Viking Under Armer.

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Tiddles
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Viking Under Armer.

Postby Tiddles » Tue Feb 01, 2011 8:23 pm

Hi.

I am trying to find out what sort of clothing Vikings wore under there chain mail.

I assume it had some sort of padded quality's to absorb impact.

Tiddles.



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Neil of Ormsheim
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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:03 pm

Depends who you ask. Ask a Norman and they will say that padded gambesons, akhetons etc were worn under maille.
Ask most archaeologists and they will say that no evidence has been found found for padding under maille at all.
Ask a linguist and they will say that the names of the padded under-armours are Oriental (near/middle EAstern) in origin so not in Western Europe til after the start of the first Crusade.
Ask anyone who has been hit hard whilst not wearing any under-armour and they will tell you that something must have been worn because - OUCH! That HURT!
Ask Viking "experts" and some will say that they probably wore two or more extra wool tunics to padd under the armour.
Personally, I come pre-equiped with built-in padding to absorb the power of blows and, as long I can keep the calorie intake at the right level, I never have to take the padding off to wash it! :crazy:


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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Tiddles » Wed Feb 02, 2011 12:28 am

Hi Neil.

That is similar to what i was thinking.

One possibility is that they did have some sort of padding but called it by a different name.
And because of the OUCH! reaction the idea of padded protection has been around since Roman times if not before.

So the obvious next question is what style/form did the padding take?



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Benedict » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:42 pm

The problem is a lack of evidence, other than the practical 'ouch' factor. To be fair, there are quite a lot of depictions of people carrying military equipment (spears and shields) with no body armour at all, so mail with no padding *might* be enough of a step up to make it very useful. As Neil says, wearing several tunics (or "natural" padding) will help and would be consistent with the evidence for people apparently fighting in their normal clothes.

The other point is that body armour is generally a last resort - if you're actually being hit on your torso, something has gone wrong with the shield-wall.



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Nigel » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:43 pm

WHICH happens a lot in reenactment


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Tiddles » Thu Feb 17, 2011 8:58 pm

Nigel wrote:WHICH happens a lot in reenactment


Yes I have seen spears put through chain mail :o

Also most shield walls brake up in to skirmishes and one on one,s. And if like me you prefer two handed weapons then you need a bit more padding and armour.

I agree the peasant solders went to battle with no protection but I suspect professional warriors where better protected.


Tiddles.



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Nigel » Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:39 am

Hence the very well apdded look sported by Norman groups such as conquest :D


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Medicus Matt » Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:44 pm

Nigel wrote:Hence the very well apdded look sported by Norman groups such as conquest :D


Yeah, that's the reason. Nothing to do with the odd hecatomb between scuffles.


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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Brendan C » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:40 pm

Nigel wrote:Hence the very well apdded look sported by Norman groups such as conquest :D


That is, sported by a few members of Norman groups such as Conquest

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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Nigel » Sun Feb 20, 2011 9:44 am

Medicus Matt wrote:
Nigel wrote:Hence the very well apdded look sported by Norman groups such as conquest :D


Yeah, that's the reason. Nothing to do with the odd hecatomb between scuffles.



Well one has to keep ones strength up :D

next one is going to be a raw cotton sandwhiched one which will be comfy


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:27 am

next one is going to be a raw cotton sandwhiched one which will be comfy


Has to be comfy as he spends soooooooo much time lying down...... :wink:


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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Hobbitstomper » Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:44 am

A comfy sofa you can wear. Nice.

I am sure I saw some Germans wearing leather sofas at Tewkesbury a while ago. Maybe sponsored by DFS.



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby WorkMonkey3 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:36 pm

Re-enactors perspective surely?
Getting hit by a crowbar re-enactment blade through mail is going to hurt alot more because of the blunt trauma than a sharp, and lighter "real" one.



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby bigrich72 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:35 pm

@ Work Monkey

Surely the force being exerted to hit druing reenactment is going to be considerable less than that used during real combat. As we are not actualy trying to kill our opponants?

Blunt force trauma while unplesent will break bones and inextremus rupture organs. Sharp force penitrateing trauma, that usualy is alot more bad news, that turns organs into kibble.

Looking at weapons found, please correct me, are spear heads, swords, and axes.

Thease weapons are designed to put holes into people, via sharp force trauma, and using the mass of the swords or axes to crush bones.

my understanding is that there are more swords and axes found in later period finds. This would imply that there is a switch from lightly armoured opponants that needed a small hole put in them to disable them. With more heavy armour people needed larger weapons to debilitate them. So chain mail is good vs slashing attacks, and against penertrateing trauma. However it is not so useful vs blunt force trauma. Hence to evoloution of heavyer cutting weapons, eventualy the huge dane axe.

So to stop this blut force trauma, the obvious soloution is heavy padding.

so logicaly padding is the way forward. To absorb as much blunt force trauma as possable. As you are going to be sod all use with a broken clavical but and intact chain shirt.

Does my ramble make sense?



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby nathan » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:56 pm

You seem to be ignoring the fact that the primary weapon on the early medieval battle field was the spear, it would have massively outnumbered other types of weapon. The socket sizes on period spearheads are smaller than re-enactment equivalents and would simply not have been able to deliver a great deal of force without shaft failure (and frankly they didn't need to, it is scary how easily a sharp spear passes through flesh), Mail makes a perfect defense against this.

Workmonkey is right most re-enactment blades are upwards of double the weight of the originals it makes a huge difference to the way force is delivered. Having taken heavy shots in unpadded mail and walked away from it i would say that had it been a sharp the mail would have done it's job (kept my insides where they are supposed to be).

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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Tiddles » Thu Mar 17, 2011 2:32 am

I think it depends on what you call a heavy shot.

Thankfully and helpfully non of us have or ever will have to experience a full on fear and adrenalin fuelled blow. Because with that kind of aggression would shatter bones unless you have very, very good armour. Some of my armour is heavy boiled leather lined/padded with sheep skin. I have found this to be better than steal even from heavy blows. But I don't know how it would react from the same strength blow with a sharp weapon.

I know that the main form of defence was the shield. But the development of the Dane axe and the cross bow suggests an improvement in personal defence.
Also these was considerable trade and contact with eastern Europe and the far east. Where padding was common place so even if the Vikings or Saxons did not invent the idea I suspect they where aware of it.

As for spear thrusting strength it really depends on the quality and type of wood of the shaft. Some woods like Yew or black thorn are very strong but also flexible.



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby bigrich72 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:06 am

I don't think i was forgetting the spear.

However would Joe public with his spear and, if lucky a shield want to go up against a "God of War" in maille, sword/axe healm and shield?

Would Joe and his mates want to go up against Workmonkey in his maille and healm? Knowing that to get this stuff he has fought and killed for many years and battles?

All sharp bladed things are good at going through people/flesh. Just look at a butchers knife. Translate that to a spear.....

Maille is efective vs a spear as it takes alot of force to pearce the links, be they rivited or solid. (I'm discounting butted). As well as a good sold square blow, people move when fighting, and the chance for glanceing blows is considerable higher.

Spear shafts i thought were idealy ash? strong and flexable? is there evidence of other woods?



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Medicus Matt » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:06 pm

bigrich72 wrote:However would Joe public with his spear and, if lucky a shield want to go up against a "God of War" in maille, sword/axe healm and shield?


EVERYBODY'S primary weapon was the spear, from the commander downwards. Read 'The Battle of Maldon'; it's his spear that Earl Byrhtnoth uses to kill the first of his enemies (by stabbing him through the neck...face and neck would be the primary targets for spear thrusts and mail or padding isn't going to help there at all), then drawing his sword to continue the fight.

And what would 'Joe Public' be doing on a battlefield anyway?


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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Benedict » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:04 pm

The 'Maldon' poem talks a lot about spears - including throwing the other side's back at them! Bear in mind that Ealdorman Byrhtnoth loses his spear (in the body of a viking, naturally) and, within a couple of stanzas of drawing his sword, takes his first major wound. Think about it: it everyone is fighting at spear-reach, a warrior with a sword is at a big disadvantage. To strike a blow means stepping out of the shieldwall or sticking your arm out, either of which exposes you to cross-strikes.

Spears were the majority weapon on early medieval battlefields. Quite a few depictions show warriors only with a spear and shield (eg the collection of Carolingian/Ottonian ivories in the Louvre). Tenth-century 'heriot' payments consist of horses, spears and shields.

Yes, spears are great at going through people (wearing maille or not), but shields were useful against them. One kenning for "shield" is "the net of spears" - ie if you catch the point in the lime-wood, you may have trouble getting it out again.


Benedict



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Nigel » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:12 pm

All that said personally speaking I want to guarentee that I will be able to go to work on a Monday without broken bits

Hence I wear padding under both my maille and plate.

I still wince when i hit a vike and watch them double over as there is no padding under their maille


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.

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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Hobbitstomper » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:25 pm

Anyone who doubles up in a medieval battle field will probably not last very long. However, someone who is trained to take a bit of pain will ignore stuff that would make the average person crumple up and cry for his mummy. Wrestlers and rugby players regularly abuse each other far worse than you see on a re-enactment field.

A knight who has been trained to fight should be able to keep going, even though he is covered in bruises and has broken ribs. He probably won’t even notice them because of the adrenaline. His reward for taking a beating and still winning is to keep his life, money and power. My reward for winning a re-enactment fight is just the cheering of some kids, so I’m going to wear a gambeson under the mail and stay safe.

Back to vikings- there is some stuff in the sagas about clothing under armour if you look hard but it is usually associated with heroes and kings.



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby bigrich72 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:18 pm

joe public = fyrd.



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Medicus Matt » Fri Mar 18, 2011 10:15 am

bigrich72 wrote:joe public = fyrd.


The fyrd was made up of land-holders and their personal retinues, all of whom had to be equipped and trained to a certain standard. Yes the majority were probably Churls/Ceorls but these were still landed farmers/freemen; men of means.
The idea that the fyrd contained peasants press-ganged into service armed with nothing more than a poiny stick that they didn't know how to use is an outdated and inaccurate one.


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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Benedict » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:56 pm

Absolutely - what Matt said. The "fyrd" means "expedition" - it's an offensive, aggressive army. That means men who have been born and bred to fight and command (I'd hesitate to say "professional" warriors), with the time to exercise, hunt etc, and the money/land/inheritance of spears, helmets, shields, probably a sword and certainly a horse or two.

Alfred's military reforms expected every five hides of land to provide one man for the fyrd, with spear, shield, helmet, sword, horse and a pound in money for his wages. We're not talking joe public - a fyrdman was a farmer in that he owned a lot of land and told people what to do, ie a landowner, not a worker!

That said, the later ninth and earlier tenth century saw considerable investment in fortified settlements (boroughs). The Burghal Hidage works out (quite accurately) how many hides of land each burh needed to provide sufficient men to defend its walls (one man per 'pole' of wall, IIRC). Looking at the way fortifications were used on both sides of the Channel at this point, the early boroughs may have been places of refuge for a set area (certainly how they were used in Flanders). They also served as centres for royal administration (with mints, taxmen, royal reeves, places for transactions to be witnessed etc), but they seem to have grown into population centres (ie "towns") more slowly, over the course of the tenth century. So, in Alfred's day a region under attack might well have seen "joe public" engaged in warfare... but with a very specific, limited role.

Since people were likely to head to a fortified place (with family, goods, cattle etc), you might well see armed civilians standing on the top of a wall looking menacing. It doesn't take a great deal of skill to stop someone climbing up a ladder - having a wall to stand on levels the playing field considerably! While joe public kept the vikings out of the boroughs, the fyrd was to assemble and attack the vikings. Without siege machinery, capturing a borough meant a determined assault or starving them out. The former would probably mean casualties if there was any serious resistance; the latter meant giving up mobility and becoming a target for the field army. It worked - only one of Alfred's boroughs fell (in the 890s, and it was still under construction).

As Matt says, the whole "fyrd = joe public" thing is an outdated myth - one of those lovely Victorian ideas which got into the public consciousness and are a right pain to dislodge. There was an assumption that, since the Anglo-Saxons were terribly nice, democratic chaps, with popular assemblies and practically a constitutional monarchy, they didn't have a standing army. When Johnny Foreigner turned up, the populace spontaneously formed an army and trounced them. Just like the 'modern' British, really. Various post-WW2 historians attempted to reconcile this received wisdom with what the evidence actually said (pointing strongly to a distinct military aristocracy), muddling things further with the "great fyrd" and "select fyrd".

More recent scholarship (particularly using Domesday evidence) shows that England was an extremely stratified place with lots of lordship and heirarchy. The Normans may have changed the personnel a good deal, but the actual structures of lordship (I won't use the f-word here!) were definitely not new.



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Benedict » Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:18 pm

Nigel wrote:I still wince when i hit a vike and watch them double over as there is no padding under their maille


Well then, don't hit us so hard! If you keep breaking your toys, you won't have anything to play with :P



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Brendan C » Fri Mar 18, 2011 8:06 pm

Medicus Matt wrote:
bigrich72 wrote:joe public = fyrd.


The fyrd was made up of land-holders and their personal retinues, all of whom had to be equipped and trained to a certain standard. Yes the majority were probably Churls/Ceorls but these were still landed farmers/freemen; men of means.
The idea that the fyrd contained peasants press-ganged into service armed with nothing more than a poiny stick that they didn't know how to use is an outdated and inaccurate one.


Markedly interesting - that has shot down a whole stack of show plotlines for certain Late Saxon groups

Brendan C


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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Brendan C » Fri Mar 18, 2011 8:08 pm

Benedict wrote:
Nigel wrote:I still wince when i hit a vike and watch them double over as there is no padding under their maille


Well then, don't hit us so hard! If you keep breaking your toys, you won't have anything to play with :P


The Vike have over a thousand members - am sure you carry spares

Brendan C


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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Medicus Matt » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:15 pm

Brendan C wrote:Markedly interesting - that has shot down a whole stack of show plotlines for certain Late Saxon groups

Brendan C



Frankly mate, I'm sure that those in charge already know (if they've bothered to do any research), but you never let the truth get in the way of a good plot line.
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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby chrisanson » Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:50 pm

if i get hit that hard the return blow will be felt in a similar manner :wink:



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Re: Viking Under Armer.

Postby Nigel » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:18 am

doubt it Chris cos we all wear padding

the point is tht its expected that maille will be padded and it attracts a proportional forced blow to allow impact to be felt


There’s a country in Europe where they treat their ex soldiers with pride no waits for medical treatment after injuries received during service, no amensia from the government. Cant for the life of me recall where it is but I know exactly where it is not.


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