A knight in the Middle Ages was a mounted soldier in the service of a lord, or nobleman. His job was to defend the lord's castle and engage in warfare in support of the lord's cause. Armor was necessary protection from the blows of enemy weapons, such as swords, battle axes and lances.
Armoring a Knight's Body
A knight in the Middle Ages wore a padded vest called a gipoun for comfort and a cloth tunic made of woven cloth called fustian. The first type of armor knights wore was chain mail -- a coat made of linked chains called a habergeoun -- that could weigh up to 30 pounds. Eventually, chain mail was replaced by plate mail, or metal armor. Plate mail covered the entire body. It was made by attaching one-half-inch strips of metal in a circular fashion, tailored to a particular knight's measurements. Breastplates protected the chest, cuisses the thighs and greaves protected the calves. Gorgets were plate collars that protected the neck, shoulders and the upper chest.
Protecting a Knight's Head
Not only was body armor heavy, but knights added around another 14 pounds when they put on their helmets. Called bascinets, the helmets were pointed or rounded on top with an open-face and visor the knight could lift up. Some knights wore a close helmet paired with a bevor, a piece of metal extending from the chest plate; together, they completely covered a knight's face and head. A full suit of armor including the helmet could weigh up to 100 pounds.
- Western Reserve Public Media: The Middle Ages: Knights
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Engineering the Medieval Achievement: Armor
- Messiah College: Pictorial Glossary of Armor Terms
- United States Naval Academy: Medieval Chivalry
- University of Michigan: Chaucer's Pilgrims and Their Clothing: The Knight
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