Not how you wear armour

By Lorenzo

One of the basic principles of metal armour is that you always wear padding underneath it.

Someone seems not to have told this gentleman of this principle.

As someone who regularly wears armour and lets students have a swing at him (as hard as they can), padding under metal armour is a damn fine thing. It absorbs the shock of the blow. (Not that I get hit all that often, I have a shield and rattan sword to block with; the difficulty of getting past a shield being the point of the exercise.)

Without padding, a blow designed to disable or kill can cause severe internal injuries and/or drive the armour into your flesh.

That is particularly true for chain mail.

Of course, chain mail without padding can also have a certain see-through quality.

Which may be rather the point in this case. Display of a fine manifestation of masculine musculature is surely what the image is about.

If one Googles for images of female warriors, the apparent necessity for strategic display of bare flesh is obvious. And strictly in the world of fantasy — teenage male fantasy at that.

Do the same for images of male warriors, and the bare flesh quotient is somewhat lower, but still a strong theme. Even when the physique is largely covered, it is still on display.

Compare the above examples to a c.1485 rendition of Joan of Arc — rendered when plate armour was still military hi-tech — and the difference is striking. This is armour designed to work and drawn by someone who could see the real things on display and in action, whether on the battlefield or in tournaments.

Joan (not yet Sainted, that did not happen until 1920, but already a declared martyr) is depicted with her helmet off, which is normal for displaying a particular personage, as someone with helmet on was faceless. This is particularly so with Joan, as her womanhood can only really be expressed with helmet off.

But the point of the ahistorical images of see-through chain mail and strategically displayed flesh is to invoke an imagined past (or even a fantasy alternative), not represent the actual one.

While such indulgences are amusing, I get a little more irritated with attempts to represent the past get certain other things egregiously wrong. Such as cavalry charges. Cavalry charges did not operate as a charging mob, but in solid lines. Often with the boot of one rider right next to the boot of the next. A continuous wall of horseflesh carrying armoured warriors heading straight for you was what made charging cavalry so intimidating. If you were foot soldiers and all stood your ground, horses were not stupid, they would not impale themselves on spear points. But if you broke ranks, the cavalry would slaughter you.  The trick was believing that the guys around you would stand — that belief is what separated steady infantry from slaughtered cavalry fodder. Creating that trust was central to creating effective infantry.

Throwing your shield away (clearly done so the shield does not get in the camera’s way) is annoying too, but at least I can see the cinematic purpose. Watching alleged champion knights in El Cid make standard new-fighter errors (such as using your shield to provide counterpoint for your sword swing) is just funny.

Warrior might with displayed flesh, however, is both fun and an artistic convention that extends all the way back to the ancient Greeks.

This is also the Saturday chit-chat post.


  1. Mel
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Bananas in Pajamas now join Speedy Gonzales, Daffy Duck, Pepe Le Pew and Elmer Fudd on the neurotic uber-feminist hate list.

    Spongebob Squarepants better watch his step.

  2. Posted November 10, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Guess what — still working on my protocol. Up to #19 as of yesterday.

  3. Posted November 10, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Just got my notes back from the reviewer. I might in fact be looking at the final revision here.

  4. Posted November 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Also, related to the armour discussion: it’s simply physics.

    You want to prevent two kinds of injury: penetrating and blunt.

    Penetration is prevented by having a hard outer surface.

    Blunt is prevented by spreading the force of impact over space and time.

    While watching The Avengers, of all the things that could have broke my willing suspension of disbelief, it was watching Ironman getting pinged around inside machinery and then get out without so much as a bruise that really bugged me.

  5. Posted November 11, 2012 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    In my experience, a great deal of artwork from the classical world (I’m more familiar with Roman stuff, partly due to my studies and partly because there’s more of it) provides copious fanservice for both sexes, along with both varieties of the same-sex attracted. It’s actually quite refreshing.

  6. Mel
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Dammit, uber-feminists may be nuts but so many creepy guys are out there trying to prove them right:

    Creepy nightclub promoter Christian Serrao– “”I just love how these year 12s are happy to get their tits out for photos, then send threatening messages if they’re not deleted off our Facebook page. Kill yourself.”

  7. Posted November 11, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    62% of white men and 56% of white women voted for Romney; 93% of African-Americans and 71% of Latinos voted for Obama. Does that make whites less “racist” than African-Americans and Latinos?

    A puzzle for the pc brigade.

  8. Mel
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    L @8:

    The Mormon Church only lifted the ban on African-Americans having full church membership and the ability to participate in the rituals required to enter heaven in 1978. Romney was 31 at the time and had no record of opposing the “whites-only” policy.

    I hope this helps.

    Homosexuals also overwhelmingly voted for Obama if this poll is accurate. How do you explain this? Don’t worry, I’m sure Jo Nova will work it out for ya’ 😉

  9. Posted November 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Context is everything. In a choice between the first Prez to endorse (however tepidly) same-sex marriage and a devout Mormon who pandered ferociously to the theocons, the 90:7 response is remarkably unsurprising.

    The GOP better start realising that blacks, Latinos, women and queers all vote and building 50% winning coalition is not going to happen if you keep pissing them all off too much.

    Though, the models based on economics picked the result, which suggests other factors cancelled out, so to speak. Including the higher spending by the Romney campaign on ads.

  10. Mel
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Elderly Mouth Almighty, global warming denialist and Jo Nova fetishist, Don Aitken, may be headed to court for upsetting a light skinned indigenous person. I hope he has deep pockets.

    Anyone else for popcorn and a soda?

  11. Mel
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]:

    Also Romney’s main aim as president would have been to perform a reverse Robin Hood, thus making poor blacks and Latinos just that little bit poorer and deader, in respect of health care cuts. Why should POC vote for a wealthy white man who wants to screw them into the dirt?

  12. kvd
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] without reference to anything in particular, the very first thing I’d do in a similar situation is close off comments to the particular post or, more probably, the entire opus. Plus, of course, remove any easy on-reference to the various social media platforms.

    But that’s just me, and perhaps I’m being overly sensitive.

  13. kvd
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    btw Lorenzo, as a result of this post I sat down this arvo to actually watch parts of that Brad Pitt-Troy movie (mostly crap) and your armour commentary made it just a little more interesting. So, thanks!

  14. Posted November 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    [email protected] Happy to serve 🙂 I would describe the movie as silly fun that had remarkable hubris in “improving” a story that has endured for at least 2,500 years.

    [email protected] Actually, his policies would have lowered the level of transfer from the rich to the poor, not quite the same thing. But the wider point about blindness to how things look to other folk holds.

    [email protected] The case strikes me as the sort of overreaching that gets laws changed.

  15. Mel
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    [email protected]:

    [email protected] The case strikes me as the sort of overreaching that gets laws changed.”

    Watching aged reptiles like Aitkin squirm is fun, but yeah, even dark skinned Aboriginals question the Aboriginality of the lighter skinned ones. MIchael Mansell goes so far as to dismiss the existence of an entire Tasmanian aborig. tribe!

  16. Movius
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    GetUp! and their ‘efforts’ to prevent internet censorship.

    Also, boob armour is the foundation of the video game industry. Governments subsidising video game studio to make generic RPG that nobody buys with scantly clad cover girl in chain-mail bikini = jobs.

    Then they have to pay to excavate a giant hole in the desert to bury the thousands of unsold copies next to all those copies of ET. More jobs.

    Your armour criticisms will cause a new economic collapse.

  17. Mel
    Posted November 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    LE @17:

    Sorry about that. This blog has been quieter than a pub with no beer lately so I thought try to animate it.

    In other news, I’ve been thinking lately about how climate change denialists often share a range of oddball beliefs, including a belief in the Gold Standard. Moderate Oz conservative blogger notes same here.

  18. kvd
    Posted November 13, 2012 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    we’ve only got Lorenzo holding the fort

    we’ve only got Lorenzo holding the fort – now fixed, happy to help.

    Except remember The Alamo, Lorenzo. No wonder you wear that armour while you teach 😉

  19. kvd
    Posted November 13, 2012 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    That said, I agree with Mel’s intentions, and I’d recommend a read of his link. The author’s “waiting for The Right’ to come back to me” strikes a chord with me. It seems too often these days that if you describe yourself as either a conservative or a Labor supporter you are presumed to have left your brain at the door and must accept without demur the craziness that exisits on ‘your side’ of politics. Well I choose not to, and the craziness exists on both sides..

    Also in that link is a reference to a blog I’ve read for several years now. The reference is derogatory, and I accept that, but the thing is that the author of that blog attracts some of the wittiest, craziest commenters of both Left and Right, thereby providing some sort of ‘balance’. Contrast with the more strident of the left and right blogs here, where only one side of any discussion is allowed an airing.

    Anyway, it has been particularly interesting reading over the past six months during the US election run up. I’m guessing that the unthinking stridency of the supporters of both sides on display there will be replicated in Australia as we move into 2013, and it will become just as ugly.

    In this respect, save for a very recent example, this blog represents some sort of oasis of respite from the need to always toe a particular party line. Thanks for that.

  20. Mel
    Posted November 13, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Thanks, LE. Sometimes I take it for granted that everybody has as much spare time as this particular impoverished peasant.

    And Lorenzo is indeed doing a splendid job holding the fort!

  21. John H.
    Posted November 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Psychotherapy and Drugs: A Dangerous Combination?

  22. kvd
    Posted November 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Hey LE, you might not have time to watch this, but I’m sure the eaglets would be fascinated – ’till they work it out!

  23. kvd
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo often mentions how much he likes a good graph.

    I find it amazing that the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ seems to have somehow been averted by the introduction of a little salacious gossip 😉

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