Centuries before the Tin Man gamboled down the yellow brick road, the men of the Medieval Age pranced around dressed head-to-toe in metal. Well, “pranced” is a relative term, considering the fact that a full suit of armor weighed about 50 pounds and the fact that Knights were probably too cool to be caught frolicking. Also called “plate armor,” these suits were practically impenetrable to swords and protected well against spear thrusts or blunt hits. Though a full suit of armor weighed between 45 to 60 pounds, the armor was very well-distributed. Contrary to popular belief, Knights would have been exceedingly mobile in their gear, able to sprint, fight hand-to-hand, and even swim if necessary. Try completing a triathlon covered in iron, you modern-day marathon men!
Partial plate armor was first used by the Grecian and Roman empires. However, after the fall of Rome, it became less common due to its high cost, a lack of materials, and a dearth of able craftsmen. Padded garments and chainmail became more commonly seen on the battlefield until around the 13th century when new and more lethal weapons began to emerge. Medieval fighters needed a better defense against the onslaught of swords, crossbows, battle axes, maces, daggers, and lances coming their way. What better way to protect yourself against an enemy than to hide in a full-body shield! Thus, full plate armor was developed, and by the 14th century, suits of armor were being produced all across Europe.
This armor was very expensive to construct, especially because each suit had to be custom-made to fit the knight in question, lest it prevent him from fighting effectively! Suits of armor also acted as status symbols – the better quality the armor, the more prestigious the Knight inside it. One of the most elaborate examples is a suit of steel plate armor that King Henry II of France had made for him, which was completely covered with intricate embossing
After the Middle Ages, plate armor became less common, especially as guns came onto the battlefield, requiring greater mobility. But suits of armor are still essential to any Medieval reenactment of a jousting or combat nature! Have Lance – Will Dress Head-to-Toe in Iron…
See more suits of armor at Armorvenue.com.