The Gothic plate armor: Designed to completely protect the knight’s body during battle

For centuries, Medieval armour played a huge role in the life of European knights.

Although the usage of the term ‘gothic’ in art history can be traced back to spanning over the 12th to the 15th centuries, it was only between the 1420’s and 1440’s that Gothic armor was developed, (called “Gothic“ due to its similarity to the gothic style of architecture during those times).

The main European schools were German and Italian and at the time, national styles of “white armour” began to emerge, characterised by a full-body steel plate without a surcoat. The armour combined reliable protection and good mobility achieved due to increasing the number of parts and, for use in battle, the reduction of its size.

Developed in the first half of the 15th century.
The armour combined two main features: reliable protection and good mobility.
Armor of the condottiero Roberto da Sanseverino, captured after his death at the battle of Calliano, 1487.

Perhaps one of the main typical features of gothic armour was the Gothic sallet, a type of hollow helmet worn by knights during battle, for the protection of the back side of the head and the neck. It was used together with a bevor which was a piece of plate armour designed to protect the front part of the neck and the chin. The sallet helmet became almost universal and was a replacement for the bassinet, an open-faced military helmet worn during the Medieval times.

Breakdown of individual components of Gothic armor.

The style changed during the Renaissance and armours with rounder and more curved forms were produced. This type was known as Maximilian armour (after emperor Maximilian I) and became popular during the second half of his reign.

It wasn’t cheap and not every warrior could afford one. It was reserved only for the elite and the rest were equipped with only a few elements of body protection.