A medieval knights shield was one of the most important elements of the life of medieval knights. It came in various shapes and designs which continued to evolve over centuries. The designs of a medieval knight shield were made keeping in consideration the status of the knight and the shape of the shield. The Medieval knights used different kinds of shields compared to the general soldiers of the time.
Various styles of a medieval knights shield were prevalent during the medieval times. This included the shape of the shield as well as the coat of arms of the knight. For instance, during the middle medieval times, round shields made of non-splitting wood were in vogue. These shields often had leather-cover for better protection. During the late medieval times, however, several changes took place in the medieval knight shield designs. The Medieval Knights shields became smaller and the heater shield style became popular. Some of the most popular medieval knight shield styles included the wooden Norman shield, Charles V round shield, Knights of Jerusalem shield, Black Prince shield, and others.
A medieval knights shield had the coat of arms of the knight carved or painted on it. This coat of arms served to identity a particular knight or the order of the knights seniority. The use of coat of arms on medieval knight shields became common during the 12th century after the Crusades. Eventually the coat of arms began to be used as flag in addition to its use on the shield. Other than the medieval knights, the coat of arms was also used as a symbol by clergy and the nobility.
The primary purpose of a medieval knights shield was defence. Various kinds of shields were used for defence during the medieval times. For instance, the Heater Shield was a large shield that became famous during the 13th century and was triangular in shape. Another important form of medieval knights shield was the kite shield which, as the name suggests, resembled a kite in shape. Other than the wars, knights also used the shields for defence purposes during tournaments and duels. Thus a medieval knight shield was something that was indispensable for a medieval knight.
Other than defence purposes, a medieval knight shield could also be used for attacking purposes. This, however, was true when there was no other attacking weapon. Thus, for instance, a medieval knight shield could be used when hand to hand battle ensued and sword was either not available or lost. Shields were also important during attacks because they allowed the armies to proceed while blocking the arrows of the enemy. A classic example is the Pavise Shield which allowed the crossbowman to hide behind it in order to reload his weapon.
A medieval knight shield came in various sizes and styles. It could be made of wood, Iron or steel in addition to leather for greater protection and firm grip. Medieval knights used these shields during wars as well as tournaments. The coat of arms of the medieval knight was painted on the shield for his identity. Other than defence purposes, a medieval knight shield could also be used for attacking purpose in a hand to hand fight.