Gothic full-plate armour of the XV century

Surely, you’ve seen wonderful photos of black knight of “Steel Mastery” latest photo-shoot. Beautiful, shiny armour with carving elements and brass decorative strips attracts attention at the first sight! And in this article, we’d like to tell you about this medieval body protection.




Claude Blaire, the well-known English historian and weapon and armour expert, was right to name XV century as “The Golden age of armour”. At this particular time full plate armour a.k.a gothic armour has appeared.


Starting on the 1420 year, knight’s armour had being revolutionized. Full plate suit of armour (called also “white armour”) has replaced colourful brigandines decorated with emblems. In Germany, “white armour” has been called “Kasten-burst armour” - “box-shaped breast” because of angular form. Cuirass of Kasten-burst armour had long steel flared skirt, and the most popular model of head protection - helmet bascinet - completed the armour. Kasten-burst armour was widespread in Germany and Flanders in the beginning of the XV century.

Full kasten-burst armour, altar of Saint Leonard churge in Basele by Conrad Witz, 1435 year.


At this time, main european schools - german and italian - has finished its developing. What is more, in the first part of the XV century, italian masters had a strong lead, and only by the 1480-1490 year german masters were able to compete with them, and even surpass in a  short time. Nuremberg and Augsburg masters achieved a great fame, guaranteeing perfect quality and high reliability of armour.


In the end of the XV century, full plate gothic armour has appeared in Germany. It had been developed for complete protection of knight’s body during the battle. Sharp and piercing corners of armour’ parts (especially, on pass-guards, sabatons and gauntlets) had become outstanding characteristics of gothic armour. It combined two main features: reliable protection and good mobility. Metal used for armour was light, but firm at the same time.

Gothic cuirass, South Germany XV century. Steel. The Cleveland museum of art.


Usually, cuirass was consisting of two or more plates, partly overlapping one another. Oftentimes, edges of plates were saw-edged or figured. It also was repeated on the back plates.  Vertical reinforcement rib was placed centrally on the breastplate. All cuirass was decorated with fluted lines, that could override direct blow and change sliding path of weapon. Besides that, goffer essentially raised reliability and durability of armour and did not affect the weight too much. Cuirass was waist-suppressed and flared at the bottom a little. Such construction were allowing the knight to bend, unbend and ride without movements’ constraining.




Often, movable tassets for thighs protection had being attached to the lower part of cuirass, despite of the some discomfort they caused during the riding. Shoulder were protected with spaulder, which were attached to the cuirass with leather strings with steel points. Large spaulder could cover upper parts of breast, back and arms.


Armour’s pass-guard were closed. Outer side was shaped into pointed corners, so pass-guards covered not only the joint, but bend of elbow as well. Side wings were serrated and could be decorated with grooves. Gauntlets of the gothic armour were more movable, than preceding models of gauntlets. Often, the first phalanges of four fingers had being closed with one movable plate and the farthest phalanges could move independently. Extended gauntlets were narrowed at the wrist and decorated with sharp spikes and divergent lines.





As well as cuirass, greaves had reinforcement ribs which harden the armour. Greaves were consist of two parts, connected with hinges.


Sabatons had being made of slim plates and had main peculiarity - very long and narrow toe-cap. There was not only fashion statement: such toe-cap was functionally useful, when knight were riding, as it prevented the loss of stirrup. Besides, rider could cause grievous bodily harm to enemy foot-sloggers. There was also specific design of sabaton, where extra long top-caps could be unstrapped not to impede the walking or running.



Late german gothic armour of Sigismund, Archduke of Austria Gothic armour. Augsburg, about 1470-1480, By Lorenz Helmschmied.

Perhaps, helmet sallet was the main characteristic of gothic armour. This hollow helmet without comb and with lumiere had long tail - neck plate, that protects back side of the head and neck. In particular, sallet has become a prototype of german helmet in the time of the Second Reich in the XX century, but with shorter neck-flap. Sallet had been complemented with bevor - a part, which protect chin and the front part of the neck. Some of german and italian armourers were making sallet with movable visor, that could be fold back, opening the face. Often, dome of helmet and visor was decorated with reinforcement rib as well as the other parts of gothic armour.











Small mail elements were addition to the armour. They were covering inner side of the elbow and knee joints, armpits and groin.

Full-plate gothic armour consisted of a few tens of elements, but at the same time it wasn’t very bulky. Despite of the weight was about 20-25 kg, it’s apportioned on all the body. Historian M. Gorelik in his issue “About Balmung, Durendal and their lords” provides an interesting example: nowadays, actors engaged in movie about knights wearing the full-plate gothic armour and additional equipments, and they are able to work in such outfit for a few hours, running, jumping and performing. So, wide-spread belief, that battle armour is very comfortless and extremely heavyweight, is not absolutely truth. In this regard, german and italian armourers did their bests. Armour almost hadn’t blown and there was a big insufficiency of it, as inside the armour there was very hot during the battle.




There was too hard for knight to indue the armour by himself. But with help of proficient esquire, it had taken about 20 minutes only to wear the armour. First of all, shirt, pants and padded armour had been worn. Often knights were winding fabrics around the knees to prevent chafing. Then greaves and tasses, cuirass, to which tasses had being fastened. Then there was turn of spaulders and arm protection, after which servant were helping to wear and fix sabatons. To complete garment, knight should wear sallet and gauntlets, take weapon - and here is he ready for battle!




Pictures without "Steel Mastery" logo are taken from the web. We do not pretend to be an owner of them and use them as illustrative example only.

Plate knight gloves of XIV-XV century. How do we make them!

How to make knight gauntlets of the XIV-XV century.


Primary knights were not wearing plate gauntlets: only shield and sword’s handguard protected the hands. Starting on the 1180 year, mail gauntlets came into use. In fact, these gauntlets were a part of mail shirt sleeve. In the end of the XIII century, first separate gloves had appeared. They were made
of firm leather with whalebone or metal plates. And by the 1350 year, almost all knights were wearing plate five-fingered gauntlets, covered with metal scales. In the 1430 year, gauntlets had become one of the most part of any armour, and gainedgreat popularity in the end of the XV century.

Let’s have a look at how Steel Mastery makes plate knight gauntlets of the 1350-1400 years step-by-step!

1. First of all, you need to take precise measurements of your hand. Preferred is to
take parameters over the glove, which you’ll sew into the plate gauntlet.  

2. Then make a pattern on the thick paper with taken measures. Cut the pattern of leaf very accurately to avoid any problems with sizing during gauntlets’ making.

3. Making of wrist. Roll the main pattern in the shape of cylinder. Use semi-automatic welding to connect butting position with little weld.


We recommend having a photo of historical analogue as spectacular example at working place, so you could see and compare your work piece during manufacture. For example:

01.jpg 00.jpg

Shape the work piece with hammer, beakiron and argon torch. Sure, you can make it with cold metal,
but this will extend the wrist making. At work, always remember the safety instructions: when cutting the metal, use safety glass, gloves, duck bib overalls or hoover apron.

4.jpg  002.jpg


7.jpg  6.jpg

With chisel and beakiron, shape the ribs on the knuckles.

26.jpg    17.jpg

After this, polish and make the first fitting up with screws. Drill the holes for rivets, which will hold the
leather. Prepare the wrist for polishing.

Then make the mobile segment of narrow metal strip and fit it to the knuckles. This element is very important part of gauntlet, because leather of fingers will be attached exactly to this segment. It allows bringing the weapon without any problems, and is also an additional protection of hand part between the gauntlet wrist and fingers.





4. The next step is fingers’ making.


Make the pattern on the leaf and cut it carefully. Bend the metal phalanges, hammer the knuckles and put into the shape of sphere, which will hide area of phalanges bend.




Polish finish with abrasive discs. As there is the dirtiest part of our job, do not forget to use face masking (respirator) to avoid breathing abrasive dust.


Reassembly. Fingers.

Cut leather for fingers. Rivet metal parts of phalanges to the leather with steel or brass rivets.





Reassembly. Wrist.

Cut the leather and rivet it to the metal part of wrist with steel or brass rivets.


General reassembly.





So, here we lift a veil on how we make knight gloves of the XIV-XV century. This safety, historically correct hand protection will come in use during knight tournaments, medieval fencing and reenactments.

Probably, described process is seemed to be easy. But believe, making of such armour requires considerable amount of time, attention and zeal.

Do you like this review?:) Then pretty soon we’ll tell you how to create the most popular model of medieval helmet bascinet.

Armory World: cheaper, faster, simpler

We're happy to announce the launch of Armory World, a subsidiary brand of Steel Mastery.


Why did we decide to create another brand?

Steel Mastery produces custom-made products, which means longer manufacturing times and higher prices. We analyzed the feedback from our customers and realized that a large portion of them have needs that require a different approach from us. Not everyone is willing to wait weeks and pay extra for their custom-made items. Many just want their orders delivered fast and don't need any customization.

So here comes Armory World online store, where we offer you:

  • products in standard sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL) and standard colors, but same high quality of materials and manufacturing
  • immediate shipping, as the goods you order are already in stock
  • and last but not least, considerably lower prices (circa 30% less) compared to those from Steel Mastery


What will we be selling on the Armory World website?
Armory World will offer bestseller Steel Mastery products, in the most popular configurations, in standard sizes and for less money :)

Check out our new
online store Armory World and let us know what you think!

Leather LARP and fantasy armour

Live action role-playing games have become more popular in the recent years. That’s why Steel Mastery decides to make fantasy-addicted customers with line of unique hand-made leather and steel armour.


To create bracers, greaves, helmets, cuirasses and other armour, our craftsmen used natural firm waxed leather. Thickness of such type of leather is usually 3.5-4 mm – there is ideal thickness for light, but safety leather armour. For riveting simple rivets and burrs are used. We paint them in black, brown or iron-grey colour.

Women corset is dainty craftsmanship, so we make them of soft and thin leather – about 2 mm thick. Such leather takes the needed shape easily, so happy owner of our handmade corset will look not only breathtaking, but also very comfortable. And decorated spaulders and bracers will not leave any girl cold!

Armour is easy in fastening on the body and limbs with firm leather belts with steel or brass buckles. Separate parts are joined with leather straps creating full armour, e.g. arm protection.

Every workpiece can be decorated with tooling on leather, aerographics, decorative stones or another fashion jewelry. Please send pattern and desires of decoration and we will make it on your armour!

Amazing leather bags and belts will be perfect addition to your character in fantasy style. And using accessories made by Steel Mastery even in daily living, you’ll draw the delighted eye.

Make your order right now and create your unique character! And if you do not like realization of some item, please send a photo of wished model to sales@steel-mastery.com and we will craft it by your measurement.


For sure, our armour is ideal for LARP, as they not only distinguishes the owner from the crowd, but also protects you at worthy stage!


Costume of Landsknecht, early XVI century

Bright and recognizable charachter of german sellsword landskneсht recently gains in popularity on the medieval festivals. As a result, separate events dedicated to culture and life-style of landsknechts have appeared. In our turn, we’d like to say few words about the main detail of lansknecht’s look - costume.

By the last quarter of the XV century, fashion had evolved into the tight-fitting laced garments with a lot of colourful panels and details. But on the beginning of the XVI century,  it was to go into reverse accenting not the tenderness of body, but strength and robustness.

The main elements were left unchanged.

For example, paned sleeves were popular in the XV century, and in the XVI century outer lay was split in a way to let the interliner spill out. Victorius Swiss troop, who plundered the defeated Burgundian camp and stuffed the doublets with rich looted fabrics, is consider to be an ancestor of such style. Landsknechts were german variant of swiss mercenaries, and mode of dress was partially taken from them.

Urs Graf, 1527-1600

Simply cutting on the chausses and the jerkins was as popular as paning. Long strips of material, sometimes with lining, were sewn down the base of garment. Thin and soft materials were used for lining, e.g.silk that was appeared through the panes.

Allaert Claescz, 1520-1550

Undershirts of that period had T-shaped cut with stand-up collar, to which ruffs were sewn down. Often but not always, there were no fastenings on the collars, so shirt could be pushed through the neck like a pullover. But on the woodcuts you can see shirts with buttons or lacing on the neckline.

Leather jerkins were very important piece of clothing those times not only for practical resons, e.g. protection from weather, but also during the battles. It created a character of agressive masculine warrior, as that particular character of german soldier dominated in the first part of century.

Costume of XVII century European citizen

Fashion was changing - time of long and shapeless tunics and shirts has passed. But what medieval citizen worn? We will tell you about a cotume, that was not high-fashion look of XVII century, but typical for usual european man.

Wide cut of shirt with baloon sleeves remained constant. Cuffs and neckband had buttons or lacing for fastening. Falling band was sewn separately, and often was decorated with ruffs, trim or lace.

Doublets of that period was always tight fitting and had a lining. Back of collar in one with body panel was a common feature of early XVII century doublets. The front parts of neckband was sewn separately, as the “wings” on the shoulders.

Breeches gathered on the waistband always had lining. Knee bands could be very narrow, open at outside or inside of leg, with installed buttons or hooks.

Hoses could be knitted or sewn of linen or wool. Cut on bias gave more stretch, and usually there was a slash at ankle closed tight by lacing through the eyelets.

Tailors often sewn hooks and eyes, or bead buttons on any opening. Such buttons could be covered with fabric and passed through knotted loop of leather of fabric.

All above-mentioned items make a costume, that all social groups could afford. But materials and decoration were varied depending on the social and financial status of person.

Splinted and plate limbs' protection of the XIV century

Steel Mastery represents you historically correct, strong and very practical splinted and plate limbs’ protection of the XIV century. We tested it in battles - and now recommend it to you!

Splinted limbs’ protection was popular in Europe since XIII century. The main difference of splinted armour (from brigandine armour) was riveting of plates to few layers of thick linen to both inner and outer sides.

Gravestone of Günther von Schwarzburg (Saint Bartholomeus' Cathedral, Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany, 1349 year) is the best known historical verification of such armour’s using. Rivet heads are seen between the pedimental plates. This, in particular, suggest the existance of plates from the inner side of upper arm protectionbracers and greaves.


Effigy of Burkhard von Steinberg (Germany Hildesheim Roemer Museum, 1397 year) - splinted bracers are visible.


Plate limbs' protection was being appeared from the middle of XIV century. Originally, it looked like a little-curved metal plates, that were covering shoulders and hips. But in time, due to armourers’ skills development, plate protection was getting more unbeatable, one-piece bracers and greaves were hammered out.


Similar type of armour you can see on the effigy of Henry II the Pious Duke (Franciscan Church of St Jacob, Wrocław, Lower Silesia, Poland, 1350 year):


Sir Hugh de Prouz (St Cuthbert's Church, Widworthy, Devon, England, 1350 year):

Sir William de Aldeburgh (Church of St Peter and St Paul, Aldborough, Yorkshire, England, 1360 year):

By choosing material, type ad thickness of metal in options of each item, you can make your only safe medieval set of splinted or plate protection!


Man's outfit in 12-13 centuries

We often receive questions like “What tunic is typical for such century?” or “Are these chausses acceptable for this period?” and so on, and so on… What is meant in this article is typical european man’s costume of the XII-XIII centuries.


Simple cut and multilayered type were peculiarities of medieval european costume. And as church was a keystone of society, it has been also a kind of “trend-setter”: long and baggy clothes were to hide a body completely. Cut and models of clothes of all social classes were similar, except of materials: base estate used cheap and hard-wearing linen or warm wool for sewing, but prosperous citizen and noble knights had their dresses made of silk, velvet or atlas, decoratied with expensive embroidery, pearls or fur.


Costume of medieval man consisted of such main items as:

-undershirt - chemise;

-short pants - braies

-chausses - kind of stockings with fastenings

-upper shirt - cotta or tunic

-cap - cale with long strings


Military men were wearing different types of padded gambesons depending on the soldier’s form of activity.


Chemise is a type of underwear, that was being worn over the body under the tunic, and often it covered the braies and chausses. Peasants and  base estate were sewing undershirts of uncoloured twill fabric, but knights and rich lords were wearing thin linen or silk chemises. Oftentimes, people used saffron and other herbs to odorize and color chemises. From the XIII century, chemises were even embroidered in such a way, that decorations are seen from under the tunic or cotta.

As pants were absolutely barbarian pieces of clothing in those days, for european man it was disgracefully to wear such garment. That’s why people became to use squares of linen to cover the thighs. In time, braies became longer, strings on the legs and on the waistband had appeared as well as holes for chausses’ fastening.

Chausses have being worn separately on each leg and fastened with strings to the wide fabric belt with holes or to the holes in braies. Depending on the purposes and worthiness of costume, quantity of strings could be varied and even decorated with bows. Short chausses were popular among both men and women (who hid chausses under the long dresses). People were fastening such model of chausses under the knees with strings or fabric straps. But long chausses were being used only by men, and despite of chausses were almost hidden under the overclothes, they were often sewn of silk or atlas and decorated with expensive embroidery.


Wide upper cloth named cotta was being worn over the chemise. Simple cut of cotta was unchanged for centuries: only length, materials and colours could be varied. Cotta’s sleeves were being made narrower to the wrists, often with lacings. Bright red, blue and yellow cottas with length to the calf or to the knee, they were the most popular in the XII-XIII centuries.


And sure, small headwear - cale - was integral part of men’s medieval costume. It had popularity among both peasants and upper class. It was a cap, usually made of white linen and with hanging strings. Usually, main headwear (chaperon, bonnet, hoods, etc.) were being worn over the cale, but it also could be a separate piece of clothing. Padded cales were used as a liner for helmet.


Each and every soldiers were wearing gambesons, only material, quantity of layers and length of gambesons were different depending on the status and activity. In such a way, soldiers were using short, slim-cut sleeveless gambesons, archers and crossbowmen were fighting is gambesons with length till the mid-thigh.


Padded armour was decorated with festoons on the bottom hem and sleeves, and had fastenings on the collar.

When choosing a costume for medieval event, please do consider social status of character you want to create. As noble knight in work-clothes has the same strange look, as modern business-man wearing cut-offs during the professional meeting:)

Interior design - Vezha Vedmezha

Dear friends, Steel Mastery not only makes durable and reliable armour, but also we create medieval-style interior designs.  Chandeliers, stair railing, lampshades, various decorative armour, uniform for the personnel - it's not the full list of what we make.


If you want to a unique design for your hotel, restaurant, house or just living room,  do not hesitate to contact us and we'll make your place inimitable!


Take a look at one of our interiour design projects we did for the hotel "Vezha Vedmezha" in the Western Ukraine:















See more of these photos here

Instalment selling

Good news for those who cannot pay for their order at once:  we introduce the possibility to pay in instalments:

- If your order total is more than 500 EUR, you may choose to pay in two instalments: 50% upon the order placement, and the balance just before the shipping, having seen the photos of your items. 

- If your order total is more than 1500 EUR, you may pay in 3 instalments (40%, 30%, 30%).

If you want to use this instalment payment possibility, please contact us at sales@steel-mastery.com before placing your order.

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