Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

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Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

Postby bigdummy » 05 Feb 2010 02:06

I gather there is some pictoral evidence of cuir boulli "cuirass" and "cuisses" worn over mail armor roughly during the 13th Century. When precisely was this used, how extensive was it and what effect did it have? Has anyone done any tests? Are there any surviving samples? I have photos of some cuir bouilli armor from Italy in the 15th century which has been suggested to me was probably tournament armor. Were these cuir bouilli stiffeners for tournaments or for combat or both?

Is it possible some other animal hide other than leather was used, such as Aurochs hide or Buffalo hide?

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Re: Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

Postby craftyfighter » 05 Feb 2010 10:24

bigdummy wrote:I gather there is some pictoral evidence of cuir boulli "cuirass" and "cuisses" worn over mail armor roughly during the 13th Century. When precisely was this used, how extensive was it and what effect did it have? Has anyone done any tests? Are there any surviving samples? I have photos of some cuir bouilli armor from Italy in the 15th century which has been suggested to me was probably tournament armor. Were these cuir bouilli stiffeners for tournaments or for combat or both?

Is it possible some other animal hide other than leather was used, such as Aurochs hide or Buffalo hide?

BD


There is evidence thatsomething was being strapped over mail in the 13th century. We see evidence of plate defenses on the chest, elbows, knees, lower legs, etc. However, the pictorial evidence doesn't tell us what it was composed of. This is a period of wild experimentation with armour and I've read suggestions of a range of possible materials being used. Latten, cuir boulli, iron, all being possiblities.

The only extant piece that I can think of for the period you indicated is a nicely decorated piece of cuir boulli for the upper arm.

"Defense for the right upper arm, second half of 14th century
Leather
Inv.No. MLA 56,7-1,1665
The British Museum, London"

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Re: Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

Postby Bulot » 05 Feb 2010 10:30

My question will probably sounds silly, and has little to do with the main topic, but, is there a reason why english language uses the french words "cuir bouilli" (which litterally means "boiled leather") ?
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Re: Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

Postby Peter S » 05 Feb 2010 11:46

Because prior the fourteenth century any "English" noble would be speaking French.
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Re: Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

Postby Bulot » 05 Feb 2010 11:47

oh, yes, true. I knew that, but did'nt think of it. thanks.
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Re: Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

Postby Gil-Galadh » 05 Feb 2010 17:48

http://www.wga.hu/art/l/lorenzo/venezian/predell1.jpg
Note the things strapped to the arms of the fallen soldier to the left.
Given the color and the look, i believe they could be leather somethings. Its from 14th Century Italy. But i don't remember whether its the first or second half
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Re: Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

Postby Peter S » 05 Feb 2010 21:24

Gil-Galadh wrote:http://www.wga.hu/art/l/lorenzo/venezian/predell1.jpg
Note the things strapped to the arms of the fallen soldier to the left.
Given the color and the look, i believe they could be leather somethings. Its from 14th Century Italy. But i don't remember whether its the first or second half


They do look like leather. Also like his cuisses - which seem to be studded, suggesting they're covering plates.
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Re: Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

Postby admin » 10 Feb 2010 12:04

Bulot wrote:My question will probably sounds silly, and has little to do with the main topic, but, is there a reason why english language uses the french words "cuir bouilli" (which litterally means "boiled leather") ?


The main reason is that we don't really know how it was made (we know how it could have been made, but not how it certainly was made). Therefore, rather than giving it a name, not knowing what it really was, we use the name used in the original sources - and our original sources for the 13th/14thC are usually written either in Latin or French. By the 15thC, when English becomes more common in documents, leather armour is rarely referred to anymore, and there is no contemporary English term to describe what cuir boulli may have been, as far as I know.

BD, in short, yes. There is pictoral, effigy and documentary evidence that leather breast and back plates were in use from the last quater of the 12thC to the mid-13thC. The word 'cuirass' of course originally referred to an item made of cuir - leather. Limb defences do not appear with any frequency until the mid/late 13thC, when the coat of plates/pair of plates, made of iron plates attached to a waistcoat-like garment became more common. The coat of plates had started to appear in the early 13thC and probably superceeded the cuir boulli or leather body defence. The earliest English medieval referrence to an iron chest protector that I have seen related to Richard I in around 1190, but was described as an unusual thing at that time.
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Re: Cuir Bouilli stiffeners over mail armor

Postby Bulot » 10 Feb 2010 12:57

The main reason is that we don't really know how it was made (we know how it could have been made, but not how it certainly was made). Therefore, rather than giving it a name, not knowing what it really was, we use the name used in the original sources - and our original sources for the 13th/14thC are usually written either in Latin or French. By the 15thC, when English becomes more common in documents, leather armour is rarely referred to anymore, and there is no contemporary English term to describe what cuir boulli may have been, as far as I know.


that's interesting. thanks. :)
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