Myths of the Samurai Sword v.s. the M1 rifle in WWII?

Discussion in 'Weapons' started by slipthejab, Jul 24, 2005.

  1. Vanir

    Vanir lost my sidhe

    You guys are talking about swords cutting through helmets, with examples from the earliest years of ironworking in Europe?

    I mean the following is my impression, feel free to correct me if you think it's awry.

    A good solid bit of 4x2 will crack a bronze helmet, probably crush it and cave in the skull of the guy wearing it.
    Early helmets are cloth and leather with some straps of bronze or iron or a nice bronze or iron sheetworked bowl as an outer layer. They absorb a bit of shock, can take a glancing blow, but laying your head open for a decent swing with someone wielding a heavy sharp rock, let alone a professional hacking tool is just plain suicide.

    Most swords of the period are short stabbing types just to stop blades bending or breaking. Even after the introduction of widespread ironworking, complex-construction broadswords were not widely used by anybody in western Europe other than gallic tribes, Germanics and vikings until the mediaeval period.
    Axes and axe-type swords were just as popular since the days of ancient Egypt precisely for reasons of uncomplicated smithing and general effectiveness for limb-lobbing regardless of materiels used.

    This is the sort of thing roman soldiers wore, until celts started making helmets for them. It's a bit more protection than the bone of your skull, but not as much more as you might think.
    Modern reproductions are however, required to be safety accredited more than they have to be archaeologically faithful. Somehow I don't think some sheet bronze was beaten and layered onto a wood/leather/cloth basket to make this.

    This would be the kind of helmet you guys are talking about? A gallic-made Roman helmet, reproductions are high grade steel, the real thing was however, beaten iron. Once again, too thick and not only is it impossible to work with but it's just too damn heavy for the protection it provides anyway.

    Generally speaking the only article of armour considered to significantly increase one's defensive capabilities at any time through history was a shield.

    Even late period iron age...
    [​IMG] era...
    ...and early mediaeval period helmets were all beaten iron. Pretty soft stuff unless it's thick. Increasingly helms were lattice and bowl or riveted construction as typified by the gallic-styles.
    Now these, however, were high grade steel. They also varied in both thickness and shape so as to increase deflection abilities. Great against slashing weapons, still good against hacking weapons, doesn't help much with purpose built piercing ones though, but there's not a lot of headshot experts running around with crossbows and polearms, usually success is more guaranteed by targeting flat areas (around the groin) and joint gaps (such as armpits and inside thigh).
    Nothing a big heavy mace wouldn't fix, or as I like to say, when they come looking like a smithy, it's time to break out the tools and pry 'em open.
    Generally speaking, a large heavy steel bladed sword or decent hacking weapon (like a gallic broadsword or a germanic axe weapon), would go through most helmets okay with a decent swing, up to the steel mediaeval era knightly helms.

    I mean we can belt up a bit of iron in the back shed into a roughly faithful to archaeological example of iron age helms if you like, I'll grab a good, solid heavy pair of iron pliers or a hacking type blade and we can try it out...
  2. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    Hmm... curious.... What makes you think the image in the link you provided is anything similar to the real falx? :confused:

    The one your showing comes froma gaming site. :eek:

    And, it's a concept drawing. I've produced dozens of sword concept drawings loosely based on this or that depending on what company I was working for at the time.

    I wouldn't take concept drawings as historical fact. Far from it. Illustrators and product designers pick and choose based on aesthetics not historical fact in most cases.

    What leads you to believe there is anyting realistic about what's being portrayed here? :confused:
  3. Anomandaris

    Anomandaris New Member

    yes I know its a game image.

    but it is also a very clear view of one and it matches every description of what they look like from what I have heard and read.

    the only other image of one that was even vaguely matching its descriptions was this one:


    but its not as clear as the other image is.
  4. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Valued Member

    I don't know if these will help your visualisation of the falx but here're some links that might be useful (for wider information if nothing else):

    It would seem that the falx has been discussed here at Netsword before too.

    A quote from a poster in this thread would seem to suggest that there is definite evidence of it's existence and shape:

    There have been some archeological finds, in fact there was a website concerning the arms of ancient Thrace which illustrated some of these arms, and which I inconveniently don't have the current URL to....
    You might also want to look for the Osprey/Men-At-Arms series book The Thracians, 700 BC -- AD 46, by Christopher Webber. Several recovered rhomphia blades are illustrated on page 39.
  5. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    What the Romans had digicams!?!?

    This changes everything! :D

    Ok fairplay on why you feel the sketch is a relatively realistic representation falx. Understandable. It reminds me of something that may have had Persian influences in terms of the curvature of the blade... That is until I saw the picture of the Romans with digicams and realized that it was wielded like a scythe of sorts. I wonder if there is any evolution from something like the simple wheat harvesting tool? :confused:

    hmm... which I then read the post by Sukerkin (thank you BTW):

    and came across this:

    It's like the European version of the Japanese kama of sorts.

    LOL! Go figure - I think it's the only one in the Osprey/Men-At-Arms series that I haven't got. :D
  6. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    A romphaia is basically a slimmer and longer version of the Falx-it seems.

    I still have a hard time believing you when you say that archaeiologist have found weapons designed like the one you shows us embedded in roman iron helmets. If we're talking bronze/copper-helmets, then I might buy it.

    I'm not trying to insult you here, I'm just a bit sceptic, reverse-bending blades are extremely weak when it comes to hitting solid (iron) objects.... Do you have the sources for this claim; that there has been found falx'es in roman helmets?

    Vanir: A very long post, and allthough I don't agree with your claim that a vikingsword can cleave an iron helmet, I follow you quite long on the way:
    *I agree with the principle that not all helmets were of the same quality.
    *I agree that bronze/leather, etc will not withstand a determined blow, let alone the neck connecting the helmetwielding head to the rest of the body....
    *A agree that warhammers (the one you showed has got the wrong dimentions, by the way) and pollaxes, etc could punch straight through armor.

    One should allso consider how the sword would look after doing it; loads of dents, perhaps broken, the fact that not all swords were of top quality either; actually Snorre Sturlason mentions in Heimskringla a battle where vikings had to stop to bend straight the blades of their swords form time to time...

    + the fact that in order to not having the sword just glancing off, one had to make a perfect hit, and anybody doing testcutting (like myself) knows how wet you become if the angle of attack is wrong :eek:
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2005
  7. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    And only to drag my own thread even further off topic.. LOL! :D

    The Roman boil plate leather helmets.... how would they have held up to any of the swords mentioned so far (Japanese, Dacian or Roman)?

    According to one soure...

    I'm curious how well these would do against a sword and are they subject to the same issues as other helmets... somewhere along the idea similar to that Japanese helmet shown with the chop mark in it... that (correct me if I am wrong) the curvature of their surface makes them more difficult to cut as it helps in deflecting the blade.

    Does this seem likely with a leather helmet? :confused:

    Attached Files:

  8. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    and another - I'm not sure that either of these pictures is historically accurate by the way...

    Attached Files:

  9. Anomandaris

    Anomandaris New Member

    I dont have any of my own evidence on me at the moment(in the library no cpu's less than good...) but this was lifted from one of the articles posted earlier and is a bit of evidence.

    "The Falx was a heavy weapon and it was handled with both hands. In some pictures it seems to have been a blade similar to a scythe attached to a strong hilt made of wood or other material; in other pictures it looks rather like a curved sword. The fact that it could cause grave wounds and even surgical sacrifice, created great fear amongst Roman soldiers. During Trajans second campaign against the Dacians some Roman legionaries wore extra amour covering their legs and arms to protect themselves against the Falx.. The Roman armourers added two transversal metallic straps onto the legionaries helmets to make them more resistant to downward strokes."

    why would they re-inforce the helmets if the Falx as not causing problems for them?

    and heres another part of the article

    "The FALX was a frightful weapon: the curved blade was similar to a bill-hook and in the hands of a skilled warrior it was deadly and all the populations around Dacian territory learned to fear it. The cutting action was accomplished by a movement of hitting and pulling. The cutting was amplified by using both hands. When it was used correctly it could easily cut through a limb or behead an enemy. Because of the beak that resulted from the curved shape, it could pierce the helmets and armors, causing serious wounds or causing cerebral commotions when the head was hit."

    if I can find some other evidence I'll post it but I hope thats at least something!
  10. Vanir

    Vanir lost my sidhe

    Appreciate what you're saying Stolenbjorn.

    Although, whilst the bulk of Norse weapons were either still made of bronze (a good proportion of war axes), and the general quality of available iron ores in Scandanavia was rather poor, the swordsmithing style of gaulish/gallic celts was quite complex and involved inserted steel edges into either side of the blade and quite a bit of forgework by around the 35BCE. That they are perfectly capable of cutting into a beaten iron bowl/riveted helm is a matter of individual skill and a little luck more than the protective qualities of essentially a wafer thin iron basket with some reinforcing straps (and later ridges) at the danger zones. At least until the introduction of heavy iron plate with a few mills of guage (great helm), and fine steels during the height of the mediaeval period.

    We are all aware I'm sure reproduction helms designed for period-club combat use are in no way relative to the protective capabilities of historical helms, except perhaps at the height of armouring circa. 14-16th century and usually very wealthily chartered examples.

    I think the primary importance of all (hard combat) armours was certainly not the intention of invulnerability, which would be a hopeless cause in any bodysuit (though a nice idea for royalty but largely ceremonial in this event), but to simply cut down the nevertheless incapacitating effect of minor and glancing injuries of all kinds incurred during battlefield combat.

    The the human body is incapable of reasonably supporting more than the thinnest guage metals whilst retaining the necessary movement to not fall to concentrated assassination efforts on the battlefield, and the fact remains that a rough stilleto of a similar materiel to the armour will more often than not go through it with a half hearted effort, to lethal effect.

    Helmets were not really designed to withstand a full guage sword swing prior to the crusade style great helms (which were as far as I can tell more likely designed to withstand an increasing popularity of mace-type weapons used to defeat popular chain-mail, that'd crush and split an earlier iron bowl-type helm right in the middle). None of them before them were simply thick enough on the metal side of things.
    If a sword strike glanced up off your shield onto your head, a shocktroop squad started flinging sling-bullets at you, you're using interlocking formations to defeat enemy attacks, that's what a dark ages helm was designed to protect you with respect to, and with their reinforceing straps they'd do it too.

    I'm absolutely certain, if we model a ballistics-dummy head with a early iron helm and I get a broadsword of the period, with a good whack anywhere you care to point at it'll display a lethal shot every time and probably go straight through on the first.

    On swords, it is generally considered the Roman beaten iron, "work hardened" shortswords were often, on average no better than, sometimes worse than bronze, although the quality of the iron ore itself used was much higher than elsewhere, resulting in occasional examples of excellent quality. Plus iron was just plain cheaper than bronze. By the end of the Roman period of course complicated forging techniques were used and the artefacts regarded as more than capable. From around 400CE, in certain examples they had adopted the pattern welding used by celts.

    The Celts used a very complicated forging process of burning off impurities and combining various grades of steel or "hard-iron," here is a description of the forging process which I think speaks for itself as to the effectiveness of dark ages and early mediaeval swordsmithing at not only its best, but also most common (due to the sheer numbers of celtic tribes all over the world and very possibly, where their phenominal success lay, it certainly wasn't in their military strategies):
    So I'm thinking, okay let's get a beaten iron bowl helm with reinforced strapping like the Roman Gallic style, and I'll get a celtic broadsword...
  11. Anomandaris

    Anomandaris New Member


    I knew that the celts pattern welded but had no idea what that meant!

    thanks for that.

    wow we are so far off topic that I can't even see it anymore...
  12. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    Well, yes it did!
    It sais that the "beak" can pierce, and piercing is very different from cutting!!! (That's why Abrahams' 120mm APDSDS-rounds are called Armor-Piercing, Not Armor Cutting....

    I might buy the consept of a falx working more like a hatchet-hacking-impliment;the pictures indicates that it might have the structural strength to endure a hacking-piercing blow against a helmet.

    I am familiar with the consept of pattern-welding, not that familiar with the consept of iron-beaten-roman-helmets :Angel:

    Well, I'm still rather sceptic; when the issue of plate vs. cutting comes up on, the "pro-swordcancutmetal'ers" usually get "cut down" (he-he, wasn't that funny ;) ) by the "pro-if-armor-don't-stop-attacks;-why-wear-it'ists".

    To your support one might like to mention that the Swordforumdiscussions often mention the medieval/renissanse-armor, which you do say offer better protection.

    There are still two of your arguments that i'd like to challenge, though:

    Vikingswords beeing of poor quality. First of; what is a "viking-sword"? There have been found 2000 swords in Norway from the period 700 - 1100 AD. Roughly half of theese were imported/stolen/robbed/aquired from the Franks that sat on the best Iron-ores at the time, and "Vikingswords" (both Frankish, Slavic and Scandinavian "Vikingswords") still didn't cleave helmets; there's not been found one single helmet that is cleaved from this period.

    Many archaeologists and blacksmiths disputes the theory that Norwegian/scandinavian iron is of poor quality; Norwegian "moar-iron" were used for making Guns for the Norwegian-Danish army/navy well into the 18th century, and Swedish iron were used in Hitler-Germany's war machine only 65 years ago.

    Unless I have missed somthing, you seem to forget the fact that most helmets are worn with additional protection under; several layers of textiles sown together, or two layers of textiles sewn as "sossages"-stuffed with wool or Horse-tail-hair. As it happens, I've been testcutting on such armor with my sharp twohand-sword, and get pretty impressed by the textile-armors ability to neurtralize the longsword. This kind of testing is easier to do, as the textile armor-sample takes only 5 hours to make and will cost you no more than $10, and it have no potential to damage your sword, so I advise all of you that have sharp swords to sew a little sample and try it out for yourself!

    Unless someone can show me convincing "evidence", I'll keep claiming that if you strikes a CUT against an opponent wearing a helmet with proper protection beneath, one or more of the following points are going to happen:

    A: The sword breaks
    B: The sword bends
    C: The sword gets a nasty dent and is blunted.
    D: The sword will vibrate so hard that the wood/leather grip loosens
    E: The target breaks his neck from the impact
    F: The sword caves a bit into the helmet, causing a minor cut and concussion.
    G: The sword defeats the iron part, but gets stopped by the textile-layers beneath, still causing concussion/ a broken neck
    H: The sword glances harmlessly off the helmet, leaving the target with a mild concussion.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2005
  13. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    On a practicle note here in regard to any helmet that was struck with a full swing form a broad sword, mace or battle axe...

    Even in the event that the helmet did remain intact it's seems highly likely that several things could occur:

    You'd end up KO'd just from the sheer force of the blow

    You'd end up with a broken neck from the force of the blow

    You'd end up dazed or concussed and essentially defenseless

    ahh... now I read down and to this...

    I guess the same thing I was thinking.
  14. Vanir

    Vanir lost my sidhe

    Actually the reference to questionable ore quality was anecdotal in reference to the andecdote of vikings straightening swords bent in combat. It's something I read quite a while ago researching Osberg and similar digs and may have been in reference only to those artefacts, which bronze was the primary metallurgy anyway although some iron was used (in ship rivets for example). There have been many more Norse digs of the viking age recently discovered.

    It would appear after some short checking the latest from the archaeological websites that viking swords were as I quietly suspected, largely of equal or better quality than celtic weapons, with pattern welding almost universally used with indigenous broadswords. Occasionally earlier mainland European pattern-welded blades are mounted with viking hilts and reused, but generally the quality of viking blades is comparable, with the addition of inlay a popularity.

    a viking sword

    It is unavoidable the light weight of typical late iron age broadswords (a little over 1lb), diminishes force of inertia as compared to say, a 5 or 6lb heavy two handed sword of the late mediaeval period, however the overall design keeps a centre of gravity well ahead of the pommel, suitable for both thrusting and with a good amount of strength, a very solid, sharp, hacking type of swing similar to a light axe.
    I still think a Gallic Roman helm or Norse basinet would find itself cleaved with a good shot, but more artefacts of bronze and other less ferrous metals than iron tend to survive to be examined. As is frequently the matter with archaeology, the historical record cannot fully support contentions of likelihood alone.

    I am quite interested in testing the hypothesis, but I still have a nagging pragmatist heart that tells me a well made "hard iron" pattern forged broadsword is going to absolutely cleave any helmet of the period with a good, solid blow, to a guaranteed lethal effect upon the wearer.

    I'll try to find some way we can test this, at least in theory, short of spending more than a few hundred dollars. I frequent some science forums so I'll see what the guys can come up with.

    Interesting stuff by the way.
  15. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    Well, I have a nagging pragmatist heart that tells me that you are wrong, but I have no conclusive evidence to slam on the table (as we say here in Norway) ;) But if you're not familiar with the tons of threads about armour and the ability to pierce/cut such on, I recomend you to browse through those threads.

    The problem with doing a test, is that the stuff you'll need is expensive, and few people -if any are willing to risk their equipment on such tests. I do know that some weirdos in USA tested javelins, spears and arrows (all with iron-heads) vs. plate armor (again; medieval/renissanse-stuff, of modern quality), and nearly all tests resulted in the spear/javelin/arrow-heads to snap or break, scarsly leaving even a dent on the armor, as it came off, rikocheting. (This is not conclusive, though, as the test is only telltale on the net, and could be a hoax for all I know).
  16. Vanir

    Vanir lost my sidhe

    Not to mention the correlation of those tests may be more significantly attributed to wrought iron vs forged steel. In the dark ages through to early mediaeval period example, the swords were forged steel and the helms were wrought iron of bare millimetres thickness at best, with soft padding such as leather and cloth underneath, suggesting more of a motorbike helmet style protection than an M4 class military helmet (which is only designed to offer a limited shrapnel/debris protection to the crown anyway).

    Now a motorbike helmet is fantastic for a blunt force trauma, but get a decent cutting tool...

    Don't forget also that beaten iron becomes more brittle the more it is worked, often resulting in the infamously questionable quality of early roman wrought iron short swords, let alone the honest protective nature of early armours, which are by nature heavily worked for shape. As mentioned, I'm unaware of any mainstream complicated forging process in every element of armour construction (including helms), prior to the height of the mediaeval period. In the case of gallic helms I believe a wrought bowl was fitted with reinforcing, beaten straps (including cheek guards, etc.) and welded or studded ridges.

    I recall one encounter of research at the St Kilda library on arms and armour, archaeologists empirically debunking the commonly percieved "invulnerability" of an armoured suit, where their findings were that even during the height of the middle ages, under test conditions a suit of armour was excellent protection for minor scrapes and abrasions commonly a part of combat but in terms of focused and accurate combat strikes themselves, purposeful to defeating an armour's weaknesses, a shield and no armour at all was better by far than armour and no shield. Even with some of the Spanish, French and Germanic field armours, several millimetres thick of forged, tempered and shape-ridged steel in places, the restrictive movement, awareness and general level of protection was simply nowhere proportionate to appearances and the unanymous verdict of armour historians appears to be the single best protection of any melee age was the shield.
    Hence the most complete suits of mediaeval steel protection are purely ceremonial and solicited by royalty. Many field armours offered only partial protection.

    This is a detraction from the cutting metal theme, as this is mostly orientated towards weakness of joint construction, plate joins and gaps in the armour, but it does serve to reinforce the idea that armour has never ever been designed to repell single-minded attacks persee. You use a shield for that.
  17. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I see what you write, and you don't convince me :)
    I know from the manual I study (fiore di liberi) that he advises cutting/thrusting-techniques vs. unarmoured persons and halfswordingtechniques vs. armoured persons, so I guess the full plate do offer some protection. You allso seem to forget that they had gladiator-style-tournaments where two combatants faced eachother in a boxing-ring-sized arena, wearing heavier armor than what was common in a war, and people had a go at eachother with pollaxes (2h.warhammers). We know this, because Fiore di Liberi's manual shows techniques for this, and he mentions that he accepted students doing this into his classes, training them, like a modern boxingtrainer trains modern boxers. I do think that full plate with padding beneath offers brilliant cover vs any cuttingimpliment, and still haven't seen any evidence of the opposite.

    link to manual:
    direct link to halfswordingsection:
    For the pollaxe-section, scroll to the bottom of the last link.
  18. Vanir

    Vanir lost my sidhe

    Yes but on the battlefield its weaknesses are thrusting and piercing attacks, and joins and gaps in the armour. wrt to gladiatorial contests, you seem to forget it is theatre, albeit bloody and often lethal in nature. Functionality is a cursory consideration, if at all present.

    At any rate the initial comparison is, once again, reinforced, beaten iron armours vs forged steel swords. My initial point is that a gallic style helm popular during the dark ages could not hope to stand up to a well delivered swing from a typical pattern-forged sword of the same period. That the early mediaeval great helms were probably the first capable of turning a direct battlefield attack and now, that even mainstream medieaval full plate armours offer nowhere near the degree of full combat protection their appearance would suggest.

    The idea that "samurai swords can chop through rifle barrels" is obviously completely ridiculous. However so is the idea that a millimetre or two of thin plate metal, were it even titanium alloy, could possibly hope to stand up to a properly tempered, thick guage forged steel blade or weapon tip purpose built to penetrate armours is equally ridiculous. Let alone inherently brittle, beaten iron of a similar guage.
    The best principle they have to work with is that swords are necessarily fairly light, generally any hack and slash or typical distancing manoeuvre (later types) or 3rd-party strike (early types) will be turned. But an armoured man would be a fool to walk into a thrust or expose any portion of his armour to any dedicated attacks. It's just not what armour has ever been designed for, as it is impossible to achieve.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2005
  19. Grimjack

    Grimjack Dangerous but not serious

    Then why the hell can't we see any examples of people cutting through armor? There are modern sword students, repro sets of armor and video cameras. If what you are saying is true, then someone should have done a test.

    I have seen people drive war hammers through a breast plate. I can't seem to find a case where someone has cut through one like you say they can.

    It is probably because, while your argument sounds good, you have left something out that cancels all the sophistry. You have also failed to realize that until the use of guns, people were still using armor. It is kind of hard to think that armor was useless and yet still used as much as it was.

    Perhaps you should get some real experience and re-examine the theories you spout.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2005
  20. Vanir

    Vanir lost my sidhe

    Spoken like a true religious fanatic.
    Firstly, there are plenty of armour artefacts in the archaeological record which have been penetrated by various weapons during the course of battle. Perhaps you should do a little genuine research before you leap to attack someone whom does.
    Secondly, as I've already mentioned several times, modern reproductive artefacts are designed to resemble their archaeological counterparts in appearance alone. Especially where mediaeval reconstruction clubs engaging in role play are concerned, the safety requirements lawfully necessitated in equipment far outweighs any genuine historical accuracy. Perhaps you should do a little research about metallurgy before you leap to attack someone whom does.
    Maybe you'd learn a little about what a sword is and isn't capable of. More to the point, what historical armour is and isn't capable of.

    By real experience I therefore assume you mean for me to leap into a time machine such as you obviously have and travel to the period in question to see for myself.
    Since this is unrealistic, we shall have to rely upon archaeological and scientific sources for our information about the distant past.

    Peter N. Jones, "The Metallography and Relative Effectiveness of
    Arrowheads and Armor During the Middle Ages." is one credible source, which stipulates via examination of artefacts:
    (paraphrased by Ross Dickson and members of the newsgroup of the Dept. of Chemistry, Queen's University)
    I'll just point out at this point that both the hardness and thickness of an early dark ages celtic broadsword is marginally better that of early mediaeval armours up to the 1400's, suggesting they are perfectly capable of penetrating a plate of this armour with a well braced thrust. That's a sword forging over a thousand years older than the armour.

    Here's some more about metallurgy of the mediaeval period, from this site:
    Metallurgy and production during Mediaeval times
    By comparison a viking sword of the early mediaeval period (circa. 850CE), has a hardness of around 51-60 Rc around the blade edges and point, and sword forging processes only got better. Plus due to the simple volume of metal required, and the process of forging, swords are far easier to keep a relatively consistent carbon content than armour pieces.

    Which tells us that according to the archaeological record, by the time armours were even capable of turning a dedicated attack from forged and tempered weapons of the same period, metallurgically, the use of field armours was being abandoned anyway. Once again I point to the most complete suits of mediaeval armour in the archaeological record are ceremonial suits solicited by royalty, most certainly not intended for battlefield warfare.

    Cavalry during the mediaeval period through to the late 1400's used chainmail armour, which offered little or no protection from piercing weapons including the longbow.
    It was the longbow and not the sword which introduced the development of forged plate armours. By the Hundred Years War armours had become impervious to arrowheads as signified by hardness tests upon either of the period (though not crossbow bolts). It's a simple calculus, a) penetration is not physically possible, or b) penetration is quite physically possible.

    According to the archaeological record alone, plate armours were not intended to protect from battlefield weaponry, but from arrows. But this is a speculative statement which I do not feel is required to show quite plainly by hardness scales and metal guage, any sword of any period is easily capable of defeating any armour of the same period.

    In later examples this is through special tactics and design elements, ie. thrusting.
    In earlier ones and certain cases, even this stipulation is hardly required.

    Since I'm about to lose server access I'll have to leave providing weblinks to archaeological examples of battle damaged armours for my next post, since there's so goddamned many mediaeval recreational societies on the web, it's damn hard to sift through all their new age pseudoscience trying to find credible sources regarding historical artefacts and mediaeval metallurgy.

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