Different armour evolution pathways

Oct 2011
467
Croatia
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.
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 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.
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.

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:

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:

However, account by Anna Comnena indicates that Byzantine lamellar was more-or-less impervious to such attacks:

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.
"The master (ustādh) Najm al-Dīn Ḥasan al-Rammāḥ said about the science (ʿilm) of furūsīyah, the horsemen (fursān) duel and the meeting with the adversaries: “When you meet your opponent then face him by pushing him. Go on him with strength and power, don’t move headlong towards him. Fight him, pursue him, challenge him, force him outwards and inwards [of the maydān]. If he stimulates his horse and comes toward you, then don’t throw your spear at him. If he charges you with his spear in the style of the Arabs of the Hijaz, you must counter him by using the taqwīm. If he charges with his spear in the style of the Rūm, then you must counter him only by using the taṣrīḥ."
 
  • Like
Reactions: macon

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,160
Sydney
on couched lances , the point of the armor is to deflect the force of the strike ,
plate do it much better than mail
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,882
Australia
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.
Why bother mention butted mail? It never existed in a medieval context.

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.
This entire passage is nonsense. Start by reading this.

The only way to deliver "significant" blunt trauma is with firearms.

In fact, it appears that Crusaders started using jazerant to improve protection enemy arrows as mail did not provide sufficient protection against such attacks:
Jazerant IS mail. Your sources are a century out of date. Forget everything you have read and get Claude Blair's European Armour

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.
Nonsense. He wasn't wearing any armour so they grabbed the closest thing available to cover him, which happened to be his jousting armour.

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).
Proofed armour meant that the arrow couldn't penetrate far enough to injure the wearer. It is irrelevant whether it bounced off or not. Forget everything you think you know about this subject and read Blair's book.

However, account by Anna Comnena indicates that Byzantine lamellar was more-or-less impervious to such attacks:
More nonsense. Never in any of her Commentaries does she say what armour the Byzantines wore. Lamellar was only worn by the lower ranks in the Byzantine army. Anyone with the means wore mail not lamellar. They preferred Frankish mail when they could get it.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2011
467
Croatia
The only way to deliver "significant" blunt trauma is with firearms.
Longbow arrows IIRC delivered 100 - 150 J, crossbow bolts 100 - 170 J.

Jazerant IS mail. Your sources are a century out of date. Forget everything you have read and get Claude Blair's European Armour


Mail between layers of fabric. Which admittedly is nearly the same as what they were already wearing, but why add more armour on top of existing armour - in, I must add, rather problematic heat - if existing mail was perfectly adequate against arrows? Unless it replaced at least one layer of armour.

Nonsense. He wasn't wearing any armour so they grabbed the closest thing available to cover him, which happened to be his jousting armour.
Right, thanks.

Proofed armour meant that the arrow couldn't penetrate far enough to injure the wearer. It is irrelevant whether it bounced off or not. Forget everything you think you know about this subject and read Blair's book.
On pg.39 here, it relates two accounts of Welsh arrows penetrating mail quite far enough to injure the wearer. Here you mention several accounts of mail stopping longbow arrows. Anna Comnena relates that crossbow bolts could "transfix a shield, cut through heavy iron breastplate and resume their flight on the other side", although account seems to describe crossbows of unusually long draw length. At Visby, crossbow bolts were powerful enough to penetrate head protection, although that seems to have been mostly mail coifs from what I have seen. Richard I was also killed by a crossbow, though I did not find it mentioned whether armour was penetrated or bolt found an area without armour.

Plate seems to be mostly proof against bows, longbows and crossbows alike.

More nonsense. Never in any of her Commentaries does she say what armour the Byzantines wore. Lamellar was only worn by the lower ranks in the Byzantine army. Anyone with the means wore mail not lamellar. They preferred Frankish mail when they could get it.
Yes and no. Difference was that lower ranks of Byzantine army wore lamellar only, while those better-equipped wore lamellar on top of mail, much like plate armour was worn in 14th century. Basil II is clearly depicted with lamellar armour, albeit that is 11th century. Alexios Komnenos wore armour which made him largely immune to impact of Latin lances, although the exact type of armour is not stated. We do know that later Byzantine cataphracts wore mail armour with lamellar armour usually added on top of it. This lamellar armour often protected not only torso, but also included arm protection.