|Walking tank? |
Tudor or Elizabethan jousting armor
We'll stop it there.
There are probably several things about this description that we know immediately are wrong. Knights didn't go riding around righting wrongs (unless they happened to be named Don Quixote) and damsels hardly ever got stuck in towers. Stripy lances of course, were only used in jousts, which didn't really get going until the High to Late Middle Ages. But the rest of it is wrong, too, at least in the context of a serious battle (admittedly, I know very little about these things and I will endeavor not to sound like a complete idiot as I continue).
There are several misconceptions about knights...all largely to be blamed on Sir Walter Scot. As I was growing up, I was under the impression that European knights of the Middle Ages wore plate armor to battle and that this plate armor was so heavy that the only horses that were strong enough to bear the weight were draft horses. Not only that, but when these slow-poke Medieval knights ran into warriors from other cultures, they met instant death, because the weapons, armor and horses of these other cultures were either sharper, lighter or faster.
This actually isn't true.
|Joan of Arc, one of the most famous armor|
wearers in history, was active in the 15th century,
which was after the start of the Renaissance
So what did they wear?
|A piece of hand-welded Medieval mail|
Which brings us to Helmets.
|This nasal helmet was used extensively by he Normans|
and shows hints of their Viking ancestry
this is a replica of the style used between 10th-12th century
Image by Silar
Helmets didn't get visors or plumes on them until
tournaments in the later Middle Ages and early Renaissance . During the Early to High Middle ages, or the era we associate with the Crusades, a helmet would simply be a metal cap with a nose guard. They were made of steel, and with the knight's own hair bound up under them, they weren't half bad for protection. By the end of the 12th century, flat-topped cylindrical helmets, that looked a bit like tin cans with eye holes, were vogue. A direct blow to either helmet from the era with a broadsword would only dent it, not cleave it in two.
The first line of defense...
Was not the sword at all. The sword was a personal weapon, only to be used in close quarters. The Romans
|The Norman charge of the Saxon shield wall at the Battle of Hastings|
And speaking of broadswords...
|A classic Medieval sword, a type VII, this replica |
weighs 2lb 10oz. Sword is by Albion Swords, while the
scabbard and the picture are by DBK Custom Swords
Now we'll get to the Horse.
At its heaviest, a mail shirt only weighed thirty pounds and most mail shirts weighed between ten and fifteen
|The modern Frisian is a medium sized horse, with a usual height |
of sixteen hands, that is descended from Medieval war horses
|Many references were made to Spanish horses during the Middle Ages. |
The Andalusian is a very ancient breed and like
the Freisian, they are agile and highly intelligent
Wenni on Flickr
Today, we call it horse dancing, or dressage. In Vienna, the Spanish Riding School has developed a breed devoted to it, called the Lipizzaner. Medieval desteriers were trained to fight on command. Moves that are natural in the wild, such as bucking, rearing or kicking, were refined into specialized moves that we watch today at the Olympics. A knight's life might depend on the responsiveness or agility of his horse, but also on his steed's ability to land a well-aimed kick. A sword is important, but a horse can be a secret weapon.
|Probably the best depiction we have of Medieval knights is in|
the Bayeux Tapestry (which isn't actually a tapestry)
Of course, the armor, the weapons and the horse might set you back the same amount that a four bedroom house would today, so there weren't very many of these fearsome knights around.