I ran across this article on discovery news today: Heavy Armor Led to French Knights’ Loss.The article immediately irritated me. Perhaps it was the way the article was written or perhaps it was the content of the interviews with the guys who did the study. The gist of the story is that some English researchers had some medieval reenactor volunteers don period medieval armor and do various exercises on a treadmill while their various bodily functions were measured such as breathing, heart rate, etc. The article makes out as if it is a surprise that one, medieval suits of plate mail were heavy and two, that knights tire rapidly while walking in them. Does not common sense say that both things are true? Anyone who has ever had to carry a heavy backpack knows that carrying something heavy tires you out faster. That medieval plate armor was heavy is not a new discovery either. Keegan points this out in The Face of Battle and it is widely remarked in many books on medieval warfare.
This is the standout quote from the article for me:
“Together with numbers and condition of soldiers, equipment availability, battle strategy, and terrain, the high energetic cost of movement in armor could have contributed to the outcome of medieval battles,” the researchers concluded.”
Those are the concluding lines from the article. All I could say to that was wow.
I suppose it is good to have experimental confirmation of inductive reasoning but I have to wonder if this knowledge or proof actually changes the conclusions of the reasons for victory and defeat in medieval battles. I cannot think of any off the top of my head where fatigue would have played a part that it is not already accounted for in the standard analysis of the battle including at the Battle of Agincourt. I have to wonder about what is the usefulness of this “new” knowledge then?