Best Armour in Historical Warfare?

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,950
Australia
No armour had good ventillation - not even mail unless it was worn against bare skin. This has never been a problem. We know that the heaviest armours ever developed were worn in the arid regions of the Middle East for thousands of years. The only thing that really needs ventillation is the helmet. Fully enclosed helmets can't be worn in a prolonged battle without causing overheating problems for the wearer.
 
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Jul 2010
383
Perfidious Albion
Not paper, but lamellar was definitely made from the other materials. However, you can make the equivalent of a plate cuirass from most of those materials too. It just ends up thicker and heavier than the metal one. The one main advantage of lamellar is that it is the easiest way to make armour from small pieces of a material - metal offcuts, pieces of bone, slivers of horn, etc.
The Chinese definitely had paper armour, although I'm not sure whether it was in lamellar form or not. Apparently though the paper armour was light enough to swim in, and was often given to marines for just that reason.
 
Mar 2015
688
US
The Chinese definitely had paper armour, although I'm not sure whether it was in lamellar form or not. Apparently though the paper armour was light enough to swim in, and was often given to marines for just that reason.
I wonder if the paper armor was simply less dense than water? The paper armor might have been heavier than the equivalent metal armor, but if it was less dense, then it might have done double-duty as a life jacket?
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,950
Australia
The Chinese definitely had paper armour, although I'm not sure whether it was in lamellar form or not. Apparently though the paper armour was light enough to swim in, and was often given to marines for just that reason.
Paper soaks up water like a sponge and then disintegrates. Barkcloth, on the other hand, is water resistant.
 

Thegn Ansgar

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
5,637
Canada
Paper soaks up water like a sponge and then disintegrates. Barkcloth, on the other hand, is water resistant.
Well, there are ways to make paper water resistant, and the Chinese used it for making their scrolls water resistant, so it's not out of the question that they might have used it for paper armour. That technique being to coat the paper in alum. They also used it for their hide glues and glue made from fish bladders.
 

Poly

Ad Honorem
Apr 2011
6,698
Georgia, USA
If you're talking about pre-gunpowder age warfare then without doubt European plate armour was superior to anything else
 

Matthew Amt

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
2,997
MD, USA
If you're talking about pre-gunpowder age warfare then without doubt European plate armour was superior to anything else
With the minor quibble that much of that armor developed *after* the introduction of gunpowder! Just nitpicking--I understand what you mean.

SOMEone should make a case for MAIL, though! A nearly impenetrable metal skin with unlimited mobility and ventillation, that can be put on in a matter of moments. Even modern materials can't match that. It's the only type of armor that has been in continuous use since 300 BC--still used for butchers' gloves and anti-shark suits.

All those gaps in that lovely 15th century plate armor? There's mail behind them.

Must be good stuff!

Matthew
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,950
Australia
Barkcloth has been used for clothing for thousands of years from Asia through to Africa and the Pacific. It is tough, water resistant, and flexible. All materials used for clothing have also been adapted or armour. It is a simple matter of adding more layers and quilting it through. Confusion between the two materials arise because the texts make no distinction between paper and barkcloth. Even today many aren't aware that they are two completely different materials. Neither material has ever been used to make scale or lamellar. These materials were used just like cloth and made into jacks and gambesons.

FWIW metal armour would be the best for maritime use because it weighs less than all of the alternatives.
 
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Pacific_Victory

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
7,654
MARE PACIFICVM
Barkcloth has been used for clothing for thousands of years from Asia through to Africa and the Pacific. It is tough, water resistant, and flexible. All materials used for clothing have also been adapted or armour. It is a simple matter of adding more layers and quilting it through. Confusion between the two materials arise because the texts make no distinction between paper and barkcloth. Even today many aren't aware that they are two completely different materials. Neither material has ever been used to make scale or lamellar. These materials were used just like cloth and made into jacks and gambesons.

FWIW metal armour would be the best for maritime use because it weighs less than all of the alternatives.
When it comes to water, density is far more important than weight. A wooden shield for example, even if extremely heavy on land, would be quite useful if one has fallen overboard.
 
Dec 2011
3,492
Mountains and Jungles of Southern China
Barkcloth has been used for clothing for thousands of years from Asia through to Africa and the Pacific. It is tough, water resistant, and flexible. All materials used for clothing have also been adapted or armour. It is a simple matter of adding more layers and quilting it through. Confusion between the two materials arise because the texts make no distinction between paper and barkcloth. Even today many aren't aware that they are two completely different materials. Neither material has ever been used to make scale or lamellar. These materials were used just like cloth and made into jacks and gambesons.
We still don't have enough evidence about what the ancient Chinese paper armor was made of. Some sources say paper, others seem to suggest barkcloth, and still others seem to suggest a combination of materials like cotton, cloth, and paper. I think all the three choices are possible.