During the Medieval period between the 5th and 15th century army units would wear different types of Medieval Armor depending on their role, but mostly the armor consisted of Mail or Chain mail and much later Full plate.
Interlocking iron rings which would have been welded shut made up parts of the early stage medieval armor. Gradually small plates or discs of iron were added into the armor design in order to protect vulnerable areas of the soldier wearing it.
Medieval Armour continued to advance and became more and more sophisticated which led to the introduction of hardened leather which was either welded together or sewn with strong iron pieces.
Armour upgrades reached full plate near the end of the medieval period as techniques improved armor smiths started using a lot of different materials to make the armor in order to make it impenetrable but much lighter, materials such as bones and hard leather were used increasingly during this period.
Medieval chain mail offered Medieval soldiers Knights excellent protection that was more flexible and much cheaper than medieval plate armour. Most medieval chainmail was made using the 4 to 1 links method. Read more about the Chainmail Armour >>
The hauberk was usually constructed with a huge quantity of metal rings that were intertwined together into a shirt-like fashion. The intertwining of the hoops also gave the hauberk its flexibility. Read more about the Hauberk >>
The Holy Roman Empire was a very advanced military society that had a thriving armour production industry, Holy Roman Soldiers wore Gothic and Maximilian plate armour Read more about the Holy Roman Armour >>
Lamellar Armour is a very distinctive armour that was worn in medieval times, it look similar to scale armour but had a different construction and had many advantages Read more about the Lamellar Armour >>
Medieval helmet design advanced to keep pace with the advancements in medieval weaponry, the Basinect and the Great Helm were two very popular designs in medieval times. Read more about the Medieval Helmets >>
Plate armour was introduced to counter the increasingly advanced weaponry of the medieval period, plate armour was added to chain mail and then full plate armour was worn by medieval knights later in the medieval period. Read more about the Plate Armour >>
Scale Armour dates back to ancient times and was a very effective type of armour, Scale armour was also sometimes worn in medieval times by medieval soldiers such as the Mamluks Read more about the Scale Armour >>
King Henry VIII was well known for wearing different types of elaborate armour such as Alamin Rivet, Greenwich or Maximilian armour that was imported or made in England Read more about the Tudor Armour >>
Components of medieval Armour
The earliest forms of medieval armour were fairly basic, had less parts and the simplest of components made up the whole of the amour, however this gradually changed as new methods of making armour were introduced and Armour was upgraded and improved as the medieval period progressed.
Armour was designed that had more parts and components, this gave knights and soldiers more flexibility which resulted in more energy as the weight of the armour was also reduced as new metals that were being developed. Medieval armour offered much better protection from different types of attack as more parts of the body were protected.
Mail and Chain-Mail Armour
During the start of the medieval period soldiers usually did not have much head protection and usually only wore a Mail Coif and a Hauberk. The Coif and the Hauberk were mail, meaning they were made from interlocking loops of metal woven into a fabric. During these early medieval times this was the only real protection soldiers had and medieval amour offered less protection to them than at later stages in the medieval period.
Medieval Armor in the Early Medieval Ages
Before proper Armour smiths appeared, Armour consisted of various types of cloth and leather being put together and usually offered little to no protection. That is why Blacksmiths developed new and improved ways of making armor as new technologies emerged such as iron smelting allowed Blacksmiths to make more flexible armor designs as the metals could be forged into new complete shapes which led to the first forms of Medieval Splint Armour appearing.
This particular type of medieval armor had a major function to protect the limbs of its wearer and consisted of strips of metal which were attached to a fabric or leather backing or covering. These strips were arranged longitudinally and were pierced in order to be easily sewn on to the material. The splint armor was usually made into greaves and vambraces and rarely appeared as a full set of armor.
The Splint armor was used throughout the Medieval Ages until the transitional armor period where it was later used for cuisses (thighs) and the rerebrace (upper arms) armor.
The most practical form of medieval armor used in the early medieval ages was the mail and chain-mail armor. The mail armor consisted of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh. When mail Armour first appeared it was expensive to make and very time consuming and usually after a battle the dead soldiers had their bodies looted only for their mail armor.
The flexible and expensive mail armor was used throughout most of the medieval times and still finds uses today in the 21st century.
Medieval Armor from the 14th Century
At around the 14th century mail became ineffective against more advanced weapons of those times and plate was developed, but mail could still be seen on some lighter soldiers and on the cavalry horses.
In the later stages of medieval times, experiments were made with different types of Armour and it became more complexed. Full upgraded mail Armour started making an appearance and in particular chest armor, favoured by archers, called the Brigandine was added into the armory of almost all soldiers.
In the very late stages of the Medieval times armor became very complexed and it was designed to protect every part of the body. Items that were introduced and made the most impact were Full plate and Iron helmets in different shapes and sizes, a Brigandine was introduced to add leather armor before the iron and plate was put on it.
Different Types of Medieval Armor
A Gorget – would protect the neck; Cuirass for protection to the breast area, a Plackart was designed to add more armor to the front, Faulds which protected the waist and hips and a Cowter to protect the elbows were introduced.
Spaulders – and then later Pauldrons were made to protect the shoulders and everything around that area, Vambraces were used to protect the arms, Gauntlets which were used to protect the hands of the wearer.
Poleyn – were used to protect the knees and were later attached to the Chausses and Tasset which protected the upper leg area whilst Greaves covered the lower area of the leg and Cuisse was used to protect the sides of the leg, Sabaton was the part where armour covered the foot.
The parts which did not have plate protecting them were usually covered by mail called Gousset and an additional padded cloth called Doublet or Double doublet was worn under a harness.
Full Plate Medieval Armor
During the 14th century new forms of weapons were being developed, like the high powered crossbow which was able to penetrate early chain-mail Armour and inflict damage upon multiple enemies and that is why the Armour smiths had a difficult job to create a better type of armor, so the period of Armour transition began when the first plates of armor were created. Medieval Armour had come a long way to its almost perfect form of plated mail which was sometimes also called plated chain-mail, splinted mail or even splinted chain-mail.
This form of armor consisted of mail armor which was embedded with plates. The plates of Armour have different variations depending on the country they are used in and usually bear the mark of the country which the soldiers fought for. It is believed that the first forms of plate armor were developed in the Middle East which were then adopted by other countries in the medieval world.
The first plates were used for body protection and composed of relatively large plates worn along with laminar pauldrons (a skirt which was made of very long horizontal plates and re enforced by a large round mirror plate). The later forms were created by plates of iron and steel and encased the wearer completely.
Medieval Armor after the Medieval ages
The full plate suit of armor started to decline as weapons advanced and inventions such as rifles and gunpowder started to be invented. Medieval Armour became used only for decorative purposes for jousting and sometimes fashion for Kings. In modern times bulletproof vests serve as a distant reminder of the types of Armour used during medieval times.