Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Best Form of Protection during the Medieval Ages

We’re all familiar with the iconic image of a knight in shining armor, but that wasn’t the norm. You had to be very wealthy, or have a wealth benefactor to own an entire suit of steel armor.

In the early part of the Medieval Ages, many warriors wore coverings of padded cloth or leather. This would give some protection against blows, but not most weapons. Chain mail was invented to give more protection. It was made of thousands of tiny rings, woven together to make a piece of clothing that was generally worn over a leather garment. It worked fairly well at defecting blows from swords. The problem with chain mail was there were gaps. Not be one solid piece, an arrow could often penetrate this form of armor.

Around the 13th century, solid plates of steel began to be crafted. At first, to help protect the chest or other vital areas of the body. Then came head coverings, and  then came arm and leg guards. Often, a combination of a steel plate and chain mail were used.

A complete suit of steel armor was very expensive, but could protect the wearer from attacks from various weapons, such as swords, lances, axes, maces, pikes, or arrows. In order to receive steel armor, a knight pledged his service to a nobleman, or lady, and they would in return provide him with a suit of steel armor. Steel armor was not only expensive, but heavy and hard to move in. If a knight fell from his horse he had only his armor to protect him, but protect him it would.

A suit of armor made of a combination of leather, chain mail, and steel plate was the norm. A breast plate made of steel, combined with chain mail would give some protection. Around 1350 AD, complete suits of steel armor became the excepted standard. It remained that way until gun powder was invented in the late 14th century. In its day, there was nothing that could penetrate a well-made suit of steel armor.

There were many different garments that could be worn when going into battle. Each offered some degree of protection. Nothing, however, protected a warrior against every kind of weapon except a suit made of steel. There was almost nothing that could hurt you when you’re in a suit of steel armor. A knight would be pledged to a noblewoman, and had to be ready to defend her honor at all times, making the iconic image of a knight in shining armor something many women still dream about.

Still, it was the need to have protection in times of war that really made steel armor the must have of any Medieval knight.

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