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Thread: Ringmail and Wikipedia

  1. #1
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    Ringmail and Wikipedia

    I've been spending time over at en.wikipedia.org lately. For those of you who aren't familiar with it Wikipedia is a free online collaborative encyclopedia that anyone can edit. I've been hopping through their articles on swords, armor, and various things medieval, and correcting things when I can.

    I found an article on 'Ringmail' linked off of their 'Chainmail' page. I suggested that the article be deleted, or at least seriously modified from it's current state, citing Dan Howard's wonderful article on the subject. Someone came up with some obscure french references that I'm not familiar with, talking about ringmail in the Bayeux Tapestry. The only quotations they brought included references to coat of plate as 'studded leather'.

    The problem is I don't have any references right now to counteract them. Nor do I think I own any works that talk about the negative in this case. I have materials that talk about a coat of plates, and 'mail'. But I don't have anything that denounces the term 'chainmail' or the concept of 'ringmail' that I can personally back up.

    Can I get some support from the community on this? Here is a link to the article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringmail
    Anyone can simply show up and edit the article as I have started to. But if they do not cite their source they might get reverted as vandalism. Or if people could point me in the right directions I would be happy to rewrite the article myself.
    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

    -Robert A. Heinlein

  2. #2
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    I am actually looking into editing right now. That and the mail page. This could be interesting.

  3. #3
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    Actually, I am only goiung to work on the mail page. Dan can have a go at the ringmail one.

  4. #4
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    On second thought, someone else can edit that nightmare. LOL! I have better things to do.

  5. #5
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    Wow, that was 22 minutes, it's taken me a few weeks to get fed up with Wikipedia. Not that I blame you, it's ugly over there right now.

    Would you be willing to give the page a picture of some of your lovely mail? I'd format it and post it if you're willing.
    Last edited by Seth Woodworth; 01-26-2006 at 02:25 PM.
    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

    -Robert A. Heinlein

  6. #6
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    Just read it. What a load of rubbish. Virtually everything in that article comes from sources over a century old. And the so-called French references at the bottom have no relevance to the subject at all.

    Here is a quick draft of a rewrite.

    ---------------
    '''Ringmail''' is an incorrect Victorian term. The Victorians inaccurately defined "mail" as any form of metallic body armour - e.g. [[chain mail]], ring mail, scale mail, plate mail, etc. A more accurate definition of mail is limited to a mesh of interconnected metal links (see [[chain mail]]). The Victorian definition of "ring mail" was a series of metallic rings sewn to a fabric or leather foundation. The correct term for this is "ring armour" since the rings do not form an interlinked mesh. It is closely related to [[scale armour]], but provides less protection and is more flexible.

    There are very few texts that correctly discuss ring armour since they all rely on faulty Victorian scholarship and many confuse ring armour (rings attached to a foundation) with mail ([[chain mail]]). There is no evidence to suggest that ring armour was ever used in Europe until the Renaisance when a type of armour called an "eyelet doublet" was developed. Ring armour seems to have been used in Asia but was rare.

    The citation of iconographical evidence such as the Bayeux Tapestry to support the existence of ring armour is flawed. There are many difficulties inherent in illustrating [[chain mail]] armour and there are many different ways to render it. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts some of these methods and this has been misinterpreted as different types of armour. It is generally acknowledged today that virtually all the armour on the Bayeux Tapestry is standard [[chain mail]] and not "ring mail" or "trellised mail" or "mascled mail" or any other Victorian construction.

    This essay covers the subject in more detail and all references are cited here.
    http://www.knightsofveritas.org/mate...ndringmail.pdf


    [[Category:Personal armor]]

  7. #7
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    Thank you Dan!
    "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

    -Robert A. Heinlein

  8. #8
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    Dan is my hero.

    Yes Seth. I would be willing to give up a picture. E-mail me for details and we can go from there.

  9. #9
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    Dan, would "trelliced mail" be spelled "trellised mail"?
    <><><> <><><> <><><>
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    He noblest lives and noblest dies
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  10. #10
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    Yep. I'm surprised there aren't more typos and spelling errors. It was a draft I knocked together in about 3 minutes. I'll tinker with it for a couple of days before submitting it to Wikpedia. If anyone can suggest things to add to the entry, please post them here for comment.

    BTW here is an online source for Laking's work
    http://www.vikingsword.com/laking/lak002a.html

    Clearly Meyrick's theories were being questioned quite early but authors such as Violet le duc and Ashdown ignored them and modern authors such as Contamine and Gygax rehashed the earlier work without due diligence.

  11. #11
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    Originally posted by Dan Howard
    Just read it. What a load of rubbish. Virtually everything in that article comes from sources over a century old. And the so-called French references at the bottom have no relevance to the subject at all.

    Here is a quick draft of a rewrite.

    ---------------
    '''Ringmail''' is an incorrect Victorian term. The Victorians inaccurately defined "mail" as any form of metallic body armour - e.g. [[chain mail]], ring mail, scale mail, plate mail, etc. A more accurate definition of mail is limited to a mesh of interconnected metal links (see [[chain mail]]). The Victorian definition of "ring mail" was a series of metallic rings sewn to a fabric or leather foundation. The correct term for this is "ring armour" since the rings do not form an interlinked mesh. It is closely related to [[scale armour]], but provides less protection and is more flexible.

    There are very few texts that correctly discuss ring armour since they all rely on faulty Victorian scholarship and many confuse ring armour (rings attached to a foundation) with mail ([[chain mail]]). There is no evidence to suggest that ring armour was ever used in Europe until the Renaisance when a type of armour called an "eyelet doublet" was developed. Ring armour seems to have been used in Asia but was rare.

    The citation of iconographical evidence such as the Bayeux Tapestry to support the existence of ring armour is flawed. There are many difficulties inherent in illustrating [[chain mail]] armour and there are many different ways to render it. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts some of these methods and this has been misinterpreted as different types of armour. It is generally acknowledged today that virtually all the armour on the Bayeux Tapestry is standard [[chain mail]] and not "ring mail" or "trellised mail" or "mascled mail" or any other Victorian construction.

    This essay covers the subject in more detail and all references are cited here.
    http://www.knightsofveritas.org/mate...ndringmail.pdf


    [[Category:Personal armor]]
    Go for it Dan.

  12. #12
    Originally posted by Dan Howard
    Just read it. What a load of rubbish. Virtually everything in that article comes from sources over a century old. And the so-called French references at the bottom have no relevance to the subject at all.

    Here is a quick draft of a rewrite.

    ---------------
    '''Ringmail''' is an incorrect Victorian term. The Victorians inaccurately defined "mail" as any form of metallic body armour - e.g. [[chain mail]], ring mail, scale mail, plate mail, etc. A more accurate definition of mail is limited to a mesh of interconnected metal links (see [[chain mail]]). The Victorian definition of "ring mail" was a series of metallic rings sewn to a fabric or leather foundation. The correct term for this is "ring armour" since the rings do not form an interlinked mesh. It is closely related to [[scale armour]], but provides less protection and is more flexible.

    There are very few texts that correctly discuss ring armour since they all rely on faulty Victorian scholarship and many confuse ring armour (rings attached to a foundation) with mail ([[chain mail]]). There is no evidence to suggest that ring armour was ever used in Europe until the Renaisance when a type of armour called an "eyelet doublet" was developed. Ring armour seems to have been used in Asia but was rare.

    The citation of iconographical evidence such as the Bayeux Tapestry to support the existence of ring armour is flawed. There are many difficulties inherent in illustrating [[chain mail]] armour and there are many different ways to render it. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts some of these methods and this has been misinterpreted as different types of armour. It is generally acknowledged today that virtually all the armour on the Bayeux Tapestry is standard [[chain mail]] and not "ring mail" or "trellised mail" or "mascled mail" or any other Victorian construction.

    This essay covers the subject in more detail and all references are cited here.
    http://www.knightsofveritas.org/mate...ndringmail.pdf


    [[Category:Personal armor]]
    Dan, how fair is it to simply say this is "an incorrect Victorian term"? It's certainly still used in modern books which are regarded by posters here as "definititive", such as M. Keen et al, Medieval Warfare.
    `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
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  13. #13
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    I'm open to suggestions for a better way to phrase it.

  14. #14
    How about 'A term coined by Victorian writers to describe illustrations which they didn't understand, and which was never used in the period when this kind of armour (mail, plate or scale) saw service.'

    ?

    Perhaps 'but which is still occasionally used to describe' ... what exactly ?
    `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
    Dilettante member of The Exiles (keeping quiet and getting on with it)

  15. #15
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    That's the problem. There isn't a single definition today for "ring mail". Some use it as another term for mail. Others use it the way Meyrick did - rings sewn to a foundation. Some claim that it was a cruder form of "chain mail" with larger rings. The term is bollocks and should never be used at all.

    I am thinking of an opening sentence like this:
    The term "ring mail" was originally a Victorian misnomer based on an inaccurate definition of "mail" and a misinterpretation of iconographical evidence.

  16. #16
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    I think that is an excellent opening sentence. I agree that we should try to stamp out the term "ring mail," even though I see no way we can succeed. But not even trying is an option we shouldn't consider. When we see an inaccurate term or wrong information (a knight's sword weighed 10 lbs or 15 lbs or whatever), we need to try to set the record straight or we forego our academic mission of trying to advance the knowledge of swords, armor, etc.
    "Courage is fear holding on a minute longer."--Gen. George S. Patton

  17. #17
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    BTW, has anyone else looked at the Lorica Segmentata entry?

    "Also, it was expensive because making a segmentata required an experienced smith with good facilities, while lorica hamata could be made by any slave."

    One can of worms at a time, I suppose.
    "Courage is fear holding on a minute longer."--Gen. George S. Patton

  18. #18
    Originally posted by Dan Howard
    That's the problem. There isn't a single definition today for "ring mail". Some use it as another term for mail. Others use it the way Meyrick did - rings sewn to a foundation. Some claim that it was a cruder form of "chain mail" with larger rings. The term is bollocks and should never be used at all.

    I am thinking of an opening sentence like this:
    The term "ring mail" was originally a Victorian misnomer based on an inaccurate definition of "mail" and a misinterpretation of iconographical evidence.
    Looks good to me. The trouble is when people who should (by their qualifications as historians) know better use it ! 'Medieval Warfare' which I referred to above, discussing Carolingian armour says something like 'probably scale armour because ringmail was not yet invented' (paraphrase as book is back at the hotel ) ... I really can't work out what it's referring to - can't be mail! Fair enough that this book is obviously a summary (700 years in some 320 pages) rather than a scholarly work (no reference to sources), but that doesn't justify such carelessness - does it? Yet it is going to be referred to by many as 'definitive' because of the qualifications of its authors and its recent publication date .

    Sorry about the rant, it's not quite off-topic because it's the reference to 'ringmail' that I find so irritating .
    `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
    Dilettante member of The Exiles (keeping quiet and getting on with it)

  19. #19
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    I noticed that Wikpedia's armor entry does not have a link to the mail entry, last time I checked. When I get the time, perhaps I'll fix it myself...
    <><><> <><><> <><><>
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    from none but self expect applause;
    He noblest lives and noblest dies
    who makes and keeps his self-made laws.

    -Sir Richard Francis Burton

  20. #20
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    Ok. I've never done this before but I've just edited the Ringmail entry.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringmail

  21. #21
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    Thumbs up

    Originally posted by Dan Howard
    Ok. I've never done this before but I've just edited the Ringmail entry.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringmail
    That's great Dan.

    Let's just hope no idiot comes along and deletes it all. Fingers crossed.

  22. #22
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    Yours was good Dan, but it has already been trashed.

  23. #23
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    So how do we fix this?

    FWIW Here is the text if it needs to be re-edited.

    ------------

    The term '''ringmail''' was originally a Victorian misnomer based on an inaccurate definition of "mail" and a misinterpretation of iconographical evidence. The Victorians inaccurately defined "mail" as any form of metallic body armour - e.g. [[chain mail]], ring mail, scale mail, plate mail, etc. A more accurate definition of mail is limited to a mesh of interconnected metal links (see [[chain mail]]). The Victorian definition of "ring mail" was a series of metallic rings sewn to a fabric or leather foundation. The correct term for this is "ring armour" since the rings do not form an interlinked mesh. It is closely related to [[scale armour]], but provides less protection and is more flexible.

    There are very few texts that correctly discuss ring armour since they all rely on outdated Victorian scholarship and many confuse ring armour (rings attached to a foundation) with mail ([[chain mail]]). There is no evidence to suggest that ring armour was ever used in Europe until the Renaisance when a type of armour called an "eyelet doublet" was developed. Ring armour seems to have been used in Asia but was rare.

    The citation of iconographical evidence such as the Bayeux Tapestry to support the existence of ring armour is flawed. There are many difficulties inherent in illustrating [[chain mail]] armour and there are many different ways to render it. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts some of these methods and this has been misinterpreted as different types of armour. It is generally acknowledged today that virtually all the armour on the Bayeux Tapestry is standard [[chain mail]] and not "ring mail" or "trellised mail" or "mascled mail" or any other Victorian construction.

    This essay covers the subject in more detail and all references are cited here.
    http://www.knightsofveritas.org/mate...ndringmail.pdf

    ---------------

  24. #24
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    When editing Wikipedia, it's best to describe your edit (in the little box just above the 'save page' button), and if it's controversial, explain on the Talk page for the article. It doesn't hurt to make yourself a user account either, and explain who you are on your own Talk page. (This doesn't take long at all.) If you are just an IP address with no explanation, then for all the other editors know you are just some ignoramus spouting off. An edit by Dan Howard, well-known armour scholar, OTOH...

    Cheers
    Warning: I probably have no idea what I am talking about

  25. #25
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    I've invited the other editor over to discuss the article. Please play nice guys, the tone in this forum is often rather harsh.

    Cheers
    Warning: I probably have no idea what I am talking about

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