The Evolutions of Arms and Armors during the Crusades: 1095 – 1291 C.E.
By Adam Howard, Jeremy Kibby, Daniel Robertson and Alex Scanlon
Interactive Qualifying Project Report, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (2013)
Abstract: The Crusades were a major turning point in history which evoked a rapid evolution of arms and armors that persisted throughout the middle ages. The focus of this project is to outline the historical, technological, and geographical context that lead to such an evolution. The information we collect will be presented on a continually growing website developed by previous groups. A great helm will also be crafted, in a way that captures the style and spirit of the ancient craft of blacksmithing.
Introduction: The Crusades marked a major turning point in the history of the Middle Ages and represented a colossal clash between both the Western and Eastern civilizations during the 11th through 13th century. With two of the greatest European powers butting heads in bloody armed conflict for over two centuries, the design and composition of armor became an increasingly important factor. Although few developments in arms and armor came about during the Crusades, the need for better and more protective gear increased greatly. The Crusades did however mark a high point in warfare, with some of the greatest tactical minds on either side relentlessly trading man for man through constant skirmishing. The incessant armed conflict of the Crusades put medieval armor and weaponry to the test. They present a culmination of medieval warfare, blacksmithing, history, and culture, making the Crusades a perfect snapshot of medieval history.
While the true ending of the crusades is a heated topic of debate among medieval historians, the starting years are very well agreed upon. In the early 10th century, the House of Seljuq converted to Islam and migrated from their Turkish homeland to the plains of Persia. After emerging as the victor from a conflict with the Ghaznavid Empire, the Seljuq Dynasty went on to establish the Great Seljuq Empire, around the year 1050. The Seljuq Empire later dissolved as a result of internal conflict among the empires leaders, and this dissolution spawned many of the Turkish groups that Western (Christian) Crusaders would fight in the years to come.