Armored and Dangerous

During the Middle Ages, the battlefield was a ruthless place to be.  Thus, the only hope a knight had to survive a fight was his armor.  A knight’s armor equipped him to be a living fortress that could withstand the powerful weapons of battle, such as the sword, bow and arrow, dagger and lance, and mace.  Through the medieval period, armor was continually being redesigned and perfected to offer protection against the most lethal of weapons that were emerging.  Prior to the suit of armor, chainmail and padded garments were the dress of the day.  Once armor suits were developed, these other clothing pieces were still worn in conjunction with the armor.

White Knight Armor:

White Knight Armor

A knight’s suit of armor was far from cheap to produce, as it was required to be tailor made to give the knight an exact fit.  If the armor suit did not fit the knight exactly, this could be detrimental to the knight’s ability to effectively fight.  In addition, the armor had to be strong enough to fully protect, but light enough to enable quick agility in battle.  Plate armor entered the scene in the late 13th century followed by full plate armor in the 15th century.  The suit of armor was also indicative of social status.  The higher the armor quality, the more important the knight was.

The parts of a suit of armor were complex and covered the most vulnerable areas of a knight’s body.  Starting with foot protection was the sabatons, which were boots with riveted iron plates.  Covering the calf and ankle was plate armor called greaves.  Protecting the thighs was plate armor, known as cuisses.  To complete the foot armor was spurs, attached to the heel of the foot by straps to “spur” on the knight’s horse.

For arm and hand protection in a suit of armor, the following pieces made the ensemble.  The besagues were small round plates laced to the mail at the shoulder to protect the armpit.  For upper arm protection was the rerebrace while the vambrace protected the lower arm.  And to finish off the attire were gloves called gauntlets, with ringed metal plates over the fingers.

European Knight Armor – Etched:

European Knight Armor - Etched

When it came to the body, the backplate offered back protection while chest protection came from the breastplate.  Attached to the breastplate were rings of armor called faulds, which guarded the hips, lower back, and shoulders.  Moving up to head and neck protection was a helmet called the bascinet, with an attached neck covering called the aventail.  And last, but not least, was the visor, a detachable piece of armor to safeguard the face and eyes.

As you can see, a knight’s suit of armor was comprehensive and covered all bases.  A knight was nearly close to invincible with such an armor suit.  For our suits of armor, hop on over to:


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