Archive | How to Arm a Knight

A harness is put on from bottom to top. The example shows the recreation of a high gothic riding harness in the German style of about 1480. The thickness of the material is 1.5 mm throughout. Historical originals vary in thickness: Parts exposed to the opponent are much thicker (3 mm or more) than not so easily accessible ones (e.g. 0.7 mm). The complete harness weighs 29.5 kg and is made to measure. Armours off the rack were common in medieval times but only a precisely fitting harness guarantees a maximum of mobility.

Leather shoes, a pair of hosen, and a doublet are worn underneath the armour, the latter for padding and for preventing chafing of the breast- and backplate.


The first things to put on are the sabatons. The heel is connected to the front with a hinge on the outside. On the inside, both parts are closed with a movable hook.

The sabatons are articulated eleven times and end in pointy tips.


The greaves consist of two parts that are connected with two hinges on the outside. The diameter of both parts is almost identical so that it's almost entirely the springiness of the steel that holds them together. Additionally, they are secured on the inside with a buckle and a belt.

In the uppper area there is a thorn or a bolt protruding from the greave. A corresponding hole in the lower lame of the poleyn fits over it and is held in place by this.


The rest of the leg defence consists of articulated cuisses of multiple lames. The example shows very high specimen that consist of lower and upper cuisse, the latter almost reaching the groin.

A poleyn with three lamees each at the uppper and lower edge is riveted to the lower cuisse.

On the side there is an extension hinged to the cuisse that protects the outside of the thighs.

Cuisses and poleyns are closed on the backside with three belts each.

Unfortunately, no information survived about how the cuisses were fastened to the body at the upper brim. In this example they are attached with two small belts to a belt that rests on the hips. An alternative is the fastening with laces.


Breastplate and backplate are put in place. In this example two holes in the backplate are slid over two bolts that project from the breatplate at the shoulders. Historical originals are often closed with buckles and belts.

At the sides under the arms two additional small bolts on the backplate go into two holes in the breatplate and are secured there with two moveable hooks. Also in this case the springines sof the material holds both places already in place.


The bevor is attached to the breastplate with a central pin. Additionally two holes go over the afore-mentioned bolts on the shoulders and keep it in place. Alternatively, it could be fastened with a leather belt around the neck.


The vambraces, consisiting of upper and lower cannon, and the counter are attached to the shoulder bolts. This is rather unusual for a German harness amd would be more common on Italian armour. German arms usually consisted of three separate parts that were laced to the doublet individually.

In the bend of the arms all cannons are articulated twice in order to give additional mobility and protection.


The pauldrons consisting of eight lames and the attached besagews are put into place. After that the openings in the bolts on the shoulders are secured with leather cords in oder to prevent the mounted parts from sliding off.

The gauntlets are put on. Each finger is protected by six or seven lames that are riveted to leather straps. top
The helmet, a sallet, is put on and secured under the chin with a leather belt. top
When visor and bevor are shut, the fighter is fully armed. Since it is considerably hard to see, fighting in this way is most likeöly restricted to mounted combat with lances. When dismounted, the visor was openend again - as shown in contemporary manuscripts. top
Now only an appropriate weapon is needed. top

Finally a back view of the complete harness.



© all photos: Hendrik Schomburg