Contact FutureLearn for Support
Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsDAN SPENCER: OK, so what are we looking at, Christoph? What is this designed to do?

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 secondsCHRISTOPHE GILLIOT: So we are in front of plate armour, which is typical of the early 15th century, plate armor, which was worn by the French and English knights of the period of the battle of Agincourt.

Skip to 0 minutes and 24 secondsDAN SPENCER: OK, and how representative is this type of armour for 1415?

Skip to 0 minutes and 29 secondsCHRISTOPHE GILLIOT: So this type of armour is representative of a middle class knight, because to be honest, in 1415, the pig face bassinet was a bit old fashioned. It was replaced by the bird face bassinet, with a big bubble here. The body is decorated by brass. The plate armour is decorated by brass. It was a bit old fashioned, too. In 1415, the fashion was to have very simple armour, like for big lords, or for knights, too.

Skip to 1 minute and 5 secondsDAN SPENCER: So what would the standard man-of-arms wear? Would it be something similar to this, or something a bit more basic?

Skip to 1 minute and 11 secondsCHRISTOPHE GILLIOT: The standard was quite similar to this.

Skip to 1 minute and 14 secondsDAN SPENCER: So how effective would this armor be against, say, a longbow?

Skip to 1 minute and 19 secondsCHRISTOPHE GILLIOT: It depends on the quality off your arrowhead. It depends on the power of your bow. But we think that at more than 50 metres, the plate armour can stop without problem an arrowhead.

Skip to 1 minute and 35 secondsDAN SPENCER: OK. And where would the vulnerabilities be in this sort of armour? Where would you be able to inflict blows on.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 secondsCHRISTOPHE GILLIOT: There is one reason, in fact. If nobleman spends so much money for plate armour, it's that it was efficient. In fact, plate armour like that can stop without problem an arrow at 50 metres. But as you can see, the early 15th century plate armour is a mix of chain mail and plates. And the problem is that an arrow, a dagger, a sword can pierce without problem the chain mail. And that's the fragile point of the plate armour. You have the shoulders, under the legs, at the back of the crease, behind the knee. And of course, here, the chain mail have a tie, which was very fragile, in fact.

Skip to 2 minutes and 25 secondsDAN SPENCER: And how heavy would armour be to wear? Would it really sort of affect, was it difficult to move in and fight in this armour?

Skip to 2 minutes and 32 secondsCHRISTOPHE GILLIOT: No, because they were trained. The training of a knight starts at seven years old. At seven years old, he became the page, then an esquire, then a knight. So we are in front of very athletic men, trained at war, and the armour wasn't so heavy. It was 16, 17 kilos. So a well trained knight can run, can fall, can get up, can ride without problem.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 secondsDAN SPENCER: So where did it go wrong for the French at Agincourt, in this regard, was it the muddy ground, or ...?

Skip to 3 minutes and 4 secondsCHRISTOPHE GILLIOT: Yes. The mud, it slips a lot. And that made the difference, in fact, at Agincourt, the mud.

Skip to 3 minutes and 11 secondsDAN SPENCER: Hm.

The effectiveness of plate armour

In this video, filmed at the Centre Historique Médiéval d’Azincourt in France, Dan Spencer interviews museum director, Christophe Gilliot.

They discuss the effectiveness of plate armour on the battlefield. They cover these questions: where were the vulnerable points? How heavy was it to wear? How might environmental conditions have worked against those in armour at Agincourt?

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Agincourt 1415: Myth and Reality

University of Southampton

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join: