Armor (Combat). Set of steel defense pieces that covered the body of European knights in the Late Middle Ages [1] , and the beginning of the Modern Age, protecting them from attacks that might be suffered with swords or other weapons during combats or tournaments.


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  • 1 Background
    • 1 Gunsmiths
  • 2 History
    • 1 Middle Ages
    • 2 Modern Age
  • 3 Design, parts and materials
  • 4 News
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 Source


Since ancient times when man had to face a melee combat, he tried to protect himself in some way, first with animal skins, then with leather, and finally with armor.

Before the use of metals, fighters protected themselves from projectiles (stones, spears and javelins), as well as blunt weapons by means of shields made of wood or tanned leather on wooden frames, but the appearance of swords, spears and daggers metal brought its opposite, shields, helmets, breastplates and greaves also metal.


The gunsmiths were the people who did the work of creating the armor. This trade was very important in the Roman Empire . Many complete families were engaged in this occupation.

The first thing that was done in the process of making the armor was the forge, then they were polished, the pieces were assembled and the straps, linings and fillers were placed, and in the event that it was worn, the shield or emblem and were adorned, some of them with gold. Engraving was the most traditional way of adorning metal, it was a complicated and laborious process.

The gunsmiths also created heraldry, they were insignia or coats of arms that served to distinguish knights on the battlefield. Each nobleman had his own crest, and he stamped it on the shield, coat, or flag. Each badge was unique and individual. So with the insignia the combatants could distinguish the enemies.


Middle Ages

The designs, parts and materials of the armor perceived a long evolutionary journey that begins in Egypt around 4000 BC until in the Middle Ages , the knight and his horse, covered in steel, were the main force of blow of the armies .

In the Battle of Crécy [2] , (1346), the long bows of 11,000 British, endowed with steel-tipped arrows, allowed eleven charges of 12,000 French knights to be rejected and they caused 1,500 casualties.

Modern age

In the early Modern Age , despite the weight of armor becoming unbearable, projectiles from rudimentary firearms pierced them with ease, marking their decline for that level of technology development. However, still in the Franco-Prussian War of 1740 – 1741 , cuirassier units acted: heavy cavalry whose riders covered their heads with a steel helmet and their torso and with breastplates and shoulders of the same material.

In subsequent wars, the armor continued to shrink, down to the hull only, to cover the head from fragmentation of grenades and artillery shells.

Design, parts and materials

From the primitive garments made of wood, leather, copper, bronze, iron and steel, the plate armor – so called because they are made of metal plates flexibly joined together – underwent a long evolutionary journey.

The design, parts and materials with which the armor was manufactured was subject to a long process of development and refinement, determined by the increase in energy with which the projectiles flew and their hardness, until the knight was completely lined with steel , a change that began in the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century and that lasted well into the 16th century .

Until the beginning-mid-13th century, there is no evidence of the first complete armor. The sources, both written and artistic, mention the introduction of the complete armor around this time.

A chronicler, Guillaume le Breton (circa 1225) recounts a fight between the young Ricardo Corazón de León (at that time only Count de Poitou) and William de Barres .

“each of the contestants were dressed in ‘cast iron plates’ as extra protection under the hauberk chain mail”

Guillaume le Breton

The armor worn by Ricardo and William de Barres was not protection

Medieval armor could consist of more than two hundred pieces

Primary but secondary, showing the evolution that the first complete armor produced, where the armor was made from metal parts added to chain mail or leather armor as added protection.

A manifesto written by the German Emperor Frederick II to King Henry III of England in 1241 also mentions leather armor reinforced with iron plates sewn to it.

Artistic sources add evidence on stitched metal plates to other parts of a 13th century soldier’s armored clothing.

Around 1350 , the chain mail of the torso was replaced by an independent pectoral. This was made from a solid piece of metal that was molded to cover the chest, behind, front and sides to the top of the diaphragm, while the rest of the torso – stomach , waist and thighs – was protected by a flexible chainmail sewn to a fabric.

By the end of the 14th century , the independent breastplate had become the main piece of armor, and was used by horsemen and infants. To protect the rider, two additions were made to this pectoral that only increased its popular acceptance.

First, a metal support was added to the right side of the chest to rest the spear when it was loaded with it.

Second, a V-shaped edge just below the neck, intended to prevent the enemy’s weapons from sliding up the armor to the neck.

These innovations are known as’ ristre ‘and’ alpartaz ‘, and became prominent features of the knights’ overalls during the 15th century . By the end of the fourteenth century , the armor that protected the limbs had been fully developed: musiera, for the thighs; knee pads, for the knees; corner pieces, for pimples; scarps for the feet; alpartaz, for the neck; overcodales, for the elbows; shoulder pads; armrests, for the arms, and gauntlets, for the hands.

A full armor included all of those pieces put together, plus a helmet and, at least initially, a shield, which would disappear in the mid-15th century. The weight of such armor was immense.

It has been calculated that a full battle armor could weigh between 23 kg and 28 kg, while the full jousting armor, which took place at specific times and places, unlike the uncertainty of battles, was much heavier, between 41 kg and 46 kg.

Despite the weight, it was absolutely essential that everyone who could afford one be outfitted in the best possible armor, and by the mid-15th century, all cavalrymen owned at least one. The ability to defend with the armor on was immense and not wearing it could mean the death of the rider.


Today, the need to protect the body against projectiles and fragments is similar to then, but science has produced materials more resistant to penetration than steel, such as Kevlar , which is used in the soldier’s bulletproof vests, the Armor of the experts in deactivating explosive devices or the shields and protections of the police forces.


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