Leaf Mail?

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Leaf Mail?

Postby kevin714 on Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:25 pm

In the book Twilight Lords there is a report that witnesses to Shane O'Neils visit to Queen Elizabeth say that his Gallowglass were wearing "Leaf Mail". Is there evidence that the irish wore scale armour?
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Re: Leaf Mail?

Postby Billy on Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:34 pm

an you dig out the reference a bit clearer than that? What's the primary source? I'd like to know the original Irish/Latin/English word used.
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Re: Leaf Mail?

Postby kevin714 on Mon Jan 17, 2011 11:06 pm

Billy wrote:an you dig out the reference a bit clearer than that? What's the primary source? I'd like to know the original Irish/Latin/English word used.


Sorry no, the book is written by Richard Berleth and there are no footnotes referencing this quote nor anything in the select bibliographies. I was hoping someone here knew about its source. Here is the quote its on page 24, "Only Shane ever dared to inflict tribal Ireland on the splendors of the Elizabethan court. The council, the peers, foreign ambasadors, highborn and low suddenly found themselves struck dumb as the celtic apparition entered the audience chamber. Shane's saffron mantle swept around him in great folds. His black hair curled down his back. He walked forward slowly in measured steps, swaying slightly, eyes fixed ahead on the Queen. Behind him came two columns of warriors-their heads shaved, wolfskins flung over their shoulders. The menacing attitude of the henchman was not lost on the spectators, a few of whom recalled later how each was clad from neck to knees in old fashioned leaf mail and gripped a three foot battle axe in front of him."
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Re: Leaf Mail?

Postby nathan on Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:36 pm

i have looked into the scale maille leaf maille what ever you wish to call it as far as i can see there is very very little for its use anywhere in Europe. not saying it was not used but the only sliver of evidence i saw was a piece from France during the roman period and that was still only a fragment and could have been anything really. yes its in lots of artwork but often representing bad people eg goliath which has an excellent example of this on a church window forget the one. there are many effigy's containing it as well as church windows but seeing as many of those making these had no experience with armour (they were masons) and that what they carved may have included decoration eg leather coverings its anyones guess but if it was ever used there should be some piece of it somewhere. although it could be but from the heavy amount of research i did i found none though happy hunting.
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Re: Leaf Mail?

Postby Billy on Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:49 pm

Check out page 31 of this:

http://www.archive.org/stream/historyen ... 8/mode/2up


"O'Neill stalked in, his saffron mantle sweeping round and round him, his hair curling on his back and clipped short below the eyes, which gleamed from under it with a grey lustre, frowning, fierce, and cruel. Behind him followed his galloglasses, bareheaded and fair-haired, with shirts of mail which reached beneath their knees, a wolfskin flung across their shoulders, and short, broad battle-axes in their hands."
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Re: Leaf Mail?

Postby brendan on Wed Jan 19, 2011 5:32 pm

The link provides primary source reference for those that really want to find the answer!

As to masons and their lack of ability to depict armour, well I dont buy it. BUT I do accept that artistic conventions are important and that may have influenced how the armour was represented
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Re: Leaf Mail?

Postby finnobreanan on Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:52 pm

It would appear that Berleth made a couple of changes from the original text: Chain mail becomes leaf mail, and bare heads becomes shaved heads.
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Re: Leaf Mail?

Postby nathan on Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:56 pm

its alterations like this that make me skeptical. also Brendan im not saying they didnt know what armour looked like they likely had the suit or person to work from i dont know either way im sure they would have been provided with something and considering how rare it appears it makes me think its likely leather or else some sort of glam show off element to set this effigy apart from others. but if i see evidence i will gladly change my views i would love some of the stuff.
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Re: Leaf Mail?

Postby Swifty on Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:38 pm

brendan wrote:The link provides primary source reference for those that really want to find the answer!


Actually Froude's History of England from the fall of Wolsey (to the defeat of the Spanish armada) was published in 1863 and is therefore a secondary source albeit a far older one than Berleth. The primary source documentation Froude undoubtedly uses is William Camden's Annales rerum Anglicarum et Hibernicorum regnante Elizabetha, ad Annum Salutis 1589 published in 1630. It is generally accepted that Camden witnessed the events which he described as follows: 'And now Shane O'Neill came from Ireland, to keep the promise he had made a year before, with an escort of gallowglass, armed with battle-axes, bare-headed, with flowing curls, yellow shirts dyed with saffron, large sleeves, short tunics and rough cloaks, whom the English followed with as much wonderment as if they came from China or America...' (pp. 78-79). Btw it is my opinion that Berleth's book is part history/part historical novel - many liberties are taken to flesh out the tales of 'The Twilight Lords' - the book has proved over the years an excellent propaganda piece but it is not a source on which to build serious historical assertions.
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Re: Leaf Mail?

Postby kevin714 on Wed Jan 19, 2011 11:26 pm

Swifty wrote:
brendan wrote:The link provides primary source reference for those that really want to find the answer!


Actually Froude's History of England from the fall of Wolsey (to the defeat of the Spanish armada) was published in 1863 and is therefore a secondary source albeit a far older one than Berleth. The primary source documentation Froude undoubtedly uses is William Camden's Annales rerum Anglicarum et Hibernicorum regnante Elizabetha, ad Annum Salutis 1589 published in 1630. It is generally accepted that Camden witnessed the events which he described as follows: 'And now Shane O'Neill came from Ireland, to keep the promise he had made a year before, with an escort of gallowglass, armed with battle-axes, bare-headed, with flowing curls, yellow shirts dyed with saffron, large sleeves, short tunics and rough cloaks, whom the English followed with as much wonderment as if they came from China or America...' (pp. 78-79). Btw it is my opinion that Berleth's book is part history/part historical novel - many liberties are taken to flesh out the tales of 'The Twilight Lords' - the book has proved over the years an excellent propaganda piece but it is not a source on which to build serious historical assertions.


Thanks Swifty I thought it was an unusual reference thats why I was skeptical and asked the question on here. I figured someone could clarify it. There is a wealth of knowledge and information on this board thats why I post my questions here. Still waiting on those pictures of your Armour class swords and did you see my question on O'Conor's shield? Can anyone give any further info on it? And thanks for the review of Twilight Lords. Thanks to all others who responded also.
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"The Prince of Firceall of the ancient sword is O'Molloy of the freeborn name, full power was granted to him and he held his country uncontrolled" O'Dugain(d.1372 AD)
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