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Old 16th November 2009, 11:23 PM   #1
Jim McDougall
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Default Cuir Boulli armour, production and surviving examples

I am wondering about surviving examples of this leather armour from Europe and its use in the Middle Ages through Renaissance period.

I'd like to open some discussion about the variations of this type of armour in cuirasses (which I believe the term 'cuir' has its root in the leather), and to see examples known to survive as well as the varying forms.

It seems to have been generally held that such leatherwork has typically not survived, however I believe examples of Roman leather breastplates have been found (though not sure if they were cuir boulli) and I also wonder if saddles etc. (again, not cuir boulli)being have been preserved from Europe from 16th century to 18th.

How was cuir boulli processed, was it really boiled, or was this just a term for the tanning process?

I'd really appreciate your input guys.

Best regards,
Jim
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Old 17th November 2009, 01:06 AM   #2
fearn
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Hi Jim,

Have you seen this link yet? Scanning through it, aside from armor, cuir bouillii was used much as plastic is today, so there were canteens, knife and sword sheaths, jack boots, boxes, and such made out of various versions of boiled leather.

Apparently, it's a common armor material in SCA, so there actually is a living community out there who knows something about how it works for armor. Good stuff.

Best,

F

Last edited by fearn : 17th November 2009 at 01:19 AM.
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Old 17th November 2009, 03:42 AM   #3
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Hi Fearn,
Excellent info on that link, thank you so much!
It really sounds pretty effective in producing all this leatherwork. I've tried to find histories of how this leather was produced, especially in frontier regions, such as in Spanish colonial America's.
The terminology gets confusing as well, terms like jerkin; gambeson; doublet etc. in the body defense categories.
The buff coat comes to mind in England well into the 18th century, but this was simply rawhide or tanned material I think.

I think it would be good to get the terminology and distinctions straight, as well as what materials were used...bullhide, rawhide, cowhide etc.

Calling all leather experts!!! A lot of attention is given to chain mail and plate armour, but we need to give some to the leather.

Thanks again Fearn,
All the best,
Jim
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Old 17th November 2009, 04:10 AM   #4
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My thought on reading that was "Dude, I could actually make this!" Thanks for bringing up the topic, Jim. I hadn't thought much of it.

Best,

F
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Old 17th November 2009, 12:32 PM   #5
katana
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Hi Jim,
examples are indeed very difficult to find but found this..........

Defense for the right upper arm, second half of 14th century
Leather
Inv.No. MLA 56,7-1,1665
The British Museum, London


This arm defense was probably found in London and is the only extant example of its kind. It is made of leather, which was presumably hardened by boiling it in wax or oil. It would have been strapped around the biceps on top of a mail shirt or protective undergarment to which it would have been laced at the top. It is decorated in cut and stamped relief with foliage and grotesque beasts.

Best regards David
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Old 18th November 2009, 12:20 AM   #6
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Nice work David! I knew there had to be something out there, but this is great, a really early example, and thanks for noting the resource. It truly is amazing how little there is on this well established type of body armor.
This piece looks remarkably well preserved with great detail still discernible.

All the best,
Jim
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