Sunday, July 31, 2011

Geek Scientists Find Rationale for Fantasy Armor

Heavy Metal Hardens Battle: Body Armor Hindered Medieval Warriors
...A study published July 19 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B shows that soldiers carrying armour in Medieval times would have been using more than twice the amount of energy had they not been wearing it. This is the first clear experimental evidence of the limitations of wearing Medieval armour on a soldier's performance.

During warfare in the 15th century, soldiers wore steel plate armour, typically weighing 30-50kg. It is thought this may have been a contributing factor in whether an army won or lost a battle. "We found that carrying this kind of load spread across the body requires a lot more energy than carrying the same weight in a backpack," says lead researcher, Dr Graham Askew from the University of Leeds Faculty of Biological Sciences. "This is because, in a suit of armour, the limbs are loaded with weight, which means it takes more effort to swing them with each stride. If you're wearing a backpack, the weight is all in one place and swinging the limbs is easier."
I think when they say "soldiers wore steel plate armor" that they are speaking largely of the knights, the professional class of soldier, whose armor we find in museums.  The mass of infantry probably cobbled together whatever protection they could.
...The study also showed that the armour had a clear impact on the soldier's breathing. Rather than taking deep breaths when they were exerting themselves -- as they would have done had they not been wearing armour -- the interpreters took a greater number of shallower breaths.
She looks like she can breathe just fine.

"Being wrapped in a tight shell of armour may have made soldiers feel safe," says co-investigator Dr Federico Formenti from the University of Auckland. "But you feel breathless as soon as you begin to move around in Medieval armour and this would likely limit a soldier's resistance to fight."
The thong and the high heels are a nice touch.  It was important to look stylish on the battlefield.
Of course, the trade off between ease of motion energy requirement and protection has been known forever, and the ideal balance between them would depend on the circumstances.  It's a little presumptive of these researchers to conclude that medieval soldiers did not have the brains to evaluate their own personal circumstances, and use the most appropriate armor they could afford.
There's also the matter of practice and training.  I doubt a knight would often go into battle the first time with no practice in the armor (unlike the subjects in the study).  They would, no doubt, spend days practicing, getting used to the armor, building strength to carry it and skill to move in it.  Tournaments weren't just for show, they were the war games of the time.

For fantasy armor this set it not bad,  it covers much of the head, the midriff, the hands, most of the legs, and leaves the breasts free to jiggle...

Compare to this, where the edge of the head is protected, the breasts and crotch are loosely draped with just a bit of scale mail.  The mobile shield, nice embellished with faces and spikes, can be use to protect the body as well, and the knees, but not the thighs are protected.
Of course, having a blood thirsty Conan (also scantily clad) to protect you is probably better than a coat of plate mail...

She better be quick and agile.  There's almost no protection here (unless that mesh body stocking is steel or kevlar) , and without a lot of practice, I imagine she's more likely to hurt herself on the spikes.  It is attractive, though.

So why is that shoulder thing on her right shoulder?  Are all  her enemies left handed.  I guess she just kills them while they're staring...


  1. regarding the last comment most sets of armour throughout history usually show a preference for protectiong one side more than the other , although this was usually the left side.

    except in case where you would pretty much 100% of the time, use a shield, for example for geek hoplites, there are examples of armou for the right arm,its rare, but it exists, there is however none for the left side since hat was covered, in battle by the hoplites shield which covered his arm very well.

    same goes for the roman manica, armguard of plates covering the right arm. left arm is covered by big ass shield.
    i think that her decision to have the Armour on her right shoulder but not the left might have to do with her stance and which area she presents to the enemy more often.
    since clearly shes going for he bare (no pun intended) minimum of armour.

  2. I believe the History Channel some 15 years ago produced a documentary on medieval armor in which they had a modern smithie fashion an accurate reproduction of the sort of armour an actual fighter had used. The guy was able to do cartwheels in full body armour. There certainly would have been differences from time to time and from one locale to another, but the notion that all armoured knights were weighted down so they couldn't move is as crazy as thinking all dinosaurs were sluggish animals that crawled a few feet and then had to rest before they could move again.