Buying armour for the first time for reenactment fighting can be difficult, given the complexity of parts and their different functions. Ravencrest has created a guide to the main parts of a suit of armour and how they all go together.

Armour for the head:

  • Helmet: Protection for the head. Can come in many styles, from covering the top of the head (like a modern day cycle helmet) to the full face, head and neck.


Armour for the neck:

  • Bevor: Plate armour that covers the front of the neck and chin only. Worn with a sallet helm.
  • Gorget: Circular protection for the neck and some of the shoulders. Gorgets come in several styles depending on the period. They are either manufactured out of leather, with metal bands, and support the armour, or are several pieces of metal banded together that protect the same area.


Armour for the shoulders and arms:

  • Ailette: precursors to later metal shoulder armour, these 13th Century shoulder protectors were made from wood or stiffened linen
  • Spaulders: shoulder armour that did not cover the armpit
  • Besagew: circular defences for the armpits, worn with Spaulders
  • Pauldrons: armour that covered both the tops of the shoulders and the armpit
  • Rerebrace / upper cannons: upper arms
  • Vambrace / lower cannons: lower arms
  • Couter / elbow cop: Armour that covers the elbow
  • Jack Chains: Minimal armour worn by foot soldiers, jack chains were metal strips that were tied to the outer edge of the arms and incorporated an elbow couter. Worn over a padded arming jacket.


Armour for the body and torso:

  • Brigadine: sleeveless cloth body armour usually made from linen or leather with small rectangular plates of metal riveted to the interior for movement and protection.
  • Curiass: armour that protects both the back and front of the torso. It can either be two separate pieces made from a back and breast plate or one, integrated piece.
  • Culet: small pieces of plate armour (lames) that overlap to protect the buttocks. Can be worn as part of a plate skirt.
  • Plackart: a piece of Medieval armour designed to protect the lower torso (from the chest down) and is an integral part of a breastplate.
  • Fauld: Pieces of plate armour that hang below the breastplate and cover the waist, groin and hips, forming the front part of a metal skirt with the culet at the back.
  • Hauberk: Chain 'shirt' that can have different length sleeves and bottom hem depending on the time period and status of the wearer. Can be worn with or without plate armour.
  • Coat of plates: The precursor of the brigandine, a more basic construction of metal plates within either a cloth or leather garment. 
  • Jack of plates: As for the brigandine and coat of plates, a jack of plates in metal plates inside.


Armour for the legs and feet:

  • Tassets: A single piece of plate armour designed to protect the upper legs , that hung from the breast-pate of faulds.
  • Chausses: armour for the legs manufactored from mail, that fell to or covered the knee. These were the standard type of leg armour worn during the European Middle Ages (13th and 14th Century).
  • Cuisses - armour worn to protect the thigh, originally padded or splinted leather, like a Gembeson jacket and later plate metal was typical during the Late Middle Ages.
  • Poleyn: Medieval armour that protects the knee, being one of the first pieces of plate mail created during the transition between mail and plate.
  • Medieval greaves protect the lower part of the leg, both shin and calf. From the 14th C onward are almost always closed, being made of two pieces of plate metal that enclose the leg and secured with hinges and buckles and straps on the inside 
  • Schynbalds: AN early type of plate armour that covered the front and outside part of the leg only, made from a single piece of metal plate.
  • Sabaton (or solleret): These are parts of the knight's armour that protect the foot.