Medieval Armour and Weapons
Posted on 1st January 2021
As the middle ages covered over 1000 years, there were many changes in armour during this period and many variations to the individual pieces of armour.
Here is a list of the main articles used.
Mail - Formed of thousands of metal rings linked to each other then, riveted or welded together. Made as a tunic, shirt (Hauberk) a full sleeved garment reaching to at least thigh length, gauntlet or leggings. Mail was most effective against slashing weapons, less effective against crossbows and mace.
Gambeson - A jacket, made of linen or wool padded with horsehair or scraps of cloth, worn under mail or plate armour, but could also be worn on its own.
Aketon – An arming jacket (doublet) worn under plate armour. It had reinforced areas on it for lacing plate armour to.
Brigandine - A cloth garment made of canvas or leather with oblong steel plates riveted to the fabric; a form of body armour worn by soldiers, archers and knights, worn over a gambeson and mail shirt.
Plate Armour - Used in the late middle ages to protect vulnerable areas of the body in battle. Metal plates were placed over existing armour on the arms, chest, thighs and legs for extra protection against spears and swords.
Eventually this became a complete suit of armour worn by knights; plate armour was also made for a knight’s horse.
Gauntlet - A glove with an extended cuff leading up the forearm made of leather, mail or plate armour.
There were many types of shields used, I have listed three of them.
Kite Shield - Shaped like a reverse teardrop or almond shape, rounded at the top, then tapered to a point at the bottom. They were generally 1 – 1.5 metres (3 – 5 feet) in length, and made of wood, animal hide and iron with leather gripping straps (enarmes) connected to the back.
Heater Shield - Smaller than a kite shield, used by mounted and foot soldiers. Shaped like the base of an iron and made of thin wood overlaid with leather: also made of wood, steel and iron. A strap (guige) was attached to the shield so that it could be slung over the shoulder.
Buckler - Round, up to 45 cm (18 in) in diameter, made of metal or wood with metal attached. A round piece (boss) was fitted to the centre. This shield had a handle fitted on the back behind the boss so that it could be gripped with the fist.
There were many helmets used, I have listed three of them.
Nasal Helmet - A conical shape helmet with a piece of metal attached, extending down over the nose (nose guard), made of iron and worn over a mail cap. The helmet became more pointed over time, however the nose guard always remained.
Bascinet - An open-faced military helmet made of steel or iron, pointed at the top, extending down at the back and sides to protect the neck. The helmet had mail (aventail) attached to it that extended down over the throat, neck and shoulders for further protection. A face guard (visor) could also be attached to protect the face.
Great Helm - A flat-topped cylinder helmet made of steel. Used by knights, it completely covered the head and face with only small openings in it for the eyes and mouth. The flat-topped shape changed over time to become more of a conical shape to deflect blows to the head, then becoming known as the sugar load helmet.
Mace - A type of club, used one-handed or two-handed, consisting of a wooden handle; maybe strengthened with metal and an iron, bronze or copper head. The head was solid metal, shaped and pointed to inflict damage.
They varied greatly in length and were used by both knights and foot soldiers. Mace used by foot soldiers were only 70–90 cm (2-3 ft) in length, while cavalrymen used longer ones to inflict blows from horseback. Mace required little training to use but could inflict serious injury or death.
Crossbow - Made of wood, yew, elm or ash, decorated with ivory or bone and had a sword bow attached to one end. The sword bow was made of wood, iron or steel and the crossbow string made of hemp, linen or whipcord.
The crossbow fired a short bolt with a point and had a firing range up to 365 metres (400 yards). Very little training was required to fire a crossbow.
Longbow - A long-range weapon used in group formation. Made of wood, preferably yew although ash or elm were used, the wood was worked into an open D shape. Bowstrings made of hemp, flax or silk were attached to fastenings at each end of the bow (horn nocks). Arrows varied greatly in length and were made of poplar, ash, beech or hazel with iron pointed arrowheads at one end.
Much training was involved in being a successful archer, and many suffered injuries and problems with their arms in later life. Some skeletons found have shown that one arm was considerably longer than the other due to the pull of the bow.
Battle Axe - Could be one-handed or two-handed weapons. They consisted of a wooden handle, reinforced with metal to protect it in combat and a crescent shaped iron or steel blade at the end. A chopping and slashing weapon used by foot soldiers and cavalrymen, varied greatly in length from 30 cm–1.5 metres (12 in-5 feet).
Flail - An agricultural tool adapted to use in battle consisting of a long wooden shaft, attached to chain or rope with a cylinder-shaped metal striking end with studs or spikes. A long two- handed weapon, a shorter one-handed flail was also used with a round studded striking head.
Sword - Mainly used by knights, but also with a shield by foot soldiers. Single or double edged, used one or two-handed, as a thrusting or cutting weapon.
Tagged as: Junior Middle Ages
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