From metal buttons to the futuristic exoskeleton of the American army, which reached the real world from the pages of popular comics. From the iron bandits of medieval dandies to modern fire-retardant clothing for working on main pipes and in hot workshops.
The steel suit has come a long evolutionary path, and after a temporary retreat in the face of a deadly “firearm”, it once again conquers the battlefields and is widely used in the latest industries.
The ancestors of fur and cotton
The first armor of mankind covered … the backs of warriors. For the Germanic tribes that stormed the Roman Empire, escaping the battlefield was not considered shameful. They protected the chest by dodging. But the back, vulnerable when fleeing, was covered with thick animal skins, throwing them over the shoulders. The military of ancient Egypt and Greece wore glued and padded multi-layered clothing as military armor. The Mexican Aztecs greeted the Spanish with padded and quilted coats a couple of fingers thick. In turn, the Spanish conquerors borrowed the idea from the Mexicans. And in medieval Europe, similar protective clothing was used more than widely, until the 16th century. By the way, the famous Caucasian cape also happens to be armor. The burqa made of wool using felt technology is invulnerable to steel sabers, arrows, and even some types of bullets.
Metal armor: Main milestones
Another ancient idea of protective clothing was taken from animals. The scaly skin of one of them – pangolin – was widely used as armor by the noble Indian warriors – the Rajputs. They began to mimic the scaly body covering made of copper in ancient Mesopotamia. Then bronze came into action, followed by steel. It was the steel scale armor, simple to manufacture and very durable, the most popular among warriors of the East and West. To make the scales, it was required to forge small steel plates that were joined with an overlap. Due to its small size, the steel scales did not break, it was impossible to cut or pierce them.
Note that not all armor was made of steel. For example, the equally common “metal mesh” and the “shoulder strap” were, as a rule, made of iron. Chain armor is believed to have been invented by the Celts. The two oldest examples of chain mail in the world have been found in neighboring Romania and date back to the 3rd century. A. C. At first, the style of the mail armor was more like a long, short-sleeved T-shirt. Later the sleeves were made long, the “t-shirt” was accessorized with mesh stockings and a hood. Now the chainmail completely covered the body and was called a hauberka.
Chainmail armor was made with a wire drawing device. The wire was cut into rings. They, in turn, were riveted, and then welded. But experts still argue about the degree of protection of the chainmail. The fact is that wire can only be drawn from relatively soft and ductile iron. Therefore, the chainmail was easily pressed and pierced. In a battle with an enemy armed with a mace or sword, it was simply useless. However, from the Celts to the early 17th century, iron chain armor was the main item of a warrior’s equipment in Europe, and in Asia they were used until the 19th century …
Brigandine is a kind of “two in one”. This armor served both as a secular dress and protection against attack. The iron plates of the bandit were attached to cloth or leather, and from above they were adorned with velvet or silk. At the end of the 12th century, the bandit “acquired” sleeves and was made shorter. Laced up the front or zippers on the sides, with a belt that tightens the waist, with copper trim attached to a metal frame, the brig was a wild hit with commoners and nobility. But it was gradually replaced by another fashionable novelty – armor.
Steel armor – facts and myths
Plate armor was without a doubt the best exampleof medieval metallurgical art. The armor required a relatively large amount of steel and was quite difficult to manufacture. Its mass production was established only in the middle of the 14th century.
The armor guaranteed its owner full protection. The “Achilles heel” of this armor was only the indentations for the eyes and armpits. These were men’s clothes, which were made to order for a lot of money. One game could buy an entire town.
Interestingly, contrary to popular belief, medieval armor was neither very heavy nor very uncomfortable. In fact, his weight was about three dozen kilos. But it was more or less evenly distributed throughout the body, and the knight fights were primarily equestrian. An interesting fact – the equipment of a modern infantryman weighs more or less the same. Therefore, it is not surprising that in plate armor one can not only walk, but also run, fight with swords, and even climb a rope ladder, which has been repeatedly tested by today’s reenactors. And if a noble knight in armor fell, he could easily get up on his own, and would not lie on the ground like a scarab, waiting for the help of the faithful Sancho Panza.
Wounds in battle are something else. Sometimes even the most insignificant, but bloody wound of an armored warrior became fatal.