Discover the Armour and Shields of the formidable 'Medieval Knight - *The Great Mounted Warrior who fought with honour and chivalry across the lands of Europe and the Middle East during medieval times!
A 'Knight in Shinning Armour' is a striking vision that encapsulates the medieval Period! *c.500 - c.1500 - Learn about Kite Shields *The Great Helm Helmet *Chainmail *Full plate armour *Battle Armour *Tournament Armour and Much More....
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 >>
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 >>
The history of medieval armor dates back to the early medieval period from the fall of the Roman Empire in Western Europe around c.500 *it is not until the latter part of the high medieval period around c.1200 that the ‘Galant Knight in Shining Armour’ in full plate armor started to evolve.
The first cuirass*Latin: coriaceus *The rigid armor plate that covered the entire torso of a warrior as multiple pieces or a single unit that is the modern vision of the Medieval Knight – did not appear until around c.1250
Who Made Medieval Armor?
Armorers were a specialist form of a blacksmith that created armor during the medieval period, within this specialized class of smiths’ could also be further specialization such as armorers who only made maille armor *helmets or gauntlets for example.
Armorers were usually individuals or small companies but as the medieval period progressed larger and more sophisticated armorers appeared to meet demand, in particular, Italy and Germany were well respected for the mass-produced armor that was shipped around Europe in large quantities.
Sallet Helmets became popular throughout medieval Europe, especially in Italy (Milan) and Germany (Augsburg and Nuremberg) where the helmets were made by the Great Armor manufacturers of the time.
Anglo Saxon Armour *c.450 – c.1066
Anglo Saxon Chainmail
Historical images depict Anglo-Saxon warriors wearing chainmail and this is confirmed by the findings at an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Sutton Hoo in Suffolk *A Famous Helmet *The Sutton Hoo believed to belong to an elite Anglo-Saxon Warrior was also discovered.
Anglo Saxons Elites *Sutton Hoo Helmet
Anglo Saxon warriors would have worn chainmail armor in battle *mailcoats *coats of mail but not plate armor. Chainmail armor did help reduce the impact of enemy blows, however it was heavy and restricted movement, so the wearer had some advantages over his opponent but there were also some disadvantages.
Anglo Saxon Helmets
Anglo Saxons warriors were not that well protected in battle as they only wore chainmail this also slowed them down and made them an easier target, and they did not wear helmets in earlier medieval periods, in fact it wasn’t until around the 11th century that the Anglo-Saxon helmet became more commonplace.
It was the Great Anglo Saxon leader ‘Cnut the Great’ who made a ruling that all soldiers must possess a helmet in 1008 *Anglo- Saxon King ‘Aethelred the Unready’ also ordered helmets to be manufactured for Anglo-Saxon armies.
Anglo Saxon *Chainmail *Helmet
Anglo Saxon Shields
Anglo Saxon shields were made from different types of wood from material that was abundantly available in Britain Ash, oak, maple, alder, willow, and poplar wood were among the most commonly used types of wood in shield construction.
The basic design of an Anglo-Saxon shield is comprised of multiple wooden planks packed in a circular shape and held together using some adhesive material. In some cases, the wooden structure was then covered with an extra layer of leather to reinforce the shield and make it stronger. Richer Anglo-Saxons of the noble class would occasionally cover the wooden shield structure with a metal like bronze, making it a lot stronger.
Viking Armour *c.750 – c.1100
Like the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings wore little body armor but used their shields effectively as a strong defense. Vikings wore part or full chain mail shirts *longer chainmail shirts with long sleeves are commonly described as a ‘Hauberk’.
Hauberk Chainmail Shirt *Shorter or Longer
Chainmail was very expensive and difficult to make and most likely worn by elite Vikings or professional Viking armies *Great Heathen Armies! – Historical evidence suggests that undergarments of some kind underneath the chainmail may have also been worn.
Surprisingly many historians believe that the horned helmet of the Viking warrior depicted in popular mythology was more likely to have been used in rituals rather than for fighting!
Viking round shields were usually 30 to 36 inches in diameter although the specific size of a shield varied according to the warrior wielding it.
Viking Shields as large as 48 inches in diameter were also used. The most common material used in the construction of the round viking shield was linden wood. Other types of wood were also commonly used such as poplar, fir and alder wood.
Multiple planks of wood were glued together and cut into a circular shape for the basic structure of a round shield. The rim of the shield was then fitted with additional bindings such as those of iron to reinforce the structure.
Leather and different kinds of fibrous materials were used on the front of the shield to make the shield more durable and prevent enemy blades from cutting too deep.
The most common size of Viking Shield was around 30 – 36 inches in diameter
Norman Armour *c.1060 – c.1200
Norman mounted warriors wore a chainmail shirt that fell to their knees. The mail shirt, called a ‘hauberk’, was quite effective on the battlefield, especially when complemented with other types of armor.
The image shows the weaponry, shields, and horses used by medieval Norman knights
Norman Helm *Helmet
A vital part of a Norman warrior’s battlefield armor was the steel helm that he wore on his head. The Norman helm was conical in shape. It could be one of the two types in terms of its manufacture.
Anglo Saxon Armour
One type of Norman helm comprised of one-piece construction which was harder and more expensive but also proved to be far sturdier on the battlefield.
The shield provided Norman warriors with a good defense when wielding a weapon with the other hand. The shape of the Norman shields was typically like a kite. This shape replaced the round-shaped shield which was common among the Norman towards the end of the 10th century. The kite-shaped shield was made from wood and often covered with leather which, in turn, was painted in different patterns.
Medieval Kite Shield of the Type used by Norman Knights
Knights Armour *c.1100 – c.1500
Medieval Knight Shield
Knights Templar Heater Shield
Medieval Armour Parts – Chain Mail – Plate Armour
The most practical form of medieval armor used in the early medieval ages was chain-mail armor which consisted of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.
The image shows the close-up detail of the interlocking rings of the Hauberk
When mail armor first appeared it was expensive and very time-consuming to make *for this reason after a battle dead soldiers could be looted for their mail armor.
During the start of the medieval period soldiers usually did not have much head protection as they usually only wore a Mail Coif and a Hauberk. The Coif and the Hauberk were made from this chain-mail and the interlocking loops of metal were woven into some type of suitable fabric.
The coif was a specific type of chainmail armor that was used in medieval warfare to protect the head and necks of knights
Medieval Knights Armour
The image that details different parts of a knight’s armor
Medieval Armour Parts
Helmet (Sallet) *protected Head
Stop Rib *protected Shoulder
Breast Plate *Protected Chest
Lance Rest *Secured Lance
Gorget – would protect the neck
Cuirass – protected the breast area
Plackart – designed to add more armor to the front Faulds – protected the waist and hips
Cowter – protected elbows
Spaulders and Pauldrons – protected shoulders and everything in that area
Vambraces – used to protect the arms
Gauntlets – protected the hands
Poleyn – protected knees – later attached to the Chausses and Tasset to protect the upper leg area
Greaves – protected the lower area of the leg
Cuisse – protected the sides of the legs
Sabaton – covered the foot.
Helmet (Sallet) *Protected Knights Head
Parts that did not have plates protecting them were usually covered by mail called Gousset and an additional padded cloth called Doublet or Double doublet was worn under a harness.
Medieval Knights Clothing – Armour for the hands called Gauntlets
Full Plate Medieval Armor
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.
Cataphract Medieval Soldiers were part of the cavalry and were covered in plate armor similar to medieval knights.
In the later parts of the medieval period armor became more sophisticated and was designed to protect every part of the body. Items that were introduced and made the most impact were full plate armor and helmets in different shapes and sizes.
A full suit of knights plate armor, advanced armor for a knight.
During the 14th century, new forms of weapons were being developed *high powered crossbowswhich were able to penetrate early chain-mail armor and armorers had to create better plate armor that covered the entire body*
Detailed image of a German knights shoulder and arm plate armor
Learn More about Medieval Armor with the Great Resources!