The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Parts of an armour
  • Parts of an armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • South Germany, probably Augsburg
  • c. 1550
  • Steel, copper alloy, leather and gold, embossed, etched and gilt
  • Weight: 1.96 kg, helmet
    Weight: 3.6 kg, breastplate
    Weight: 1.71 kg, pauldron
    Weight: 0.31 kg, gauntlet
    Weight: 0.55 kg, cuisse
    Weight: 0.89 kg, greave (right)
    Weight: 0.92 kg, greave (left)
    Weight: 2.57 kg, bevor
    Weight: 1.95 kg, grandguard
    Weight: 1.53 kg, pasguard
    Weight: 1.58 kg, left gauntlet reinforce
    Weight: 1.53 kg, manifer
    Weight: 1.12 kg, tasset
    Weight: 1.4 kg, demi-shaffron
  • A43
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This group of objects comprises portions of a large garniture made, probably in Augsburg, for a member of the Hürnheim family, probably Hans Walther von Hürnheim (d. 1557), a prominent Swabian nobleman who served both in the government of the Emperor Charles V and as mercenary captain. He is known to have had ten thousand Landsknechte under his command, fought on the Imperial side at the Battle of Mühlberg (1547) and led mercenary forces in many other campaigns in the service of the Empire. He was also a member of the order of the Knights of the Golden Spur, a chivalric brotherhood made up of elite Imperial officers. The Hürnheim connection is confirmed by the family’s coat of arms displayed on the shaffron escutcheon: a pair of golden stag’s antlers on a red field.

    The complete armour was originally comprised of a field harness which could be configured for different forms of combat using a set of exchange pieces for field, joust, and tournament. Some of these ‘double pieces’ make up the Wallace Collection group, composed of a light burgonet and left pauldron for the field, a left gauntlet, a right demi-cuisse, a pair of partial greaves, the reinforcing bevor, grandguard, reinforcing breastplate, tasset and gauntlet reinforce for the German joust in the ‘Italian’ fashion (Welschgestech), a manifer for one of the jousts in the German fashion, probably some form of Rennen or ‘joust of war’ and a half-shaffron. The essential field armour portions of this elegant garniture are today in the collection of the Royal Armouries, Leeds (inv. II.187). In the 1950s the field armour, then at the Tower of London, was brought together with the Wallace Collection pieces, so that the garniture’s Italian joust configuration could be recreated.

    The pieces are finely decorated with strapwork bands containing lines of alternatingly plain and gilt chevrons, the latter type also being filled with interlaced pomegranates and running foliage. Several garnitures decorated in this way seem to have existed; a portrait of Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza (1521-86) painted around 1550 perhaps by Otto van Veen (Gemäldegalerie, Dresden), shows the subject wearing an armour displaying the same decorative scheme. The clothing the Duke is shown wearing with the armour is embroidered with the same chevron pattern, showing how soft clothing and armour were sometimes deliberately coordinated.