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  #1  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:10 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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How much did medieval suits of armor weigh?

It seems based on appearances alone that the heavy suits of armor worn by medieval knights (specifically the plate armor) must have been heavy as fuck. How heavy, exactly, were these suits? And also, were the knights who wore them really strong from moving around with the suits on? I'd think that having to fight in battles with such heavy suits of armor would strengthen the muscles over time to a great degree. (It must have been an insane feeling to take all the armor off, after having worn it for a long time, and walk around.)
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  #2  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:19 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is online now
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About 40-50 pounds.
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Old 03-17-2009, 06:19 PM
capybara capybara is offline
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Someone will be in with more detail but they were indeed heavy as fuck (at least the plate-type stuff)-- you would not walk around in it, but would be basically lowered onto a horse with a crane mechanism. People were know to fall off into puddles and drown, unable to lift themselves.
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  #4  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:25 PM
Evil Economist Evil Economist is offline
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Originally Posted by capybara View Post
Someone will be in with more detail but they were indeed heavy as fuck (at least the plate-type stuff)-- you would not walk around in it, but would be basically lowered onto a horse with a crane mechanism. People were know to fall off into puddles and drown, unable to lift themselves.
This contradicts other things I've read--for example that people could do somersaults while wearing armor. What's your source?

From wikipedia: "A full suit of medieval plate is thought to have weighed little more than 60 lb (27 kg), on average lighter than the equipment often carried by today's armies which averages at around 90 pounds"

also:

" It should be remembered that an armoured knight would be trained to wear armour from his teens, and would likely develop the technique and endurance needed to comfortably run, crawl, climb ladders, as well as mount and dismount his horse without recourse to a crane (a myth probably originating from an English music hall comedy of the 1830s, and popularised in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court)."

Last edited by Evil Economist; 03-17-2009 at 06:27 PM..
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  #5  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:27 PM
Tristan Tristan is offline
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Originally Posted by capybara View Post
Someone will be in with more detail but they were indeed heavy as fuck (at least the plate-type stuff)-- you would not walk around in it, but would be basically lowered onto a horse with a crane mechanism. People were know to fall off into puddles and drown, unable to lift themselves.
The bit about the crane was pretty much made up out of whole cloth by Mark Twain.

A knight who was useless off of a horse would have been a bigger liability than an asset on the battle field.
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  #6  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:36 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Originally Posted by capybara View Post
People were know to fall off into puddles and drown, unable to lift themselves.
Maybe if they were incapacitated, but do you seriously believe that anyone would go to war with an army whose soldiers were dead if they tripped?
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  #7  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:46 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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So are we to assume that these knights were generally pretty huge, by the standards of an average male back then? Surely someone who was trained from a young age to wear such heavy armor would be, if not as tall as modern man, at least very strong?
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  #8  
Old 03-17-2009, 06:53 PM
Evil Economist Evil Economist is offline
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Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
So are we to assume that these knights were generally pretty huge, by the standards of an average male back then? Surely someone who was trained from a young age to wear such heavy armor would be, if not as tall as modern man, at least very strong?
Like they say in wikipedia, the weight of armor was less than the weight of packs carried by regular soldiers in our army. Our soldiers are fit, but they're not huge or what I would consider "very strong."
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  #9  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:01 PM
Valgard Valgard is offline
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Originally Posted by Argent Towers View Post
So are we to assume that these knights were generally pretty huge, by the standards of an average male back then? Surely someone who was trained from a young age to wear such heavy armor would be, if not as tall as modern man, at least very strong?
Dunno if Kinthalis is still around but this seems to be his specialty (there are previous threads on this and similar topics).

IIRC medieval knights had a much healthier diet (what they ate and how much) and they were raised as professional soldiers from early on so they may have been a bit taller than average (from better diet) and they were probably carrying a lot more muscle mass around than average due to both diet and exercise/conditioning. I doubt that they were giants though. Compare your average Marine to the average office worker. Maybe a bit bigger, definitely a lot stronger and in better shape.

Fiction about not being able to stand up in armor aside, wearing a lot of well-distributed weight isn't that bad, as anyone who has done a lot of backpacking knows. I've seen videos of men in full plate demonstrating how agile they are, doing cartwheels and whatnot. In that kind of combat, being slow=being dead. Armor weight is very well distributed and it's made to allow freedom of movement.
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  #10  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:04 PM
Kinthalis Kinthalis is offline
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Yeah the whole crane needed to lift into horses/unable to get up if knocked down is nonsense.

It's hard to give a weight to articulated plate armor as a whole mostly because it varied by style, by quality, by time frame and by purpose. It's like asking: how much does a car weigh? Well, are you talking about a mini coop or a suburban? There's a big difference.

But roughly speaking a high quality suit of articulated plate armor in the early/mid 15th century meant for a knight fighting on foot would weigh anywhere from 40-70 pounds. Modern soldiers carry a heavier kit and remember that this weight is evenly distributed around the body.

Restriction of movement and heat is really more of a problem than weight.

Diet would play a bigger part in the size of any particular individual. The nobility having access to more protein tended to be taller than the lower classes.

Last edited by Kinthalis; 03-17-2009 at 07:07 PM..
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  #11  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:17 PM
Evil Economist Evil Economist is offline
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Originally Posted by Valgard View Post
Compare your average Marine to the average office worker. Maybe a bit bigger, definitely a lot stronger and in better shape.
I don't think office worker to Marine is the right comparison. I bet most people of that time worked hard physical jobs, like farming. Most people who grew up on farms are pretty damn strong. I could see the argument for better nutrition = bigger, but I bet the strength differential wasn't that great.
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  #12  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:26 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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The Detroit art Museum has 4 or 5 suits of armor. When I was about 12 I was amazed how small they were. They would have fit me then and I was little.
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  #13  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:36 PM
Evil Economist Evil Economist is offline
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Originally Posted by gonzomax View Post
The Detroit art Museum has 4 or 5 suits of armor. When I was about 12 I was amazed how small they were. They would have fit me then and I was little.
I remember reading that a lot of the display pieces you see were miniature "demonstration pieces," made to show off the armorer's skill, like a 4/5 model car. People during that period weren't much shorter than they are today:

"A recent study conducted at Ohio State University, based on skeletal data from 30 previous studies, reveals that men living during the 9th to 11th centuries had an average height of about 5 feet 8 inches. Average height then steadily declined until it reached a low point of 5 feet 5.5 inches in the 17th and 18th centuries, rising again through the 19th century and only reaching prior heights in the first half of the 20th century. "
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  #14  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:37 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Kinthalis View Post
Yeah the whole crane needed to lift into horses/unable to get up if knocked down is nonsense.
There was also special armor and saddles for jousting. I could easily envision that armor made for this one purpose could have been much more restrictive.

Whether that would have necessitated a crane of course, I have no idea.
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  #15  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:41 PM
Kinthalis Kinthalis is offline
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True, SOME Jousting armor during the renaissance was much heavier and restrictive and really would never have been used in combat. But it still did not require a crane. As far as I know there are no contemporary accounts of cranes being used to haul knights on horse back.
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  #16  
Old 03-17-2009, 07:46 PM
ivn1188 ivn1188 is offline
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There is nothing in the historical record to lend credence to the idea that these medieval knights were supermen of any sort. They were much smaller on average than people today, and lack of medicine and proper nutrition made it even worse.

No one really wore full plate mail like we think of today, but there was a lot of plate strapped on over chainmail-type armor. So the knights were able to get around, and weren't too encumbered*. However, during battles like Agincourt, many of the french knights that fell in the deep mud were unable to get up, and some drowned in their armor. So while these guys were mobile, they were by no means agile. Nor were they invulnerable -- at battles like Crecy, many knights were killed by arrows punching through vulnerable spots in their armor.

There is a lot of mythology built up about how badass knights were on the battlefield, but a lot of it is the same as the hype about samurai -- a combination of self-serving historical record, nostalgia, and "good old days" sentimental thinking.

Also, the modern soldier does not fight generally fight with a full kit on, and that also includes several pounds worth of weapon. Field packs are often left at a base camp when infantry is going into action, so the soldier is not dragging along a bunch of extra equipment.

* The tournament armor that knights in the later medieval period wore was heavier and offered more protection for jousting and other types of exhibition maps. These suits were sometimes indeed winched onto horses. This armor would have made the knight fairly invulnerable to attack, but at an extreme cost in mobility. In battle, they were less protected.
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  #17  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:03 PM
Evil Economist Evil Economist is offline
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Originally Posted by ivn1188 View Post
There is nothing in the historical record to lend credence to the idea that these medieval knights were supermen of any sort. They were much smaller on average than people today, and lack of medicine and proper nutrition made it even worse.
Your assertion is contradicted by the evidence:

Average height of 20 year old American male: 5' 9.4"
Average height of 9th century male: 5'8"

So that doen't seem to support your contention that they were "much smaller." Also, from other comments in these threads, knights would come from the nobility, and would have better nutrition than the average person. Therefore, they could be expected to be taller than average. I bet there's data out there showing average heights for nobility, and I wouldn't be surprised if on average the nobility was taller than average man today.
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  #18  
Old 03-17-2009, 08:11 PM
Evil Economist Evil Economist is offline
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Originally Posted by ivn1188 View Post
So the knights were able to get around, and weren't too encumbered*. However, during battles like Agincourt, many of the french knights that fell in the deep mud were unable to get up, and some drowned in their armor. So while these guys were mobile, they were by no means agile.
I looked up the battle of Agincourt, and the account says:

Quote:
For when some of them, killed when battle was first joined, fall at the front, so great was the undisciplined violence and pressure of the mass of men behind them that the living fell on top of the dead, and others falling on top of the living were killed as well [...]The French monk of St. Denis describes the French troops as "marching through the middle of the mud where they sank up to their knees.[...]The deep, soft mud [caused] [...] several knights, encumbered by their armour, actually [to drown] in it.
That sounds like pretty packed conditions, with people pressing from behind you, in knee-deep mud. I bet people would have been pressed below the surface even without armor. So it wasn't the weight of the armor that caused the drownings, but the other conditions. I know 50lbs wouldn't keep me from standing up, but if there were dead bodies piled above me, that might do it.
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  #19  
Old 03-17-2009, 09:43 PM
Kinthalis Kinthalis is offline
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Yeah, at Agincourt it was the press of the men and horses all funneled down that narrow muddy field that cause most of the deaths. Armor or no, those conditions were a disaster waiting to happen.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean with this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ivn1188
No one really wore full plate mail like we think of today, but there was a lot of plate strapped on over chainmail-type armor.
Uhm, yes they did. Have you visited a museum lately? That early version of plate armor where mail was supplemented with plate pieces was common through out the period, yes, but fully articulated plate was certainly used as well.

Oh and Of course Knights were badass. They were the warrior caste of the period and they were prized and honored in their time. That wasn't so because they didn't know how to fight.
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  #20  
Old 03-17-2009, 10:11 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Evil Economist View Post
Your assertion is contradicted by the evidence:

Average height of 20 year old American male: 5' 9.4"
Average height of 9th century male: 5'8"
I'd like to see a cite for that. I've seen at least a good two dozen full armor suits that lasted until modern day, and from that would say for certain that they were significantly smaller. I'd guess an average height comparable to modern, American women.

-- Point in fact, this Wikipedia page lists the mid-19th century height for England (which is somewhere in the middle for European countries) as ~5'4". I doubt that nutrition was particularly better in the 12th century than the 19th.
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  #21  
Old 03-17-2009, 10:43 PM
ivn1188 ivn1188 is offline
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Originally Posted by Evil Economist View Post
"A recent study conducted at Ohio State University, based on skeletal data from 30 previous studies, reveals that men living during the 9th to 11th centuries had an average height of about 5 feet 8 inches. Average height then steadily declined until it reached a low point of 5 feet 5.5 inches in the 17th and 18th centuries, rising again through the 19th century and only reaching prior heights in the first half of the 20th century. "
Full plate would have been used in the 14th-16th century. Even if they were 5'6" on average, that still makes them substantially smaller than modern humans. If you think the physical fitness of these guys, many of whom had vitamin deficiencies, dental problems, STDs, were inbred, etc, were even close to as athletically capable as, say, a modern marine, you are mistaken.

Furthermore, the prowess of knights just doesn't hold water. There are countless historical examples (including Crecy and Agincourt) where the knights broke ranks to charge, killed/rode over their own troops, and generally failed to maintain discipline. However, the aristocracy, where knights came from, were also the main producers of historical documentation. It's doubtful that these guys were going to explain how infantry were more important than the armored charge. To them, battles were a matter of going out and spearing some peasants, and maybe getting knocked down and held for ransom for a while by another knight. (A peasant who dared kill a knight would probably be hacked down by his own knights.) It wasn't until the 100 years war that nation-on-nation total war became the norm, and victory was more important than personal glory.

And why would knights be better fighters than, say, a Roman legionnaire? Those guys weren't in the military for fun and glory. Their training was a lot more demanding and time consuming than some knight who played in tourneys and fenced. You might claim the difference is the armor, which was well-nigh inpenetrable by weaponry. This is obviously false, since lots of knights were killed by arrows going through the armor, being bludgeoned to death, in tourney accidents, etc. By the standards of simply killing peasants, they were ferocious, but I don't think that actually translates to being a serious badass.

Finally, Agincourt wasn't the only battle where knights drowned in mud or water, only the quickest and easiest example. If you'll read carefully, you will also see that the knights were tired and worn out by walking/charging. The armor might be well spread out, but it's still an extra 50-60 lbs, plus a big sword, hot, and inflexible. There were some casualties because of being crushed by the mob, but there were also many who fell off their horse or had it shot out from under them, and were unable to get up. The English suffered very few casualties from mud, because they were barefoot (and many weren't even wearing pants). There certainly was close in fighting , so why weren't a lot of English troops crushed into the mud by the vastly superior, mobile, and athletic knights?

Earlier, but still valid example:
Art of War in the Western World

This whole fascination with knights being the epitome of melee warfare is just a product of fantasy literature and the self-serving reporting of a bunch of guys who spent most of their time in war killing unarmored and mostly unarmed peasants. Almost as soon as chivalry was abandoned and war returned to the victory at all costs model, knights (and non-professional armies) fell by the wayside. Go pick up a copy of the book I linked (great read) to get a real, historically accurate, idea of how medieval warfare actually was.
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  #22  
Old 03-17-2009, 10:48 PM
Avumede Avumede is offline
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
I'd like to see a cite for that. I've seen at least a good two dozen full armor suits that lasted until modern day, and from that would say for certain that they were significantly smaller. I'd guess an average height comparable to modern, American women.
The cite was already given above (but not a link). See here:
http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/medimen.htm
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  #23  
Old 03-17-2009, 11:07 PM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Avumede View Post
The cite was already given above (but not a link). See here:
http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/medimen.htm
Ahah. Though, like ivn1188 notes, the 9th century is significantly before the time period we're looking at. And like I said, I've seen physical armor from the time period that we are looking at.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 03-17-2009 at 11:07 PM..
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  #24  
Old 03-17-2009, 11:58 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
I'd like to see a cite for that. I've seen at least a good two dozen full armor suits that lasted until modern day, and from that would say for certain that they were significantly smaller. I'd guess an average height comparable to modern, American women.

As has already been pointed out to you, it is totally invalid to use the size of existing armour to gauge heights. To keep it simple your run into two major problems:

1) Any armour that survives is, almost by definition, armour that couldn't be worn by any normal person. Armour was hideously expensive, and like any expensive piece of equipment it wasn't left lying around unused. If a person died the armour was used by someone else until it was so worn and damaged as to be unserviceable. At that stage it would either be left to rust or, more likely, melted own. Either way any standard size piece of armour won't find its way into a museum. So the armour that shows up in museums isn't typical. As has already been pointed out to you, much of it is demonstration stock built to scale. It survived because it could never be used, and also because it was more likely to be stored and forgotten rather than melted down as working armour would have been. The remainder of the armour you see is ceremonial. A lot of it was made for princes and other young nobility to wear at their investiture or similar occasions. In other words it is children's armour, which tends to survive more often than adult's armour [precisely because it can't be used by any normal sized man and because it tends to be kept as a souvenir. We also have a significant amount of adult ceremonial armour, and of the stuff we know was adult, most of that is wearable by a typical modern man.

The stuff of unknown provenance is therefore probably children's armour, and unless you can demonstrate otherwise it's a safe guess that the armour you saw was children's or model armour if it was small.

2) Armour was made to be worn, not to stand on a... stand. Unlike cloth armour collapses under its own weight and always looks shrunken on a stand. The only way to gauge the actual size of a suit of armour is to measure the length
length of the rigid pieces and compare them to your own body dimensions. I'm guessing you never did this for the "two dozen full armor suits" you have seen.

Quote:
-- Point in fact, this Wikipedia page lists the mid-19th century height for England (which is somewhere in the middle for European countries) as ~5'4". I doubt that nutrition was particularly better in the 12th century than the 19th.
As has already been pointed out to you, heights were at their absolute minimum at the end of the industrial revolution, IOW mid-19th century. That was due to horrible nutrition amongst factory workers, high rates of childhood illness in the cramped and unsanitary living condition for the urban masses and extreme child labour.
If you follow the references in that Wikipedia article you will find a table that average adult male heights in northern Europe for the past 1100 years. Average height for late middle ages/reformation to industrial revolution averages about 174cm, or 5’10”. The Wikipedia article says that the current height for males in the UK is either 175 or 177 cm, for the US 170-179 cm.
So yeah, your claim is contradicted by the evidence. The men wearing those suits of full plate weren’t significantly shorter than the average man today. And given that those men would have been the nobility, and probably taller than average, they may have been slightly taller than the typically Englishman of today.

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Originally Posted by ivn1188 View Post
Even if they were 5'6" on average…
They were 5’10” on average. About the same hight as a modern Englishman or Frenchman. Have alook at the article by Steckel linked to in te Wikipedia article.


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If you think the physical fitness of these guys, many of whom had vitamin deficiencies… STDs, were inbred
Can you please provide some evidence that a significant number of noblemen in the late middle ages/reformation period suffered from any vitamin deficiencies? Same for the STD’s and inbreeding. I’m always a bit sceptical of someone who used the term “plate mail”. Makes me think they have gotten to much information from D&D. When you start flinging around these sorts of misconcpetions it only strengthens my doubt.


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were even close to as athletically capable as, say, a modern marine, you are mistaken.
Can you please provide some evidence for this claim that they did not approximate the physical prowess of a modern marine? We’ve already proved that you were completely wrong in your claims that they were only 5’6” when they were in fact 5’10” so I’m not inclined top believe this claim without evidence.

Quote:
Furthermore, the prowess of knights just doesn't hold water. There are countless historical examples (including Crecy and Agincourt) where the knights broke ranks to charge, killed/rode over their own troops, and generally failed to maintain discipline.
Are you seriously saying that tall people would be more disciplined than that, or what? I can’t figure out what your point is here otherwise.

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… battles were a matter of going out and spearing some peasants, and maybe getting knocked down and held for ransom for a while by another knight.
Evidence please?

Quote:
(A peasant who dared kill a knight would probably be hacked down by his own knights.)
Evidence please.

Quote:
It wasn't until the 100 years war that nation-on-nation total war became the norm, and victory was more important than personal glory.
Evidence please?

Quote:
And why would knights be better fighters than, say, a Roman legionnaire?
Who said they were?

Quote:
Their [legionnaire’s] training was a lot more demanding and time consuming than some knight who played in tourneys and fenced.
Evidence please?

Quote:
Finally, Agincourt wasn't the only battle where knights drowned in mud or water, only the quickest and easiest example.
It wasn’t an example of that at all, as has been pointed out to you with references.
Now can you provide even a single example of where nights drowned in mud because of the weight of their armour? Remember that falling exhausted into mud killed thousands of unarmoured troops in WWI. We need example sof where the armour was the sole factor that caused the troops to drown.
Quote:
If you'll read carefully, you will also see that the knights were tired and worn out by walking/charging. The armor might be well spread out, but it's still an extra 50-60 lbs, plus a big sword, hot, and inflexible.
Err, yes? And what is your point exactly? How does this support your claim that the armour made it impossible for them to avoid drowning? This is as ludicrous as claiming that modern body armour causes marines to drown. After all it is also hot and inflexible and will cause tiredness when walking and charging.

Quote:
There were some casualties because of being crushed by the mob, but there were also many who fell off their horse or had it shot out from under them, and were unable to get up.
Can you provide any evidence at all for that claim? That is what we have been asking for, and simply repeating the claim doesn’t make it any more true.


Quote:
The English suffered very few casualties from mud, because they were barefoot
Can you provide some evidence for that claim?
Quote:
There certainly was close in fighting , so why weren't a lot of English troops crushed into the mud by the vastly superior, mobile, and athletic knights?
You seem to be working under the assumption that the English had no nights. That is completely and utterly wrong. The English had plenty of knights. You also don’t seem to understand the French nights were no more athletic, mobile or otherwise superior to the English nights. But read the Wikipedia article on the battle and then get back to me if you still don’t know the answer.

Quote:
Earlier, but still valid example:
Example of what exactly? That text says “medieval knights rarely died in battle because of their complete suits of chain mail”.

So:
1) It isn’t taking about plate armour, but chain.
2) It says that nights were almost invulnerable because of their armour and rarely died, which seems to be directly contradictory to you position.

Or maybe you mean the bit where it says that nights weairng armoured drowned when they tried to swim rivers. But surely you understand the difference between swimming a river your claim that nights drowned simply from falling over in water? If not then let me know and I’ll explain it.
Quote:
This whole fascination with knights being the epitome of melee warfare is just a product of fantasy literature and the self-serving reporting of a bunch of guys who spent most of their time in war killing unarmored and mostly unarmed peasants.
Evidence please?

Quote:
Almost as soon as chivalry was abandoned and war returned to the victory at all costs model, knights (and non-professional armies) fell by the wayside.
Evidence please?

ivn1188 you have made so many comments that are provably false and so many others that are highly dubious that I am disinclined to believe anything you post until you provide some evidence for your extraordinary claims.

Last edited by Blake; 03-18-2009 at 12:02 AM..
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  #25  
Old 03-18-2009, 12:02 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
Ahah. Though, like ivn1188 notes, the 9th century is significantly before the time period we're looking at.
For the time period we are looking at Steckel lists average male heights at ~5'10".

Quote:
And like I said, I've seen physical armor from the time period that we are looking at.
And like I said, you can't tell a damn thing from looking at suits of armour in a museum. At the very least you will need to know for whom the armour was manufactured and in what year, and then you will need to actually measure the pieces. Without that information you might as well look at medieval jewelery and try to guess height from that.
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  #26  
Old 03-18-2009, 12:18 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
For the time period we are looking at Steckel lists average male heights at ~5'10".
Link? The one article on him says no such thing, or I'm missing it. It gives a maximum height in the 9th century and says it was all downhill from there.

Quote:
And like I said, you can't tell a damn thing from looking at suits of armour in a museum. At the very least you will need to know for whom the armour was manufactured and in what year, and then you will need to actually measure the pieces. Without that information you might as well look at medieval jewelery and try to guess height from that.
Yes, there's no possible way that someone standing next to a full suit of armor stood up on a fitted dummy, could tell how tall it is. Just as there's no way a person standing next to any other person can tell whether that person is taller or shorter than himself.

I agree that it could be that it was all model armor as you say, of course. But in no way was there any question about the relative height.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 03-18-2009 at 12:21 AM..
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  #27  
Old 03-18-2009, 12:34 AM
ivn1188 ivn1188 is offline
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Blake, I'll address only your comments that weren't a cite request.

1) IIRC, antibiotics weren't invented in the medieval period. I'm pretty sure there were STDs, and that siring a few byblows wasn't uncommon, which means that they weren't using condoms. So some percentage, probably larger than modern teens, were most likely carrying some diseases such as syphilis. Inbreeding among the nobility is an accepted fact. Lack of good food preservation techniques and lower quality produce means less nutrition. Not having good medical technology means small health problems don't get fixed, contributing to a lower quality of health.

2) Your height claims seem to be mistaken. The only link is the wikipedia article, and that only talks about 19th century heights. This paper shows a clear dip around the 13th century, though, and also claims that nobles were not actually bigger.

3) You are, however, correct that "plate mail" is not a correct term.

As for the rest, I've provided enough detail that I think you have the burden of proof here (and I'd ask that it not be the local SCA guy).

Last edited by ivn1188; 03-18-2009 at 12:35 AM..
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  #28  
Old 03-18-2009, 12:51 AM
ivn1188 ivn1188 is offline
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BTW:

Here is a source that talks about falling from horses in armor.

And
Here is a book that talks about how cumbersome armor was.

I'm gonna go ahead and say that the author of "The Middle Ages" probably has some expertise.
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  #29  
Old 03-18-2009, 01:00 AM
Odesio Odesio is offline
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Originally Posted by ivn1188 View Post
1) IIRC, antibiotics weren't invented in the medieval period. I'm pretty sure there were STDs, and that siring a few byblows wasn't uncommon, which means that they weren't using condoms. So some percentage, probably larger than modern teens, were most likely carrying some diseases such as syphilis.
Syphilis didn't hit Europe until just before the beginning of the 16th century in Naples, Italy. Do you know of any sources that detail the rate of STDs in Europe prior to the Renaissance? Speculation is all well and good but when we're interpreting the past we have to use the evidence that's available to us.

Quote:
Inbreeding among the nobility is an accepted fact. Lack of good food preservation techniques and lower quality produce means less nutrition.
Knights aren't the royal family.

Quote:
Not having good medical technology means small health problems don't get fixed, contributing to a lower quality of health.
More importantly it translates into high infant mortality rates. That doesn't mean knights weren't in good physical shape. Typically the men of any society who go off to war are in the prime of their lives and are pretty darn fit.

For some reason medieval knights don't get the respect that other warriors do. Medieval knights, Spartans, and Samurai (before they were turned into haiku spouting flower arranging ponces) weren't supermen but they were certainly fairly good at what their jobs were. Of course I mean breaking things and killing people.


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  #30  
Old 03-18-2009, 01:13 AM
Odesio Odesio is offline
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Originally Posted by ivn1188 View Post
BTW:

Here is a source that talks about falling from horses in armor.

And
Here is a book that talks about how cumbersome armor was.

I'm gonna go ahead and say that the author of "The Middle Ages" probably has some expertise.
Just so you know. Your first cite says "the helplessness of an unhorsed knight in plate armor has been vastly exaggerated" and your second cite says "if properly articulated and well oiled, plate armor permitted much freedom of movement." The second cite then goes on to say that the knight was always vulnerable to velleins (villagers) and other hazards but I challenge you to find anybody in a medieval battle who wasn't vulnerable to attack. Armor offered protection not invulnerability.

The keyword to cite #1 is the mud. Fighting in mud was apparently not a good idea if you were wearing armor. Unfortunately the French found that out a bit too late at Agincourt. Well, unfortunate for the French at any rate.

Uh, at what point does this thread stop being a "General Question" and turn into a "Great Debate?"

Last edited by Odesio; 03-18-2009 at 01:14 AM..
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  #31  
Old 03-18-2009, 01:28 AM
ivn1188 ivn1188 is offline
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Originally Posted by Odesio View Post
Syphilis didn't hit Europe until just before the beginning of the 16th century in Naples, Italy. Do you know of any sources that detail the rate of STDs in Europe prior to the Renaissance? Speculation is all well and good but when we're interpreting the past we have to use the evidence that's available to us.
You might be right about syphilis, I don't know. But it's clear from the historical record that STDs, dental issues, and the like were common.

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Originally Posted by Odesio View Post
Knights aren't the royal family.
True. But the article does not talk about only the royal family. Most people didn't marry their sisters, but most of the noble families (from whence came the knighthood, by definition) were related to each other and the royal families.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Odesio View Post
More importantly it translates into high infant mortality rates. That doesn't mean knights weren't in good physical shape. Typically the men of any society who go off to war are in the prime of their lives and are pretty darn fit.

For some reason medieval knights don't get the respect that other warriors do. Medieval knights, Spartans, and Samurai (before they were turned into haiku spouting flower arranging ponces) weren't supermen but they were certainly fairly good at what their jobs were. Of course I mean breaking things and killing people.
I don't disagree that they were decent enough fighters, or in decent shape. But the superman myth remains, and the idea that they were paragons of martial prowess is flawed. Yes, the infant mortality rate skews life expectancies, but on the other hand, hemorrhoids, gout, boils, slipped discs, eyesight issues, adhesions, cysts, parasites, etc didn't often heal themselves, and certainly would affect overall athletic ability. Compared to modern man, they would not be as capable physically, as is evidenced by the steady forward progress of sports records just over the last century. And since knights were knights by virtue of birth and lineage and not ability (in most cases), there was not as much selection for skill.

The historical evidence is clear, and I have cited two well-respected books already. I've never seen anything more than SCA or fantasy novels that claim knights were routinely capable of stunning feats of martial prowess, instead of being products of a primitive society with poor nutrition, medicine, and technology. If you have good cites that disagree, I'd love to see them. Until then, I think the OP is wrapped up.
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  #32  
Old 03-18-2009, 02:01 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
Link? The one article on him says no such thing, or I'm missing it. It gives a maximum height in the 9th century and says it was all downhill from there.
It’s a PDF
Page 38 (page 36 by page number). Heights for late middle ages averages, which I’m interpreting as anything with “x-16th century” average about 174 cm, or 5’10. If you want to include figures for the middle ages as well it won’t change the mean much, it might drag it down to 173cm.



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Yes, there's no possible way that someone standing next to a full suit of armor stood up on a fitted dummy, could tell how tall it is. Just as there's no way a person standing next to any other person can tell whether that person is taller or shorter than himself.
Nobody is saying that you can’t judge how tall the armour is on the stand. What you are incapable of is extrapolating form the height on the stand to the height on a wearer. You can only do that by measuring the rigid pieces.
To give you an analogy you might understand: a pair of nylon stockings is only 4 inches wide and 12 inches long when they are mounted for display in the shop. Does this mean that the typical wearer has legs just 3 inches in diameter and 12 inches long? Or does it mean that you can’t judge the size of the wearer for the way the garment its when it is displayed?

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I agree that it could be that it was all model armor as you say, of course. But in no way was there any question about the relative height.
There is a lot of question about the actual height. Actual museum curators can’t judge armour heights without taking measurements, so I doubt that you can.


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Originally Posted by ivn1188 View Post
Blake, I'll address only your comments that weren't a cite request.
Are we to take it from that that you are unable to provide references to back up your extraordinary claims?
Quote:
So some percentage, probably larger than modern teens, were most likely carrying some diseases such as syphilis.
Can we have some evidence for this claim? Especially considering that Syphillis is almost certainly a disease introduced to Europe from the Americas?

Or is this yet another example of you trying to back up a widl claim by making yet wilder claims with no evidential support?

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Inbreeding among the nobility is an accepted fact.
No, that is a list of inbred royal houses, nothing more. Your claim is that the majority of knights were inbred. Do you have any evidence at all to support that claim? It seems so riduculous on the face of it that I assume you must have some reason to believe it is true?

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Lack of good food preservation techniques and lower quality produce means less nutrition.
Total bollocks. The best nutrition on the entire history of the world was had by hunter gatherers, who had absolutely no food preservation technology and absolutely no food production system of any quality whatsoever.

So once again, do you have even a shred of evidence to support your outrageous claim? I notice a trend here ivn1188. You make a ludicrous claim, then when asked for evidence you try to support it with an even more ridiculous claim without ever providing any actual evidence for anything. It’s turtles all the way down. Do you have any actual evidence you can show us for these ludicrous claims?


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Not having good medical technology means small health problems don't get fixed, contributing to a lower quality of health.
WTF does this have to do with vitamin deficiency, STDs or inbreeindg?

Quote:
The only link is the wikipedia article, and that only talks about 19th century heights.
Sigh. Read what I wrote, then read the article, And then read the links in the article. My claims are not mistaken. The paper by Steckel presents the result so several studies which cocnclude that the mean height the late middle ages/reformation was 5’10” for males.

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This paper …. claims that nobles were not actually bigger.
Bollocks. It states quite plainly that “social status is an important variable [in regard to height], since many studies on the 18th to 20th centuries have found height differences of typically 2-4 cm between adults from lower classes and adults belonging to the middle and upper classes”. It then goes on to say that the authors took pains to "exclud theinfluence of potential social selectivity on height trends" by selectively inserted dummy variables into the analysis and that, as a result of doing so, middle and upper class heights still exceeded others by 0.6 cm, but that the difference was insignificant.

So you have totally misinterpreted the paper.

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As for the rest, I've provided enough detail that I think you have the burden of proof here.
Yeah sure. You have provided no evidence whatsoever for any of your claims. Several of them are provably false. And you have misinterpreted one reference to reach precisely the opposite conclusion to that clearly stated by the authors.

The burden of proof rests very clearly with you. I would like to see a single reference that supports even one of your claims. But don’t knock yourself out trying. I doubt that such exists, but your showing so far has been more than sufficient for people to judge how “factual” your replies have been. In summary pretty much every single thing you have posted in this thread has been wrong, and the little bits that were correct have been totally irrelevant to the discussion.
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  #33  
Old 03-18-2009, 02:27 AM
Odesio Odesio is offline
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Originally Posted by ivn1188 View Post
You might be right about syphilis, I don't know. But it's clear from the historical record that STDs, dental issues, and the like were common.
Can you be more specific? What historical records show that STDs were a significant problem in the periods from 476 until 1450?

Quote:
True. But the article does not talk about only the royal family. Most people didn't marry their sisters, but most of the noble families (from whence came the knighthood, by definition) were related to each other and the royal families.
How closely were they related? Marrying your cousin is pretty common in some parts of the Middle East, and, other than one group whom I can't remember that name of, inbreeding doesn't appear to be a problem there.

Quote:
I don't disagree that they were decent enough fighters, or in decent shape. But the superman myth remains, and the idea that they were paragons of martial prowess is flawed.
Rarely do I hear people singing the praises of the medieval knight. Such praise is usually reserved for Spartans, Samurai, and Navy Seals. Nobody here seems to have suggested that they were supermen.

Quote:
Yes, the infant mortality rate skews life expectancies, but on the other hand, hemorrhoids, gout, boils, slipped discs, eyesight issues, adhesions, cysts, parasites, etc didn't often heal themselves, and certainly would affect overall athletic ability.
I have an instructional book from 1607 (admittedly it isn't medieval) that's chocked full of all sorts of methods of treating things like boils, constipation, head wounds, etc. While I would certainly rather have a modern surgeon work on me many of the treatments in the book are quite reasonable. (Barber-Surgeons didn't typically go in for all business about the humors quite so much as physicians did.) The Code of Hammurabi mentions people who remove cataracts from the eyes of patients.


Quote:
The historical evidence is clear, and I have cited two well-respected books already.
I don't think you're quite interpreting the sources you cited correctly. Neither one of them suggested the knight wasn't good at his job.


Quote:
I've never seen anything more than SCA or fantasy novels that claim knights were routinely capable of stunning feats of martial prowess, instead of being products of a primitive society with poor nutrition, medicine, and technology. If you have good cites that disagree, I'd love to see them. Until then, I think the OP is wrapped up.
I haven't seen anyone here claiming that knights were supermen. In fact you were the first one to introduce the phrase "supermen" into the conversation. What people have claimed is that the knights were competent warriors.

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  #34  
Old 03-18-2009, 02:39 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
It’s a PDF
Page 38 (page 36 by page number). Heights for late middle ages averages, which I’m interpreting as anything with “x-16th century” average about 174 cm, or 5’10. If you want to include figures for the middle ages as well it won’t change the mean much, it might drag it down to 173cm.
Firstly, your math is wrong. 174cm is 5'8.5", 173cm is 5'8".
Secondly, nearly all those heights are for Scandinavians and milk-territory people. That's vikings and milk maids, not knights. Knights are German, French, and English.
Thirdly, modern day Dutch/Danish people are a full 7cm (2.75") taller than the people in your study. Modern day Scandinavians are a full 8.3cm (3.25") taller than those of the middle ages. So you are showing a three inch difference. So if we consider the average height of German/French/English people to be 5'9" (which it is), then we'd expect those same people to be roughly 5'6" in the middle ages.

* Just for a note, the average height of Norway/Sweden/Denmark/Netherlands is 5'10.75"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height

Last edited by Sage Rat; 03-18-2009 at 02:43 AM..
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  #35  
Old 03-18-2009, 02:44 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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I watched a TV show about a year ago when they hired a bunch of guys (basically the best out of a group that auditioned), made authentic plate armor for them, then tested out how easily they could move around. Not only was the idea that if they fell over that they couldn't get back up proven to be just plain silly, these guys were able to do all sorts of things like run, jump, run through water, run through an obstacle course, etc.

They did have a couple of injuries on the show. One guy twisted his ankle while jumping through the obstacle course. There were a couple of other minor injuries caused by the fact that real knights had years to build up strong tendons to handle the extra weight, and these guys basically only had a week.

Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the show right now, but it was probably on Discovery or the History Channel and it was maybe a year ago or so that it was on. Hopefully that's enough info that someone can dig up a cite for it.
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  #36  
Old 03-18-2009, 02:47 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by ivn1188 View Post
You might be right about syphilis, I don't know. But it's clear from the historical record that STDs, dental issues, and the like were common.
What historical records? This is the third time I’ve asked you to show us these records, bu t you keep avoiding the issue. Methinks you might be making this up.

Quote:
Most people didn't marry their sisters, but most of the noble families (from whence came the knighthood, by definition) were related to each other and the royal families.
Everybody in Europe was and is related to everybody else in Europe. This does not in any way support your claim that a majority of knights were inbred. Now please present your evidence for your ridiculous claim that 51% of nights were the result of inbreeding.


Quote:
I don't disagree that they were decent enough fighters,
Yes you do.
You believe that all knights were capable of was spearing helpless peasants and getting knocked down and held for ransom for a while. Thatis not a decent fighting ability.

Are you now retracting that ridiculous claim, or are you going to give us some evidence to support it?

Quote:
I don't disagree that they were… in decent shape.
Yes you do.
You said they weren't even close ot being as physically fit as a modern marine. IOW you said they were not in decent shape since they could not even come close to passing marine basic training.

Are you now retracting that ridiculous claim, or are you going to give us some evidence to support it?


Quote:
But the superman myth remains,.
What superman myth? Who here has posited a superman myth?

The only myths have been your myths, made without any reference to prior discussion, about knights being short, diseased, with no fighting ability and being physically incapable and similar nonsense.

Quote:
…and the idea that they were paragons of martial prowess is flawed
Sigh. Another ridiculous statement made without any reference to evidence. And once again my request for evidence will be ignored.

At its broadest a paragon is simply the highest attainable state. And knights were the highest attainable state for the fighting man at that time, They they were as good as a fihgtiing man could get in training, equipment and tactics. Knights are the paragon of the medieval fighting man. That’s not a myth, it; a fact.

Now if you are once again getting your information form D&D and you mean that knights were holy warriors, well nobody has ever made that claim in this thread so you are knocking down a straw man.
Quote:
..hemorrhoids, gout, boils, slipped discs, eyesight issues, adhesions, cysts, parasites, etc didn't often heal themselves, and certainly would affect overall athletic ability.
Please provide evidence for your claim that majority of knights suffered from these afflictions.
Quote:
Compared to modern man, they would not be as capable physically, as is evidenced by the steady forward progress of sports records just over the last century.
Oh FFS, you must be joking? Knights can’t have been as physically capable as medieval fighting men because the time for running a mile has improved by 5 seconds? So is your contention that every modern soldier can beat the world records world records in all sports from 100 years ago? ie that every modern soldier can run a mile in 1.1 minutes? If not them WTF are you talking about? How does the performance of modern elite athletes in any way support your frankly ludicrous claim that no knight could pass the marine physical?

I can only assume that you actually believe that sports records are improving because the human body has evolved in the last 100 years. Of course that belief is just stupid. Performance improves not because of evolution of the human body but because of better training, equipment, tailored diets and so forth. And the gains over the last century are tiny. Given that neither knights nor marines utilise such diets, equipment or training the whole statement is laughable.
Quote:
And since knights were knights by virtue of birth and lineage and not ability (in most cases), there was not as much selection for skill.
So you are saying that 51% of young men today could not pass the marine physical no matter how hard they trained? Because if you aren’t making such a ludicrous claim then this selection for ability thing goes no way at all to supporting your claim that most knights couldn’t even come close to passing a marine physical.

Quote:
The historical evidence is clear…
THEN SHOW US THIS EVIDENCE! I keep asking for it and you keep refusing. If the evidnce is so clear then show it to us.

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… and I have cited two well-respected books already.
No, you haven’t. You have mentioned them. Where in those books doe sit say that 51% of knights couldn’t come close to passing marine basic training physical? Where does it say that 51% of knights suffered from vitamin deficiency? Where does it say that food storage technology correlates to nutritional status? Where does it say that nights drowned because they fell over in puddles and couldn’t get up? I am now going to claim that I have read those books cover to cover and that it says no such thing. If you think those books support your extraordinary claims then please quote where they say so.

I find it hard to believe that any well respected book would make such silly claims.

Quote:
I’ve never seen anything more than SCA or fantasy novels that claim knights were routinely capable of stunning feats of martial prowess, instead of being products of a primitive society with poor nutrition, medicine, and technology.
Well first off do you understand what the fallacy of the false dilemma is? Do you understand that someone can be “capable of stunning feats of martial prowess” and “products of a primitive society with poor nutrition, medicine, and technology” at the same time? That it doesn’t have to be one or the other?

Secondly nobody but you in this entire thread has mentioned stunning feats of martial prowess, so what relevance does such a claim have to this thread. No doubt somebody somewhere has made such a claim, but it wasn’t on this message board and it sure wasn’t in this thread.

So what is your point exactly?

Quote:
If you have good cites that disagree, I'd love to see them.
If you want cites for anything factual that I have contended then ask. My reputation on this board in that regard should be fairly solid
However it was YOU who made the extraordinary claims. You need to provide the extraordinary evidence. But since you clearly can’t and have made several demonstrable errors of fact I think we can leave people to draw their own conclusions about the truth value of your posts.



Quote:
Until then, I think the OP is wrapped up.
The OP? Where did the OP mention feats of superhuman strength? The OP asked about the mobility of armour. That was answered factually within the first few posts by saying that knights were mostly fit young fighting men, that armour isn’t very heavy and that they could have turned cartwheels in their armour when they wanted to. That was the OP cleared up.

All your claims that knights were subhuman, diseased, inbred, nowhere near as fit as the modern fighting man only capable of killing unarmed peasants and so forth have had nothing to do with the OP and no basis in fact.
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  #37  
Old 03-18-2009, 03:12 AM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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On the other hand, a knight in full plate armour going through marine basic training ? That's a hollywood summer blockbuster, right there.
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  #38  
Old 03-18-2009, 03:18 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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Originally Posted by Sage Rat View Post
Firstly, your math is wrong. 174cm is 5'8.5", 173cm is 5'8".
OK, my bad. But it’s one inch.

Quote:
econdly, nearly all those heights are for Scandinavians and milk-territory people. That's vikings and milk maids, not knights. Knights are German, French, and English.
Firstly they aren’t nearly all Scandinavian. My quick count shows one from Sweden, two from Holland, one from Iceland. So only 50% are Scandinavian.

Secondly and more importantly those are the best heights the researchers could find for European heights. Those are the best existing figures for heights in Europe. Now if you want to claim that people from Sweden 300 years ago were somehow atypical that’s great if you have evidence. But until then we go with the figures we have, which shows they were not atypical.
Thirdly they aren’t Vikings in the 17th century I can assure you of that. Nor are they knights. They are just people from graveyards. SOe may have been knights, some milmaids. But the whoel point of the article is that those are typical figures for Northern Europe during the period.
Quote:
Thirdly, modern day Dutch/Danish people are a full 7cm (2.75") taller than the people in your study. Modern day Scandinavians are a full 8.3cm (3.25") taller than those of the middle ages. So you are showing a three inch difference.
No I am not. I am showing what I said that I showed: that the typical male in Northern Europe during this time period was 5’8.5” inches, only fractionally shorter than a typical Englishman or typical American today. They were not dwarves as some here have asserted.
Whether modern Scandinavians are anomalously taller than other modern populations is totally irrelevant. The point is that if a typical medieval knight walked past you right now you would not think think him short. He would be 5’8.5” on average. That’s only half an inch shorter than the typical American or Britsih male of 2009.

Quote:
So if we consider the average height of German/French/English people to be 5'9" (which it is), then we'd expect those same people to be roughly 5'6" in the middle ages.
No, we would expect them to be 5’8.5” because that is what the study shows to be the average height in Northern Europe at that time.

What you certainly can not do is extrapolate from present Scandinavian and Dutch height into the past. Just look at the heights in the recent past. From 1720-1760 heights for the US, UK and Netherlands were 173, 165 and 164 respectively. 1760-1800: 172, 168 and 166. 1800-1830: 171, 171 and 169. 1830-1870: 170, 170 and 172. IOW the data clearly shows that the Dutch as a tall people only happened post industrial revolution, and that prior to that they were somewhat shorter than the English and much shorter than the Americans. So your extrapolation is totally invalid.

At the very worst you should exclude the data you think is anomalous and look at only the non-Scandinavian non-Dutch figures, which really leaves us 14C England at 171.8”, or 5’7.5”, or one inch shorter than the typical US or British male of today.
That is the point. Not whether they were shorter than the tallest modern people, but whether they would be considered short by you, who claimed to know for a fact that they were short. The fact is that all the evidence tells us they might have been an inch shorter than a typical US or English male. They were not short.

Last edited by Blake; 03-18-2009 at 03:22 AM..
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  #39  
Old 03-18-2009, 03:22 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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On the other hand, a knight in full plate armour going through marine basic training ? That's a hollywood summer blockbuster, right there.
I'd watch it.
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  #40  
Old 03-18-2009, 04:02 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Whether modern Scandinavians are anomalously taller than other modern populations is totally irrelevant.
It is relevant. You're talking about entirely separate groups of people with separate diets and separate shared genetic similarities. Japan is roughly the same climate as Northern Europe, but I'm not going to take the average height of Dutch people in the 16th century and propose that this is the height of the Japanese people at the same time.

Quote:
They were not dwarves as some here have asserted.
I don't think anyone said that.

If you go to a country where everyone is three inches shorter, on average, or three inches taller than what you are used to, it's very obvious. It feels like you're in a land of midgets or a land of giants, but indeed it is only a difference of three inches. Percentage-wise it might not sound like all that big of a difference, but perception-wise and in terms of what seems like someone you could reasonably trade your clothes with, it's a significant difference.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 03-18-2009 at 04:03 AM..
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  #41  
Old 03-18-2009, 05:19 AM
Blake Blake is offline
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It is relevant. You're talking about entirely separate groups of people with separate diets and separate shared genetic similarities.
The authors addressed the genetics issue. You are free to disagree with them of course, but without any contrary evidence GQ is not the place to do so. At this stage the fact is that evidence can be discounted. If you want to debate the authors’ conclusions that genetics is not an issue on the study issue then we can take it up in GD.

The authors also addressed the diet issue, by pointing out that it varies as much or more over century timescales within regions than it does between regions at the same time.

In both these cases your criticism is reasonable, but neither has any evidence to actually support it. And in both cases if they were true all they would do is serve to make it impossible to judge medieval heights any more accurately than this study has done. IOW if your criticisms are valid then this study is the best analysis we will ever achieve of the height of medieval men but it is of dubious trustworthiness. And if they are incorrect then this study is the best analysis we will ever achieve of the height of medieval men and totally trustworthy.

But either way this is the best evidence we have, the only facts we have and either way the conclusion is the same: men from this time period were not substantially shorter than modern men from the UK or US and knights and other nobility were likely the exact same height.

While I understand your point here you still have yet to produce any evidence for your claims that medieval Europeans from England, France and Germany were significantly shorter than they are today. IOW at this stage we have evidence that they were no shorter that you think is flawed (reasonably enough), but no evidence at all that they were shorter.

I have seen plenty of other evidence which all reaches the same conclusion: that while medieval knights were slightly shorter than modern men it wasn't spectacular. Until you can produce some evidence to the contrary that is what the facts say. Your experience looking at armour in museums does not go any way at all to supporting your position.

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Japan is roughly the same climate as Northern Europe, but I'm not going to take the average height of Dutch people in the 16th century and propose that this is the height of the Japanese people at the same time.
Firstly Japan is not even remotely like the climate of Northern Europe. Northern Europe ranges form frigid to cool temperate, Japan ranges from warm temperate to wet tropical. Japan is distinctly monsoonal while Northern Europe ranges from distinctly Mediterranean to mild continental.

All you have to do is look at the average temperature for Kyoto compared to Brest, which is the closest “Northern “European city I can think of

Secondly nobody is proposing that you take it as the height of Japanese people at the same time. I am proposing that you take the heights for Northern Europeans at the time, that the authors say they have treated so as to be representative of Northern Europeans of the time, and use it as a representation of Northern Europeans at the time.

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I don't think anyone said that.
How else would you describe a full grown man that is the same size as a typical twelve year old boy? That is what people have been saying in this thread
You yourself have said that they had a height some 5 inches shorter than modern men because that’s what the armour looked like. While not quite a dwarf that is substantially shorter than today, and is not supported by the evidence which says the height difference was at most two inches and that their probably wasn’t any height difference at all
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If you go to a country where everyone is three inches shorter, on average, or three inches taller than what you are used to…
But the height difference according to that study was only 1/10th of an inch. So where did this three inches stuff come from.
Look, at this stage the best evidence we have says that the height difference between medieval knights and modern men is in the magnitude of an inch at most, and very likely there was no difference at all.

And we have explained why you simply can not use suits of armour as guides to height.

So do you have any actual evidence for this three inch height difference that you are purporting to exist? And I note that this height difference went from the original ~12” difference down to your original ~5” difference to your current 3 inch difference. If this trend continues it will become a 1” difference that I am happy to accept and we can leave it at that.
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:09 AM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Epic thread.
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:14 AM
Professor Murder Professor Murder is offline
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On the same subject of height, I remember back in the early 1990's in school going on a field trip to an old church in the city centre. Part of the tour of the church included a visit to the burial crypts. The church dates back to the early middle ages and one of the bodies was of a Norman Crusader I think he was from the first crusade. Anyway I remember the tour guide mentioning him in particular because he was so tall for the time, over 6 feet, something like 6'4''. His skeleton was huge I remember that much. There was also the skeleton of a nun from the same period, which was considerably smaller. The skeletons were visible because the coffins had mostly rotted.
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Old 03-18-2009, 06:33 AM
capybara capybara is offline
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The discussion's gone elsewhere, but FWIW I retract my vague assertions.
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:22 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
In both these cases your criticism is reasonable, but neither has any evidence to actually support it. And in both cases if they were true all they would do is serve to make it impossible to judge medieval heights any more accurately than this study has done. IOW if your criticisms are valid then this study is the best analysis we will ever achieve of the height of medieval men but it is of dubious trustworthiness. And if they are incorrect then this study is the best analysis we will ever achieve of the height of medieval men and totally trustworthy.
Indeed, so by that inherent unreliability, doesn't it seem wiser to confine the area we are talking about to the area we actually have data on? Extrapolating poor data to a larger number of people seems to be not the best choice.

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So do you have any actual evidence for this three inch height difference that you are purporting to exist?
The people in the regions that your PDF includes have grown three inches. I've said nothing more nor less than this than to suggest that the advancements of nutrition between then and now are probably the largest cause and hence ~3" change seems like a decent number to run with. But I would agree that you're assuming quite a bit to extend that number out to other regions of the map as you would to assume that the absolute height of Europeans was consistent all around back then.

Quote:
And I note that this height difference went from the original ~12” difference down to your original ~5” difference to your current 3 inch difference. If this trend continues it will become a 1” difference that I am happy to accept and we can leave it at that.
I've never mentioned any specific height than ~3". Perhaps someone else did, but I did not.
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:38 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
Firstly Japan is not even remotely like the climate of Northern Europe. Northern Europe ranges form frigid to cool temperate, Japan ranges from warm temperate to wet tropical. Japan is distinctly monsoonal while Northern Europe ranges from distinctly Mediterranean to mild continental.
Monsoons aside, Japan is actually not all that tropical. Hokkaido is prime cattle grazing ground and is quite the winter wonderland. Pretty much everything North of Niigata is comparable to England, Sweden, or Norway. That's nearly half the nation, though I agree that the capital and the majority of the populace has always been in the more tropical areas.

I knew a guy who had a friend who built a tree house (like a real house) in the forests of em...Yamagata or thereabouts I think. http://www.treehouse.jp/

Last edited by Sage Rat; 03-18-2009 at 07:40 AM..
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Old 03-18-2009, 08:44 AM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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I'm surprised to see that nobody's really mentioned the very important point that wearing plate armor is not like shoving the plate armor into a backpack and putting it on your back, or like carrying it in your arms. It isn't even like chainmail, which essentially hangs from your shoulders. You tie it on to your clothes, so the weight is distributed a lot more than, say, a basket carried on the head of an African lady. When you look at the weight of a suit of armor you have to consider how it's carried.
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Old 03-18-2009, 09:14 AM
Kinthalis Kinthalis is offline
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I mentioned it. Didn't stop some of the people spouting off ignorance on this thread from ignoring though
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:16 AM
Woeg Woeg is offline
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I don't know if personal experience is considered a proper cite, but I thought I'd weigh in (pun intended) on the subject.

First, some background: I am 33 years old, have worked the majority of my professional life at a desk job either doing tech support or graphic art, and never played sports seriously. An athlete, I am not. I'm also rounder then I'd care to be!

That said, I regularly wear a suit of plate armour that covers 3/4 of my body, and I have absolutely no problems with mobility in it. My suit is based off the Churburg #13 harness, which dates to the same time, roughly, as the battle of Agincourt (actually, about 20 or so years earlier). It looks very similar to the following picture, save that I have an open face and don't wear the greaves and sabatons on my lower legs:

http://www.medievalrepro.com/Images/...20copyedit.jpg

My suit is actually heavier then the original it is based off of, which I believe weighed in around 60-70 lbs (not at home, so I don't have a source handy) - my full rig weighs in at just over 80 lbs. This is mostly because I built it out of heavier steel than its historical counterpart, so as to have to spend less time repairing it. I also want to note that my suit is replicated quite closely as far as techniques of articulation and construction; the man that I studied under while it was built has actually inspected the original first hand, and built his patterns off of it and the munition grade pieces he examined while in Europe.

Now, as stated, I am hardly in the best of shape, but I have spent upwards of a week wearing my plate 8-9 hours a day, spending probably 6 of those hours in movement, either fighting, charging, or marching. I have fallen to the ground countless times in that period (part of my group's fighting rules requires one to "fall dead" when struck with a stout blow), and have never been "like a turtle" in attempting to right myself. Mostly, I just stood back up as soon as the marshals said I could, save for the few times where I had bodies laying on top of me to prevent me from doing so! Were I a more athletic and flexible man, who spent the majority of his time training and practicing in my kit, I have no doubts that I'd be able to do somersaults and cartwheels in my armour.

The point, in the long run, is this: at the end of the day, a vaunted historian, however well trained and educated, is just a man making guesses unless he's actually tried the stuff out himself. The fallacy that a man in armour was over-encumbered, like a turtle on the ground, or in any other way made vulnerable by his kit is one that has grown due to lack of personal experience.
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:24 AM
Kinthalis Kinthalis is offline
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Not just a lack of personal experience but also a complete ignorance on period literature on the subject, including but not limited to fighting treatises of the time (fechtbucher) which depict combat in and out of harness and the various marital maneuvers expected to be used while wearing the armor.

This has changed recently, however. As more and more evidence that previous notions about the time period were just wrong, newer publications are making strides on educating those interested on the subject.

Just look at this thread. Most people here know a thing or two about the subject with only a couple of people really not having been exposed to any serious and modern scholarly information.
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