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Thread: A question about byzantine armor

  1. #1

    Default A question about byzantine armor

    Dear fellows, does anyone knows If any byzantine source of the 13th, 14th or 15th centuries specifically mentions the use of scale of lamellar armor? I've been searching a little about late byzantine armor, And It seems that the only archeological findings And textual mentions referente to chain mail or leather armor (this last one mentioned). I saw a mention regarding some lamellar plates from that period being found in serbia, but could'nt find the source, And also saw the post about the 14th century findings in the Bulgarian Tsar Palace, but It seems those were pieces of a coat of plates. It seems to me that our only source for the existence of late period lamellar And scale in the byzantine territories And their neighbors are the notoriously conservative paintings of warrior Saints ir biblical Saints (And perhaps some paintings ir drawings by pisanello)...

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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor


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  4. #4

    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    Thank you for your comments guys! Isn't the Skylitzes Manuscript from the 11th/12th century? Also, Mamlaz, do you know from which manuscript are those paintings? I know the 14th century romance of Alexander depicts soldiers in lamellar and scale armor, but since byzantine art became more and more conservative during the late middle ages, I'd like to find any written reference to the byzantine mail or scale armor in a written source from the period...

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    Hrobatos's Avatar Tribunus
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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    Some manuscripts and frescoes do show such armor in Bulgaria/Serbia/Greece

    There is howeover very little to support it with texts or archeological findings. It may be that artists copied older work and that it wasnt used any more. But its hard to tell really.

  6. #6

    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    Do not use Orthodox art as a source for learning about/reconstructing contemporary armor in Orthodox countries. For goodness' sake, there are written sources (trade orders) that confirm that people were using Italian plate armor in Serbia back in the 14th in 15th centuries, but if you took at look at any contemporary fresco, you'd think they used armor from the 5th century AD or even earlier.

    Also, some rare surviving material finds like the 15th century sallet and kettle helmet.





    Byzantine and byzantine influenced art has a pre-established standard for depicting combatants. Armor is HEAVILY stylised and apart from the occasional exception (for example bascinet, maille collar), it does not represent the armor being worn in the time of the creation of the artwork.
    Last edited by Rad; September 11, 2017 at 03:10 PM.
    I recommend a pugio rather than a spear, because in close quarters combat, a dagger will serve you better than a spear.

    Rad, 2016.

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    Hrobatos's Avatar Tribunus
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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    It howover also may be that they did used it. But as indicated above it is likely that atleast nobility had used imported armors and helmets from Italy which offered better protection and were lighter than scale and lammelar armors. This is certainly true in case od Serbia and likely also in Bulgaria and Greece. Because of time period it woukd likely be early forms of bascinets and partial plate armor. It is not likely that commoners would use such imported arms as those would be luxurius items and in case od commoners would offer no advantage to home made items.

    In case of such studies one has to keep in mind timelane of Ottoman conquests and time line of appereance of new armor types.

    Average knight in 1350. Would wear basinet and long mail. Sometimes coat of plates too. Only in 1390s wold partial plate armor ( arms and legs ) become common.
    Brest plate appears cirka 1380 and woukd become common only few decades later.
    Milanese would appear cirka 1430s and Gothic only at 1450s as first proper full plate armors and would be higly luxurius items.

  8. #8

    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    Nope. Absolutely no proof for the claim that any lamellar style equipement was om use in 14th century Serbia whatsoever.

    In fact, to the contrary, there are Ragusan records that the Serbian Emperor Dusan bought hundreds of Italian made bascinets and corazzinas and other assorted pieces of armor and wargear... that's just the surviving record of purchases made by one guy... What about all the nobles and their individual purchases?

    There is evidence for local production of weapons, shields, maille, helmets... nothing for scale and lammelar.

    Average knight in 1350 would certainly have a coat of plates, not sometimes.

    I will provide more sources and debate you further on... when I am sober.
    I recommend a pugio rather than a spear, because in close quarters combat, a dagger will serve you better than a spear.

    Rad, 2016.

  9. #9
    Hrobatos's Avatar Tribunus
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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    Which evidences? How can you with absolute certainity say that no lammellar was used although frescoes of the time period show them? Or anythings else for that matter.
    There could have been all kinds of stuff in medieval Serbia or anywhere else for that matter, that didnt survived time, neither to be found in archeological sites or as pictures in medieal manuscripts. We can only speculate my friend. There is no absolute truth in history.

    And please do share documents about imported weapons and arms, as I am aware of few, but not of all you mentioned. Also evidences about local arms and armor production. I would love to see those, I found little data myself.

    PS not every knight in 1350 would wear coat of plates. They would wear mail. There is number of medieval manuscripts which do not show knights with coat of plates but rather just mail and tunic over it. Some would coat of plates, but not all.

    PPS Chronicon Pictum is wonderfull example of appereance of Hungarian knights in time when Tsardoms starts.
    Last edited by Hrobatos; September 13, 2017 at 03:00 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    I sobered up.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    There are no surviving 14/15th century records of lamellar being used in Serbia, nor are there surving examples of it. There are, however, surviving plates that were a part of a coat of plates. I will try to find the images.

    There could have been all kinds of stuff in medieval Serbia or anywhere else for that matter, that didnt survived time, neither to be found in archeological sites or as pictures in medieal manuscripts. We can only speculate my friend. There is no absolute truth in history.
    So, what you're saying is that we might have had tanks back then? Sorry, that is not learning, that is not science. I work with what I have. Orthodox frescoes aren't a source for studying contemporary armor, as they follow an artistic pattern, set there by the Church. There are exceptions when contemporary armor gets potrayed in Orthodox art, but they are rare. Usually, it's a single piece of gear on a warrior, and even then it is stylised almost beyond recognition. Oddly enough, weapons are usually represented quite realistically.

    Here's a fairly small example of arms imports - a list of armour Serbian rulers purchased from Dubrovnik and Italy during the period from 1329 to 1349. Note that these are only informations from Dubrovnik city archive, because all of the listed items were purchased from Dubrovnik merchants as intermediaries - meaning, this only lists Royal/Imperial purchases from Dubrovnik in a 20 year period.

    Purchased from Dubrovnik in 1332. :
    200 hauberks (panzeria)
    250 shinbalds (schancherias)
    250 bacinello helmets (bacinellos) - from what I understand, this is a less pointy type of bascinet.
    50 kettle hats with maile aventails (capellus cum venteriis)
    10 pairs of maile gauntlets (guantis de malia)
    10 maile standards (colaria de malia)
    25 shinbalds (schineriam)
    Purchased from Venice from 1340-1349:
    500 hauberks with maile standards (panzeria)
    More than 1300 corazza’s (coracia) - that's a version of a coat of plates.
    800 maile standards (colaria de malia)
    100 maile sleeves (maniche de malia)
    500 shinbalds (schineriam)
    800 barbute helmets (barbuta) - this isn't the 15th century helmet, but a type of bascinet from which the barbute we know today developed
    500 pairs of gauntlets (guantis de ferro)
    300 shields
    400 shields made in Slavic fashion
    Armament for other 100 horsemen
    Other armament worth 1200 perpera (about 600 ducats, one horse was worth 30 perpera)
    Purchased from Florence:
    28 complete armours
    Equipment worth 833 perpera
    Equipment worth 2500 ducats

    The records are, as stated above, from the Dubrovnik city archive. If you don't believe me, you're welcome to go to Dubrovnik and translate the original records or translate one of the Serbo-Croatian papers made about this topic.

    While Dusan was alive, Serbia expanded. After him, the nobles had their petty rivalries and Turks invaded. Either way, there was a lot of wars and the demand for weapons and armor was huge. Serbia was rich and could afford the best armor in the world back then.

    THIS TEXT WILL BE EDITED AND EXPANDED AS I GATHER MORE INFORMATION. I PLAN TO ASNWER ALL OF YOUR QUESTIONS.
    Last edited by Rad; September 14, 2017 at 10:53 AM.
    I recommend a pugio rather than a spear, because in close quarters combat, a dagger will serve you better than a spear.

    Rad, 2016.

  11. #11
    Hrobatos's Avatar Tribunus
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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    You are also welcome to post proper sources. Articles from scientific magasine or a link to a book.

    That frescoes are complete fantasy is merely a theory. Lets face it. You werent there so you cannot know with absolut certain if they were used or not. Contemporary pictures do show them, we didnt saw any evidence to the contrary and thus Tsardoms decided to use them. You do have right to disagree with us.

    We do know about imports and thus also included western equipment as well, especialy among nobles and late what-if units.

    I do look forward to sources about local producton.Sadly I was able to found very little about that.


    Corazza would usualy meam brigantine armor but this early it is more likely to be some sort of coat of plates, I agree.

    PS I speak Croatian xD
    Last edited by Hrobatos; September 14, 2017 at 12:17 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    You are also welcome to post proper sources. Articles from scientific magasine or a link to a book.
    The information is taken from the Dubrovnik city archives. It doesn get better than that. I copied the translation from a friend. I contacted him and asked from what article he got it from. He didn't read the original records, because his Latin is a bit rusty, as is mine
    Will post links after I get the info.

    EDIT: Books used
    - Gavro A. Škrivanić, Oružje u srednjovekovnoj Srbiji, Bosni i Dubrovniku
    - Đurđica Petrović, Dubrovačko oružje

    You werent there so you cannot know with absolut certain if they were used or not,
    So, you were there?

    Contemporary pictures do show them, we didnt saw any evidence to the contrary and thus Tsardoms decided to use them.
    No, you decided to use them because it was easy to use them and you wanted to give the faction some Eastern flare or whatever, not because it was right. Looking at a few pretty pictures is easier than reading.

    Ancient Greek art portrays people going into battle naked. Why? Because the Greeks thought it was good to do so. Oddly enough, the Greeks were some of the most heavily armored fighters in the Ancient era. Art must always be interpreted with caution, as it is not bound by reality.

    If you are so intent on using frescoes as a source, why don't you portray these folks as well as the lamellar armored people? Also, please explain what the hell are they wearing. They're obviously soldiers in armor, I just don't understand what that armor actually is.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Decani Monastery, painted in the 2/3 of the 14th century.



    Manasija, early 15th century


    Note that the heater shield is contemporary, to my utter joy. The armor is still unrealistic.



    I do look forward to sources about local producton.Sadly I was able to found very little about that.
    One gets most of the info about local production by reading about charters of gifts given to monasteries. It's usually the case that some of the villages that are being gifted to the monastery are named after their primary product. Mačari, Kopljari, Strelari, Štitari... Swordmakers, Spearmakers, Arrowmakers, Shieldmakers. Some of those villages actually still exist. Sometimes, people are called to bear witness and are mentioned in the charter, their surnames indicating their profession... Brnjar (Mail maker), Mačar (Swordmaker), Šlemar (Helmetmaker) etc. Digging out those will take time


    Corazza would usualy meam brigantine armor but this early it is more likely to be some sort of coat of plates.
    Like I stated above, a form of coat of plates.
    Last edited by Rad; September 14, 2017 at 01:18 PM.
    I recommend a pugio rather than a spear, because in close quarters combat, a dagger will serve you better than a spear.

    Rad, 2016.

  13. #13
    Hrobatos's Avatar Tribunus
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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    I never claimed that Serbs didnt imported arms from Ragusa and Italy, but you always have to have a source in debate. Its how it works.

    As far as lammelar ia concerned, we have different oppinion on the matter. And it would be quite easy for us to use western equipment as we did made number of western factions and thus have the materials alredy made. Tsardoms has completed its work as far as unita are concerned, coding and mapping is being done.

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    Hrobatos's Avatar Tribunus
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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    I will also refer myself to Ian Heath, he considers frescoes as worthy sources

    and this is from another book, which name we are not allowed to put here due to forum rules link and another with comments

    Thus that lammelar was used is actualy common oppinion among historians. And they do use frescoes as sources too altought they are stylized and do look sometime weird.


    PS if you have any informations, sources, etc about early Slavs, especialy 8-9. century, I am looking for anthing you may find. Its for my other mod.
    Last edited by Hrobatos; September 14, 2017 at 01:17 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    Quote Originally Posted by Hrobatos View Post
    I will also refer myself to Ian Heath, he considers frescoes as worthy sources

    and this is from another book, which name we are not allowed to put here due to forum rules link and another with comments
    That is an Os. If you're a serious researcher, that's one of the things that you can't use without checking its sources well over a hundred times.
    Last edited by Rad; September 14, 2017 at 01:25 PM.
    I recommend a pugio rather than a spear, because in close quarters combat, a dagger will serve you better than a spear.

    Rad, 2016.

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    Hrobatos's Avatar Tribunus
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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    Just wanted to show we arent alone in our opinnion

  17. #17

    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    Quote Originally Posted by Hrobatos View Post
    Just wanted to show we arent alone in our opinnion
    And I am sure that the Aliens guy isn't alone in his opinion It doesn't mean he is right.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Thus that lammelar was used is actualy common oppinion among historians. And they do use frescoes as sources too altought they are stylized and do look sometime weird.
    No it isn't. As far as I know, only you that poor excuse for publishing company think so. Two wrongs do not make a good.

    Also, maybe this guy agrees as well.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Last edited by Rad; September 14, 2017 at 01:35 PM.
    I recommend a pugio rather than a spear, because in close quarters combat, a dagger will serve you better than a spear.

    Rad, 2016.

  18. #18
    Hrobatos's Avatar Tribunus
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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    That is not a debate anymore but trolling, please use proper arguments, sources, work of other historians, what ever you will.

  19. #19

    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    Quote Originally Posted by Hrobatos View Post
    That is not a debate anymore but trolling, please use proper arguments, sources, work of other historians, what ever you will.
    I have, check above. You're the one who didn't post anything. You used a criticized company, well known for it's inaccuracies as a source.

    I am sorry if you feel bad because of this. I realise that you folks put a lot of effort into making those units, and now someone is claiming that they're wrong. I cannot change the fact that they're are wrong. I don't want you to change the units, since I will not be playing the mod - too busy working. It's just how it is.
    Last edited by Rad; September 14, 2017 at 01:48 PM.
    I recommend a pugio rather than a spear, because in close quarters combat, a dagger will serve you better than a spear.

    Rad, 2016.

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    Marble Emperor's Avatar Libertus
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    Default Re: A question about byzantine armor

    @Rad Wait, so are you arguing that lamellar and other eastern forms of armor were completely abandoned in all forms in Serbia by the 14th century? Because there is a single record of purchase from Ragusa that indicates one instance of importation of western armor? Yeah sorry bud, I think that the Tsardoms team might be correct to take this assertion with a grain of salt.

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