Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A is for...

Armour

So, you want a knight in shining armour. A man to sweep you off your feet and show you paradise? Well, if you have all that, you have to count yourself lucky, because it wasn't easy to be a knight in shining armour, sweep a girl off her feet and show her paradise.

Armours were heavy and cumbersome. They were made to fit for the rich (no two were alike) and it took a while to put on (and take off, so paradise might have to wait a bit). They were made by steel plates and the areas that couldn't be covered by plates were covered by mail (like the back of the knees). They were fastened using leather straps, buckles and points. Helmets were also part of an armour. Underneath the armour knights wore linen or woollen underclothes.

In 14th century England a full plate harness would cost about 20 days pay for a man-at-arms. Plate armour was expensive, so only the rich could afford it. If you wore full plate armour though, you were quite well protected from swords, bludgeons, arrows and even early firearms. On the other hand, it didn't protect you much from halberds or war hammers.

A full suit of armour would have weighed a little over 27kg (60 lbs), so lighter than todays 40kg (90 lbs). But then again, men were shorter in those days and started earlier in life.

For more A-words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

Both photos were taken in March 2010 during my study trip to Germany

31 comments:

LisaF said...

It's a wonder they got around to fighting any wars with all the time it took to get dressed!

Leslie: said...

Wow! I read a lot of medieval novels and never realized just how much the armour weighed! It did afford the ultimate protection, though. :D

Dani said...

Very informative post for me. Thank you so much. Enjoyed it.

Have a good night.

photowannabe said...

I would hate to tromp around in that suit in our heat wave.
It was hard work just getting ready for battle.
Great informative post Mara.

Hildred and Charles said...

What an interesting post Mara. I think I would rather have been a blacksmith or a farmer in those days, - anything that didn't require such heavy protection. Kind of takes the romance out of it!

Sylvia K said...

What an interesting post for the the A Day, Mara! Love the pictures and the history! Terrific! Hope you have a great week!

Sylvia

Beverley Baird said...

What great info on armour! I love reading about medieval times - thanks for some needed info.

Gayle said...

That outfit must have made a lot of noise when you walk. I don't suppose they had WD-40 around back then for the squeaks and rusted hinges? :-)

Tumblewords: said...

So. You've got male? :) Excellent article and photo. I'm glad to avoid wearing a full coat!

Mar said...

Very interesting and informative post for A! those were hard times...literally!
A is for aerial

Reader Wil said...

Very informative post, Mara! We never realised that armours were so heavy, if you see kights riding on horseback in movies, it looks all so easy! I think of Ivanhoe , King Arthur and his knights, and Robin Hood.

Carolina said...

Fun (and interesting) post. It will take a lot of polish(ing) to make the armour shine.

Carolina said...

Do you think it was a medieval maiden who invented the can-opener?

Roger Owen Green said...

Nuts - Carolina beat me to the joke! Good post.

ROG, ABC wednesday team

Anvilcloud said...

What crazy times those were.

nonizamboni said...

You are so right about the irony of wanting a knight in 'armour.' Great idea for today--happy ABC Wednesday!

jabblog said...

Most informative post - thank you! The suits of armour at Windsor Castle (I expect you've been there) are amazing, and the horse armour is really fascinating. The noise of a charge in full armour must have been terrifying!

SparkleFarkle said...

Those wearing the heavy-shiny have to worry about lightning strikes, too. LOL! Very fun and informative "A"!

Gattina said...

I just imagine one rattling around the corner, they must have been quiet noisy too, when they walked and going to the litter box was certainly not so easy, lol !

LD said...

Yes fascinating! The mind spins imagining what it would be like to engage in battle in one of these. It seems the rich would be exempt from combat but maybe not..

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I really look forward to your ABC's Mara - always so interesting. A

PS word verification - likeys!

VioletSky said...

I bet something smelled a little rotten in Paradise.

Joy said...

Glad I'm female, I could have just waved them off to battle while settling down with flagon of ale.

helenmac said...

Very informative post, Mara, and you elicited such wonderful comments from your viewers! The Art Institute of Chicago has a Hall of Armour that fascinated us as kids. My only question was how could you get back up if you fell off your horse?
Helen Mac from the armourless ABC team

jay said...

I've always thought it looked a most cumbersome thing to wear and to fight in. No wonder they needed page boys to help them on and off with it - and those huge horses to carry them while wearing it!

Great A! Perhaps I should give you an A for it?

Just Breathe said...

Your so funny! Thank you for the history lesson.

Jama said...

I wonder how the medieval people managed to stay upright with such a heavy armor on their body.

Lily Hydrangea said...

Very cool 'A' post!

Luckaa said...

Both armour are so beautiful!

Leo said...

both photos are real beautiful, and the post informative! :) i can imagine the difficulty sweeping a gal off her feet wearing that..!

V. Fournier said...

"But then again, men were shorter in those days"

This is actually false. Based on skeletons and demographic studies, the average height of Europeans in that era was about the same as today. The erroneous perception that people in the Middle Ages were shorter comes from the fact that only CEREMONIAL plate armor, usually for young people like princes and such, really survives intact. Obviously, such decorative armor would have been both heavier and smaller than armor made for a real warrior/grown man. Real armor does not survive much because it was used until completely destroyed and/or melted down to make new armor.

Also, plate armor is not cumbersome. It weighs between 35-65 pounds, and is lighter and more maneuverable than maille armors. One can do cartwheels in full plate.

Later plate armors were both lighter and stronger, due to superior metallurgy and techniques like ribbing and fluting.