The classic fantasy knight is a wonderful invention, simple in design and easy to write. They are heroes of the battlefield, loyal to their kings, and there is a lot we can learn from the Middle Ages by reading about them. Generally speaking, however, they are very far from the real medieval knight and if they were presented more realistically we could learn a whole lot more. Not every knight was a hedge knight or a knight errant. Most of them had their sh*t together. So how can we make our fantasy knights more like the real knights of the Middle Ages?
Mega swords, super swords and all other kinds of made-up dragon-slaying swords belong where they rightly exist–in fantasy! But why do they belong there, and not in real life? In Earth’s historical reality, the European one-handed arming sword has become a well-known and predictable symbol. But in popular medieval fantasy, whether it be in video games, books, movies or comics, the European sword has become a target for unpredictable creative reinvention!
Before you hit me with “realism in fantasy only means consistency”, consider that ancient and medieval people knew what they were doing and their armor looks the way it does for very important reasons. Here I will be taking a brief look at a few popular fantasy tropes and compare them to historical reality to show you why much fantasy armor is impractical in real life.