The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Full armour
  • Full armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • c. 1515 - 1525
  • Steel
  • Weight: 18.99 kg, total weight
  • A24
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The Wallace Collection contains a number of armours and pieces of armour in the dramatic German fluted or ‘crested’ style, often called the ‘Maximilian’ style after the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (1459- 1519). Maximilian was a great armour-enthusiast, one who challenged his court armourers to create new, ground-breaking armour designs while taking great personal interest in the process. Many of the finest, hi-tech armours made by the great masters of southern Germany were, after all, intended for the Emperor’s personal use, in battle, jousts, tournaments, parades and other courtly spectacles.

    The ‘Maximilian’ style, which quickly gained popularity throughout the German Lands during the first decade of the sixteenth century. It was characterised by tight, regular groups of flutes hammered painstakingly into almost all of the surfaces of every part of a complete armour. This striking visual effect became synonymous with the Northern Renaissance in Germany, the dense fluting recalling the groups of tight folds and pleats of male and female clothing of the time. The link with fashionable civilian dress is further emphasised by the fact that the only parts of the armour always left plain were the greaves –the plates encasing the lower legs– the contrasting smoothness of which was almost certainly intended to evoke closely-fitted silk stockings.

    Each flute was emphasised with strong file-cut lines on either side, making a Maximilian armour even more time-consuming and difficult to create. The style is also known for its typically narrow waist which expands rapidly into a very broad chest and shoulders. The Wallace Collection includes a strong group of pieces in the Maximilian style.

    One complete composite armour dating from around 1515-25 (A24) is an excellent example of the type. From a technical point of view, one of the most interesting aspects of this armour is the way in which the upper plates of the spaudlers –shoulder defenses– have been made to be detachable from their articulation lames, which are integral to the vambraces. This allows the arm defenses to be converted for heavy cavalry use, by replacing the shoulder caps with much larger, wing-like plates, essentially, converting the lighter, less protective spaudlers into heavier, more protective pauldrons.