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How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems
August 2, 2014 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Just how heavy and cumbersome was medieval armor? Who wore it? What did it look like? To find out, watch How to Mount a Horse in Armor and Other Chivalric Problems, an entertaining, informative, and deliciously snarky presentation by Dirk H. Breiding, assistant curator of the Department of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

More fun with armor from the Met:

A Visit to the Armor Galleries, a 1921 silent film (referenced and briefly excerpted in Breiding's presentation) showing off many pieces from the Met's armor gallery, including an armor likely made for Henry VIII...being worn and (ab)used by museum curators. They don't make 'em like this any more, folks!

"Fashion Plate", a short piece about a remarkable early 16th century armor from Augsburg, demonstrating just how flexible and almost textile-like plate armor could be.

"Dressing in Steel: Part One", a live armor-making demonstration, narrated by Dirk Breiding.

"Dressing in Steel: Part Two", a continuation of Part One, showing the lengthy process of putting on plate armor and the range of motion allowed by armor.
posted by jedicus (16 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
God I never lost weight faster or was so constantly hurt and tired as when I was wearing just a FRACTION of these things on horseback. You spend the entire time basically in a squat inside a metal oven.

And these videos are enough to a,e me think .....well maybe ....if
posted by The Whelk at 3:20 PM on August 2


No shh come over here and have some of this enormous roast boar
posted by elizardbits at 4:12 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


The video clips at about 35min where the guy is running in full armor and the last two clips showing the range of motion of the sleeve and shoes are amazing. I had no idea that it could work that way or be less than rigid and clunky.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:33 PM on August 2


It's a lot more articulated than you'd expect! Plus all your body is like, tucked away in undergarments.

Also roast boar is totes paleo
posted by The Whelk at 4:46 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


In one of the videos he says it can take 400 hours to make a full suit of armor. So I'm guessing a custom suit might cost $30,000 or more?
posted by stbalbach at 6:34 PM on August 2


So I'm guessing a custom suit might cost $30,000 or more?

You are correct, sir! For example, these four fine examples from Historic Enterprises run $22.9k - $37.5k. Note that does not include the cost of the special arming clothes needed to actually put the thing on. Depending on the armor it may also need one or more pieces of mail in order to give complete practical protection. Figure another $500 - $750 for the custom arming clothes and $500-$2500 for mail, depending on its extent and quality.

Those examples are 15th century plate, and some of them are specifically for jousting (jousting armor has special features that make it unsuitable for ground combat and often vice versa).
posted by jedicus at 7:26 PM on August 2


True story, as a teenager, I spent six weeks at a ren faire working with the jousters. Well, that's not really true, I exercised the horses. Big freaking beasts that regularly tried to scrape me off on trees...but anyway, the jousters used a big device akin to an engine hoist to get the guys up there. It was pretty funny every time.
posted by dejah420 at 7:27 PM on August 2


anyway, the jousters used a big device akin to an engine hoist to get the guys up there. It was pretty funny every time.

Sounds like they were either doing it for "historic" effect or were wearing really improperly made armor (either far, far too heavy or not at all correctly articulated). I've helped run historically accurate jousts, and the jousters had no trouble mounting their horses either from the ground or with no more assistance than a standard mounting block.
posted by jedicus at 7:49 PM on August 2


I wonder about the relative merits of being fully armored in a one-on-one battle, as was the custom of Gregor Clegane of House Clegane, versus a light leather armor, as was the custom of Dorne. I would be torn on balancing the protection vs. speed and agility tradeoff.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:49 PM on August 2


Mostly you need to restrain yourself from monologuing at the end.
posted by elizardbits at 9:16 PM on August 2 [10 favorites]


I wonder about the relative merits of being fully armored in a one-on-one battle

I think armored asshole advancing on and murdering an unarmored but "agile" peasant opponent, with impunity, is probably one of the primary use cases of armor design, and it wouldn't go well for the unarmored person.
posted by fleacircus at 11:03 PM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I mean, armor is weird terrifying murder-suits.
posted by fleacircus at 11:05 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


Fantastic post, thanks. The guy in full armor sprinting toward you at 35:33 is really remarkably intimidating. Must be as hot as hell though.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:01 AM on August 3


Must be as hot as hell though.

This made me imagine a medieval gentleman's magazine like Cosmo:

- 10 Steamy New Looks For Summer: How To Stay Cool While Looking Hot in the Melee
- Cute Equine Accessories to Glam Up Your Warhorse
- Jousting For Her Heart: seduce her with only your eyes in the season's most mysterious great helms!
- Elegant Snacks For All Your Pas D'Armes Needs!
posted by elizardbits at 9:43 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


I'd buy that in a heartbeat
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 AM on August 3


> >So I'm guessing a custom suit might cost $30,000 or more?

> You are correct, sir! For example, these four fine examples from Historic Enterprises run $22.9k - $37.5k.

Medieval Price is Right... or else!
posted by stbalbach at 9:07 AM on August 8


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