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Medieval Kite Shield - for full contact simulated combat & exhibition fighting

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  • Product Description



    We think this is the best full contact battle re-enactment shield currently on sale in Australia. Made from laminated wood, it is reinforced by a 16 gauge frame and a 16 gauge steel boss. It has a sturdy Guigue: an adjustable carrying strap called (for your shoulder), and robust Enarmes: two leather forearm straps. It measures 50 inches by 27 inches. The wood is half an inch thick, and half of that is reinforced with steel! The forearm rests on a leather padded buffer cushion which gives a level surface for the lower arm to rest upon and also helps absorb the shock of a heavy impact. This medieval design is magnificent. If you stand side on to an opponent and draw the shield against you, it will protect 90% of your body. This design is popularly associated with 1066, and generally with the 11th and 12th centuries, yet records show it was still in common use as late as the 14th century. The advantages of the kite were too apparent for it to have been hastily discarded as obsolete. By about 1400, after more than 400 years of common usage, it finally become a rarity on the battlefield – we can surmise that smaller parrying shields, supported by superior plate armour were more apt for the late medieval battlefield; steel leg armour being the main protagonist of this change. With the legs now encased in plates of steel, a long shield was no longer deemed essential.

    The kite shield was long enough to cover the body and legs of the warrior when mounted. In the Monk of St. Gall's records, it is noted that the shield was sometimes made of iron ; but the more usual material was wood covered with leather or the tough cuirbouilli or wood set within an iron framework. Its broad bowed surface was from the earliest times used by the painter to display his art, which at first was not systematized, but consisted of geometrical patterns and strange birds and beasts that had no special meaning. As time went on each knight retained the device which was borne upon his shield and came to be recognized by it, and from this sprung the complicated science of Heraldry, which has survived, with all its intricate detail, to the present day. The surface of the shield was bowed so that it embraced the body of the wearer. In St. Lucy's Chapel, at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, in the window depicting the martyrdom of St. Thomas of Canterbury, are to be seen two varieties of kite shields. The date of the window is about the end of the thirteenth century. The shield was attached to the wearer by a thong passing round the neck, called the Guige. When not in use it was slung by this thong on the back. When in use the arm and hand passed through the short loops called Enarmes.

    To buy or to make - that is the question ...

    Back in the day, kite shields were never flat - the shield you see here is of course curved. For a re-enactor there is always the temptation to make his own shield, which usually means a flat kite shield. Although the sentiment is laudable, any flat shield will be structurally weaker than a curved one of similar weight, moreover, if combat goes shield-to-shield, because a flat shield does not wrap around the body, a wide opening is then created on each flank, enough for an opponent to jab behind. The curvature of a proper kite shield eliminates this potentially “fatal” gap. Although fun to make (unless you are some kind of master craftsman) a homemade shield will look just that (i.e. homemade), it would be structurally weak for its weight, unauthentic in shape and lacking in some areas of combat, and all for a saving of what… ? $100? And how many hours would it take to make? …. 10 to 20 perhaps? Each to their own, but with shields like this on the market, I think it’s a waste of time.

    Only want it for a wall?

    Don’t disgrace your baronial hall with a piece of tinny Made in China nonsense – this is the real McCoy! Just because this shield is functional, does not mean that it isn’t a work of art in its own right. These shields were powerful cultural emblems, and with good reason they have been decoratively set upon walls for over a thousand years. Our kite shield is not that difficult to mount. Screw in a chain about a quarter of the way down from the top, which should be quite straight and tight, then place it upon a protruding wall hook – done! Then have the satisfaction of having a REAL shield on your wall.




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