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Old June 11th, 2018, 07:12 PM   #1
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Kite Shield vs Round Shield?


I am curious about the advantages/disadvantages of both compared to each other. Why exactly did the kite shield replace the round Viking/Anglo-Saxon style? Specifically, when was the round shield replaced by the Kite shield? Did it linger on in parts of Scandinavia a bit longer?
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Old June 11th, 2018, 07:51 PM   #2
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I've read somewhere that, during the battle of Hastings, the housecarls of Harold's army stuck the pointy part of their kite shields against the ground so they could free their arms and wield their axes with their two hands. I guess that's an advantage the kite shield offers to its user the round shield doesn't.
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Old June 11th, 2018, 08:27 PM   #3
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Kite shield had the ability to better protect the lower body in fighting stance on the ground and the left leg while mounted. The round shield does not.
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Old June 11th, 2018, 10:18 PM   #4
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Round shields, with a center metal boss, are easier to manuever and use for offensive moves, even though it offers less defensive overage Somewhat like the much smaller buckler - it wasn't as good to stand behind, but you could move it around easier to block blows, shove the boss into your opponents face as a weapon.

If you want your shield just for defense, the kite shield is a better option. It typically used an arm strap to hold it, less tiring than the hand grip typical of a round shield. By the same token, the hand grip of round shield made it more manueverable. Kite shields were better for horsemen, since they offered better protection for the riders leg.
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Old June 12th, 2018, 01:02 AM   #5

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Kite shields were optimised for mounted combat.
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Old June 12th, 2018, 03:43 AM   #6

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The existence of the pointy end to a kite shield is disputed (not by me, but I took note of a re-enactors rather firm assurances) and the bottom would have been rounded for more practical use, since a pointy end could harm the user in some circumstances and a rounded bottom allowed support. I have yet to be convinced, but FYI.
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Old June 12th, 2018, 08:36 AM   #7

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There is at least one clear depiction in the Bayeux Tapestry of a man with a 2-handed axe with his shield slung on his back. You can do that with any shape, no need for a ground spike!

From what I've heard, the kite shield shows up first in the Byzantine Empire (or whatever we're calling it these days! ). It was clearly being used alongside round shields at Hastings, so your transition period is roughly the 11th century.

Kite shields are great for infantry because you can LEAN on them while waiting for the darn battle to start! Or throw it on the damp ground and nap on it. You have no idea how much of an advantage that is.

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Old June 12th, 2018, 10:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Amt View Post
There is at least one clear depiction in the Bayeux Tapestry of a man with a 2-handed axe with his shield slung on his back. You can do that with any shape, no need for a ground spike!

From what I've heard, the kite shield shows up first in the Byzantine Empire (or whatever we're calling it these days! ). It was clearly being used alongside round shields at Hastings, so your transition period is roughly the 11th century.

Kite shields are great for infantry because you can LEAN on them while waiting for the darn battle to start! Or throw it on the damp ground and nap on it. You have no idea how much of an advantage that is.

Matthew
After one of my trip to Yosemite where it rain, the ground slip or the tent slip, and as a complete novice on tents and other camping skills I woke up rather wet and very cold.
I would have pay to have a big enough shield to seperate me from the wet mush.
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Old June 12th, 2018, 02:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aggienation View Post
Kite shield had the ability to better protect the lower body in fighting stance on the ground and the left leg while mounted. The round shield does not.
...whilst leaving the entire right side of the body unprotected (assuming you're right handed).
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Old June 12th, 2018, 08:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caldrail View Post
The existence of the pointy end to a kite shield is disputed (not by me, but I took note of a re-enactors rather firm assurances) and the bottom would have been rounded for more practical use, since a pointy end could harm the user in some circumstances and a rounded bottom allowed support. I have yet to be convinced, but FYI.
Going by the Bayeux Tapestry it seems that some were pointed at the end, while others were not. Rounded ends appear much more common.

First image shows the rounded end, second a pointed end. Third and fourth images show groups of shields with rounded ends.

None of the images show the shields being employed to protect the lower body, which I personally find somewhat strange, however in the first two images the horseman wielding kite shields are each charging against another horseman, they hold the shield above and parallel to the horses' back.

In the fourth image the five horseman are charging against a group of infantrymen. As seen in the first horseman (leftmost) and final horseman (rightmost) they angle the shield back, exposing their left legs.

Additionally this image shows the first horseman wielding a spear while the final horseman wields an axe. In spite of their different weapons both mounted soldiers hold the shield behind their leg, leaving it exposed.

All these themes are repeated consistently throughout the tapestry.

Personally I don't think kite shields made any more sense to the Normans than they do to us, they strike me as an aesthetic fad more than a carefully engineered piece of personal protective equipment.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg kite shield 1.jpg (14.9 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg kite shield 2.jpg (14.5 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg kite shield 3.jpg (16.6 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg kite shield 4.jpg (17.6 KB, 2 views)
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