Historical Rarity of Mail for the period

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Shaxx

Squire
How rare was mail armor in this region and period? Are we talking 5% of warriors, 1% perhaps?

Any historical articles or studies on the subject that back up your estimation would be great.

I have done some diving on google but everything comes up 'Did you mean the mid and late middle ages?' Which is somewhat understandable as this period is called 'Dark' for reason, not a lot is known about it compared to the mid and late middle ages, so I thought I would ask here with others who may have bit more experience looking into this subject.
 

Ivan Khan

Knight
WBVC
The prevalence of armor is a difficult question for the early middle ages (dark age).

It is pretty clear manufacturing of armor broke down in Northern Europe. Mass production continued in the Eastern Med in particular.

There were likely also a few artisans capable of making armor.   

So, that gives us three sources. Old Celtic and Roman armor, imported armor from Southern Europe (eventual restarted by Franks/Germans as well), and local manufacture from the few who retained the skill.

Historical sources tell us only the rich had mail armor. As for Vikings it may come from a few successful raids or from reaching those places where it was still produced in large numbers (I.E. Varigan Guard in the Eastern Roman Empire.).

So, all would have likely been expensive. And, it is normally this that historians mention in its use. Archeologically it is hard to tell as because good weapons and armor were expensive items they were like well kept and used centuries after manufacture. Just as a guide the Romans were still using 1st helmets at the time the collapse.

As for the practice of hurrying armies and armor with graves, this was in rare cases and normally indicates a very rich powerful person.

As for how it affected the groups in VC. Norse had access to trade, they also had money to buy it if they had been on a few profitable raids.

Anglos a d Saxons were mercenaries for Rome, good chance they would have inherited armor.

Britons might of had little. Maybe some from Roman times, but lo als were not armed by practice. Could have had a few Celtic Smiths who were adapt at making armor, but doubtful as they would have been surprised by Rome.

Irish would have retained the Celtic knowledge without suppression. Production would have been more craft than factory production, so you would expect the armor to be fine but rare.

Picts, had similar old Celtic skills. They were said to have had fine armies, but again o ly available to the wealthy.

 

Shaxx

Squire
Ivan Khan said:
The prevalence of armor is a difficult question for the early middle ages (dark age).

It is pretty clear manufacturing of armor broke down in Northern Europe. Mass production continued in the Eastern Med in particular.

There were likely also a few artisans capable of making armor.   

So, that gives us three sources. Old Celtic and Roman armor, imported armor from Southern Europe (eventual restarted by Franks/Germans as well), and local manufacture from the few who retained the skill.

Historical sources tell us only the rich had mail armor. As for Vikings it may come from a few successful raids or from reaching those places where it was still produced in large numbers (I.E. Varigan Guard in the Eastern Roman Empire.).

So, all would have likely been expensive. And, it is normally this that historians mention in its use. Archeologically it is hard to tell as because good weapons and armor were expensive items they were like well kept and used centuries after manufacture. Just as a guide the Romans were still using 1st helmets at the time the collapse.

As for the practice of hurrying armies and armor with graves, this was in rare cases and normally indicates a very rich powerful person.

As for how it affected the groups in VC. Norse had access to trade, they also had money to buy it if they had been on a few profitable raids.

Anglos a d Saxons were mercenaries for Rome, good chance they would have inherited armor.

Britons might of had little. Maybe some from Roman times, but lo als were not armed by practice. Could have had a few Celtic Smiths who were adapt at making armor, but doubtful as they would have been surprised by Rome.

Irish would have retained the Celtic knowledge without suppression. Production would have been more craft than factory production, so you would expect the armor to be fine but rare.

Picts, had similar old Celtic skills. They were said to have had fine armies, but again o ly available to the wealthy.
This is for army composition in game, mostly for tier 5 units but the occasional tier 4 that has mail, and a few of the higher level mercenary units which frequently have mail.

'Wealthy' is kind of vague.

I think on average no more than 5% of a population would be considered 'noble' at any one time no matter the place or time, that is from the king down to the smallest 4th son of a landed knight in training as a squire. That average roughly holds true throughout most of known history as far as I am aware, even on the other side of the world in a feudal Japan centuries later.... but nobility and wealth are not necessarily synonymous, especially on the lower end of the 'nobility' spectrum, hmm...
 

Piédalf

Sergeant at Arms
I disagree  that celts in viking age Britain and Hibernia would have mail, even the nobles. There is many depictions of nobles, with wealthy nobles on horseback with shields, spears and sword, but no metal armor nor helmet. The only depiction is attributed to an ennemy of the scots or picts: an northumbrian angle. The most surprising in those stones is that they put much attention to details, figuring a kind of crossbow or an armored ennemy to clearly identify the characters. Thet makes sense they would not have the use of it.
What's more, anglo saxon gravestones from the same era figure warriors with helmets. I know they are not from the same culture but they maybe share a taste for realistic details, so  I have serious objections about figuring a lot of fully armoured picts.
To me, there is noting that allow to think that they would wear armor, while there is indications that they would not.

On the other side I remember some ancient texts mentioned irish an vikings fighting each others with the same gear, but i dont  have the references  :facepalm:. Please note that picts are not from the same culture than the irish and they would have more interactions with britons (from Wales, Cornwalls and Brittony) and franks, who would have the use of metal protections (franks exported some, as they were laws forbiding to sell them to Avvars).
 
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