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Original armor by Götz von Berlichingen , Museum Burg Hornberg
Harnisch in the 16th century
Emperor Maximilian's harness, Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York

An armor ( mhd. Harnasch , from old French harnais ; originally probably from the old Norse * hernest "army supply") is the armor of a knight that covers the body . Horse harnesses and elephant harnesses were also made .

Development of meaning

Originally, the name was applied to the entire equipment (full armor) of a knight. Around 1200 the meaning changed and the harnasch was only the part of the armor intended to protect the upper body.

In the High Middle Ages , the armor was also called “ Brünne ”, “Halsberc” or “Haubert” chain armor , which developed through various mixed forms into late medieval and early modern plate armor . Such armor was made by an armorer and then polished or etched by a harness sweeper.


Harnisch is a collective term for protective weapons within the group of armors that are used to cover the body. Subgroups of harnesses have developed in different time periods, cultures and usage-related. In particular, the following are known:

  • Half armor a group of armor used by foot soldiers and horsemen.
    • Küriss a variant of the half armor for cavalry.
    • Cuirass a variant that only protected the chest and stomach area.

Examples of other prehistoric, ancient, medieval and early modern armaments:

Especially since the late Middle Ages , plate armor that was suitable for a specific use emerged, see: Types of plate armor .

Web links

Wiktionary: Harnisch  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Category: Plate armor  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files


  • Joachim Bumke : Court culture. Literature and Society in the High Middle Ages (= dtv 4442). 2 volumes. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-423-04442-X .

Individual evidence

  1. Harnisch in the digital dictionary of the German language .