Hand in Glove

In medieval times, where hand-to-hand combat was the norm, a smart knight knew what to wear in the fight.  One of the most important pieces of armor was the gauntlet, a glove that covers the wrist and forearm.  A knight usually wore a pair of gauntlets, made of chainmail, leather, or metal.  These gloves made all the difference between a deadly wound and empowerment to press on in battle.  With the superior support of a gauntlet, a sword swipe was easily deflected.  In addition, gauntlets also served as a sort of brass knuckles.  In the event a knight lost their sword and other weapons, they could take comfort in knowing they weren’t completely helpless, due to the metal wrapping around the knuckles, which could be used as a punching force.  This protection enabled the knight to give a powerful blow that could indeed do damage to the adversary. 

Gauntlet Pair with Brass:

Gauntlet Pair with Brass

There are several types of gauntlets with slightly modified styles and made from varying materials.  One of the different gauntlet types is the “Demi-gauntlet”, which is made of plate armor and only covers the wrist and the back of the hand, leaving part of the hand exposed.  These gauntlets were worn with padded leather or mail gloves.  This type of glove offers better dexterity and is lighter, but did not fully protect the hand.  Gauntlets could also range in length, covering more or less of the forearm.

Besides the practical uses of the gauntlet, these medieval gloves have also inspired various expressions in our society.  Perhaps you have heard the phrase “throw down the gauntlet”.  This basically means “to issue a challenge”.  When a duel was being initiated, a knight would throw one of their gauntlets on the ground to challenge an opponent.  To accept the challenge, the opponent would pick up the gauntlet.  Another phrase you may be familiar with is “run(ning) the gauntlet”.  This refers to a military punishment in which a soldier was required to pass through a row of armed comrades with cudgels.  While this expression is not directly related to the glove, it could be assumed that the men giving the punishment would have worn gauntlets.

Medieval Gauntlet Pair I:

Medieval Gauntlet Pair

Though not used for hand-to-hand combat today, gauntlets are still worn for protective support by the likes of welders, astronauts, bomb diffusers, and chemical workers.  They are also worn in some contact sports, such as fencing.  While they have been modernized a bit, their purpose remains timeless.  For further exploration of gauntlets, check out our selection at:  http://www.armorvenue.com/

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