Object structure

The Introduction and Development of Plate Armour in Medieval Western Europe c. 1250-1350


Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historicae. Fasc. 30 (2017)


Dowen, Keith


Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of Polish Academy of Sciences ; Polish Academy of Sciences. Łódź Branch

Place of publishing:


Date issued/created:



ill. ; 29 cm

Type of object:


Subject and Keywords:

iron plate ; baleen ; leather ; mail ; cuir bouilli ; crossbow ; goat’s-foot leaver


European underwent a period of rapid development and experimentation in the century after c. 1250. Whilst very little physical material has survived from this time, artistic depictions, wills, inventories and contemporary accounts attest to the use of metal plate defences much earlier than has commonly been assumed. By the turn of the 14th century, all the major elements of plate armour had been developed; with the subsequent half century seeing an increase in the quantity of plate worn on the battlefield. However, the development of plate armour was extremely erratic, and did not follow a simple linear progression. The stimuli for its development is still not fully understood. However, improvements to crossbow technology may have had a significant impact.


Ayton A. 1999. Arms, Armour and Horses. In: M. Keen (ed.), Medieval Warfare, a History. Oxford, 186-209.
Blair C. 1979. European Armour circa 1066 to circa 1700. London.
Bonghi G. 2002. De Magnalibus Mediolani (on-line http://www.classicitaliani.it/duecento/Bonvesin04.pdf).
Breiding D. 2013. A Deadly Art, European Crossbows, 1250-1850. New York.
Buttin C. 1910. Le Guet Genève au XVe siècle et l’armament des ses gardes. Genève-Annecy.
Buttin F. 1965. Le lance et l’arret de cuirasse. „Archaeologia” 99, 77-179.
Buttin F. 1971. Du Costume Militaire au Moyen Age et Pendant la Renaissance. Barcelona.
Cheshire E. 2017. Cuir Bouilli: Fracture toughness testing of hide-based materials. In: Q. Mould (ed.), Leather in Warfare: Attack, Defence and the Unexpected. Leeds, 93-97.
Chibnall M. 1978. The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis. Oxford.
Crouch D. 2006. Tournament. London.
Delbrück H. 1982. History of the Art of War 3. London.
Dowen K. 2015. An Investigation into the Development of Plate Armour in Europe 1300-1350. Unpublished MA thesis. University College London.
Ekdahl S. 1998. Horses and Crossbows: Two Important Warfare Advantages of the Teutonic Order in Prussia. In: H. Nicholson (ed.), The Military Orders: Welfare and Warfare. Aldershot, 119-153.
Gamber O. 1998. Geschichte der mittelalterlichen Bewaffnung, Ritter und Handwerker. „Waffen und Kostümkunde – Zeitschrift für Waffen- und Kleidungsgeschichte” 40 (1), 33-63.
Gay V. 1887. Glossaire Archeologique du Moyen Age et de la Renaissance. Volume 1. Paris.
Grange de la A. 1897. Annales de la Societe historique et archeologique de Tournai. Tournai.
Gravett G. 1993. Early Tournament Armour. Livrustkammaren, 62-89.
Hewitt J. 1967. Ancient Armour and Weapons in Europe 1. Graz.
Huygens R.B.C (ed.). 1996. Guibert de Nogent Dei gesta per Francos et cinq autre textes. Turnhout.
Kelly F.M. 1905. A Knight’s Armour of the Early XIV Century Being the Inventory of Raoul de Nesle. „Burlington Magazine” 6, 457-469.
Lachaud F. 1998. Armour and Military Dress in Thirteenth and Early Fourteenth Century England. „Harlaxton Medieval Studies” 7, 344-369.
Lacy M.S. 1992. Coat of Plates to Brigandine: the Evolution of Cloth Covered Armour 1250-1500. Unpublished MA dissertation. University of Reading.
Mann J.G. 1922. The Evolution of Defensive Armour in England, France and Italy during the First Half of the Fourteenth Century. Unpublished MA thesis. New College Oxford.
Mercer M. 2014. King’s Armouries and the Growth of the Armourer’s Craft in Early Fourteenth Century London. „Fourteenth Century England” 8, 1-21.
Moffat R., Spriggs J., O’Connor S. 2008. The Use of Baleen for Arms, Armour and Heraldic Crests in Medieval Britain. „The Antiquaries Journal” 88, 207-215.
Moffat R. 2010. The Manner of Arming Knights for the Tourney. „Arms and Armour” 7 (1), Leeds, 5-29.
Nicolle D. 1999. Italian Militiaman 1260-1392. Oxford.
Nicolle D. 2014. Forces of the Hanseatic League 13th-15th Centuries. Oxford.
Novati F. 1898. De Magnalibus Urbis Mediolani. „Bullettino dell’Instituto Storica Italiano” 20. Rome, 7-181.
Oakeshott R.E. 1996. The Archaeology of Weapons. Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry. New York.
Oman C. 1924. A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages. Volume 1 A.D. 378-1278. London.
Paterson W.F. 1990. A Guide to the Crossbow. London.
Payne-Gallwey R.P. 1963. The Crossbow. Medieval and Modern Military and Sporting. London.
Rengarth M. 1989. A Treatise on the Historical Development, Defensive Consequences and Methods of Construction of the Leg Defences Used During the Middle Ages in Western Europe. „Hammer” 30, 33-51.
Richardson T. 1997. The Introduction of Plate Armour in Medieval Europe. „Royal Armouries Yearbook” 2, Leeds, 40-45.
Richardson T. 2013. The Medieval Inventories of the Tower Armouries, 1320-1410 Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Leeds.
Richardson T. 2016. The Tower Armoury in the Fourteenth Century. Leeds.
Scalini M., Boccia L.G. 1982. Guerre e assoldati in Toscana (1260-1364). Florence.
Strickland M., Hardy R. 2005. The Great Warbow. From Hastings to the Mary Rose. Stroud.
Thordeman B. 2001. Armour from the Battle of Wisby. Highland Village.
Turnbull S. 2003. Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (1) The Red Brick Castles of Prussia 1230-1466. Oxford.
Williams A. 2003. The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages & the Early Modern Period. Leiden.


Fasciculi Archaeologiae Historicae



Start page:


End page:


Resource type:


Detailed Resource Type:




Resource Identifier:



IAiE PAN, call no. P III 348 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P III 349 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P III 368 ; click here to follow the link



Language of abstract:



Rights Reserved - Free Access

Terms of use:

Copyright-protected material. May be used within the limits of statutory user freedoms

Digitizing institution:

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Library of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Projects co-financed by:

Ministry of Science and Higher Education ; Activities popularizing science (DUN)





Citation style: