Cap-a-Pied Test Run – Summer 2017

So I finally got around to doing a test run of my hard kit. This is, sort of, the entirety of what I have as far as armor goes. I have gone in depth in various other places in the Turnip Territories about the goals of my impression, so I’m going to spare my regulars a long rehash. For those tl;dr people who don’t want to catch up, my end game is to portray an English knight of the late fourteenth, early fifteenth century. This trial run was to see if my gambeson worked with my plate to create a sort of, rich peasant or poor man-at-arms.

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Beware my sharp and pointy, for it neither sharp nor pointy!

A lot of your may have found your way here from the various “share your impression” groups on Facebook. Welcome! I’m glad that spamming the internet worked to draw in some traffic. Even if you’re not, this post is as much a call for comment as it is a way to catalog my progress. I want to hear your opinion on the kit and your suggestions for improvement. You have the unique opportunity to help shape the future of my kit with your participation! However, I am also going to sum up my various components, acknowledge defects, air my complaints, etc. So if you see some glaring problem with my kit that I haven’t already noticed, please point it out.

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This is everything laid out Obi-Wan style. The first and most important thing about my kit is that I have no mail except for at the throat. I know this is a problem. I was supposed to have sleeves, but I made a terrible mistake. I got impatient and purchased a pair of sleeves from a seller in India who seemed eager to work on something a little more “tailor made” than what you can buy off allbeststuff or KoA.

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It was an utter failure, and they’re shapeless voluminous monstrosities that don’t really work for anything. I have briefly contemplated doing the tailoring myself… but I lack the skills, tools, patience, or interest in it, so I don’t see that happening. If I have someone else tailor it, the cost of that combined with the initial cost will likely match what it would have cost to get the sleeves I actually wanted the first time around. Don’t make my mistakes: buy what you want, and if you have to wait to save up for it, just be patient. I wasted a ton of time and money on this failed endeavor.

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The goal is to have a breastplate and fauld. The gambeson under the arms is really uncomfortable. I wore it this way because I thought that the arming doublet, with no chest protection, would look a bit odd. I hand sewed some grommets into the shoulders to accommodate the arms, and I think they’re a bit too far back, so I’ll have to sew in some more if I want them positioned better. The arms were designed to go over an arming coat and maybe a mail sleeve. It is very difficult to close the vambrace of the arms over the thick sleeve of the padded jacket. It throws into relief just how well tailored the end of my sleeve will need to be for it all to fit right. These are distinctly English arms, even if they suffer from the common large spaulder reproduction error, and I have every intention of wearing them in English style with a full sleeve of mail underneath.

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You can plainly see the sleeve trapped in the lower arm.

But in the end I really don’t like wearing the gambeson under the arms. It’s incredibly uncomfortable. Without the gambeson I won’t have enough protection to fight in harness, but I don’t think that I’ll be able to fight in this configuration anyway. Even if it satisfies a protection requirement… I have very limited movement and constant pain. I have a breastplate I’ve never strapped. I’m strongly considering strapping the breastplate and then wearing it under my sleeveless surcote in “covered breasplate” fashion. However, I don’t think that will be enough coverage for harness anyway, since I don’t have a chain shirt. I plan to do this again in the arming doublet and see which is more comfortable. If nothing else, I can still practice harness technique mostly-armored, and I’ll likely get better training in the doublet I intend to wear instead of the gambeson I don’t really like to wear.

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The throat protection is okay, 9mm riveted chain over steel trauma plate and shock-tec wrapped in a leather shell. It’s very tall and cuts into my chin when I look even a little bit down. I’d like to take it apart, trim a quarter inch off the inside, and try again.

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I also really like that look of the “standard” where the part around the neck is like a turtle neck and the bottom part goes over the shoulders. I don’t really know how to do that. I bet I’d have enough scrap to redo the entire collar in 6mm riveted if I tailored down those horrible excuses for sleeves I have, if that ever happens.

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So my torso’s a mess. At least my helmet works well, even if the aventail looked a bit squinty all bound up on itself. The legs also need some work. The lendenier I made out of the sleeves of an old gambeson. That gambeson was also made overseas “to my measurements” but didn’t fit in any way, shape, or form. Yet another mistake, but this one less expected since the gambeson maker was reputable up until I ordered from them.

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I set the holes for the legs too close to the front on the right side, and the leg harness kept twisting inward. I didn’t realize this was a problem until later. I suppose I could always slide the lendenier to the right, but then it wouldn’t be as symmetrical. The legs fit perfectly when pointed to the end of my arming doublet, but the gambeson doesn’t fit over my arming double (to be honest the gambeson barely fits with a shirt on.) The lendenier fits securely enough. I’ll do a post on how I made it later.

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The legs and the shynbalds absolutely cannot be worn together. They look like it, but within four minutes I was in agony. This was another attempt to try and make armor requirements for harness fighting that I’m really not equipped for; and it shows. When we were done with photos I unbuckled the shynbalds before I took off my helmet. They dig into my ankle and my shin when worn alone. Slapping the lower part of the legs atop the shynbald instantly tripled the level of discomfort, and it only got worse the more I wore them. A friend of mine thinks he can fix them by adding some height, moving up a strap, and changing some of the flaring. The legs without the shynbalds on feel pretty good actually, especially when they’re not pointed to my hobo-lendenier. The legs show more thigh than I thought, but I also eat too much pizza.

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Underclothes are all Historic Enterprises. I have an arming cap, but you can’t see it through the helmet. I look like a goof in one worn by its lonesome, so I didn’t take any pictures that way. All in all I think this was a very beneficial test of my current kit. It has a lot of problems. If I drop the arms and the shynbalds it makes for a very comfortable less rich peasant / really poor man at arms. I really should get some gauntlets.

I am going to try this again sometime next week, but not with the gambeson. I’ll do the arming doublet and see how well that surcote disguises that I have no torso protection. I would have done it this time, but we were reaching the end of my photographer’s endurance. Also, it was primarily a test to see if the gambeson/lendenier combo was worth putting any more time, effort, or consideration into… and I don’t really think it is. From the outside it looks okay, but really it only works when I’m standing still. Also the padded lendenier around my waist under the padded jacket makes me look even pudgier around the middle than I already am. And we can’t have that now can we.

4 thoughts on “Cap-a-Pied Test Run – Summer 2017

  1. Hi there.

    I really enjoyed reading your article and found it to be very informative.
    Good on you for taking the time to try out and test out your kit in experimental fashion. Everything seems good in theory until we test it. And when we fail we learn from our mistakes.
    I think you got the basic look of a poor man at arms right.

    I have some suggestions for improvement which I have learnt the hard way.
    When you make a gambeson for ease of flexibility and functionality make it so that the arms are held straight out above your head. If you haven’t made it this way then when you raise your arms above your head the gambeson will stretch and lift upwards. This upward lifting is most noticeable if you stand in front of a mirror and look at the bottom of your gambeson, it will rise up. Try this with a shirt or padded jacket. Notice where the garment stretches as you raise your arms upwards. The sleeves will also stretch away from your wrists.

    The leg harness was attached to a gambeson by points, or laces, which were tied on to the inside of the gambeson around the waist line.
    On an arming doublet the laces were attached to the bottom of the garment.
    The leg harness was held up by these laces and kept close to the legs by straps.
    The leg harness was not attached by a waist belt. I think you are calling this a lendenier. In SCA they use a kidney belt to hold up the leg harness. I don’t believe this is authentic, but it works.

    When you raise your arms above your head, if the gambeson rises up the leg harness will rise up with it pulling at your legs making everything uncomfortable.
    A 14th century gambeson or 15th century arming doublet wasn’t made like a shirt. On a shirt the arms stick straight out perpendicular to your body and parallel to the ground.
    I would make a gambeson so that the arms were made sticking out above your head. Measure the arms at this position from your wrist to your shoulder and sew them close to the body around the armpit to reduce bagginess. The arms of my gambeson were sewn on to the main body not laced on.
    If the material isn’t too thick your arms should fall comfortably to the ground when you lower them.
    I wish I kept my old late 14th century gambeson but by the time I had made so many adjustments it looked like a tattered rag. I sold it.
    When a gambeson and armour are made they should be made to work at the body’s most extreme positions. Arms raised. Legs bent or kneeling. And fingers clenched around a sword hilt.

    Not everybody knows this but when your body is at its most extreme positions your skin will stretch. With your hand placed flat on a table and your fingers out stretched, measure the length of your fingers from your knuckles to your finger tips. Then clench your fingers around a sword hilt or axe handle. Then measure the length of your fingers. They will be longer when clenched. Important to know when it comes to making gauntlets.

    If you gambeson is uncomfortable under the armpits you may have too much bagginess. The arms should be made so that they are a close fit to the body under the armpit.
    If your vambraces were difficult to close over the gambeson it maybe because there is too much bagginess around your forearms. This looseness can be eliminated if you have buttons or lacing on the outside of your forearms from the wrist up to the elbow. This way you get a tighter fit.
    I would take my measurements for my vambraces, etc with my gambeson being worn. This way they will close with ease. Make your gambeson first.

    A knight had padding around his legs to make his leg harness more comfortable. Think of two very long thick padded socks which he pulled on. Each “sock” would almost come up to his waist. Make them padded like a gambeson. Wear them over your chausses.

    Well that’s it from me. Hope it helps.

    Brent Ruijne
    New Zealand

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    1. Wow, thanks for the feedback! I didn’t actually make the gambeson, I purchased it. It doesn’t fit quite right, but the bigger ones are generally just a bit rounder in the belly and don’t help me with my monkey arms. I’ve had a series of unsuccessful attempts at getting a custom gambeson made, but the quest continues, and your advice will be very useful when it comes time to get the next one made.

      The lendenier has been well researched lately. I’ll let Knyght Errant explain it better.

      http://knyghterrant.com/index.php/2016/04/06/historical-sources-for-the-arming-girdle-lendenier-with-commentary/

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  2. This looks really good and was an enjoyable read.

    Do you mind if I ask who supplylied the helmet and elements of armour?

    Keep up the good work and I look forward to following your progression

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    1. Thanks for the feedback! I’ve stalled a bit in making progress, perhaps I should document some of my foibles as well.

      The legs are valentine armory, bought off a friend. The shynbalds are Indian in manufacture, bought from a friend. The helmet is stainless, made by Andre Galevskiy, but bought from the Armor Archive and not from him. The bevor plate and spring pin are aftermarket, but not sure who did the work.

      The arms are of unknown manufacture and my biggest frustration, since they don’t articulate like they’re supposed to. I’ve started but not finished a part on that headache. Bought off a friend.

      The standard chain is Indian, the leather part was made through a friend and contains steel and shocktec padding.

      The sword is a Hanwei Tinker, the boots are Bohemmond. They’re in desperate need of replacement, as they’ve survived nearly six or seven years of use and are falling apart. All the soft kit is Historic Enterprises.

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