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62 votes

How would a Spartan have held his shield?

SHORT ANSWER Most battles were short and thus the shield did not have to be held for long in combat. Also, Spartans who survived the training which began in early childhood were extremely tough both ...
50 votes

How would a Spartan have held his shield?

Lars' answer has addressed the fact that the shields (know as a hoplon) often didn't need to be held for long; I'd like to address the actual mechanics. Image showing the shield held close in to the ...
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47 votes

After the fall of the Roman Empire, where did their armor go? Was it used by any dark ages forces?

I would dispute your claim that Roman armour was superior. Roman armour mostly consisted of a mail shirt of varying length and quality, not dissimilar to that of the germanic tribes that overran the ...
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45 votes

Why did the grip-centered viking shield fall out of use relative to the kite shields?

It's important to note that concrete information on how shields were used is scant, so a large part of any discussion on this subject is speculation and logic. That said, kite shields had an obvious ...
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44 votes
Accepted

Why were helmets and other body armour not commonplace in the 1800s?

Looking at this slightly backwards, you could ask what are the factors that have enabled the supply of body armor to the modern infantry soldier? Modern ballistic materials, such as kevlar, are ...
  • 18.1k
35 votes

Why were helmets and other body armour not commonplace in the 1800s?

Quality of steel was not sufficient enough to be practicable for body armor and helmets Historically speaking, use of armor, shields and helmets declined with the advance of firearms. During the ...
  • 11k
33 votes

After the fall of the Roman Empire, where did their armor go? Was it used by any dark ages forces?

Roman Empire did not fall suddenly. This was a slow process which lasted centuries. And there is no sharp edge between antiquity and dark ages. The period of decline was much longer than a normal ...
  • 37.5k
22 votes
Accepted

How long does it take to craft the kinds of armour worn by typical medieval warriors in europe?

Well, the Metropolitan Museum gives us a definitive answer of "it depends", mostly because in practice armour was not done by a single armourer in a single stretch. If, however, we turn to modern ...
  • 1,568
21 votes

What metallurgy advancement allowed the transition from mail hauberk to plate armor?

The emergence of late medieval full plate armour wasn't really prompted by any specific discovery or advancement in metallurgical tech. Partial plate armour, in principle, can be traced all the way ...
  • 96.3k
21 votes
Accepted

Why was there an Anglo-Saxon law banning sheepskin covered shields?

Because King Athelstan was concerned about the quality of soldiers' shields. Sheepskin was a cheap but poor quality option for covering shields. A key theme of Athelstan's Grately Codes is dealing ...
17 votes
Accepted

Why did only Anglo-Saxon kings wear helmets?

With all due respect to Dr McAdam, I don't think that is correct. To give just one example, we have depictions of Anglo Saxon cavalry wearing helmets on Pictish stones like the one in the churchyard ...
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12 votes
Accepted

M4A1 sherman vs StuG III ausf. G — what were the odds in favor of the Sherman?

The low silhouette of the StuG III (7 feet high vs 9 feet) made it ideal for ambush tactics. Against the Americans it's likely going to be on the defense and well hidden. It will probably get one or ...
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12 votes
Accepted

Why did helmets have this metal thing between the eyes?

The main reasons are Cost-Efficiency points. Just consider how expensive is a full covering and well made helmet, and how much they are blocking the view. However this kind of helmet is blocking way ...
12 votes

Is there any evidence that Celts produced chain mail?

There is extensive documentary and archeological evidence for Celtic chain mail; one Classical writer (Varro) even specifically named the Celts as the inventors of chain mail. You can take a look at ...
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12 votes
Accepted

How did knights in full suits of armor eventually die in combat? What were the most common causes of death for soldiers in full-body plate armor?

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 ...
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12 votes

After the fall of the Roman Empire, where did their armor go? Was it used by any dark ages forces?

Well maintained armor can last for a very long time. But within limits, due to normal wear and tear. I can't give you any particular length, but you can safely assume anything from 30 up to maybe 70 ...
  • 17.9k
11 votes
Accepted

Was bronze ever used for chainmail?

"Was it ever?" Certainly. The style of armour evolved with swings of a pendulum as can be seen from the earliest bronze age up until now, with conspicuous heights found in the trench warfare ...
  • 78.5k
11 votes

Why were helmets and other body armour not commonplace in the 1800s?

Like you wrote in your question, there was a period of time when bullets and shrapnel would pierce right through armor, so there was little point in putting bulky armor on. In addition, armor was ...
10 votes
Accepted

Why was metal armor phased out after gun powder was weaponized?

As the Metropolitan museum's article on armor notes, it took several centuries from the first introduction of gunpowder on the battlefield to the elimination of armor for the infantry man. The ...
  • 18.1k
9 votes
Accepted

How were the holes for the guns in battleships' turrets protected?

After some more research I stand by my earlier comment in general the gun ports had minimal protection, relying on small size and being in the shadow of the gun. There is a large amount of negative ...
9 votes

Why did only Anglo-Saxon kings wear helmets?

This is not true, certainly for the later period and probably for the earlier period too. Covering the early period (and bearing in mind that it is heroic fiction), we have references in Beowulf to ...
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9 votes

Why were helmets and other body armour not commonplace in the 1800s?

Body armor was issued to heavy cavalry. They had their horses to help carry it, and they expected to fight with saber and lance. Cuirassiers are named for their armor.
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8 votes
Accepted

Did armored cavalry have an advantage over unarmored cavalry in 18th/19th century?

The advantage of wearing cuirass was obviously protection. As you noted, it could deflect pistol shots, and in theory even muskets at distance. Perhaps the main benefit however, was in fact against ...
  • 96.3k
8 votes

Why were helmets and other body armour not commonplace in the 1800s?

Nobody forgot about armor, and it never disappeared entirely, it was simply no longer worthwhile in their particular context. Armor is expensive to produce but it is also heavy, cumbersome, and ...
8 votes

In the 19th century, do we know how armor changed with respect to guns of the time?

I think your question missed it by about a century, give or take. The last generalized use of armor by Western armies is around the 16-17th century, with mostly breastplates and helmets. By the 18th,...
7 votes

Why did helmets have this metal thing between the eyes?

"Medieval" helmets are a very broad category. You're looking at several hundred years of weapon evolution that gets wrapped up into a single term. In different periods, different people would use a ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Can you name a battle in 14th C (?) in which many knight got killed because of pointed shoes?

The story is from Robert Walser's account (1908) of the Battle of Sempach (1386): Fine noblemen drowned in their hundreds; no, they were drownded in the nearby Lake of Sempach; they were drownded ...
  • 37.4k
7 votes

Is the term "chainmail" historically accurate, or a modern invention?

It's a bit of both: The first attestations of the word mail are in Old French and Anglo-Norman: maille, maile, or male or other variants, which became mailye, maille, maile, male, or meile in Middle ...
6 votes

Why were helmets and other body armour not commonplace in the 1800s?

It comes down to the existence of cavalry. Modern helmets are based around the assumption that soldiers are going to spread out and take advantage of whatever cover is present on the battlefield, ...
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5 votes

Why was metal armor phased out after gun powder was weaponized?

Why wear it when you can ride it? Just look at all these lumbering hunks of armour on the battlefield: Source Source Over time, people began to realise that riding vehicles with armour served way ...

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