Heater shield

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Geometrical construction of the "equilateral triangle" style of Heater shield, for use as an heraldic escutcheon
Effigy of William II Longespee (d.1250)in Salisbury Cathedral, showing an early triangular heater shield
Heraldic roll of arms displaying heater-shaped heraldic shields or escutcheons. Hyghalmen Roll, Germany, late 15th century

The heater shield or heater-shaped shield is a form of European medieval shield, developing from the early medieval kite shield in the late 12th century as depicted in the great seal of Richard I and John. The term is a neologism, created by Victorian antiquarians due to the shape's resemblance to a clothes iron.

Smaller than the kite shield, it was more manageable and could be used either mounted or on foot.[1] From the 15th century, it evolved into highly specialized jousting shields, often containing a bouche, a notch or "mouth" for the lance to pass through. As plate armor began to cover more and more of the body, the shield grew correspondingly smaller, until by the mid 14th century, it was hardly seen at all outside of tournaments. Heater shields were typically made from thin wood overlaid with leather. Some shields, such as that of Edward, the Black Prince from his tomb in Canterbury Cathedral, incorporated additional layers of gesso, canvas, and/or parchment.[2]


  1. ^ Medieval Swordsmanship 102
  2. ^ Arms & Armor of the Medieval Knight 83


  • Clements, John (1998). Medieval Swordsmanship: Illustrated Methods and Techniques, Boulder, Colorado: Paladin Press. ISBN 1-58160-004-6
  • Edge, David and Paddock, John (1988). Arms & Armor of the Medieval Knight, New York: Crescent Books. ISBN 0-517-10319-2