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Medieval horse armour

From: Evan

Dear Jessica, I was so happy to read your answer about barding! I too am interested in these things, and I was hoping that you could settle an argument that I am having with a friend. I have always thought that the part of the armour that protected a horse's face and neck was called the "chamfron". My friend says that it is called the "Cranet", which is a term I've never heard before, but she insists that this is the correct term and that I am wrong. I feel certain that I have seen this equipment in museums and that it was labeled "Chamfron". Maybe I am remembering wrong, but I don't think so. We have agreed that I will ask you and you will settle our bet (yes, we did bet on the outcome). I am hoping that since you seem to know everything about horses, you will be able to settle this!


Hi Evan! I can tell you about medieval horse armour for the face and neck, but I don't think that the answer is likely to settle your bet. I have a strong suspicion that you are both right - and wrong.

Your memory is accurate, and you are partly correct - the shaped metal plate that protected a horse's face is indeed the Chamfron. If you can find a museum with a good collection of 15th century armour, you should be able to see some examples of this. Chamfrons from earlier centuries tended to be made from leather with metal inserts or bosses.

However, the chamfron didn't protect a horse's neck at all - that protection was provided by another piece of equipment, called - wait for it - the Crinet. So, apart from a small error in spelling, your friend is also partly correct.

The Crinet was made from overlapping steel plates. Again, to look at examples of this, you'll need to find a museum with a good collection of 15th century or even 16th century war-horse equipment. Earlier versions were usually held together with strips of leather; later versions were all metal.

Some of these are very attractive and surprisingly flexible, so would have allowed the horse some freedom to move its neck (longitudinally, at least).

Nowadays, protective equipment for horses is more likely to be made of various bullet-proof plastics and fabrics!


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