Last updated at 18:02 BST, Friday, 22 July 2011

Heavy armour might have defeated 'knights'

Summary

22 July 2011

Medieval armour was so heavy that it could have seriously impacted on a soldier's performance, a study from the University of Leeds suggests. According to the research, the protective suits may have influenced the outcome of battles.

Reporter:
Rebecca Morelle

Experiment at the University of Leeds

Volunteers took part in the experiment

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As weapons became more and more sophisticated in medieval Europe armour also evolved, and by the 15th century soldiers would have been clad top-to-toe in up to 50kg of bulky steel.

Researchers have always suspected that this would have been tough to move around in. But now with the help of volunteers wearing replica medieval armour - and a treadmill - they've been able to confirm this.

They found that walking or running in it used up huge amounts of energy, restricted breathing and bore intense pressure on the legs.

The effect was so great the team suspects it could have played a part in France's defeat in the battle of Agincourt.

In this famous conflict of 1415 - despite heavily outnumbering the English - the French were beaten.

The scientists say the fact that the French knights had to trek through a muddy field while wearing their heavy armour - to meet a stationary English line - would have left them so exhausted, it probably led to their downfall.

Rebecca Morelle, BBC News

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Vocabulary

clad top-to-toe in (something)

wearing something from head to foot

bulky

large and difficult to manage

tough

difficult

a treadmill

a fitness machine used for walking and running

restricted

limited

played a part in (something)

been partly responsible for

outnumbering

having many more soldiers

to trek

to make a slow and difficult journey

exhausted

very tired

downfall

losing the battle

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