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Towards the 16th century, Europe experienced what could best be described as a "mini-Industrial Revolution" in which after almost a hiatus of 1,000 years, the production of steel sheets was regained by European

societies. Whether this was due to introduction of new methods from Asia, or from rediscovery of old methods remains to be discovered, but one thing is certain: it led to the improvement of personal armour. In Germany, there arose a style of armour, the product thereof which was called "Gotischer Plattenpanzer", or "Gothic armour". incorporating ridges and fluting in the armour reminiscent of Gothic architecture (and how it got its name). Gothic armour was revolutionary in its own day: it not only gave comprehensive protection to the wearer, but was flexible enough which granted better mobility to fighters encased in such a suit of armour. The arrival of this armour was also timely, for it was able to protect against the then weaker projectiles of rudimentary firearms.

The first effect of this was an increase in the armour of heavy cavalry: unlike chain armour, plate armour gave better protection against slashing blows, and could with luck turn a few thrusts. This made knights on horseback even more impervious to weapons, albeit the weight of the armour meant that only mounted units could use it over extended periods of time. Yet by this time new tactics were rendering armoured cavalry obsolete: the use of disciplined ranks of spears as well as more judicious use of gunpowder weapons meant that the glorious charges of knights in war was soon to become a thing of the past. At the same time too, Europe was also moving away from the feudal system. Military command would no longer be delegated to landowners of questionable loyalty, but would be directly under the thumb of a new class of aristocrats. True, they were indeed still feudal nobles but they were slowly being woven into the fabric of a new centralised state. The role of heavy cavalry reflected this too, as being no longer the preserve of the highest-ranking nobles, but was also recruiting from the commoners and the yeomen to make up for a shortfall in manpower, especially after the Black Death of the mid-14th century.

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