English middle ages knights wore steel armour of steel or stole to protect themselves from archers and the lengthy swords that opponents. Native the nine century CE, chain mail suits gave protection and also freedom of movement until heavy plate armor became an ext common in the 14th century CE. A crested helmet, shield with a striking cloak of arms, and also a liveried steed completed a costly outfit which was designed come both protect and intimidate. Such was the mesmerising result of a completely suited-up knight the armour continued to be worn despite the arrival of dynamite weapons and remained a favourite costume of the nobility when posing for your oil painting portraits well right into the contemporary era.


Armour pieces have survived indigenous the medieval period, and also besides these, chroniclers rely on explanation in modern-day texts, illustrations, and also the rock tombs that knights i beg your pardon were commonly topped by a life-size carving of the deceased (effigy) in complete battledress. Knights had actually to provide their very own armour, yet sometimes a sovereign or baron under which they offered did offer them either a entirety or a item of armour. There space records, too, of sovereignty replacing armor damaged in battle. The cash-strapped items could additionally hire a fit of armor or, in ~ a push, success a fit by defeating an adversary either in ~ a medieval tournament or in battle itself. Armour had to be regularly cared for, and also it was normally the duty that a knight"s squire come clean and also polish it. Chain mail was cleaned through swirling the armour roughly a barrel complete of sand and vinegar; squires must have actually been together relieved to watch the introduction of smooth key armour as the blacksmiths who had spent untold hrs of tedium forging tiny metal rings into a coat of chain mail. Armour lasted well into the age of guns from the 15th century CE and was even tested against bullets fired in ~ close selection but the age of the knight to be by then virtually over, soon to be replaced by the cheaper-to-equip soldier that needed much less ability in shooting guns and canons.

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Chain Mail

Chain mail armour was commonly used through knights indigenous the 9th up come the so late 13th century CE, although the did continue to be worn right into the 15th century CE, frequently under key armour. It to be made indigenous hundreds of small interlinking steel rings additionally held with each other by rivets so that the armour followed the border of the body. A hooded coat, trousers, gloves, and shoes could all be made indigenous mail and so cover the whole body that the knight other than the face. The coat, which often hung under to the knees, was recognized as a hauberk. The arms contained mittens (mufflers) which might be passed over the exterior the the hands; alternatively, mail or steel plate and also leather gauntlets to be worn (from the 14th century CE). The hauberk had leather laces at crucial points such as the neck to make it a snug fit and ensure no flesh was left exposed. The hood part, padded or lined on the within or worn v a lid for comfort, to be pulled over the head with periodically a ventail which can be fastened across the mouth. Under the letter coat, extra protection and also comfort were provided by a padded tunic (aketon, wambais or pourpoint) make from a double layer of cotton stuffed through wool or more cotton.

Mail armour might have stopped sword slashes, yet it go nothing to prevent arrows or prevent hefty bruising & damaged bones.

The mail trousers, worn end leggings for comfort, usually had the shoes incorporated, frequently with a leather single for better grip. An different to full trousers was to wear stockings or letter which just covered the front components of the legs and the height of the foot and which to be tied behind using leather laces. An additional option was mail socks or a padded leather roll over the thigh (gamboised cuisse). The knee could have an extra protective disc (genouillier or poleyn) attached come the mail, and also the elbows, too, although more rarely. Shins were particularly vulnerable as soon as a knight was placed on his horse, and also so extra steel plates (schynbalds) might be worn on height of the mail.

Over everything, a towel surcoat (silk because that the wealthy) can be worn, i beg your pardon was commonly sleeveless. Going down to the knees or feet, break-up at the front and also rear and tied v a belt, it permitted the items to screen his coat of eight or those the his leader. However, numerous surcoats were of a level colour, so their precise function is not clear. Lock may have helped defend the armour from rain or the heat of the sun.


The mail fit was heavy at approximately 13.5 kilograms (30 pounds) yet not excessively so. The load was mostly on the shoulders yet could be decreased by attract a belt. Some were also made lighter by having actually a much shorter cut, specifically at the arms and front. Letter armour could have stopped sword slashes, but it did nothing to prevent arrows fired at close variety or prevent heavy bruising and broken bones. In addition, if the links were smashed right into a wound, then blood poisoning to be a actual danger.

Plate Armour

Plate armour developed from chain mail with various intermediary formats of armour gift worn from the mid-13th century CE. A cloak of plates, for example, to be a straightforward poncho of large rectangular metal plates tied with a belt. These and an easy chest and earlier plates can be worn in enhancement to a letter coat. Range armour make from tiny overlapping pieces of stole attached to a fabric or animal leather backing like fish scales to be worn but were rare amongst European knights. A variation to be "penny plate" armour which was made up of little disks held together through rivets through the center of each piece.

A circular disk (besagew) in former of the armpit protected the exposed area in between the arm & chest plates.

By the second quarter of the 14th century CE, countless knights were now wearing stole plate armor on peak of chain mail. The breastplate became much more common native the mid-14th century CE. Curved and sometimes with an setup of functional strips or hoops of metal at the belt (fauld), they were attached utilizing straps, buckles or semicircular rivets. A much easier backplate might additionally be worn, which was attached to the front plate via hinges. Greaves extending the whole of the leg came to be common and a plate (sabaton) or steel scales covering the height of the foot. Knee were regularly now completely enclosed in steel with a one or oval wing in ~ the next to direction blows. The cuisse to protect the top legs to be now additionally made of key metal, usually v a ridge or stop-rib which prevented the point of a sword sliding up the leg. Arms were defended like the legs, v a circular enhancement for the elbow and sometimes a wing at the shoulder (spaudler), again to deflect blows. Tubular arm plating was known as a vambrace. A circular disk (besagew) in former of the armpit defended the exposed area between the arm and also chest plates. An alternate was the pauldron, a plate i m sorry wrapped around the whole shoulder.

From the second quarter the the 15th century CE, the usual knight was extended from head come foot in steel or steel plate armor which followed the border of the body much more closely. Replacing the undercoat the chain mail, to be a much more comfortable padded apparel with some short pieces of letter at such exposed components as the under and inner arms. (an arming doublet). That was currently rare because that a knight to wear a surcoat or jupon end the gleaming armour.


The assorted plates of armor were held together using laces (points), straps, and hinges. The neck was now enclosed in an all-metal circular key (gorget), and also gauntlets went back to the mittens of previously centuries and had vast conical cuffs in steel. The armour to be so effectively made the it take it only around 10 minutes for two squires to dress a knight for combat. Contrary to knights portrayed in some films, it to be not vital to use a crane to get a items on his horse, and he was no a defenceless and also upturned insect if he fell off it. A complete suit of armor weighed from 20 to 25 kilograms (45-55 lbs) - much less than a modern-day infantryman would lug in devices - and it was dispersed evenly end the body so that a knight could move with some freedom. The greatest threat continued to be heat exhaustion from fighting in warm weather together ventilation to be poor. In addition, armour was still not qualified of stopping such arrows together the bodkin with a lengthy head and no barbs.


The helmet, or helm together it is often called, was essential to defend the face and also head in general. Conical helmets to be made native a single sheet of steel or iron, occasionally with inner bands for extra strength. From approximately 1200 CE helmets became more sophisticated and were make from cylinders of metal with a protective piece for the sleep or full confront mask. Some versions had actually neck guards. Through the mid-13th century CE, the complete helmet i m sorry enclosed the whole head was much more common, which had actually a solitary horizontal slit for vision. Together helmets were reinforced by including extra upright strips that metal and also the flat-top style was popular, also if it readily available less protection from a blow 보다 a conical top. A simple iron skull cap was an alternative and well-known as a bastinet or cervellière at this time. By the start of the 14th century CE, helmets had actually reacquired your conical tops, they prolonged lower down the neck, and visors were included which might be gotten rid of if preferred. This form is additionally called a bastinet.

For greater comfort, helmets to be lined and also padded through leather and horsehair, grass, or comparable material. Straps inside the helmet and a scalloped lining at the height pulled with each other by a drawstring allowed it come be readjusted so the the slit in the visor was at the correct elevation for the wearer. One more strap for the chin maintained the helmet in place. Ventilation feet were included to the reduced front component to facilitate breathing. From around 1330 CE, visors protruded indigenous the helmet favor a snout to additional increase the ventilation. Part helmets had a key (bevor) hanging under to defend the throat. Another type, not usual to knights but still a an option for some, was the kettle cap - a conical helmet through a broad brim.


The helmet could be decorated by do patterns and also designs that the ventilation holes or such enhancements as feather (peacock and also pheasant were many impressive) and even painted. By the end of the 13th century CE, crests to be common. Do from metal, wood, animal leather or bone, they could be a simple fan form or stand for three-dimensional figures. Those helmets used in medieval tournaments were generally the most extravagant and probably not used on the battlefield. By the 15th century CE, helmets to be much much less showy, return a single plume can be worn by the much more fashionably daring knight.


The very first shields for knights to be of the lengthy kite shape made well known by the Normans; this then decreased in size in time to come to be the standard straight peak edge and also tapering lower edges in the direction of a point form of shield familiar in heraldry. Shields to be made from wooden planks covered with animal leather or thick parchment on both sides. They to be the perfect place to display screen the coat of eight of one"s family and also so were typically painted. Shields were probably around 1.5 centimeter (0.6 in) thick, however the lack of surviving battle specimens provides materials and also dimensions difficult to ascertain. Shields were carried using three straps (brases or enarmes) riveted come the inside, and a pad cushioned any blows versus the moving arm. A 4th strap, a guige, was supplied so the the shield can be hung down one"s back from about the neck as soon as not required. A concave rectangle-shaped shield appeared from the mid-14th century CE, which had actually edges curving outwards. Through the finish of the very same century, though, shields were mostly used in tournaments as the existence of plate armour made castle unnecessary and cumbersome in battle. A less common alternate to the big shield to be a small circular shield the wood, a buckler, which had a central metal boss and also a solitary hand grip.

Additional armour & Embellishments

Some effigies display a items wearing what shows up to be a stiffened animal leather neck protection. Just such a number can be watched in a knight"s dig in Wells Cathedral, England, c. 1230 CE. One alternative kind of neck defense was to wear one aventail or letter curtain which hung from the ago of the helmet. Gauntlets to be to defend the hands, of course, yet some to be fitted with knuckleduster metal spikes (gadlings) to make them right into bruising weapons in themselves.

Armour to be decorated, by those who might afford the process, through embossed designs, periodically of the wearer"s cloak of arms, because that example. Crusader knights periodically wore a three-dimensional overcome on every shoulder while an additional avenue because that symbolic and also heraldic display, as well as the shield, to be the little shoulder boards well-known as aillettes. As these latter additions were most likely made that parchment, wood, or leather, according to part descriptions, they probably served no purpose as yes, really armour and also were not common after c. 1350 CE.

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Not to be forgotten is the knight"s horse. Again, a good place for armorial display, they occasionally wore a fabric caparison i m sorry might likewise enclose the animal"s head and ears. Various other options, which better protected the horse, were a two-piece coat of chain mail (one because that the front and the other hung behind the saddle), a padded helmet (testier), a plate head extending (shaffron), or an armour plate of metal or boiled animal leather to protect the chest (peytral).

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Mark is a background writer based in Italy. His distinct interests include pottery, architecture, people mythology and also discovering the ideas that all human beings share in common. He holds an MA in political Philosophy and is the publishing Director at WHE.