The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Partial armour
  • Partial armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Nuremberg, Germany
  • c. 1530
  • Iron or steel, fluted
  • Weight: 2.32 kg, helmet
    Weight: 1.048 kg, gorget
    Weight: 4.43 kg, breastplate, fauld and tassets
    Weight: 2.92 kg, backplate
    Weight: 1.695 kg, arm defence (left)
    Weight: 2.04 kg, arm defence (right)
    Weight: 0.41 kg, gauntlet (left)
    Weight: 0.45 kg, gauntlet (right)
    Weight: 0.245 kg, besagew (left)
    Weight: 0.235 kg, besagew (right)
    Weight: 1.36 kg, cuisse (left)
    Weight: 1.19 kg, cuisse (right)
  • A25
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Maximilian-style armours were produced in very large numbers throughout the first half of the sixteenth century. All of the master armourers working in central Europe were fluent in the style, with fine, densely fluted armours being produced in Augsburg, Innsbruck and many other places thoughout the German Lands as well as in Northern Italy. However it was Nuremburg, the beating heart of the German Renaissance, which became perhaps most closely associated with this distinctive fashion. Although several great artist-armourers called Nuremberg their home, the city’s armour-making industry was geared much more heavily towards the rapid mass-production of military equipment. During the Middle Ages, Nuremberg had become famous as a centre for the fabrication of mail armour, a process requiring large numbers of specialist workers and production-line organisation. It is clear that by the sixteenth century Nuremberg’s high-output manufacturing culture had taken on the production of complete and partial plate armours in huge quantities.

    This armour is a typical example of a simple, practical field armour of the first half of the sixteenth century. Its uncomplicated design means that there is little that can go wrong with it, and with an original weight of 20 kg (including the missing greaves and sabatons), it is light and comfortable to wear. The construction of the shoulder and arm defenses maximise flexibility and range of movement, while at the same time offering few gaps to enemy weapons. The thinness of the medium-carbon steel not only kept the total weight of the armour down, it also increased economic efficiency, with less valuable steel being required to cover the whole body, and with lighter plate being easier for the craftsmen to work for long periods. At the same time, the quality of the steel meant that the armour could be made thinner and lighter, while still providing good protection.