Saturday, February 02, 2019

Chain Maile Chausses

Received the last piece of maile required for my replica 12th century medieval kit this week and was curious but also anxious of the fit. Therein lies the issue with modern armor recreations bought off the internet as items are usually produced in Asia and sizing can be hit or miss. They are mass produced and usually tagged with the "one size all" label which can be problematic. There is a reason why hardcore re-inactors or HEMA participants spend the coin for custom pieces.

My suspicions were confirmed with the first attempt to suspend the chausses. The upper legs were snug but there was more than enough maile around the back of the knee and lower legs. Length was also an issue. You know what that means.......DIY modifications!

Before I proceeded with the modifications I removed most of the foot maile to make the chausses a rough serviceable length as I had no intent on covering all the foot or creating an integral shoe.I also removed the maile belt hoops. Not only did they just add extra weight but the design did not facilitate the fit I was looking for. Not quite sure they are historically accurate anyway...not that it really matters.

Next step was weaving the upper edge of maile and the inside of the thighs with a leather strap in anticipation of adding the ties for durability and protection of the string. I opted for the belt method of suspension rather than attaching direct to braies or the use of a lendener - a wide girdle like under garment. I suspect the lendener would perform the best with distributing the weight of the maile much like a modern day tool belt that sits firmly on the hips.


Took some trial and error but I got the points in place to best support the weight using a rather sturdy black leather belt. It's OK but I think the lendener would feel better with less chance of binding.In hindsight some of the excess maile on the mid leg might be a good thing for adding padded gambeson style leg protection but I may have to remove some inner thigh links to have enough room on the quads.

Lower leg definitely needed a taper. The stove pipe design meant there was too much unnecessary material and weight. First step was to remove what was left of the foot mail except for enough to cover the top of the foot. It could remain loose, or depending on the footware used, be secured by the use of straps or points.

The next step was tapering the lower leg. I removed a section of maile from ankle to mid calf, lined the edge with with leather weaving then added ties that could be pulled tight. The length of the tie also meant I could loop it around the lower leg to offer more weight support. Finally another strap was temporarily added just below the knee that helped facilitate less weight on the hips and belt suspension. I will add a permanent one eventually though it appears small belts were/are the preferred option but a leather strap should be period authentic.

Weight support belts

Seems to have worked fairly well. Mobility was good and suspension was comfortable. Looks rough but effective and remember it will all be covered by a gambeson, hauberk , tunic or surcoat.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The Maile Shirt in European Tradition

The hauberk is a shirt of maile, commonly known as chain mail. Usually reaching to the mid thigh it had sleeves of varying length. A shorter version was referred to as a haubergeon but either terms are applicable to a wide assortment of variants found around the world used by most iron using cultures.European maile was created by interlocking riveted rings of mild steel. In the western tradition it was fabricated using the 4 in 1 pattern.

History attributes the Celts as the originators of chain mail as documented by the Romans when they expanded their empire north into Europe. The Romans adopted their version of maile armor called the lorica hamata that remained in active use with the legions and auxiliaries for at least six hundred years. It was the empire that spread the use of maile throughout the Mediterranean basin and central Asia.

The earliest surviving example of maile was found in present day Romania and was dated to the 4th/5th century BC. It is a testament to the efficiency of maile that it remained in service for so long only being supplanted by the advancement of plate armor in the 15th century and the use of gunpowder by the 16th century. As a defense against slashing and cutting weapons maile was extremely effective, did not hinder movement despite its weight and was durable. If links were broken they could be replaced easily. Maile, like swords, became legacy items passed down generations.

It is perhaps the Normans who are mostly associated with the resurgence of maile in the 11th century as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry. During the migration period after the fall of the Roman empire much of the infrastructure to create maile, (which was laborious, tedious and expensive), was abandoned to all but the wealthy or nobility. Not only did the Normans issue maile to their soldiers but they also modified the traditional dark aged byrnie maile shirt by adding fuller sleeves, additional length to protect the upper legs of cavalry and began the use of mail coifs under helmets for additional neck and head protection. Thus began the second golden age of maile in Western Europe.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Rum - Bumbu

I know I usually focus upon middle shelf rums that make decent working class sippers but circumstances of late have given me the opportunity to try some rums above my weight class. Thanks to the Bills and Browns I managed to win the football pool this past week so figured a specialty/top shelf rum was in my future.

While browsing the NSLC specialty rum table it just happened that the product specialist was doing some stock rotation and asked if I had tried the Bumbu. I had not so I was told to stay put while a sample was retrieved from the office.

The nose radiating from the plastic sampling cup was sweet.....something familiar but tantalizing elusive.

"Caramelized banana" was the response to my hesitancy and was the a-ha moment. Take a ripe banana and saute with a generous scoop of real butter. Add a little bit of cinnamon and you have Bumbu.

It was familiar as the tasting notes remind me of a sweeter version of Plantation's Original Dark, itself a blend of Barbados, Guyana and Jamaican rums. No doubt they share a lineage.

Bumbu is a product of Barbados.....

"....masterly blended by hand from island rums and native spices from across the West Indies...."

The bottle is substantial, embossed and unique in a antique way. Not only corked but a real cork that I had to use a corkscrew to open...and proceeded to break. Might need to revisit wines to work on my technique.

In the glass the spiced rum shows a brilliant amber with a pleasant mouth feel, little heat and an easy finish. The fact it is only 35% alcohol /volume lends to it's easy drinking nature. Make no mistake this is a sweet rum.

A specialty rum it is currently at the NSLC for $59.99. Tad bit sweet for my tastes but it sure is delicious. Dangerously so even if it is only 35% by volume.

Medieval Liripipe Hood Modifications

A few years ago I had purchased a medieval chaperon hood with an extended liripipe. Made from 100% wool it was well constructed but didn't quite fit me comfortably or the way I would have preferred it to wear.

What is a Liripipe? A Liripipe was an early Middle Ages chaperon hood and cloak combination that included a long tail off the back of the hood. The length of the tail varied and there is some debate as to the purpose; simply a fashion statement or, as I am inclined to believe, a built in scarf depending upon the length of material. Seems logical and when the cloak across the upper torso needs to be snugged tighter in cold or wet conditions using the tail to wrap around one's neck is effective at keeping out the weather. Any period show or movie worth it's salt usually has characters in some type of hood and is usually one of the few things they get right in terms of historical accuracy.

One of the benefits of being between jobs is having time on my hands to do some house keeping before I get back out there in the real world. Wintery weather and the loss of power this morning meant I had the opportunity to grab the Liripipe and sewing box to finally attempt some modifications.

I had a couple issues; the cloak was not quite wide enough to fit my shoulders and the hood was very large even for my fat head while clad in a hat or helmet. To address the cloak I separated the panels by about three inches then sewed the exposed edges to create a series of inverted "V's" along the bottom hem. Not only is it historically accurate but allows the mantle to expand and better drape the width of my shoulders.


As for the hood I simply folded back the perimeter by about two inches and sewed it in place within the interior of the hood. It satisfactorily addressed the adundance of fabric hanging over my face while still allowing lots of room for caps, maile or padded coifs or helmets. A side benefit was it created a stiffer hem line that kept the hood in place more effectively.

Much better!