In the early European Middle Ages, simple round shields made from linden-wood wood covered on both sides by leather were typical. Over time, these were displaced by the kite shield, which was rounded at the top and tapered at the bottom. This gave some protection to the user's legs, without adding too much to the total weight of the shield. Kite shields were commonly used by cavalry as well.
As body armour improved, knight's shields became smaller, leading to the familiar heater shield style. Both kite and heater style shields were made of several layers of laminated wood, with a gentle curve in cross section. The heater style inspired the shape of the symbolic heraldic shield that is still used today. Eventually, specialised shapes were developed such as the bouche, which had a lance rest cut into the upper corner of the lance side, to help guide it in combat or tournament. Free standing shields called pavises, which were propped up on stands, were used by medieval crossbowmen who needed protection while reloading.
In time, some armoured foot knights gave up shields entirely in favour of mobility and two-handed weapons. Other knights and common soldiers adopted the buckler (origin of the term "swashbuckler"). The buckler is a small round shield, typically between 8 and 16 inches (20-40 centimeters) in diameter. The buckler was one of very few types of shield that were usually made of metal. Small and light, the buckler was easily carried by being hung from a belt; it gave little protection from missiles and was reserved for hand-to-hand combat. The buckler continued in use well into the 16th Century.
In Italy, the targa, parma and rotella were utilized by common people, fencers and even knights. The development of plate armour made shields less and less common as plate armour eliminated the need for a shield. Lightly armoured troops continued to use shields after men-at-arms and knights ceased to use them. Shields continued in use even after gunpowder powered weapons made them essentially obsolete on the battlefield. In the 18th Century, the Scottish clans used a small, round shield called a targe that was partially effective against the firearms of the time, although it was arguably more often used against British infantry bayonets and cavalry swords in close-in fighting.
During the 19th Century, non-industrial cultures with little access to guns were still using war shields. Zulu warriors carried large lightweight shields made from a single ox hide supported by a wooden spine, these were called Ishlangu. This was used in combination with a short spear (assegai) and/or club.
Although the size of shield would vary due to personal preference and role, most were thin compared to common belief (a misconception aided by the depiction of heavy shields in films). When used in fighting, shields were most effective when used to cause glancing blows. By deflecting a sword blow to the side, rather than blocking it head on, the attacker could be rendered open to a counterattack. This technique allowed the shield to be made lighter and more easily wielded, while reducing the amount of energy and risk of injury posed to the shield-bearer.
Read more about this topic: Shield
Other articles related to "middle ages, ages":
... is known about the history of Boal at the beginning of the Middle Ages, during the asturian monarchy ...
... Florent de Varennes, lord of Varennes, son-in-law of John II, Count of Soissons, became the first Admiral of France, heading the naval journey to North Africa, where Saint Louis IX led the Eighth Crusade ... Like the King and Prince John Tristan of France, Count of Valois, he died in front of Tunis in August 1270, due to dysentery ...
... Further information Dark Ages (historiography) The medieval period is frequently caricatured as supposedly a "time of ignorance and superstition" which placed "the word of religious authorities over personal ... scholars saw the Classical world as a time of high culture and civilization, and saw the Middle Ages as a decline from that culture ... Enlightenment scholars saw reason as superior to faith, and thus viewed the Middle Ages as a time of ignorance and superstition ...
... In the Middle Ages Reicholzheim had different names Reicholtsheim, Reichelsheim, Richolfsheim and Richolvesheim ... Thus the sovereignty over Reicholzheim in the Middle Ages changed again and again between the count von Wertheim and the monastery Bronnbach that to the diocese of Wuerzburg ...
Famous quotes containing the words middle ages, ages and/or middle:
“In the middle ages people were tourists because of their religion, whereas now they are tourists because tourism is their religion.”
—Robert Runcie (b. 1921)
“Gaining a better understanding of how childrens minds work at different ages will allow you to make more sense of their behaviors. With this understanding come decreased stress and increased pleasure from being a parent. It lessens the frustrations that come from expecting things that a child simply cannot do or from incorrectly interpreting a childs behavior in adult terms.”
—Lawrence Kutner (20th century)
“At middle night great cats with silver claws,
Bodies of shadow and blind eyes like pearls,
Came up out of the hole, and red-eared hounds
With long white bodies came out of the air
Suddenly, and ran at them and harried them.”
—William Butler Yeats (18651939)