A very problematic show tonight, I was very disappointed.The first problem I noticed was when they were doing the cut and impact tests on the maille. They took cheap, butted mail and struck it with arrows, axes, spears, swords and maces and completely obliterated it.Well, someone should inform them that practically every piece of decent maille that came out of Europe was riveted. This means that each individual link was closed and strengthened with a rivet. This allowed for the wire to be of a thinner gauge while at the same time making the armor stronger and lighter.Riveted maille was also annealed, which made the metal links softer and less likely to break upon impact. After piercing that cheap, costume maille with almost all the weapons, they came to the conclusion that "Maille was good from far away, but not as good with up close weapons". I am paraphrasing, but that was the general conclusion they came to, which is ridiculous.The next problem was that most of the armor they used on the show looked poorly made and badly articulated, and didn't seem to fit the actors very well. When wearing the maille shirts and nasal helms, they all became tired after about a minute and came to the conclusion that a warrior couldn't fight for much longer than that. What they failed to realize it that the quality and weight of period armor was exponentially better, and warriors were trained to wear it and fight with it in an efficient manner.I also noticed that at no point in the show did they mention countries, or specific time periods, just "the knight", as if he looked the same all over Europe. I would have prefered a less "dumbed down" show with fewer, if no errors. Citing dates, and countries. It also would have ben nice if they hired someone to make some nice armmor that fit properly, as well as some riveted maille to do the testing on.Innacurate and frustrating, to say the least.
Just for the record, here is a pic of reproduction butted maille, this picture was taken from Forthe armory. The owner, Stephen Sheldon, makes and sells fine reproduction riveted maille (although none of his work is shown here) To check out his real work go to www.forth-armoury.com:Here is a pic of reproduction riveted maille, from www.bumply.com (they make it and sell it):Here is a picture of authentic riveted maille. This picture also taken from Forthe armory:
Thanks for the info.....I watched that tonight, but I'm swimming in the shallow end when it comes to depth of knowledge.....
Good post. Great pics also, they really show what you mean.
That's the one where they put the mail on the post and shot, stabbed and hacked away at it right? They didn't even bother to include any of the padding that would be worn underneath it.
Thanks, Jason."That's the one where they put the mail on the post and shot, stabbed and hacked away at it right? They didn't even bother to include any of the padding that would be worn underneath it."Correct.
I saw that episode of Conquest maybe an hour after the History Channel had another special on maille armor, where they stressed the fact that without the padded jacket underneath, the armor would be extremely vulnerable...
I guess Peter Woodward missed that special!
The knight one wasn't their best show. "The Axeman Cometh" was great. "Weird Weapons vs. Armor" was great, and the "Bow & Arrow" was up there.
It would be nice if they could do it as an hour show and go into more depth, but it is still a pretty damn good show overall.
The Problems I Saw:The whole test on the cheesy butted mail hauberk was a joke--an insult to the intelligence of viewers, IMHO. I can't really add anything that hasn't already been stated by YL.The Bald Guy claimed that the Huns used stirrups, but had they done so, the Romans would certainly have noted and recorded it; we do not hear about stirrups, in fact, until the late 6th century AD/CE, where they were mentioned in the Byzantine military treatise, the Strategikon.When covering the development of armor, they showed a fellow with a noticable beer belly decked out in a mail hauberk and conical spangenhelm with a large nasal; the Bald Fellow declared that this was "fully developed" armor (to paraphrase) from circa 1250, and yet that was incorrect as well--early forms of the coat-of-plates (a precursor to the brigandine) were available by that time. Also, the spangenhelm was far more common in the previous two centuries (1000's and 1100's).The next problem was that most of the armor they used on the show looked poorly made and badly articulated, and didn't seem to fit the actors very well. When wearing the maille shirts and nasal helms, they all became tired after about a minute and came to the conclusion that a warrior couldn't fight for much longer than that. What they failed to realize it that the quality and weight of period armor was exponentially better, and warriors were trained to wear it and fight with it in an efficient manner.In all fairness, Mr Bald did mention that actual medieval knights were far better conditioned that the D & D gang he had under his dubious command... :-)I'm also not sure what was up with some of those "heater" shields--some appeared as though they were made of metal, which was not the case--the only all-iron or all-steel shields were hand bucklers and later Renaissance targets.Finally, trying to cram in the demise of armor due to the advent of gunpowder in the last 2 minutes of the show was pretty weak--no mention was made of "proof" armor, or the fact that armor was retained for quite some time after the introduction of the arquebus and musket, since they were slow to load, and thus HTH still played a considerable part in the warfare of the period.TFS rating (1-10): 4
Bah, I would give it a 2."I saw that episode of Conquest maybe an hour after the History Channel had another special on maille armor, where they stressed the fact that without the padded jacket underneath, the armor would be extremely vulnerable..."Extremely vulnerable? No, I don't think so. The maille will likely hold up. The padded jacket is known as a gambeson and was usually worn under the maille. This will prevent the maille from digging into your skin and perhaps cushion you from getting your bones broken or chipped. There is a reason that maille was used for so long.
Without padding, the maille would hold up, but the person wouldn't.
I've made some mail (butted) and done our own tests on it (hacking and stabbing) and my cheap-poor-workmanship swatches held up a LOT better than theirs.
I'm sure those hauberks and such made by real (period) craftsmen who made them for those who put their lives behind them, would hold up even better.
In that picture of authentic riveted maille, are the chain links a bit worn down (from usage or age?) or is that generally the thickness that would be expected?
Extremely vulnerable? No, I don't think so.The show demonstrated how the gambeson would help cusion the blow, and abosorb impact. They also said that maille with the gambeson might hold up to an arrow that would normally pierce maille alone.
"In that picture of authentic riveted maille, are the chain links a bit worn down (from usage or age?) or is that generally the thickness that would be expected?"I am sure they are worn down, but maille was made with "wire" in different gauges and different sized rings depending on when and where it was made, and where on the body it would be worn."The show demonstrated how the gambeson would help cusion the blow, and abosorb impact. They also said that maille with the gambeson might hold up to an arrow that would normally pierce maille alone."Sounds like a good show. Too bad they didn't go over any of that on Conquest! What was the name of the show?
I can't remember the name of the show. It was either on the History channel, or History Channel International. Just one of those shows I happened to catch flipping through...
I think it may have been this show on History International:Thursday, February 20 8:00 PM
Arms in Action: Mail and Plate Armor
Produced with the Royal Armouries in the Tower of London, this episode draws heavily on its superb collection of European chain mail and Asian leather armor. In slow-motion experiments, mail and plate are tested, and a knight shows that armor was more comfortable than it seemed. On the 27th, they'll be doing a show on slings & spears that looks interesting.Arms in Action: Slings and Spears
Produced in partnership with England's Royal Armouries from the Tower of London, this series action-tests weapons and armor through the ages. We construct an ancient slingshot and see why it survives as a street-fighting weapon in the Middle East, and follow the unbroken history of the spear from mere stick to Roman pilium to bayonet
Thanks for the info! I've got to see that.
The ARMA site has an old test-cutting report in which they did some testing with mail, using both leather padding and no padding:
Looks like without a gambeson, a sword impact against (in this case, butted) mail would be sufficient to actually rupture muscle tissue...