Monday, 8 August 2011

Medieval Armour Was Heavy

Various press reports have latched onto the recent publication of some findings in the field of armour research.

A team involving academics from Leeds, Milan and Auckland measured the effects of walking and running in a 30-40kg suit of plate armour, and discovered -- surprise, surprise -- that wearing armour has a detrimental effect on a man's breathing.

Actually, their analysis is slightly more detailed than this. They have discovered that distributing the weight around a man's body and along his limbs in a suit of armour has a rather different effect from loading the same weight into a backpack. When suited up, a man's energy expenditure is around 2.2 times higher when walking, and 1.9 times higher when running, although his mass has increased by only 1.4 times.

Press reports (e.g. The Guardian newspaper, with video) have enthusiastically attributed the English victory at Agincourt in 1415 to the fact that "the French knights were knackered". Hopefully, historians will have a more sophisticated analysis of the battle!

Report: G.N. Askew, F. Formenti & A.E. Minetti, "Limitations imposed by wearing armour on Medieval soldiers' locomotor performance", in: Proceedings of the Royal Society B, online content: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0816