Gambeson Patterns (was RE: [Northkeep] last night's smack down)

Marc Carlson marccarlson20 at
Thu May 29 19:08:10 PDT 2003

<Keith Duke <KDUKE at>>
>Hmmm... Since the whole gambeson was typically covered with mail, I'm not
>sure the "slide to the side" example is valid... Unless of course it's
>covered with mail... <<grin>>

Of course, there is that whole when and where are we talking about thing.
Most of JP's illustrated examples seem to be from late enough that they
woulen't be covered in chain.   Some might have some plates, but Jacks seem
to be pretty well mail-less.   BTW, the ordinances of Louis XI, which
dictated the deer skin outer, also give 25-30 layers of cloth.   I'm
thinking the 10-15 layer I mentiuoned earlier may have been for something
lighter that went under mail in an earlier time.

>It's been awhile but if memory serves (for the gambeson descriptions I was
>playing with) the gambesons were supposedly stuffed with the owners
>material of choice...

I'm not familiar with that practice.

>I have made and played with both kinds. When worn with mail and struck
>forcefully with a real steel blade, the over-stuffed kind was much *much*
>better, transmitting virtually no force. The multilayer quilted kind was
>much thinner overall and had correspondingly less ability to suck up the
>force of the shot...

I will have to take your word for it.  What fabric, if I may ask?

>But as Diarmaid (I think it was...) says period examples are basically

Pretty much just drawings and verbal descriptions

>Dairmaid (or any other helpful soul) -
>Can you help a failing memory, if you please...

Now that I'm at happy, I'll see what I can do.

>About the making of armor of layers of linen, soaked with lacquer, allowed
>to dry and then add a layer, add lacquer, add linen.. In a progression of
>loosely woven followed by tightly woven, etc., out to some ridiculous # of
>layers - like 20-30+... It was proof against the swords and archery of the
>time, but not spears... This is the Mesopotamian charioteer armor I was
>joking about earlier...

I'm prett sure that the earliest linen examples that have survived so far
are from the Cave of the Warrior from near Jericho and date to about 3300
BCE, and that was his shroud.   Mesopotamian?  The laminated and lacquered
thing sounds more Japanese than Mesopotamian.

>I was thinking that there was a real surviving example from some funerary
>trove somewhere in the middle east.. (Iran I think...)

I'll see if I can dig up any Persian sources.

>Does that ring any bells?

Not rteally, but it can't hurt to look.


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