Lack of full plate armor in Middle East. Another theory: crossbows?

This thread has quite a good discussion of the lack of full plate armor in in the Middle East (and eastern europe) compared to XV and XVI century western europe:https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/why-didnt-islamic-sultanates-adopt-full-plate-armor.453202/ . They present a good number of guesses of why MENA and eastern europe generally didnt continue add more and more plates to their plate and mail/four mirrors armors to get to full plate. Basically sticking to this:
Russian Four Mirrors
1578938392900.png

Russian Plate and Mail Armor

Mamluk Plate and Mail Armor

Ottoman Four Mirrors Armor
Resultado de imagen para mamluk plate armor

Instead of adding even more plates until getting to this:
Italian Full Plate 1450


In the original thread it was suggested that maybe it was the ressult of the warmer and dry MENA climates (discarted because Russia, cold and no full plate, and italy, warm and full plate), generally more developed western technology and economy (quite unlikely at this point and wouldnt explain why eastern rivals didnt adopt "superior" full plate) and finally different war doctrine (I am doing this from memory so I may missed a point, read the old thread, its quite interesting). Regarding the last point I noticed something, I remember reading "somewhere"TM that on reasin for the continously adding more and more plates of articulations in full plate was to protect from crossbow bolts. It goes like this, tradicional mail and gambeson (padded under the mail armor) are enough to protect from sharp melee and from arrows (they pass by the mail but are stopped by gambeson) and in case of blunt trauma (hammer and axes, used both in W europe and MENA/Russia) with either a shield and/or adding a few plates in vital areas you would be likely fine, but with crossbows (specially because just like with arrows you will be showered in them from a lot of sides) you couldnt count on your gambeson to stop their bolts once they get past your mail so that provided quite and incentive to cover every posible part of your body with plate (which can stop bolts and basically anything except bullets).
Resultado de imagen para full plate armor

Seriously you cant even see the mail parts in the arms, look at the size of the elbow/ shoulder pieces.
I couldnt find any info that indicated use of crossbows in MENA or Russia in the centuries that it became widespread in W. europe, so maybe a lack of threat of bolts and an earlier adoption of firearms (at least by the gunpowder empires) resulted in lack of incentives to develop (or import from countries that did use it) full plate and the earlier adoption of guns made the question irrelevant. Does this theory works?
 
I have read before Eastern battles were larger in scale and required greater mobility. It was more efficient to equip armies with partial armor instead.

I have heard that Song Dynasty "Infantry Armor"( 歩人甲) is an equivalent to European armor but it is not full enclosing
 
This thread has quite a good discussion of the lack of full plate armor in in the Middle East (and eastern europe) compared to XV and XVI century western europe:https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/why-didnt-islamic-sultanates-adopt-full-plate-armor.453202/ . They present a good number of guesses of why MENA and eastern europe generally didnt continue add more and more plates to their plate and mail/four mirrors armors to get to full plate. Basically sticking to this:
Russian Four Mirrors
View attachment 515902
Russian Plate and Mail Armor

Mamluk Plate and Mail Armor

Ottoman Four Mirrors Armor
Resultado de imagen para mamluk plate armor

Instead of adding even more plates until getting to this:
Italian Full Plate 1450


In the original thread it was suggested that maybe it was the ressult of the warmer and dry MENA climates (discarted because Russia, cold and no full plate, and italy, warm and full plate), generally more developed western technology and economy (quite unlikely at this point and wouldnt explain why eastern rivals didnt adopt "superior" full plate) and finally different war doctrine (I am doing this from memory so I may missed a point, read the old thread, its quite interesting). Regarding the last point I noticed something, I remember reading "somewhere"TM that on reasin for the continously adding more and more plates of articulations in full plate was to protect from crossbow bolts. It goes like this, tradicional mail and gambeson (padded under the mail armor) are enough to protect from sharp melee and from arrows (they pass by the mail but are stopped by gambeson) and in case of blunt trauma (hammer and axes, used both in W europe and MENA/Russia) with either a shield and/or adding a few plates in vital areas you would be likely fine, but with crossbows (specially because just like with arrows you will be showered in them from a lot of sides) you couldnt count on your gambeson to stop their bolts once they get past your mail so that provided quite and incentive to cover every posible part of your body with plate (which can stop bolts and basically anything except bullets).
Resultado de imagen para full plate armor

Seriously you cant even see the mail parts in the arms, look at the size of the elbow/ shoulder pieces.
I couldnt find any info that indicated use of crossbows in MENA or Russia in the centuries that it became widespread in W. europe, so maybe a lack of threat of bolts and an earlier adoption of firearms (at least by the gunpowder empires) resulted in lack of incentives to develop (or import from countries that did use it) full plate and the earlier adoption of guns made the question irrelevant. Does this theory works?
The crossbows had been used in Rus since at least mid-XII but specifics of the warfare prevented their wide application: most of the fighting was with the nomadic neighbors who were predominantly a light cavalry (the same goes for the Medieval Lithuanians) and as a result the medieval Russian “armies” also were predominantly cavalry, usually heavier then the nomadic opponents but light enough to be able to catch up with them and the bow was much more convenient for a mounted warrior. As a result, usage of the crossbows had been mostly limited to the defense of the fortifications. Obviously, a full plate was not convenient for a mounted archer. Infantry as a serious battle force appeared during the firearms period and usually did not have any armor. The main enemy, the Tatars, were y that time the light mounted archers so the Russian cavalry did not have any reason for adopting the full armor. An additional factor was an absence of the big horses capable of carrying Western-style knight (or a cuirasier). This problem persisted into the XVIII century: when the first cuirassier regiments had been created in the 1730s their horses had been imported. Only later breeding of the bigger cavalry horses started on a big scale and even then the problem never was fully solved.

Probably the more telling example would be the Poles: they had been routinely facing both Eastern and Western opponents and, as a result, adopted both Western and Eastern styles of armor. However, the famous Polush hussars of the early modern period did not wear a full medieval plate armor.

However, it does not look like the Ottomans in their dealings with the Western opponents felt any need to adopt the full armor or the crossbows. High quality foot archers proved to be quite adequate for the task.
 
I think alexmilman has the best of this argument. Plus snerfuplz has a good point about the numbers of heavy cavalry deployed by "Eastern" armies.

Full plate armoured knights in Western Europe where a very small part of any army, at the very pinnacle of a feudal military-industrial complex. In the battles in the East such a force would be quickly outnumbered and surrounded.

It's analogous to the Wehrmacht in WW2 - the Tigers and King Tigers were the knights of the battlefield but the Panthers (to some extent) and Panzer III / IV did the killing.
 
I think alexmilman has the best of this argument. Plus snerfuplz has a good point about the numbers of heavy cavalry deployed by "Eastern" armies.

Full plate armoured knights in Western Europe where a very small part of any army, at the very pinnacle of a feudal military-industrial complex. In the battles in the East such a force would be quickly outnumbered and surrounded.

It's analogous to the Wehrmacht in WW2 - the Tigers and King Tigers were the knights of the battlefield but the Panthers (to some extent) and Panzer III / IV did the killing.
Interesting WWII comparison but if you don’t mind I’d make one clarification. Medieval “Tiger” (a fully armored knight) was a highly specialized weapon: basically, the only thing he could do was to smash the enemy in a face to face confrontation. A combined weight of this “tank” (knight plus a very heavy horse) was extremely important for the first impact with a lance and then he needed a solid armor as a protection against the predominantly direct hits: opponent’s lance and sword, infantry pikes and halberds, and even crossbow bolts (shot at a flat trajectory). Of course, sometimes the knights had been fighting on foot but the problems were essentially the same.

Now, in a much more “dynamic” Mongolian warfare the main weapon was a bow and in the mass encounters the arrows had been generally shot at the high angle (*) so the heavy frontal plate was not necessary (but they had cuirass-like armor made from a boiled leather as one of the options). The hand to hand combat was just one of the many tactical options.

More or less the same goes for the Mamelukes. Although they were sometimes trained as lancers and could fight as medium-to-heavy cavalry, the Mamlūk military specialty was mounted archery. The Ottoman Sipahi fit into the same category. Reconstructions in the museums do not necessarily show the full (or typical) equipment and could be misleading. 🤨
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So, following your analogy, we have a heavy tank vs. something lighter but more universal and much more faster.

The Poles found an effective compromise solution which, while being based upon the Western approach, allowed enough speed to deal effectively with the Eastern opponents. By the regional standards the Polish hussars were “super heavy”, which provided an advantage in direct attacks (also worked against the Western cavalry, which by that time became much lighter, and even against the infantry which had pikes shorter than hussars’ lances) but still “light” enough to use fast horses (AFAIK generally imported from Anatolia).

______________
(*) Direct shooting was, of course, also used and Genghis described it as a very effective tactical method but this required a single row deployment, preferably of the best archers and excluded a hand to hand combat while the more common deployments had much greater depth and used mostly barrage shooting.
 
There were medieval horse crossbowmen. Poland had horse crossbowmen during late Middle Ages (and they used the most powerful crossbows, with windlass and levers).
Poles used crossbows (according to 16th century Polish chroniclers-Marcin Kromer and Maciej Stryjkowski-with quite poor results due to slow rate of fire) against Muscovites, who preffered bows.
As you could see on this painting:

Full plate armor was in use in Eastern European warfare. Polish cavalry in full plate armour (like this example: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/40/Polish_cavalry_man_first_half_of_XVI_century.PNG/553px-Polish_cavalry_man_first_half_of_XVI_century.PNG ) is showed here during battle against Muscovite forces in today's eastern Belarus.
 
There were medieval horse crossbowmen. Poland had horse crossbowmen during late Middle Ages (and they used the most powerful crossbows, with windlass and levers).
Poles used crossbows (according to 16th century Polish chroniclers-Marcin Kromer and Maciej Stryjkowski-with quite poor results due to slow rate of fire) against Muscovites, who preffered bows.
As you could see on this painting:

Full plate armor was in use in Eastern European warfare. Polish cavalry in full plate armour (like this example: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/40/Polish_cavalry_man_first_half_of_XVI_century.PNG/553px-Polish_cavalry_man_first_half_of_XVI_century.PNG ) is showed here during battle against Muscovite forces in today's eastern Belarus.
Honestly, when I said eastern europe I was thinking mostly of the land of the Rus. I thought that, in terms of late medieval warfare, the poles where closer to western (HRE) style, or where a transition zone.
 
There were medieval horse crossbowmen. Poland had horse crossbowmen during late Middle Ages (and they used the most powerful crossbows, with windlass and levers).
Poles used crossbows (according to 16th century Polish chroniclers-Marcin Kromer and Maciej Stryjkowski-with quite poor results due to slow rate of fire) against Muscovites, who preffered bows.
Taking into an account that a crossbow was widely used (both in Europe and Asia) as a hunting weapon and that there are descriptions and depictions of it being used from a horseback during the hunting, there is nothing surprising in existence o f the mounted crossbowmen. But the weapon was too slow to compete with a bow, especially taking into an account limitations on its tactical deployment: in a deep formation only the first row would be able to use it (as opposite to the barrage shooting of the archers’ formationation) so there would be a need of some kind of a medieval caracolle, which required a lot of training.

As I already said, the Poles (as in “Poles and Lithuanians”)had been between the “East” and “West” and adopted accordingly. Until the late Middle Ages the Poles had been mostly dealing with the Western style opponents while the Lithuanians were more East oriented and generally “lighter”. If anything, this was convincingly demonstrated at Grunwald: both Tatar and Lithuanian contingents could not stand up to the knightly attack but the heavier “Smolensk regiments” (most of which were not from Smolensk) held their ground and the Western-style Polish contingents could fight the Teutonic Knights on practically equal terms.


OTOH, Russian state went in the opposite direction. In the pre-Mongolian period Russian warfare and weaponry was only slightly different from the contemporary Western: the bulk of the fighting forse was a reasonably heavy armored cavalry and, for dealing with the nomadic opponents, there were separate units of the mounted archers acting as the skirmishers (like at Kalka). However, by the time of Ivan III Russian military system was thoroughly “Easternized” both on the tactical level (pretty much the Mongolian breakdown of the standard tactical units within an army, at Kulikovo the Russian battle arrangement was “more Mongolian” than one of Mamai’s army, which was an ad hoc assembly of the regional mercenary troops including some Genovese) and in its weaponry. Even the horses were those of the Tatar-style: small but capable of extensive riding and surviving on grass and hay. Not a big surprise, taking into an account that not only the main opponent were the Tatars but there were also continuously growing numbers of the Tatar contingents within muscovite army.

When the Muscovite-Lithuanian-Polish conflicts demonstrated the problems related to the complete Easternization the rulers of the Muscovite state started creation of the “modern” branches: infantry with the firearms and field artillery. To some degree they existed even at the time of Ivan III but then had been neglected: it seems that at Orsha the Muscovites had only cavalry (no heavy cavalry at all) while the Polish-Lithuanian army had cavalry (both light and heavy), infantry and field artillery.
 
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Its also important to note that armor made of lots of small plates had the advantage of being easy to maintain. If one of the plates got damaged it could simply be replaced with a new one.
 
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The Poles found an effective compromise solution which, while being based upon the Western approach, allowed enough speed to deal effectively with the Eastern opponents. By the regional standards the Polish hussars were “super heavy”, which provided an advantage in direct attacks (also worked against the Western cavalry, which by that time became much lighter, and even against the infantry which had pikes shorter than hussars’ lances) but still “light” enough to use fast horses (AFAIK generally imported from Anatolia).
I think that the heaviest cavalry in the region (inc. PLC), after disappearance of heavy lancers, were armored reiters and later cuirassiers, using heavier armors and heavier horses than hussars.
 
Taking into an account that a crossbow was widely used (both in Europe and Asia) as a hunting weapon and that there are descriptions and depictions of it being used from a horseback during the hunting, there is nothing surprising in existence o f the mounted crossbowmen. But the weapon was too slow to compete with a bow, especially taking into an account limitations on its tactical deployment: in a deep formation only the first row would be able to use it (as opposite to the barrage shooting of the archers’ formationation) so there would be a need of some kind of a medieval caracolle, which required a lot of training.

As I already said, the Poles (as in “Poles and Lithuanians”)had been between the “East” and “West” and adopted accordingly. Until the late Middle Ages the Poles had been mostly dealing with the Western style opponents while the Lithuanians were more East oriented and generally “lighter”. If anything, this was convincingly demonstrated at Grunwald: both Tatar and Lithuanian contingents could not stand up to the knightly attack but the heavier “Smolensk regiments” (most of which were not from Smolensk) held their ground and the Western-style Polish contingents could fight the Teutonic Knights on practically equal terms.


OTOH, Russian state went in the opposite direction. In the pre-Mongolian period Russian warfare and weaponry was only slightly different from the contemporary Western: the bulk of the fighting forse was a reasonably heavy armored cavalry and, for dealing with the nomadic opponents, there were separate units of the mounted archers acting as the skirmishers (like at Kalka). However, by the time of Ivan III Russian military system was thoroughly “Easternized” both on the tactical level (pretty much the Mongolian breakdown of the standard tactical units within an army, at Kulikovo the Russian battle arrangement was “more Mongolian” than one of Mamai’s army, which was an ad hoc assembly of the regional mercenary troops including some Genovese) and in its weaponry. Even the horses were those of the Tatar-style: small but capable of extensive riding and surviving on grass and hay. Not a big surprise, taking into an account that not only the main opponent were the Tatars but there were also continuously growing numbers of the Tatar contingents within muscovite army.

When the Muscovite-Lithuanian-Polish conflicts demonstrated the problems related to the complete Easternization the rulers of the Muscovite state started creation of the “modern” branches: infantry with the firearms and field artillery. To some degree they existed even at the time of Ivan III but then had been neglected: it seems that at Orsha the Muscovites had only cavalry (no heavy cavalry at all) while the Polish-Lithuanian army had cavalry (both light and heavy), infantry and field artillery.
I've read that the Mongols did use very heavy cavalry, and that neighbouring peoples like the Jurchens and Khitai did as well. They had similar amounts of plated armour comparable to European knights according to heavenlykhagan of Historum.
 
I think that the heaviest cavalry in the region (inc. PLC), after disappearance of heavy lancers, were armored reiters and later cuirassiers, using heavier armors and heavier horses than hussars.
17th century cuirassier armour was heavier than full plate late Medieval armour and covered only a little bit less than full plate (lower legs were not covered).
 
I've read that the Mongols did use very heavy cavalry, and that neighbouring peoples like the Jurchens and Khitai did as well. They had similar amounts of plated armour comparable to European knights according to heavenlykhagan of Historum.
Well for the age yes, in 1200-1300 Mongolia were a rather hravy cavalry, less than lather European Armor, but still a rather heavy component, this is a archeological find on the era and region

And these are "modern" reconstructions
 
I've read that the Mongols did use very heavy cavalry, and that neighbouring peoples like the Jurchens and Khitai did as well. They had similar amounts of plated armour comparable to European knights according to heavenlykhagan of Historum.
Yes, they did. They even had cuirase-like armor and horse armor, something that the pre-Mongolian Russians did not have. IIRC, the Europeans of that period predominantly used the mail armor. Of course, this applied only to the heavy units. However, it should not be forgotten that a number of the true Mongols left in Europe after the conquest had been limited and majority of the Kipchack/Golden Horde population had been the same pre-Mongolian nomads who usually had little or no armor. They had been trained to fight the Mongolian style but not necessarily could afford the Mongolian weapons and armor. Notice that they are routinely referenced as Tatars, not Mongols. In the early modern period when only the Crimean (and Nogai) Horde left, majority of their warriors could not even afford the swords.
 
17th century cuirassier armour was heavier than full plate late Medieval armour and covered only a little bit less than full plate (lower legs were not covered).
But, AFAIK, cuirassiers of that type (something similar to Cromwell’s cuirassiers) had been rather rare in the PLC and the hussars were considered the heaviest shock cavalry in the region.
 
I think that the heaviest cavalry in the region (inc. PLC), after disappearance of heavy lancers, were armored reiters and later cuirassiers, using heavier armors and heavier horses than hussars.
Reitars did not have an uniform armor and sometimes did not even have an armor beyond a helmet: it all depended on how much money individual reitar had. It seems that the helmet and cuirass were most common. The main and most important part of the equipment were the pistols (quite expensive at that time) because their main tactics was caracole. Depending on what a specific reitar could afford, the armor could weight anything between 12 and 30 kg.

As far as their horses are involved, it was, again, an issue of who can afford what and due to the fact that the reitars were predominantly from the lower classes and the whole idea was to have a lot of them relatively cheap, their horses were not a match to the pure breed horses of the Polish hussars (and neither were they the heavy horses of the gendarmes). It does not look like there were any specific requirements toward the reitars’ horses: Russians created their first reitar regiments in the mid-XVII without any problems related to the horses (when in the XVIII the cuirassier regiments were created, horses had been bought abroad because Russian breed was too small).
1579113156226.jpeg

1579113321619.jpeg

Cuirassiers were predominant.y formed out of a nobility and tended to have the better and heavier armor, which was also required by the specifics of their tactics: after firing a salvo (or even without doing so) they attacked with their swords. Of course, I’m talking exclusively about the early cuirassiers, not of those of the later period.
1579114003258.png

As far as the regional encounters were involved, the Polish hussars clearly had an advantage in the horses over the Swedish cuirassiers.

The Polish hussars had a reasonably well regulated equipment that was a combination of the Western and Eastern equipment and it should be remembered that, unlike reitar or cuirassier, hussar was leader of a lance: “hussar armour consisted of a Polish variant of the szyszak Oriental Turkic-originated helmet with a hemispherical skull, comb-like, Western morion 'cheekpieces' with a heart-shaped cut in the middle, neck-guard of several plates secured by sliding rivets, and adjustable nasal terminating in a leaf-shaped visor. Szyszak and kettle hat helmets for the lower rank (retainers) were often blackened as was their armour. A cuirass (breast plate), back plate, gorget, shoulder guards and of the Great Steppe, Western vambraces with iron glove and later, during the 1630s, the Persian-originated karwasz vambrace, for forearm protection. Towarzysz also could wear tasset hip, cuisse thigh and poleyn knee protection, underneath a thigh-length coat of mail or specially padded coat with mail sleeves. Retainers usually wore less expensive and older armour, often painted black, and, after the 1670s, might have no cuirass, according to some sources.”
 
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