Medieval Shields

Medieval Shields *Learn about the evolution of the Medieval Shield used by Gallant Knights and Infantry Soldiers during Medieval Times.

Discover the most popular and effective Medieval Shields of the Medieval Period such as the Heater and Kite Shield used by Knights and the Pavise Shield used by infantry soldiers such as Crossbowmen.

Learn about Medieval Shield Heraldry, Coats of Arms, Symbols & Colours Meaning, and Much More!.

Anglo Saxon Shields

Anglo Saxon Warriors were famous for their Shield Wall Formations Read more about the Anglo Saxon Shields >>

Buckler Shield

Buckler Shield

Buckler Shield * A Small Light-Weight Shield that could be held in One Hand mainly used by Swordsmen. Read more about the Buckler Shield >>

Byzantine Shields

The Byzantines had a powerful military who commonly used Kite Shields, Round Shields and Iron Shields on the battlefield Read more about the Byzantine Shields >>

Carolingian Shields

Shields served a key part of the Carolingian armies weaponry, Shields were used by both the cavalrymen and infantrymen in the Carolingian army Read more about the Carolingian Shields >>

Cavalry Shields

The Medieval Cavalry used smaller and lighter shields than medieval Footsoldiers such as the Kite and Heater Shield Read more about the Cavalry Shields >>

Footsoldiers Shields

Footsoldiers used shields such shields as the Heater, Round and Pavise Shield depending on the troop types being deployed on the battlefield Read more about the Footsoldiers Shields >>

Heater Shield

Heater Shields Used by Jousting Knights

The Heater Shield was an important medieval shield that was mainly used by medieval swordsmen & medieval knights. You can often see the Heater Shield being used by Knights in medieval tournaments. Read more about the Heater Shield >>

Kite Shield

Medieval Kite Shield

Kite shields were popular with medieval foot-soldiers and cleverly designed to protect the flank of medieval soldiers on horseback. The kite shield shape was the same as a kite. Read more about the Kite Shield >>

Knights Shields

Knights used different types of shields during medieval times such as the Kite Shite, Heater Shield... Read more about the Knights Shields >>

Medieval Shield Design

Different medieval shield Designs

Medieval shields were designed for different tasks, Pavise shields were designed for defence, whereas a heater shield was used in jousting competions Read more about the Medieval Shield Design >>

Medieval Shield Parts

Medieval Shield Parts

Several important shield parts went into the making of a medieval shield, important shield parts were the Boss, Bouche and Enarmes which helped create the medieval shield. Read more about the Medieval Shield Parts >>

Medieval Shields History

During the course of the medieval era, the design of battlefield shields evolved significantly. Earlier shields were made mostly from wood later shields, metals such as Iron. Read more about the Medieval Shields History >>

Moorish Shields *Adarga Shields

Moorish Troops used the "Adarga Shield", it was a unique shape, very tough and made from leather hide usually from the skin of an antelope Read more about the Moorish Shields *Adarga Shields >>

Norman Shields

Normans were advanced medieval soldiers who used a variety of shield designs, such as the Round and Kite Shield in Medieval Times Read more about the Norman Shields >>

Pavise Shield

A Pravise Shield used by Medieval Infantry for Blocking

The Pavise Shield was a large defensive shield that was used by medieval infantrymen like archers. The Pavise Shield offered great protection to infantrymen such as archers as they reloaded, rested or regrouped. Read more about the Pavise Shield >>

Shield Colours and Meanings

Various Colours in Medieval Times had different meanings for example Gold indicated Grandness in terms of wisdom, glory and generosity Read more about the Shield Colours and Meanings >>

Shield Symbols and Meanings

Medieval Shields of different symbolism had different meanings, Animal, Plant and Bird Images were often engraved on Shields Read more about the Shield Symbols and Meanings >>

Shields and Heraldry

Heraldry was an important part of medieval shield design, specific colours, symbols and stripes were used to identify medieval knights Read more about the Shields and Heraldry >>

Soldiers Shields Types

Medieval Soldiers used the Pavise, Targe and Heater shields, these Types of shields were popular with medieval footsoldiers on the battlefield. Read more about the Soldiers Shields Types >>

Targe Shield

Targe Shield made of Wood

The targe shield was round in shape and was used extensively by medieval footsoldiers. The targe shield was quite light in weight in comparison to other shields and was commonly used in one-on-one combat. Read more about the Targe Shield >>

Viking Shields

Vikings loved their shields and specific laws standardised Shield Construction. Read more about the Viking Shields >>



Medieval shields, as the term suggests, had a definite purpose in protecting or shielding warriors, such as knights, archers, and other foot soldiers from all sorts of attacking weapons used during the medieval period.

Early Medieval Shields *5th – 10th Century

In early medieval times, the most common shield used was the round shield that originated from the ‘Hoplon Shield’ that was used by ancient Greek warriors.

buckler-shield-fancy-design

Hoplon-Shield-Medieval-Shields

Hoplon shields were circular in shape and made from wood and bronze. These types of shields were developed based on earlier models that were completely made from bronze.

Viking Shields

Vikings-in-Battle-using-Medieval-Shields-of-the-Viking-Era

The Vikings used Round shields that were strengthened by a metal central boss.

viking-shield-3d-illustration-Viking-Shields-Medieval-Shields

The most important among all the parts of medieval shields was the Boss. It was the round central part of a shield and was, therefore, the most crucial with respect to defenses.

viking-shield-3d-illustration-Viking-Shields-Medieval-Shields

Special attention was paid to making this part stronger in order to deflect the heavy bows of enemy swords and other weapons. Among the parts of medieval shields, the boss part was generally made of wood or thick metal and was sometimes also known as the Umbo.

Viking-Shields-Medieval-Shields

The most common size of Viking Shield was around 30 – 36 inches in diameter


Medieval Shields *11th – 13th Century

Norman-Knight-Kite-Shield

Popular shields in the High Period of medieval times were buckler and heater shields. While the former was carried by infantry troops and much smaller in size, the latter was used by jousting knights.

Buckler Shield

Buckler Shield

The heater shield was called so because it resembled the bottom of a clothes iron and was developed from the kite shield that was in use during the Early Middle Ages. It was smaller than the kite shield and could be mounted or carried easily on foot.

 

Heater Shield

Knights Templar Heater Shield

Knights Heater Shield

Medieval Knight Holding a Heater Shield


Late Medieval Shields *14th – 15th Century

Among a number of shields that continued to be developed were the Pavise, Targe, and Mantlet shields, these were the most popular shields during this period. The Pavise shield was typically larger and rectangular in shape while it was commonly used by crossbowmen and archers.

Pavise Shield

Large Pavise Shield protects advanced medieval crossbowmen

The Targe shield was developed in Spain and was concave, they were made from iron or iron-plated wood. Finally, the Mantlet was a large shield that was used to stop arrows and would usually be mounted on a wooden carriage while being protected by soldiers.

Medieval Shield Training

It was important for soldiers to train for hours together so as to hone their skills when it came to using both the sword and shield in warfare. This was done by using a training device known as the Pell which was really a wooden stake driven into the ground. During practice, soldiers would use a wooden sword known as the medieval baton. However, when the shield developed into an attacking weapon, this also became an aspect of practice when at the Pell.

Medieval Housecarls in battle

Medieval Shield Types

There were a number of types of shields that were developed during the Middle Ages and that differed in shape, size, thickness, and material used. Apart from this, these types of shields were designed so to suit the purpose of either foot soldiers or knights.

Medieval-Shield-Types

A number of them were circular in shape apart from the rectangular, kite, and heater-shaped types that were developed during the Late Middle Ages.

 

Kite Shield

Kite shield associated with norman soldiers, protected cavalry lower body parts, and legs.

Heater Shields Used by Jousting Knights

Heater Shields – kite-shaped shields associated with Mounted Knight and Jousting

Pavise Shield

Pavise shield commonly used by advanced crossbowmen * Could create a shield wall

Targe Shield Stuart medieval Period

Targe Shields traditional Scottish round shield *Targe Shield of Medieval Stuart Period

Early Medieval Fighting Practice Using small Buckler Shields

The Buckler Shield *Small round shield often used for fighting and practice *Early Medieval Fighting Practice Using small Buckler Shields

Medieval Shield Materials

The most common type of medieval shield was made from linden wood along with leather which covered both sides of the shield apart from this, other types of materials were used to make shields

  • Wood
  • Bark
  • Metal
  • Animal skin
  • Wicker

As a whole, the art of making shields always depended on two factors: its weight vs its ease of use on the battlefield.

Who made Medieval Shields?

The blacksmiths *armorers were the ones responsible for making both weapons (shields included!) as well as body armor. Quite interestingly, for the entire period of the Middle Ages, it turned out to be an arms race of sorts. Not only were stronger and lighter weapons created for war but some of them were designed to pierce chain-mail.

This, in turn, led to plate armor which further resulted in the creation of thinner and sharper swords that could pierce plate armor and get into small openings.

Medieval Shield Parts

There were three common parts associated with medieval shields namely the Enarmes, Bouche, and the Boss. The Enarmes was a leather strap attached to the back of the shield that was used by soldiers to carry the shield.

 

Medieval Shield Parts Enarmes

The enarmes parts of a shield were the straps as highlighted in the image*

The Bouche was a notch that was cut on top of the shield so as to place the lance when jousting found on the Heater shield.

Jousting Knights

Finally, the Boss was located in the center of the shield and helped to reinforce it to deal with attacking blows. This Boss part was made of wood or thick metal and was usually mounted on round shields.

Boss Part of medieval Shield

The Boss Part of a Medieval Shield

Knights Shields

The heater and kite shields were the most common shields used by knights. This was for the simple reason that they were suited for those warriors on horseback, complemented their body armor adequately as well as being much smaller in size.

At some point during the Middle Ages, knights went on to omit shields and focused on solely using their weapons during battle.

Medieval knights coat of arms

Knights Heater Shield Heraldry

What is the best Medieval Shield in Battle?

Among the types of medieval shields at their disposal, both the kite and heater shields were the most effective types of shields used in battle. Known not only to protect the knights from attack but they could be used for deadly counters as well. Not only were they strong but light and which meant that they could be used for faster movements on the battlefield but were less strenuous to wield too.

Medieval Knights History

End of the Medieval Shield

Without a doubt, the shield not only served as a defensive measure against attack but could also be used to counter too. It was, for all practical purposes, a warrior’s best defense and without which, could render them vulnerable. Of course, their use was rendered obsolete with the increase in the use of gunpowder weapons in the late medieval periods.

The Kite shield provided body cover and protection for the legs for cavalry *mounted soldiers since chain-mail was the only type of armor used in the Early Medieval Period.