Historical Maille - Middle Ages
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Historical Maille - Middle Ages
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Posted on Thu May 29, 2014 9:53 pm
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So, I noticed that we have no photo thread about Medieval Maille (or Chainmaille, or Chainmail, or Mail, (- so that people will be able to find this Thread)) so here it is my attempt to make a decent one that might be good enough to get "Sticky" status.

Actually I was going to start a Thread so I can get advise for the armour I was going to build, but then I though of my fellow man, and decided to make an encyclopedic thread so that all of us will be able bring out our arguments as to what was the ultimate Maille of Middle Ages and how we recreate it, and present them in a friendly and intelligent manner.

If you ever wanted to learn how to tell which armour is costume and which is the real deal, this is a thread you need to watch.


First and only thing. NO RECREATIONS.

This is about the historical, real Maille. Any recreations and reproductions should accompany historical pictures and be marked as such.

For example, pictures of a museum piece and modern creations based on it or recreations of it. Make sure to credit your sources and provide the links, and also that you comply with Copyright laws and such.

This is also the place to discuss forge welding, riveting, wire size, dimensions, aspect ratio (AR), internal diameter (ID) as well as all of the other technical details and how to copy them today.

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Posted on Fri May 30, 2014 4:06 pm
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And the very first guys you ought to look at and if possible (site problems w/evil hacks) read are the Mail Research Society and its founder Erik D. Schmid. (No t on him.)

He'd advise you that the overlaps for rivet closures ought to show a "watershed" or ridge line longitudinally, a cross section like a flatter <> or like (). It is structurally necessary, though I can only try a couple speculations about how. Increases strength -- one of my guesses is it helps the rivets pein in tight and proper. A tightly set eensy rivet seems to be ninety percent of the job.

The triangular rivet cut from sheet metal ribbons or ribbons made by hammering wire flat was invented in the fourteenth century. What I've seen of the process suggests there is practically no waste of material by this method -- leftover wire bits go in the rivet supply. Round rivets came much earlier -- and were never altogether replaced by triangles. And thennnnn... or still plenty early, they tore apart a link or two from the Gjermundbu helmet's mail drape (Or an associated mail find? Don't quite remember and maybe I have the wrong helmet find to boot.) to discover rivets that looked like whisk brooms: broad on the bottom and well up into the rivet's length, then a neck that was peined over into a gumdroppish shape to the peined head. Some mail has quite prominent peined heads, leaving the broad end of all the rivets to make up the smoother side of the mailshirt.

Double rivets also happened but are rare; sometimes even more rarely the doubled rivet takes the form of a small staple. Laborious as &#@! and fiddly.


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Posted on Fri May 30, 2014 5:50 pm || Last edited by MusicMan on Fri May 30, 2014 8:46 pm; edited 2 times in total
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I can't wait to see what people are going to post here. I looked into some of Eric's articles and papers that he had on his site before it crashed and there were some really good ones.


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MailleCode V2.0 T5.3 R4.4 E0.0 Feur MFe.sBr Wg Cwb G.7-5.1 I3.1-11 N20.5 Pj Dcdjt Xa1w2 S08

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Posted on Fri May 30, 2014 5:58 pm
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This?
http://www.themailresearchsociety.erikds.com/

Their website seems to be working for now.
Their E-books are mostly black and white photos and drawings. Not even close to high resolution digital photographs, but the text is valuable.


Found this in another thread, but I have no idea if these are actual Medieval amours, or modern reconstructions. Even museums might store the originals and exhibit copies and because it says it is from a museum, does not mean that it is, unless the picture is obviously taken in a museum and you can tell by the background.
http://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/european-mail-armor/

Even so, I found more from this forums than I found searching the internet myself. (Location based results do that. Coif LoL )


Any actual on-line museum collections?

Any (the physical real thing) books about maille?

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Posted on Fri May 30, 2014 6:16 pm
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Journal of the Mail Research Society, vol. 1. And only, AFAIK.

Looks like you found Erik's site, all right. Good to hear it's healthy. Said site may be able to get you a Journal if possible. Been a few years now.

To get some idea about an online picture of mail, a closeup of a link should show you whether you can trust its authenticity or not: the link is not over-flattened, its contours tend to be rounded -- or worn looking -- and, well, not looking Industrial Age, but softer.

Compare that to a closeup look at a link of end-flattened Indian-made riveted mail -- it's no longer the state of the art, in fact the process is rather obsolete, but the mail itself is still functional, very strong, even featuring these huge, very flat overlaps.

Comparing museum pics to pics of the modern-made will sharpen your eye for historical quality.


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Posted on Fri May 30, 2014 11:43 pm
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Hm... It seems that those seeking to make the most historically accurate armour will need to make their own wire and rivets and work using only medieval tools. Coif LoL

35$ Is just too much for shipping.
A PDF version (including a license to print a copy for yourself) would be much appreciated in my opinion for people outside North America.

I will have to stay in the free articles for now.


I wonder if different qualities of maille existed.
Say that it is 11th Century AD.
Will the royals and nobles wear maille of same quality as the common soldier?
Common soldiers might have worn less maille, but even in this case, was the maille of lower quality?

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Posted on Fri May 30, 2014 11:51 pm
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The 'common soldiers' likely won't be wearing Maille

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Posted on Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:06 pm
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Tedronai wrote:
The 'common soldiers' likely won't be wearing Maille


Really?
No maille for the peasants?

This is strange.

Romans had maille and plate armour 1300 years before the Crusades, and yet the common peasants had no access to maille?
I guess that the people saying that in Medieval times a maille armour would cost like 50.000$ in today's currency, are correct.


I hadread that the Byzantines were neglecting their Army and would not provide them with amours because of the cost.

(Note that in the School history here, the Byzantines used to be depicted as living Saints, something like King Arthur. And school history is heavily censored.)

In the book "Count Belisarius" however, Justinian neglected the needs of the army to host parties and build monuments to himself, to get the title of "Great".
The books, which is based on Procopius's History and "Anekdota", and gives you the idea that maille armour was very expensive in the early Byzantine times.

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Posted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 9:20 am
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Spartan1388 wrote:
I wonder if different qualities of maille existed.
Say that it is 11th Century AD.
Will the royals and nobles wear maille of same quality as the common soldier?
Common soldiers might have worn less maille, but even in this case, was the maille of lower quality?


Different qualities did -- by later Renaissance times, differentiated by price, and the difference was how springlike the wire was, which gave it the higher tensile strength. With due regard for the era's understanding of the metallurgy of heat treatment! They'd try it regularly, especially for high-end plate armor, but they couldn't get a very accurate picture of the carbon content they started off with in a given piece, and there are pieces in high-end plate armor that are hardened with a heat treatment, and pieces that have metallographic evidence heat treating was attempted but the carbon content was too low -- essentially, mild steel. But I digress here.

A fairly direct hint about the grades of mail comes from Georgius Agricola's De Re Metallica, of 1550s date. He speaks of taking "mail of small price," casehardening it (cementation) and thus getting mail that performs like the best and fanciest grade of mail. With typical thicknesses of wire in the links of the mail, some hours heat-soaking the mail piece at red heat in carbon-rich material, sealed in a tight iron box with a charge of hoof scraps and such, causes carbon to dissolve well into the cross section of the metal if not completely through it. I speculate a quenching in oil would complete the process, as a slower quench than using water, giving a springy, tougher result. But reheating, water quench, and tempering sufficiently could give much the same results.

Agricola doesn't speak of this as anything like a new innovation. His narrative is matter-of-fact, from discussions with metalworkers and observations.

*****************************

For the Romans of the Roman Republic times and the Empire, shortsleeved shirts of mail were actually the ordinary sort of legionary armor. The famous segmentata came in in the first century AD, and there are those who say getting three entire Legions wiped out in Teutoburger Wald in 9 AD was the reason -- Rome had suddenly to re-equip a lot. Mail shirts were slow, particularly since Roman mail was of small link diameter -- but they had sheet metal after a fashion, and this did the trick so well that people get surprised to see something other than the lorica segmentata on a legionary.


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Posted on Mon Jun 02, 2014 4:37 pm
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Controlling the carbon content is not an easy task without modern equipment.

Japanese did it, but in my opinion, they just got lucky. They had good iron ore, they developed a smelting method that worked, and their sword makers learn to discriminate between the small blocks of smelted steel and also got things right, like: "when the blade is the colour of the rising Sun, the Katana is ready to receive it's soul". If they had tried when the steel had the colour of the bright orange/white noon Sun, the results would not be that great.
They probably did tried it though, and the today's recorded process is not a product of luck or divine intervention, but the results of trial and error. They later gave religious significance to their sword making, so naturally people would like to think that the Gods gave this knowledge. Let us not forget that all we know about Samurais and their swords comes from Renaissance of later times.
But yes, Japan has good iron ore, so they got lucky on that.


I have normalized, hardened and heat treated tools.

When the metal is Cherry hot, you quench it in water or oil according to the manufacturer's suggestions. Usually water will work for most steels, but there are also air hardening steels that should be air harden.
Hardening will make the metal hard but brittle, like glass.

Tempering is the process of heating the steel until a certain point, below its "glowing" state. In Greece we call it "colourizing the steel", because of the colour change. Each colours occurs at different temperature and the steel is given different properties for every colour.
For springiness, you want blues and purples.
You do not have to quench after heat treatment unless you had not harden your steel.

It would be a pain in the butt to heat treat armour and specially maille unless you have one of these modern heat treating ovens of appropriate proportions. Otherwise the result will not be very uniform, creating lines or areas of different properties. You can use your electric kitchen and a oven thermometer, but it is not the same.
Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts depict armour factories and workshops with big furnaces/forges that they would have used to harden and temper metal.
Maille would have been tricky. If you lift a Cherry hot hauberk and quench it, you are most likely going to deform the rings.


I believe that welded mild steel round rings of an AR of 4 made out of thick wire will compensate for the lack of hardness and springiness, but the armour is going to be like x2 more heavy.
If you do not want much historical accuracy and/or you lack the capability and equipment, this method might give you good quality armour.

Probably Stainless Steel will work better for that. It is safer than galvanized to heat and weld (BUT NO "SAFE"!!!) and the chromium in the alloy makes it stronger. Not all Stainless Steels can be hardened though. Hardware store wire probably cannot because it is made not to be hard, but to bend easily.

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Posted on Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:55 am
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Hm, last I'd heard the Japanese iron sands were rather poor material as iron ore goes -- though perhaps this is only because it isn't suited to what we'd do with ores like taconite, magnetite or hematite. But they did develop a process to work around its limitations and yield iron and steel in a mixed bloom, with I'm told a lot of slag. But the useful stuff was partly cast iron, set aside for other use, and stuff they could work under hammers to make cutting steel out of.

With the difficulties of this process, it's small wonder so much of Japanese armor was made of lacquered hardened leather as well as of steel or iron.

*******************************

Your kitchen oven could temper a knife or a chisel, if maybe not a spring. For well controlled results you'd want to put an oven thermometer in there, as determining its temperature by the dial is, well, approximate.

English speaks of "(color) temper" of the steel, like a "straw temper" or "light blue temper." The English of the Internet can pull up temper colors for you, so you too can sound like an English smith. Wink The gradations of colors are about 50 degrees F apart -- a difference of that much, hotter or cooler, causes the next oxidation color on polished hardened steel. So, very roughly, 30 degrees C.


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Posted on Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:01 pm
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Konstantin the Red wrote:

With the difficulties of this process, it's small wonder so much of Japanese armor was made of lacquered hardened leather as well as of steel or iron.


I would guess that the difference between Japanese and European armour also has to do with the style of fighting that happened. With the mountains of Japan I do not think that the heavy plate armour of Europe would work well. And the flexibility of the Japanese fighting style as opposed to the European style of horseback and long sticks, except foot soldiers of course, also makes for the difference.

There are plenty of examples of metal helmets and even full suits of maille, but anything more did not lend itself well to their style of fighting or needs. Even with a 'better' process of working with the orr I don't think they would have made European style armour for those reasons.


Once you stop learning, you stop living, so...
Ask questions.
Try new things.
Share what you know.

MailleCode V2.0 T5.3 R4.4 E0.0 Feur MFe.sBr Wg Cwb G.7-5.1 I3.1-11 N20.5 Pj Dcdjt Xa1w2 S08

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Posted on Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:58 pm
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I had to mention Japan before messages about how great Samurais and their Katanas were, start popping up claiming that Katana swords can cuts through plate and maille armour alike, and also through the person wearing the armour and then can chop a tank into thin ribbons.

Most steels made traditionally will have slug. Japanese iron ore was just more pure. When they make their steel, they end up with a huge block of steel, like 1m by 3m and .5m tall, just a rough estimate I made watching a documentary. This block is then broken into tiny fragments, and the steelmakers and swordsmiths will throw away many of the fragments.

My personal view, is that Samurais, being the Aristocratic elite, godified their image, and these myths survive until today.
They were not fighting on foot, they would ride into battle, and they had armies to support them like in the film "The Last Samurai". Without an army, they would just fight to the death or flee.
Battle in Japan would be brutal like in Europe.

Asians would diefy their greatest warriors like with Guan Yu, the Chinese God of War. We did the same with our warrior ancestors, and generally all people will worship their ancestors and have done so. We call it "Progonolatreia" in Greece, which means "worshiping of the ancestors". Alexander the Great is often depicted as beyond mortal and godlike and the Byzantine history is full of divine intervention.

The problem is that people will put supernatural elements in history and believe that this is how things happen. Of course a Katana will cut through armour! The Samurais are like living saints, and clever enough to make stories to keep peasants are bay, and warriors very often exaggerate (what? you though it was a Klingon exclusive? Very Happy ). In WWII, Japanese officers were chopping M2 machine gun barrels with their Katanas!!! Coif LoL



PS.
I do not really care to sound English, because my accent is awful... Rolling Eyes

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Posted on Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:15 am
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Some European style pieces were not merely copied, in the sixteenth century Japan tried its hand at making them from the ground up: the "pigeon-breasted corselet" with a touch of decoration to the Japanese taste -- it's a peascod breastplate.

Riveted E4-1 mail pieces got a name too -- namban-gusari, or "southern barbarian chain." They liked the stuff as an exotic entertaining import, and that it meshed Uber well with Japanese combat techniques.

Speaking, ahem! -- soberly, the katana is really very well adapted to attrit and eventually defeat laced-up lamellar-type armor like so much of what the Japanese went to war in. Efficient at cutting the laces if you couldn't quite get a thrust in.


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Posted on Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:18 pm || Last edited by Worldantiques on Wed Jun 04, 2014 4:10 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Spartan1388 wrote:


Found this in another thread, but I have no idea if these are actual Medieval amours, or modern reconstructions. Even museums might store the originals and exhibit copies and because it says it is from a museum, does not mean that it is, unless the picture is obviously taken in a museum and you can tell by the background.
http://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/european-mail-armor/


If you can not tell that these are images of authentic European mail then you need to spend some time looking at the images more, in fact anyone here should before trying to discuss this subject.

http://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/european-mail-armor/
This is the largest, most detailed collection of European mail images in the world, from Etruscan to 19th century Russian mail. From peoples private images, museums, web sites, forums etc, all edited and collected in one place. (Many of the images here are high resolution,you need to click on the image once at least to see if it opens to a new window with a high resolution view).

You should also throughly read this thread.
http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=29331&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

This is a MUST read thread as it contains essential information on how to make historical looking European riveted mail as opposed to the currently available NOT historical looking mail being sold.
http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=22224&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0


Also look here for Japanese mail armor and Indo-Persian mail armor to compare with the European mail.

http://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/japanese-mail-armor-kusari/

http://www.pinterest.com/worldantiques/indo-persian-mail-armor/

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