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Later Period Armor

Unfortunately, the Met has very few example of armor from the Medieval period. Much of it has disintegrated or been destroyed over the years. What is displayed is from the high Medieval period or the Renaissance. However, a brief history of armor during this later period will still be given.

During the age of the Crusades, the principal type of armor was mail. Small rings of metal would be linked together to form a very flexible form of defense. However, they could not stand up to arrows and crossbow bolts, so new technologies had to be devised. It was principally at this point that full-body suits came into being. A knight's leg, for example, would now be fully protected by "shaped steel plates" (Nickel 52). One problem was how to comfortably protect the knight's abdomen. As a result, armorers came up with a coat of that had iron plates filling it. The coat would protect the knight without being too cumbersome.

travis4.jpg (27570 bytes)Another change involved the helmet. They became smaller and fit the head better. A visor was also included that made breathing easier as it could be opened. Horses were also included in the armor revamping. The horse's head would be protected, as well as other parts of its body. In the Hundred Years War, the knight's shield took on a new shape. It was now more squarish, but a small part was cut out so the lance could have a place to rest.

travis6.jpg (2058 bytes)By the Wars of the Roses in England in the mid-15th century, the knight had armor completely covering his body (Nickel 57). Since he was so well protected, there was no longer a need for a shield. Movement became much easier. Two main types of helms were introduced: the armet and sallet. The armet had a pivoted visor on the face, and a rondelle in back to absorb shocks. The sallet had a tail in back, and a bevor, or guard, for the chin.

 

travis5.jpg (26448 bytes)

 

Two different styles of armor developed in the late Middle Ages. The first was called Gothic, from the style of architecture of the same name. Just like many buildings of the time, Gothic armor had a "spiky appearance" which was actually quite "functional" (Nickel 58). The second style was Maximilian, named for a Holy Roman Emperor. One feature of this style was a fluting on the armor. This added strength to the suit while keeping weight about the same (Nickel 59).

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