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The Higgins Armory Museum is located in Worcester, Massachusetts. It's a great way to learn about the types of armor worn in the Middle Ages, and it has one of the best armor collections in the world. John Higgins, a milliTitleonaire, founded it in 1929, though he had collected armor his whole life. Made to look like a Great Hall of a castle, the armor is laid out along the sides so it can be viewed by the public. There are several major sections useful to learn about the armor and why it was used. Some are the major periods of uses of armor, the parts of armor, and the Code of Chivalry.


One topic you can learn about is about the different uses of armor. There are three eras of armor. The first use, and the the reason it was invented for, is combat. Knights would wear armor into battle for protection. However bulky it may look, it's actually easy to maneuver in as long as the knight has had the proper training to wear it. Most weapons could not penetrate the metal plates. Eventually, other weapons were invented to use against the knight, such as the hooked spear or crossbow. These weapons lead to full body armor to become less useful; defense against them were trying to get out of the way with speed. So, the use of battle armor declined into special occasion and game attire. If a celebration was being held, a very rich person would dress up in armor with fancy decorations and a helmet in the shape of an animal, most commonly a fish or dog. It was also necessary to use in the joust, also called the tournament. Two knights mounted on horses, armed with a long wooden pole, would charge at each other and try to break their pole on each other. It was necessary because when the pole broke on the other knight, it would hurt and splinters would fly everywhere. The helmet was designed to have a very thin slit to see angled upward. It was designed so that the splinters would not go into people's eyes, which caused several deaths. But eventually, armor faded into a decoration to show off wealth. If a guy had a set of armor, he's the fanciest of the fancy. That is how armor stayed for quite some time, and it's eventually going back up into combat use. Even now, if a person had a set of armor, you would now that he's rich. John Higgins himself was an example of that! The three periods of armor all make sense, whether it was dodging swords, parading, or showing off.


Another area of interest is learning about the parts of a knights' armor. The helmet consists of a visor, the part where there are eye holes, a bevor, the part below the visor, the helm in the back, and the gorget, the neck piece. This is crucial to have to deflect fatal wounds to the neck and head. The biggest piece of the armor is the cuirass, a breast-and-back plate, which also deflects fatal blows. The pauldron is a shoulder protector. It's easy to move in it because of the overlapping pieces of armor that form joints. Going down the arm, there are rerebrace and vambrace that connect to the elbow joint, the cowter. On their hands, knights wear gauntlets on the top so they can protect their hand while fighting. Back to the main body armor. Below the cuirass, an upper thigh shield also allows movement due to its overlapping armor pieces. The cuisse protects the lower thigh and connects to the poleyn at the knee. From there, the greave protects the rest of the leg from the knee to the ankle and shin. The sabaton is like a metal shoe. Armor is very heavy, and knights must go through special training to wear it. The pieces of the armor, however heavy, do protect to a certain degree. Without it, a lot more people would have died in the middle ages.


Another interesting part of the museum is learning about the Code of Chivalry. The Code of Chivalry is a set of strict rules that a knight swears to follow at his knighting. The first part of the code is obedience to the Church. Knights will follow orders from the Catholic church like they would their king. Similar to that comes willingness to defend the church, which means to defend it while under attack. Knights must also have respect and pity for weakness, and must be steadfast in protecting them. They certainly need a love of their country. Knights swear to not retreat before the enemy during war. To knights, it was either fight, fight and get killed, or retreat and get banished from the church. Most knights did not want to be banished, so they fought. Relating to that, they must have unceasing and merciless war against the infidel, meaning war against people who do not accept a certain religion or faith. They must have obedience to their feudal overlord, unless their orders do not agree with God. They must be loyal to the truth and pledged word, which also means they can not go back on their vows. Generosity in giving goes with their companionship of what is right and good anywhere and anytime against the forces of evil. That was why knights were so successful in battle and with helping their people.


There is so much more to learn at Higgins Armory! You can learn more about the Code of Chivalry, the parts of armor, and the timeline of armor. But besides that, you can learn about who wore armor, how you became a knight, the types of weapons used by the knight, weapons used against the knight, more about the tournament, women in armor, and so much more. But an article alone cannot give you the whole experience; only going there can.  For people who love history, it's a great place to learn more about the middle ages. For those who are history-reluctant, it's a great place to start.


Higgins Museum Essay



3 --  Outstanding     2 -- Ok, but could use some improvement     1-- Needed improvement     0 --- Missing





      3         Gave the reader background and general information about the museum ---  set the scene.


      2         Transitions to the body of the essay. (Three things that can be learned by a visit to the museum)




      3         Three topics were addressed, each with its own paragraph


       3        Topics were clearly explained and used researched supporting details & vocabulary





     3          Restated topic --- What can be learned at the museum?


      3         Brought closure to essay (Summed up essay)




      3         Essay format followed the directions for assignment


      2         Spelling


       3        Capitalization (Used correct capitalization)


Comments: Excellent supporting details and vocabulary in the body. Good solid conclusion, one area that could have been better is the transition in the introduction, it could have been a smoother and clearer for the reader. Excellent overall effort!

Article posted May 6, 2010 at 05:42 PM • comment • Reads 145 • Return to Blog List
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