-- Gauntlet
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Gauntlet is a general term for armor that covers the hands and sometimes the wrist and forearm. Generally, if the armor allows relatively unrestricted movement, then it is considered a glove. This is the case with leather armor that protects the hands. The term gauntlet is usually reserved for metal protection such as chain mail or plate.

The first integrated gauntlet began with the use of chain mail hauberks. Some hauberks extended beyond the full length of the arm to encompass the hand in what is called a muffler. The muffler was split so that the wearer could take his hand out when necessary.

Plate gauntlets developed as part of a complete suit of plate armor, and were well established over leather and chain mail by the 14th century. The earliest gauntlets were merely stiff plates that extended over the back of the hand; the wearer still had gloves of leather or chain mail protecting the fingers. Eventually, gauntlets evolved to include flexible plates that allowed movement of the fingers within a metal enclosure. The next logical step from these "mitten" type gauntlets was to develop a full fledged plate glove in which each finger could move independently. Mitten type gauntlets remained in use, and both seemed to be equally viable based on user preference.

Gauntlets were part of a complete suit of armor, and unlike helmets their evolution is not as well defined. Different styles of gauntlets do not necessarily have unique names and classifications, and it is difficult to detail the evolution of the gauntlet independent of the other pieces in a suit of armor.

Armor, General Term, Hands, History

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