Cutting of Swords and Armor

Channel: Protherium


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In this video I try to give a mathematical proof, using confirmed facts from archaeometallurgical research and experimental archaeology, that no sword can cut through other swords or plate armor.

Sharpness and hardness of the edge is the least important thing, if iron, copper or bronze should be cut, it is the amount of impact energy which helps the blade to go through cutting medium, by pushing aside the material.

Even if arms & armor are made of soft iron, without carbon and with 2% slag inclusions, the required amount of impact energy is still far beyond human capabilities. That's why "super steel" capable of "cutting other swords and plate armors" is nothing more than a romantic myth.

A point about MAILLE ARMOR...

Williams tested a 15th century mail and found it very resistant to cuts and bodkin arrowheads. A simulated blade needed 170 Joule and simulated arrow had to bring 120 Joule with for a complete penetration. His mail was obviously a high-end product of 15th century, with rings no less than 1,5mm wire diameter.

There are lots of different historical mail constructions, here for example an analysis of Viking maille rings:
As everyone can see we have anything from 1mm to 3mm wire, and ring diameters from 6,5mm to 15mm. especially wide rings made of 1mm wire would offer much less protection than dense 8-10mm rings.

If we take Williams' "swedish" wrought iron, and make rings out of it with - 1,9mm wire - it would mean 190 Joule would be able to cut through one and a half ring! If we decrease the wire thickness to 1mm, two and a half rings can be cut. If we increase slag content to 3%, it would be 5 rings or more...

So, could maille armor be cut with swords and pierced with arrows? The answer is YES and NO! Sturdy dense maille made of 2mm wire (high quality Frankish maille) would offer excellent protection and be invincible to sword slashes completely - less dense maille with wide rings and thin wire (0,8-1mm) would be cheaper, lighter, but also much less safe - a cut around 100 Joule (humans are perfectly capable of that) would be enough to cut/ break a couple of rings and the gambeson beneath. That is confirmed by forensic evidence:

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