Medieval Armour & Shields

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.

Armour Clothing A to Z List

There were many types of garments that were worn with medieval chainmail or plate armour such as the Aketon, Surcoat and Tabard Read more about the Armour Clothing A to Z List >>

Breastplate Armor

Breastplate Armour

Breastplate armour had many advantages for the wearer, protecting vital organs such as the heart on the battlefield Read more about the Breastplate Armor >>

Byzantine Armour

The Byzantine Army was highly organised and efficient and was heavily armoured with even the horses being decked in elaborate armour Read more about the Byzantine Armour >>

Carolingian Armour

Carolingian Body Armour was expensive and only the wealthy could afford it, however most Carolingian Soldiers helmets and shields were inexpensive and common. Read more about the Carolingian Armour >>

Chainmail A to Z List

Chainmail Armour was improved and adapted to the needs of medieval knights and Soldiers and had to keep up with weaponry advancements Read more about the Chainmail A to Z List >>

Chainmail Armour

Medieval Chainmail Haubert

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 >>

Coif

Coif

Chainmail was typically worn because the medieval knights believed they could take the blunt wound but needed to guard against piercings. Read more about the Coif >>

Doublet

Doublet

The Doublet was a piece of clothing that was usually worn under Plate Armour. The Doublet help to make Plate Armour more comfortable and bearable to wear Read more about the Doublet >>

Greenwich Armour

Greenwich armour was produced at the royal armoury at Greenwich which was established by the Tudor monarch Henry VIII Read more about the Greenwich Armour >>

Hauberk

Hauberk Shirt Baidana-Rings

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 >>

Holy Roman Armour

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 >>

Horse Armour

Armour for a medieval knights horse was very expensive and the most essential part was the chamfron which protected the horses head Read more about the Horse Armour >>

How to Make Chainmail

How to Make Chainmail

Learn How to Make Chainmail using different construction methods, the most popular way to make chainmail was using the 4-in-1 ring sequence Read more about the How to Make Chainmail >>

Knight in Shining Armour

Knight in Shining Armour

Learn about the term "Knight in Shining Armour", what does "Knight in Shining Armour" mean and where did this phrase originate from Read more about the Knight in Shining Armour >>

Lamellar Armour

Lamellar 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 >>

Maximilian Armour

Maximilian armour came to be used at a time when artillery weapons were becoming increasingly popular in European battlefields Read more about the Maximilian Armour >>

Medieval Helmets

Medieal Helmets

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 >>

Medieval Shields

Medieval shields protected and shielded soldiers in battle from close combat and ranged attack weapons like arrows and swords. Read more about the Medieval Shields >>

Norman Armour

Norman Soldiers were very well prepared for battle and were protected by Helm Helmets, Norman Shields that were Kite Shaped and Mail Armour Read more about the Norman Armour >>

Plate Armour

Plate Armour Detail

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 >>

Plate Armour A to Z List

A comprehensive list of medieval plate armour parts worn by medieval knights and soldiers, medieval plate armour was always advancing Read more about the Plate Armour A to Z List >>

Saxon Armour

The Anglo Saxons did wear armour in battles although some choose not to wear chainmail as it was heavy and affected movement, but helmets and shields were common Read more about the Saxon Armour >>

Scale Armour

Scale 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 >>

Stirrups

Stirrups were a very important medieval invention that changed the face of medieval warfare and allowed the Cavalry to become powerful Read more about the Stirrups >>

Surcoat

Medieval Surcoat

The main purpose of the Surcoat was to identify a knight on the battlefield and it usually displayed the Knights colours and coat of arms which was recorded by a Herald. Read more about the Surcoat >>

The Greenwich Armoury

The Greenwich Armoury was established by King Henry VIII who was a militaristic ruler at Greenwich, England in the 15th century Read more about the The Greenwich Armoury >>

Tudor 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 >>


Mail and Chain-Mail Armour

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.

This type of armor was flexible but expensive to make, although it was commonly used throughout most of the medieval times and still finds uses today in the 21st century.

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.

Medieval Armor in the Early Medieval Ages

Before proper ‘Armour smiths’ (medieval armourers) appeared, armor 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 for making armour such as iron smelting. This 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 armor 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.

Splint armor was usually made into greaves and vambraces and rarely appeared as a full set of armor. Splint armor was used throughout the middle ages until the later transitional armor period where it was later used only for cuisses (thighs) and the rerebrace (upper arms) armor.

Medieval Armor from the 14th Century

At around the 14th century chain mail armour became ineffective against more advanced weapons of those times and plate was developed, but mail was still used by some lighter combat soldiers and on 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, favored by archers, called the Brigandine was added into the armory of almost all soldiers.

Types of Medieval Armor

  • 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.

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

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.

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 armor and helmets in different shapes and sizes – a Brigandine was introduced to add leather armor before the iron and plate was put on it.

During the 14th century new forms of weapons were being developed, like the high powered crossbow which was able to penetrate early chain-mail armor and inflict damage upon multiple enemies and that is why the armor smiths had a difficult job to create a better type of armor.

The main period of armor 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 bore the mark of the country which the soldiers fought.

The first plate armours 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.


Learn More about Medieval Armor with the Great Resources!

Learn More about Chainmail at Wikipedia

Learn More about Plate Armor at Wikipedia

Learn More about Armor Parts at Wikipedia

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