Armour 'doubles effort of moving'
Published 20/07/2011 | 00:40
Heavy armour was more of a handicap to medieval knights than even the bloody outcome of the Battle of Agincourt has led historians to believe.
Wearing armour doubles the amount of energy needed to walk and move around, research has shown.
Body armour was a much greater burden than the equivalent weight in a modern soldier's backpack and restricted breathing, according to a new study.
The findings reinforce the view of many experts that armour played a decisive role at Agincourt in 1415. During the famous battle, heavily armoured French knights were forced to advance across a field of sticky, clinging mud.
They would have been far less mobile than the lightly armoured English archers and quickly exhausted.
British and Italian scientists carried out the study on skilled fight interpreters from the Royal Armouries, Leeds, who regularly wear replica armour in public performances.
The four men, aged around 36, wore suits of custom-made English, Italian and German 15th century armour as they undertook a range of walking and running exercises.
Face masks were used to measure the men's oxygen consumption and energy expenditure.
Typically, medieval armour weighed between 30 and 50 kilograms, similar to the marching loads carried on the backs of post-Second World War soldiers.
But unlike a backpack, armour consisting of interlocking steel plates distributed weight over the entire body, loading the limbs as well as the head, neck and trunk.