Plate armour was historically worn in Europe during the late middle ages. Inspired by the Greeks and Romans, who both used partial armour plates to protect important areas such as their chest, it began to be used widely from the 13th century onwards.
A full set of armour was incredibly complex, consisting of many different parts, and good sets were highly prized. Steel was the main material used, and each individual piece would be shaped and hammered out by hand before being polished to a high shine and often finished with intricate detailing. A typical set of armour could weigh between 15-25kg but a good smith would ensure this was spread throughout the body to enable the wearer to be able to move freely.
Elaborately decorated armour was common for royalty, often called parade armour, and could include fine embossing in different colours. Particularly fine sets would be immortalised in paintings or even kept on show for visitors, such as the Line of Kings at the Tower of London which displays an impressive array of royal armour in the world’s longest running visitor attraction.
Jousting armour was another type, and this was usually substantially heavier than a typical set of plate armour to withstand the heavy blows it was expected to encounter. As the wearer was seated on a horse, there was also less need for free movement, although it still needed to be light enough to be carried by the horse.
As weapons developed and firearms became more commonly used, traditional plate armour became useless for the most part. Modern body armour is now usually made from synthetic fibres, replacing the traditional steel plates. Ballistic vest are usually made from Kevlar since its introduction in the 1970s, although sometimes trauma plates may also be used made of steel or titanium.