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Armor through ages. As as anything.

Discussion in 'Research' started by Bortasz, Sep 3, 2014.

  1. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

    Hello. I was in medieval brotherhood and I was fighting in several battles with armour on my body. Both Chainmail and plate. My knowledge is not big but I'm happy to share it with everybody. especial to debunk stupidity from Hollywood.

    I apologies in advance. I have dyslexia and English is not my native language. So if you have problem understanding anything ask.

    First and most important Mythbusting.
    Padded Jack
    Armed doublet
    Or like is called in Poland Przeszywanica

    All this is different name for one simple item. Jacket that goes UNDER the metal.
    And it is ALWAYS there.
    Ancient Roman Legionaries wore under the armor subarmalis
    Like you see it can be made from leather.
    There are evidence that gambeson can be trace back to 4 b.c. where Scythian use them.

    The main purpose of all this jacket is simple. Amortization.

    Imagine that you are in your kitchen.
    Putting hand on the table. Now On the hand you put a desk that you use to cut vegetables and meat.
    Now Imagine that somebody strike that desk with hammer.
    Result: Broken bones.
    Now imagine that you take you winter padded jacket and put it between the desk to cut meat, and you hand.
    Now if somebody strikes with hammer you have a chance, how big it depend on the jacket,to have whole bones. You still will be hurt. But amortization that jacket gives you saves you from the real harm.

    The gambeson have also other benefits.
    - It protect from abrasions done by metal that was rubbing you skin for all day long.
    - It protect metal of you armour from contacting you sweat. And by that from corrosion. Yes human sweat is acidic.
    PH that deodorant commercials talk is not a myth. One guy from my brotherhood have complete ban on toughing the metal with bare hands because ALWAYS in matter of hours there was corrosion.
    - It protect you from cold. This I quarantine you. Good gambeson is practically a winter jacket, and can be use as a counterpane.
    If you have full gambeson (Head, body, legs) you will be always warm in the night.

    Now biggest problem with gambeson is heat. If you fight in the middle of spring for hours you can extremely quickly raise body temperature. That will cause sweating. I remember that when I take off my gambeson it stick to me like second skin. That wet it was. You practically have portable sauna on you.
    Dehydration is dangerous. I know three idiots that play "Who lost conscious first" game on the fields of Grunewald. They stand on top of the hill for several hours. It end with ambulance.

    Some people were using a gambeson not as a part of armor, but as a armor.

    Gambeson is not perfect armour. But it is cheap, and to be honest it can be worn all day. It is like going through the day with winter padded jacket on you.

    When arches and crossbowmen shoot ad you, the arrows and bolts maybe get through metal, but gambeson have big chance of stopping them.
    That arrows and bolts lose big chunk of energy getting through metal, now they lose more going through gambeson. Stories about knight that look like porcupine with arrows being in them, came from this. Some of the knight could be lucky enough to have no wounds from arrows. Just bruisers.

    As person who have on my back several types of armour I cannot imagine going in to battle without gambeson on me. I can imagine going without metal armour, but gambeson is a must.

    Sadly many writers forget about gambeson. They use rule of cool and I'm banging my head of the wall when I read that somebody put metal piece on his bare skin and it protected him from anything. This is pure stupidity. Metal contacting you bare skin is dangerous. It will only prevent cutting, but every hit have some blunt energy and that will crush you bones.

    The thickness of gambeson can go up to 2,5 centimetre or 1 inch.
    It is made from flax
    and leather.
    Some use layers of flax, adding them one ad a time.

    Others forcibly pack sheep fleece in tubes made from few layers of flax

    In all goal is to maximize amortization without reducing the movement.

    Weight is between 8 - 10 kilograms.

    Lastly remember that this is not only jacket. But also:
    Protection going under the helmet.
    leg protection:
    And of course hands:

    No if you have any question about armours pleas put them here. I will answer to the best of my knowledge.

    PS can somebody edit the Thread?
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2014
    SM-Dreamer, Jesse Booth and Ankari like this.
  2. Jesse Booth

    Jesse Booth Scribe

    How quickly does armor corrode when exposed to sweat?
  3. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    The rate of corrosion would depend on the type of metal and the composition.

    There are so many possibilities in the modern era, but in medieval times most armor was made of iron (I think).

    Corrosion rates will depend on many factors to include environment & maintenance. There's a reason warriors polished armor, and it wasn't to look beautiful on the battlefield. They polished armor because a polished surface, being smooth, has less surface and crannies for oxidation to grab hold.

    Another thing to consider is the finish. I'm not sure if this method has been around since medieval times, but black oxidation is a process of controlled rusting and infusion of minerals. This was done by rusting metals in salt water, scrubbing the red oxide (rust) off with a brush, & submersion in mineral water. This leaves a coating of black oxide which protects the metal from red oxide...it's already rusted, but being black, it won't corrode further (and it looks nice).

    Your question has too many variables to answer specifically, but metal corrodes slower than most think. This is especially true of metals that receive regular maintenance. I have a lot of blades. Many of them are carbon steel (1095 steel). It isn't stainless. If not cared for, it will rust and pit. If it gets wet, all I need to do is dry it with a cloth. If I see rusting on the blade, I'll just scrub the rust off, and oil the metal. Over time, a patina develops (staining) which turns the metal darker (grey or in some cases brown). A patina is a natural protective coating that resists corrosion, to a point. Don't like a patina? Scrub it off with some oil & polish.

    I hope that helps. I can't answer your question better than this... Sweat won't do much to good metal. It wouldn't be any concern at all with regular upkeep.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
    Jesse Booth likes this.
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    I can add a bit to this. I don't think sweat is a factor at all because nobody wore armor against flesh. There was always padding, usually pretty substantial padding, usually linen and usually thick. I usually don't say usually so often, but this case was unusual.
    Butterfly likes this.
  5. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

    Allen already answered quite good.

    I only add that it also depend from sweat it self.
    In my brotherhood some can touch the metal and it was oki. Nothing happen.
    Guy that I mention Always life fingerprints on the metal.
    So it depend from the person sweat. It depend on maintenance,weather, alloy that make the metal part. Variables are quite big.

    The quickest fingerprints show up after several hours. 3-4. But I don't remember much more.

    About when they start using Black Oxide. I cannot find anything when this technique started.
    There are some iconography with dark armor:
    So it is possible that black oxide was been use in the medieval times.
    Jesse Booth likes this.
  6. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    Hi Bortasz,

    Thank you for posting this very useful thread.

    I didn't know that knights wore padding under their armour or how the iron rusts.

    I have a couple of questions about armour. I'm writing a fantasy set in a kind of parallel medieval world.

    1 One of the characters is called the Green Knight and he wears green armour. What would he have used to turn it green?

    2 A princess is going on a quest and has had a suit of armour made. It is heavy and the Green Knight suggests that she wear partial armour. Would the armour be too heavy for a young woman to wear?

    Btw 'armour' is the English spelling and 'armor' the American one.
  7. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

    The simplest way is to paint armour with green paint.

    Other option is Bronze patina that will give green/blue color

    Other option is that his armour was not a green but his vapenrock and his heraldic colors are green. (Vapenrock is material that goes above the armour. It have heraldic colors. to recognize friends from enemies.)

    The most important about colors is that in medieval times is that they did not have intense.
    This commercial show it. The New red shirt was not available. And if it will be worn by rich.

    I try to give you answer but need more information.
    What type of armour?
    What her age is?
    Does this armour was custom made for her?
    Does she wore armour before?
    What sheis suppose to do in the armour? There is no armour for swimming or mountain climbing

    In short. Armour for everybody who never where them will be to heavy after some time of using it.
    Add beginning modern day people are surprise how light they are, but since they did not have stamina, and wore them for the first time they will get tired very quickly.
    It can be simple that she is did not train in the armour, or if she dress it up alone for the first time that she put it wrong. To many variables.
    I can give you this video how ma is dressing up in to armour.
    But without more information it is hard to answer this question.
    Ruby likes this.
  8. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    Thank you, Bortasz,

    I've been writing this story via a recent 14 day challenge on this site. Here is a link to it


    My stories are posted on there as by Ruby. They are also on my blog. jmbakingbread | Writing books, drawing illustrations and cartoons

    If you have time to take a look that would be great!

    I can summarise the story as: The Princess Fenella is 18 years old. She's an accomplished horse rider and has trained as a warrior. As she's rich, she has had fine armour custom made for her.

    Her quest is to rescue her lover, a knight who has been captured by goblins and imprisoned in a dungeon. She will need to travel over dangerous terrain and fight battles.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2014
  9. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

    I'm currently at work so I just give quick.

    We have here typical RPG player dilemma. What Armour choose.
    My advice.
    Show that they actually do a research on what they will face and than gather group and equipment to counter it.
    Fulll plate armour I will take when they will be a battle. Real big battle in this day. But for the most time I will be in the something lighter so I will not get tired by the journey. For dungeon crawling and generally traveling I will take leather armour and shield. The full plate will be worn only if I'm really certain that to day will be battle.

    Beside that 18 + Custom made amour + training = No weight problem it term that she cannot handle it. Ad worst she will need extra using/training in the armour to build up little extra stamina, and generally adjust to it. And this is for the majority of types of armour.
    The biggest problem maybe a long rider chainmail because it is going little below the knee and all that weight will be on shoulders. Belt will help but just a little. This is like having heavy backpack.
    She will have normal problem when you have armour. Quicker getting tired, little slower. But this is normal.

    The most important is Pain resistance of you princesses. The Knight were tough bastards. Bruisers, broken bones, arrows that get through the helmet and you nose. This guys were train like man. No holding back, no consideration "But she is a women, this will damage her beauty. She is princess we cannot harm princess."
    It is more like: You have Bruisers? O that a shame, now get up and fight you little whiner. Men cry only when beer spills.
    That allow them to fight even when they get wounded, and by that they survive. Armour lower thee damage. Sometimes it completely reduces it, but more often some damage will get through.

    I will do little extra research when go back to home.

    I hope this help.
    Ruby likes this.
  10. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

    Other than painting, it could be a natural colouration especially if his armour was forged from copper, or even a copper alloy, or even if it was made with copper decorations attached to it and he hasn't been able to keep them burnished. Over time, copper reacts with oxygen, and turns green. Take a look at the statue of liberty for the hue you can expect.
    Ruby likes this.
  11. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

    Little extra for you:
    Real Women in Real Armor on Pinterest
    Remember that breasts in breastplate is not good idea.
    It’s Time to Retire “Boob Plate†Armor. Because It Would Kill You. | Tor.com

    I don't know why by I hate Asian medieval times except female armor
    Pin by Ben Rose on Real Women in Real Armor | Pinterest
    Usually women that wore armour, will have enough money to buy solid good and beautiful armour. And sadly the majority of our female fighters armours are very ordinary.
    But this is just my taste.

    Beside that... I only have the basic.
    Heavier armour is for real big battles. But you don't use it when travel.

    Tell me what you decide best suits you story.
  12. Guy

    Guy Inkling

    Concerning sweat and corrosion: I have a shirt of mail made from mild steel. I live in southern Louisiana, a very humid and warm climate. I had to enlarge the neck to accommodate my freakishly bulbous head, so I have a small section of mail just sitting on my shelf, no oil or any other protection. It's been there for over a year and it still hasn't rusted, which surprised me. I'm usually finding little spots popping up on my sword blades, despite maintenance, yet the mail has been fine. I don't wear padding underneath it, largely because most of the year it's just too damn hot. I wear a long sleeved tee shirt and jeans. Due to the high heat and humidity, I sweat excessively when I wear it, as in sweat running and dripping off my body (basically as wet as I'd be standing under a shower) and saturating my clothes. I scrupulously keep the mail shirt coated in WD-40 because I've heard it rusts easily due to the small surface area of the individual rings. It hasn't rusted yet, and I've had it for more than a year.
    Ruby likes this.
  13. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Bortasz has it right. Full armor, whether chain or plate, was for combat. That is, you wore it when the enemy was right there, across the field. If just traveling, you wore something much lighter, or just ordinary clothing.

    And, as for color, paint. There were other possibilities, but the historical practice (as near as we can puzzle out) was use of paint. Plate armor and even chain mail was regularly cleaned, so no sort of patina would develop, because any sort of patina meant some sort of lessening of the metal's intrinsic strengths.

    FTR, we have no clue about the famous Green Knight. Plenty of speculation, but that's all. The poem offers nothing.
    Ruby and Bortasz like this.
  14. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    Does anyone know what the breastplates worn by Roman leaders were made of? By "breastplate", I don't mean the standard legionary's lorica segmentata. I mean something more like this:


    I always pictured those as being forged from bronze, but I've seen artistic portrayals of them as leather instead of anything metallic. Did anyone along the Mediterranean in Greco-Roman times ever wear bronze breastplates?
  15. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

    RedRampant.com: Ancient Roman Armor

    If this are for battle than only bronze is possible. Rome did not have technology to produce any other useful breastplate. Golden one yes, but it will be only for parade. And far more likely that it will be Bronze under, and gilding above.

    Leather is amazing material
    But if you are rich enough to buy something that fancy from leather, way not buy a metal one?
    Jabrosky likes this.
  16. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    Thanks for the useful links.

    So, would the princess be better off wearing leather rather than metal?
  17. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

    It depends.
    I try say to you that all is about trade offs,

    She take Full Metalic Body Armour, she will need somebody to help her put it on,and time for it. Place to correctly store it, minimal maintenance to preserve it. Mule to transport it.
    Walking around with full body armour will tired her quickly. Even Riding on the Horse with it can be tiring. Climbing, descending, swimming in it is highly stupid think add best it can kill her ad worst.
    On the other hand she will have the best protection against enemy blows. She will be able to survive hits that will disfigured/crippled/kill her otherwise.

    It goes like this:
    Better protection: More Logistics is needed.
    Less Logistic problems: Smaller Protection.

    If you want that you princess constantly worried about:
    - Does I have time to put on my armour
    - Does I will have somebody to help me put the armour
    - How I will transport my armour?
    - I mass protect my armour from rusting
    - I will get tired quickly.
    - I better do not go in the some dungeon where I will be need to climb or descend over the stone wall.
    Go with Better protection.
    If you want go instead with:
    - I must avoid big fights, and strong blows because it can kill me, and certainly it will cause serious injury.
    Go witch lighter armour.
    Not a Leather Body armour. Leather can go on arms, legs. But not body. There either Mail or breastplate.

    You must decide what will be better for her. We do not know what you put in front her.
    Ruby likes this.
  18. Guy

    Guy Inkling

    Armor could assume a naturally dark finish, hence the "Black Prince" part of Edward the Black Prince.
  19. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

    I find it odd that the majority of posts in aspect to realistic arms/armor/politics/trade exist. This is fantasy writing, what exists in your world does not exist because of what was, but because of what should be in terms of story-telling. The idea that conceptualized realization is the backbone of modern fantasy in the terms of what happened and what should happen scares me. Historical fiction is a genre that embraces accuracy, while fantasy embraces, as I see it, a notion of what the author deems to reveal inside the human condition. Elves exist, inside our world if your able to see them, as do dwarfs. Why? Because they're preconeived notions of an evolutionary scale. So why does the question of legitimate armor/arms exist in this space, if not to cloud the reality of what should be expected?

    An understanding of this notion is a material unavailable in this world, lets call it ubertanium. This metal bends as low-carbon steel does, but does not break. How does this mineral effect your word? Now let's extrapolate that theory beyond historical reference, and disregard the historical fact that plagues the world-building of most writers. This metal never existed, but you can plot how new smithing techniques infulenced cultures in any historical work.

    So you have this new thing, and if you're good, you can relate to all new things introduced to humanity, because the world was once flat. This ubertanium changes the way your world works, because those who know how to smith it are relevatory and those who aren't are disregareded (bronze vs. iron). What then makes armor superior to arms?

    More importantly, why does this effect your story. I sincerely doubt that many of you will drop their WIPs because the field of arms/armor isn't cold-cut.

    So, then, why is it important beyond a personal satisfaction of knowing? Does this question effect your story in a real way, in terms of plot and character develpment, or is it a personal idealogy of what should be? Arms and armor have no real place in a fantasy setting beyond the ability to reference the historical change in industry. If your writing doesn't directly acknowledge this fact in a craftsman's eyes, then its irrevelevent, in my opinion.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
  20. Bortasz

    Bortasz Troubadour

    It is you opinion.
    I see many advice to writers. Write about stuff you know. Do the research. This is Research sub-forum. So we share our knowledge.
    My opinion is that I see no sense in you post here. You are more likely in World Building section where we discuss how changing the reality affect the world.

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