PDA

View Full Version : How to Sit in Armor



taraesque
07-01-2016, 10:46 PM
I have a knight that is going to be inviting guests to sit around a fire. He is in full armor. Can he sit down on the ground in armor or does he need a tree stump? Should he remove his breast plate for comfort? I don't really want to make the poor fellow lean against a tree to eat dinner...

benbenberi
07-02-2016, 01:17 AM
A well-fitted suit of armor (other than some very specialized & very late jousting armor that was optimized only for that single function) allowed full flexibility in all the joints so the person inside could move freely in actual battlefield conditions. He can almost certainly sit on the ground to eat his dinner if he wants and get up again (more or less stiffly depending on his overall physical condition). If it's a warm day and there's no possibility of an unexpected fight he might take off his breast plate/cuirass to cool off -- again, as long as it's been properly made and maintained, it wouldn't take long to unbuckle it & then buckle it on again after.

(Anecdotal reference: in 1651 the Prince de Condé, in full armor of the period, led a rebel army in a battle through a neighborhood outside the walls of Paris (the Faubourg St. Antoine). It was a very hot day & the fighting was desperate. In a momentary lull Condé stripped off his armor & clothes & rolled naked in the dust to cool down. Then he put everything back on & returned to the fight. -- He was then saved from almost certain disaster when his cousin Mademoiselle turned the cannons of the Bastille on the King's army & opened the gates to Condé and his men.)

CindyGirl
07-02-2016, 02:16 AM
Personally, I would insist on a thick cushion under my tushy.

Catherine_Beyer
07-02-2016, 04:17 AM
I have a knight that is going to be inviting guests to sit around a fire. He is in full armor. Can he sit down on the ground in armor or does he need a tree stump? Should he remove his breast plate for comfort? I don't really want to make the poor fellow lean against a tree to eat dinner...


Would it just make more sense to take it off? He's certainly going to have to take it off for sleeping, so might it make sense for his to take it off before dinner? No matter what he can do in the armor, it would certainly be more comfortable out of it.

waylander
07-02-2016, 03:04 PM
Would it just make more sense to take it off? He's certainly going to have to take it off for sleeping, so might it make sense for his to take it off before dinner? No matter what he can do in the armor, it would certainly be more comfortable out of it.
Depends on whether he needs help to put it on and take it off. Are his squires around?

WeaselFire
07-02-2016, 05:11 PM
When and where? Full armor means many different things depending on time frame, location and what armor he is wearing. If you're thinking the suits of armor on display in English castles, knights didn't sit in them. In fact, nobody wore armor unless they were actively going into battle, it's not like slipping on a dinner jacket. Armor is a mounted knight thing and, toward the later stages of suits or armor, knights had to be lowered onto a horse with a crane because they were physically immobilized. There's a historic telling of a knight who was knocked off his horse in battle and the enemy couldn't find a single chink to be able to stab the knight through, so they found an axe and chopped him up like a crab dinner.

On the other hand, a chain mail shirt could easily be worn in the situation you describe. As could boiled leather. These were more similar to wearing modern body armor, designed for mobility.

Jeff

GeorgeK
07-03-2016, 12:38 AM
In fact, nobody wore armor unless they were actively going into battle, it's not like slipping on a dinner jacket.

JeffFrom what I've read the knights who tended to survive battles were used to wearing the armor and wore armor all day pretty much every day otherwise when they needed to wear it they couldn't handle the weight and were too weak to fight effectively.

AW Admin
07-03-2016, 12:54 AM
From what I've read the knights who tended to survive battles were used to wearing the armor and wore armor all day pretty much every day otherwise when they needed to wear it they couldn't handle the weight and were too weak to fight effectively.

This is inaccurate. If you look at historical sources you'll notice that there are different kinds of armor for different kinds of fighting, for one thing, and for another, an actual knight (versus a fighter wearing armor) would have squires to assist in removing armor.

Here's a good starting point for some basic concepts: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htm

Roxxsmom
07-03-2016, 01:52 AM
It's my understanding that plate mail was not as heavy as many people today think it was--no heavier than the kit worn by modern soldiers in fact. And the weight of armor was distributed evenly across the body. There were some special challenges, however, like overheating, and the effort of moving (resulting in approximately 2x greater energetic costs than moving without armor), so I've no doubt that knights (and other armored fighters) practiced and drilled in their armor and accustomed themselves to wearing it.

But did they typically wear it when they were lounging around the castle between battles or training sessions? I know there was ceremonial or decorative armor they wore sometimes (they even had suits for children of nobles). Is that the context the OP is thinking of?

AWAdmin beat me to posting this link (http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htm), but here is another site (http://www.thearma.org/essays/TopMyths.htm#.V3g2oaIfTvs) discussing some myths about medieval arms and armors, and another describing a modern treadmill study (http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/07/15/rspb.2011.0816.abstract?sid=b1bf1354-6f65-47e3-8233-2125025c8d27) done with armor.

GeorgeK
07-03-2016, 04:51 PM
This is inaccurate. If you look at historical sources you'll notice that there are different kinds of armor for different kinds of fighting, for one thing, and for another, an actual knight (versus a fighter wearing armor) would have squires to assist in removing armor.

Here's a good starting point for some basic concepts: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htmI don't disagree with your article but that has nothing to do with what I wrote. When I studied it was probably before you were born so I don't remember what books they were and it was well before there was even the concept of an internet. My point is simply a matter of strength and endurance. The amount (weight) of equipment that a person can handle has less to do with whether you have a squire and more to do with your overall health When you simply look at the weight that the person was to carry into battle in the form of armor and weapons it's probably not that different than today's US Marines and Army. There is a reason that they train carrying that weight otherwise when they got to battle they'd be too exhausted to fight. My family members tasked with training foreign troops also insist that's a big reason why our military is better, the training in not just how to fight or in better equipment but simply being more physically fit because the majority of the foreign military do not train the same way.

Did every knight train in such a fashion, certainly not. When they refer to seasoned warriors, that had to do a lot with physical fitness. Those who survived to fight more are the group that I referred to.

GeorgeK
07-03-2016, 05:00 PM
I've no doubt that knights (and other armored fighters) practiced and drilled in their armor and accustomed themselves to wearing it.

But did they typically wear it when they were lounging around the castle between battles or training sessions? I know there was ceremonial or decorative armor they wore sometimes (they even had suits for children of nobles). Is that the context the OP is thinking of?

AWAdmin beat me to posting this link (http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aams/hd_aams.htm), but here is another site (http://www.thearma.org/essays/TopMyths.htm#.V3g2oaIfTvs) discussing some myths about medieval arms and armors, and another describing a modern treadmill study (http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2011/07/15/rspb.2011.0816.abstract?sid=b1bf1354-6f65-47e3-8233-2125025c8d27) done with armor.
All of that supports my contention

Also from personal experience, for the OP, it's more comfortable for me to squat and then kneel with both knees down while wearing chain armor rather than sitting unless there's a stump or chair whatever. It gets very tiring very quickly if you slouch which is the natural tendency when sitting on the ground and the flexibility of chain allows for slouching. With regard to a plate cuirass, that will prevent you from slouching but if you don't know how to get up off the ground and don't have help you will be like a turtle on your back. The turtle technique is to roll over on your chest and basically do a push-up and climb to your feet. From a bed or laying on a table (just as comfortable as a bed if you are wearing a properly fitting cuirass) do a leg lift with both legs and then quickly swing your legs down over the side of the bed or table and abruptly stop swinging your legs. That will give your body enough angular momentum to pivot at the hips and raise you to a seated position

ULTRAGOTHA
07-05-2016, 08:45 AM
Another article.
http://gizmodo.com/new-study-busts-the-myth-that-knights-couldnt-move-well-1783051334

GeorgeK
07-05-2016, 01:07 PM
Another article.
http://gizmodo.com/new-study-busts-the-myth-that-knights-couldnt-move-well-1783051334

True but again, those are people who train in it. If you take some pampered noble who doesn't train and stuff them into 50+ pounds of armor and knock them on their back in battle they will have enough trouble getting up that they will be killed before they can get up. That doesn't even take into account the exhaustion that they will already have from getting to the battle

Also the article mentions the famous knight who fought battle after battle trained in his armor. The knights who survived either trained properly or got lucky. It also depends on the culture. For the most part the Ancient Greeks when fighting amongst themselves scheduled their battles so one could maybe get by with training just a few weeks or months ahead of time. The exception were the Spartans who trained all the time and had slaves to do the farming and crafts which is why the soldier who ran to Athens to ask for aid, ran back, fought in the battle of Marathon and then supposedly the same guy ran back to tell the Athenians to suck it because they had already won without their aid is a myth that some say could be true. It's only possibly plausible because it was a Spartan. It still would have had to have been an exceptionally fit one.

In other cultures where there are surprise battles (as opposed to sieges) training year round is more important.

taraesque
07-06-2016, 07:43 PM
Wow, thanks for all the great information! I certainly do appreciate it!

AW Admin
07-06-2016, 09:04 PM
Did every knight train in such a fashion, certainly not. When they refer to seasoned warriors, that had to do a lot with physical fitness. Those who survived to fight more are the group that I referred to.

First, you're using the word knight in a sloppy fashion. Putting on armor did not make you a knight.

If you were a knight, you trained, and you trained as part of the order you belonged to. If your liege felt you were not training in peacetime, there were a number of punishments ranging from social humiliation, to forced training to judgment served against you involving loss of real property and pay. The entire point of tournaments during peacetime was to encourage knights to remain in training.

What most people think of as armor is plate, and more often than not, it's ceremonial parade or jousting armor, vs armor worn for fighting.

There are lots and lots of contemporary images and manuals regarding knightly training, armor care, and histories which refer to actual events.

They still did not wear armor all day every day, even during war.

Armor was designed to be worn over at least two other layers, and knights removed all or some in order to sleep. Sitting around a campfire in full armor would be foolish; it's going to get awfully hot. Remember under the external metal and chain (and often a furred cape) there are likely thick leather pads, and thick wool and linen and or silk, and padded undergarments to assist in preventing chafing and for additional protection from blunt force. It's hot. Froissart writes about people becoming dehydrated while waiting for orders in camp.

Moreover, armor frequently needed care; those leather straps and flange pieces might have to be replaced every day during an active period, so often, at night, the knight's squire and staff would be repairing the wear of the day.

You'd remove armor or parts of it when you're not actively expecting to fight, and you'd change your armor based on the kind of fighting (on foot, on horse, etc.). If you're traveling, you might remove parts or even just wear a habergeon and chain, along with a helmet, again, possibly just leather. You'd reduce the amount you wore in order to sleep too, since guards would be posted.


When I studied it was probably before you were born so I don't remember what books they were and it was well before there was even the concept of an internet.

I was born in the 1960s. I've been a card-carrying Medievalist since 1985, with my first graduate degree. I earned two more after that, culminating in a Ph.D.

I've worn armor made for a mercenary in the 1480s, and gotten on and off a horse in it, by myself, and participated in display combat using a blunted sword weighing just over two pounds.

I worked here (http://www.higgins.org/) as a docent and researcher in the summer of 1984 before it became part of the collection here (http://www.worcesterart.org/exhibitions/knights/).

Richard White
07-06-2016, 09:27 PM
And I have friends who joust for a living and they'll tell you not only can they get up after getting knocked off their horse in plate armor, they can re-mount their horse while wearing the same armor.

Now, were there a few times when people were "craned" onto a horse? Yes, usually wearing incredibly gaudy armor and/or overweight lords who only wore it during a parade. No man would go into battle with armor that might kill him.

And in most cases, only the very wealthy wore plate. (Yes, I know there were exceptions ... ) The average soldier might have boiled leather armor and/or scale or chain depending on their importance. The peasant levies might have even less than that (maybe a leather helmet and a leather jacket).

WRT the original question though, unless there was thought that the camp was likely to fall under attack during the meal, most soldiers would take off any unnecessary armor (possibly leaving on their leg armor), and relax. There's no sense in wearing more weight on a body than absolutely necessary. Now, if there was thought of attack, then they'd probably be fully armored, but they'd not be gathering around a fire (unless this is a council of war) - the soldiers would be in some kind of formation and eating catch-as-catch-can (maybe some pickled herring and some water being brought to them), while the scouts patrolled the perimeter, but outside of small unit tactics, I don't see much combat taking place after dark (assuming this because of the fire) - medieval troops relied on following flags/banners to stay in formation and not attack the wrong groups - very hard to do at night.

GeorgeK
07-07-2016, 09:28 PM
First, you're using the word knight in a sloppy fashion. Putting on armor did not make you a knight. I never said it did and the term, "knight," is a sloppy term unless you specify the time and culture



If you were a knight, you trained, and you trained as part of the order you belonged to. If your liege felt you were not training in peacetime, there were a number of punishments ranging from social humiliation, to forced training to judgment served against you involving loss of real property and pay. The entire point of tournaments during peacetime was to encourage knights to remain in training. That depends on what culture. Unless I missed it the OP never specified a culture or time


I've been a card-carrying Medievalist since 1985, with my first graduate degree. I earned two more after that, culminating in a Ph.D. There were knights both before and after the Middle Ages. In some cultures not all of them went into battle themselves. Some just raised or funded troops and otherwise had ceremonial armor