Arms & Armor Reference Information for Writing a Fantasy Novel – Part I

If you are writing a fantasy novel, you need to know about the armor they wore, the weapons they used, and the type of warfare they engaged in. As I was writing a fantasy novel, I did a lot of research. Here is some of the basic information I put together:

Armor
*Breast plate & back plate
*Crest – decor helmet top – can be of metal or plume
*Guantlets – gloves
*Greave – shin guard
*Hauberk – chain mail worn like a tunic
*Helmet – see below
*Hood of mail – chain mail head and shoulder-piece, almost always worn under a metal helmet
*Leather jerkin – sleeveless tunic
*Padded hauberk – padded armor of cloth
*Surcoat – sleeveless tunic worn over armor
*Tabard – sleeveless over-garment for armor, close-fitting, buttoned or laced in front, long close-fitting sleeves, padded
*Vambrace – metal or leather armor the lower arm

Helmets
*Bascinet – close-fitting helmet which covered the entire head and face, popular in the 1300 and early 1400s
*Bascinet styles – with dull-pointed or sharp-pointed apex, with gorget, egg-shaped
*Gorget – neck piece of a helmet
*Hat-like helmet with rounded top and wide bring which hung low over the eyes
*Occularium – a cut-out area of a helmet for the eyes
*Plumed helmet with horse tail, globular head-shape, with visor or occularium, with a neck guard at the back of the head
*Plumed helmet rounded on top and with straight sides, an arch opening for the face
*Plumed helmet as above but with an added nasal guard
*Plumed helmet as above but with a t-shaped opening for the eyes, nose, and mouth
*Pot helm – flat topped and cylindrical, has an arched opening for the face and an occularium of iron crosspieces
*Salade – Spanish helmet that is rounded on top and swells outward to the back of the neck, a place is fasted to the upper part of the breast plate to cover the bottom half of the face and carried evenly to the back of the neck, a visor or occularium protected the eyes
*Salade as above but with a metal crest on the top
*Salade as above but with a more extreme tail outward to the back of the neck
*Skullcap – composed of two pieces of iron riveted together
*Visor – moving piece of a helmet which covers the eyes

As you can see, this information is a bit generic. There are more pieces to armor but you may not necessarily want to get over descriptive since it could bore your readers with the educational lesson or annoy the readers who already know what a suit of armor entails.

Notice with the helmet information that there are several styles of the same type of helmet. Not all styles have a specific name. And if they do, your reader may not necessarily know a certain style when you write about it unless you describe it. Why name it if you are just doing to describe it anyway? The reader is more concerned with a brief description than a fancy name.

I have a lot more arms & armor reference information to share for writing a fantasy novel. See you again next Saturday for Part II. You can also check out reference books such as “European Arms & Armor” by Charles Henry Ashdown or “Knight” from DK Eyewitness Books.

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