Sphrantzes, son of George Sphrantzes (the secretary, diplomat and advisor of Constantine XI). After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 John was captured by the Turks and then bought by sultan Mehmed the Conqueror for his beauty. The boy served in his palace for 6-7 months, after he was killed by him on the grounds that he had conspired to do the same to him. Tragic love story… still, I’m really inspired by the fact that Ioannis is described by his father as a beautiful boy.
This post was written for the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the battle of Azincourt, also known by redcoats as the battle of Agincourt. Here’s how the Hundred Years War ended. It’s not even the same phase of the Lancastrian war but who cares it didn’t last exactly a hundred years either.
Battle of Castillon, 17th July 1453
It was the last act of the war, and Charles VII of France had taken all English territories in France except for Calais and some Channel islands - which admittedly was probably due to a lack of trying on the French part for these ones. This all included Bordeaux, but unlike what you might expect the Bordelais were not too keen on that state of thing after more than three centuries of uninterrupted English rule, and thus they called on their former overlord for help. As a response, said overlord Henry VI of England sent john Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and 3000 fighters to retake the city, which was achieved easily thanks to the compliance of the citizens. From this base of operation, much of Western Gascony came back under the Plantagenets’ kittied banner, to the great dismay of Charles VII who was just done reuniting the country. Plus it’s were wine comes from I think. He just couldn’t take the blow and surrendered. Nah just kidding he sent his best guy to raze the town and every other that had surrendered to English rule.
English commander John Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, knight of the Order of the Garter, aka the English Achilles. Captured in 1449, he was released on the promise of never wearing an armour in battle against the King of France again. It however didn’t stop him from keeping on fighting the guy, which he did, often, all the while being 66. Just without armor.
British army : between 6000 and 10000 rosbeefs.
French commander Jean Bureau, governor of the French archers, master of ordinance and master gunner of king Charles VII, receiver of Paris, treasurer of France and mayor of Bordeaux under French rule. Perfection in the process of corning and casting made his culverins all the more deadlier as he was already known as a methodical, mathematical mind and an imaginative technician - basically the guy you’d hate playing risk with, even if you win he’d probably just beat you to death with that stick.
French army : between 7000 and 10000 frogs.
Not the Battle Just Quite Yet
On the 8th of June John Talbot was amassing troops, including one of his own son, when whoever in charge in Bordeaux came to find him. Castillon was under siege not far from here, so he had to do his job and get killing. Meanwhile in Castillon, Jean Bureau was laying some serious punishment on the city. He set up camp out of reach of the town’s walls, dug massive earthworks in zig-zag patterns that would have made Vauban proud and had his 300 cannons fire at will. Remembering previous events at the battle of Formigny some years earlier, when his guns were lost to an audacious English sally, he sent a small vanguard of archers in the woods nearby. John Talbot left Bordeaux on the 16th of the same month and arrived by nightfall.
The Actual Thing
On the 17th, John Talbot met the French vanguard with a force of 1300 men-at-arms and mounted archers - he had outpaced the rest of his troops - and promptly fucked it up. At this point the fight had assuredly warned the French army of their presence, and Talbot knew this. He was confronted with two choices : either pressing his advantage and charging straight into the thick of it like a baller, or wait for reinforcement like a sane person. Deciding to stay true to himself -and seeing the cloud of dust coming from the East as a sign that the French were retreating- he and his men yelled a bit to get their blood pumping and marched on. Little did they know that the cloud of dust was only caused by the sheer amount of camp followers leaving the French camp like as many elephants sensing a tsunami coming down on their stupid trunked face. What followed was pretty stupid. With Talbot apparently refusing to call off the attack out of pride, and the English army only slowly catching up with its commander’s aggressive tactics, the Britons were torn apart with each cannon shot said to go through six of them. This only stopped when the Duke of Brittany and a thousand knights stomped over what was left of the offensive, and would have sent Talbot and his son running if not for the fact that both of them had been dead for quite some time, the old commander having had his horse shot from under him, pinning him down for a French archer to kill with an axe.
English casualties : 4000 dead, wounded or captured (40-66%)
French casualties : 100 dead or wounded (1-1.4%)
John Talbot dead, Henry VI mad and Charles VII on a roll led to the extinction of English rule in Southern France. Bordeaux surrendered after Jean bureau calmly told their ambassadors that he could raze the city in ten days if they continued sassing him. Angry nobles impoverished by these losses went on to be one of the factors leading to the War of the Roses, and other nobles in France would get hanged, quartered, and cut into small bits for forest critters to eat in a massive royal update on what “loyauté” means. At long last everything was right in Europe. Except you know there was the fall of Constantinople but that’s no concern of mine.
Türk Bayrağı; Üstünde “5 köşeli yıldız” vardır ve İslamım 5 şartını simgeler. “Ay” islamın kendisini yani islamın sembolü olan Hilal'ı simgeler, kırmızı bugüne kadar can vermiş tüm şehitlerimizin boşa akmayan kanını simgeler. Öyle ki bu bayrağımızın marşında “1453” harf “571” hece vardır, bu da Peygamber Efendimiz (S.a.v) doğuşu ve İstanbul'un fethini gösterir. Dünya üzerinde böyle anlamlı başka bir bayrak ve ülke yoktur.
Çok genç yaşta şehitlik rütbesini kazanan Ulubatlı Hasan'ın vücuduna 27 ok saplanmıştı. Arkadaşları bu okları çıkardılar ve bu mübarek şehidi Fatih'in huzuruna götürdüler. Fatih Sultan Mehmet Han, dua ettikten sonra şöyle demiştir: “Ulubatlı Hasan'ım! Ne kadar şanlısın. Eğer sultan olmasaydım, Ulubatlı Hasan olmak isterdim!” 29 Mayıs 1453
Olga of Kiev (c. 890-969) of the House of Rurik (reign as Regent: 945-964).
Wife of Prince Igor, the son of Rurik, Prince of Novgorod, a
founder and first ruler of the Rurik dynasty - the first ruling Russian dynasty. The marriage is
fought to be initiated by Oleg the Prophet, Prince of Novgorod, Rurik’s relative and founder of Kievan Rus’.
After Oleg’s death Igor assumed the rule over Kievan Rus’. Igor and Olga had one
known surviving son, Svyatoslav. In 945 Prince Igor went to the tribe of the Drevlians to gather tributes and the Drevlians killed him. Upon his death
Princess Olga took the powers in her hands and became regent, since her son was
only 3 years old. The Princess took revenge upon her husband’s death: she buried
alive matchmakers from Drevlians who came to her to propose that Olga marry
their Prince Mal, then she lured their most distinguished men into a bathhouse, locked the doors and
set fire to the building, burning them alive. After that she went to the land of Drevlians
in order to gather tributes. The Princess asked that each
household present her with a dove as a gift. Then she tied burning papers to the
legs of the doves and let them fly back to their homes. As a result, the entire
town was destroyed by fire.
As a ruler Olga established the system of tribute gathering, which is sometimes
considered to be the first legal tax system in Eastern Europe. She ordered the
creation of centers of trade and taxation, divided lands into administrative
units, which were controlled by the Princess’s representatives and set fixed
amounts of tributes, with a detailed schedule for their gathering. Princess Olga
is also thought to have been the initiator of the first stone city building in
She was first ruler of Rus’ to convert to Christianity and was baptized in Constantinople in Byzantine Empire. Her son Svyatoslav didn’t support his mother’s decision or her efforts to spread Christianity throughout Rus’ and was worried about losing the
respect of the army because of Olga’s new faith, yet after her death he would
bury his mother according to Christian customs. It would be Olga’s grandson,
Vladimir I (also known as Saint Vladimir, Vladimir the Great or Vladimir the Fair Sun), who in 988 made
Christianity the official religion of Rus’.
Olga was canonized as one of the first saints of the Russian Orthodox Church and thus is
known as Saint Olga.
of Lithuania (1371-1453) of the House of Rurik (reign as Regent: 1425-1432)
The only daughter of ruler of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Vytautas the Great, and
wife of Vasily I, Grand Prince of Moscow, from the House of Rurik. She possibly
met her future husband while he was a guest at her father’s home while still
being a heir to his father, renowned Dmitry Donskoy. Sophia married Vasily
in 1391 and had at least 9 children with him : 5 sons and 4 daughters. Their eldest daughter,
Anna, was married to John Palaiologos, subsequently Byzantine Emperor. Their 3
sons died of plague and their youngest and last son, Vasily, was born when Sophia
was 44, the birth was difficult, she got sick not long before the birth and was
literally at death’s door. Throughout her marriage Sophia was a good helper to
her husband both in state and economic affairs. She had a vast amount of
lands in her possession and skillfully governed them. During his reign Vasily I
continued reunification of the Russian lands, while dealing with the Golden Horde
as the Rus’ at that time was under its dominance. Sophia’s marriage to Vasily helped to secure alliance
between her husband and Grand Duchy of Lithuania and use it as prevention
against severe attacks from the Golden Horde, though the alliance turned out to
be fragile, and they waged war against each other at one point. Sophia
tried to act as mediator between her husband and father.
After Vasily’s death in
1425 Sophia became regent for their 10-year-old son Vasily II. Her husband
Vasily bequeathed his wife a lot of lands into possession for life, which
provided large income for Sophia and made her into even wealthier lady. She
also secured the support from her father for Vasily II’s claim to the throne, as
it was disputed by his uncle, Yuri of Zvenigorod. Yet in 1430 Vytautas died and
from this time the ongoing battle for the throne started between Vasily II and
his uncle, where Sophia would be staunchly fighting for the rights of her son. Sophia arranged marriage for her son and during wedding festivities
she tore a golden belt from Vasily’s first cousin as this belt used to belong to
Dmity Donskoy and Sophia believed only her son had a right to it. When her son
at one point lost throne to his uncle she financed and organized public
discontent against Yuri’s rule and Vasily II returned his throne; Yuri made a
second attempt and managed to gain the throne for the second time, taking Sophia
hostage, sending her away from Moscow, but Vasily II managed to take throne back
again, Yuri died and Sophia returned. The troubles didn’t end then. When her son
was captured by Golden Horde, Sophia raised an enormous sum of money as a
ransom; when Vasily II was captured by his first cousin, Yuri’s son, he was
blinded and became known as Vasily the Blind yet still managed to get his
throne, with his mother helping to mobilize his supporters. In 1451 while her
son was away Horde attacked Moscow and Sophia organized defence of the city,
successfully thwarting their attack. Highly pious and devoted to Russian
Orthodox Church Sophia patronized and sponsored monasteries and churches,
including the famous Ascension Convent in Kremlin. She took the veil there not
long before her death, leaving her vast lands to her son and her numerous
grandsons as well as several religious artefacts.
Sophia’s grandson, Ivan III (also known as Ivan the Great), ended the
dominance of Golden Horde over Rus’, gathered Russian lands, significantly
expanding the territory under his rule and carried out effective reforms,
laying foundation for the powerful state.
Elena Glinskaya (c.1508-1538) of the House of Rurik (reign as Regent: 1533-1538)
Daughter of Prince Vasili Glinsky, a noble from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania,
and his wife Serbian Princess Anna Jakšić. Her uncle was powerful and wealthy
Michael Glinsky, who began an armed rebellion against Sigismund I, Grand Duke
of Lithuania. The rebellion failed and Glinsky family retreated to Russia, where
Michael served Vasily III of Russia (son of Ivan III the Great). In 1525 Vasily III resolved to divorce his
barren wife, Solomoniya Saburova, with whom he was married for 20 years and had
no children, and marry Elena Glinskaya. According to the chronicles, he chose
Elena “because of the beauty of her face and her young age.” Elena was
beautiful, lively, charming and well-educated (she knew German and Polish, spoke
and wrote in Latin). Vasily was so smitten with her, that he even broke the
ancient Russian male tradition and shaved his beard. Despite strong opposition
from the Russian Orthodox Church Saburova was forced to take the veil and it’s
said that she cursed the House of Rurik for it. Vasily married Elena and she
gave him the long awaited son Ivan in 1530 and then another son Yuri in 1532.
Vasily was overjoyed and doted on his wife and sons, yet whilst out hunting he
fell ill and died in 1533. On his deathbed Vasily appointed regency counsel for
his 3 year old son Ivan IV until he is mature enough to rule. The boyars from
the counsel had to report to Elena. Yet quite soon Elena removed all power from
the counsel (including her own uncle who was in it) and took power into her own
During her regency she challenged the claims of her brothers-in-law, Yury
Ivanovich and Andrey of Staritsa in order to protect her little son’s rights to
the throne from his uncles. The struggle ended with their incarceration in 1534
and 1537, respectively (both died in prison). Elena carried out a currency
reform that introduced a unified monetary system in the state and some new
currency units, one of those being famous kopeyka.
In foreign affairs, Elena succeeded in signing an armistice with Duchy of
Lithuania on beneficial terms for Russia in 1537 after three years of war with
it, while simultaneously effectively neutralizing Sweden. She had a new
defensive wall constructed around Moscow, made an attempt to change the system
of home rule which anticipated the reforms of Ivan IV. She is noted to have
visited several convents. Yet her rule was almost constantly disputed by boyars.
Some of the conflicts in government were caused by Elena’s close association
with her supporters, a boyar named Ivan Ovchina-Telepnev-Obolensky (rumored to
be her lover) and Metropolitan Daniel. Her uncle Michael criticized her and her
rule and was put into prison where he died of starvation. In 1538 Elena suddenly
died and was hastily buried. It was rumored that she was poisoned by the
Shuiskys - boyars, who usurped power after her death. Forensic studies of her remains
carried out in 20th century tend to support the thesis that Elena was
After Elena’s death her son Ivan IV was left alone, with regency being
alternated between several feuding boyar families fighting for control. Treated
with respect in public, but humiliated and abused by Shuiskys in private,
sometimes not being given food or new clothes, Ivan developed a ruthless and
suspicious nature while growing up with a hatred towards boyar class. At age 13
he called boyars to a meeting, condemned them for their neglect of him and the
nation and threw the head of Shuisky clan to a pack of hungry hunting dogs, who
tore him apart. This action is often seen by historians as act of revenge for his
In 1547 Ivan IV was crowned as first Tsar of All the Russias, establishing the
Tsardom of Russia. A complicated and controversial ruler during his reign he
transformed Russia from a medieval state into an emerging Empire. In history he is better
known as Ivan the Terrible.
Sophia Alekseyevna (1657-1704) of the House of Romanov (reign as Regent: 1682-1689)
Also known as Tsarevna Sophia. Third surviving daughter of Tsar Alexis of the
House of Romanov by his first wife, Maria Miloslavskaya. She was the only one of
her sisters educated by Simeon Polotsky who also taught her brothers, Tsar
Alexis’ heirs Tsarevich Alexei and Tsarevich Feodor. She grew up to be educated,
sharp-witted, headstrong and politically savvy. After death of Tsar Alexis his son
Feodor III ruled only for 6 years and died of poor health. Tsar Alexis left behind
him two families by his two wives, both of which boasted at least one male heir
after the death of Feodor III. By Miloslavskaya there was another son,
Ivan, and by Alexis’s second wife, Nataliya Naryshkina, there
was a son Peter. As the clans of Alexis’ two wives were in conflict, Sophia
crafted her scheme to ensure power for herself and her family. Promoting the
case of her weak brother Ivan as the legitimate heir to the throne, in 1682
Sophia attempted to convince the patriarch and the boyars that their recent
decision to crown Peter should be reversed. Upon the court’s swift and unanimous rejection of the
proposal, Sophia reached out to the discouraged military troops, the Streltsy,
for their aid and support. The unjust dismissal of Ivan’s rights acted as a
catalyst to the already displeased and frustrated troops and drove the Streltsy
to violently oppose the “unjust” election of Peter. After several members of the
Naryshkin family were murdered, the fighting ceased and Streltsy received their
initial demands. Weak and
inept Ivan was crowned senior Tsar as Ivan V and Peter, only 10 years old,
junior Tsar as Peter I. Sophia assumed the role of regent for the
youthful Tsars and had a double throne constructed for the co-Tsars with a hole cut in the back of it. Sophia would sit behind the throne and listen as Tsars conversed with nobles, while feeding them information and telling them how to answer questions. She arranged marriage
for Ivan V, hoping to control his heirs and thus remain in power, but the
marriage produced only daughters.
During years of her regency Sophia carried out improvement of tax
assessment and collection, made efforts to eradicate government graft and
corruption, improve peasant registration laws, tried to reorganize the army,
promoted the development of industry and encouraged foreign craftsmen to settle
in Russia. She signed all decrees, and her likeness appeared on all Russian
coins, she encouraged the growth of publishing houses. Notably intrigued by
baroque style architecture, Sophia actively promoted it. The
Slavonic-Greek-Latin Academy, the first Russian higher learning institution, was
founded under her reign. The most important highlights of her foreign policy
were the Eternal Peace Treaty of 1686 with Poland on beneficial terms for
Russia, the 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk with China (the first treaty China ever
signed with a Western power), and the Crimean campaigns against Turkey which
were unsuccessful and caused discontent among general population with her rule.
Her half-brother Peter was growing up and in 1689 he turned 17. Naryshkins
expected Sophia to step down now that Peter was old enough to rule himself.
Meanwhile Peter, who didn’t trust his step-sister, fled to a fortified monastery
near Moscow. Sophia summoned him, but he refused to go to her. Then she
tried to rally the Streltsy regiments, nobles, and the populace but her pleas
for support fell on deaf ears. Instead, more and more of the army
officials abandoned her to serve Peter. Power was slipping through her hands and
soon, she had no choice but to renounce the throne. Peter had her arrested along
with her supporters, and confined Sophia to Novodevichy Convent. One of her
chief supporters and minister for foreign affairs Vasily Golitsyn (rumored
to be her lover) was exiled. Sophia still had her supporters and in 1698, when
Peter was out of the country, Streltsy tried to reinstate Sophia to the throne,
but failed. Their revolt was harshly suppressed and many of Streltsy were
tortured, executed or exiled. Sophia was forced to take the veil, was
kept in the strictest seclusion with other nuns not allowed to see her except on
Easter day. She died in the Novodevichy Convent 6 years later.
Her half-brother Peter became known as Peter the Great, one of the most
outstanding rulers in Russian history, who finalized the transformation of
Russia into a major Empire and became first Russian Emperor.
I've been thinking about this for a while, but how effective is full plate armour? Was it actually a good way to defend yourself?
Short Answer: Yes.
Here’s a general rule: People in the past were ignorant about a lot of things, but they weren’t stupid. If they used something, chances are they had a good reason. There are exceptions, but plate armor is not one of them.
For a type of armor, no matter what it is, to be considered effective, it has to meet three criteria.
The three criteria are: Economic Efficiency, Protectiveness, and Mobility.
1. Is it Economically Efficient?
Because of the nature of society in the Middle Ages, what with equipment being largely bring-it-yourself when it came to anybody besides arrowfodder infantry who’d been given one week of training, economic efficiency was a problem for the first couple of decades after plate armor was introduced in France in the 1360s. It wasn’t easy to make, and there wasn’t really a ‘science’ to it yet, so only the wealthiest of French soldiers, meaning knights and above, had it; unless of course somebody stole it off a dead French noble. The Hundred Years War was in full swing at the time, and the French were losing badly to the English and their powerful longbows, so there were plenty of dead French nobles and knights to go around. That plate armor was not very economically efficient for you unless you were a rich man, though, it also was not exactly what we would call “full” plate armor.
Above: Early plate armor, like that used by knights and above during the later 1300s and early 1400s.
Above: Two examples of what most people mean when they say “full” plate armor, which would have been seen in the mid to late 1400s and early 1500s.
Disclaimer: These are just examples. No two suits of armor were the same because they weren’t mass-produced, and there was not really a year when everybody decided to all switch to the next evolution of plate armor. In fact it would not be improbably to see all three of these suits on the same battlefield, as expensive armor was often passed down from father to son and used for many decades.
Just like any new technology, however, as production methods improved, the product got cheaper.
Above: The Battle of Barnet, 1471, in which everybody had plate armor because it’s affordable by then.
So if we’re talking about the mid to late 1400s, which is when our modern image of the “knight in shining armor” sort of comes from, then yes, “full” plate armor is economically efficient. It still wasn’t cheap, but neither are modern day cars, and yet they’re everywhere. Also similar to cars, plate armor is durable enough to be passed down in families for generations, and after the Hundred Years War ended in 1453, there was a lot of used military equipment on sale for cheap.
2. Is it Protective?
This is a hard question to answer, particularly because no armor is perfect, and as soon as a new, seemingly ‘perfect’ type of armor appears, weapons and techniques adapt to kill the wearer anyway, and the other way around. Early plate armor was invented as a response to the extreme armor-piercing ability of the English longbow, the armor-piercing ability of a new kind of crossbow, and advancements in arrowhead technology.
Above: The old kind of arrowhead, ineffective against most armor.
Above: The new kind of arrowhead, very effective at piercing chainmaille and able to pierce plate armor if launched with enough power.
Above: An arrow shot from a “short” bow with the armor-piercing tip(I think it’s called a bodkin tip) piercing a shirt of chainmaille. However, the target likely would have survived since soldiers wore protective layers of padding underneath their armor, so if the arrow penetrated skin at all, it wasn’t deep. That’s Terry Jones in the background.
Above: A crossbow bolt with the armor piercing tip penetrating deep through the same shirt of chainmaille. The target would likely not survive.
Above: A crossbow bolt from the same crossbow glancing off a breastplate, demonstrating that it was in fact an improvement over wearing just chainmaille.
Unfortunately it didn’t help at all against the powerful English longbows at close range, but credit to the French for trying. It did at least help against weaker bows.
Now for melee weapons.
It didn’t take long for weapons to evolve to fight this new armor, but rarely was it by way of piercing through it. It was really more so that the same weapons were now being used in new ways to get around the armor.
Above: It’s a popular myth that Medieval swords were dull, but they still couldn’t cut through plate armor, nor could they thrust through it. Your weapon would break before the armor would. Most straight swords could, however, thrust through chainmaille and anything weaker.
There were three general answers to this problem:
1. Be more precise, and thrust through the weak points.
Above: The weak points of a suit of armor. Most of these points would have been covered by chainmaille, leather, thick cloth, or all three, but a sword can thrust through all three so it doesn’t matter.
To achieve the kind of thrusting accuracy needed to penetrate these small gaps, knights would often grip the blade of their sword with one hand and keep the other hand on the grip. This technique was called “half-swording”, and you could lose a finger if you don’t do it right, so don’t try it at home unless you have a thick leather glove to protect you, as most knights did, but it can also be done bare-handed.
Above: Examples of half-swording.
2.Just hit the armor so fucking hard that the force carries through and potentially breaks bones underneath.
Specialty weapons were made for this, but we’ll get to them in a minute. For now I’m still focusing on swords because I like how versatile the European longsword is.
Above: A longsword. They’re made for two-handed use, but they’re light enough to be used effectively in one hand if you’d like to have a shield or your other arm has been injured. Longswords are typically about 75% of the height of their wielders.
Assuming you’re holding the sword pointing towards the sky, the part just above the grip is called the crossguard, and the part just below the grip is called the pommel. If you hold the sword upside-down by the blade, using the same careful gripping techniques as with half-swording, you can strike with either the crossguard or the pommel, effectively turning the sword into a warhammer. This technique was called the Murder Stroke, and direct hits could easily dent plate armor, and leave the man inside bruised, concussed, or with a broken bone.
Above: The Murder Stroke as seen in a Medieval swordfighting manual.
Regular maces, hammers, and other blunt weapons were equally effective if you could get a hard enough hit in without leaving yourself open, but they all suffered from part of the plate armor’s intelligent design. Nearly every part of it was smooth and/or rounded, meaning that it’s very easy for blows to ‘slide’ off, which wastes a lot of their power. This makes it very hard to get a ‘direct’ hit.
Here come the specialized weapons to save the day.
Above: A lucerne, or claw hammer. It’s just one of the specialized weapons, but it encompasses all their shared traits so I’m going to only list it.
These could be one-handed, two-handed, or long polearms, but the general idea was the same. Either crack bones beneath armor with the left part, or penetrate plate armor with the right part. The left part has four ‘prongs’ so that it can ‘grip’ smooth plate armor and keep its force when it hits without glancing off. On the right side it as a super sturdy ‘pick’, which is about the only thing that can penetrate the plate armor itself. On top it has a sharp tip that’s useful for fighting more lightly armored opponents.
3. Force them to the ground and stab them through the visor with a dagger.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Many conflicts between two armored knights would turn into a wrestling match. Whoever could get the other on the ground had a huge advantage, and could finish his opponent, or force him to surrender, with a dagger.
By now you might be thinking “Dang, full plate armor has a lot of weaknesses, so how can it be called good armor?”
The answer is because, like all armor is supposed to do, it minimizes your target area. If armor is such that your enemy either needs to risk cutting their fingers to target extremely small weak points, bring a specialized weapons designed specifically for your armor, or wrestle you to the ground to defeat you, that’s some damn good armor. So yes, it will protect you pretty well.
Above: The red areas represent the weak points of a man not wearing armor.
Also, before I move on to Mobility, I’m going to talk briefly about a pet-peeve of mine: Boob-plates.
If you’re writing a fantasy book, movie, or video game, and you want it to be realistically themed, don’t give the women boob-shaped armor. It wasn’t done historically even in the few cases when women wore plate armor, and that’s because it isn’t as protective as a smooth, rounded breastplate like you see men wearing. A hit with any weapon between the two ‘boobs’ will hit with its full force rather than glancing off, and that’ll hurt. If you’re not going for a realistic feel, then do whatever you want. Just my advice.
Above: Joan of Arc, wearing properly protective armor.
An exception to this is in ancient times. Female gladiators sometimes wore boob-shaped armor because that was for entertainment and nobody cared if they lived or died. Same with male gladiators. There was also armor shaped like male chests in ancient times, but because men are more flat-chested than women, this caused less of a problem. Smooth, rounded breastplates are still superior, though.
3. Does it allow the wearer to keep his or her freedom of movement?
Okay, I’ve been writing this for like four hours, so thankfully this is the simplest question to answer. There’s a modern myth that plate armor weighed like 700 lbs, and that knights could barely move in it at all, but that isn’t true. On a suit of plate armor from the mid to late 1400s or early 1500s, all the joints are hinged in such a way that they don’t impede your movement very much at all.
The whole suit, including every individual plate, the chainmaille underneath the plates, the thick cloth or leather underneath the chainmaille, and your clothes and underwear all together usually weighed about 45-55 lbs, and because the weight was distributed evenly across your whole body, you’d hardly feel the weight at all. Much heavier suits of armor that did effectively ‘lock’ the wearer in place did exist, but they never saw battlefield use. Instead, they were for showing off at parades and for jousting. Jousting armor was always heavier, thicker, and more stiffly jointed than battlefield armor because the knight only needed to move certain parts of his body, plus being thrown off a horse by a lance–even a wooden one that’s not meant to kill–has a very, very high risk of injury.
Here’s a bunch of .gifs of a guy demonstrating that you can move pretty freely in plate armor.
Above: Can you move in it? Yes.
Here are links to the videos that I made these .gifs from:
By the mid 15th Century, the might Eastern Roman Empire had suffered under centuries of conquest by Arab and Turkish invaders, resulting in the empire stretching no father than the ancient capitol of Constantinople itself. The great city was no better off than the empire as a whole, its population reduced from a million inhabitants to less than 50,000, while the Byzantine Army could muster little more than 7,000 men. In contrast the Ottoman Empire completely surrounded the city, and was amassing a force of 50,000 - 80,000 men to complete the final conquest of Byzantium.
The last hope of the Byzantines were a series of large walls and fortresses which had successfully defended Constantinople since ancient times. The city walls had fended off many invaders in the past, and Constantinople was considered the most heavily fortified city in Europe at the time. Storming Constantinople would certainly not be easy, however the Ottomans had an ace up their sleeves.
In 1452 a Hungarian military engineer named Urban offered his services as a cannon maker to the Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI. The Emperor had neither the money to pay Urban, nor the resources to craft the cannon which Urban offered. As a result, Urban went to the Emperor’s rival, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, who certainly could pay Urban and had the technology and resources to produce his cannons.
To bring down the walls of Constantinople Urban directed the casting of several large bronze siege guns. The largest was a massive cannon that fired massive 25 inch stone balls. Weighing 19 tons, it took 2-3 hours to load and had to be transported by a team of 60 mules.
The Siege of Constantinople began on the 6th of April 1453. Over the next 53 days, the Ottomans pounded the city walls with Urban’s guns. After nearly two months of constant bombardment, the walls of Constantinople could no longer hold out against the attack resulting in several breeches. On May 28th, the Ottoman Army stormed the city, easily overwhelming the outnumbered Byzantine defenders.
With the exception of the short lived Empire of the Trebizond, the Ancient Roman State had fallen for good. Mehmed II made Constantinople the new capitol and quickly sought to take on the mantle as emperor of a new Roman Empire, declaring himself Kayser-i Rum (Caesar of Rome), and declaring the Ottoman Empire as the “Third Roman Empire”.