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Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Wed Mar 17, 2010 6:03 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
Hi I was wondering if ye'd be able to help me with a little research i'm doing, I want to find out if there has been any work done comparing the effectiveness of Plated armour (coats of plate, brigandines, jacks of plate etc.) with proper plate armour against various forms of attack, particularly firearms.

I know a lot of plate armour was proofed against firearms so must have been effective at stopping them at a reasonable range, but is there any evidence or research done into the effectiveness of plated armour?
I'm looking in particular at the 15th century if that makes any difference to ye.
Thanks in advance,
Brendan

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:52 pm
by Colin Middleton
I thought that arour of proof was a 17th C thing and didn't necessarily mean that it would stop a fire-arm ball.

AFAIK, nothing in the 15thC that was worn in the field stopped guns, they were too high velocity.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:33 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
Sorry i must have gotten confused with my dates, thought proofing was earlier, oh well if that is true that is still equally useful to me for my research, thanks for the input.
But what about other types of attack, such as bows, blunt force attacks, whatever, is there any work comparing the effectiveness of both armour types at stopping them? my instinct says that coats of plate should be less effective against bows because there is much less chance of the arrow or bolt glancing off, they can catch in the material, or on the bottom edge of the individual plates and once they catch they are much more likely to penetrate.
Similarly I'd think that they would be less effective at stopping blunt force blows as while plate armour might stay rigid and spread the force out, plated armour is free to move and would just get pushed inwards with the attack.
As always I'd love to hear whatever ye think, and feel free to point me towards any information or articles you think might be
useful.
Thanks,
Brendan

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:15 pm
by Alan E
A useful insight into the research that is out there. AFAIK very little evidence on actual performance has been produced on originals or realistic (type of material, production techhiques etc) reproductions.
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GpVb ... q=&f=false

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:41 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
Thanks, that seems like it might be pretty useful, pity there's no work done on the subject as yet, guess i'll have to do it myself :D

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:15 pm
by Simon Atford
The old "wrap the armour round a side of pork and the hit with a variety of weapons" test? 8-)

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 7:34 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
Hmmm, might have to do something a little more scientific than that, but that does sound like the most fun option by far... :twisted:

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:55 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
If it counts as anything I can run away faster in a brig and partial harness than my mate Mark does in full Milanese harness.
I was taught in the army (and by my Karate instructor) that the best form of armour was avoidance of impact.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:30 pm
by Colin Middleton
Brendan, I can't be certain on the points that I made earlier, it's just my understanding of the issues.

I do know that the armouries in Malta have 'seige' armours which were expected to stop small firearms, but were 2 or 3 times heavier than the field armors :o .

It's pretty obvious that the plate harness was conisdered superior protection to the brigandine at the time from the way that it is used (during the MA and later), but how much better it actually was, I've no idea.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:54 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
No i think you were right, looking at some stuff i found comparing the toughness of plate against the impact of various projectile types showed that even the best 15th century armour would not stand up to a hand gun within its effective range.

I'll go into a little more detail about what i'm working on, I'm researching two armour types found on Tomb Effigies in Ireland from around 1450 to 1550 one which seems to have been made from long horizontal bands (quite like a lorica segmentata), the other from rectangular plates.
Given that plated armour was less effective as we have been discussing, and by this period completely out-dated (even the battle of Wisby in 1361it was used by a militia suggesting it was behind the times even then) you would think that no noble of high status would be seen dead (sorry bad pun i know)in the armour in the 15th century, but several of these effigies are of the Earls of Ormond, Anglo-Irish rulers, who not only had massive territory in Ireland but in England as well. So what i'm looking at is why exactly this armour was acceptable for high ranking nobles (and presumably effective on the battlefield) in Ireland.

Well that's just a brief summary of what i'm working on for my thesis at the moment.
Brendan.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 10:39 am
by James The Archer
Have a look on youtube metalcaf etc, as I can remember seeing various short films about various types of armour being shot by various bows, guns etc

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:27 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Why do you think a town milita would be wearing out dated armour?
Towns had statutes to inform members of the milita exactly what they should be fielding and also had their own status to think about (along with their own walls, houses, families and livilhoods to defend.)
Scandanavian arms and armour to appear to be more dated then those on central Europe but this has more to do with their economic and geographical postion, Scandanavian nobles seem to be just as provincial when compared to their counterparts in Germany and France.
The Earls of Ormond/Wiltshire were land rich and cash poor, especially as much of their wealth was in areas debated by Gaelic and other Anglo-Irish lords, their English estates badly mangaed and they were very much part of the court elite and living beyond their means for much of the 15th century.
Could artistic license also play a part?
From the accounts of the Irish fighting for the Yorkist pretender at Stoke it's clear that while the English may not be at the cutting edge of military adances the Irish are still waaaaay behind them and totally inequipped to fight in the kind of battle they are drawn into.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 7:36 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
Well maybe out-dated was the wrong choice of words for Wisby, maybe functional or utilitarian would be better? I would think that a militia, especially for what i believe was a wealthy trading town, would have decent equipment, but I cant imagine that they had the very best of the best.

even the actual wealth of the Butlers isn't as important as their status, I'm not saying that they had to necessary have the best armour available, but one would expect them to have it on their effigies, as a lasting symbol of their wealth and status (whether real or not), but instead they are, along with a large number of other nobles in Anglo-Irish territory, and even in the Pale are represented in what would in the eyes of the nobility elsewhere in Europe, be out-dated armour.

It could of course be artistic license, and in fact there are elements on the armour that must be artistic, because otherwise the armour doesn't work, but the design of the armour is so different from the norm, and some of the details too specific for it to simply have been dreamed up. As far as i can tell it must have been based on some real world example.

As for the Irish being way behind in terms of warfare, ya certainly they were, in an English or European style battle, tactics in Ireland evolved to face very different circumstances and conditions, and this is part of the reason why something like a Coat-of-Plates might have been considered useful in Ireland;
The vast majority of warfare was conducted through raids, where a defender needed to be able to be ready very quickly to see off the enemy and might not have time to be dressed in armour, a coat of plates would be much quicker and those few minutes saved might be enough to make a difference.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:03 pm
by Sir Thomas Hylton
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:If it counts as anything I can run away faster in a brig and partial harness than my mate Mark does in full Milanese harness.
I was taught in the army (and by my Karate instructor) that the best form of armour was avoidance of impact.


You make running away an artform :D Mark has made some adjustments tohis harness for this season, so will be interesting to see the running results for this year, whatever the direction.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:58 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
I actually missed Marcus's post about running in the brig first time around, but it reminded me of a quote i came across while looking at a paper on warfare in Ireland, can't remember who said it though; "Unless they choose there is no one there to fight, Our custom is to pursue and fight, and fight when retreating".
I think it sums up the fluid nature of war in Ireland pretty well.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:55 am
by Sir Thomas Hylton
Or anywhere for that matter Brendan_the_lesser.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:13 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
I have no answers then Brenden having exhusted all my ideas.
Maybe, dispite what we might think, brigs and COPs were accepted as being mainstream/top dollar gear in Ireland just as really old fashioned globular armour and kettle helms were seen as the norm in Norway and Sweden.
Lots of richly ordained brigs were ordered for merchants and nobles, Lorenzo had one made in black silk and cloth of gold covering following the murder of his brother and the attempted assasination of himself (not as battlefield armour but for day-to-day wear mind you). So there is no reason why a brig couldn't be as high a status peice of kit as a plate harness.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:55 pm
by Darren Mac
Brendan_the_lesser wrote:[I]think that they would be less effective at stopping blunt force blows as while plate armour might stay rigid and spread the force out, plated armour is free to move and would just get pushed inwards with the attack.
Brendan


I haven't found this to be the case with my CoP, based upon Wisby No.1. Agreed, it's not made exactly like it was then, I don't get attacked in the same way they did then, etc etc. But have recieved some well placed good hard strikes and it does not have as much 'give' as you seem to believe. The plates are rivetted to a thick leather which absorbs some of the blow, the plates do not get pushed inwards by any significant degree during contact.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:45 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
Maybe I underestimate the effectiveness of the armour alright Darren, thats what i'm here for; a bit of greater insight. As you say they probably aren't ideal for withstanding that kind of attack and might not be quite as effective as top notch plate, but would still hold up well.

And Marcus I think you are getting to the heart of what i'm trying to figure out; that for whatever reasons (and there are many) this armour was not considered out-dated or in anyway low status in Ireland.

Finally got some decent scans of the armour for ye to have a look at, The first is the more common type and seems to be made from long horizontal bands, it resembles a switz example from the late 14th century, the second only occurs on two examples and looks to be small square plates with what could either be rivets or holes for ties in the bottom corners. I also include a picture from an osprey book just for fun, a No-Prize for anyone who can spot everything wrong with his armour :D

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:51 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
I don't know about the armour but that's a lovely mince he's walking.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:34 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
my favourite thing about that picture is that he can't get out of his armour, there are no visible breaks in it so it looks like the bands curve all the way around to the back, it would have to be bent completely out of shape just so he could get out of it, and he must have gotten some awful bruises and burns while they were making the armour around him in the first place... :D

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:28 am
by The Methley Archer
Brendan, what are the dates of the effigies you've scanned and where are they from? Not being awkward just very curious.

Thanks

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:21 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
The first is of Piers Butler the 8th Earl of Ormond c. 1539 and the second one is of James Schorthals from 1507, both are in St. Canice's Cathedral in Kilkenny.
The whole group date roughly between 1450 and 1550, with one anomoly dating to 1637

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:29 pm
by The Methley Archer
Thanks Brendan.

Any idea how they were fastened?

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:01 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
no certainties but I'm guessing that they must have been fastened at either one or both sides, wherever it was fastened there had to be a coresponding break in the bands on the opposite side to allow the armour to be swung open, like a lorica segmentata, to allow the wearer to get in.
I don't think it was fastened as the front because that would be too important a detail to leave out of the effigies, even just a line down the centre would clearly show that there was meant to be a break in the bands there. It is understandable that any detail of a split or of buckling would be left out if it was on the sides because they are in an awkward location, would be both hard to sculpt and difficult to see, and might even have been further towards the back than the effigy shows.

Thats my thoughts on it anyway, there's no evidence to prove it either way but that seems to make the most sense.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:58 pm
by Colin Middleton
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Why do you think a town milita would be wearing out dated armour?


Why do you think that they wouldn't? I think that the Bridgeport muster lists a man in alwhite harness with a bascinette (50 years out of date). It's quite likley that as armour fell out of 'fashion', it was stored in the armour houses of either the towns or the lords to be issued to their 'soldiers' when it was needed. Surely it would be better to field a man in full harness that's 50 years out of date, rather than in a brand new, cheap jack. It's not like the armour's stoped having defensive value is it?


Brendan, those pictures are incredible, especially for the date. The Osprey book shows the guy wearing a bascinette, is that what the other two effigies are wearing? I've seen pictures of banded armour like that attributed to the mid to late 14th C, when they're trying to work out how to make full harness that still allows movement.

I suppose that it's also similar to the anime armour that came in later (late 16th C?), it's possible that the concept 'hung around'.

I wonder if the 'banded' armour is actually made up of many small plates, simply not being well rendered in the carving. That would make some sense. I also wonder if it might be covered in fine fabrics, which can't be seen because the effigies have lost their paint. If they were wealthy enough to make effigies, they were wealthy enough to buy good armour. That much space in a church isn't cheap.

As Marcus said, some brigandines were very fine garments and there is (apparently) evidence for their being worn into battle by knights for their mobility. If that was an advantage in the Irish way of war, then I'd expect to see effigies like that, in the same way that the English lords tended not to fight on horses, even though it was popular on the continent.

Good luck with the research, I look forward to hearing more.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:29 pm
by Brendan_the_lesser
Ya I do think they are bascinets shown on most effigies, they seem to have been quite common in Ireland at the time, they show up in pictures and drawings and I think the one helmet find from the country is a bascinet, or at least related to one anyway.

Thanks for the mention of anima armour, i hadn't come accross it yet and it would be a shame to leave them out because they definitely have a similar look.
I had considered that the banded ones might be plates, and i think there are a few that might be, but there are so many more with the bands (about 20 compared to only 2 clearly with plates) and many dont seem weathered (other fine detail is still visible) that i couldn't dismiss them. So for now at least, i'm examining them as two distinct yet related types.

I hadn't even considered that they might have been painted and that is definitely worth taking into account, it would explain why the effigies as they are now look so unlike known armour from elsewhere, thanks for that, more theories to add to my ever growing pile :-x

Anyway, thanks to everyone for adding in their ideas, really great to get a good discussion going on this, keep your thoughts coming
Brendan.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 2:38 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Does the Bridport muster say the fella was going to wear his out dated armour?
Doesn't it conclude that the town is badly served and needs to buy more kit?
Could that mean replacing 50 year old armour as well?
That's if the Bridport Muster is even a muster roll at all.
I don't know enough about it as it is not my main area of interest so would be happy to find out more.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:28 pm
by craig1459
Marcus Woodhouse wrote:Scandanavian arms and armour to appear to be more dated then those on central Europe but this has more to do with their economic and geographical postion, Scandanavian nobles seem to be just as provincial when compared to their counterparts in Germany and France.

Yes the Hanseatic league area was considered to be stylistically backwards - but a conundrum in the late C15 art that we saw in Stockholm was that while much of the clothing was what would consider early C15, the armour was more decidedly late C15 featuring sallets in particular. My own interpretation of this is that the early kit - tunics and cloaks - were more practical in the climate than swanky fashions from the Mediterranean climes. The armour though, however late C15 it looked, was quite exaggerated with very high pointed crowns on the sallets - leading me to believe that the artists were interpreting fashionable armour from mainstream Europe, without ever seeing it.

Re: Coat of plates Vs Plate

Posted: Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:20 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Both Denmark and Norway made heavy use of German mercenaries as well.