calvary shield

Protectors on Horseback: The Significance of the Calvary Shield in Battle

Calvary shields have played a crucial role in military history, protecting soldiers on horseback in battle scenarios. These shields were specifically designed for cavalry soldiers, providing them with an additional layer of defense against attacks.

The significance of the calvary shield cannot be overstated. In battle, the shield protected riders from spears, arrows, and other projectiles that could have otherwise caused serious injury or death. It also helped to shield the horses from harm, ensuring they could continue to carry the riders into battle.

Key Takeaways:

  • Calvary shields were crucial for protecting cavalry soldiers in battle.
  • These shields helped to defend against attacks and provided an additional layer of protection.
  • Calvary shields were also important for protecting horses in battle scenarios.

History of the Calvary Shield

The use of shields in warfare dates back to ancient times, and calvary shields played an important role in protecting soldiers on horseback. The earliest calvary shields were likely made of wood, but as armies evolved, so too did their weaponry and protective gear.

Ancient calvary shields were often round or oval-shaped, designed to cover the rider’s body while still allowing for mobility. Some shields were reinforced with metal, making them heavier but more effective against certain weapons.

Ancient Origins of Calvary Shields

The origins of calvary shields can be traced back to the earliest civilizations, including the Greeks and Romans. These shields were often decorated with symbols and designs that represented the soldiers’ respective armies.

The Spartans, for example, used a distinct red shield with a lambda symbol, while the Roman cavalry often sported a circular shield with a depiction of a thunderbolt.

Evolution of Calvary Shields

Over time, the design and materials used for calvary shields changed to adapt to new battle strategies and technologies. During the Middle Ages, knights used large, heavy shields made of metal to protect themselves in jousting and combat.

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the introduction of firearms made armor and shields less effective, and cavalry soldiers began using smaller, lighter shields made from materials like leather and wicker.

Today, modern military units still use shields in certain situations, but the design and materials have evolved to keep up with modern weaponry and tactics.

Types of Calvary Shields

Calvary shields came in various forms and designs, each tailored to suit specific combat scenarios. The use of these shields often depended on factors such as the terrain, the enemy’s tactics, and the size of the cavalry unit.

One prevalent type of calvary shield was the round or oval-shaped shield. These shields were commonly used in ancient times and were made of leather or wood. They were lightweight and easy to carry, making them ideal for quick maneuvering on horseback. The round shape of the shield provided full-body protection to the cavalry soldier.

Another type of calvary shield was the kite shield, which was designed to protect the lower half of the horse and rider. These shields were typically made of wood and featured a long, narrow shape that allowed the rider to attack while still being protected. The kite shield was widely used in the Middle Ages, particularly during battles involving knights and other heavily armored cavalry units.

The heater shield was another common type of calvary shield. It was named after its resemblance to a flatiron (or “heater”), featuring a flat, triangular shape that protected the upper body of the rider. The heater shield was popular in the 14th and 15th centuries, particularly among English cavalry units, and often featured colorful heraldic designs that identified the wearer.

Other Designs and Variations

Other types of calvary shields included the buckler, which was a smaller shield designed to be used in conjunction with a sword or other weapon. The pavise was a larger shield used by mounted crossbowmen, which could be propped up on the ground to provide cover while reloading. The large wooden targe was used by Scottish cavalry units and often featured intricate Celtic designs.

The designs and materials used in calvary shields also varied according to the region and time period. Viking shields were often made from lightweight wood covered in leather or animal hide, while ancient Persian cavalry units used large, rectangular shields made from wicker or reed. In modern times, many military units have adopted bulletproof shields made from Kevlar or other high-tech materials.

Function and Features of the Calvary Shield

The primary function of the calvary shield was to protect the soldier on horseback from enemy attacks. The shield was crafted to withstand various forms of impact, including arrows, swords, and spears. Made from sturdy materials such as wood, leather, or metal, the shields were designed with a concave shape to deflect projectiles.

But the calvary shield wasn’t just a tool for defense. It also played an important offensive role in battle. The soldier could use the shield as a weapon, either by using its edge to bash opponents or by pushing enemies off balance.

One of the most critical features of the calvary shield was its size and weight. Generally, these shields were larger and heavier than infantry shields, with a weight of up to 15 pounds. The shield’s large size created a broader surface area of protection, which meant that cavalry soldiers could stay protected while still maneuvering on horseback.

In addition to its size, the calvary shield also had a distinct design. Shields were usually oval or kite-shaped, allowing for greater coverage. Handles were attached to the back of the shield, allowing the soldier to grip it securely with one hand while controlling the horse with the other.

Another feature of some calvary shields was the addition of metal fittings, such as bosses, rims, or studs. These fittings added reinforcement and created a loud clanging noise when struck, potentially demoralizing enemy soldiers and horses.

Overall, the calvary shield was a crucial tool for any cavalry soldier. Its design and features provided protection and offensive capabilities, allowing soldiers to be effective in battle while on horseback.

Calvary Shields in Historical Battles

Throughout history, calvary shields have been used in many famous battles, playing a crucial role in protecting soldiers on horseback.

One of the most notable battles where calvary shields were employed was the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The British and their allies used the famous “Waterloo” shield, which was designed to protect both the horse and rider from musket fire. The shield was so effective that it helped the allied forces defeat Napoleon’s army, ending the Napoleonic Wars.

Another significant battle where calvary shields were used was the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The Scottish army used a variety of different shields, including targe shields, which were made of wood and covered in leather. These shields were effective in protecting soldiers from enemy gunfire.

During the American Civil War, calvary shields were used extensively by both the Union and Confederate armies. These shields were designed to protect soldiers during cavalry charges, which were a common tactic in this conflict. The Union army used the “Dyer” shield, while the Confederate army used the “Bullseye” shield.

Overall, calvary shields have played an important role in many historical battles, offering crucial protection to soldiers on horseback. Their effectiveness in combat has been demonstrated time and time again, making them an enduring symbol of military history.

The Decline and Revival of Calvary Shields

Despite their historical significance, calvary shields saw a decline in warfare as new technologies and tactics emerged. With the rise of firearms and the increased mobility of soldiers, the use of calvary shields became less practical. However, in recent years, there has been a revival of interest in calvary shields and their use in certain military units today.

Modern calvary shields are often made of lightweight, durable materials such as Kevlar or composite materials. They are designed to provide protection against ballistics and fragmentation, as well as against close-range weapons such as knives and bayonets. Some modern calvary shields are also equipped with features such as cameras and lights, allowing soldiers to gather intelligence and navigate in low-light situations.

The revival of calvary shields can be attributed in part to the recognition of the advantages they offer in certain combat situations. The use of calvary shields can provide protection for soldiers during urban combat, where they may be exposed to a range of threats such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), snipers, and hostile crowds. Additionally, calvary shields can offer protection during riot control and crowd management operations.

The modern adaptation of calvary shields is not limited to military use. There is a growing trend of calvary-inspired shields being used in non-military contexts such as law enforcement and security services. These shields are often designed to be lightweight and portable, making them easy to transport and deploy in a range of situations. They offer protection for personnel during crowd management operations, protests, and other potentially volatile situations.

The decline and revival of calvary shields reflects the ongoing evolution of warfare and the need for adaptable equipment that can meet the demands of new combat environments. While the use of calvary shields may have changed over time, their significance in military history is undeniable, and their enduring legacy continues to offer important lessons for contemporary warfare.

Training and Skill with Calvary Shields

The use of calvary shields in battle required extensive training and skill on the part of cavalry soldiers. These shields were essential in protecting soldiers on horseback from enemy weapons, but they also required a significant amount of physical strength to maneuver.

Calvary shield training involved learning how to properly hold and use the shield in battle, as well as developing the necessary skills to coordinate with other soldiers in formation. This training was often conducted through repetitive drills and exercises designed to improve reflexes and reaction times.

The skill required to use a calvary shield also extended beyond physical ability. Soldiers needed to be able to read the battlefield and anticipate enemy movements in order to position their shield effectively. They also needed to be able to communicate effectively with their fellow soldiers to ensure that everyone was protected from enemy attacks.

Overall, the training and skill required to effectively use a calvary shield was essential in ensuring the protection and success of cavalry soldiers in battle.

Symbolism and Cultural Significance of Calvary Shields

The calvary shield has not only been a practical tool for protection in battle but has also held significant cultural symbolism throughout history. These shields were often adorned with designs and symbols that represented the values and beliefs of the cavalry soldier and their society.

The use of symbols on calvary shields can be traced back to ancient times, where they were used to represent the tribe or nation a soldier belonged to. As time progressed, these symbols evolved to include religious and mythological motifs. For example, during the Middle Ages, many calvary shields featured Christian symbols such as the cross and the fleur-de-lis.

Calvary shields also held symbolic significance in heraldry, where they were used to represent noble families and dynasties. In many cases, these shields were passed down from generation to generation and became a symbol of family identity and pride.

Furthermore, the cultural significance of calvary shields extended to their representation in art and literature. Many historical paintings depict cavalry soldiers holding shields adorned with intricate designs and symbols. These works of art often romanticized the role of the calvary soldier in battle, portraying them as brave and noble protectors.

Today, calvary shields continue to hold significance in popular culture, particularly in fantasy and role-playing games. These shields are often used to represent the strength and bravery of fictional characters and heroes.

Modern Adaptations of Calvary Shields

While the use of calvary shields in modern warfare has declined, technological advancements have led to new adaptations of these shields that enhance their protective capabilities. One example is the use of bulletproof materials in calvary shields, which provide even greater protection to soldiers on horseback.

Another modern adaptation is the incorporation of electronic components in calvary shields. Some shields now have integrated cameras and communication devices that allow cavalry soldiers to gather intelligence and coordinate with their team more effectively.

Outside of military contexts, calvary-inspired shields have also found a place in popular culture and sports. For example, some football teams have adopted calvary shields as part of their logos or uniform designs, symbolizing strength and protection.

These modern adaptations demonstrate the enduring significance of calvary shields and the ongoing interest in finding new ways to improve their functionality. As technology continues to evolve, it will be fascinating to see how calvary shields continue to adapt and evolve as well.

Calvary Shield Collecting and Preservation

Calvary shields have played a pivotal role in military history, making them a coveted collectible for history enthusiasts and military buffs alike. With their intricate designs and historical significance, calvary shields are an impressive addition to any collection. However, the process of collecting and preserving these shields requires careful consideration.

One of the primary challenges of collecting calvary shields is their rarity. Genuine shields from ancient times are difficult to come by, and those that are available often come with a hefty price tag. As a result, collectors must be vigilant and exercise caution when acquiring shields to ensure their authenticity.

Another consideration is the ethical implications of collecting historical artifacts. While owning a calvary shield can be exciting, it’s important to recognize the cultural and historical significance of these items. Collectors must be respectful of the origins of these shields and ensure they are obtained through legal and ethical means.

Proper preservation and care of calvary shields is also crucial. These artifacts are often delicate and susceptible to damage from moisture, light, and other environmental factors. Collectors must take appropriate measures to protect their shields, including storing them in a controlled climate and avoiding exposure to direct sunlight.

Overall, the collecting and preservation of calvary shields requires a balance of passion and responsibility. While these artifacts are fascinating historical items, they must be treated with respect and care to ensure their longevity and cultural significance.


Calvary shields have played a crucial role in military history, protecting cavalry soldiers on horseback during battles. From ancient times to modern warfare, these shields have evolved to suit different battle strategies and environments. Despite their decline in modern warfare, recent technological advancements and a renewed interest in their use have contributed to their revival in certain military units today.

Aside from their practical use in battle, calvary shields hold symbolic and cultural significance as well. They have been represented in art, literature, and heraldry, and continue to hold a place in ceremonies and traditions.

Overall, the enduring impact of calvary shields on military history offers valuable lessons for contemporary warfare. Their significance goes beyond their protective capabilities, serving as a reminder of the bravery and skill of cavalry soldiers throughout history. The importance of preserving these artifacts and their cultural and historical significance should not be overlooked.


Q: What is the significance of the calvary shield in battle?

A: The calvary shield plays a vital role in protecting cavalry soldiers on horseback. It acts as a barrier against enemy projectiles and provides a defensive advantage in close combat situations.

Q: What is the history of the calvary shield?

A: The calvary shield has a long history, dating back to ancient times. It has evolved over the years, adapting to different battle strategies and environments.

Q: What are the different types of calvary shields?

A: There are various types of calvary shields, each with its own design and material. These shields were tailored to suit different battle scenarios and provide optimal protection for cavalry soldiers.

Q: What is the function and features of the calvary shield?

A: The calvary shield serves to protect cavalry soldiers during battle. It has specific features that make it effective in combat, such as its size, shape, and construction materials.

Q: In which historical battles did calvary shields play a significant role?

A: Calvary shields have played crucial roles in many historical battles. Their impact on the outcome of these battles and the tactics employed by cavalry soldiers are notable.

Q: What is the decline and revival of calvary shields?

A: Calvary shields have experienced a decline in modern warfare, but there has been a recent revival of interest in their use within certain military units today.

Q: What training and skill are required to use calvary shields effectively?

A: Cavalry soldiers undergo training to acquire the skill needed to effectively use calvary shields. Techniques and strategies are employed to maximize the protective capabilities of these shields.

Q: What is the symbolism and cultural significance of calvary shields?

A: Calvary shields hold symbolism and cultural significance, being used in ceremonies, heraldry, and represented in various forms of art and literature.

Q: What are the modern adaptations of calvary shields?

A: Calvary shields have been adapted to modern times, incorporating technological advancements to enhance their protective capabilities. They are also used outside of military contexts.

Q: How are calvary shields collected and preserved?

A: Calvary shield collecting is a hobby, and it is essential to preserve these historical artifacts. However, there are challenges and ethical considerations involved in their collection and preservation.