The most common shield in history, having examples in every corner of the world in antiquity, is the round shield. Shaped to resemble a circle of various heights and thickness, round shields were made by the resources available to their makers. The shields were made typically of hides, wood or sometimes fully out of metal, with bronze or iron-coated outer rims. At the center they had another circle sort of bulging out and facing towards the enemy. These shields had different names and variations: buckler, targe, rondache etc. Their shape remained that of a circle, be it sort of board like, convex or concaved. Round shields were used in a punching motion to deflect an upcoming attack although sometimes they were used by pivoting the shield about the body. Effectiveness varied out of what material they were made out of, leather and hides providing the most bare resistance to blows or piercing, wood offering decent protection yet was often destroyed and lastly, those made of metal offered the best defense, often adorned with cuts made from blades and had concaving in of dots that deflected pierces littering it. The shields were decorated by various things, namely, they resembled flags or banners of the kingdoms and empires, they depicted of a deity or something scary as a means of being used as psychological warfare.Their usage was typically in warfare, yet some were created for ceremonial practices, such as rituals and burials.
Scutum was the shield associated with the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire being a rectangular shield. A rather heavy and big shield, the Scutum resembled sort of a portable door, offering side or total protection for the wielder. Used by infantry, it was crucial to formations such as the tortoise like formation of testudo or as a shield wall. It had an astounding effectiveness for defending and was almost unreachable standing firm against all odds in the hands of the Roman Empire’s legions. Their latter use was employed by crossbowmen in the High Middle Ages, placed in front of the wielder, providing cover whilst he reloaded his crossbow. Rectangular shields were made of wood, coated with bronze or iron. They were never fully made out of metal since the sheer size of the shield alongside the weight would require only a strongman to use it.
Often adoring the tapestries of Bayeux, the teardrop shield or more commonly known as the kite shield, was used particularly by the Normans. As round shields did not provide sufficient protection to cavalry, the kite shield would offer protection upwards from the neck of the horse, downwards to the thigh of the rider, efficiently covering his left side, and allowing him to easily maneuver his lance and sword with his right hand. The Normans decisively conquered England under their rule, Sicily, parts of North Africa and Anatolia with the usage of cavalry carrying the kite shields. As the crusades were called upon, they were the staple shield wielded by crusaders in the first crusades and were quickly adopted by the Byzantine Empire, while the Muslims feared the defense they provided in the battlefield. Made out of wood and coated with iron, having a similar round shaped concave bulging out in the middle like the round shield made of iron, the kite shield was used well into the High Middle Ages before being replaced by the heater shield.
Heater shields became used by knights in the Middle Ages first at events for jousting, later for battle and wars. Heart shaped given their name, they were light compared to the kite shield, and less large and elongated, more medium in size. They were made out of wood for jousting tournaments. Namely, the jousters would use them to cover their right or left side facing one another. Metal is what they were fully made out of. Easy to wield and offering solid protection, they were used widely through Europe during the High and the Late Middle Ages by knights, men at arms and mercenaries. As gunpowder became the evolution of combat, shields were discarded as they offered very little of protection against the ballistic projectiles of the gunpowder age and became more heraldic in nature. Royal houses and families used them as backgrounds. The Heater Shields were normally adorned with wreaths, helmets, symbols of the kingdoms, empires or family traditions in order to show their power and influence. Nonetheless, shields became obsolete on the battlefield as their age of use was over.