Plate Armour

Only well protected Knights would survive the brutal medieval battles that involved swords, arrows and other brutal medieval weapons.

A knight in medieval times would not last long in battle without any plate armor due to the advancement in weaponry that was made in later medieval periods.

In this respect there was no option for a knight than to wear full plate armor in battle situations especially in the later medieval periods – without full plate armor knights would be quickly killed by crossbowmen, longbowmen and footsoldiers.


Medieval Plate Armour and Chainmail

  • Early Medieval armor was basically chainmail that was made out of small interlocking rings of iron that were made by a Medieval armorer.
  • The Hauberk was a commonly worn chainmail shirt that went all the way down to the knees in earlier medieval times.
  • Around the 12th century the sleeves were made longer and chainmail or leather leggings were also added to armor.
  • Most early Knights carried wooden shields which were made out of metal. In later years battle helmets were worn that usually had a piece of metal protecting the nose.

As the medieval period progressed great strides were made in medieval weaponry and this early chainmail and leather armour was unable to cope with the superior weapons

There was a need for an improvement in medieval armor and from around the 14th century steel plates were added to the chainmail for additional protection.


Medieval Plate Armour

Steel plates were added around the 14th century and the move was made to full plate armor in the 15th century which led to the iconic and instantly recognizable cult figures of Medieval Knights.


Full Medieval Plate Armour

towards the end of the middle ages knights were wearing full plate armor suits which were made from overlapping steel plates, these protected Medieval Knights attack from most medieval weapons.

There were still vulnerable parts as there were gaps in the armor that a sword could be thrust into, so even full plate armor was not perfect but it did make medieval knights formidable fighting weapons.

It is thought that a medieval Knight wearing full plate armor was the equivalent of a medieval tank!

Wearing full Medieval Plate Armour

A medieval Knight would need help putting on his plate armor which was time consuming so a knight had to be prepared well before the start of a battle, the armor also had to be put on an in sequence so that the knight was properly protected.

When the plate armor was put on it was surprisingly easy to move around in and medieval knights could actually run or mount a horse unaided!

Medieval armor was also surprisingly comfortable and padded garments would be worn underneath for extra comfort.

The joints at the arms and legs of full plate army were designed to be flexible allowing for a reasonable amount of movement


How was Full Plate Armour made

Skilled craftsmen made plate armor and knights would choose different parts of medieval plate armor that fitted together well and fitted their particular build.

Very wealthy Knights could select high quality armor that was specially made for them, and there was also a demand for fashionable plate armor.

Wealthy Knights could also have highly decorated and engraved plate armor and it would also be a good decision to make the design of the helmet look as fearsome as possible.

There were many options available during the medieval period for plate armor as long as you had the money available.

Plate armor quick Facts

  • Medieval Plate Armour replaced chain-mail as new weapons were able to penetrate existing chain-mail.
  • Chain-mail was difficult to make and it was expensive and time-consuming often worn with Plate Armour.
  • Several thousand iron rings had to be linked together to make a Hauberk.
  • A Hauberk was basically a chain-mail suit worn with or without Plate Armour.
  • In the 12th century Medieval Plate Armour started to be added to chain mail armor for knights.


Medieval Plate Armour parts

The Cruisse

This was a part of plate armor that protected the thigh area, there was also an obvious need to create armor for the bend in the knee and a guard or poleyn was added to the Cruisse that allowed flexibility in this area.

The Gaunlet

This plate armor part was designed to protect the hand as it was one of the most vulnerable parts of a knights body, however knights needed flexibility in finger joints to be able to grasp their heavy weapons, therefore six or seven tiny plates covered the finger and were added to the Gaunlet and multiple plates were also added around the wrist area to allow good movement of the wrists.

The Sabaton

The foot was also very vulnerable part of a knights body as medieval weapons could easily crush the fragile bones of the Foot.

The Sabaton was made using a series of multiple plates joined together that offered some flexibility in the foot area whilst also protecting it completely.

Sabatons were basically metal shoes and usually ended in a point, again there was some fashion element to the designs and wealthy medieval knights would customize the design to keep up with the late

Medieval Italy Plate Armor

Look at the splendid detail and workmanship on this medieval Italian plate armor


Arm and Shoulder Plate Armour

Detailed image of a German knights shoulder and arm plate armour

Medieval Knights Armour & Helmets

There were various types of helmet worn with full plate armor as there would be no point wearing full plate armor without protecting the head.

The design of medieval helmets improved as the medieval period progress and later in the medieval period most helmets protected the head and neck.

Some helmets had visors to protect the face that could also be lifted up to to allow the knight to be able to breathe more easily and for better vision, they would usually always be down in the midst of battle.

Bascinet helmets became popular in the mid-14th century, these are the instantly recognizable knights helmets that looked like the muzzle of a dog with small holes in.

There was also a medieval helmet called the houndskull which was a type of Bascinet helmet which had a pointed visor.

This helmet was replaced by the lighter ‘sallet helmet’ around the 1440s.

The sallet helmet had a brim section that covered the back of the neck and joined with the top of the back plate armor, this protected the head and the back of the neck from blows to the neck and head.


Advantages & Disadvantages of Full Plate Armour

Although full plate armor had flexible joints that made it easier to move than you would expect, they still restricted movement and were relatively heavy during a battle.

Plate armor could also get incredibly hot inside especially on a warm day, in the middle of a ferocious battle the person inside the full plate armor suit would get very hot and breathing would be difficult.

When fighting with a helmet like the bascinet with it’s visor down visibility would be limited as there was only a very narrow slit across the helmet to protect the eyes.

There was also other disadvantages to full plate armor, however these were outweighed by the benefits.

Plate armor quick Facts

  • An armorer made Plate Armour & chain-mail in early medieval times.
  • Plate armor was required because of the advancement made in Medieval weapons.
  • Plate armor was a lot more comfortable than it looked.
  • A suit of Plate Armour could weigh anything up to 25 kg.
  • Knights would need help dressing in full Plate Armour.
  • Plate Armour became more common in the 14th century.

Plate Armour Quick Facts:

  • In the 15th century most knights wore full Plate Armour.
  • Only wealthy Knights could afford customized Plate Armour with fancy engraving and designs.
  • 15th century Plate Armour became a symbol of wealth and standing in society.
  • Plate armor was sometimes designed with gold plating and elaborately engraved.
  • Cruisse Plate Armour protected the thigh region.
  • Gaunlets protected the hand especially the fingers in battle.
  • The Sabaton was basically a metal shoe made of plates that was made towards the end of the 14th century.
  • Bascinet helmets with long visors were popular in the 14th century with knights.