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Hauberk Pattern


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#1 Kommodore

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 01:44 AM

Hello all,

A little over a month ago I started fiddling with chainmail and the making thereof, but had wanted to do it for some time before that. To make a long story short, I want to make a Hauberk, but do not know which of the various patterns to choose from. Initially I decided I was going to for the 45 degree pattern shown here, but read on the guide here that this design limits arm movement relative to other ones. Another issue I have with that particular Hauberk pattern is that I don't know how I would go about any expansions along the shoulder (if needed) and that seems a bit problematic to me.

I have also found this article and while the body pattern seems fine it looks to me like it solves "the armpit issue" by having short sleeves and simply extending the weave from the body along those short sleeves. Maybe I am reading it wrong, but if so that is no good because I eventually plan to extend the sleeves all the way down the arm, so the mail needs to hang the correct way.

And oodles more to go with those examples. What I am looking for is a pattern that maximizes my arm/shoulder movement. There are a lot of different patterns and I simply don't know the relative merits of each one. I just would hate to spend all that time getting the top of the Hauberk done and extended down to my elbows, only to try moving in it and going "oh well it would be nice if
i could scratch my
nose or something"

So which style, in your experience, allows for the most movement, and if there are any drawbacks associated with the increase in mobility. Or even a listing of the goods and the bads of the common patterns they have out there. Coz I can't make heads or tails of it.

Thanks for any help.
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#2 StanleyIndraven

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 09:37 AM

I prefer the 45 degree shirt, i think it looks and feels nice. The other method is traditional and period as opposed to the 45. That being said, either version should be comfortable and allow plenty of movement so long as you allow for plenty of slack in the width of the arm. If it is large enough around your arm it will be fine
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#3 Paladin

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 08:10 PM

Many like the 45 degree pattern; it works well and does not really restrict movement if done right. It is a bit of a pain to do right though... (At least I thought so) The more traditional barrel and strap arrangement works nicely. It is fairly easy to execute too, the only thing even remotely tricky is the sleeves are attached at a 90 degree angle to the straps and torso, so the weave flows along the arm. I have an old haubergeon (My 2nd piece ever) made with all the links running in the same direction and that was the most confining one out of the few I've made. When I raise my arms it likes to ride up, so I would skip that pattern.
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#4 Fenris

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 08:24 PM

I recently finished my first haubergon of 16g 1/4 in. ID stainless rings. I made mine with a barrel and strap method and then attached sleeves at a 90 degree angle. I added 45 degree triangles into the armpit after the first fitting. I then added 3 in. wide expansion strips over the shoulders to help distribute weight better and allow for more padded/warm clothing to be worn under it. I found the construction pretty straightforward. I've heard that the 45 degree connections are not truly 45 degrees and could cause problems with lowering your arms. But they do look nice. The basic tee shirt construction is relatively straightforward as well, but I don't like the way the sleeves fall open on them. The barrel and strap method allows you to tailor your shoulders relatively easily through the use of either contractions/expansions. It's better to make your shirt a little to large than too small, give yourself an extra 10 inches on chest circumference and 6-8 or so on your arm circumference.
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#5 Konstantin the Red

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 08:48 PM

Welcome and well come, Kommodore -- are you a student of German, perhaps? Handles are sometimes revealing.

Yeah, that one article is mine, several years old now, and frankly I should add some more sophisticated notes about tailoring the body barrel.

For those, I like Mr. Trevor Barker and his gift to the mailling world. Yes, his page and instructions will teach you all about expansions and contractions. These are the same thing, just the one is the inversion of the other. Whether it's an expansion or a contraction depends on where the extra link is located, in the linkrow above or the linkrow below the central link in what Bladeturner calls a Basic Unit of E4-1 weave. That particular Unit becomes a unit of E5-1, as it were.

A big wide upper sleeve in the 45-degree shoulder seems the way to solve its habit of making you raise the entire side of the shirt up with your arm. There are other engineering solutions to that problem, which seems to have something to do with the joining-up under the armpit. The BT'er pattern is a rather fancy way of looking at what my article calls a 4-Trapezoid Shoulder, by the time you get all the pieces assembled -- you end up with a truncated triangle in front, one in back, and one for each shoulder. If you just laid out the shoulder section flat on the floor, it would look rather like a big picture frame.

There are a lot of ways to assemble a working shoulder/sleeves section.

The commonest (the lion's share, AFAWK) way is that extended-rows method in your second paragraph. It is also the easiest pattern to make long sleeves in, as you simply insert regular-type expansions into the elbow, giving freedom to flex there. If you just elbow-bend a simple tube of mail it clamps down like a bent garden hose -- with the exact same effect on your circulation! So when you get around to long sleeves on your shirt, you can just make those extended-linkrows, open-hang sleeves to look like a sock with a heel right there at the elbow -- and your hand won't go numb.

A shirt with those triangular expansion zones located on your back over both shoulder blades gives ease in the shirt to bring your arms forward and across, where that mobility is needed. The nice thing about such expansion zones is you don't need to get fancy to weave them into the rest of the shirt. They just weave on straight, because all the funny stuff is confined to the inside of the expansion zone and the edges are regular-weave E4-1 and zip together easy-peasy.

An extended-rows shoulder/sleeves shirt wants its armpit seam (a few inches of 90-degree join) tucked well up into the armpit, high up in there. This gives enough slack to where your shirt sleeve isn't trying to lift that whole side of the shirt when you raise your arm above horizontal.

Mail doesn't really have elasticity -- it just fakes it pretty well along one of its axes, with its expansion and collapse trick. But once the maximum expansion is reached, it snaps taut like a tow chain coming under load. That's all you're gonna get. The open hang sleeves in mailshirts of that kind have the sleeve parts at full stretch, which is one reason why those bulged-out elbow areas stay just where you want them when you wear your shirt.

Finally, be attentive to what size of coat of mail you're making. Hauberk is not the only word; it particularly means a long coat of mail down to the kneecaps, with sleeves varying with the century, growing from short to long, to mittens on the ends. The generi-shirt with short sleeves and mid-thigh length is a haburgeon/haubergeon, whichever spelling you like. The word is a Medieval French diminutive of hauberc or haubert, which latter seems an English variant of the word. So it was the little 'berk. The vest, short and sleeveless or almost so, and generally no longer than down to your hip pockets, is the byrnie -- Beowulf-era tech.

By the time (early 13th century) hauberks were growing mittens on their sleeves they also had integral coifs, and mail chausses on the legs were general issue. In William the Conqueror's time in the 11th century, mail chausses were gear for princes. Even mail evolves. Slowly, subtly to be sure, but it did.

The Trevor Barker Butted Mail page reproduces a German shirt we can actually date to right about 1438. Such precision is darn rare in mail, but there were records kept in Hamburg, I believe it was, that recorded the shirt's maker as in business in the town at that time. This was when coats of mail were no longer in the limelight; plate had taken over a couple generations back and mail now took a subsidiary role. Its form also shows this: the shirt is quite short in length, yet it has long sleeves -- this would have been a very unusual combination a hundred years previous. This would result in a fairly light protection that would also be easy to use and accommodate a range of shirt sizes. General-issue mail can be sized about like T-shirts, 2XS to 2XL, say.
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#6 Kommodore

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 11:12 PM

Well thank you for the responses.


~Red Hauberk is not the only word; it particularly means a long coat of mail down to the kneecaps, with sleeves varying with the century, growing from short to lo.ng, to mittens on the ends.

Yes, I am going (to try to) make a full hauberk, with the mail extending down to the kneecaps and to the wrists. I may or may not include mittens, that depends on which century I wish to focus on. Eventually, the plan is to go for either a Teutonic or Templar knight recreation, so I would like to get the pattern as close to period as possible. I don't know what century "shirt A2 from the Wallace Collection" is from so I don't know how relevant it is to my planned build if I do go for the more authentic route.

Anyway, from what I gather mobility should not be an issue provided I leave enough room for weave to expand when I move my arms vertically. Which makes sense I suppose. Reaching forward, though, seems to be my next point of concern. If I go with pattern that extends the weave out along the arms, it won't be an issue because I would simply add the should expansions to allow for that movement. But I just don't see how that could be done for a 45-degree build. I couldn't continue an expansion started at the shoulder blades over the shoulders because of the trapezoidal connection there. Or so I would think.

I would rather not have the weave hang open on my arms if I can avoid it. Though I confess I can't really think of a reason why (especially so if I ultimately decide on a period build). Taking the section I have made now, the weave seems to make less of a fuss around the elbow area when open vs hanging the "correct" way. But I really don't have enough to draw a proper conclusion for myself on that.

But to get to the point; is there a way to make expansions along the shoulder with a 45-degree weave, would I have to find another way, or does that type restrict my options for expansions on the upper body?

Also, you mentioned something about the elbow area "staying where [I] want it" with an open weave. I guess that would imply that the spot moves around with the other way?

Additionally, how does the mantletop pattern fare with respect to mobility/upper-body expansions/ etc? It interests me but I have not found very much material on it.

~ Paladin When I raise my arms it likes to ride up, so I would skip that pattern.

Which pattern would you recommend against, again? The 45-degree one or the extension one?

~Red Welcome and well come, Kommodore -- are you a student of German, perhaps? Handles are sometimes revealing.

Naw, the name just evolved from others I have been using over the years. Feel the K gives it a nice touch. :)
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#7 Paladin

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 12:21 PM

I was recommending against the extension of the weave, where the links run horizontally around the arms instead of vertically along them. Even allowing for gussets, I found it restrictive when I had the sleeves extended past my elbows, so I shortened them and left it. (It was only my second attempt, & I did not have access to forums and information like this back then, so live and learn...) As far as reaching forward, mail does expand along one axis, so unless you are using a really tight weave, I doubt you'll have a problem. If you do a 45 degree weave asymmetrically front to back you can take advantage of this too. It is difficult to explain, but basically, work the back up closer to the base of the neck, and wider across the back than the front panel. You'll want the back seams to start just below and behind where the trapezius muscles meet the neck, and the front just below the clavicle about where you feel that hollow between the deltoid (shoulder) and pectoralis major (chest) muscles. The only thing different from the patterns you downloaded is the trapezoids on top will be lopsided. Hopefully that made sense to you... ^_^ I am using this method on my nearly finished scale armor and it solved many of the flexibility issues I was having at first. I haven't tried the triangular expansion zones on the back that Konstantin mentions, but he's one of those that knows what he's talking about, so I imagine they work quite well. I have never attempted the mantle top, nor seen anyone with one, so more experienced people than I will have to help you there. Good luck with whatever pattern you decide on.
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#8 Konstantin the Red

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 10:23 AM

The Wallace A2 shirt dates to right around 1438 AD, give or take a year or two. Its maker's name is known because the shirt has a brass signature link in it that reads "Bernart Couwein." The city records told the rest -- Couwein was duly licensed to make mail in Hamburg that year. He doesn't appear in the record after that.

As I said, unusually precise. Mail is harder stuff to date than plate, which by 1438 was developing regional schools of design -- German and Italian -- and the style of the stuff was becoming more evident and more important. Plate armor of the two generations previous was in the main all business, simpler of form, and variations on the one theme of bascinet/camail, fabric jupon covering all body defenses, plate arms with integral, permanently attached spaudler-like articulation at the shoulders, plate legs, eventually pointed-toe plate sollerets -- mail and scale having been tried first. Sabatons came into the fashion about a century and a half later, or nearly a century after 1438. But by 1438, the plates were growing fancier of form and the great bascinet had replaced the camailed bascinet -- close helmets had yet to be invented, as had the barbuta and either the German or the Italian forms of the sallet. Though these latter three knightly helmets were not far off.

The reason mail shirts and such are difficult to date just on their own -- usually their find-sites or good record of their provenance is what allows them to be dated at all, and usually you're doing okay to get it within fifty years -- is that all of Europe in all times mostly built mail shirts just as the Wallace A2 is built -- a shoulder section that's a rectangle, with the triangular expansion zones reaching to the upper edge of the trapezius muscles and thus inserted into the rectangle, modifying it. Taking some license, I call this kind of shoulder the European Modifed Square shoulder in my article -- it gets splayed out along its back edge. The neck-hole, which would be a collar if the shirt had a collar -- some do, is offset forward in the rectangle, not centered across a line running shoulder point to shoulder point. The back of the shirt is hence higher than the front of the shirt. You can see this in laying T-shirts or collared shirts out flat.

Wallace A2's construction has expansions and tailoring in general confined to a few specific zones. It does not have expansions or contractions scattered throughout the shirt's weave, though that is one way to do it. They don't ever seem to have chosen that way. Consequently, I think they made up mailshirts out of prefabricated rectangles and squares of mail. The European Modified Square shoulder section could be assembled from three pre-made rectangles: a large one in the middle with the neck-hole, and two small skinny ones at either shoulder, at first zipped to the large one only at the front half, awaiting insertion of the triangular expansion zones to come. The triangular expansion zones can themselves be prefabricated and kept in inventory. And the rest of the body barrel goes much the same: suitable quadrilaterals of plain-weave E4-1 brought in to make up the necessary girth to fit a man, maybe some single expansion links added at their edges to flare a shirt out again from the waistline on down over the hips and rear, or perhaps more triangular expansion zones could be used, say left and right on the hem and if necessary one or more in back. Straightforward, really, to the point of no-brainerdom. It's all in the experienced eye -- "Is that flaw in the weave planned and deliberate, or did I make a mistake there?"

Paladin explains how to improve the 45-Degree Shoulder clearly even while he says it's hard to explain clearly: you make the back trapezoid wider across than the front trapezoid, leaving the shoulder trapezoids just as they were. More link columns. The idea is to cock the sleeves forward, not build them straight outwards. You need the slack to bring your arms forward and across, but your arms can't go backward as far -- so you put the extra mail only where you need to. Your arms only manage to go twenty to thirty degrees back, don't they? You've got enough of the extra when you can stack your elbows one over the other in front of you without effort or binding.

Link aspect ratio is the key to most of the mobility of a shirt: AR4 to AR6 will give you all the freedom you need and a fair measure of strength, and have lots of latitude to expand and collapse to fit your form, fit over your gambeson, etcetera. AR4 is heavier shirt for shirt, AR6 is the lighter end. Historically, mail links' diameters ran mostly to 1/4 to 5/16 inch, and some authorities will say 3/16" -- fine mail indeed, that. Bigger links speed the construction of the shirt but are less able to resist the thrust of a point, which was really pretty important. Tighter than AR4 and you start losing out on expansion/contraction and its fitting effect. The SCA-type 14gaSWG@3/8" link (about AR5.6 I think?) can admit a pocketknife blade right through the center of a link if the knife is small enough. Of course an ice pick just slips right through about any mail.

Also, you mentioned something about the elbow area "staying where want it" with an open weave. I guess that would imply that the spot moves around with the other way?


It could be freer to slop around on you, yes. An open-hang sleeve is already stretched out as far as it can be, so its chainliness is completely taut. It's not gonna shift on you. This is only important with long sleeves; even the 5/8 hauberk sleeve of the 1340s and -50s that laps over the elbow won't have any problem with this. It gets even more important with mitts, known in the trade as mufflers, on the ends of the sleeves. Here you really want to have the resilient direction parallelling the fingers so they can readily bend and straighten, and the mail just goes with it.

Also, practically all the period artwork (that doesn't put the mail on a bias -- which doesn't work so hot) of the time shows mail rows going down the arm instead of around, particularly with long-sleeved hauberks of the 12th century and later. Right down to the ends of the mufflers. (You'll find "mufflers" is an old word for "mittens.")

Closed-hang mail on the body allows you to get a mailshirt off you by having it flop open to full stretch when you take off your waistbelt and bend over. Now the shirt has let you go, and you can tug on the collar and wiggle and shimmy until gravity helps pull the hauberk off. It's not so important on your arms because there's simply less there, so it's not so blamed draggy. Mail has a lot of friction, particularly when dragged over bodily protuberances like a flexed joint or the points of your shoulders -- a camail or coif cowl hanging over the points of the shoulders can put up a lot of drag against a sword striking at your neck. This is also why in the early 1300s we start seeing the knees of chausses being replaced with solid knee cops of metal or of cuirbouilli -- cuirbouilli cops were often ornately tooled, since that's easier to do with leather than with iron. Solid pieces rather than mail dragged less, and increased mobility. This wasn't quite as popular for elbows, for some reason -- military conservatism, maybe. Armor evolved; it hardly ever leapt ahead. Eventually they started putting stuff on elbows -- over the hauberk's sleeves! Compared to previous centuries, 14th-c. armor evolved fast: the century opened with helms and mail, and finished with nearly complete plate. With mail armpits and neck. You saw innovations come in with almost every decade, particularly in the latter half.

There isn't much material on mantletop shirts, true. There may be *one* famous historical example: the baidana shirt of the Russian prince Boris Godunov. Over on Firestryker Living History board, they tried mantletop shirts and very much liked them; they said swordstrokes seemed to slide off the shoulders more easily, making the shoulder area harder to hit tellingly.

You make the shoulder section like the cowl of a coif -- a big steel doily with a neckhole in the center, using expansion links arrayed throughout the piece. Then you bend this piece to attach it to the top of a body barrel, which may perhaps be flared wider at the top through use of a couple of expansion/contraction (all relative, from your point of view) triangular zones. Giving forward bias to the arms is a little different, as you set them more forward about the hem of the mantle part and attach them that way. Mantletops naturally make sleeves that are closed-hang, like the mail about the body, because the mantle's linkrows run that way -- horizontally.

A barrel-and-straps mailshirt has an armhole that looks like a capital D lying on its back. The straight stroke of the D is the topmost linkrow of the body barrel, tucked up towards the armpit. The curve of the D is the entire shoulder strap outer edge. A mantletop shirt still has this lazy D armhole -- it's just canted outwards a good bit. Avoid leaning the D shaped armhole too far outwards, though, or you'll have trouble raising your arms as it'll try to drag that whole side of your shirt up with your arm. So, no extremes, just some.

Edited by Konstantin the Red, 09 June 2010 - 10:30 AM.

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