Knights in medieval ages dressed up in Armour when they prepared for battle. The Armour of the medieval knights was very elaborate which is why knighthood itself was initially limited to the rich aristocracy who could afford to pay for this Armour. The Armour of the knights evolved over time from the beginning of the middle ages until the Renaissance period.
While the initial Armour comprised of makeshift metal pieces to minimise damage during combat, later Armour was highly sophisticated. The knightly Armour towards the 12th and 13th centuries, for instance, comprised of a solidly built helmet, plates covering the front and the back of the knight, a chainmail separating the Armour and the body, as well as several other accessories.
The phrase “knight in shining Armour” was typically invented much later. In fact, it came into usage when the age of the gallant knights was well over. According to extant sources, the phrase first came to be used during the Victorian era and hearkened back to the days of gallant and chivalrous knights.
The phrase soon came to be associated with the chivalry of the knights who, like those in the mythical tales of King Arthur, rescued maidens from bandits and offered help to those in distress. Since the medieval knights had their Armour well-polished, the phrase fitted well.
The Armour of the medieval knight was fairly elaborate. In the earlier middle ages, the knights mostly used chainmail which effectively blocked any piercings but weren’t effective against heavy blows. In the later period, plate Armour began to be used that was made from metal and elaborately covered a knight’s body.
This type of Armour was so extensive that it essentially covered the whole body of the knight. It included an iron helmet, breastplate, pauldrons, vambrace, rerebrace, gauntlet, cuisses, poleyns, greaves and other pieces. Plate Armour hid the knight behind a thick sheet of metal from head to toe. Sometimes, the knights wore chainmail under this layer of plate Armour as added protection.
Chain Armour was briefly used as a standalone type of Armour. On its own, the chainmail was worn as a shirt of iron rings held together which was called a hauberk. The chainmail alone weighed 30 pounds and had to be used with a thick padding used under it. In contrast, the plate Armour which was developed later weighed as much as 60 pounds and was a lot less flexible than chainmail. While chainmail was flexible, it offered less protection while the plate Armour, although it was heavy, offered greater protection from piercings and heavy blows.
Chainmail Armour helped a knight ward off any piercings and wounds. Weapons such as axes and swords mostly couldn’t pierce through the chainmail Armour. However, chainmail wasn’t very effective in warding off heavy blows. A plate Armour, in comparison, was ideal to stop heavy blows and to avoid any piercings, so it had a notable advantage over chainmail.