In Legends and Lore we feature interesting historical and mythological tidbits associated with Ravenwood Castle. This week’s Legends and Lore is written by our Assistant Innkeeper, Abby Kutscher.
What do you think of when you think of a castle? Drawbridges, royalty, secret passageways, knights? If any of these crossed your mind, then you are in luck! Here at Ravenwood Castle we have an imitation drawbridge, rooms named after royalty, and of course, our 3 life-size suits of armor! (If you’re interested in the secret passages, well, that’s confidential.)
The armor that knights wore was referred to as plate armor and was first used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to offer protection to a warrior’s chest and legs. But it wasn’t until the late Middle Ages, about 1420, that full suits of armor were developed. Surprisingly, full suits of armor were used more in in the combative sport of jousting – a sport in which two men on horses try to knock their opponent off of his stead, using a blunt lance – than in war.
A steel suit of armor consists of many different pieces and can weigh anywhere from 33 to 100 pounds! In comparison, the uniforms worn by NFL players today weigh only 15 to 20 pounds. The men who crafted these suits had to be very skilled. The knight still needed to be able to run, jump, and move freely in his armor. The trick was having the weight of the steel spread evenly across the body.
Let’s look at what pieces made up a full suit of armor. We’ll work our way from the feet up, which is how the knights of old dressed themselves.
First were sabatons; these were iron plated boots made for protecting the feet. Next came greaves—armor for the shins, poleyns to protect the knees, and cuisses for the thighs. The upper torso was protected by the breast plate and the back plate and a fauld that was worn below the breastplate to offer protection to the waist. Attached to the armor covering the shoulders were small pieces of metal called besagues; these were used to protect the armpit. On the arms were rerebraces (covering the upper half) and vambraces (covering the lower half). Gauntlets with chain-mail covered the hands. The helmets had detachable visors and sometimes aventails which were skirts of chain mail for protecting the neck.
Along with all of this protective armor, knights also often carried both a dagger and a sword at their belt, a shield, and sometimes spikes called gadlings were attached to the knuckles of the gauntlet.
Wow! With all of those bits and pieces, it’s no wonder that plated armor went out of style! However, if you’d like to see some in person, we have quite the variety here at Ravenwood. All of our suits of armor are from different time periods and different parts of Europe.
So stop on by and say hello to our knights, and thank them for keeping watch over the realm of Ravenwood.