The Weapons and Armor of the Renaissance (Term Paper)

"There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed..." (Machiavelli) Indeed, this is true, as war has been a part of human culture since the beginning of time. Battles will be fought and wars will wage on; there is nothing that can be done. No matter how many pacts are signed, no matter how extraordinary the leader is, and no matter what race or religion, fighting is as unavoidable as the plague.

The Renaissance brought tremendous enlightenment and development across Europe. Individuals were becoming more interested in the importance of self-expression, scholastic achievement, literature, the sciences, art, and the world as it began to emerge. Renaissance men, such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Descartes, and Bocaccio gave contributions to society that are still appreciated today. Even with all of these positive and exciting changes, man’s fatal flaw reared its ugly head throughout this period. A plethora of wars and battles tarnished the Renaissance. The Thirty Years War, the Wars of Religion, St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, the English Civil War, and the Peasant’s War were responsible for only a fraction of the lives that were wasted across Europe in the 15th to mid-17th centuries.

The focus of this essay is not the wars that occurred during the Renaissance. Rather, it is the implements of these wars. In any fight, a man must be able to defend himself and be able to attack when the time is right. In a battle or war, certain tools or devices are used in order to gain an advantage. In the heat of battle, when thousands of men are killing each other, an unarmed man is a dead man. During the Renaissance, many new creative weapons and extravagant forms of armor were formed. Although these creations did a lot for the science of war and made it much easier for men and women (many innocent) to be slaughtered, without the development of such tools of destruction, who’s to say where we would stand now? The balance of power that stands today is directly related to the outcomes of the battles during the Renaissance.
Without the advantages of new technologies in weapons and armor, the world could be a vastly different place today.
The most important part of a fighter’s equipment is what he uses to defend himself. Often bulky and extremely heavy, some types of armor could be a hindrance to his mobility. Although this limited their movement, not a single person who fought would be without their protection. If an unarmed man is a dead man in the heat of battle, a man without armor is a slaughtered man. Any person would be proud to die for their country if they truly loved it, but to be dismembered or decapitated is something that a soldier’s family would never recover from.

The basic fighter would certainly have some specific items before he or she stepped on the field. All would wear some sort of body armor for protection from swords strikes, flying arrows, and the like. The quality and amount of protection offered by different body armor could vary greatly, but even the shoddiest was better than nothing. A helmet of some sort, ranging in durability from rawhide to the strongest steel, would also be worn by a fighter. Of course, this would be worn to protect the head, which was the most vulnerable place on a man’s body to attack. A blow to the head from such a simple weapon as a club could leave a man dead, but with better protection, this could be avoided. Often, two layers, one thin and one much thicker, were worn for head protection. Some type of footwear would have to be worn, as well. A simple pair of leather shoes would offer good protection from jagged rocks and debris scattered across the battlefield, but iron or steel boots could protect from even the hardest strikes of a sword. Sometimes, spikes would be added to these boots so and they could be used as an offensive weapon as well. And finally, a shield would almost always be used in combat. Most shields were round and made of metal and could be of various sizes, but they could also be irregularly shaped to help protect more