A shield is a portable devise that protects the user during an attack. Shields have a long history and in medieval times could be found in a variety of sizes and designs. As with most things medieval, the shield’s quality was proportionate to the owner’s wealth.
The operation of the shield was quite simple. It would be place between the user and his attacker to block blows, swords, arrows or projectiles. Different shields were used by different types of knights and fighters. The more mobile the needs of the soldier, the lighter his shield would be. Knights on horseback or crossbowmen would use larger heavier shields to provide more protection, infantry would use smaller ones.
It was common for the shield to be designed to suit the fighter. For example, a knight on horseback would have a shield that would be flared or cut away at the top and tapered at the bottom to allow for use on horseback. Perhaps the shield would even have a cutaway for a lance. Typically the medieval shields were made of layered, laminated wood.
As armor improved, shields decreased in size and many abandoned then completely in favor of two handed combat. One shield that did develop as a result of this was a small shield called a buckler, one of the shields made of metal. This shield attached to the arm and was designed for hand to hand combat.
However, the invention of gunpowder and firearms rendered the medieval shield virtually obsolete.