Friday, October 2, 2009
Knights in Shining Armor
Armor and Weapons:
A knight was armed and armored to the teeth. He had so much armor and weapons that he depended on his squire to keep the armor and weapons clean and in good working condition. At first the armor was made of small metal rings called chain mail. A knight wore a linen shirt and a pair of pants as well as heavy woolen pads underneath the metal-ringed tunic. A suit of chain mail could have more than 200,000 rings. However, chain mail was heavy, uncomfortable, and difficult to move in. As time passed, knights covered their bodies with plates of metal. Plates coverd their chests, back, arms, and legs. A bucket-like helmet protected the knight's head and had a hinged metal visor to cover his face. Suits of armor were hot, uncomfortable, and heavy to wear. A suit of armor weighed between forty and sixty pounds. Some knights even protected their horses in armor.
A knights also needed a shield to hold in front of himself during battle. Shields were made of either wood or metal. Knights decorated their shields with their family emblem or crest and the family motto. Oft times these emblems or family crests/mottos were the only way to identity a knight who had been killed in battle.
A knight's weapon was his sword, which weighted approximately thirty-two pounds. It was worn on his left side in a case fastened around his waist. A knife was worn on the knight's right side. Knights used other weapons in combat as well. A lance was a long spear used in joust. Metal axes, battle hammers, and maces were also used to defeat the enemy.
In researching Armor and Weapons, I wondered how many knights died from heat stroke as opposed to mortal wounds during combat? And if he fell off his horse, how did the knight manage to get to his feet wearing all that heavy metal? Obviously, knight's were men of exceptional strength and fortitude.
Tournaments provided a means for knights to practice warfare and build their strength in times of peace. Tournaments were essentially mock battles with audiences. The audience was usually made up of "fair damsels." This was another way in which a knight was expected to act chivalrous. The tournaments had different rules that had to be followed. Knights were judged by umpired that watched for dishonest play. (Sounds like modern day games--like umpires and referees in football and basketball).
Tournaments were usually fought between either two people or two teams. If two people fought a tournament, it was usually by jousting. On horsebacke, two knights would gallop across the playing field toward each other. The men carried long, blunt poles and shields. The objective was to knock the other person out of his saddle.
Team play was conducted with fierce mock combat between two bands of fighters. They fought with wooden or blunted weapons so as to reduce the risk of getting hurt. However, this was often not the case. Many knights did get hurt and even died in what was referred to as 'gaming accidents.'