Plate Armour

Plate armour consists of plates of sheet metal used as protection. It replaced chainmail, where linked rings of metal formed the armour during the thirteenth century. The earliest mentions of plate armour, during the reign of Richard the Lion Heart, refer to thin sheets of metal worn under all the other armour as a form of extra protection. By the middle of the thirteenth century, small items of plate were being worn at key points such as the elbows, kneecaps and shins, somewhat in the manner of shinguards in modern sports. Next in the thirteenth century came the cuirass or breastplate, in effect a metal vest, which left the armpits and neck unprotected and was not significantly better than chainmail. Finally, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries saw the development of the suit of armour familiar to us. This armour gained weight, thickness and complexity over the period, as survivability came to dominate mobility, and by the early fifteenth century it was possible for a middle aged knight to die of a heart attack caused by the weight and heat of the armour, as apparently happened to Richard, duke of York at Agincourt. Noble casualties could be very low in medieval warfare, but how much of this was due to the armour, and how much to the practise of paying ransoms for captured noblemen is hard to say.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (25 September 2000), Plate Armour,

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