—Thought I’d try something different this time, adding on to the workshop posts, tapping into knowledge back in historical times on the interesting advances and adaptions of technology etc. This post will be dedicated to the comparison between Maile and Plate during 14th-16th Century. Note by any means this is not an extensive research, but an analysis from my findings from books, experience and the internet—
Pretty much sums it up how long it takes to make Maile. I know, I’m still working on it.
There has been a universal understanding that the transitional era where maile armour that was dorminant for almost two millenniums was inevitably replaced with a more rigid, economical, protective (and aesthetical dare I say) piece of technology that phased out the era of maile armour. One answer is simple rather, that plate armour’s strongest factor in dominating the European theatre of war near the 14th century was it’s ability to manufacture faster than maile.
To put it simply: A mail suit would take 2 months, a Breastplate 2 days.
And even with the decline of maile armour, this was not the end. There have been records of foot soldiers still donning up maile even in the 16th century, and the Ottoman Calvary were still using maile up till in the 17th century.
So for this blog post, let’s have an analysis on both armours on it’s physical merits and context out on the military battlefield.
This comparison is certainly unfair, but maile definitely has some advantages over plate, just not on combat terms, ithat would be just unsporty
Let’s look on the effectiveness of maile and plate Armour.
Maile Armour has long existed as early as the 6rh Century BC, and proof of it’s effectiveness no doubt was it’s existence alone in various nations around the world, until plate armour and guns ruined the fun.
(Strengths)Maile suits or Hauberks are definitely the top choice of defense back in the 10-13th century. The Hauberks were fully covered in maile, including the vital parts such as the armpits. A good quality Riveted Maile Armour can easily protect the wear from any cuts from a blade, and provides reasonable protection from arrows and spears from the period where maile is dominant. Maile was designed similiar to a fabric dress, that offered more comfort compared to other armours. Compared to Plate, maile offers more mobility.*
(Weaknesses)Maile armour has three distinct disadvantages, Firstly that it’s not a rigid piece of defense but rather was constructed as a metallic fabric, meaning that it lacked the rigid defense to stop blunt force trauma against an impending course, that is where the big bad mace comes in as an anti-armour weapon that was apparent in the 12th century. Secondly, it was still vulnerable to piercing weapons, while it still can protect from thrusts, the evolution of bodkin arrows and the momentum of polearms still surpassed the protection. Thirdly, most of the weight hangs on the shoulders of said wearer, with only rhe belt acting as a secondary force. This does ‘drag’ down the wearer much, unlike say Plate armour.
Plate Armour does hold king to it’s superiority over maile, but also for the fact that weapons were also evolving to a point that maile armour can be vulnerable. Weapons of the 15th century can easily tear apart maile on that matter.
(Strengths)Plate armour has obvious advantages, being it able to protect the wearer from both cuts and thrusts(unless from heavy warhammers or polearms that can deliver alot of momentum) Plate armour also reasonably was able to stop blunt trauma due to a better area distribution. Also, it distributes weight better than maile, meaning that you can don plate all day and still feel nothing, if you’re a fit person that is.
(Weaknesses)Unlike the fabric structure of maile, parts of plate will need straps to hold the armour itself, causing discomfort to the wearer. Plate armour was heavier than maile, although the difference was not much that would prove it unfavourable. Guns can pew-pew off armour, (although some 16th century armours were able to stop gunshots from a distance by an aquebus until better ones arrived at the end of the century)
Definitely compared on physical grounds that Plate armour is naturally superior on physical defenses than maile armour, but maile still have a few ups on it’s mobility factor.
Ottoman Turk Calvary from the 16th-18th Century, even where guns were dominating. The Ottomans used maile mainly for their tactics and maile was more forgiving under hot weather.
Even when Plate Armour was favoured in European Battlefields, it has many disadvantages that doesn’t make it the ‘one-all’ choice’ when it comes down to military or societal context. In fact, maile was oftened considered over plate on circumstances where protection was not an imperative for the wearer. In the Middle East, the Ottomans were in favour of maile mainly because of their tactics and the environment around them.
Plate armour still is the preferred choice of defense to aristocratic nobles for the time it takes to make compared to Maile. In 1427 Milan, Armour was in such a huge demand that a Factory town supplied in a few days of armour for 4000 Calvary and 2000 Infantry.**
The annoying problems about Plate armour was the time it takes to suit up, and it was nigh impossible to put the armour on yourself, which knights often required squires to assist them. And also if evident attacks were to occur right at your doorstep, plate armour would not be an option to self-preservation of life.
The cost price of Plate Armour is the least of your worries…..
Maile Armour on the other hand, was easy to don up compared to Plate. (I’ve had experience so I’d know) In a punch, putting on a maile Hauberk can be as fast as a few seconds alone with proper technique. Maile was definitely preferred when knightly work requires nothing life-threatening such as a patrol in peacetime, the maile would be a top choice.
Of course, Maile does not fall into non-existant oblivion, it still was used by foot soldiers up to the 16th century, and before the rise of Plate, maile armour, however slow was accumulating up, and still provides decent protection, until guns ruined everything.
An Ottoman Sipahi, I believe this is 16th-17th due to the rather late era look on the Helmet.
Surprisingly enough, Maile was still existent in the Ottoman Empire and India up till the 19th Century, as tactics in the Middle East were different than European Armies. Where masses of Tin Cans are bashing out head on, the Ottomans favoured speed over protection. Ottomans also favoured archery, which maile was decent enough to protect against, and believed that armour could do little against muskets and cannons.(Although 16th century European armour can survive aquebus shots until the invention of muskets)
Also, due to the structure of the Fedual system in Europe, the Nobles and Knights, military leaders of warfare, have to be responsible for their own protection, priority being owning the best armours to survive in the heat of battle. For the Ottomans, it’s more effective to fund on superior weaponry such as cannons than spending on armour and ruin everything.
Also, Damn you Guns.
*Mobility as in more of how restrictive it feels. A Plate Armour can be very mobile to the wearer given the right conditioning, and maile has the disadvantage of weight distribution
**From the book “THE ARMOURER AND HIS CRAFT” by Charles ffoulkes
–Hopefully this wealth of informtation would definitely excite Medivalism Lovers, although I have to state again that this is more of an analysis rather than proper research, but to state, I’ve went through forums and books extensively in regards to confirm historical accuracy and have experience with maile(although butted)—
Just a few sources of the many I found:
Also, putting on plate armour vid
Do shoutout a feedback if you notice a discrepancy in the sources or like to comment about. All these info are used purely for educational entertainment, so I’m going to throw out that card out here.