Medieval Shield Parts

During medieval times, fighting with a sword was one of the most common ways of warfare and this resulted in a lot of importance for medieval shields.

A wide range of medieval shields was prevalent during different eras of medieval times, including buckler shields, heater shields, parma shields, targe shields, mantlet shields, and others.

There were various parts of a medieval shield such as the boss, bouche, and enarmes.

Medieval Shield Designs

Collection of different medieval shield designs

Medieval Shields Parts History

The history of shields can be traced back to Greeks in ancient times when a circular shield called hoplon was used. These shields were mainly made of bronze and wood and were used as far back as the 7th century BC.

Romans made innovations to the Greek shields and used a rectangular shield known as Roman Scutum, it consisted of three layers of wooden strips with different orientations for strength.

romans g1dfaafe5d 640

During medieval times, a variety of shields of different types were used in different eras. Medieval shield parts were also quite diverse although most of them had three main parts in common which are discussed below.

Medieval Shield Parts


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.

Boss Part of medieval Shield

The Boss Part of a Medieval Shield close up

Medieval Shield Parts

Bouche and Enarmes

Two other important medieval shield parts were called Bouche and Enarmes. Bouche was the name given to a notch cut at the top of the medieval shield. This cut was used to rest a lance while jousting.

Shield Parts

Enarmes, on the other hand, was the name given to the straps inside a shield for providing a solid grip on the shield. Previously, a single bar behind the boss was used to grip the shield and thus the enarmes were an improvement over previous shields.

Medieval Shield Parts Enarmes

Enarmes straps as highlighted

Medieval Shield Parts

Coat of Arms

While the above were the three most important parts of medieval shields, there were various less important parts too. For instance, on the shields of the knights and the nobility, the coat of arms figured as an important part and served as identification.

Medieval knights coat of arms

Medieval Knights Coat of Arms

Use of the coat of arms became particularly widespread during the middle and late medieval times. There were various parts of the coat of arms that were considered important parts of medieval shields for the nobility and knights.

Some of these parts included a motto design, helmet or helm, the wreath or torso, and others.

Medieval Shields and Heraldry

Medieval Shields and Heraldry The Segar’s Roll

Medieval Shields Parts Summary

Medieval shields went through various transitions during different eras of medieval times. Their actual history can be traced back to ancient times when shields were extensively used by the Greeks and Romans.

During medieval times, however, specific parts of medieval shields were recognized and named.

The three most important parts of a shield were called the Boss, Bouche, and Enarmes. For the nobility and the knights, the coat of arms was also a very important part of a medieval shield.

Knights of the Garter Coat of Arms

Shield Parts Fast Facts

  • The history of medieval shield parts can be traced back to ancient times
  • The Bouche part of a shield was a notch cut into the shield where a lance could be rested
  • The Enarmes Part of  a shield was the straps inside for holding the shield
  • The Enarmes part of a shield improved the overall grip and control of the shield
  • The coat of arms was often an important part of the shield as it identified its owner in battle

Medieval Coat of Arms

Shield Parts Fast Facts

  • Common parts of the Medieval shield were the Boss, Bouche, and Enarmes
  • The Boss was the central part of a medieval shield that made a shield stronger
  • The medieval shield Boss deflected blows and also had decorative qualities
  • The Boss strengthened a shield and protected the hands, forearms from blows
  • The Umbo was another name given to the shield part known as the Boss
  • The Boss part of a medieval shield helped it to withstand heavy blows

Medieval Shields Coat of Arms

We hope this article on medieval shield parts provided you with the information you were looking for, if you would like to learn more about medieval shields and medieval shield parts please look at the links below which will give you more information on different types of shields throughout history.

You can learn more about the medieval shields themselves and there will be additional information on medieval shield parts contained within this information.