The History of Armour 1100 - 1700
By Paul F Walker
Published by The Crowood Press (www.crowood.com)
RRP GBP £19.95
Knights in armour have always fascinated the general public. They were heroic men recruited from the ranks of the nobility and aristocratic families and they have been immortalised by their jousting and chivalrous conduct. Modern TV programmes only serve to embellish their “reputation”.
Sadly they did not have the modern day modes of recording data so there is a lack of primary data regarding the design and development of armour. However the author has tried extremely hard to overcome this deficiency and he has studied numerous illustrations, effigies and surviving pieces. He has taken some superb photographs and created some excellent illustrations of surviving artefacts.
This book covers the period 1100 to 1700 and it gives an excellent and detailed account about how armour developed over this period. This period covers the Medieval, Tudor, Elizabethan and the Civil War and the book itemises the minor and subtle changes in the design of armour between these dates.
The “normal” suit of armour for knights consisted mainly of helmets, chest protection pieces, arm guards, gauntlets, leg guards and sabatons. Given the research expertise of the author he has also done a great service by including the evolution and usage of weaponry and protective wear for horses. Most knights used horses as their primary transport and were mounted in battles so a quality book like this one also considers these topics. Naturally the development of weaponry feeds back into the design and technology of armour.
The text of the book starts with a discussion of the “overall” development of armour and the usage of effigies as primary data on what suits of armour used to be like. An exceptional analysis of the components of a suit of armour is given after a short chapter mentioning what / who the knights were. The last few chapters are devoted to weaponry (an important issue as suits of armour were designed to withstand them), shields and the “warhorse”.
Overall this book is a lovely and fascinating read. It certainly uncovers much little known data about the subject. Its primary markets are historians, re-enactors, collectors and those generally interested in this period and it serves these markets well. If one is looking for a text to introduce and give a good review of the topic then there is no need to look any further because this is the book you require.