Narsil

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
He's actually pretty clear that it does not advance much, if at all. Literally thousands of years after the first armor is made, Tolkien never mentions any plate armor at all, save for a reference to a metal vambrace Imrahil wears in LotR.
In theory, armor technology could advance and then be lost by the Third Age. But I don't just mean plate armor. Are we projecting advances in mail like better joints, smaller rings, and greater coverage of the body?
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
In theory, armor technology could advance and then be lost by the Third Age. But I don't just mean plate armor. Are we projecting advances in mail like better joints, smaller rings, and greater coverage of the body?
How far can one go with chain mail?
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
In theory, armor technology could advance and then be lost by the Third Age. But I don't just mean plate armor. Are we projecting advances in mail like better joints, smaller rings, and greater coverage of the body?
I mean, other than coverage, that isn't going to be visible to the viewer, and we certainly shouldn't be taking time out to explain it.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
I mean, other than coverage, that isn't going to be visible to the viewer, and we certainly shouldn't be taking time out to explain it.
True, and given that the Noldor are jewelers, figuring out how to make effective chainmail is probably not difficult for them.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
There are a few additional references, but it is fairly clear he envisioned every one in earlier armor types. My response to this is that Tolkien himself may have been under the Victorian impression that plate armor was so heavy that it's wearers were slow and awkward. This isn't a dig at him, a lot of people still believe this now.

I'd kinda prefer to see progressions in armor as we go, but I can live with just having everyone in mail.
Full plate didn't come about until the late middle ages, but individual pieces like breastplates and greaves existed long before that. Might such pieces be worn in addition to mail?
 

Octoburn

Active Member
Full plate didn't come about until the late middle ages, but individual pieces like breastplates and greaves existed long before that. Might such pieces be worn in addition to mail?
Personally, I'd be ok with greaves and vambraces, but beyond that I would try to stick with mail and padded leather for armor. But that's just my opinion:D

It does seem strange to make some of the best Craftsmen in history never think to use metal like that. Maybe there's a reason?
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Personally, I'd be ok with greaves and vambraces, but beyond that I would try to stick with mail and padded leather for armor. But that's just my opinion:D

It does seem strange to make some of the best Craftsmen in history never think to use metal like that. Maybe there's a reason?
Perhaps they would wear more plate armor in battles, but not on long journeys? Boromir is shown wearing plate armor in the films after Osgiliath, but in his time with the Fellowship he wears chain-mail, leather, and vambraces. Perhaps as Elves grow more insular, more secrets are lost?
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Personally, I'd be ok with greaves and vambraces, but beyond that I would try to stick with mail and padded leather for armor. But that's just my opinion:D

It does seem strange to make some of the best Craftsmen in history never think to use metal like that. Maybe there's a reason?
Well, I've stated my theory as to why Tolkien wrote it that way, as it seems indeed strange that the Noldor and Dwarves wouldn't figure out this extremely useful technology.

@Rhiannon You're correct about full-plate armor, but plate armor was in use in many forms going back to the Classical period. The Roman Lorica Segmentata was a good example of plate armor.


On the other hand, since Tolkien also incorrectly uses the term "mail" to occasionally mean "armor that isn't plate", we do have a workaround in some cases. For example, Chinese Mountain Pattern Armor fits within his broad definition of "mail" and gives excellent protection.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Personally, I'd be ok with greaves and vambraces, but beyond that I would try to stick with mail and padded leather for armor. But that's just my opinion:D

It does seem strange to make some of the best Craftsmen in history never think to use metal like that. Maybe there's a reason?
Maybe Elvish mail is so good that there is no need to advance and it equates to plate armor in terms of protection while allowing even greater freedom of movement.
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
Maybe Elvish mail is so good that there is no need to advance and it equates to plate armor in terms of protection while allowing even greater freedom of movement.
Perhaps we could even demonstrate this by having Men develop plate armor at some point and showing that Elvish mail is still more effective and more highly-prized.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
Perhaps we could even demonstrate this by having Men develop plate armor at some point and showing that Elvish mail is still more effective and more highly-prized.
Would the Elves teach Men how to develop plate armor or would Men develop it on their own?
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Maybe Elvish mail is so good that there is no need to advance and it equates to plate armor in terms of protection while allowing even greater freedom of movement.
But that's the thing... it doesn't. If their mail is that awesome, wouldn't their better armor be even more awesome? :)
 

Rhiannon

Well-Known Member
But that's the thing... it doesn't. If their mail is that awesome, wouldn't their better armor be even more awesome? :)
It absolutely would, but if their mail is effective against everything they encounter, there would be less incentive to improve, which might help explain why they don't put much effort into developing plate.
 

Ange1e4e5

Well-Known Member
It absolutely would, but if their mail is effective against everything they encounter, there would be less incentive to improve, which might help explain why they don't put much effort into developing plate.
Conversely, there’s not much to be done against a Dragon. Would the Orcs make any strides in developing armor?
 

Halstein

Active Member
The only place where the full plate armour developed was Western Europe. Ottomans and Mughals managed fine without it, even if they knew (at least the Ottoman surely did) about full plat armour. So the development could be the adding of plates into their mail. I think Ottoman and Mughal armour has been suggested earlier, but don't remember by who.
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
The only place where the full plate armour developed was Western Europe. Ottomans and Mughals managed fine without it, even if they knew (at least the Ottoman surely did) about full plat armour. So the development could be the adding of plates into their mail. I think Ottoman and Mughal armour has been suggested earlier, but don't remember by who.
I mentioned Mughal armor fairly early in our discussions of Elvish armor. You are correct in saying that the European armor we describe as "full plate" only existed in late medieval Europe. I want to make certain that we aren't ignoring the fact that armor made of metal plates has existed in cultures throughout the old world since the Greco-Roman period. The Japanese Tosei Dou would be described as plate armor, though not as protective as "full plate". The Chinese Yuan and Ming dynasties also used forms of plate armor.

The lamellar and brigandine armors from many cultures were quite good (and perhaps the reason "full plate" did not rise to prominence), though they could not be classified as mail being made of metal plates.
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
I m so tired about the JRRT and mail discussion... fact actually IS he DOES not use any other word for armor in his published stories, but if you look beyond that, in his poems and wordlists... he DOES use the terms breastplate, cuirass, corslet, panoply... even harness. AND now don' t tell me he did not know what these terms meant, the guy was a linguist.

Yes he uses mostly mail, often byrnie, byrne, hauberk, haubergeon... yet it is a modern practice to restrict most of these terms to chain, it wasn't even used "the technical right " way in many contemporary medieval sources, and now don't tell me the guy didn't know... he was a medievist after all ☺

And often even if he used "mail" , when we look at the actual description he seems to describe possibly scale, splint or lamellar armour... best example "fishmail", obviously NOT chain! I wouldn't even rule out segmented or ring armour sometimes, nor would i coat of plates or half-plate...

However i absolutely WOULD think about in which time and era it is used and mentioned...

There almost certainly is NO real metal armour, except for the valar, before the dwarves come out with chain...
the Noldor do not use chain at first, they use "fishmail",
At later times them we have Thingol weaing both , "fishmail" plus a "corslet", which i interpret almost certainly as neither chain nor scale but at least as some sort of brigandine, if not really a cuirass or plate in sense of breastplate.

Second age and third age needs to be excamined separately...
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I m so tired about the JRRT and mail discussion... fact actually IS he DOES not use any other word for armor in his published stories, but if you look beyond that, in his poems and wordlists... he DOES use the terms breastplate, cuirass, corslet, panoply... even harness. AND now don' t tell me he did not know what these terms meant, the guy was a linguist.

Yes he uses mostly mail, often byrnie, byrne, hauberk, haubergeon... yet it is a modern practice to restrict most of these terms to chain, it wasn't even used "the technical right " way in many contemporary medieval sources, and now don't tell me the guy didn't know... he was a medievist after all ☺

And often even if he used "mail" , when we look at the actual description he seems to describe possibly scale, splint or lamellar armour... best example "fishmail", obviously NOT chain! I wouldn't even rule out segmented or ring armour sometimes, nor would i coat of plates or half-plate...

However i absolutely WOULD think about in which time and era it is used and mentioned...

There almost certainly is NO real metal armour, except for the valar, before the dwarves come out with chain...
the Noldor do not use chain at first, they use "fishmail",
At later times them we have Thingol weaing both , "fishmail" plus a "corslet", which i interpret almost certainly as neither chain nor scale but at least as some sort of brigandine, if not really a cuirass or plate in sense of breastplate.

Second age and third age needs to be excamined separately...
I know we've had most of these discussions before, but that's likely to happen as new folks join the project, so I'd recommend some patience on that point.

I'm in general agreement with most of what you're saying, but in English, mail was used exclusively for armor made from linked rings until someone coined the term "ringmail" in the 18th century.
And yes, Tolkien was a medievalist, a scholar of stories from and about Medieval Europe. He was not, however a historian, military or otherwise. In his day, literary scholars and writers commonly used the word "mail" to mean "armor" even in contexts where this was inaccurate.
 
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