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. 1540 - 1550
  • Iron or steel, incised and embossed
  • Weight: 15.46 kg, total weight
  • Mark: Nuremberg guild mark Stamped
  • A36
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Like A35 this armour is an excellent example of the military harnesses produced in Nuremberg throughout the mid- to late 16th century. It carries a total of seven stampings of the Nuremberg city mark, while the backplate also carries an N mark on its interior surface- probably a Nuremberg quality mark. This armour is especially notable for being almost entirely homogeneous, apart from the associated helmet and cod-piece.

    Three-quarter armours like this were extremely versatile, and were worn in slightly different configurations both on foot and on horseback, by infantrymen, light cavalry, and demi-lancers (medium cavalry). The basic workmanship is very good, the plates well-formed, skilfully ground and polished, and decorated with subtle but elegant sunken bands and borders. It is a testament to the skill and organisation of Nuremberg’s armour-making industry that such a high level of quality could be achieved on what was essentially mass-produced equipment. One interesting short-cut has been made on this armour, which suggests also the armourer’s need to work quickly. Instead of having articulated lames around the elbow joint, the arm defences are each made in three simple parts- the upper cannon, couter (elbow plate) and lower cannon. The maker has left enough overlap between the three plates to prevent gapping when the elbow is flexed. This is a construction method that would have saved some considerable time in manufacture, and yet does not significantly reduce the level of protection afforded by the armour.

    The helmet, though associated, is a very fine example of a contemporary ‘closed burgonet’ or ‘close-helmet of burgonet form’. It displays the skull with pivoted bevor (chin-plate) and articulated neck plates of a typical close-helmet, combined with the falling buffe (face-guard) and peak of a burgonet, to create a highly adaptable form of head protection suitable to a number of different fighting roles. The skull of this example has been drawn up into a very impressive point at its apex, a form especially popular in Eastern Europe, which Nuremberg routinely supplied with huge numbers of armours.