Unfortunately, the Met has very few example of armor
from the Medieval period. Much of it has disintegrated or been destroyed over the years.
What is displayed is from the high Medieval period or the Renaissance. However, a brief
history of armor during this later period will still be given.
During the age of the Crusades, the principal type of armor was mail.
Small rings of metal would be linked together to form a very flexible form of defense.
However, they could not stand up to arrows and crossbow bolts, so new technologies had to
be devised. It was principally at this point that full-body suits came into being. A
knight's leg, for example, would now be fully protected by "shaped steel plates"
(Nickel 52). One problem was how to comfortably protect the knight's abdomen. As a result,
armorers came up with a coat of that had iron plates filling it. The coat would protect
the knight without being too cumbersome.
Another change involved the helmet. They
became smaller and fit the head better. A visor was also included that made breathing
easier as it could be opened. Horses were also included in the armor revamping. The
horse's head would be protected, as well as other parts of its body. In the Hundred Years
War, the knight's shield took on a new shape. It was now more squarish, but a small part
was cut out so the lance could have a place to rest.
By the Wars of the
Roses in England in the mid-15th century, the knight had armor completely covering his
body (Nickel 57). Since he was so well protected, there was no longer a need for a shield.
Movement became much easier. Two main types of helms were introduced: the armet and
sallet. The armet had a pivoted visor on the face, and a rondelle in back to absorb
shocks. The sallet had a tail in back, and a bevor, or guard, for the chin.
Two different styles of armor developed in the
late Middle Ages. The first was called Gothic, from the style of architecture of the same
name. Just like many buildings of the time, Gothic armor had a "spiky
appearance" which was actually quite "functional" (Nickel 58). The second
style was Maximilian, named for a Holy Roman Emperor. One feature of this style was a
fluting on the armor. This added strength to the suit while keeping weight about the same