Shield

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Zulu chief Goza and two of his councillors in war-dress, all with Nguni shields, c.1870. The size of the shield on the chief's left arm denotes his status, and the white colour that he is a married man.[1]
Wall painting depicting a Mycenaean Greek "figure eight", 15th century BC, National Archaeological Museum, Athens

A shield is a piece of

personal armour held in the hand, which may or may not be strapped to the wrist or forearm. Shields are used to intercept specific attacks, whether from close-ranged weaponry or projectiles such as arrows
, by means of active blocks, as well as to provide passive protection by closing one or more lines of engagement during combat.

Shields vary greatly in size and shape, ranging from large panels that protect the user's whole body to small models (such as the buckler) that were intended for hand-to-hand-combat use. Shields also vary a great deal in thickness; whereas some shields were made of relatively deep, absorbent, wooden planking to protect soldiers from the impact of spears and crossbow bolts, others were thinner and lighter and designed mainly for deflecting blade strikes (like the roromaraugi or qauata). Finally, shields vary greatly in shape, ranging in roundness to angularity, proportional length and width, symmetry and edge pattern; different shapes provide more optimal protection for infantry or cavalry, enhance portability, provide secondary uses such as ship protection or as a weapon and so on.

In prehistory and during the era of the earliest civilisations, shields were made of wood, animal hide, woven reeds or

Barbarian Invasions and the Middle Ages
, they were normally constructed of poplar tree, lime or another split-resistant timber, covered in some instances with a material such as leather or rawhide and often reinforced with a metal boss, rim or banding. They were carried by foot soldiers, knights and cavalry.

Depending on time and place, shields could be round, oval, square, rectangular, triangular, bilabial or scalloped. Sometimes they took on the form of kites or flatirons, or had rounded tops on a rectangular base with perhaps an eye-hole, to look through when used with combat. The shield was held by a central grip or by straps with some going over or around the user's arm and one or more being held by the hand.

Often shields were decorated with a painted pattern or an animal representation to show their army or clan. These designs developed into systematized

Scottish Highland fighters liked to wield small shields known as targes, and as late as the 19th century, some non-industrialized peoples (such as Zulu
warriors) employed them when waging war.

In the 20th and 21st century, shields have been used by military and police units that specialize in anti-terrorist actions, hostage rescue, riot control and siege-breaking.

Prehistory

Elaborate and sophisticated shields from the Philippines
.

The oldest form of shield was a protection device designed to block attacks by

.

History

Ancient

Size and weight varied greatly.

hoplites used a round, bowl-shaped wooden shield that was reinforced with bronze and called an (3rd century AD)

Examples of Germanic wooden shields circa 350 BC – 500 AD survive from

weapons sacrifices
in Danish bogs.

The heavily armored

scuta) that could provide far more protection, but made swift movement a little more difficult. The scutum originally had an oval shape, but gradually the curved tops and sides were cut to produce the familiar rectangular shape most commonly seen in the early Imperial legions. Famously, the Romans used their shields to create a tortoise-like formation called a testudo in which entire groups of soldiers would be enclosed in an armoured box to provide protection against missiles. Many ancient shield designs featured incuts of one sort or another. This was done to accommodate the shaft of a spear, thus facilitating tactics requiring the soldiers to stand close together forming a wall of shields
.

Post-classical

Soldiers of the Khmer Empire use round shields. Located at the Bayon
temple(12th/13th century).
Shield bearer in the Croatian 18th century tournament Sinjska alka

Typical in the early European

linden, fir, alder, or poplar, usually reinforced with leather cover on one or both sides and occasionally metal rims, encircling a metal shield boss. These light shields suited a fighting style where each incoming blow is intercepted with the boss in order to deflect it. The Normans introduced the kite shield around the 10th century, which was rounded at the top and tapered at the bottom. This gave some protection to the user's legs, without adding too much to the total weight of the shield. The kite shield predominantly features enarmes
, leather straps used to grip the shield tight to the arm. Used by foot and mounted troops alike, it gradually came to replace the round shield as the common choice until the end of the 12th century, when more efficient limb armour allowed the shields to grow shorter, and be entirely replaced by the 14th century.

As body armour improved,

heraldic shield that is still used today. Eventually, specialised shapes were developed such as the bouche, which had a lance rest cut into the upper corner of the lance side, to help guide it in combat or tournament. Free standing shields called pavises, which were propped up on stands, were used by medieval crossbowmen
who needed protection while reloading.

In time, some armoured foot knights gave up shields entirely in favour of mobility and two-handed weapons. Other knights and common soldiers adopted the buckler, giving rise to the term "swashbuckler".[5] The buckler is a small round shield, typically between 8 and 16 inches (20–40 cm) in diameter. The buckler was one of very few types of shield that were usually made of metal. Small and light, the buckler was easily carried by being hung from a belt; it gave little protection from missiles and was reserved for hand-to-hand combat where it served both for protection and offence. The buckler's use began in the Middle Ages and continued well into the 16th century.

In Italy, the

Scottish clans
used a small, round targe that was partially effective against the firearms of the time, although it was arguably more often used against British infantry bayonets and cavalry swords in close-in fighting.

During the 19th century, non-industrial cultures with little access to guns were still using war shields. Zulu warriors carried large lightweight shields called Ishlangu made from a single ox hide supported by a wooden spine.[6] This was used in combination with a short spear (iklwa) and/or club. Other African shields include Glagwa from Cameroon or Nguba from Congo.

Modern

Law enforcement shields

Ballistic shield, NIJ
Level IIIA
Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen
(SWCC) fire a shield-equipped Minigun

Shields for protection from armed attack are still used by many

.

The second type of modern police shield is the bullet-resistant

bullet resistant
. Two types of shields are available:

  1. Light weight level IIIA shields that stop hand guns and submachine guns.
  2. Heavy Level III and IV shields that stop rifle rounds.

Tactical shields often have a firing port so that the officer holding the shield can fire a weapon while being protected by the shield, and they often have a bulletproof glass viewing port. They are typically employed by specialist police, such as SWAT teams in high risk entry and siege scenarios, such as hostage rescue and breaching gang compounds, as well as in antiterrorism operations.

Law enforcement shields often have a large signs stating "POLICE" (or the name of a force, such as "US MARSHALS") to indicate that the user is a law enforcement officer.[citation needed]

Gallery

See also

References

  1. .
  2. ^ "Spartan Weapons". Ancientmilitary.com. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Spartan Military". Ancientmilitary.com. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  4. OCLC 971924562
    .
  5. ^ "The Sussex Rapier School". Hadesign.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  6. ^ "Zulu Shield (Longo)". Rrtraders.com. Retrieved 26 December 2008.

Bibliography

External links