A medieval shield was one of the most important components of medieval defensive armoury and thus special attention was paid to it. During the middle and late medieval times, various innovative kinds of shields were made and new designs of medieval shield were introduced. This coincided with the rise of feudal system and knighthood in Europe which further impacted the designs of medieval shields.
During early medieval times, there was not much variety in the medieval shields design. Actual innovations began to emerge during the middle medieval times and continued with increasing frequency during the late medieval times. Various medieval shield designs that developed during this era included the mantlet shield which was a rather large shield and thus placed on the ground, the kite shield, heater shield, and others.
The most common design of medieval shields during the early medieval times was a simple rounded shield design. This was a very simple kind of shield that did not have any coat of arms or any other identification. It was mainly made with light and non-splitting wood such as fir or poplar. After that, in the 10th century, the kite shield was introduced by the Normans which had a rounded top and tapered bottom.
After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, various medieval shield designs were introduced. It was during this time that the design of the kite shield was changed and the top of the shield was flattened. It was also during this time that painting a coat of arms onto the shields became increasingly common.
By the time of the late medieval times, a variety of medieval shield designs were prevalent. Designs of medieval shields came to be associated with certain qualities. For instance, the helmet represented wise defence and the heart stood for chivalry and sincerity. Shields common to jousting knights were called heater shields which were smaller and used with full suits of armour.
Knights during the medieval times made use of a wide range of medieval shield designs. The most important component of the design of medieval shields used by knights was the coat of arms which served as identification. Kite shaped shields remained the most popular medieval shield design but they varied with respect to their size and design.
The most common type of shield used by infantrymen during the medieval times was called the Pavise Shield. It was a large rectangular shaped shield design and had a central ridge that ran vertically down the middle of it. The large size of this shield served as protection for crossbowmen while loading. Among other designs of medieval shields for infantrymen was the buckler shield which was a small shield usually reserved for hand-to-hand combat.
The use and designs of medieval shields can be traced back to ancient time when a shield called the hoplon was used by the Greeks. During the early medieval times, the variety in the designs of medieval shields was very limited. The Kite shield design was introduced at this time and during the middle and late medieval times. The kite shield with a variety of designs and sizes was introduced and painting of the coat of arms on a medieval shield became common for both knights and the nobility.
We hope you enjoyed this article on medieval shield design, we would encourage you to look at all the medieval shield articles that are listed at the bottom of this medieval shield design page, learning more about the shield designs available in medieval times such as the Pavise, Heater and Buckler shield will give you a better all-round knowledge of medieval shields and medieval shield design.