Medieval Chain Mail,
Armor and Weapons
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Medieval Chainmail Armor
- A Brief History
The wearing of chain mail and body armor has been an
effective means of protection in combat and war for centuries. Its use
dates back to the Greeks and early roman empire where warriors and
legionnaires donned metal plate and mail armour. The medieval era knights
are most remembered for their elaborate Armor and battle shields in
brilliant colors. But a knight's armour was more that protection. It
reflected his status and lifestyle. The quality of the armour was as
important and the overall look and the battle efficiency. Indeed it was a
fashion statement also.
The evolution of chain maile and armour through the
Maximilian era was a direct response to improvement in weaponry of the
time. As weapons became more sophisticated, so did the thickness of the
battle shields and the armour of the knight. Most had to not only be
effective against attack but also flexible and agile.
The period of plate armour runs from about the early 1300's to about the
mid to late 1500's. During this medieval time period the evolution went
from a few pieces of plate to entire suits of highly crafted works of art
in metal. Prior to this time, chain mail was the most prevalent and
effective type of body armament. Maile weighed about the same as full body
plate style. The average weight was about 45 - 55 pounds. However, a well
made suit of plate armour was more comfortable to the wearer because it
could be more evenly distributed over their body. It was always worn with
padding and protective clothing to further protect and insulate from the
heat and cold. The mid fourteen century was the period wear knights wore
both type of body armour. During this time period, it was difficult for
the warrior to get back up on if knocked down due the combined weight of
the plate and the maille. By the early fifteenth century, most all body
armament was plate as the designs and flexibility improved. A mid
sixteenth century knight in full plate armour was surprisingly agile due
to proper fit on the wearer.
The onset of the modern gun spelled the swan song for full body armament
although body armour is worn even today in a more modern form such as
kevlar (tm) vests and such. Even still we romanticize this period of
European history. The medieval knight is well engrained in our minds and
impressions of the medieval period.
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