by Elisabetta Gasparri, Form 3ALC, and Anna Betelli Form 4ALC, Liceo Mazzatinti, Gubbio

The plated suit of armour is a type of body armour made out of plates of various kinds of metals. It was a development in Europe, in the Late Middle Ages, of the plated cloak worn over a suit of chain-mail in use during the 14th century.

This use of this kind of armour was very widespread in Europe between the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries. Its association with the “Medieval Knight” derives from the special version used at tournaments during the 16th century, which was highly decorative, unlike the one used in battle.

The most heavily-armoured troops were the heavy cavalry, the gendarmes and the cuirassiers while the infantry, Swiss mercenaries and the Landsknechts began to wear lighter armour, which left the lower part of the body unprotected.

Armour plated suits, as used by the nobility and cuirassiers in the Wars of Religion,became obsolete in the 17th century. After 1650, the plated suit of armour was replaced by a simple cuirass. The reason for this was the invention of the musket, a weapon that could penetrate armour more easily. The breastplate became far more important for foot soldiers as a result of the development of firearms during the latter stages of the Napoleonic Wars. The use of steel plates sewn into bullet-proof vests dates from the Second World War and these have now been replaced by versions in more modern materials such as fibre re-enforced polymers.

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