Armour is protective plates or clothing meant to shield a human from intentionally inflicted harm. Armour has been in use for all recorded history, beginning with hides, leather, bone, progressing to bronze, steel, ballistic cloth, and ceramics. Armour has been primarily a way to protect oneself from harm in combat and military engagements.
Armour might be covered or decorated in a number of ways, including:
- Applied- lateen, brass or silver
- Fabric coverings - silk, damask and silk velvet for the rich and fustian for those who were not
- Painting -including slogans and heraldic designs
- Piercework - hearts, trefoils etc
- Scuplted shapes or forms- eg 'slashed' armours.Other decorations are also mentioned such as gold or pearls being used.
NB: It should be noted that these methods were used differently or not at all during different times in history, so research should be done before applying a covering to your armour.
In European history, common armour types were the lorica segmentata, the gambeson, the maille hauberk and later the full plate armour used by late medieval knights. In feudal Japan and throughout Asia, laquered lamellar armours were popular.
Armour in reenactment
Most re-enactment groups have rules that define the minimum armour that they expect combatants to wear in different combat scenarios. These generally allow a great variation in styles but may require some components that have doubtful historical foundations, but are a modern neccessity for safety reasons (e.g. meshing across the faceplate for mixed combat).