They didn't use to call me a Loremaster for nothing.
In the "Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth", page 366 Note 11:
The Rohirrim had the advantage in being supplied by the metal-workers of Gondor.
While this does not cite the trade of horses for armor, it does support that Rohirric armor (if not arms as well) were gotten from Gondor smithies. And as Tolkein says himself...
The Rohirrim were not "medieval", in our sense. The styles of the Bayeux Tapestry (made in England) fit them well enough, if one remembers that the kind of tennis-nets [the] soldiers seem to have on are only a clumsy conventional sign for chainmail of small rings.
...then we can suppose that the Men of Gondor supplied the Rohirrim with chain-maille. Now, I ask you; would they really make full suits (or at least shirts, also known as hauberks or surcoats (which are mentioned too many times to count in the text by both Merry and Pippin, Gandalf and Denethor, Aragorn, Theoden, Gimli...)) of such equipment for their allies and for them alone, or would they simply generate a large enough surplus of their own goods for use in trade with the Rohirrim? Accepting these quotes in tandem results in a logical conclusion that chain-maille was the principal armor of the Men of both Gondor and Rohan.
Additionally, according to this quote Denethor himself wore chain-maille:
"He stood up and cast open his long black cloak, and behold! he was clad in mail beneath, and girt with a long sword, great-hilted in a sheath of black and silver."
-Page 800, The Siege of Gondor, Book V, The Return of the King.
So why would he bother with protecting (and arming) himself if he was going to use inferior equipment? Yes it was most likely for show, but wearing chain-maille while plate would be available (as others are positing) would not make much sense, and so it is easily feasible that the soldiers of Gondor wore chain-maille just as their Steward did. I will concede that plate elements were in use - such as helmets and Prince Imrahil's infamous vambraces - but full chest-and-back-plates are out of the question. You could also argue that the Guards of the Citadel (Denethor's own servants) wore black chain surcoats, and so he was simply doing as they did, but in my opinion Denethor would have done well to appeal to all of his citizenry rather than just his own personal guardsmen by going so armored.
Regardless, back to the topic at hand: the Knights of Dol Amroth. They appear to be the sole fighting cavalry force in Gondor; the only other comparable unit would be the errand-riders of Minas Tirith, who were messengers and couriers, not fighters. In this description of the gathered Men of the Fiefdoms, the Knights of Dol Amroth are presented as the most professional and well-geared of those present:
"Leading the line there came walking a big thick-limbed horse, and on it sat a man of wide shoulders and huge girth, but old and grey-bearded, yet mail-clad and black-helmed and bearing a long heavy spear. Behind him marched proudly a dusty line of men, well-armed and bearing great battle-axes; grim-faced they were, and shorter and somewhat swarthier than any men that Pippin had yet seen in Gondor...the men of Ringlo Vale behind the son of their lord, Dervorin striding on foot: three hundreds. From the uplands of Morthond, the great Blackroot Vale, tall Duinhir with his sons, Duilin and Derufin, and five hundred bowmen. From the Anfalas, the Langstrand far away, a long line of men of many sorts, hunters and herdsmen and men of little villages, scantily equipped save for the household of Golasgil their lord. From Lamdedon, a few grim hillmen without a captain. Fisher-folk of the Ethir, some hundred or more spared from the ships. Hirluin the Fair of the Green Hills from Pinnath Gelin with three hundreds of gallant green-clad men. And last and proudest, Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, kinsman of the Lord, with gilded banners bearing his token of the Ship and the Silver Swan, and a company of knights in full harness riding grey horses; and behind them seven hundred of men at arms, tall as lords, grey-eyed, dark-haired, singing as they came."
-Page 753-4, Minas Tirith, Book V, The Return of the King.
Interestingly, there is a great variety in the types of equipment and dispositions of the Men of the Fiefdoms - we have "well-armed" Men of Lossanarch, who are presumably maille-clad like their leader; in contrast are the famous archers of Morthond and the Blackroot Vale; irregular militia from the outer reaches of coasts; and the household Men of Golasgil, Lord of Langstrand, a term not used except for the sworn Guards of the King of Rohan, possibly hinting at a "rougher" feel for them when compared to the more "civilized" Men of Minas Tirith and Dol Amroth. Regardless, this shows that despite being very near to one another geographically there was a GREAT difference in the styles and quality of battle equipment in the realm of Gondor.
If you're going to use Middle Age Europe as an example, then think on this: despite fitting within a thumb's space on a map, the equipment found in Italy, Germany and Spain was all incredibly vast - let's say we're looking at the year 1500 CE. In Italy you have your mercenary bands of Conditierri - sallet helm-wearing, rapier-and-dagger wielding sellswords who favored full plate armor made skin-tight. In Germany you would have the Landsknecthe, who fought with massive beidenhander swords, pikes, and were great supporters of gunpowder weapons (something which the Conditierri would execute prisoners of war for using as they made warfare "unfair"). Armor for them would have been the articulated Gothic-style plate that we all know and love. As for Spain, it was divided into Moorish and Christian Spain - the Moors were relict Muslims slowly being driven out through the Reqonquista who used scale-maille and lamellar armor, powerful steel crossbows known as arbalests (IIRC, those were more popular with the Knights of Malta tbh) and curved slashing swords like the kilij and yataghan. Those Moors were fighting against the Spaniards, who also used lots of gunpowder weapons (with more focus on personnel handguns than field artillery like the Germans did) but with a greater reliance on cavalry than any other Western European power at the time.
What does that have to do Gondor's fighting-man disposition in the Third Age of the Sun? It's an example for how geography matters surprisingly little in how different armor designs and styles developed back in the day.
And as such, the Knights of Dol Amroth make fine sense looking how they do in this mod.
Edited by mike_, 18 July 2011 - 06:09 AM.
forgot the Spanish!