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Old 31st December 2011, 03:46 PM   #1
Swordfish
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Default Research on a fine medieval German mail shirt.

The text is the attached Word doc. at the bottom end!
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Old 1st January 2012, 03:11 AM   #2
Matchlock
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Hi Swordfish,

Your mail coat sure looks impressive, and I hope it will turn out to be a both impressive and incentive impulse to activate the interest in VERY early objects of arms and armor ...

Great and important piece anyway,so: well done!

I'm afraid though that the cast and punched inscription on the attached maker's brass ring might remain illlegible because it most probably represents an abbreviated and stylized common Medievial ethic motto - or was meant to give a hint to the sarwürcher (the original German and guild name).

Best,
MIchael

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Old 1st January 2012, 03:05 PM   #3
fernando
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Hi Swordfish,

Thanks for sharing such highly interesting material.
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Old 2nd January 2012, 04:03 PM   #4
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Two sheets from the Hausbuch der Nürnberger Zwölfbrüderstiftungen
Mendel I (online available) showing a wire maker and a mail maker c.1425.
The gothic text reads:
Der... Bruder der do starb hieß Dyetrich Schockenzieher(Schaukelzieher= Drahtzieher)
The name of the brother who died there was Dietrich Schaukelzieher
(Swingpuller, Wirepuller, Wiremaker)

Der... Bruder der do starb der hieß Heinz und war ein Salbürett(Sarwürker)
The brother who died there, his name was Heinz, and he was a Salbürett
(Mail shirt maker)
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Old 2nd January 2012, 06:03 PM   #5
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Brilliant period research, Swordfish,

Athough I have the reprint of the Nuremberg Hausbücher der Mendelschen Zwölbrüderstiftung in my library, I sadly didn't remember these illustrations.

Best,
Michael
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Old 3rd January 2012, 12:43 PM   #6
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More German mail shirts of the 15th century in public Museums with brass rings inscribed with maker`s name:
In the Churburg Armoury, South-Tyrol with name `Melchar Hauc´
In the Metropolitan Museum New York with name`BECHLER´
In the Royal Armouries Leeds with name`bertolt vor parte´and`to isrenloen´
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Old 22nd January 2012, 11:40 AM   #7
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If German medieval mail shirts bear inscribed brass rings, they are
never inscribed with any motto or a hint to anything. Not a single
ring with such an iscription is known to me.

They are always insribed with:

1. The town name e. g. Nurenberck (DHM Berlin, 3 examples)
or

2. The makers name e.g. see post above,
add. +ernart couwein (Wallace Collection)
or

3.The makers name on one ring and the town name on a second.
e.g. bertold vor parte and to isrenloen (Royal Armouries Leeds),
+heinrich +lohel and zu nurnberg (DHM Berlin, no photo)
or

4.The initials of the makers name e. g. V and A separated by three crowns
(Royal Armouries Leeds, no photo)
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Old 23rd January 2012, 10:00 PM   #8
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I have been looking at this thread and can only say I very much admire the outstanding research Swordfish has done and the fascinating discussion details added by Michael and him. While incredibly outside my element, and despite being among giants in the study of medieval arms and armour, I wanted to add something I discovered while looking for something on an unrelated topic.

In Park Lane Arms Fair catalogue 2004, "Problems and Pitfalls in the Identification of European Mail" , David Edge, he brings up some interesting perspective on some of these latten rings found on medieval coats of mail.
Apparantly, while in this example the ring is marked with letters which seem to comprise a name rather than invocational acrostic and is situated near the neck....some of the other examples have this latten ring situated in the right arm pit or under the right arm. This is the case notably with the 'Archibald hauberk' ('Royal Armouries Yearbook' Vol.IV, 1999, T. Richardson, pp.29-31) where the latten ring is pierced with three slotted holes, but only one holds the rivet.
Edge notes that similar instances with other latten rings are found in similar locations on other examples and noticeably incongruent with the surrounding rings.
He suggests that since these distinct latten rings are positioned in these same areas on the mail, perhaps these may have talismanic purpose as these right arm areas are most vulnerable. There are examples with simply a cross on them. In other instances rather than a latten ring, particular iron rings were stamped with 'signed' marks with 'Teutonic' (also cross pattee or Maltese) cross and in seemingly strategic locations, not necessarily in the arm regions noted. These seem to be from German 15th into 16th c.mail.

While these suggestions are of course highly speculative, one cannot overlook the powerful superstitions and religious beliefs held in particular by fighting men of the times, and even in the most modern times a man will look to many forms of faith to accompany him to battle.
Though some of these rings certainly seem to have names or locations in them, it does seem that many did not and these were still placed in locations where they were not easily seen, nor even noticed until recent inspections in museums. This suggests that these were subtly placed to imbue talismanic properties in the armour, and to reinforce the wearers confidence and strength in battle.
It would seem the signed rings accomplished this as well as heralding the work of the maker as the provider of this powerfully imbued armor.

Just my perspective in accord with Mr. Edges suggestions.

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 24th January 2012, 06:49 PM   #9
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Dear Jim,

I`m enjoyed about your interest. I know David Edge`s article and I fully agree wit his and your opinion. It is noticeable that these talismanic brass rings sometimes bear stamped symbols or are plain, but never have inscriptions. The inscribed rings are allwayas located at the neck.
I attach a photo of such talismanic rings arranged in the form of a cross, from another mail shirt in my collection.

Best wishes

Susi
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Old 11th February 2012, 05:00 PM   #10
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Default A medieval European mail shirt with an incredible number of riveted rings

The attached photos show a European (German?) mail shirt of the second half of the 15th century. The shirt is of medium length with short sleeves,
constructed entirely of riveted rings of equal diameter of c. 5.5 mm, except
for the collar, which is made of a close mesh of smaller rings with a border
of latten rings. On the right side of the breast is a lead Arsenal-mark with
an impressed tamga. This indicates that the mail shirt was once captured
by the Ottomans, and stored at the St.Irene Arsenal in Konstantinople,
where it was marked with the tamga. This is a well known markt that can
be found stamped on many pieces of arms and armour, especially on breast-plates of mainly Ottoman, or rarely European origin, as well as on sword-
blades of European origin, captured by the Ottomans in the many battles in southeast Europe and the Mediterranean area.

The special feature of this mail shirt is that it is made of an incredible
number of small riveted rings wit an outside diameter of c. 5-5.5 mm, a wire diameter of 0.8 mm, and a weight of 0.047g. The weight of the mail shirt is 6.6kg. The whole shirt is therefore constructed of c. 140.000 rings. This
number must be compared with with the usual number of rings of a basic
mail shirt, which is made of c. 20.000-25.000 rings, or a mail shirt of high quality, which is made of c. 30.000-50.000 rings. But not only the huge number or rings is admirable. The rings are so small and the slots for the
rivet is hardly visible. I assume that the whole rings must have been riveted with the help of a magnyfying glass, comparably with watchmakers today. This must have been a huge amount of work, which probably lasted one
year or longer. Therefore the shirt must have been very expensive.

The other aspect is, that the rings are so weak, that this mail shirt could never have been used for fighting. It must be a splendor-shirt, used only
for celebration activities. The smaller the rings, the higher the number of rings, the higher the price, the higher the rank of its owner. Therefore it
is unlikely that it was captured during fighting. It was surely booty from the armoury of a nobleman of high rank.
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Old 11th February 2012, 05:10 PM   #11
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What a truly fascinating work.
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Old 11th February 2012, 05:15 PM   #12
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Indeed!

And thank you so much, Swordfish, for posting all those fine details!!!

Best,
Michael
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Old 25th February 2012, 11:10 AM   #13
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Default Smallest riveted rings ever manufactured?

Some time ago I visited a collecting colleague in Austria. He showed me a fragment of a mail shirt with probably the smallest riveted rings ever manufactured, with even more rings than the shirt in the aforementioned post, which is constructed of c. 140.000 rings. I was able to examine the shirt, and took a close up photo of some rings.
The diameter of the rings is c. 4-4.5 mm, the wire diameter is only 0.6 mm. The rivet is incredibly small. An area of 2*2 cm contains about 7*7=49 rings, compared with c.36 rings of the aforementioned shirt. Therefore a shirt with the same surface must be constructed of c.190.000 rings, all riveted! I have never seen a mail shirt with smaller rings.
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Old 25th February 2012, 03:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
The other aspect is, that the rings are so weak, that this mail shirt could never have been used for fighting. It must be a splendor-shirt, used only
for celebration activities. The smaller the rings, the higher the number of rings, the higher the price, the higher the rank of its owner. Therefore it
is unlikely that it was captured during fighting. It was surely booty from the armoury of a nobleman of high rank.



there is a special group of swords known, type XVIIIC swords, all originating from the alexandria arsenal !!!(probably brought there from Italy).
(the otomans have acquired the vast corpus of these Alexandria swords after their conquest of Egypt in 1517 and maybe robed it together with the above mail with the Tamga mark.)
These swords have a strong tappering blade of very flat diamond section with rounded mid rib and very sharp point but the point is too thin for stabbing. (differently to the castillon Hoard swords fe).
On the other hand, this blade design is one of the most effective cutting blades ever made for (medieval) swords.
A fine ringed mail like above can offfer a perfect protection against this type of slicing swords.

best,
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Old 25th February 2012, 05:13 PM   #15
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Default Small rings

You are surely right, that generally more smaller rings are a better protection against a cutting sword. But this is only right if the rings have the same wire diameter as larger rings. But such small rings like the ones posted above must have and have a smaller wire diameter. The last sample has only a wire diameter of 0.6 mm, compared with a wire diameter of 1.2-1.6 mm for a usual mail shirt. But the weakest area of a riveted ring is not the ring itself, it is the rivet. I was not able to measure the diameter of the rivet, but I assume that the diameter is no more than c. 0.3-0.5 mm in a wire of 0.6 mm (a paper-clip has a wire diam. of 0.8 mm!), although the wire is flattened at the area of the rivet. Therefore such mail shirts are extremely fragile against damage, which I have seen on my own mail shirt. Therefore I am sure that such mail shirts could never have been used for figting.

Best
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Old 26th February 2012, 03:41 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swordfish
You are surely right, that generally more smaller rings are a better protection against a cutting sword. But this is only right if the rings have the same wire diameter as larger rings. But such small rings like the ones posted above must have and have a smaller wire diameter. The last sample has only a wire diameter of 0.6 mm, compared with a wire diameter of 1.2-1.6 mm for a usual mail shirt. But the weakest area of a riveted ring is not the ring itself, it is the rivet. I was not able to measure the diameter of the rivet, but I assume that the diameter is no more than c. 0.3-0.5 mm in a wire of 0.6 mm (a paper-clip has a wire diam. of 0.8 mm!), although the wire is flattened at the area of the rivet. Therefore such mail shirts are extremely fragile against damage, which I have seen on my own mail shirt. Therefore I am sure that such mail shirts could never have been used for figting.

Best




by a blow or cut with a sword, the sword energy is divided over a lot of rings , also the density in the mail with smaller rings is much higher.
Therefor these rings don't need to be as thick in cross-section, compared with the rings having a larger diameter


example: a butcher's glove with even smaller rings offers protection against a butcher's cleaver!

Every theory is fine with me but i do think that this 6kg mail has had more function than just status.

best,
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Old 2nd March 2012, 03:57 PM   #17
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Default Small rings

I`m sorry to contradict you completely. The comparison with a butcher`glove is not reasonable. A butcher`s glove must have small rings to get the feel and mobility of the fingers. A butcher`s glove must must protect only against the cut with a sharp knife and against the penetration of the tip of the knife. Therefore a small ring with a thin wire is necessary and sufficient. But this is completely different than a heavy blow with a sword blade, which has a multiple of energy.
The shirt is of the second half of the 15th century, probably from the last quarter. Every wealthy knight will have worn at this time at least a breast-plate to protect the breast. Why then wear an extremely expensive mail shirt? Only to protect the upper arms?
Such small rings certainly offer protection only against a light blow of a sword. But that is not the point. As already mentioned, the weakest area of such small rings is the rivetting. In the field a mail shirt is worn all day. Any contact with a sharp edge would tear a hole in the shirt. After several weeks, the shirt would be torn. If you compare in reality such a small ring with a ring of a strong fighting shirt, you will comprehend immediately the difference.
I have attached two photos. The first shows strong rings of a short fighting shirt of good quality, with short sleeves, dating c. 1500. The weight of this shirt is 8 kg, it is constructed of c. 22.000 rings with a diam. of c.9.5 mm and a wire diam. of 1.5 mm. The rivet has a diam. of 0.85 mm.
The second photo shows two rings, one from this shirt and another from the Arsenal shirt for comparison. The outside diameter and the wire diameter is ab. the half, how thin must than be the diameter of the rivet? The weight of the small ring is only 1/7 of the strong ring. Such rings could never have sufficient strength for a mail shirt suitable for fighting.

Best
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Old 5th March 2012, 07:37 AM   #18
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I respect your opinion of course and perhaps the example of the butcher's glove is not well chosen.

I have a side-note, in the middle east in the 15thC were the opponents mainly lightly armored. Most probably because it was unbearably to wear heavy protection in the (literal) heat of battle. The frequent occurrence of cutting swords coming from the alexandria arsenal point in this direction.

Probably the light maile, on its own, offers not enough protection however it can be that a light maile worn in combination with an aketons/gambesons or the middle-eastern kazaghand would have given adequate protection against heavy blows of a cutting sword.

The maile is worn below or above these multilayered clothing.

(Picures are from Nathan Robinson)
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Old 5th March 2012, 08:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp
... Probably the light maile, on its own, offers not enough protection however it can be that a light maile worn in combination with an aketons/gambesons or the middle-eastern kazaghand would have given adequate protection against heavy blows of a cutting sword.
The maile is worn below or above these multilayered clothing. ...

Ah, the gambeson. A bit off topic, but allow me to post here the gambeson worn by King Dom João I in the battle of Aljubarrota (14th August 1385).
This is one of the rarest medieval military vests existing today in the world. Made of flax, wool (cushion), silk and gold thread.
One of the pictures shows the actual example presently exhibited in a local museum and the other shows how the experts figured it should have been when brand new.

.
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Old 6th March 2012, 06:57 AM   #20
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Hi Fernando,

magnificent specimen. thanks for posting.

best,
Jasper
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Old 29th April 2012, 08:23 AM   #21
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Default A fine German mail shirt c.1500

It was sold some days ago at an auction in Germany for more than Euro 10.000 including premium. I am very familiar with it, because it was once in my possession. I have examined it carefully and have removed a single ring for close examination. The shirt is manufactured of a close mesh of small riveted rings with an equal outside diam. of c. 8.5-9.0 mm, a sligtly flattened wire with a thickness of 0.9 mm and a width of 1.2 mm. A single ring weighs 0.2122g. It is a long (85cm) and heavy shirt with half length sleeves. The rings are made of hardened steel. The weight of the whole shirt is 10.1 kg, it is therefore constructed of more than 47.000 rings. As mentioned in the preceding posts, I believe that shirts with a considerable higher number of rings as this are not made for fighting, but only for celebration purposes.

Best
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