The knight in shining armor is undoubtedly the first image that comes to mind for most people when they think about warfare during the Middle Ages. The knight in this mental image is often a warrior wearing the iconic ‘suit of armor’. While it is true that this type of armor (known as plate armor or plate mail) was used by the knights, it only came into existence during the Late Middle Ages. Prior to that, the hauberk (a shirt of mail or chain mail) was normally used by knights and was the best protection available to the warrior.
By the 14th century, crossbows capable of penetrating the hauberk rendered this type of armor obsolete. Therefore, plate mail was developed as a means to protect the knights from this new weapon. The emergence of firearms changed the face of battle once more. Since only the heaviest of plate mails could withstand these weapons, the knight’s armor lost its usefulness once more. Plate armor slowly fell out of use and was relegated to the history books and our popular imagination.