Knights of the Middle AgesKnights and foot soldiers had to be strong and good to handle the weapons and armor of the Middle Ages.
Bows and arrows and long sticks with a blade on the end were the usual weapons of peasants (foot soldiers.) Knights preferred lances and swords and morning stars. Riding at a full gallop on a hoarse in the battlefield, a knight tried to knock his opponent to the ground with a 10-foot metal-tipped pole (lance.) On his feet a knight used his sword with a lot of strength and ability. The whole entire sword formed to what looked like the shape of a cross.
Sparkling jewels sometimes decorated the handle as well as the scabbard (case,) that protected the sword’s 3-foot steel, rock, or metal blade. Most knights also carried a dagger, a morning star-a club with a chain attached to a ball with sharp spikes-a battle ax, and a large shield. At first knights wore cone-shaped helmets. Later, helmets had visors that covered the face completely so that they couldnt get hit in the face when they were pulled off their horse. To be recognized, knights wore special symbols, such as lions and unicorns, on their armor and shields, they were called coat of arms. They identified that knight with its colorful pattern or picture. These designs became family symbols passed down from generation to generation.
They helped other knights know who to fight against The earliest armor was made of metal rings sewn on a leather coat. Some coats had more than 200,000 metal rings. However, a sword could still pierce the little tiny space between them.
A later type of armor, called “chain mail,” was made of overlapping loops of iron chains. But it did not completely protect the knight, either. He could still get deep wounds and broken bones. Over time, knights began to cover different parts of their bodies with solid plates of metal armor, even though it was very uncomfortable. Slowly they added more and more solid plates to different parts of the body. By the 1400s a knight wore a 60-pound suit of gleaming armor that covered him from head to toe. Hinges and straps held the separate pieces, such as the shoulder guards, breastplate, and leg plates, in place.
Underneath his armor the knight usually wore a knee-length shirt called a “tunic,” made of linen or wool, and long stockings. Sometimes the knights also wore chainmail underneath their suit, too. A knight in full armor weighed so much, he had to be lifted onto his horse. The knight’s horse also wore armor for protection on top of his head and down his back.
Horses used in battle were specially bred to be large and sturdy. It was hard to move wearing a suit of armor, and sometimes it felt as hot as an oven inside. Thrown from his horse, a knight might lie flat on the ground, helpless as a turtle on its back, because of all of the heavy armor.