OK, who would win in a race: A soldier, a firefighter, or a knight? What, you’ve never asked yourself that? Well, for those of you who did, you finally have your answer thanks to a video released by Daniel Jaquet of the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance (Center for Higher Studies of the Renaissance):
The results? Firefighter in first with 180 seconds, knight in second with 190 seconds, and soldier dead last with 218 seconds.
Keeping in mind that I am not a medieval armor expert, the armor worn by the “knight” in this race appears to be representative of the sort worn in the 15th Century, but with an open-face helmet (likely for safety). Compare the suit, which has large pauldrons and a fauld (telescoping mail skirt), and minimal exposed mail (chainmail) to the one worn by Ian LaSpina in his comparison between a 14th Century suit of armor and the load of a modern infantryman.
Besides driving home the fact that knights in shining armor were not nearly so immobile as modern tradition portrays them, this race also illustrates something else: The modern infantryman’s load is a considerable burden. Although, as shown in the aforementioned comparison from Knyght Errant, the loads of a medieval knight and a modern infantryman are fairly comparable in terms of mass, the distribution clearly is not. Although this “race” is not scientific enough to prove the exact degree to which the infantryman’s mobility is hindered, it does show him being at a significant disadvantage versus either the knight or the firefighter over the obstacle course. Logic, too, points this way: While the knight’s armor is well-distributed over his body, the soldier’s burden is borne almost entirely on his back and shoulders, with relatively little being carried at his hips. This not only makes moving with the load more awkward, but also increases the risk of injury.