Types and Uses of Medieval Armor

The earliest form of medieval armor -- mail (a.k.a. “chain mail”) -- traces its origins back to around 500 BC. The Celtic people developed this kind of armor -- iron rings
woven together into a protective garment -- and the Roman Army later copied this engineering to protect its soldiers. In the early Medieval Ages, armor craftsmen added discs, plates, and groin caps to standard mail gear to protect vulnerable areas. Leather coats, kneecaps, underarm protectors (a.k.a. “besagews”), and skullcaps (such as early forms of the bassinet) all provided critical support for soldiers as well.

As the Middle Ages progressed, however, advanced new weapons -- like the crossbow, battle-axe, long bow, and mace -- gained popularity among warriors, making mail and even plated mail far less effective at defense.

  1. Plate Armor
  2. Armor for Horses
  3. Shields

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