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A: There are a number of contemporary sources that may be referenced in order to get an accurate idea of the cost of armour during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The chief source of income for nobles and gentry was through the collection of rents and taxes. Every landowner worth his salt had at least one clerk on his payroll, and professional clerks are, obviously, very meticulous record keepers. There are extant documents that detail the amounts of rent collected from various tennants, inventories of individual estates and manors, and salaries of individual servants and retainers...
A: In late Medieval Europe, various kinds of armour would have been widely seen and used by all classes of society. By law, every able-bodied freeman in England was expected to be “well and defensibly arrayed” as befitting his status in the event of war. For many, that body armour might only be a padded jack—quilted coat made of between 15 and 30 layers of linen—sewn by his wife or mother. For a few shillings more a man might acquire a crude sallet to protect the head, mitten gauntlets over the hands, and maybe even protective pieces on the arms and/or legs made from boiled leather, or “cuir boulli”.
A: Many of the armours made in bulk to be sold “off the rack” would have been left unpolished in order to reduce the cost. One has to remember that these armours were created in an age before the high-powered electric buffer wheels. Today, almost everything constructed of metal is highly polished. During the Middle Ages, it was much less common. It required significant time and energy to grind and polish a satin sheen on hammered steel. According to Tobias Capwell, curator of arms and armour at the Wallace Collection in London, that additional work could account to as much as 80% of the cost of a suit of armour.
A: Similar to buying a suit today, there were a number of options depending on the amount of silver a knight was looking to spend. Some gentry were more “landed” than others. Those on the lower spectrum were forced to buy “off the rack” from merchant armourers. More merchant-middleman than armourer, these businessmen essentially bought armour from distant manufacturers in bulk and re-sold it to their local clients.