Effectiveness of various medieval weapon and armor types

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Picard
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Effectiveness of various medieval weapon and armor types

Post by Picard » Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:50 am

Well, I am generally interested in history, especially military history. As such, I got into debate, first with myself, then on HR Tolkien Board, about effectiveness of medieval weapons versus armor. Some say that arrows can penetrate armor, some say they can't... my position (currently; it changed alot as I researched topic and came over various evidence) is that butted mail is vulnerable to any archery weapons; riveted mail can, in combination with padding underneath, stop arrows from short bow, or indirect fire from longbow, but direct hit will penetrate it, while plate armor can stop direct hit from longbow at almost point-blank range, if arrow hits plate and not mail. Then we come to swords, maces and other weapons, which are completely new category. Alll in all, I would say it is quite interesting and extensive topic.

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Re: Effectiveness of various medieval weapon and armor types

Post by User1555 » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:01 pm

Arrows vs armor: Depends on the arrow, bow, and distance. A common bow will have a hard time getting through common padding at range, a bodkin fired from a longbow can go through plate armor at short range, bur won't go very far through, perhaps an inch or two at most. This doesn't take into account additional padding underneath. Chainmail is usually made from alternating rows of riveted and solid rings, and is indeed capable of stopping arrows, but can be pierced at short range. it is worn with padding, like the plate armor. I don't know what the piercing capabilities of swallowtail arrows were, I have never heard of an armor test involving them. butted mail is garbage and you are better off wearing a gambeson then a butted mail hauberk when it comes to arrows, or most weapons, really.

Swords in the west were used mostly for stabbing in the later middle ages, but there is an example of a viking skull cloven by a sword blow in some museum whose name I forgot, so it is likely that they were also used a bit for slashing in the early middle ages (dark ages), when armor did not typically cover as much of the body.

Riveted mail and plate armor are extremely resilient to damage, but that does not necessarily guarantee that the wearer will immune to the effects of a solid blow. I saw a weapon test of a poleaxe versus some riveted mail, and it tore the mail apart. I would expect that halberds and other polearm weapons would be the only sorts of weapons that could reliably part chainmail with a slash.

Conclusion?: if you want to hack through plate or chain, bring a warhammer, crow's beak, or some sort of polearm. If they are wearing chain, you could cause internal injuries with a club, axe, or mace, or pierce it with a spear or sword. But if they are wearing chain, they probably have lesser, protected extremities, so you might be better off stabbing them in the face, if they are aren't wearing something like a greathelm. If they are wearing plate, you would want to grapple them and stab them with a sword or dagger, although more options might be available depending on what kind of plate it is, and it might be possible to injure them beneath their armor with soemthing like a warhammer, or at least knock the wind out of them. Brigandines were popular for a long time, esp in the hundred years war, and occupy something of a transitional phase from chain to plate-they had vamraces, greaves, etc but they were not as articulated as plate. brigandines themselves offer about as much protection as plate, but are made from overlapping metal plates backing a leather or cloth front, so a solid blow *might* be able of caving them in.

If you want to shoot down someone in plate or chain, you would want to use a longbow or an arbalest. An arbalest, esp the ones with higher draw strengths, can deliver range, accuracy, and stopping power greater then a longbow. Whichever you would plan on using, the closer the target is, the better.

Be wary of watching weapon tests on shows. the quality of the weapons and armor varies considerably on these shows. Results I have seen run the gambit from a brigandine withstanding a lance blow with the strength of a charging horse with little damage and a breastplate withstanding a blow from a warhammer with no damage, and breastplates deflecting bullets, to a katana and a longsword stabbing through a breastplate with little effort. Tests versus chainmail are generally even worse, as they are almost always butted, which tends to fall apart from a thrust from a butterknife. (I'm looking at you, deadliest warrior)


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Kor_Dahar_Master
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Re: Effectiveness of various medieval weapon and armor types

Post by Kor_Dahar_Master » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:12 pm

Armour or not you would not wanna be a homosexual in days of yore dude.....

http://www.medievality.com/pear-of-anguish.html

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Re: Effectiveness of various medieval weapon and armor types

Post by User1555 » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:43 pm

Oh lordy, the pear....I have heard that it might not have been a real torture device, but still. Ick.

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Re: Effectiveness of various medieval weapon and armor types

Post by Kor_Dahar_Master » Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:51 pm

Aurochs wrote:Oh lordy, the pear....I have heard that it might not have been a real torture device, but still. Ick.


Maybe although today it would likely be called a "extreme butt plug" or summat and we would have found at lest two celebs dead from using one without reading the instructions properly...

Its bad enough enough when my electric razor gets stuck in the on position...:o.

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Re: Effectiveness of various medieval weapon and armor types

Post by Picard » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:49 pm

Swallowtail arrow: from look of it, I would say that its penetration ability wasn't better than standard arrow, and certainly not better than bodkin. Also, bodkin seems to be primarly made to pass between rings, not to break them, so I would guess that size and density of rings plays big part.

As for padding, it was always worn. Butted mail, to my knowledge, wasn't used in middle ages, except maybe by peasants - but again, peasants were majority of army. On the other hand, I think that mail by itself, be butted or riveted, could not stop arrows, althought I am not so sure - I saw reports from middle ages indicating both things, and my conclusion was that arrows can penetrate mail itself, but if it is riveted, then it will not allow arrow to penetrate padding underneath. I saw some reports from Crusades about crusaders walking with several arrows sticking from their armor, but then again, Arabs (it was 3rd crusade) used relatively weak bows (when compared to English longbow).

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Re: Effectiveness of various medieval weapon and armor types

Post by User15090 » Thu Dec 25, 2014 9:37 am

I think it depends on the arrow there are arrows that can penetrate the armor and there are not so the arrows should be well made and pointed enough.

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Mr. Oragahn
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Re: Effectiveness of various medieval weapon and armor types

Post by Mr. Oragahn » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:58 pm

Kor_Dahar_Master wrote:
Aurochs wrote:Oh lordy, the pear....I have heard that it might not have been a real torture device, but still. Ick.


Maybe although today it would likely be called a "extreme butt plug" or summat and we would have found at lest two celebs dead from using one without reading the instructions properly...

Its bad enough enough when my electric razor gets stuck in the on position...:o.


Actually on some random news site, I read about a guy who died because he had a vibro stuck inside. That kind of stuff isn't even supposed to cut.

But I mush say that the topic of penetration vs armor is most interesting!

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