Håvard, it is frustrating because I don't know if the Arabic text changed between the two translations or just the English translation. The only Arabic philologist I know is Cornelius the fencer in Germany and I pissed him off for being so clumsy and out of training. The problem with being a builder of bridges between communities is that often I'm not physical enough for one group or I don't have the energy to have drinks with enough kinds of people and keep track of all the relationships.
I am starting to think there would be room for someone to study felt armour in western Eurasia.
We have Classical Greek pilos
"felt" helmets (which could be bronze helmets shaped like a felt hat, like a chapel de fer
is a "felt hat of iron," Agatharchides of Knidos
writing that "For the war against the Aithiopians Ptolemy (II of Egypt) recruited 500 cavalrymen from Greece. To those who were to fight in the front ranks and to be the vanguard - they were a hundred in number - he assigned the following form of equipment. For he distributed to them and their horses garments of felt (stolas piletas
), which those of that country (hoi kata ten choran
; "the natives of the country" in Burstein) call kasas
, that conceal the whole body except for the eyes." We have Pliny the Elder saying that some felt can resist iron weapons, and that Frankish chronicle about St. Gall with monks wearing felt garments instead of shirts of mail and wielding fire-hardened stakes instead of iron lances.
There is this Arabic term around the root lbd
which does seem to mean "felt" at least in Aramaic, and possibly some of the Turkish / Mongol stuff that i do not know well. So maybe there was a tradition of felt armour in some places which died out in western and northern Europe by the 12th century?
But I think you guys will be happier if I actually finish this project before exploring felt armour!
Ekkehard IV, Casus Sancti Galli ("Events at St. Gall": the author died in the middle of the 11th century) MGH SS 2 p. 104
from our MyArmoury chat last year
Nam Ungri, auditis tempestatibus regni, Noricos rabidi invadunt et vastant, Augustaque diu obsessa, precibus Uodalirici episcopi, sanctissimi quidem inter omnes tunc temporis viri, repulsi, Alemanniam nemine vetante turmatim pervadunt. At Engilbertus, quam idoneus ad mala toleranda quidem fuerit, impiger ostendit. Nam malis his immenentibus militum suorum unoquoque pro semetipso sillicito, validores fratrum arma sumere iubet, familiam roborat, ipse velut Domini gigans lorica indutus, cucullam superinduens et stolam, ipsos eadem facere iubet: 'Contra diabolum,' ait, 'fratres mei, quam hactenus animis in Deo confisi pugnaverimus, ut nunc manibus ostendere valeamus, ab ipso petamus.' Fabricantur spicula, piltris loricae fiunt, fundibula plectuntur, tabulis compactis et wannis scuta simulantur, sparrones
(= modern German Sperr) et fustes acute focis praedurantur.
Sed primo fratrum quidam et familiae, famae increduli, fugere nolunt. Eligitur tamen locus velud a Deo in promptu oblatus, ad arcem parandam circa fluvium Sint-tria-unum; quem sanctus Gallus quondam sanctae Trinitatis amore de tribus fluviis in unum confluentibus sic equivocasse fertur. Praemunitur in artissimo collo vallo, et silva excisis locus, fitque castellum, ut sanctae Trinitati decuit, fortissimum. Convehuntur raptim, quaeque essent necessaria. Haec in vita Wiboradae per scriptorem eius minus dicta, a fratribus qui haec noverant docti perstrinximus. ...
"For the Huns (ie. Magyars), having heard the disorders of the realm, savagely invaded and ravaged Noricum (in 926), and besieged Augusta (ie. Augsburg) for a long time; driven off by the prayers of bishop Woldaliric, certainly the most holy man of that time, they penetrated the forbidden Alemannian forest in squadrons." Abbot Engilbert of St. Gall prepared the "stronger of the brothers" and the hangers-on to defend themselves, so "darts are made, body armour created from felts (piltris loricae fiunt
), slings woven, with joined tablets and twigs shields are imitated, bolts and cudgels are hardened to a sharp point in the hearth" but a few lines later they are retreating to a high place called Siteruna (Sint-tria-unum "Three shall be one" explains the chronicler, "that is folk etymology for an honest German word!" says the editor) with all the most necessary things before the scouts of the Huns arrive.