Monday, September 2, 2013

Suit of Armor Close-Up:

The Medieval Harness

The battle-ready medieval knight was attired in a suit of armor referred to as a "body harness."A common construction technique utilized "lames" or strips of metal which overlapped, somewhat like the shingles on a roof. These laminations were often used in the collar, shoulder, and abdominal areas to facilitate movement.
Underneath the suit of armor a cushioning gambeson may have been worn, a quilted jacket stuffed with tow (short flax fibers), wool, grass, or horse hair.
Some of the basic elements of the plate harness are illustrated below:
Parts of a Suit of Armor
Parts of a Suit of Armor

Head and Shoulder Armor


 — An extension from front to back across
the top of the helmet
which helps strengthen the helm’s structure.
During the Renaissance
period this helmet component could be very
large and ornate.


 — Armor for the head.


 — A pivoting plate attached to the front of the
helm providing
protection for the face. Frequently the visor
contained “breaths,”
holes or slits for ventilation, which also provided
some extra visibility.


 (pronounced GOR-jet or gor-ZHAY) — Armored
collar made
from hinged plates or laminations.


 — Vest-like shoulder armor which added some
protection over
the breastplate and across the upper back.

Torso Armor


 — As its name implies, this plate protected the
upper chest area.


 — An armored reinforcement covering the lower
half of the
breastplate. Depending upon the design, the plackart

cover nearly the entire breastplate.


 — Armor, usually composed of lames, which attached
to the breastplate
 (and plackart), serving to protect the abdomen.


 (TAS-et) — Solid Armor plates or a skirt of lames
hung from the
fauld to cover the gap between the fauld and the thigh

Arm and Leg Armor


 (REER-brase) — Armor shielding of the upper arm.
The rerebrace
is also referred to as the upper cannon.


 (COW-ter) — Armored elbow guards.


 — Forearm shielding. This term is sometimes used to
refer to the
entire arm defense, which is divided into upper and
lower cannons.
Similarly the term "bracers" can refer to the entire arm
defense or
components such as the shielding that protects an
archer's forearms
from the bow string.


 — Armored glove.


 (KWIS) — Armor of the thigh.


 (PO-lane) — Cup-shaped armor knee-guards,
often equipped with


 — Heart- or fan-shaped guards for the side of the
knee, extending
from the poleyn.


 (GREEV) — Armor of the lower leg.


 (SAB-a-ton) — Articulating foot armor.
Some designs even
included long dagger-like toe projections.

©2005-2012 S.L. Kellaway. All rights reserved.

Other Body Harness Types

Chain Mail

  (aka Chain Maille) — Metal rings woven to create a flexible protective “fabric.”

Scale Armor

 — Small overlapping metal plates (resembling scales) attached to cloth or leather.

Splint Armor

 — A suit of armor, considered a simplified version of plate armor, where metal plates were riveted to leather underpinnings.

Ring Mail

 — A fabric of rings, larger than those used in chain mail, attached to and enhancing a leather armor.

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