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Aldarion

How does technological schizophreny maintain itself?

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So, ASoIaF is incredibly schizophrenic setting. Armour alone is incredibly diverse even just in Westeros; as Martin has noted:

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Westerosi armor does not correspond one to one with any single period in European history, but I suppose it is closest to the armor of the Hundred Years War. Not only Agincourt, but also Crecy and Poitiers before that. Of course, there were important changes in armor between each of those battles, but there were also holdovers, individuals who had used or older armor, styled from the earlier period. I took that trend considerably further in Westeros, and felt free to mix armor styles from several different periods. You will also note that Westerosi armor tends to “later” styles as you go south. Plate is more common in the Reach say, while mail is more the rule in the North, and beyond the Wall the wildlings have very crude primitive stuff.

And of course in Essos you have people using bronze armour or just fighting naked. But how does this maintain itself? Sure, there are potential technological differences between areas. But in a world with trade - which Planetos is - you would see mass import of armour. Croatian nobles acquired plate armour from Germany (Augsburg and Innsbruck, specifically) and Italy. Why somebody like Manderly would not equip at least his household troops with plate armour? And how did Westeros, in all these centuries, not develop munitions plate but instead outfits infantry in far inferior yet much more expensive sort of armour?

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One reason could be that of political concerns and also the lack of pressure on the Westerosi.

Maybe the armour smiths keeps the armour technology relatively level since Aegon's Conquest for the reason that they want to keep the prices of plate high and the nobles wants to prevent this edge in equipment from spreading to the common soldiers?

With the relatively few conflicts and no real external foes to the Westerosi, the real arm's race in the Middle Ages didn't take place as there's very little pressure to gain advantages over your enemies or keep up with them. So perhaps maintaining the social order and stability in the social, cultural and political system is more important than gaining edges over your political foes and socio-economical peers?

I seem to recall you and I have discussed this before and I think the "military development incest" is a thing in Westeros. Westeros almost only fight against other Westerosi and then only seldom do they engage in major wars with each other. Hence, no need to speed up development and no enemy who is a real threat to their system to put pressure on them either.

And since they don't engage with other military systems or traditions on regular basis it would seem that Westerosi military development is primairly focused on fighting other Westerosi with little innovation and the mercenary companies of Essos seem to follow their lead as well.

 

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How come no one ever mentions that Iron Born guy whose skin turned grey and armorous?  Armorly?  One thing that resounds when looking at the Ironborn is their skill with iron.  I realize they aren't the only people in Westeros with access to iron and forges, but these guys keep themselves going in large part due to this single export.  Could there be west coast animosity toward a major supplier of armor?  Also, there is the matter of mobility.   Plate armor isn't that easy to do anything in whereas mail, for all it's faults is at least more agile.  We would do well to keep in mind that knighthood isn't a thing in the north, so their armor would reflect their needs over popular sportswear.   As cool as a suit of armor may be, you couldn't pay me to gallop away on a horse wearing it.  

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10 hours ago, Ser Leftwich said:

 

8 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

It doesn't, you're just gonna have to try and suspend your disbelief.

That is just no fun, though.

2 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

How come no one ever mentions that Iron Born guy whose skin turned grey and armorous?  Armorly?  One thing that resounds when looking at the Ironborn is their skill with iron.  I realize they aren't the only people in Westeros with access to iron and forges, but these guys keep themselves going in large part due to this single export.  Could there be west coast animosity toward a major supplier of armor?  Also, there is the matter of mobility.   Plate armor isn't that easy to do anything in whereas mail, for all it's faults is at least more agile.  We would do well to keep in mind that knighthood isn't a thing in the north, so their armor would reflect their needs over popular sportswear.   As cool as a suit of armor may be, you couldn't pay me to gallop away on a horse wearing it.  

That is just not true. Well-made plate armour spreads weight out better than mail does and allows for more joint mobility than mail does, while also usually being lighter (though munitions plate may well be heavier than mail). The only advantage mail has over plate armour is that it is a) cheaper (and even that only until 15th and especially 16th century when munitions plate is developed) and b) easier to maintain in the field (it essentially self-cleans).

10 hours ago, Lion of the West said:

One reason could be that of political concerns and also the lack of pressure on the Westerosi.

Maybe the armour smiths keeps the armour technology relatively level since Aegon's Conquest for the reason that they want to keep the prices of plate high and the nobles wants to prevent this edge in equipment from spreading to the common soldiers?

With the relatively few conflicts and no real external foes to the Westerosi, the real arm's race in the Middle Ages didn't take place as there's very little pressure to gain advantages over your enemies or keep up with them. So perhaps maintaining the social order and stability in the social, cultural and political system is more important than gaining edges over your political foes and socio-economical peers?

I seem to recall you and I have discussed this before and I think the "military development incest" is a thing in Westeros. Westeros almost only fight against other Westerosi and then only seldom do they engage in major wars with each other. Hence, no need to speed up development and no enemy who is a real threat to their system to put pressure on them either.

And since they don't engage with other military systems or traditions on regular basis it would seem that Westerosi military development is primairly focused on fighting other Westerosi with little innovation and the mercenary companies of Essos seem to follow their lead as well.

That is definitely a possibility. It might be that North is so isolated and poor that nobody attacks it except Wildlings, so they saw no need to develop anything better than mail? Plus, if North is wet and cold, maybe mail is easier to maintain and also combine with furs and thick clothing? "Only fighting against themselves" is no good explanation, as most societies primarily develop weapons against itself - Western Europe did, yet it was Western Europe which developed plate armour (and, eventually, munitions plate). That being said, low frequency of warfare may be an explanation - but then Andals arrived 6 000 years ago, so they've had more than enough time.

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2 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

That is definitely a possibility. It might be that North is so isolated and poor that nobody attacks it except Wildlings, so they saw no need to develop anything better than mail? Plus, if North is wet and cold, maybe mail is easier to maintain and also combine with furs and thick clothing? "Only fighting against themselves" is no good explanation, as most societies primarily develop weapons against itself - Western Europe did, yet it was Western Europe which developed plate armour (and, eventually, munitions plate). That being said, low frequency of warfare may be an explanation - but then Andals arrived 6 000 years ago, so they've had more than enough time.

I disagree as Western Europe was a hotspot of military activity by the feudal nobility against all kinds of foes; each other, Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Norse, Germanic tribes, Slavic tribes, Moors, Byzantines (to a degree and at least in italy) and then with the crusades the Western European nobility had to adapt to fighting the armies of the Middle East, the Balkans, Baltic tribes, Wends, Finns and Russians and so on.

The Westerosi nobility only have each other with only really the Ironmen and the Dornish fighting somewhat differently and it don't seem to nearly as common to have fights with these two as with each other, unlike the many campaigns waged by the feudal nobility in Western Europe against many different foes across a timeline which is much shorter than the Westerosi one.

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19 hours ago, Aldarion said:

 

That is just no fun, though.

That is just not true. Well-made plate armour spreads weight out better than mail does and allows for more joint mobility than mail does, while also usually being lighter (though munitions plate may well be heavier than mail). The only advantage mail has over plate armour is that it is a) cheaper (and even that only until 15th and especially 16th century when munitions plate is developed) and b) easier to maintain in the field (it essentially self-cleans).

Sounds like truly epicly great stuff.  Wouldn't be any good with all the bulk.  Still not wearing it.  

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23 hours ago, Lion of the West said:

I disagree as Western Europe was a hotspot of military activity by the feudal nobility against all kinds of foes; each other, Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Norse, Germanic tribes, Slavic tribes, Moors, Byzantines (to a degree and at least in italy) and then with the crusades the Western European nobility had to adapt to fighting the armies of the Middle East, the Balkans, Baltic tribes, Wends, Finns and Russians and so on.

The Westerosi nobility only have each other with only really the Ironmen and the Dornish fighting somewhat differently and it don't seem to nearly as common to have fights with these two as with each other, unlike the many campaigns waged by the feudal nobility in Western Europe against many different foes across a timeline which is much shorter than the Westerosi one.

But I have seen no evidence that plate armour - or any other weapon - was developed to deal specifically with those threats. Adaptations to outside threats were solved primarily by adapting things already present and utilizing them in new ways (crossbows for example - they were already present but became much more widespread in order to help deal with Saracen horse archers). Only exception to this were true frontier societies - Hungary and Poland, specifically, which had a rather unusual mix of "Western" and "Eastern" troops (such as Hungary which in its ranks had feudal heavy cavalry of Western European models but also Eastern-model light cavalry in form of Cumans and eventually Hussars).

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