First Age Elf Armor

Koley Porter

New Member
I have always imagined the Elves wearing something simple for armor. As I recall, there are only references to mail and to pointed helms.

I envisioned something like this:
crusader knight.gif
 
image.jpgimage.jpg So I was thinking the golden one could be for the noldorin soldiers and the top one could be for like lords like Fingolfin or Feanor.
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
Armor is a heck of a complicated subject, even within one culture/army. Long story short, different types of units are going to need different armor, crafted to suit the different defensive needs and fighting style.

So, to really get armor down, we're going to have to think about fighting techniques/styles. Case in point: the Greek panoply looks awesome, and it is, for fighting in a phalanx. It's almost worse than useless for an individual fighting alone. Now, we have notable examples for individual elves being heroic on the battlefield, so I suggest we don't go with either a Greek or Roman (which is just a modified phalanx) style of battle or armor. It might work for the orcs, however.

We also shouldn't go with plate armor, a la the tourney suit, for our main heroes because it's all but impossible to fight on foot in that. On horseback, you're the medieval equivalent of a tank. Of horseback, you're in trouble. Knights could drown in a puddle of water if they were unhorsed, because they weighed too much to stand up! It's hard to imagine Fingolfin fighting Morgoth as described in the published Silm. in a suit of plate. His speed and mobility would just be too limited.

But staying within the vaguely medieval system Tolkien describes, we still have a lot of work to do. Are we favoring defense or mobility? Are we sticking with metal, or do we incorporate leather or even wood (which can be combined to make some pretty impressive shields).

Some introduction to the medieval aspects of armor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Components_of_medieval_armour
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Now, there's a lot of conflicting information on this out there, but I would like to address the idea that plate armor is so heavy that you can't fight on foot in it.

It wasn't. That idea comes from 19th century historians looking and handling ceremonial or tournament armor, neither of which were designed for real combat.

Actual battle armor worn by knights in combat was no heavier than the kit carried by soldiers today.

It weighed between 30 and 60 pounds, depending on the style, and because the weight was distributed evenly over the body, the wearer could jump, run, even do somersaults.


The determining factors of armor are not truly the weight, but cost and technology.

When the Noldor first arrive, the should wear armor, but certainly not plate armor, because they haven't been in battle yet and don't see the importance of it. By the time we get to the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, however, we should see large units, particularly amongst the Gondolindrim, wearing full plate armor.

The Elves of Doriath, we will likely never see in full armor, possibly until Dior ascends to the throne.

Just some thoughts. I can do more work on this, but not tonight.
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
Now, there's a lot of conflicting information on this out there, but I would like to address the idea that plate armor is so heavy that you can't fight on foot in it.

It wasn't. That idea comes from 19th century historians looking and handling ceremonial or tournament armor, neither of which were designed for real combat.
You're right, of course. I was thinking about tourney (or Renaissance ceremonial) armor, which does weigh 110 pounds or more.
The story of knights drowning comes from the Battle of Agincourt, and I had been told by a professor (who is brilliant, but specialize in matters other than medieval warfare) that it was because of the weight... some quick research suggests this has more to do with the shape of the helmet, which may have "sucked in" water, rather than the weight of the armor. Oops. There's also one story of Frederick Barbarossa drowning in his armor, but a king's armor likely weighed more than the average knights'.

Here's one modern study on the effects of plate armor on the human body, though they use 30-50 kg for the weight, reconstructed from a late 1400's suit... https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3248716/?tool=pmcentrez
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
So, to kind of work this out..

The first armor we'll see (outside of the costuming of the Valar which isn't really armor per se) will be created by the Noldor and worn by them during their first encounters with Melkor's forces as they enter Beleriand. I'm thinking that "four mirror" armor, also called Mughal armor, might be a good way to go for this. It was worn in India and Persia between the 13th and 16th centuries.



I considered a more romanesque armor:


But I'm feeling this as being more of a human invention for some reason. Perhaps worn during the Last Alliance. Or before that even, by the Numenorean host during the invasion of Aman.

More on this later.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
When we do see the Sindarin elves in battle, I would say that they never go for the full plated look. We would see them in, at the most, brigandine:



When the Noldor first arrive, the Sindarin armors, I believe, should look more like this:

 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
I don't disagree with anything here! I love the suggestion of Mughal armor for the early Noldor -- it would be easy to make that shine without it looking too heavy, and leather brigandine makes complete sense for the Sindar.

This might be from the films (as the Gondorians are the closest, visually, to knights in PJ's depictions), but I agree the Roman-like armor (really, anything that involves plate) looks more like Mannish armor to me. Something about encasing the body in solid metal doesn't fit with the elves.
 

Halstein

Active Member
When we do see the Sindarin elves in battle, I would say that they never go for the full plated look. We would see them in, at the most, brigandine:



When the Noldor first arrive, the Sindarin armors, I believe, should look more like this:

Hi.
I think we should mainly go with mail. Alternatives can be lamellar ( https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/cd/fe/43/cdfe433d4f08e6d1bf98e1d22f5279e8.jpg ) and metal-scale (even if scale was rare). Brigandine ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigandine ) could also be an option. Lamellar made of leather might be a viable non-metallic armour along with padded/quilted aketons. What should be avoided like the plague is the "studed leather" biker-gear, beloved of many prop-departments.

I must respectfully disagree with Nicholas Palazzo's two examples above. The first one is not brigandine, as the plates must be overlapping, and of metal. Else the weapon will just slide off a plate and go in trough a gap. The second will give little protection against blows, as the leather is to thin, and looks soft. "Soft-armours" should be "as thick as can be stitched" to quote the "Praecepta militaria" attributed to the emperor Nikephoros II Pokas (r. 963-969). Early armies should have no or little armour, and mostly use shields, in my view.

Some good youtube-channel on arms and armours:
Lindybeige: https://www.youtube.com/user/lindybeige
scholagladiatoria: https://www.youtube.com/user/scholagladiatoria
Skallagrim: https://www.youtube.com/user/SkallagrimNilsson
Metatron: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIjGKyrdT4Gja0VLO40RlOw

Halstein.
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
Hi.
I think we should mainly go with mail. Alternatives can be lamellar ( https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/cd/fe/43/cdfe433d4f08e6d1bf98e1d22f5279e8.jpg ) and metal-scale (even if scale was rare). Brigandine ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brigandine ) could also be an option. Lamellar made of leather might be a viable non-metallic armour along with padded/quilted aketons. What should be avoided like the plague is the "studed leather" biker-gear, beloved of many prop-departments.
Agree 5425% with the last -- if I could buy it at the mall, Feanor's sons wouldn't wear it!

I hadn't considered metal-scale. It's an interesting look, and wouldn't look like a new film of Robin Hood. Hmmm...
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Interestingly, I do watch all of those channels.

Firstly, I'd have to ask why the desire to lean so heavily towards mail? Other than it being less visually interesting, and variations less obvious, it is ... not particularly good armor. It protects reasonably well against cuts, but against blunt or thrusting weapons it is fairly poor. Of course, a good padded gambeson could help, but as we are talking about an age where things were _better_ than what came after, not worse, I don't see why we wouldn't give our master craftsmen better armor.

As to the point about brigandine, I agree that the plates should overlap, I just grabbed a picture rather quickly to demonstrate that the plates are underneath the leather. Thrusting weapons would indeed slide off of the plates above and through the gap if the leather is not stiff enough. Cutting weapons would, however, not do so.

As to the second example, once again, just a picture to give the idea, but it does look to be at least 3/4" thick in most places, and only thin at the ends of the sleeves.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled post.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Ok, so I do agree that any human armor that involves full plate will seem very ... human. I have some ideas that go in a different direction, but I also think that we have things we can do that would allow the elves to wear plate without it being a problem. I do think that the leaf-themed armor designed for the Jackson films was an excellent stroke, other than the mildly ostentatious helms.
The Elves of Hithlum, I think, are our most likely candidates for deployers of light cavalry, who might wear something like this:



It has the added benefit of seeming like a fairly natural progression from the "earlier" four-mirror armor. I would, however, suggest adding vambraces at the very least.

As to other cavalry, I see the Gondolindrim as having the height of elvish military organization, just based on the way they are described. I think that their cavalry would be heavier than that of the elves of Hithlum. They would be similar to the Byzantine cataphracts, perhaps supported by contingents of horse archers.
Instead of the scale armor in this picture, however:


I was thinking, apparently along similar lines to Marielle, of the possibility of using mountain pattern armor. The pattern looks like:

 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
Interestingly, I do watch all of those channels.

Firstly, I'd have to ask why the desire to lean so heavily towards mail? Other than it being less visually interesting, and variations less obvious, it is ... not particularly good armor. It protects reasonably well against cuts, but against blunt or thrusting weapons it is fairly poor. Of course, a good padded gambeson could help, but as we are talking about an age where things were _better_ than what came after, not worse, I don't see why we wouldn't give our master craftsmen better armor.
Both very fair points. For me, it's mostly visual: plate, despite its obvious advantages, always *looks* clunky and awkward to me. I didn't mean to place so much emphasis on mail, however: I agree it's visually uninteresting, and not the best.

I love the mountain pattern armor! Do you think we could vary the metal? Obviously not the best idea practically speaking, but sneaking in a few silver (or mithril!) links in it could make the whole thing shine like a field of stars.
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
Remember, we are dealing (largely) with the Noldor: I for one vote we make each main character's armor a work of art.
 

Halstein

Active Member
As to the point about brigandine, I agree that the plates should overlap, I just grabbed a picture rather quickly to demonstrate that the plates are underneath the leather. Thrusting weapons would indeed slide off of the plates above and through the gap if the leather is not stiff enough. Cutting weapons would, however, not do so.
Ok. I have seen a bit to many bad leather movie-armours.

Interestingly, I do watch all of those channels.

Firstly, I'd have to ask why the desire to lean so heavily towards mail? Other than it being less visually interesting, and variations less obvious, it is ... not particularly good armor. It protects reasonably well against cuts, but against blunt or thrusting weapons it is fairly poor. Of course, a good padded gambeson could help, but as we are talking about an age where things were _better_ than what came after, not worse, I don't see why we wouldn't give our master craftsmen better armor.
It is mainly because it has been a popular armour historically, and was used by the Anglo-Saxons. To improve on mail, one has to add plates. Of course "four-mirror" armour/Mughal and also Ottoman/Central-Asian armours made up of mail and plates is a good idea. So your suggestion on this I agree with. Roman and Sassanid cathapract-armour might also be a variation to consider.

Halstein
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I do think that we will indeed see plenty of chainmail, but for the elves, once we enter Beleriand, I think they'll move past it. Humans, on the other hand, we will likely see in more plain chainmail. The more elaborate armors for humans, I think will come once we get to Numenor.

The House of Hador seems like the perfect example for a lot of chain mail, which we will see carried through in the Rohirrim, our resident Anglo-Saxon expys.
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
I agree. An obvious choice would be Anglo-Saxon/Viking inspirations for the men, with the exceptions of Numenor and Gondor, whose soldiers could look more like knights.
 
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