quipment Requirements

Academy of European Medieval Martial ArtsThe armour of the 14th century was characterized by the increased usage of plate armour for the body of various materials, including latten (a brass-like copper alloy), whalebone, iron and steel. For the duration of the 14th century, the knight would continue to wear a mail hauberk. The hauberk only reached to just below hip level, sleeves extending to the wrist. Mail chausses were worn, covered with plate armour on the legs, called greaves strapped with leather behind the legs. After mid 14th century, the arms were frequently completely covered in plate armour and the arm protection was completed with a pair of gauntlets. In the latter half of the century, breast plates made their first appearance. During the latter part of the century, body defense known as brigandine was developed. This was a piece of body armour which followed the principle of a coat of plates.

Through research and practical experimentation, it was determined that the 14th century (transitional/international) archetypes is the most appropriate and suitable form of armour. This period armour has the advantage of becoming a later period armour with more plate, or an earlier period armour with the removal of the respective plated components.

Note: For your convenience, equipment listing is highlighted with links directly to specifications, source, availability and pricing. As more sources are validated, additional links will be added.

Equipment Requirements for the Introduction to l'arte dell'armizare (Armizare)

For those individuals who will be or are taking the introduction to Armizare course, the equipment requirements are minimal and include the following: a comfortable t-shirt/training shirt, comfortable leggings/sweats/shorts (summer only), running shoes or flat-soled wrestling/boxing boots, pair of leather garden gloves or similar. Weapons are provided (daggers, swords). If one decides to pursue regular training, see the section following for recruit level equipment requirements.

Recruit Member Equipment Requirements

The following list is the minimum training equipment required for any newly joined individual interested in starting with the training program. This will allow the participant to practice with the above mentioned wooden waster swords and will be restricted to training of fundamental offensive and defensive forms (no contact) and the initial levels of grappling and dagger. The listing below describes the basic equipment requirement for both new participants and existing:

  1. Training Gear
  2. Training Weapons

Scholler and above Equipment & Harness Requirements

The following describes equipment required for anyone who has achieved the rank of schollerfree schollerprovost or maestro. It is also an indication of the commitment of the student to pursue advanced training and therefore, acquire appropriate protective equipment. The equipment requirements will differ depending upon the orientation of the student, i.e. unarmoured vs armoured targets, pollaxe, quarterstaff. Scholler level of training is generally oriented towards unarmoured training which maps to the historical master's approach such as Fiore dei Liberi and/or Fillipo Vadi, and which forms the core of the AEMMA training program. Armoured training is considered as another fighting arts discipline as is pole-weapons training, German longsword, sword & shield, sword & buckler, spear, etc.. Therefore, the student is able to develop core skills which can be easily transferred towards unarmoured combat, armoured combat, German longsword, pollaxe, etc.. The intent that the foundational training of unarmoured components can be leveraged to armoured combat.

 Arming Sword and Unarmoured Longsword

Most of the works created by the historical masters, present illustrations and descriptions that describe techniques as they relate to unarmoured fighting. Typically, the armoured combat techniques are presented in the last few sections of the historical manuscripts, implying that it is firstly critical that the student develop the fundamental fight concepts that involve timing, distance, placement, range, judgement and footwork. These are difficult to master when encumbered with armour and of course, the student is distracted with the armour in the early stages of development. Therefore, in the AEMMA training program, following a similar structure to the historical masters, such as Fiore dei Liberi.

Our interpretation of unarmoured longsword means that students engaged in fencing bouts do so with the orientation of blossfechten, meaning the sword work during these bouts are point oriented rather than the cuts/slashing found during harnisfechten. It must be clear there are two paths of training, one for unarmoured and the second for armoured. It should be merely looked at as armoured training is an extension to the unarmoured training program and that it is considered another fighting arts style.

Soft Harness Components

The mandatory components below satisfies all basic equipment requirements regardless of weapons employed. These form the under-armour garments necessary for either armoured or unarmoured longsword combat or pollaxe or quarter-staff. Specific protective requirements for each weapon's type will be highlighted as more development results are made available.


Hard Harness Components

The following mandatory hard harness components are designed to provide protection for the scholler for free-play swordplay with aluminum swords such as blossfechten (fechtschule rules) or à plaisance style of tournament fencing.


  • Optional
  • The photos below are some samples of the equipment used at AEMMA. Although the street hockey gloves are used periodically (see details above), AEMMA recommends good quality leather guantlets with the addition of hardened finger bucklers.

    gorget 3-weapons fencing mask sabre fencing mask knee cops gambeson padded coif flat-soled training shoes
    half-greeves mail hauberk leather gauntlets elbow cops finger gauntlets

     Unarmoured weapons

    In order to train and to fence free-style longsword, it is recommended that the scholler purchase an aluminum longsword with the specifications listed below. Blunts are also possible, however, during any free-play longsword fencing, only similar materials can engage, i.e. aluminum longsword vs aluminum longsword.



    Reference Sources

    1. David M. Cvet. "Assessment and Review of Tinker Pearce Blunt Longsword Trainer". AEMMA. November 10, 2009.
    2. Brian McIlmoyle & David M. Cvet. "Study of the Destructive Capabilities of the European Longsword". AEMMA. December 2001.
    3. David M. Cvet, "Assessment and Review of Heimrick Armeor's Training Longswords". AEMMA. May 2003.
    4. The Oakeshott Institute. "Oakeshott's Sword Typology."
    5. Ewart Oakeshott, "Records of the Medieval Sword". Boydell & Brewer. May 1998.
    6. Brian McIlmoyle. "The "perfect" training weapon? Assessment and Review of Valentine Armouries's Aluminum Longsword". AEMMA. August 2002.
     Armoured Combat Harness Requirements

    In general, armour should replicate historical specifications as close as possible and remain consistent with the period of focus at AEMMA from the late 14th century to the early 15th century. Incongruent combinations such as 14th/15th century plate armour worn with a spagenhelm from pre-11th century would not be permitted. Modern materials are not permitted except for those which satisfy the specific requirements detailed below.

    Although the armour requirements appear to ignore the harness worn by the common foot soldier, the purpose of defining the armour standards was not to orient the fighter towards the knightly or nobile (elitist) configuration of arms and armour, but rather define the basic requirements that would best meet the safety expectations of modern society. The minimum requirements would be analogous to minimum equipment and safety requirements for other activities such as SCUBA diving or hockey. It would be impractical and unsafe to engage in blunted-steel-sword tournaments with armoured harnesses that would be of the style with the earlier periods in the medieval period.

    An excellent resource for those considering pursuing armoured training describes the acquisition and training in harness in less than technical terms by Scholler Matthew Brundle can be reviewed by clicking "So You Want To Fight in Armour....."

    Detailed presentation of the different pieces of armour of the armoured combatants. (Olivier de la Marche, Hardoun de la Jaille, Anthoine de la Sale..., 1878, "Traicté de la Forme et Devis comme on Faict les Tournois")

    General Harness Considerations & Requirements

    1. The harness is to be constructed and assembled in authentic style in the form of harness for war or for period armoured tournaments. Any harness should be recognizable according to style and materials as belonging to a particular period within the time frame of focus at AEMMA (mid 14th to mid 15th centuries).

    2. All harnesses must be in good repair and fitted to the user. Due to the requirements for plate armour for safety reasons, harness styles from before c.1300 will not meet protection standards. Harness styles from C.1320 to C.1450 are acceptable. Post 1450 style harnesses in the form of harnesses for combat on foot with weapons of war are acceptable. Some harnesses from the 1600s where highly specialized for particular forms of combat (batons or wooden maces, rebated swords) and may not appropriate and therefore, must be reviewed by the tournament officials prior to the tournament.

    3. Footwear should not detract from the appearance and consistency of the style of harness worn, therefore, period footwear or armoured footwear (solarets/sabotans) are required. Riding boots, modern combat boots, athletic shoes or other modern footwear are not permitted for tournament engagements, although martial arts or wrestling footwear being visible during armoured combat training are permitted for training purposes only. These can also be worn during tournaments if they are concealed with solarets/sabotans.

    4. Combatants are individualy responsible for the integrity of their armour and ensuring that it provides adequate protection against the rigors of combat. A lot of latitude is left to the combatant regarding the style and level of protection they are comfortable with. For earlier period styled armour( <= 1300) it may be necessary to augment the historical harness with additional protection. This augmentation such as leather or metal gorgets would be required, but can be concealed thus maintaining the integrity of the style of harness.

    5. The instructors or tournament officials in the event of a tournament, may reject a harness that does not meet the requirements outlined in this section of the document. The instructors or tournament officials may also reject any harness that they feel is in poor repair or of inferior quality which may compromise safety.

    6. In assembling their armour all combatants should have a historical target in mind. Armour "cobbled" together of bits and pieces with no thought to historical accuracy will be rejected.

    7. Armoured students and combatants considering participation in tournaments are strongly encouraged to satisfy the "Combatants Array Requirements" described in the tournament document entitled "Of the Undertaking of a Tournament".

    8. The use of tabards or heraldic cotes to hide poor or inauthentic harness is not acceptable. Armour without any coverings or concealing type of garments will be inspected before armoured training or prior to the opening of a tournament.

    Detailed Harness Requirements

    Over and above the general harness considerations & requirements listed above, the combatant's harness must comform to the six requirements listed below. These form the basis requirements for harness for most tournaments held by AEMMA, including tournaments which may include different types of bouts such as à plaisance bouts and à outrance bouts.

    1. The neck and throat must be protected with a plate defense (gorget) covering the larynx and the cervical vertebra. (Note: It is recognized that this defense may not be authentic for all periods or styles of armour, nevertheless it is required protection)
    2. The body must be protected by a gambeson (various thickness of the padding are available and left to the preference of the combatant) extending to the hips and including the armpits worn under a minimum of thick leather armour or mail defenses.
    3. All exposed edges of the armour must be treated (rolled, roped or filed and turned under at the least) in order to protect the wearer from secondary injuries (edge cuts to the wrists, upper arm injuries, etc.)
    4. Plate thickness, i.e. 14g, 16g, 18g, 20g is a metric that is considered only as a result of no other method of determining the viability of plate. Thinner metals such as 20g can demonstrate similar, if not more resistence to stress/impacts as would 14g or 16g plate should the plate be ridged or fluted. Metal strength is dependent upon the treatment applied:
    5. Helmets must be no less than 16g construction with occularia not wider than 1.27cm (1/2 in). Segmented occularia described below is strongly recommended.
    6. Helmets intended to represent historically open-faced helmets are permitted provided the open-face is covered with hardened, perforated steel which is consistent with historical evidence. Note: Blows to the "open-face" visor will be considered potentially lethal and will be viewed as an unprotected face.
    7. Mail worn external to upper cannons must be tied down so as to NOT hang loosely when the arms are raised. This is to prevent an entry of the point of the sword, spear or poleaxe into the armpit and cause an injury.

    Additional Harness Requirements

    Armoured combatants are strongly advised to conform to not only the above considerations and detailed harness requirements, but conform to the following as well. The following are designed for à outrance bouts, however, the additional clarifications and additional "hardware" requirements are designed to enhance the safety of the combatants in these or any other style of armoured combat tournaments.

    1. All limbs must be protected with rigid plate armour. Plate armour may be constructed with steel or hardened leather or a combination of these materials, splint style armours may be acceptable if properly constructed.
    2. Arms must have plate cops protecting the elbows and plate vambraces and rebraces on the outside side of the arm as a minimum. Full cannons are recommended.
    3. The hands must be protected with a minimum of maille reinforced heavy leather gauntlets. Plate hand defenses are most strongly recommended.
    4. Legs must have plate cops protecting the front and sides of the knee. Grieves protecting the front and sides of the shins are required.
    5. The upper legs may be protected with heavy padding and hardened leather augmented with rivets or splint steel, or plate metal.
    6. Foot protection will be comprised of sabotons of plate over medieval styled shoes or flat-soled martial arts training shoes are strongly recommended.
    7. Later period all-plate harnesses (late 15th - 16th centuries) if permitted in a tournament, it is recommended that the combatant wear mail gussets worn in the armpit and inner elbow areas. Any gaps in the plate armour that does not have any mail under will prevent the combatant from engaging in à outrance (thrusting permitted) bouts.
    8. If thrusts are to be received then the body defense must include a full maille shirt falling to mid thigh length with sleeves of elbow length. There may be no gap or void in the maille under the arms.
    9. Helmet Requirements:
    10. Helmets of a style intended to represent open faced helmets are allowed. The open part of the face must be covered with hardened perforated steel. However they will be considered as having no face defense in the determination of lethal blows. Strikes to the faceplate of a helmet with a perforated steel faceplate will be treated as if the faceplate is not there. Therefore any part of a weapon coming in contact under direction of the wielder with the faceplate will be considered potentially lethal.
    11. Groin protection is mandatory for all combatants, especially when engaged in à outrance bouts.

    Armour Nomenclature

    In order to assist the student with understanding the nomenclature of the armour components, the following illustrations and definitions are provided.  The armour harness illustrated is consistent with mid to late 14th century.

    Click to view example of actual harness at AEMMA
    • *** Left Side of Illustration ***
    • Bascinet or Basinet: an open-faced helmet with a globular or conical skull enclosing the sides of the face and neck. Usually worn with an aventail, and occassionally a visor.
    • Vervelles: staples attached to the base of a basinet for securing the aventail.
    • Aventail: a curtain of mail attached by means of staples (vervelles) around the base of a helmet (usually a basinet), and covering the shoulders. Also called camail (French).
    • Spaudler: a light laminated defence protecting the point of the shoulder and top of the arm.
    • Rerebrace: plate armour for the upper arm.
    • Couter: a plate defence for the elbow, also known as a spelt cowter.
    • Vambrace: armour designed for the lower arm.
    • Haubergeon or Habergeon: a short type of hauberk (hauberk: a mail shirt reaching to between the knee and hip, and invariably with sleeves).
    • Cuisse: plate defense for the upper thighs
    • Poleyn: a cup-shaped plate defense for the knee, usually includes a side wing-like extension on the outside of the knee for additional protection
    • Greave: also known as "schynbald" or "jamber". Plate defense for the leg from the knee to the ankle, initially protecting only the front in the early 14th century and later covering the entire leg. It is constructed of two contoured plates, fitted with hinges and closed with either pins or straps.
    • Sabaton/Solaret: either laminated plate defense or mail defense for the foot, ending in a toe cap
    • *** Right Side of Illustration ***
    • Visor: protection for the eyes and face; a plate defence pivoted to the helmet.
    • Cuirass: a backplate and breastplate designed to be worn together.
    • Gatlings or Gadlings: protruding studs or bosses (sometimes zoomorphic) on the finger and knuckle joints of a gauntlet.
    • Gauntlet: defense of articulated plates for the hand in the form of a glove.  gauntlets can also be in the form of a mit or initially of mail.
    • Wing: a wing-like extension of the poleyns, for protecting the outside of the joints.
    • Lames: a narrow strip or plate of steel, sometimes used in armour to provide enhanced articulation of the joints.
    • Fauld of Four Lames: armour plate strips composed of horizontal lames attached to the bottom edge of the breastplate to protect the abdomen
    • Cuff: an extension of the gauntlet for defending the wrist, contributing to the classic "hour-glass" shape of the gauntlets.
    • Demi greave: a small defense plate transitioning the poleyn articulations to a greave on the lower leg.

    • *** Other Terms ***
    • Arming points: ties of flax or twine by which the armour was secured in place.
    • Bevor: a plate chin-shaped defense for the lower face often incorporating a gorget. Sometimes called a bavier or buffe
    • Breastplate: Usually, a single plate of armour for the front of the torso, down to the waist.
    • Fauld of Four Lames: armour plate strips composed of horizontal lames attached to the bottom edge of the breastplate to protect the abdomen
    • Gardbrace: a reinforcing plate closely shaped to the pauldron, first appearing in the 15th century on Italian armours. It often covered the lower 3/4's of the front of the pauldron and was attached to it by a staple and pin as indicated in the figure.
    • Gorget: or collar plate defense for the neck and extending to the top of the chest and shoulders. Generally made up of 2 parts joined by a hinge, pivoting rivet or leather straps.
    • Guard of Vambrace: an exaggerated defence for the right elbow and vambrace armour for the lower arm
    • Gussets of mail: shaped pieces of mail which were sewn to the arming doublet to cover the armpits and portions of the arm left exposed by plate defenses.
    • Lance rest: a support structure for the lance when couched, bolted to the right side of the breastplate and was occasionally hinged.
    • Lower Cannon: individual plate armour, tubular in form to protect the lower arm.
    • Mail standard: a mail hood or coif often worn under the helmet for additional protection for the head and neck areas
    • Pauldron: a laminated plate defense for the shoulder extending at the front and rear to protect the armpit.
    • Plackart: A reinforcement plate attached to the breastplate. It covered the lower half of the breastplate, however, Italian armour typically covered the entire breastplate.
    • Stop rib: a small metal bar riveted to plate armour to stop the point of a weapon sliding into a joint or opening.
    • Tasset: a defence for the top of the thigh, hung from the fauld by leather straps to cover the gap between the cuisses and breastplate.  This form of armour first appeared in the 15th century.
    * * * For additional and extensive glossary of armour terms, go to the Arador Armour Library's Glossary of Armour Terms * * *

    Harness Archetypes

    The following four images represents the range of harness that would satisfy the AEMMA armour requirements for armoured combat and training. The material shown below are extracts from the publication entitled "A Book of Armour" by Patrick Nicolle, Puffin Picture Book No. 97, 1954.

    Note: AEMMA has been in contact with the original publisher in order to obtain formal permission to use this material. However, copyright/contact information for this material cannot be found by the publisher and therefore cannot grant formal permission to use this material. Without formally clear permission, the publisher cannot warrant that use of the material would not infringe any third party rights. However, understanding this, AEMMA presents this information with full credit to the original author and publication for the non-profit purpose of enhancing the practitioner's knowledge with respect to the assembling together of an appropriate and historically authentic harness in order to engage in the armoured fighting style of historical European martial arts.

    By the year 1320 many pieces of plate armour had been added. The figure on the left represents a knight of the reign of Edward II. Roundels of plate protect the arm-pit and elbow joint; the shoulder and upper arm were protected by rere-braces, and the lower part including the elbow by vambraces. Below the poleyn are the schynbalds and over the mailed feet are shoes of plate called sabotans.

    About the year 1325 the knight's general appearance changed considerably. The great pointed helm was still used, but under it a snaller headpiece was worn. This was known as the bascinet. The mail attached to its edge and descending to the shoulder was called the aventail, At first it seems to have been riveted to the bascinet, but later it was secured by a thong or lace. Roundels, rere-braces, and couters (elbow defences) remain, but the sleeves of the hauberk are loose, and under them is seen a two-piece vambrace completely enclosing the forearm. The surcoat had become shortened from its earlier version to become the gipon. It was laced at the sides, fiting closely to the upper part of the body, while below the waist it is full but cut away in the front. At this period knights were learning to fight on foot, and the long surcoat was found to be a cumbersome garment.

    This is an excellent example of the armour worn at the time of the Battle of Crecy. The figure on th eleft wears a visor which has on its lower edge a curved projecting piece of steel to protect the throat. The gipon is now curtailed both back and front, and beneath it may be seen body armour of iron plates. These were riveted either inside or outside material of cloth or leather. The plates were never riveted together. Notice that prick-spurs are still used in some cases.

    The helmets shown are types used in the second half of the fourteenth century. The first is a bascinet with cheek pieces to protect the face. These would not be seen if the aventail was in position. Over the brow are two projections serving to secure a visor or a metal nose-piece attached to the aventail. A bascinet of this type called the hounskull with its visor hinged at the sides is illustrated below.

    The sketch of a battle shows the conflict between the bowman and the mounted knight (click on the image on the left to view an enlarged image). The first horseman (on the left) wears a hounskull with additional plate to defend his throat and the edges of his aventail are secured with laces or points. His gipon has wide sleeves, and a shield with an outward curve is carried on the left arm. In one corner of this is a notch (called bouche). The horse's head is protected with hinged plates. Behind this figure is a knight who still vafours the great helm on which he wears a crest.

    Surcoats are tight-fitting and laced at the back or sides and sometimes butoned at the front. The two forground figures show how complete was plate armour at the end of the fourteenth century. One of them wears a decorative cloth cover over his aventail.

    In the early years of hte fifteenth century the gipon went out of fashion, and the monuments and drawings of the period show us the complete plate armour. The bascinet with its aventail of mail also went out of fashion and was superseded by the great bascinet. This is illustrated at the top. Below it in this illustration is a similar great bascinet. The skull is of the small bascinet type and has neck and throat guards riveted to it. Its visor is of the hounskull type. The original helmet is in the Musee de l'Armee in Paris. The third helmet is taken from a manuscript painting of the early fifteenth century. It is a great bascinet of different type, its skull and visor being rounded.

    The standing figure is taken from the monumental brass of Baron Camoys, 1419, at Trotton, Sussex. This was the type of armour worn at the Battle of Agincourt.

    Combatant's Accoutrements

    Note: For those schollers who plan on pursuing armoured combat training are encouraged to pursue the acquisition of personal arms (assumed or granted) in order to satisfy further accoutrements for participation in tournaments. Armoured combatants are encouraged to conform to the requirements for arms (shield), banner and jupon/surcoat specified in the Combatant's Array Requirements.

    Sources for Armour

    Leather Resources for Hardened-leather Armour
    Sources for information on building hardened-leather armour (some sources are from the SCA, however, the methods described will create the desired results and which will satisfy the AEMMA requirements):
    1. Leatherworking - A Basic Guide
    2. The Perfect Armor
    3. The Perfect Armor Improved: Water Hardened Leather (An updated version of the above article.)
    4. Cuir Bouilli/Hardened Leather FAQ
    5. Period Leather - Types, Classifying Leather, Tanning Leather

    The costs of a harness is typically spread over a period of months or even years. When there is an opportunity to reduce the cost of equipment and gear, AEMMA will provide those same opportunities to its members.

     Armoured Combat Arms Requirements

    All weapons employed during armoured combat training or tournaments were rebated, meaning, all edges were dulled or blunted. This is consistent with the period tournaments, and it continues to be true in today's tournaments and armoured combat training. Any combatant wishing to use their own acquired weapon must be able to defend its historical providence with evidence from history, and it must undergo an inspection similar to what would occur at a tournament or by the instructors of AEMMA.

     Swords: longswords, two-handers, arming swords - spada

    Sources for Arms

     Pollaxe - azza

     Spear - lanza

     Period Garments

    AEMMA periodically delivers education presentations and demonstrations of 14th century judicial armoured duels, or reproductions of mid-14th to mid-15 thcentury tournaments (combat on foot) at such venues as the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Faires and schools. Therefore, in order to deliver an authentic 14th century presentation in all aspects, those individual who plan on participating in this activities are strongly encouraged to acquire authentic reproductions of appropriate 14th century garments for tournament and demonstration purposes. The photos below (courtesy of Historic Enterprises and Fettered Cock Pewters) offer a good example of a 14th complete outfit and some accessories for both men and women practitioners.

    Note: AEMMA does not necessarily endorse the suppliers for the garments, footwear and accessories below and are provided only as examples of possible sources.

    The photos below are sourced from Historic Enterprises and the Fettered Cock Pewters which provide an excellent example of the sort of selections of a 14th Century complete outfit and their constituent components. These are made for reference purposes only. Click on each image to view detailed information on the particular piece on the Historic Enterprises and Fettered Cock Pewters websites.

    14c Complete Outfit Tunic shirts braies chausses
    turnshoes Hood Belts Pouches
    14c Women's Gown period belt  period belt
     period button period button period button

    Copyright © 2000 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts  (AEMMA)
    Released: March 26, 2000 / Last modified: December 07, 2015

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