Armour Nomenclature

The figure below is a useful tool to illustrate the various components of a complete suit of plate armour. The names are accompanied with Italian names. The following includes a description of the components as they are illustrated.

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 occasionaly 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). Spaulder: 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.

Armour Plackart

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

Stop rib: a small metal bar riveted to plate armour to stop the point of a weapon sliding into a joint or opening.

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. Breastplate: Usually, a single plate of armour for the front of the torso, down to the waist.

Lance rest: a support structure for the lance when couched, bolted to the right side of the breastplate and was occasionally hinged.

Plackart: A reinforcement plate attached to the breastplate. It covered the lower half of the breastplate, however, Italian armour typically covered the entire breastplate. Guard of Vambrace: an exaggerated defence for the right elbow and vambrace armour for the lower arm.

Lower Cannon: individual plate armour, tubular in form to protect the lower arm. Fauld of Four Lames: armour plate strips composed of horizontal lames attached to the bottom edge of the breastplate to protect the abdomen

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.

Arming points: ties of flax or twine by which the armour was secured in place. 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.

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.

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