- Oct 2011
Mail as armour does not get supplanted (I suspect the reason is ease of production and maintenance); however, within the context of very heavy (shock) cavalry such as knights, as well as heavy infantry, plate additions are first used on top of mail armour, and later on mail armour (admittedly, depending on the country) gets phased out in favour of plate armour with mail voiders.Mail never gets supplanted. It actually gets more common after plate was developed. Mail was the most common type of metal armour in both Eastern and Western Europe and in the Middle East. The main difference between eastern and western Europe, is the former had a greater reliance on hide armour and they used lamellar instead of munitions plate.
That is rather unlikely, I think. Butted mail is not very good at resisting any kind of piercing attack, as rings can be easily forced open by weapon's point. Riveted mail is a lot better, and is probably proof against most usual piercing weapons, but rivets and even rings themselves remain obvious failure points. Lamellar however consists of solid plates, if not very large plates, and thus can be expected to be far better at resisting arrows and other types of piercing attacks than mail. Main difference however is that having actual solid plates (if smaller than plate armour), wearer will be less affected by any force behind the attack as it will get dissipated. While mail may protect against wound, it does nothing against blunt force trauma - which, with powerful bows and heavy arrows, can be considerable.Mail was used before lamellar in Eastern Europe, not the other way around. Mail is just as good as lamellar at resisting arrows. Mail weighs less than lamellar. Mail is more comfortable and more flexible than lamellar. The only reason lamellar was used is because it was cheaper to produce. This role was performed by munitions plate in western Europe.
In fact, it appears that Crusaders started using jazerant to improve protection from enemy arrows as mail did not provide sufficient protection against such attacks:
War bows dominated battlefields across the world for centuries. In their various forms, they allowed trained archers to take down even well-armoured targets from great distances, and played a key role in some of the most famous battles in human history. The composite bow was a versatile and...
I also recall an account of a knight (Joinvolle) being clad in jousting armour to protect him against Saracen arrows while on a ship. This would indicate that normal (battlefield) mail armour was not sufficient protection against arrows in absence of a shield. On the other hand, a lot will depend on power of the bow; Byzantine bows were not powerful enough to penetrate 12th century Frankish mail, although it is unclear whether mail itself was arrow-proof, or arrows got stuck in the padding beneath (as Saracen accounts of Crusaders walking around with arrows sticking out of them indicate). Either way, mail armour as a system (armour + padding) was clearly sufficient to stop at least short-bow arrows. But that means it was sufficient, not necessarily that it was as good as lamellar.
Regarding non-arrow piercing attacks:
Couched lance was apparently capable of getting through mail armour, and even hand strike may have been able to pierce a layer of mail:
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However, account by Anna Comnena indicates that Byzantine lamellar was more-or-less impervious to such attacks:
Warfare was an integral part of the operations of the medieval eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire, both in its organization, as well as in social thinking and political ideology. This volume presents a selection of articles dealing with key aspects of Byzantine attitudes to war and violence...
Yet Western Europe I believe relied on couched lance charge lot more than Byzantines did, even if it was apparently common enough in Byzantine Empire to become known as "Rum technique" to Arabs.