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Shield Shapes

Medieval life and Times

Shield Shapes
There were many different Shield Shapes. The shapes and styles of the different shields changed as different types of body protection were developed with new ideas and technology. The different types of Medieval shield shapes included small. large, short, tall, round, oblong, rectangular, triangular, cylindrical and hexagonal.

Shield Shapes
The above picture provides an overview of some different shield shapes. Shields became common use in all parts of the world including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Far East and the Orient. Shields shapes varied according to the type of battles of warfare that was to be fought and the materials and technology available. The shapes, sizes and weight of shields depended upon whether warriors or soldiers relied on speed and surprise or whether the enemies weapons had such force that highly protective and heavy shields were required. The shapes of the earliest shields were round, oblong or rectangular. The Romans saw the decline of round shields to rectangular or cylindrical shields, primarily the scutum.

Medieval Coat of Arms

Medieval Shield Shapes
The shield shapes during Medieval times changed to increase the effectiveness of defence tactics in the Medieval times. The Normans introduced the Pavise (Wall Shields) was introduced which were large shields used as as shelters for foot soldiers and archers. Targe Shields were designed shield to wear on the arm providing greater flexibility and the Buckler was a light shield and easier for the bearer to wield a weapon without sacrificing protection. Famous Medieval shields with different shield shapes are as follows:

  • Kite shields - The kite shields were featured in the Bayeux tapestry. Rounded at the top of the shield and tapered at the bottom providing body cover as chain mail was the only protection in the early Middle Ages
  • Heater Shields were strongly associated with jousting knights. These were smaller as they complimented full suits of armor and were suited to horseback
  • The Buckler was a a small round, metal shield which could be hung from a belt and reserved for hand-to-hand combat
  • The Pavise ( Wall Shields)  was used by Crossbow men. This type of tall shield provided protection when reloading his crossbow
  • The Targe (or Target shields) were the traditional Scottish round shield
  • The Bouche was designed to be used with the lance
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Medieval Swords and Armor

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