Friday, October 18, 2013

Dispelling Medieval armor myths (with cool pics)

Dispelling some Medieval armor myths (with cool pics)

This might spring to mind when you think of medieval armor

This is a really awful modern reproduction, this is why people think medieval armour was awkward, restrictive and clumsy.

This is a bit better

Beautifully acid etched 16th century (so post-medieval) armour, but it doesn't exactly look scary, it looks just as clunky and awkward as the first one, this is because armour was made to be worn. It needs to have someone inside it, the person that the armour was made to fit exactly.

Now we're talking!

This is Doctor Tobias Capwell in his custom made armour, based on an effigy from about the 1450s. It is a beautifully tailored second skin designed to protect him while jousting or (with a different helmet) in foot combat. I think this really shows how scary plate armour could be, even unarmed he looks like he could take on an army.

"Medieval armour was clumsy & heavy"

Properly made armour does not restrict movement, armour like this actually has a greater range of movement than the human inside it. I don't know the weight of this actual harness but much more than 30 kg would be very unusual for battlefield armour. You can see the sheer ingenuity used in creating this, and although it is a modern piece it is based exactly on armour from over 500 years ago

"Knights basically battered each other until someone fell down"

There is a history of Western martial arts every bit as rich and sophisticated as that found in the East. This image is from a 15th century manual by Hans Talhoffer, demonstrating the Mordschlag or murderstroke and the counter to it. A sword isn't particularly effective against full plate. the Mordschlag basically used the sword as a hammer, delivering the impact with either the pommel or crossguard.

Here is the Mordschlag being used

This shows both the devastating attacks possible and the strength of the armour; without it there wouldn't be much left of the knight's skull. As it was the man in armour (who was prepared for this attack) almost passed out from the concussive force and couldn't keep fighting. Knights were trained in wrestling, single and two-handed sword, dagger and pole-arms and had elaborate grapples, locks, counters and counters to counters.

This is probably the pinnacle of the medieval armourer's art

This is armour made for King Henry VIII for fighting in foot combat at tournaments. It might seem a bit silly with its steel butt, but take a good look, this is the first time a man could be fully encased in steel plates, even the inside of the elbow is tiny overlapping plates. This is so sophisticated that it was studied by NASA when they were trying to design the first space suits.

To finish, here's a friend of mine hitting someone with a shield.

Thanks to the 12 or so people who will probably look at this!