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Offline Obadiah Jib

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Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« on: June 26, 2009, 11:16:53 PM »
Does anyone have any evidence of the historical use of either Studded Leather Armor or Ring Mail?  Just curious.
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Offline escherblacksmith

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2009, 02:18:32 PM »
ya know, I did awhile back . . . let me look through my books.
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Offline ALS

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2009, 09:31:45 PM »
What modern gaming referes to as " studded " armour did not exist in Europe. That is the idea of a leather garment simply having metal studs attached to it as a defensive system. This is a misinterpretation of trasitional period splinted armours where exposed rivet heads holding plates on the backside of a leather garment or alternating with steel or iron strips called splints were used. In Turkey, Indo-Persia and China there were armour or armoured elements sometimes used made from thickly brocaded heavy cloth with fine nails run through, these were considered light armours.

There were several theories as to what ringmaille might have been around at the turn of the 19th century, some practicle some not so much, but today it is generally accepted as having simply been a secondary term for maille armour, not indicating some different type of armour.

See Stone's Guide to the Decoration and Use of Armour as a starting point. Texts on Indo-Persian/Oriental armours can be a bit expensive as the topic is not as much studied and textxs therefore rarer.
 

RPGs created an armour classification system that was based in large part on misunderstanding and misinterpretations ( ie. plate " maille " , scale " maille " ect. Maille referes specifically to an armour made from rings joined together in a nearly universal 4 in 1 pattern and the root Latin word for it means net. Plate armour is just plate armour, scale armour is just scale armour ). RPG's have been around long enough and widely circulated enough that these misinterpretations have made thier way into being accepted as fact, Hollywood, certainly feeds this misunderstanding as fictional leather based armours also offer a cheap way to make lots of extras look " armoured " in film, so uses them often and widely.

Offline Breandan

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2009, 01:01:58 PM »
Ring jacks were used, and I am trying to find a picture of the original in Leeds (I think), but studded is a bit trickier, as has already been mentioned. I know sometimes peasant soldiers would put studs or small, washer-sized plates on their gambesons as can be seen in various illustrations, but leather armor itself is not generally seen (aside from cuir boili), much less studded leather. As mentioned, studs on leather are usually the rivets holding steel plates in brigandine/coat-of-plates armor. That being said, ring jacks were usually incorporated into or classified as lamellar armor, which includes scale, which is a much more interesting armor to work with. Scale armour is a much easier one to find references to, as it was used throughout history, from the Sumerian empire through the Roman empire (Squamata) and into the 19th century in India. Hell, it's STILL used today in Pinacle's Dragonskin armour, but using titanium and ceramic plates instead of bronze or steel.
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Offline ALS

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 09:42:02 PM »
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Ring jacks were used, and I am trying to find a picture of the original in Leeds (I think),

Please do i'd love to see it as i'm completely unfamiliar with it. The new dedicated museum at Leed's has allowed them to display so much more than the old Tower Armouries location.

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ring jacks were usually incorporated into or classified as lamellar armor, which includes scale,

Lamellar is actually quite a bit different than scale both in construction and layout. Lamellar is constructed multiple series of lames laced together with leather cord to create a springy but flexible armour. Heres a piece from the 14th century that I own and the helmet it came from http://www.merctailor.com/originals.php?original_pk=86 . The recent Met text Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet is chock full of excellent examples of lamellar and is pretty much the state of the art on the subject right now. Scale was in antiquity constucted by joining the scales to each other with wire " split nails " if you will, see Robinson's Armor of Imperial Rome for several Roman examples of this sometimes called lorica sqamata, although the Higgins Armoury Museum in MA has a virtually complete late Roman scale horse barding of bronze scales that is riveted to a leather backing. Later/medieval scale armours were made up of plates that were either riveted or sewn to a heavy fabric or leather backing. The latest Euroepan examples i've seen are all Polish or Eastern European. I'm unfamiliar with any round or ring shaped plate examples of either lamellar or scale , the examples of both i'm familiar with consisting of rectangular plates in the case of lamellar, and generally spade shaped ( although I have seen rectangular specimins ) in the case of scale armours, if you can point me in the direction of round plate examples i'd love to have a look. I'm familiar with Indo Persian maille and plates armour which is not the same as scale armours, the construction being very different, again if you can point me twords examples of Indo Persian scale armour i'd very much like to see them as i'm a big fan and have collected original Indo Persian arms and armour on and off most of my life. An Indo Persian maille and plate coat I own from the front http://www.merctailor.com/originals.php?original_pk=8 and back http://www.merctailor.com/originals.php?original_pk=7 .

Offline Breandan

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2009, 03:04:12 AM »
If I remember correctly, the ring jack they have- which is pretty decent shape, considering- is part of the Wisby collection of artifacts. You might be able to track it down faster than I can  :) It's the basis for some of the reproductions I have seen popping up here and there, but I don't recall if it was rings alone, or if there were also metal plates on the inside in the same vein as a coat-of-plates.
As for lamellar, I was referring to the overall category of layered armor types rather than the specific type of armor the category came from. The categories I remember were maille, lamellar, plate, and gambeson, so each category was very broad and included many armour types in each one (i.e., plate covered everything from Gothic articulated plate from the 16th century to bronze Greek curaiss from the 4th century BC, Gambesons included padded jerkings, arming coats, etc., and Maille included ten frillion different types of chain link designs. Lamellar included splint, scale, lamellar proper, scale, coat-of-plates, etc.) I apologize for the confusion  :D
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Offline ALS

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2009, 08:19:22 AM »
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If I remember correctly, the ring jack they have- which is pretty decent shape, considering- is part of the Wisby collection of artifacts
I have the book " Armour from the Battle of Wisby " and its not documented in there ( the number one text for mid 14th century armour, complete with 1/2 scale archeological drawings of all the armour finds which amounts to blueprints when you head to Kinkos and blow them up to full size ). It a bit out of my friend Lee Jones field ( author of The Sword in the Viking Age and an avid orignal sword collector ) but I can ask him if he's heard of it.

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Maille included ten frillion different types of chain link designs
about 99% of those variations are  Japanese and seen almost nowhere else ( the Japanese also didn't rivet thier maille as they made it from tempered steel so it wasn't needed, which made them the only folks doing that ). The nearly ubicuitous " 4 in 1 " pattern is the most widely travelled type of armour appearing unaltered either over time of by culture. Lamellar seems to have been relatively timeless as well, being constructed in a nearly identicle way wheather in Tibet, Arabia ( where my lamellar sample came from ) or Eastern Europe.

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The categories I remember were maille, lamellar, plate, and gambeson, so each category was very broad and included many armour types in each one (i.e., plate covered everything from Gothic articulated plate from the 16th century to bronze Greek curaiss from the 4th century BC, Gambesons included padded jerkings, arming coats, etc., and Maille included ten frillion different types of chain link designs. Lamellar included splint, scale, lamellar proper, scale, coat-of-plates, etc.) I apologize for the confusion

No problem, in the collecting, acedemic and for use ( Western Martial Arts, Living History ect.) which is what i'm involved in everything is quite specific, and armour type are broken up into many more subheadings based on construction, time period, area of use and style.

Offline Breandan

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2009, 12:01:08 PM »
This is a replica of the one I am referring to, if that helps. I wish I could remember what book it was in (Tinker, if you're on here, help me out, it was one of the ones in your library IIRC), but I saw a somewhat tattered and degraded version of it that was in the same section as the coat-of-plates from Wisby, hence why I was assuming it was from the same dig. It may have been this set, but I remember it looking more like the replica above, and the book was on European armour, not Asian, which is the origin of that particular set. This (and I am ashamed to say I found it on Wikipedia, which I despise) is the only historical illustration I have found so far of ring jack armour, though this renaissance German armour (Schiessjoppe) is technically ring armour, using eyelets set close together. Now you have me obsessing over it  ;D
« Last Edit: July 01, 2009, 12:07:29 PM by Breandan »
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Offline ALS

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2009, 01:20:25 PM »
Hi Brandan, your first example from the Albion site I make, in other words thats my armour, I own The Mercenarys Tailor Armoury. We based that off of one of the late 19th century ideas posited as what ringmaille might have been ( as I mentione earlier it is generally accepted today in the acedemic community that ringmaille is simply another word for maille rather than a different type of defensive garment ), i've never seen an actual garment built that way. Your second example is Northeast Asian in origin and 19th century. That picture is from Stones Guide and is on page 22, figure 29. I'm having a hard time discerning some of what the wiki entry is as the resolution on the images is low, I can make out the scale but the lower images are unclear
to me. Your fourth image is in actual fact whats called an eyelet coat or button hole jack and theres not a scrap of metal on it. The coat is made by piercing a coat made of several layers of canvas or like heavy matrial with hundereds of holes and eyelet stiching around each of the holes making the garments " weave " very dense and difficult to cut. They were not set with what we think of as eyelets or gromettes today but each hole was actually stiched around in an old school button hole stich. There is an example of one in Stone's as well although i've not seen your pic before and its quite a nice example, thanks for sharing it.

Offline Breandan

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2009, 02:48:54 PM »
I spent a good couple of hours scouring the 'net and going through various books that I have, and no dice on the picture I was thinking about. In retrospect, it may well have been the Asian ring armour I saw, considering that it was nearly ten years ago that I perused through the book  ;)
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Offline Obadiah Jib

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2009, 07:44:45 PM »
Thanks guys!  This is great stuff.  I had recently read that both Studded Leather Armor and Ring Mail Armor are not historical.  The idea was that studs weaken the leather and that rings were never sewn atop leather to reinforce it.

I knew I could fine some armor historians here!  Please keep posting.  Perhaps we can find evidence...?

Oh and the reference to RPGs is right on target!  I knew that Gygax was an avid historian.  This lead me to think that perhaps these armors did appear in the past.
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Offline ALS

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2009, 08:30:48 PM »
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  I knew that Gygax was an avid historian.  This lead me to think that perhaps these armors did appear in the past.

He may have been an avid historian but he squat about armour. D&D or other roll playing systems should be just above Hollywood in terms of places you should not look for accurate information.

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Perhaps we can find evidence...?

While there is always the possibility of a future chance discovery, in terms of currently avaliable material it just isn't there. There are references to " ringmaille " in period texts, but nothing regarding what it was, or even if it was simply refering to regualr maille or a different defensive garment and there are no survivals of European origin. That being said, I have never tested any of the other 19th century theories on what " ringmaill " could have been but found that the idea we tried was very servicable, and functions very well as light armour.

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that rings were never sewn atop leather to reinforce it.

Well if the statement you read was put that then it is of course patently false, as there is an oriental example in this thread. There simply is no indicator at all as to what the term meant in the European context.

Offline Breandan

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2009, 03:14:48 AM »
I know a lot of the references to ring armour are based on the Bayeaux Tapestry and other illustrations that show what appear to be rings sewn to the outside of jacks, tunics, etc., but there has been a lot of critical analysis that leans towards dismissing this as showing ring armour, and is, in fact, an illustration of maille that was poorly drawn.

Frankly, speaking as someone who is neither a historian nor an armourer (beyond maille construction, anyway), I cannot say with authority one way or the other. However, as a soldier, I can say as an opinion that it would stand to reason that it could be argued that something like ring armour could've been cobbled together by an industrious and clever footsoldier too poor to buy maille. I have seen some of the most innovative concoctions made with ESAPI plates (or, in one case, chunks of ballistic polycarbonate glass from an EFP-blitzed Tahoe) and scraps of canvas or torn MOLLE vests cobbled together by operators who needed lighter armour than the available IBA (a.k.a. DOD-Spawned-POS), and didn't have time to wait for something to be shipped to them. As an aside, this is why smart operators know how to sew  ;D

Soldiers of all eras have figured out ingenious ways to protect themselves, especially when poor and having to work off of fragmentary and/or captured armour. Splint armour and coat-of-plates are good examples of how this sort of cost-saving armouring can become a widespread design. In short, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. To use a Mythbusters reference, it's plausible for ring armour to have existed in Europe, but not verified by any archeological data to date.
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Offline ALS

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2009, 08:13:24 AM »
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especially when poor and having to work off of fragmentary and/or captured armour. Splint armour and coat-of-plates are good examples of how this sort of cost-saving armouring can become a widespread design.

Heres the thing with that, in todays terms, yes, we can simply go to the hardware store and buy a piece of steel, and pick up some leather online for relatively little money. Then not so much, steel and iron for plates or rings were very expensive ( just a few of the steps involved in getting an ingot of iron at the time that would go into its cost in a pre industrial era, it first has to be mined as raw ore, by hand, then has to contracted to be transported to a smelter who had to contract with a charcoal maker or a coal mine for the fuel to smelt the raw ore down to a usable bloom, then its transported via more contratced labor to a battering mill who again had to contratc a charcoal maker or coal mine for fuel to work the bloom into ingots or bars ect,ect,ect....) and leather was not cheap either, there were not large heards of cattle that would develop in the industrial era, this is a Europe that is primairly agrarian, and cattle were held in singles or twos by most wealthy enough to have them, more than that reserved for the very wealthy. Leather was less exepensive than iron or steel as there was less involved in obtaining it than there was the metals. Poorer infantry tended to rely of fabric armours and scavanged gear. Our tests with quilted jacks ( a garment made up of multiple layers ( around 10-12 but more was not uncommon ) of linen or like material and quilted for use as armour ) were very impressive. The garment was very difficult to cut in any substanial fashion and arrows tended to just get bound up in it rather than penetrating unless they hit at a perfect perpendicular angle.


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In short, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. To use a Mythbusters reference, it's plausible for ring armour to have existed in Europe, but not verified by any archeological data to date.

While to an extent I tend to agree with you in the sense that theres about maybe three examples of the conicle nasal helmet depicted in the Bayeaux tapestry that survive and based on how purists would look at it, your next LH event would consist of 60 guys all wearing the same three helmets because thats all that survives rather than allowing helmets based on the form without being copies of only surviving examples, if we let this idea go open ended any one can put forward anything with the simple justification that   "you can't prove they didn't " and the next thing you know you're surrounded by guys in fantasy leather armour who look like GWAR and all claim they're gear is accurate. The acedemic world of arms and armour study looks at it the exact opposite, if theres no proof it didn't exist, i'm not 100% in this camp either, see my example above and it doesn't seem to me to be a completley rational way to go ablut study. Of course you have to have some level of actual evidence to start from but given the holes left to us in our knowlege by lack of surviving materials, written, illustrated, sculptural adn archeological some level of theorization is seemingly impossible to avoid.

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« Last Edit: July 02, 2009, 09:09:53 AM by ALS »

Offline Hoowil

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Re: Studded Leather Armor & Ring Mail Armor: Historical?
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2009, 10:26:30 PM »
With armors such as studded leather, and ring mail, I can see a very simple cause for lack of evidence. Leather and material rot, where the smaller peices of metal do not. And as said, metal was very valuable, and would be re-used. Also, artistic reprenetations would be near impossible to classify. A Bayeux period depiction of ring mail would most likely look the same as chain, a rough reprentation of rings overlaying on the body. Studded leathers could very easily be confused with brigandine in drawings and embroidery. The books I have do not mention either armor, but also do not go as far back as I would like, and focus more on 'high end' armors. I have known a few SCAdians who swore on the authenticity of ring type armors, but not studded leathers.

As a gamer, I have had studded leather in games, but the actual usefullness of it as described always seems incongruous. Softer, more supple leather, studded with metal would not stop much force, and the metal studs would serve to snag glancing blows, and if struck direct, would only focus impact to a smaller area. A coat of plates, ringmail, brigandine, chainmail, lammelar and scale all seem like they would be so much more effective, as does even a quilted jack or heavy gambison. Soldiers/warriors would be unlikely to use something that was ineffective when compared other armors available at the time. Having not actually worn it though (as compared to chain and brigandine) I might be way off.
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