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How Shall a Man Be Armed? Evolution of Armor during the Hundred Years War
Special presentation at the International Congress on Medieval Studies (2013)
Members of La Belle Compagnie, a living history organization focusing on English life during the period of the Hundred Years War, will dress four representative English “knights” (from approximately 1350, 1380, 1415, and 1450) in historically accurate reproduction armor to illustrate trends in armor design and techniques over this period. The presentation will include documentary, pictorial, and material evidence, supplemented by the knights’ feedback on the practical experience of wearing and working in each type of armor. The presentation was narrated by Liz Johnson, and the four knights are James Barker, Thomas Taylor, Bob Charrette and Jeff Johnson, all from La Belle Compagnie.
The reproductions were based on English sources when possible, in which they attempted to create typical set of armor for an ordinary knight. The presenters note the difficulty in deciding what was a standard type of armor, and how they needed to test out various pieces to see how they worked in practice.
They also noted some general trends in how armor changed during the Hundred Years War, with the move from mail to plate armor, and how swords became larger and more geared towards thrusting. They also talked about the importance of counterbalancing the needs for flexibility, protection and degree of mobility.
See also this live blog of the presentation.