Last modified 01/06/2004

Pictorial Glossary of Armor Terms

This cross-indexed glossary defines terms for European Medieval armor. Different terms could mean different things at different times, so the terminology can be confusing. I have tried to give commonly agreed upon definitions.

This glossary is based heavily on the glossary in Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight by David Edge and John M Paddock, published by Crescent Books. This is an excellent book covering European weapons and armor from the eleventh century to the sixteenth century.

The pictures displayed in this glossary are from various places listed on my Armor Web Sites page. Larger pictures can be seen by clicking on the smaller pictures shown in the glossary.

[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]


A

Action
Aketon
Ailettes
Thirteenth to fourteenth-century flat pieces of leather or parchment worn on the point of the shoulder to display a coat-of-arms
Almain rivet
Sixteenth-century German munition half-armor or corslet
Aketon
Padded and quilted garment worn under armor or as armor by itself
Anima
Anime
Anime
Cuirass made of horizontal overlapping lames
Armet
Fifteenth-century Italian helmet consisting of a skull, two hinged cheek pieces which fasten at the front, and a visor
armetAn armet
The Lonely Mountain Forge
Arming cap
Padded cap or hood worn inside a helmet
Arming Doublet
Fifteenth-century and later quilted garment worn under armor that is equipped with arming points to attach mail gussets and other pieces of armor
arming doubletAn arming doublet
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Arming points
Ties to secure armor in place
Aventail
Mail, attached to the bottom edge of a helmet, often by vervelles, covering the neck and shoulders
aventailAn aventail attached to a hounskull basinet by vervelles
Valentine Armouries

B

Backplate
Plate armor for the back
Barbote
Spanish high bevor with a falling lame containing eyeslits
Barbut
One-piece Italian helmet often with a T-shaped face opening
barbutA barbut
Valentine Armouries
Barbuta
Italian Barbut
Barbute
Barbut
Bascinet
Basinet
Bases
1) Sixteenth-century cloth skirts worn over armor
2) Tonlet
Basinet
Open-faced helmet with a rounded or pointed skull, often worn with an aventail and visor
Basnet
Basinet
Bavier
Bevor
Bellows visor
Sixteenth-century visor with horizontal ridges
bellows visorA bellows visor on a close helmet
Valentine Armouries
Besegew
Circular plate protecting the armpit
Bevor
Plate armor for the chin and lower face, sometimes including a gorget
bevorA bevor
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Birnie
Mail shirt
bevorA birnie
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Bishop's mantle
Sixteenth-century mail cape covering the shoulders
Bouche
Notch in the top corner of a shield to help support a lance when jousting
Bracer
1) Fourteenth-century armor for the lower arm
2) Archer's forearm guard to protect from the bowstring
Brassart
Vambrace, definition 2
Breastplate
Plate armor for the front of the torso
breastplateA breastplate
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Breaths
Holes for ventilation in the faceplate or visor of a helmet or in the lames of a falling buffe or bevor
Brigandine
Flexible torso armor of small plates riveted inside a covering of leather or fabric
brigandineA brigandine
Valentine Armouries
Buckler
Small round shield
Buffe
Sixteenth-centry bevor worn strapped to an open-faced helmet
Burgonet
Sixteenth-century open-faced helmet with a peak over the brow, a combed skull, and hinged ear-pieces
burgonetA burgonet
Valentine Armouries
Byrnie
Birnie

C

Cabacete
Fifteenth-century Spanish helmet with a turned-down brim and an almond-shaped skull ending in a stalk-like projection
cabaceteA cabacete
Bru-Baker's Swords, Armory & Artifacts
Cabasset
Spanish morion with an almond-shaped skull ending in a stalk-like projection, derived from the cabacete
cabassetA cabasset
Bru-Baker's Swords, Armory & Artifacts
Camail
French Aventail
Cannon
Plate armor encircling the upper and lower arm
Cap-a-pied
French "From head to foot", meaning fully armored
Casque
Fifteenth to sixteenth-century open-faced helmet, often of classical design, similar to a burgonet
Casquetal
Casque
Celata
Fifteenth-century Italian open-faced sallet
Cervelliere
Steel skull cap
Chapel de Fer
Kettle hat
Charnel
Fourteenth-century staple or bolt used to secure the helm or great basinet to the breastplate and backplate
Chausses
Mail leggings enclosing the leg and foot, or strips of mail laced to the front of the legs
chaussesChausses in the form of strips of mail covering the front of the legs
Valentine Armouries
Close helmet
Helmet with a full visor and bevor that completely encloses the head and face
close helmetA close helmet
Valentine Armouries
Coat armor
Fourteenth-century quilted garment worn over armor
Coat of fence
Jack
Coat of plates
Fourteenth-century torso armor of large plates riveted inside a cloth or leather garment
Cod-piece
Covering for the groin
Coif
Hood, usually of mail
coifA mail coif
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Collar
Gorget
Comb
Ridge on the skull of a helmet that runs from front to back
Comb morion
Morion with a high central comb on the top of the skull
comb morionA comb morion
Museum Replicas Limited
Corselet
Corslet
Corslet
1) Sixteenth-century half-armor consisting of a gorget, breastplate, backplate, tassets, full arm armor, and gauntlets
2) Sixteenth-century cuirass
Couter
Plate armor for the elbow
Cowter
Couter
Crest
Thirteenth-century and later heraldic device attached to the top of the helm
Cuirass
Breastplate and backplate made to be worn together
Cuir bouilli
Rigid leather hardened by saturation in water or boiled in wax
Cuirie
Thirteenth-century cuirass originally made of cuir bouilli
Cuishes
Cuisses
Cuisses
Armor for the thighs
Culet
Hooped plate armor of horizontal lames for the buttocks

D

Dog-faced basinet
Hounskull
Double-pieces
Exchange pieces

E

Elbow cop
Couter
Elbow gauntlet
Gauntlet with a cuff that reaches up the arm to the elbow, replacing the lower cannon of the vambrace and the couter
Enarmes
Straps attached to the inside of the shield for holding it with the arm
Espalier
Thirteenth-century and later shoulder armor, usually laminated
Exchange pieces
Extra pieces of armor which could be added or exchanged to customize a harness for different uses, such as for foot combat and for different types of jousts

F

Fall
Peak on the brow of a helmet, sometimes pivotted at the sides
Falling buffe
Sixteenth bevor made of several lames held in place by a latch that, when released, allows the lames to slide down to expose the face for better vision and ventilation
falling buffeA falling buffe on a burgonet
Valentine Armouries
Fauld
Armor for the abdomen, usually of horizontal lames attached to the lower edge of a breastplate
fauldA fauld of three lames on a breastplate
By The Sword
Fence
Jack
Field armor
Armor made for war, "for the field"
Finger gauntlet
Gauntlet with each finger protected by its own separate set of lames
finger gauntletsA pair of finger gauntlets
The Lonely Mountain Forge
Frog-mouthed helm
Fourteenth-century and later helm, usually attached to the breastplate and backplate, where the lower edge of the sight projects well beyond the upper edge
frog-mouthed helmA frog-mouthed helm
Valentine Armouries

G

Gadlings
Protruding studs on the the knuckles of a gauntlet, sometimes spiked, jewelled, or in the shape of animals
Gambeson
Quilted doublet with a skirt worn either under armor, over armor, or as armor by itself
Gamboised cuisses
Thirteenth to fourteenth-century padded and quilted cuisses
Gardbrace
Fifteenth-century and later reinforcing plate attached to the pauldron
Gard-cuish
Tilting socket
Gard-cuisse
Tilting socket
Garde-rein
Armor for the buttocks
Garniture
Sixteenth-century and later complete harness with and additional 20 or 30 matching exchange pieces
Gauntlets
Armored gloves for the hands, either of mitten type or with individual fingers
Gipon
Jupon
Gorget
Plate collar covering the neck and tops of the chest and shoulders
gorgetA gorget
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Gothic armor
Fifteenth-century German armor style characterized pointed, thin lines and fluting, often in fan-shaped designs
Gothic armorA Gothic harness
Valentine Armouries
Grand guard
Large plate for the joust attached to the left side of the breastplate to reinforce it, the armor for the left arm, and the left side of the visor
Great basinet
Basinet with attached plate armor for the neck instead of an aventail
Great helm
Helm
Greave
Plate armor for the leg from the knee to the ankle, initially only covering the front of the shin, but later made of two hinged plates encircling the lower leg
greaves greavesTwo types of greaves
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Greenwich armor
Sixteenth-century armor style made at Greenwich in England at the workshops set up by Henry VIII
Greenwich armorA Greenwich harness
Valentine Armouries
Guard chains
Fourteenth-century chains which linked the sword, dagger, and helm to the breastplate to prevent them from being lost in battle
Guige
Strap attached to the inside of the shield by which it could be slung around the neck
Gussets
1) Fifteenth-century mail sleeves covering the armpits and other portions of the arm not covered by plate armor
gussetsMail gussets attached to an arming doublet by arming points
Valentine Armouries
2) Sixteenth-century lames at the armpit of the breastplate

H

Habergeon
Short hauberk
habergeonA haubergeon
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Half armor
Armor for the the torso and arms, but leaving the legs unprotected
Haqueton
Aketon
Harness
Complete "suit" of armor
Haubergeon
Habergeon
Hauberk
Sleeved shirt of mail or scale reaching down to the hip or knee
hauberkA hauberk
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Haute-piece
Plate attached to the pauldron that sticks up to protect the neck
Heater shield
Shield with a flat top and sides that curve to a point
heater shieldA heater shield
Museum Replicas Limited
Heaume
Helm
Helm
Helmet enclosing the entire head and face and reaching down almost to the shoulders
helmA helm
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Hosting armor
Field armor
Hounskull
Fourteenth and fifteenth-century nickname for a type of pointed visor on a basinet
hounskullA hounskull on a basinet with a mail aventail attached by vervelles
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Hour-glass gauntlet
Fourteenth-century finger gauntlet with a large plate covering the back and sides of the hand that narrows at the wrist and flares out to form a short cuff
hourglass gauntletsA pair of hourglass gauntlets
Valentine Armouries

I

J

Jack
Doublet or jacket usually lined with small metal plates, but sometimes just padded
Jamb
Schynbald
Jambart
Schynbald
Jamber
Schynbald
Jambiere
Schynbald
Jupon
Fourteenth to fifteenth-century tight-fitting padded garment worn over armor, often displaying a coat-of-arms

K

Kastenbrust
Fifteenth-century German breastplate with angular lines
Kettle hat
Simple open-faced helmet consisting of a skull with a wide brim
kettle hatA kettle hat
Valentine Armouries
Kite-shaped shield
Tenth to thirteenth-century large shield of elongated triangular shape with a rounded top
kite-shaped shieldA kite-shaped shield
Museum Replicas Limited
Klapvisier
Fourteenth-century German globular visor attached to the basinet by a central hinge over the forehead
klapvisierA klapvisier on a basinet
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Knee cop
Poleyn

L

Lamellar
Semi-rigid armor made of small plates laced together
Lames
Narrow strips of plate often used to provide articulation
Laminated
Constructed entirely or partially of lames
Lance rest
Support bolted onto the breastplate to help hold a couched lance

M

Mail
Flexible armor made up of interlocking metal rings
mailMail
By The Sword
Manifer
Plate armor for the left hand and and lower left arm, usually worn for jousting
Maximilian armor
Sixteenth-century armor style popular during the reign of Emperor Maximilian (1494-1519) characterized by narrow, parallel fluting
Maximilian armorA Maximilian harness
Valentine Armouries
Mitten gauntlet
Gauntlet with a single set of lames covering all of the fingers
mitten gauntletA pair of mitten gauntlets
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Morion
Sixteenth-century helmet consisting of a skull with a broad brim turning upwards at the front and back
morionA morion
Medieval Replicas
Muffler
Mitten-like extension to the sleeve of a hauberk to cover the hand
Munition armor
Sixteenth-century mass-produced, cheaply-made armor for the common soldier
Munnions
Articluated lames, usually attached to the gorget, protecting the shoulders and upper arms

N

Nasal
Plate attached to the front of a helmet to protect the nose and middle of the face
Norman helmet
Eleventh-century helmet with a conical skull and a nasal, made either in one piece or of Spangenhelm construction, often associated with the Normans
Norman helmetA Norman helmet
Medieval Replicas

O

Orle
Wreath or twisted circlet worn on the skull of a helmet

P

Pair of curates
Cuirass
Pair of plates
Coat of plates
Pasguard
Plate reinforcement for the left elbow for jousting
Pauldron
Laminated armor for the shoulder extending at the front and rear to protect the armpit
Pavise
Large shield carried by infantrymen, often equipped with a prop to set them upright on the ground
Pieces of exchange
Exchange pieces
Pig-faced basinet
Hounskull
Plackart
Plate reinforcement for the lower part of the breastplate
Plates
Coat of plates
Points
Arming points
Poldermitten
Plate reinforcement for the right arm for jousting
Poleyn
Plate armor for the knee, usually equipped with a side wing protecting the outside of the knee
Pomme
Fifteenth-centry spherical helmet decoration worn instead of a crest
Pot
Simple common soldier's helmet
Proof
Armor "of proof" is made strong enough to resist a shot from a bow or musket
Puffed and slashed armor
Sixteenth-century armor style characterized by embossing resembling a civilian style of dress where puffs of colored material were pulled through slashes in the sleeves and body of a contrasting outer layer of material

Q

Queue
Sixteenth-century bar bolted to the breastplate to steady the lance for jousting

R

Rennhut
One-piece sallet designed for jousting with sharpened lances
Renntartsche
Large shield for jousting with sharpened lances bolted to and covering the breastplate and bevor
Rennzeug
Armor for jousting with sharpened lances
Rerebrace
Armor for the upper arm
Rondache
Buckler
Rondel
Metal disk on the rear of an armet to protect the strap for the wrapper
Rump guard
Fifteenth-century oblong plate hung from the lower edge of the culet

S

Sabaton
Plate armor for the foot consisting of lames ending in a toecap
sabatonsA pair of sabatons
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Salade
Sallet
Sallet
Helmet, either open-faced or equipped with a visor, that has a tail to protect the neck
salletA sallet
Valentine Armouries
Scale
Armor made from small overlapping plates sewn or laced to a cloth or leather garment
Schynbald
Plate armor for the lower leg which protected only the shin
Sight
Vision slit in a helmet or visor
Skull
Part of a helmet that covers the top, back and sides of the head above the ears
Skull cap
Simple metal cap
Solleret
French Sabaton
Spangenhelm
Conical helmet made of a number of plates riveted together
spangenhelmA spangenhelm
Valentine Armouries
Spanish morion
Cabasset
Spaulder
Laminated armor for the shoulder and top of the arm
spauldersA pair of spaulders
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Splint
Fifteenth and sixteenth-century gutter-shaped plates protecting only the outside of the arm, usually found on munition armor
Standard
Mail collar
Stechhelm
Frog-mouthed helm which was bolted to the brestplate for jousting with blunted lances
Stechtartsche
Small rectangular shield tied onto the breastplate for jousting with blunted lances
Stechzeug
Armor for jousting with blunted lances
Stop rib
Small bar riveted to plate armor to prevent the point of a weapon from sliding into a joint or opening
Stud and splint armor
Armor made of metal strips and studs riveted onto a leather backing
Sugarloaf helm
Helm with a conical skull
sugarloaf helmA sugarloaf helm
The Lonely Mountain Forge
Suit of armor
Harness
Surcoat
Twelfth-century and later flowing garment worn over armor, either sleeved or sleeveless and usually reaching to the mid-calf, often displaying a coat-of-arms

T

Tabard
Short garment with open sides and short sleeves worn to display a coat-of-arms
Taces
Tassets
Target
Small round shield
Medieval Replicas
Tassets
Fifteenth-century and later armor for the tops of the thighs that hangs from the fauld to cover the gaps between the breastplate and cuisses
Tilting socket
Large reinforced cuisses worn for jousting with sharpened lances
Tonlet
Fifteenth and sixteenth-century deep, hooped skirt of steel worn on armors designed for foot combat
Turning joint
A circular joint on the rerebrace that allows the arm to twist, formed by a flange that rotates inside a groove

U

Umbo
Shield boss that covers the hand as it holds the grip

V

Vambrace
1) Armor for the lower arm
vambracesA pair of vambraces
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
2) Entire arm armor except for the pauldron
vambracesA pair of vambraces
Christian Fletcher Medieval Armour
Ventail
Thirteenth-century mail flap on a coif that draws across the mouth to protect the face
Vervelles
Staples attached to the lower edge of a helmet for attaching an aventail
Visor
Part of a helmet that protects the eyes and face, often pivoted to the skull
Volant-piece
Reinforcing plate on the brow of a helmet

W

Waist lame
Horizontal lamination in the breastplate or backplate at waist level
War hat
Kettle hat
White armor
Armor of plain, polished steel without any attached covering
white armorA white harness
Valentine Armouries
Wrapper
Reinforcing armor strapped to the front of the helmet that covers the chin and the lower half of the visor
wrapperA wrapper on an armet with a rondel
Valentine Armouries

X

Y

Z


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