Wednesday, July 20, 2011
A BBC article on the weight of armor has got just about all my Facebook friends chattering.
Some of the professional historians think this is "pope is Catholic" junk science, and ask why in this time of disappearing funding for scholarly history, need this money be spent in this way? And were any historians consulted anyway?
Some of the reenactors are more interested, but the more informed -- the ones who have both worn armor and studied actual warfare -- ask whether this was a well-designed experiment.
I am both a professional scholar and someone who has worn armor (for 4 decades if you can believe it!) and I am not overly impressed -- tho I haven't seen the actual writeup behind the BBC article.
First, where are the horses? For much of the Middle Ages, it was the guys on horseback who were well-armed, and vice-versa.
Second, I say to the people who emphasize the drawbacks of armor what I say to those who are skeptical about the usefulness of heavy cavalry. Why did rich and important people buy expensive armor and wear it? and why did people who organized and paid for armies pay extra to well-armed men?
Third, full armor did have drawbacks and went out of use fairly quickly after it hit its peak of development. But the situation is not a binary one of full armor/no armor. Let's have a little more subtle analysis here.