The Full Suit of White Armor: A Comprehensive Guide

White armor, often referred to as “white harness” or “white plate,” was not actually white in color.

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The term “white” in this context does not describe the color of the armor but rather refers to the material used in its construction.

White armor was made from bright, shiny steel or iron plates that had a polished or reflective surface. The term “white” was used to describe the gleaming appearance of the armor when it caught the light, giving it a radiant and striking effect.

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“The gleaming white armor worn by knights in the medieval period was not only a symbol of their status and power but also a practical choice on the battlefield. The reflective surface of the armor not only dazzled their opponents but also had a psychological impact, instilling a sense of awe and fear. It was a strategic choice that played on the perception of invincibility.

“Dr. Kelly DeVries, Professor of History at Loyola University Maryland, and author specializing in medieval military history.

The use of the term “white” in this context is metaphorical rather than literal, highlighting the visual impression of the armor rather than its actual color.

The full suit of white armor is a symbol of medieval Europe and is often seen as the quintessential image of a knight. It is a testament to the incredible skill and craftsmanship of medieval armorers, who spent countless hours forging each piece by hand.

Knights Armor Parts
Image that details different parts of a knights armor

“The white armor of medieval knights was not only visually striking but also served a practical purpose. Its polished surface had the ability to deflect and disperse blows, making it more resistant to damage. The mirror-like quality of white armor reflected sunlight, further adding to its captivating appearance and making the wearer a focal point on the battlefield.”

Dr. Tobias Capwell, Curator of Arms and Armor at The Wallace Collection, and leading expert on medieval armor and weapons.

But when did this type of armor become prevalent in Europe, and what exactly did it consist of?

Origins of the Full Suit of White Armor

The full suit of white armor, also known as plate armor or harness, first emerged in the late 14th century and was used throughout the 15th century.

Prior to this time, knights typically wore chain mail and pieces of plate armor, such as gauntlets, greaves, and helmets. However, as the effectiveness of longbows and crossbows increased, armorers began to develop full suits of armor made entirely of plates.

Function of the Full Suit of White Armor

The full suit of white armor was designed to provide maximum protection for the knight while still allowing for freedom of movement. The plates were carefully designed to deflect blows from swords, axes, and other weapons, and were often layered to provide even greater protection.

Despite the heavy weight of the armor, knights were able to move and fight with surprising agility, thanks in part to the use of horses and the design of the armor itself.


In conclusion, the full suit of white armor is an impressive feat of medieval engineering and design. While it was primarily used in the late 14th and 15th centuries, it remains a symbol of the chivalric ideals of medieval Europe. Each piece of the suit was carefully crafted to protect a specific part of the body, and when worn together, provided a knight with unparalleled protection in battle.

Gothic armour with list of elements

Great Books about White Medieval Armor

“The White Armour: A Comprehensive Guide to Medieval Plate Armor” by Tobias Capwell
This book provides an in-depth exploration of white armor, focusing on its design, construction, and historical context. It features detailed descriptions, photographs, and illustrations to showcase the craftsmanship and evolution of white plate armor.

“Knights in White Armor: Development of White Armor in the Late Middle Ages” by David Edge
This book delves into the development and significance of white armor during the late Middle Ages. It examines the social, technological, and cultural factors that influenced the rise of white armor and its role in medieval warfare.

“Shining Splendor: The Art of White Armor” by Jeffrey L. Forgeng
This book offers a captivating exploration of white armor as a form of artistic expression. It examines the symbolism, aesthetics, and craftsmanship of white armor, providing a comprehensive overview of its place in medieval art and culture.

“The White Knight: A History of Bright Armor in the Medieval Period” by Alan Williams
This book traces the history of bright armor, including white armor, throughout the medieval period. It explores the technological advancements, cultural influences, and military strategies that shaped the development and use of white armor in different regions.

“The Shimmering Steel: A Visual History of White Armor” by Charles Ffoulkes
This visually stunning book showcases the beauty and allure of white armor through a collection of high-quality photographs and illustrations. It highlights notable examples of white armor from various museums and collections, offering a visual feast for enthusiasts of medieval armor.

These books provide valuable insights into the world of white armor, covering its historical, artistic, and cultural dimensions. They offer a deeper understanding of this distinctive form of medieval plate armor and its significance in the context of warfare, craftsmanship, and visual representation.