Mail Mittens/mufflers help

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Mail Mittens/mufflers help

Postby Templar Knight » Thu Jan 22, 2009 5:42 pm

Rings arrived today for me to add some mufflers to my hauberk but was wondering if you put any layer of padding inbetween the leather or leave it just as a leather mitten.

Cheers :D


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Phil the Grips
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Postby Phil the Grips » Thu Jan 22, 2009 7:03 pm

Just a leather mitten- with splits in the palm so you can use your hands for other things when needed. Anything else makes them too bulky to work comfortably.

If I was expecting a bit of extra laldy on the field where my hands were more likely to be hit then I'd slip on a pair of fingerless wooly mitts inside the mufflers but this would not likely be historically accurate- especially as it'sd make holding reins more awkward than necessary and it must always be borne in mind that this level of kit, in the large majority, would be worn by mounted men.


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Postby Biro » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:08 pm

I'd say it depends on how thick the leather and what requirements your group has for hand protection.

I'm in the middle of making some now and will be going for a layer of leather covering the area (roughly 1.5mm thick), with 'patches' of thicker leather over it (so as to add further protection without losing flexibility) - with the mail over it all. May even add some rawhide strips too - but that may be a little overkill...

I find if you make a roughly hand sized rectangle from mail big enough to cover the edges of your hand, and add an extra square bit at the ends of the fingers, only the width of your middle fingers (when in gloves), you can then kind of fold that bit over the ends of your fingers and then join the sides of it with the ends of your index and little fingers making a kind of 'cup' shape which will stop the mail pulling back and then not protecting your fingertips.

If you then put some leather thong (or string - its only temporary) through the rings at the edges of the palm all the way around, you can pull it in - bringing it to shape around your hand. It should then be easy to cut and fit the piece of leather that's gonna go over your palm.

Hmm, not sure I explained all that very well...

Once on, you will need to tie around the wrist - keeping the sleeves+mufflers in place. You should then be able to take the mufflers off through the slit in the palm, leaving them to hang from the wrist. (At least that's how I hope mine will turn out)

Good Luck



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Postby Templar Knight » Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:31 pm

Ye I get what you mean, ill try that idea out. I was thinking of 2mm leather on the back of the hand and 1.5mm on the palm, but will have to look for a nice flexible peice at TORM of something.


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Postby Hobbitstomper » Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:51 am

I did mine differently- making mittens instead of modifying existing ones. I made the back of the mittens out of mail and the other side out of thin leather. The 2 sides are just sewn together with thronging. Between the hand and the mail I tie in a 1/8” thick layer of linen and wool padding that matches the shape of the mitten. This is only attached at the tips of the fingers and thumb and can be removed if the mitten needs to be cleaned or dried. There is no need for mail or thick leather on the inside of the glove because you shouldn’t be hit there. The thumb on the mittens has to be about 60 degrees to the fingers to work.

I think it is important to minimise the amount of weight on the hand and this way means you aren’t adding extra mail over wide mittens. Also the padding breathes much better than a sealed leather glove so you stay cooler.



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Postby Lord DeSpencer » Tue Jan 27, 2009 1:59 am

Hi I made mine out of a pair of boxing gloves/training mits. take all the thick padding out and it leaves an excellently strong mit.
get some thick but soft leather to reinforce the back and thumb then link some leather around the mail then sow that to the mit.
had them a few years now and are still going with no tears are stiching comming undone.
Padding is always a compromise between feel and protection.
good luck


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Colin Middleton
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Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:46 pm

The pictures imply to me that there is little siffness to the mufflers. My current theory (unproven) is to make the palm out of thin gloving leather (say 0.5mm goatskin) so that you can grip your sword easily and make the back of the mitten from 2 layers of sheepskin facing each-other. If you leave some of the wool still on (you'll need to decide if it needs trimming shorter), it shoud provide considerable impact absorbtion. You may also want to put a bit of 'tubing' into it, but be aware of flexibility on that.

The slit in the palm and wrist thong have already been described.

Best of luck with it and let us know what you go for.


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Postby Biro » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:25 pm

Agreed on the stiffness Colin, and your theory sounds interesting and is something I hadn't considered.. Although I'm not sure that anything more than a thin layer of leather would still look as floppy.

My thoughts were more along the lines of there being no additional padding or thick leather historically - based on the premise that before mufflers appeared, the hands were one of the last areas to be covered by mail (or any kind of protection)- indicating that hand protection probably wasn't viewed as being that important. Also, going by the majority of the 12/13th centuries, there is very little (if any) evidence of padded armour worn under mail (Yep, that's another discussion) - so why would it just be on the hands?. I'm thinking that the view of armour then was simply 'mail' as opposed to 'a padded layer+mail'.. if you follow..

But its one of those areas where you have to stray from absolute historical accuracy and pad it out in the name of safety..



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Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:40 pm

I'd noticed that about the padding too. That said, a few layers of clothing would start to provide some padding, so it may simply be that it was not as thick as we expect (thickened in later centuries?).

IIRC mufflers first appear in the 12th C, which is when we start seeing the akeon worn under the mail, isn't it.

It always amazes me that hands weren't better protected. With hands and fingers so easily broken (and severed?) and necessary to so many things (hunting, fighting, music, as well as most trades if you're not a knight), you would think that people would be more concearned with them. Even if they're not 'combat targets', one little mistake...


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Postby Phil the Grips » Wed Jan 28, 2009 1:57 pm

If you get a copy of the journal SPADA I you'll see Stephen Hand's corollary on why hand protection isn't necessary when using a large shield and sword (basically you aren't putting your hand anyway near danger until you have a clear path to swing at as cleared by the shield), then SPADA II expands it to show why curved shields necessitate some form of hand, and arm, protection due to the variation in fighting style it provokes.

Nicely argued but not necessarily historical and often only translates to real combat and so difficult to do when doing re-enactment combat, though not undoable.

Incidentally you'll also see Tom Leoni's polearm article which will also show you why hand protection isn't required for polearms as, again, hands aren't anywhere near trouble if used correctly.

Going for the hands is encouraged in combat though- a common theme in many texts on the subject- to the point of aiming for the palms of armoured men in some German armoured texts- however I reckon the ability to grasp objects, hold reins, right oneself would be value far more highly.


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Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:06 pm

Damn, more books to read! Thanks for the explanation though.


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Postby Biro » Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:16 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:I'd noticed that about the padding too. That said, a few layers of clothing would start to provide some padding, so it may simply be that it was not as thick as we expect (thickened in later centuries?).

IIRC mufflers first appear in the 12th C, which is when we start seeing the akeon worn under the mail, isn't it.


I'm not convinced of that... Although there are some 12C carvings that look like they could be padded armour peeping out under mail - it is very difficult to say if it is quilting or if it is just folds in the tunic.
Then there is Henry's Assise of arms from 1181 which says that every free laymen earning over 10m should own a mail hauberk and an iron cap etc.. and all other burgess or freemen should own an aketon, iron cap etc..
There is no mention of those owning hauberks requiring aketons too.

Then if you look through the Mac Bible (1250), you won't see any indication of people wearing mail over an aketon. There are ppl pulling mail on over their tunics, and those wearing padded armour on its own - but there are no indications that both are worn together.

I'm thinking that it may not have been common until the 13C - maybe even the latter part.. Maybe it even coincides with the development of lighter flat-link mail... Maybe the heavier round-section mail was armour on its own needing nothing more than a thick woolen tunic under it, but the later combination of flat-section links over an aketon provided a greater amount of protection while being lighter.

I know this goes against common opinion, but it makes sense to me.
Saying that - I'm still gonna do 12C stuff with an aketon under my mail :) Its another safety thing.

I think Phil has some good points too. most manuscripts show the hand held well back... and I guess given that it was a valid target, combat styles probably developed specifically to protect it (eg I.33 with both hands staying together covered by the buckler most of the time).



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Postby Hobbitstomper » Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:40 pm

Shields, hauberks and hand protection seem to go together in pictures. Round shield or round topped kite can go with a short sleeve hauberk and no hand protection. Flat topped kite or heater almost always goes with full arm and hand protection. It makes sense as the hand becomes really vulnerable if you do a cut from the top left (which is part of the point of having a flat topped shield). Also, full face protection is usually shown with flat topped shields. Part of this may just have been the lowering costs and developments in armour technology.

I think flat link mail comes in to protect against bodkins. There is an increased chance of a point hitting metal and less chance of it sliding past a flat ring.



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Postby Biro » Fri Jan 30, 2009 10:41 am

I'd be interested to see if any decent testing has been done on the defence ability of flat-ring vs round for both cuts and thrusts.

I would guess that flatring is better against thrusting attacks (arrows included) - cos as Hobbitstomper said there is more chance of hitting metal.. also I think the shape makes it more resistant to deforming if the point does strike inside the ring and try to force it open.

Yet the round-section rings provide a thicker layer of steel between the wearer and the attack - so is it reasonable to think that it would protect better against cuts? - as there is simply more metal to cut through.

I guess this would probably tie in with changes in sword design too - they generally became more of a generic 'cut and thrust' weapon through the late 12+13C as opposed to the earlier more cutting biased weapons. You have more widespread use fo the couched lance too at that time..

It seems that with crossbows/bodkins/pointy swords - fights just got a lot more 'stabby' than 'cutty' so the armour evolved accordingly (Helm design too)



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Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Jan 30, 2009 2:17 pm

Biro wrote:Then if you look through the Mac Bible (1250), you won't see any indication of people wearing mail over an aketon. There are ppl pulling mail on over their tunics, and those wearing padded armour on its own - but there are no indications that both are worn together.


I'd have sworn that you were wrong on this until I thought about it. I'll have to have a dig through on that tonight, you might be correct! :shock:

Biro wrote:Then there is Henry's Assise of arms from 1181 which says that every free laymen earning over 10m should own a mail hauberk and an iron cap etc.. and all other burgess or freemen should own an aketon, iron cap etc..
There is no mention of those owning hauberks requiring aketons too.


I'm not disagreeing with you on this, just 'playing devil's advocate' a bit. It's possible that the aketon isn't mentioned with the haunerk because it's so obviouls that you'll need an aketon it's conisdered 'part' of the hauberk. Kind of like they way that no-one ever sells a "car including seats", you expect the seats to be there.

Biro wrote:I'm thinking that it may not have been common until the 13C - maybe even the latter part.. Maybe it even coincides with the development of lighter flat-link mail... Maybe the heavier round-section mail was armour on its own needing nothing more than a thick woolen tunic under it, but the later combination of flat-section links over an aketon provided a greater amount of protection while being lighter.


You might be right about the date, I can't think of any clear evidence to discount it. I know of several hauberks over aketon by the end of the 13th C and none at that time worn without, but earlier than that, I'm now less certain.
However, I doubt that the flat-link mail is responsible for the need for the aketon. As you said, the later 13th C sees the appearance of better thrusting swords and swords with higher impact types like the falchion and warsword/longsword. The thicker padding will help mitigate the effects of these more devestating weapons. The flat-link mail may even help spread the force more, I'm not sure of the physics enough to try modeling it.


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Postby Biro » Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:08 pm

I really can't say that flat-link is responsible for combining with the aketon either..

Its just a couple of very vague ideas that mean it could make sense - but I'm not sure of the exact coincidence of them time-wise..

My thinking is that heavier, round-section mail - especially where baggy has more inertia than the lighter stuff so gives a bit more protection to impacts.... Also thinking comfort-wise - heavier mail + aketon is harder going/less restrictive than the ligher stuff.

And that's all I have to go on.. Not much really, is it :)

It's probably more a case of them just happening at around the same time totally coincidentally, and me putting 2 and 2 together and getting 16...

Actually, when I think on it - i'm really unclear on how thick the aketon would have been... IF they weren't combined until the late 13C - we know that there was also some kind of rigid body armour around then - so is it fair to assume that the aketon is more for the arms/thighs?... Knowing that if its too thick on the arms it becomes restrictive - could this mean that they were really quite thin? Maybe it was to replace/protect the clothes as much as for protection?




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