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Thread: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

  1. #1

    Default How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Hi,

    I'm writing this thread as a sort of comparison between the two.

    ... Does anyone have any idea of any tests with reconstructed Linothorax that could give us a close idea of how effective it was?

    I remember these kind of tests being made in the context of the Hundred Years War, with late Medieval plate and knightly mail suits.

    But I have no idea how the earlier Roman and Celtic mail would compare, in quality, with that. Besides Mail wasn't all that common until the 2nd Century BC, while linothorax is depicted with most units in-game.

    I'm curious to know how linothorax would hold up in a "stress" test: slashing, thrusting a Gladius or Kopis or Machaira thru it, or even against arrows, axes, and other weapons of the type.
    "Romans not only easily conquered those who fought by cutting, but mocked them too. For the cut, even delivered with force, frequently does not kill, when the vital parts are protected by equipment and bone. On the contrary, a point brought to bear is fatal at two inches; for it is necessary that whatever vital parts it penetrates, it is immersed. Next, when a cut is delivered, the right arm and flank are exposed. However, the point is delivered with the cover of the body and wounds the enemy before he sees it."

    - Flavius Vegetius Renatus (in Epitoma Rei Militari, ca. 390)

  2. #2

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?


  3. #3

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?


  4. #4

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Yes, I've seen that very same video. And if we take away the steel plates from the armor kit, AND also the fact the arrowheads were also made of steel, I say the thing in itself was quite decent - just like maille - at stopping any and all kinds of arrows. But I'm still trying to know how good it would be versus, ehrm, swords thrusting at it.
    "Romans not only easily conquered those who fought by cutting, but mocked them too. For the cut, even delivered with force, frequently does not kill, when the vital parts are protected by equipment and bone. On the contrary, a point brought to bear is fatal at two inches; for it is necessary that whatever vital parts it penetrates, it is immersed. Next, when a cut is delivered, the right arm and flank are exposed. However, the point is delivered with the cover of the body and wounds the enemy before he sees it."

    - Flavius Vegetius Renatus (in Epitoma Rei Militari, ca. 390)

  5. #5
    Genava's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marie Louise von Preussen View Post
    Yes, I've seen that very same video. And if we take away the steel plates from the armor kit, AND also the fact the arrowheads were also made of steel, I say the thing in itself was quite decent - just like maille - at stopping any and all kinds of arrows. But I'm still trying to know how good it would be versus, ehrm, swords thrusting at it.
    Maybe the main problem of the linothorax is its bad reparability. While the chain mail is very easy to fix, adjust and modify.

    About the video, there is a comment here with some short details about close-combat weapons used to test it:
    https://jhupress.wordpress.com/2013/...ate-our-lives/
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  6. #6

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    We do not really know anything about the linothorax.

    There is still an ongoing debate on whether it was linen or if it could have actually been hard leather...or even both.



    As to the hypothetical comparison, of the one thing I am certain off, is that one major advantage mail armor would have on it(ss it has over all other forms of armor), body heat ventilation.

    You see, other forms of armor, including linothorax, encase the human body, and prevent body heat from escaping.
    Whereas mail armor does not, it allows the body heat to escape and gives the wearer an immense advantage in stamina because of it.

    This goes the same for other kinds of armor, like, plate, lamellar(yes, lamellar, despite being made up of smaller plates, still encases the body as the plates are sewn together).

    This is why mail armor became so popular wherever it went, including the Middle East, Africa, the Asian steppes, the Caucasus and it even became popular in China after the 8th century AD.
    Last edited by Mamlaz; November 10, 2018 at 12:19 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Hi, I think this comment is great. Besides, maille seems just as effective as linothoroax for everything.

    Medieval plate, however, was made with various gaps covered up with mail in order to increase flexibility and allow for ventilation. These gaps could also be more easily exploited by rivals with daggers.
    "Romans not only easily conquered those who fought by cutting, but mocked them too. For the cut, even delivered with force, frequently does not kill, when the vital parts are protected by equipment and bone. On the contrary, a point brought to bear is fatal at two inches; for it is necessary that whatever vital parts it penetrates, it is immersed. Next, when a cut is delivered, the right arm and flank are exposed. However, the point is delivered with the cover of the body and wounds the enemy before he sees it."

    - Flavius Vegetius Renatus (in Epitoma Rei Militari, ca. 390)

  8. #8

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Quote Originally Posted by Marie Louise von Preussen View Post
    Hi, I think this comment is great. Besides, maille seems just as effective as linothoroax for everything.

    Medieval plate, however, was made with various gaps covered up with mail in order to increase flexibility and allow for ventilation. These gaps could also be more easily exploited by rivals with daggers.
    Yes and it is mainly the case with hellenistic era mail.

    If you check the shape of most of weapons (except curved ones), like xyphos or roman gladius, or even simple spears, they all have a pointy end that helps going through mail (intentionally or not), because when the point enter in a ring, and if you apply enough force, the ring will cut open and create a gap for the rest of the blade to apply force to the other rings, destroy them and so forth.

    So mail, while a good protector, doesn't protect a lot against thrust, but it protects a lot against slashing blows and maybe (seeing it's wheight and tension) blunt blows.

    While linothorax (this has been said : linen as an armour is a point of view that was never backed up with proper sources, and historians and archeologists are very cautious about this theory, prefering hardened leather sometimes fortified by scales or plates) will have probably the same amount of protection against thrust, it will be (IMHO) a bit less effective than mail armour against slashing blows and blunt blows. (But tests should be made, experiences always surprise us !)

    And indeed, the wheight is not very high and it allows to breathe, that is a huge plus.


  9. #9

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Quote Originally Posted by Floren d'Asteneuz View Post
    So mail, while a good protector, doesn't protect a lot against thrust
    I disagree.

    It is not as good against thrusts as plated armors, but it is still quite good;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4rkWcDwhH4&t=3m55s

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydjdBTV8ZbY

  10. #10
    AnthoniusII's Avatar Μέγαc Δομέστικοc
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    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Linen layers worked just like the silk ones made for armors Mongols used and today the Indonesian Pollice does!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaZ10VlSoZs .
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  11. #11

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Yeah basically, I think you're all right on this. If we take a particular perspective in mind.

    What the tests have shown in the YT videos provided by Mamlaz (thanks, chap) is that it takes a lot of effort for a thrust to go thru. And even then, even with the guy hitting directly at a very short distance, in most instances the thrusting sword\dagger didn't go a few milimeters beyond the mail, and would have been stopped by the padding coat underneath.

    Authentic rivetted mail is also used. Knowing, of course, that butted mail is totally useless.

    It's the same thing with arrows and linen/mail. They would have gone thru a bit, but the padding would have stopped them. Result? Wearer would be stunned. Perhaps wounded. But he would still be alive in most if not all cases.

    I wonder if that's a Tallhoffer type bastard sword in the second mail vid? Anyway. Without the mail, one wouldn't need a lot effort to stab and kill the opponent. Whereas with mail, things get significantly harder, esp. if we consider battlefield conditions. Most of the blows would glance the armor.

    That said, you wouldn't necessarily aim at the armoured torso, but probably at the neck, the face (with eyes) and such. Spears would aim a lot at either the neck or the legs, that's why most warriors also wore greaves.

    Blunt trauma could also play a part. The "viking" type sword in the first mail vid could be used as a cudgel, akin to the way Celtic longswords were often employed. Spears could also use the wooden pole to bash the enemy. That's not negligible by any account.
    "Romans not only easily conquered those who fought by cutting, but mocked them too. For the cut, even delivered with force, frequently does not kill, when the vital parts are protected by equipment and bone. On the contrary, a point brought to bear is fatal at two inches; for it is necessary that whatever vital parts it penetrates, it is immersed. Next, when a cut is delivered, the right arm and flank are exposed. However, the point is delivered with the cover of the body and wounds the enemy before he sees it."

    - Flavius Vegetius Renatus (in Epitoma Rei Militari, ca. 390)

  12. #12
    Genava's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

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  13. #13

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Assuming linothorax is just what it says in the name (a linen, padded garment that covers the torso (thorax)), it is entirely inferior to mail. No mail is EVER worn without padding underneath, padding which will have similar protective qualities to the linothorax. Doing so is BEGGING for a good stiff blow to drive the rings (quite painfully) into your skin, or for an arrow or thrust to pop one ring or so and then drive itself into your skin (again, quite painfully, and this time possibly lethally painful).Just wearing the mail by itself would be cooler than linothorax or gambeson or other forms of textile armor, but it would also be much less protective. The metal rings are nigh-useless against blunt force without the padded backing (which does most of the force-absorption when struck with a blunt object), only capable of stopping cutting edges from striking the wearer, who is still going to feel all the force of the stroke transmitted straight through the rings.As for more general protective qualities: Linothorax, as most cloth armors, would be capable of dampening blunt strikes effectively, depending on how many layers it has and how thick the cloth is. Much more dependent on the number and strength of the layers would be its effectiveness against arrows and thrusts. It would, however, be very badly vulnerable to slashing-type strikes. For instance, the kriegsmesser, or "war knife". Basically a razor-sharp sword in length, it was carried by some of the doppelsoldners of landsknechts units. When fighting opposing pikemen protected only by gambeson or other textile armors, the doppelsoldners literally just slashed through their protection with this razor-sharp sword and killed them.Mail, on the other hand, is not very good against blunt trauma, hence the prevalence of padding. It is no better ventilated than gambeson because of said padding, but it is far superior in protection when struck with an edge in a slashing blow or hit with a piercing thrust, even if purpose-designed weapons are capable of popping mail rings with sufficient force behind them.If linothorax did contain a rigid component such as a leather cuirass or similar protection all bets are off, at least for my analysis. I don't know much about leather as an armor material, and I know even less about how the Ancient Greeks may have tanned their leather (which is probably important when it comes to using leather as armor).

  14. #14
    Genava's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    @Madman198237, you assume the linothorax is a soft protection like a gambeson but it seems that it is not the case.
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...ungen_2307.jpg

    Especially because nomads like the Scythians did use linothorax, I don't think it should have been something inefficient against piercing weapons.
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  15. #15

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    I am also of the opinion that it was leather, and not linen.

    The Etruscan statues really nail my opinion down for me;

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    that is, those that weren't made out of metal plates;

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

  16. #16
    Genava's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    UWGB Linothorax Project
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    You should explain why there are several historical accounts talking about linen, textile or fabric armor.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Quote Originally Posted by Genava View Post
    You should explain why there are several historical accounts talking about linen, textile or fabric armor.
    Which accounts?

    Could you please post those historical accounts?

  18. #18
    Genava's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Could you please post those historical accounts?
    Seriously, no I won't do this effort now. I don't have the time and the patience for this, it is really long to get all of them. There is a list in the picture above.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    Quote Originally Posted by Genava View Post
    Seriously, no I won't do this effort now. I don't have the time and the patience for this, it is really long to get all of them. There is a list in the picture above.
    So you stated those supposed sources as sources, because you saw some listed sources the list in that image you poted, and you do not even know what those sources state?

    Yet you asked me to explain my opinion(it being contradictory to those sources) to weigh it against them...how can I explain then?
    Last edited by Mamlaz; November 12, 2018 at 03:43 PM.

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    Genava's Avatar Semisalis
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    Default Re: How Effective was Linothorax vs. Mail?

    So you stated those supposed sources as sources, because you saw some listed sources the list in that image you poted, and you do not even know what those sources state?

    Yet you asked me to explain my opinion(it being contradictory to those sources) to weigh it against them...how can I explain then?
    I know some of these sources, I have read some in my books in french. It is a subject I explored in the past because this is related to the Celts too. I don't want to argue on your opinion, I saw this debate so many times on different forums that I'm not interested anymore. I just pointed out there are historical accounts talking about linen and other textile in body protection but it was a mistake, forget this. Keep your opinion and forget my message.
    The true heroes of science are the defenders of open-access like
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