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 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 >>
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 >>
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 >>
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.
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.
The Vikings used Round shields that were strengthened by a metal central boss.
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.
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.
The most common size of Viking Shield was around 30 – 36 inches in diameter
Medieval Shields *11th – 13th Century
Popular shields in the High Period of medieval times were bucklerand heater shields. While the former was carried by infantry troops and much smaller in size, the latter was used by jousting knights.
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.
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 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.
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 associated with norman soldiers, protected cavalry lower body parts, and legs.
Heater Shields – kite-shaped shields associated with Mounted Knight and Jousting
Pavise shield commonly used by advanced crossbowmen * Could create a shield wall
Targe Shields traditional Scottish round shield *Targe Shield of Medieval Stuart Period
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
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.
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.
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.
The Boss Part of a Medieval Shield
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.
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.
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.