With Roman influence and the Renaissance, locking cabinets in the Middle Ages became more refined and were very artistic and impressive to look at.
Medieval safes were typically wooden chests, however, were commonly bound with iron bands for extra protection and security. Safes themselves needed protection as they were artistically designed and very expensive particularly when the safes had intricate and detailed carvings and were often adorned with precious metals and jewels.
Metal work was considered a great skill in
Medieval times, and this was showcased through ornate keys, locks and mechanisms. While impressively crafted, these were often just for show, and the keys were not necessarily secure. In fact, locks and keys were often on display to show the high craftsmanship; safe owners want people to see the parts, finish and material used as a sign of wealth and high quality.
As locks never really protected it's contents, safes were instead made secure by having many locking bolts rather than relying on the ornate lock and key. The many bolts gave security to the contents as the many bolts took a long time and effort to open, although it could be done by anyone with time and persistence on their hands. Unlike the fool-proof and highly secure safes you can purchase through safes.co.uk,
Medieval safes only provided protection from time. If a thief had long enough in the Middle Ages, they would be able to retrieve the contents without too much difficulty.
Another characteristic of
Medieval safes was that they were extremely heavy. Thanks to the use of wood, iron bars and many bolts used, actually made the safes very difficult to use and opening the door or chest upwards was practically impossible. With this in mind, safes were then built to have hinged doors on the side of the container to make it easier to open the safe and retrieve the contents.
In the next installment of the history of safes, we will explore how wooden safes transformed into metal safes and how royalty not only used safes but crafted them too.