Armour or armor is a covering used to protect an object, individual, or vehicle from physical injury or damage, especially direct contact weapons or projectiles during combat, or from a potentially dangerous environment or activity. Personal armour is used to protect soldiers and war animals. Vehicle armour is used on warships, armoured fighting vehicles, and some mostly ground attack combat aircraft.
Plate armour is a historical type of personal body armour made from bronze, iron, or steel plates, culminating in the iconic suit of armour entirely encasing the wearer. Full plate steel armour developed in Europe during the Late Middle Ages, especially in the context of the Hundred Years' War, from the coat of plates worn over mail suits during the 14th century.
Lamellar armour is a type of body armour, made from small rectangular plates of iron or steel, leather (rawhide), or bronze laced into horizontal rows. Lamellar armour was used over a wide range of time periods in Central Asia, Eastern Asia, Western Asia, and Eastern Europe. The earliest evidence for lamellar armour comes from sculpted artwork of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the Near East.
Korean armor is armor that was traditionally used in ancient times by Koreans, those fighting in and on behalf of Korea, or Koreans fighting overseas. Examples of armor from the Korean Peninsula date back to at least the Korean Three Kingdoms period. Depending on the tactical situation, Korean armor also included horse armor and other kinds of early anti-ballistic armor before the 20th century.
The Byzantine army was the primary military body of the Byzantine armed forces, serving alongside the Byzantine navy. A direct continuation of the East Roman army, it maintained a similar level of discipline, strategic prowess and organization. It was among the most effective armies of western Eurasia for much of the Middle Ages. Over time the cavalry arm became more prominent in the Byzantine army as the legion system disappeared in the early 7th century. Later reforms reflected some Germanic and Asian influences – rival forces frequently became sources of mercenary units e.g.; Huns, Cumans, Alans and Turks, meeting the Empire's demand for light cavalry mercenaries. Since much of the Byzantine military focused on the strategy and skill of generals utilizing militia troops, heavy infantry were recruited from Frankish and later Varangian mercenaries.
Chinese armour was predominantly lamellar from the Warring States period onward, prior to which animal parts such as rhinoceros hide, rawhide, and turtle shells were used for protection. Lamellar armour was supplemented by scale armour since the Warring States period or earlier. Partial plate armour was popular from the Northern and Southern dynasties (420–589), and mail and mountain pattern armour from the Tang dynasty (618–907). Chain mail had been known since the Han Dynasty, but did not see widespread production or battlefield use, and may have seen as "exotic foreign armor" used as a display of wealth for wealthier officers and soldiers. During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), brigandine began to supplant lamellar armour and was used to a great degree into the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). By the 19th century most Qing armour, which was of the brigandine type, were purely ceremonial, having kept the outer studs for aesthetic purposes, and omitted the protective metal plates.
Barding is body armour for war horses. The practice of armoring horses was first extensively developed in antiquity in the eastern kingdoms of Parthia and Pahlava, and after the conquests of Alexander the Great it made its way into European military practices via the Seleucid Empire and later Byzantine Empire. Though its historical roots lie in antiquity in the regions of what was once the Persian Empire, barded horses have become a symbol of the late European Middle Ages chivalry and the era of knights.
Mongolian armour has a long history. Mongol armour drew its influence from Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian styles. Most Mongolian armour was of scale and lamellar variety. Most armour was made of hardened leather and iron, laced together onto a fabric backing, sometimes silk. Mail armour was also sometimes used, but was rare, probably due to its weight and difficulty to repair. Mongol archers demanded the armour be light enough so that when riding, it didn't interfere with their mobility. It is also possible that the Mongol armour lacked mail and was generally lighter than its counterparts to the East and West because the nomadic habits of the Mongols were not conducive to the labour-intensive practices and permanent facilities necessary for making mail or large plates. Sometimes arm protection was removed so that a rider could draw their bow easier. The helmet was made of mostly iron, but leather and other materials were also used. Lamellar armour was also used by the countries that were affected by the invasion of the Mongols worldwide, including the conquest of China and the Middle East. This is especially shown by Tamerlane, a debatably Mongol warlord of the 15th century that used lamellar armour consistently with his cavalry, and garbed himself and his men in Mongolian armour during war.
The ō-yoroi (大鎧) is a prominent example of early Japanese armor worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The term ō-yoroi means "great armor."
A lame is a solid piece of sheet metal used as a component of a larger section of plate armor used in Europe during the medieval period. It is used in armors to provide articulations or the joining of the armor elements. The size is usually small with a narrow and rectangular shape. Multiple lames are riveted together or connected by leather straps or cloth lacing to form an articulated piece of armor that provides flexible protection. The armor worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan used lames in the construction of many of their individual armor parts. The Japanese term is ita, which can both refer to the lame or its borderings.
Bashford Dean was an American zoologist, specializing in ichthyology, and at the same time an expert in medieval and modern armor. He is the only person to have held concurrent positions at the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he was Honorary Curator of Arms and Armor; the Metropolitan Museum purchased his collection of arms and armor after his death.
Heavy infantry consisted of heavily armed and armoured infantrymen who were trained to mount frontal assaults and/or anchor the defensive center of a battle line. This differentiated them from light infantry who are relatively mobile and lightly armoured skirmisher troops intended for screening, scouting and other tactical roles unsuited to soldiers carrying heavier loads. Heavy infantry typically made use of dense battlefield formations, such as shield wall or phalanx, multiplying their effective weight of arms with force concentration.
A morion is a type of open helmet originally from the Kingdom of Castile (Spain), used from the beginning 16th to early 17th centuries, usually having a flat brim and a crest from front to back. Its introduction was contemporaneous with the exploration of North, Central and South America. Explorers such as Hernando de Soto and Coronado may have supplied them to their foot soldiers in the 1540s.
Mail and plate armour is a type of mail with embedded plates. Armour of this type has been used in the Middle East, North Africa, Ottoman Empire, Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, Central Asia, Greater Iran, India, Eastern Europe, and Nusantara.
Scholars agree that Japanese armour first appeared in the 4th century, with the discovery of the cuirass and basic helmets in graves. It is thought they originated from China via Korea. During the Heian period (794-1185), the unique Japanese samurai armour ō-yoroi and dō-maru appeared. The Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of body armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or dō, with the use of leather straps (nerigawa), and lacquer for weatherproofing. Leather and/or iron scales were also used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) of these cuirasses. In the 16th century, Japan began trading with Europe, during what would become known as the Nanban trade. This was the first time matchlock muskets were imported, and as they became mass-produced domestically, samurai needed lighter and more protective armour. As a result, a new style of armour called tosei-gusoku (gusoku), which means modern armour, appeared. When a united Japan entered the peaceful Edo period, samurai continued to use both plate and lamellar armour as a symbol of their status.
Laminar armour is an armour made from horizontal overlapping rows or bands of solid armour plates called lames, as opposed to lamellar armour, which is made from individual armor scales laced together to form a solid-looking strip of armor. Prominent examples of such armour are lorica segmentata of Ancient Rome and certain versions of samurai armour.
The Armor of Emperor Ferdinand I is a suit of plate armor created by the Nuremberg armorer Kunz Lochner in 1549 for the future Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor. One of several suits of armor made for the Emperor Ferdinand during the wars of Reformation and conflict with the Ottomans, the etched but functional armor is thought by scholars to symbolize and document the role of the Habsburg Catholic monarchs as warriors on Europe's literal and ideological battlefields.
A Turban helmet is a variety of Turkish helmet specifically known for its bulbous shape and fluting that imitates the folds of a turban. Turban helmets originated in Ottoman Turkey, primarily used by warriors and some external attics.
Kulah Khuds were used in ancient western Asia for battle and as decorative head pieces.
Helmet of eight plates in the Korean style is a helmet produced between 14th and 16th centuries in either Korean peninsula or Mongolia. This helmet consists of eight plates made of iron. It is speculated that this helmet style was spread to Korean peninsula from the Tibetan regions. Helmets with similar structure can be seen in Tibet, while both versions of the helmet are made of iron and leather. But Korean-style eight plated helmets are distinguished from those of Tibetan style by its relatively smaller size. Usually a Tibetan-style eight plated helmet measures 21–22 cm in height. But this Korean style helmet measures only 13 cm in height. Currently displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Korean style helmet measures 24.3 cm in length and 21 cm in width and 1065.9 g in weight.