(About): A Three-in-One Design – All the Medieval Style, None of the Medieval Hassle
Our partners at Mytholon have returned to first principles to create a historically-accurate, functional arm-guard in a menacing black that’ll give your roleplay outfit a dark and forbidding aura.
It consists of a three-element construction to afford protection to the whole arm, from wrist to shoulder. The upper-cannon or rerebrace is a single piece of steel, shaped so as to encase the whole upper arm with plenty of room for muscular flex as you move. The elbow-joint is protected by a couter with a flared tail to defend the inner-elbow: as in armor of the 15th-century, the couter is articulated with sliding rivets both above and below the elbow, giving maximum freedom of movement in planes that mirror the movement of the limbs. It is riveted below the elbow to the lower-cannon or vambrace. This integrated system is a vast improvement on medieval designs, which were often strapped and secured in place piece-by-piece with the assistance of a squire, which was enormously time-consuming. Since not many LARPers have their own personal squires in their great hall at home, each Black Full Length Arm Guard can be secured easily by the wearer, via a robust leather strap and buckle at the forearm. The edges of every piece of steel have been rolled, giving it additional rigidity and meaning that it won’t catch or snag on underlying garments. Our Black Full Length Arm Guards are designed to be worn over padding such as a gambeson, and they can also accommodate gousset (chainmail worn under armor to cover gaps, also known as voiders).
The Right Steel
The Black Full Length Arm Guards are made from gun-blued 18-gauge (1.2mm) mild steel. This is the perfect choice for armor designed to be used in stage or roleplay environments – it’s the exact thickness of surviving pieces of historical medieval armor. Knightly tournament armor was generally a little thicker at around 16-gauge (1.6mm), but this made it heavier and less easy to maneuver around in. This was less important for a tournament environment, where you were either couched upon your horse or fighting in melees for short periods on foot – but it was critical on the battlefield, when armor had to be light enough to wear for extended periods without exhaustion and still be resilient enough to deflect killing blows. Thus, our Black Full Length Arm Guards are the perfect compromise that medieval soldiers themselves discovered – why mess with perfection?
If you are looking to finish off a re-enactment impression of a late-medieval man-at-arms, or a fantasy roleplay outfit of a black-hearted warrior or paladin, then look no further – our Black Full Length Arm Guards will level up your look.
(Curiosity): Black Armor in the Medieval Period: History or Fantasy?
Black armor is a mainstay of popular fantasy. It crops up all over the place, from the Lannisters’ lacquered black armor in Game of Thrones, to the black plate and chainmail of the Nilfgaardian army in the Witcher 3 video game. Our Black Full Length Arm Guards consciously mirror this trend – but would black armor have been a common sight in the medieval era?
The reality is that black armor wouldn’t have been that common – but armor was significantly more diverse and varied in appearance than shiny polished museum collections might lead us to believe. Medieval armor was nearly always made from iron or mild steel – and these are both materials that are prone to corrosion. Since medieval knights didn’t have access to spray-on machine oils, which would have been much more convenient for them, they had to resort to other means of keeping their armor rust-free. There are two dominant means of preserving non-stainless metal that we have identified in the Medieval Period: painting, and chemical treatment.
A Lick of Paint
One solution to corrosion was simply painting your armor: there is a spectacular German helmet in the Wallace Collection which has retained its original paint-job. We know that this helmet was ‘munitions-grade’, meaning that it was cheap, quickly produced armor for rank-and-file soldiers, because of its rough, unpolished finish still replete with hammer marks. Its owner has given it a marvellous boar’s head in thick paint to protect it from corrosion, and to stand out amongst their peers. This was likely a good solution for soldiers who could only afford cheap plate armor, who likely didn’t have a whole retinue of servants, squires and craft workers to keep their armor shiny and polished. In Japan, for example, almost all of the armor that has survived into the modern era is lacquered – and medieval Europeans would have had access to similar materials, like pitch, pine resin and charcoal.
Chemically preventing rust is most well-known as a process applied to gun barrels from the early-modern period onward, hence it is generally known as ‘gun bluing’. This involved applying a combination of dilute nitric acid and salts to a piece of metal in order to oxidise the surface in a controlled manner, creating a dark blue, black or dark brown finish that had already ‘pre-rusted’ and so would not corrode further. Whilst we know that this was commonplace on firearms from the 18th-century, an early form of this blacking technique was used to produce the sumptuous black-and-gold contrast of the 16th-century English armor known as ‘Greenwich armor’.
We can say with some confidence that black armor, whilst never being commonplace, might well have been an occasional sight on the medieval battlefield: either cheap painted sallets daubed to seal them against the elements, or spectacular black armor painstakingly darkened for a noble. As such, our Black Full Length Arm Guards can fill either role admirably.
- Material: 18-gauge mild steel
- Secondary materials: Leather
- Weight: 19 lbs (pair)
Length: 19.7 Inches
Circumference: 17.7 Inches