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Middle Ages

A Knight's Armor and Weapons

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

The most valuable items to a knight were his armor, weapons, and his war horse. These three items were very expensive, meaning that only the wealthy could afford to be knights. Many knights hoped to regain some of the cost through plunder when they conquered enemy towns and cities.


During the Middle Ages knights wore heavy armor made of metal. There were two main kinds of armor: chain mail and plate armor.

Chain mail

Chain mail was made from thousands of metal rings. The typical chain mail armor was a long cloak called a hauberk. Knights wore a padded cloak underneath the armor to help cushion the weight of the armor. A chain mail hauberk could weigh as much as 30 pounds.

Although chain mail was flexible and offered good protection, it could be pierced by an arrow or thin sword. Some knights began to put plates of metal over vital parts of their bodies for added protection. Soon they were completely covered in plate armor and they stopped wearing chain mail.

Knight in Chain Mail
by Paul Mercuri

Plate armor

By the 1400s most knights were wearing full plate armor. This armor offered better protection, but it was less flexible and heavier than chain mail. A full set of plate armor weighed around 60 pounds. Many pieces of the armor had a unique name.

Here are some of the different pieces of plate armor and what they protected:

Greaves - ankles and calves
Sabatons - feet
Poleyns - knees
Cuisses - thighs
Gauntlets - hands
Vambrace - lower arms
Pauldron - shoulders
Breastplate - chest
Rerebrace - upper arms
Helmet - head

Plate armor for Knights of the Middle Ages
Armor for Fighting on Horseback
from the Walters Art Museum (labels by Ducksters)

Knights of the Middle Ages used a variety of weapons. Some weapons were more effective when charging on a horse (like the lance), while others were better for hand to hand combat (like the sword).

Armored Knight by Paul Mercuri
War Horse

One of the knight's most important possessions was his war horse. This horse was trained for battle. It wouldn't shy away from blood or combat. A good war horse could mean the difference between life and death for a knight.

The knight's war horse was called a destrier. The horse also wore armor for protection including metal plates to cover its neck, head, and sides.

Siege Weapons

Knights also had to know how to use siege weapons. These were special weapons used to capture castles. Interesting Facts about a Knight's Armor and Weapons

More subjects on the Middle Ages:

Feudal System
Medieval Monasteries
Glossary and Terms

Knights and Castles
Becoming a Knight
History of Knights
Knight's Armor and Weapons
Knight's coat of arms
Tournaments, Jousts, and Chivalry

Daily Life in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Art and Literature
The Catholic Church and Cathedrals
Entertainment and Music
The King's Court

Major Events
The Black Death
The Crusades
Hundred Years War
Magna Carta
Norman Conquest of 1066
Reconquista of Spain
Wars of the Roses

Byzantine Empire
The Franks
Kievan Rus
Vikings for kids

Alfred the Great
Genghis Khan
Joan of Arc
Justinian I
Marco Polo
Saint Francis of Assisi
William the Conqueror
Famous Queens

Works Cited

History >> Middle Ages for Kids

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