What percentage of England's 14th-15th century population actually owned or wore armour?


I am particularly interested in 14th century England when asking this question. Was leather armour available to soldiers of this period? Thank you for your answers.

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    When you say "wore armour" are you considering any form of armour or are you just considering full-body (plate & chain mail) armour? Peacetime or wartime? Do you want a percentage as an average over the whole period or, say, year by year across the period? – KillingTime Feb 18 '17 at 10:01
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    Are you only considering metal armour, or are you interested in leather and padded cloth armours too? – John Dallman Feb 18 '17 at 12:02
  • There were no tanks or infantry fighting vehicles in 1300. oh wait… your question is about class but utterly avoids class.. – Samuel Russell Jul 28 '20 at 11:03

Probably less then 2-3%. If we look at some army sizes for England:

In the late 13th century Edward I expanded the familia regis to become a small standing army, forming the core of much larger armies up to 28,700 strong, largely comprising foot soldiers, for campaigns in Scotland and France.[287] By the time of Edward III, armies were smaller in size, but the troops were typically better equipped and uniformed...

so we had an armed force of, say 30,000 max, probably smaller. Population of England at that time was about 2.5 million, so 30,000 / 2,500,000 gives about 1.2%.

That's just a rough guesstimate at one moment. Just a few decades earlier the population was much larger, so the percentage would have been accordingly less. How many individuals had amour but weren't in someones army? Its still minimal but that's why I allow double the size of the largest force I find mentioned. If you find more precise data just reference the population page above to get numbers concerning the relevant percentage.


  • This assumes 13th century English foot soldiers wore armor at all. They'll probably be wearing their normal clothes, or padded leather clothing with a leather helmet and maybe a small shield. Heavy infantry and mounted knights (not necessarily all cavalry) would wear some sort of metal armor. It does provide an approximate upper bound. – Schwern Feb 18 '17 at 19:59
  • It also assumes that only those in the army had any armor... The findings in the mass graves from the battle of Visby (1361) shows that at least mail coifs were commonly available. Of course, Gotland was not England. – andejons Feb 18 '17 at 21:07
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    Couldn't get too specific since question is too broad and will likely get closed. OP didn't specify his definition of armor, so figured most of this would be leather. Just provided a general example showing armor availability was minimal if you are comparing the size of a group that is likely to have armor to the general population. – justCal Feb 18 '17 at 21:25

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