boiled or waxed leather) skullcap (DR 1-3 depending on materials and thickness).
Possibly a cuir bouilli plate over the upper chest to protect the vitals (Hit Locations 9, 17-18, Front only.).

Medium Infantry
As above, but add or replace:
Short-sleeved mail hauberk which extends to the mid-thigh (protects torso, upper arms and upper legs) (DR 3). Worn over padded jupon (DR 1).
Iron or steel skullcap. (DR 3-5 based on materials and thickness)

Heavy Infantry
As above, but add:
Mail coif (covers head except for face.
Long-Sleeved hauberk (full protection for arms except for hands.
Leather cuirass (protection for upper torso) worn under mail.
Possibly boiled leather pieces protecting shoulders, elbows, knees, or shins.
Perhaps a Heater or medium Round type shield.

Mounted Man-at-Arms (aka Knight)
As above, but add mail mittens to mail sleeves (protect hands).
Mail chausses (protect legs and feet).
Cervelliere with faceplate (protects skull and face from the front)
Large "Heater" type shield.

Rich Man-at-Arms
As above but add plate mail pieces to shoulders, elbows, knees, and front of lower legs.
Replace Cervelliere with Great Helm.

Last edited by Pursuivant; 04-07-2020 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 04-07-2020, 09:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultraviolet View Post

Body armour:
Textile: It seems the Gambesson was popular, probably a sleeved coat hanging down below the hips. Used by itself or as padding for mail. But LT has several options for both padded and layered textile.
Leather: It seems leather was not used much for armour? Leather is said to have been both too expensive and too heavy when compared to textile. Leather Lamellar seems to have been as Asian and Eastern European thing, I found little evidence of it for my time and place. Boiled Leather/Cuirboulli I really have no idea about.
TEXTILE
Probably, most gambesons from 1220-1270 Western Europe would translate in game terms as being made of Medium Layered Cloth on torso area (chest and abdomen) and Light Layered Cloth on arms and thighs (legs 5-6 on 1d). They were standalone armour.
Thicker gambesons are GURPS Heavy Layered Cloth in the chest area, and sometimes in the abdomen area as well.
Lighter aketons / gambesons, made entirely of Light Layered Cloth, Padded Cloth or a combination of the two, were also possible to find, sometimes worn over mail armour.

The gambeson sleeves can be of short-length (shoulders, upper arms / 20% of torso armour / protect the arms on a roll of 5-6 on 1d), mid-length (shoulders, upper arms, elbows / 25% of torso armour / protect the arms on a roll of 4-6 on 1d), three quarter-length (shoulders, upper arms, elbows, upper forearms / 35% of torso armour / protect the arms on a roll of 3-6 on 1d) or full-length (arms / 50% of torso armour). Full length sleeves can include also integral mittens (hands / 10% of torso armour / give Ham-Fisted 2).

From about 1220-1225 you start to see gamboised cuisses in Art. Treat them as Light Layered Cloth (or as Padded Cloth in their lighter forms). They typically protect both the thighs and the knees (50% of torso armour / protect the legs on a roll of 4-6 on 1d).

The padded arming caps that were worn under a helmet or a mail coif would be GURPS Padded Cloth, covering skull, back of the head and ears (25% of torso armour / protects the face on a roll of 3 on 1d and gives a penalty to Hearing rolls - for Padded Cloth I'd prefer to assign a milder form of Hard to Hearing with halved penalties, -2 instead of -4 to Hearing rolls). Heavier versions were usually worn as standalone armour (or possibly over a skullcap or a mail coif) and can be considered Light Layered Cloth, possibly up to Medium Clayered Cloth for heavier ones.

Stiff textile collars were also in use. You can treat most of them as being made of Medium Layered Cloth (possibly, Light Layered Cloth for lighter ones and Heavy Layered Cloth for heaver ones).

LEATHER
Leather armour was present in Western Europe in the form of cuirie (protection for the chest, sometimes protecting also parte of the abdomen and part of the shoulders) and leather skullcap. Both are shown worn by a soldier in the Morgan Bible (folio 27 verso).

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/85/74...54b71ae874.jpg

I would treat both the cuirie and the leather skullcap as Medium Hardened Leather, possibly Heavy Hardened Leather.

It's suggested from artwork (s. Morgan Bible) that some of the earlier forms of the armoured surcoat were made in the same manner of the cuirie and worn on top of a mail hauberk, having the relatively thin textile part of the surcoat placed over the leather / quilted textile armoured part, which usually covered only the upper part of the chest protecting shoulders and collarbone against swinging blows. I would treat them as surcoat (Status 2 Ordinary Clothing covering torso, part of the shoulders, thighs and knees / 155% of torso armour) disposed over a cuirie (Medium Hardened Leather covering the upper torso and part of the shoulders / 42,5% of torso armour / protects the arms on a roll of 6 on 1d only against swinging attacks and attacks coming from above and automatically intercepts an attack that hits the chest as the result of having missed the head).

Last edited by Rasna; 04-07-2020 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 04-07-2020, 10:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultraviolet View Post
Mail: This was clearly in use and popular as hauberks and haubergons. I'm unsure where and when the light or heavy types were in use. LT I think reference heavy mail as having been used by Romans and Vikings. I'm unsure if heavy mail is intended to be worn alone while light mail can be augmented by plate worn on top?
Scale: The Romans used the Lorica Squamata, but was metal scale actually used im my place and period?
Metal Plate: My era is way before 'real plate armour' and even brigandine, but a coat of plates seems to have been used. I think mostly over mail, but perhaps even just on top of a padded Gambesson? Roman sused Lorica Segmentata but this seems to have fallen out of style. At some point Segmented Plate appeared, but perhaps later than my era.
MAIL
Most Western European hauberks from this period would be GURPS Fine Mail, Heavy Mail or a combination of the two (ex. Heavy Mail on torso and Fine Mail on arms, hands, thighs and knees).
Most mail chausses would be Light Mail.
Coifs can be made of all the three types of mail, but I'm inclined to think that Fine Mail and Heavy Mail variant were by far more common to see in this period, as the coif was often the sole layer of armour protecting the face, the nape and the neck of the warrior.

SCALE
There is some iconographical source about metal scale armour and some scattered mention about whalebone armour in literary sources, but there is not much evidence of their presence and diffusion in early 13th Western Europe with the exception of the Iberian Peninsula (plausibly due to Moorish influence). Metal scale (Light Scale to Medium Scale) and horn scale (Horn) are a plausible thing in 1220's Western Europe, but they were not widespread.

METAL PLATE
Solid Plate exclusively limited to helmets and, from 1230's-1240's, to poleyns and schynbalds. Couters and spaulders made their appearance later, not before the 1270's, and would remain rare until the beginning of 14th century. Greaves, vambraces and rerebraces were later implements, although plate greaves were in use by the Khazars already in the 10th century, while splinted vambraces and greaves were in use among Eastern Roman military (I'm not sure if they were still in use in the 13th century as well).
About Segmented Plate, it's possible that some early form of Segmented Plate chest defence was already in use as early as 1180's, but the proper coat of plates was quite rare until the second half of 13th century. Some of the collars shown in Morgan Bible can be translated as GURPS Light Segmented Plate.

Last edited by Rasna; 04-07-2020 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 04-08-2020, 02:04 AM   #9
Ultraviolet
 
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Default Re: [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

Thanks all

The reason I'm asking is actually for another game. I play Ars Magica a lot, but the armour types from the core rules suffer from inconsistencies and flaws, partly because of simplicity and partly due to legacy issues where not much has been changed from 1st ed in 1987. The supplement Lord of Men does remedy this to a degree, but there are still some issues I'm not sure about. Primarily about leather armour.
I ask on this forum, because the comminity usually knows a lot and is willing to help, and because Low Tech is such a detailed book. But the level of detail is so much lower in ArM for combat, so individual armour pieces are rarely tracked. Instead I'm trying to put together the most common combinations.

Cuir boulli seems to have been used for helmets, but I'm unsure about how wide spread or even when. Sources tells is was used in the Battle of Agincourt, but that's way after my time period.
But cuirases of boiled/waxed leather is mentioned as a cheaper alternative to metal plate, used by infantry. Over cloth or mail I reckon.
But since plate (as in coat of plates, worn over mail) is fairly new and not too common I guess cuir boulli is rare as well.

As for layering armour, I had the notion from Low Tech - which may be wrong - that a heavy mail hauberk was not supplemented with a coat of plates, because of bulk and resulting inflexibility?
The same goes for the heavy, layered cloth?
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Old 04-08-2020, 02:45 AM   #10
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Default Re: [LT] Historical armour, Western Europe 1220?

The further east you look, the more common leather armour becomes. You don't see much of it until you get to Hungary and the Balkans. Leather armour was never hardened using wax.

Armoured surcoats were being used during your time period, which was the precursor to coats of plates.

The Heavy Mail in Low-Tech was meant to be representative of stand-alone armour. Light Mail and Fine Mail could be layered with other types of armour.

The terms "light" and "heavy" refer to the role the units played in battle, not the equipment they had. A naked spearman in a shieldwall is classed as heavy infantry. A fully armoured knight is classed as light cavalry when he is performing a scouting or skirmishing role.

All types of armour provided similar levels of protection. Gambesons are just as protective as breastplates and hauberks. The difference is the degree of cover. When someone is termed "lightly armoured" it has nothing to do with the DR; it refers to someone who only has their chest and head protected. When someone is covered head to toe, they are classed as "heavily armoured".
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Last edited by DanHoward; 04-08-2020 at 03:36 AM.
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