Publication Date

April 2014

Advisor(s)

Clark Maines

Major

Archaeology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis pursues an experimental investigation of cuir bouilli, a particular form of hardened leather used as armor in medieval Europe. In this exploration, I have produced a sample group of 30 distinct varieties of cuir bouilli. These samples represent the most commonly theorized and scientifically grounded production methods of this historic medium. Using a series of armor specific tests, broadly encapsulating the abuse of arrow fire, blunt force trauma, and slashing, I have measured the performance of each cuir bouilli sample. The data gathered from these tests can be used to infer physical properties about each sample, revealing the essential effects of each hardening method. Moreover, these tests indicate how cuir bouilli might have functioned in actual armor use. They demonstrate strengths and weaknesses of each variety, offering reasons for their eventual abandonment in certain contexts and the roles they might have continued to play in others.

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