I've heard about the battle of Agincourt that many knights probably died of drowning as they fell and their helmets filled with mud. It got me thinking: If you're going into battle on foot and in full-plate, what is the most likely cause of death for you? You're either going to walk away from the battle or die there. In the case you don't survive, how is that likely to go down? Did soldiers in full-plate know how their armor would likely be defeated if they became exhausted or disarmed?

Would the enemy soldiers try to disarm you? If so how would they do that and how would they then finish you? How would they get through your armor? Would they knock you down and try to wrestle a piece of your armor off and then stab you there? Or could they find weak points in your armor through which to stab you? Would they just hit you with hammers until the dents in your armor kill you by asphyxiation or trauma? Might they purposefully try to drown you in the mud?

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    Drowning in the mud sounds apocryphal. At Agincourt most of them were taken captive in melee, and then executed. The rest of your question seem to be generally asking for how full plate combat were conducted? It would usually have been blunt force trauma from a hammer or something similar, or getting wrestled to the ground and killed by a blade through a vulnerable point, e.g. joints, visors. There's quite a few videos demonstrating plate combat techniques, actually. I suggest reviewing some of these or other articles, and then update the question to say what you still find unclear/doubtful.
    – Semaphore
    Mar 16, 2018 at 18:11
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    Read about Misericordia. Armour will block cuts but not impacts. Broken bones and concussions happen through armor. Once you are down, you can be killed easily.
    – MCW
    Mar 16, 2018 at 18:18
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    Try getting up with a full plate armor, while trying to resist someone sticking a dagger in the armor's weak points. Mar 16, 2018 at 18:38
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    Flails were scary weapons as they would readily crack bones regardless of armor. Halberds appear as spears with a somewhat unweildly axe on the end...knocking over an armoured opponent and using the axe at the end of a spear to hack at a prone opponent was a valid method of diapatching a full plate knight.
    – Twelfth
    Mar 16, 2018 at 20:49
  • @Jared K Knights in full suits of armor mostly did not die in combat. Not dying in combat was their motivation for wearing expensive full suits of armor in battle. I once read about a "bloody" battle in the 15th century were about half a dozen knights died - possibly many more common soldiers. If so then combat in full suits of armor was relatively safe.
    – MAGolding
    Jun 21, 2019 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


It's a common misconception that knights in full armor couldn't get up when they fell down. In real life they could, without much difficulty. Jumping and running was also not a problem. The could mount a horse without assistance, and run short distances.

Good armour fits the body well, all over. The weight was evenly distributed. If a knight fell in the mud at Agincourt, he would get up if he could.

No armor gives perfect protection. Not even today. There are lots of gaps that cannot be protected. For example, at the groin, the armpits, the neck and the visor. Every soldier had a weapon at hand to finish off a knight in those places. Stilettos and misericordes were designed just for that purpose. The spike on a pollaxe did the same.

In medieval times, knights normally didn't want to kill other knights in battle. They ransomed them. Much more profitable. That didn't apply to common soldiers. A knight killed them whenever he could. Of course, the favor was returned. Common foot soldiers usually didn't give mercy to knights. Unless ordered differently.

In some battles, Agincourt was one of them, no mercy was given. Most French knights weren't killed during the battle, but afterwards. On orders of the king. He feared so many knight-prisoners was too dangerous under the circumstances.


Off topic, slightly: Armor was worn ... because it worked!! Ask yourself: why on earth would someone wear 5 up to 30 kg of useless metal all day long? Roman legionaries got up, put on their lorica and went to work. Medieval soldiers did about the same. Why would soldiers do that? They have lots of other useful stuff that they much rather carry around.

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