How Cumbersome Was Medieval Armor?

And other commonly asked questions about fighting inside a tin can

Nicol Valentin
Aug 2, 2020 · 8 min read

A little bit about armor

When you think of armor is there an image like this in your head?

John William Waterhouse, Lamia (Wikipedia)

“Let every holder of a knight’s fee have a hauberk, a helmet, a shield, and a lance.”

The hauberk was a long shirt of mail that either went to the elbow or down the length of the arm. So a shirt, helmet, and some accessories, that’s it.

A Knight’s mail didn’t come from the post office

Mail is small metal rings linked to form a mesh fabric. In the early days, they called it “ring maille.”

Armor wasn’t just for knights

Armor similar to the one pictured above began gaining popularity in the 13th century, with its height being the 15th century.

plate armor made for Emperor Ferdinand (1549) Wikipedia

How long did it take to get dressed?

Getting dressed in armor wasn’t the same as pulling on a pair of pants and a shirt. Instead, it was a process that could easily take around 20 minutes.

Was armor super heavy?

A guy armed for battle in a complete suit would carry about 44–55 pounds. To compare, firefighters can wear between 45 and 75 pounds, while modern military armor can be as low as 20 and up to 100 with all the extras.

How well could a guy move in armor?

The answer is exceptionally well. Sure, some early armor may not have been as flexible, but let’s face it; if a guy can’t move he can’t fight, and if he can’t fight, he can’t win and if he can’t win, well you know where this is going.

Was it uncomfortable?

Although a guy could make whatever movements necessary in his armor, he would not lounge in it like in the Waterhouse painting above.

With all those pieces, how did a guy go?

One example of faulds in the front. On the back would be the culet (Wikipedia)

Wanna geek-out on armor history?

This is one of those topics that you could research forever. Armor was not universal, it was different depending on the time and place and the size of your wallet. There’s lots of impressive stuff on the web, but I’ll leave you with these links to some great YouTube videos.

Are you an armor wearer?

I know you're out there, you LARPers and re-enactors. Why not share your experiences in the comments!

Notes and Sources:

If you want to be technical, an arming doublet was not the same as a gambeson. Arming doublets were specifically for use under armor and would not have been as thick. Gambesons were their thicker counterparts meant to be stand-alone armor.

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Nicol Valentin

Written by

Writer. Blogger. History lover who can’t stand boring facts. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Come visit at historyunfettered.com

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing.

Nicol Valentin

Written by

Writer. Blogger. History lover who can’t stand boring facts. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Come visit at historyunfettered.com

Lessons from History

Lessons from History is a platform for writers who share ideas and inspirational stories from world history. The objective is to promote history on Medium and demonstrate the value of historical writing.

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