If you want to become a mighty warrior princess, you will need to don some armour for battle. In this post, we take a short look at medieval female armour, not just its history but also the practicalities and sizing issues involved. We also mention a couple of our most popular pieces of female armour.
Historical vs Modern
When it comes to women’s armour, there aren’t many examples of known female warriors to draw from. For the most part, it is easier to look at historical images to get a better understanding. Joan of Arc is the most recognizable female warrior in the medieval period. Female warriors like Joan of Arc most likely wore the same armour, design-wise, as men. It would have just been sized down. This would have been the least complicated way to deal with the smaller statures for any armorer. They would have been used to sizing down for younger men or boys depending on the circumstances.
The main reason why we believe medieval women more likely wore the same armour as men comes from images of the time. For example, there are some miniatures or illustrations from manuscripts that portray Joan of Arc in armour.
This picture depicts her with the Dauphin of France wearing a helmet and full arm armour along with a cuirass. The faulds of the cuirass are visible on the side of her skirt.
Meanwhile, this image from a 1504 manuscript depicts her in full, gold-colored armour. While rather decorated in appearance, her armour would not have looked out of place on a male warrior.
In addition to images of real warriors, there are images that feature ideals or mythical figures. This image depicts the goddess Athena in armour giving armour to soldiers. Images from manuscripts, sculptures, and other sources help to support the idea that women just wore the same armour design.
For modern female armour, women have a greater range, especially when it comes to styles. They can choose the same pieces as their male counterparts, the same way as they did in the past. Also, they can choose pieces that curve like a female body. For example, a cuirass that curves around the upper body is the Artemis Celtic Leather Cuirass for Ladies. Meanwhile, the Lena Steel Tasset Belt has a slight curvature that mimics the curves of a woman’s hips.
Practicalities to Consider
There are two main practicalities when choosing medieval armour that a female will have to consider differently than a male. The first is one that modern female athletes must consider and that is the movement of the chest. If a female athlete or medieval warrior needs to move around a lot, it is advisable to contain and restrict the movement of the chest for greater comfort. This is especially true when it comes to wearing steel armour around the torso.
The other consideration is the difference in size and stature. Most women are on average shorter than men. They also have different proportions than men. Combined, these differences may make armour pieces either less comfortable or not protect the body in the same way. Tassets and other pieces of thigh armour can illustrate this well. Depending on the height of a woman, a particular tasset may end further down her leg than what it would on a man. It also may not cover as much close to the hips since women tend to be wider there proportionally speaking. Women are more angled on the outside of the legs so a rectangular tasset will protect the body slightly differently. Different body structures may cause some people to have more of these issues than others. Thus, knowing the measurements of your body and your armour is the most important factor to getting a good fit
When it comes to choosing pieces of medieval armour for a woman, there are many choices available. You can choose to look specifically at our female armour category or choose to look at the general leather or steel armour categories. Regardless of what category you look in, the main thing to keep in mind is your body measurements with the particular pieces that you are looking at. For the most part, armour pieces are fairly unisex in their design, and many pieces can fit a wide variety of sizes. You just need to make sure that you focus on pieces that fit your body measurements.
Specifically, pieces like bracers and greaves will have laces or straps for an adjustable fit. Gorgets and spaulders are also unisex but will be slightly more size dependent. For example, a spaulder sized for a larger shoulder will have more space between the wearer and the armour piece. This could cause it to slide around or not fit properly. The Adam Spaulders, for example, come in a large size and a small size. The large is a couple inches wider than the small and thus fits someone larger. Again, the design itself is not gender dependent; it is the possible size difference that could cause issues for women versus men.
Cuirasses and other torso armour pieces are where sizing comes into play the most. When measuring yourself for a piece of armour, you want to get the measurement of your torso at its largest possible size. If you try to take your waist, underbust, or just under your arms, you will likely get a piece of armour too small for you.
Clothing and Arming Wear
In addition to taking the measurement at the right location, you should also consider your clothing as well. When you are choosing a cuirass, you will want the armour piece to fit not just you but also over your clothing, especially any arming wear. Arming wear helps to provide greater comfort when wearing steel armour. Thus, you want to ensure that there is enough room for you to wear the armour over your clothing and any arming wear. If you need more help, we have another article specifically on how to wear your steel armour.
That being said, too much space can cause the armour to bang against the wearer because it doesn’t fit snugly. This is where the practicality of chest movement comes into the situation. Too much room and not restricting the chest can lead to a fair bit of discomfort. Make sure to choose pieces that best fit you. Some of our most popular medieval female armour pieces are from the Mina and Kendra armour series. Some of our most popular female armour pieces are from the Mina and Kendra armour series. The Mina armour set is a steel option with a feminine shape to its torso and armour belt accompanied by versatile gorget and spaulders. The Kendra armour set is a leather option that also features torso armour with a molded shape.
A large portion of the armour we sell has a fantasy style. The style of armour that you choose is going to depend on your needs and preferences. You may want armour with a more historical or practical style. More historical or practical armour is going to look different than more fantasy-inspired armour.
This picture shows a great example of some female armour with a more fantasy style. This ensemble includes the Rogue Female Armour with the Leather Rogue Corset as well as the Kendra Ladies Bracers. These pieces create a look that is more fantasy than historical but still very stylish.
In summary, there are a few considerations that a woman looking at medieval armour may have. Overall, a woman can wear the same medieval armour styles as a man or female-specific armour, so long as they pay attention to the sizing of the armour regardless. The considerations of size, proportions, and chest size would have occurred to medieval warrior women as they do now.