The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Full armour
  • Full armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • c. 1560
  • Iron or steel, copper alloy and leather, pierced, embossed and etched
  • Weight: 20.81 kg, total weight
  • A50
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Some armour worn in tournaments during the Renaissance were made purely for these peaceful formal combats, often held to celebrate marriages or other important social or diplomatic occasions. Others, like this one, were not dedicated pieces of sports equipment, but rather war armours which included additional pieces to adapt them for tournament use. This armour, which in its basic form exemplifies a standard Italian field armour of the mid-16th century has lost all of its original tournament pieces. We can be sure they existed however, because the armour still carries a threaded socket on the left shoulder, designed to take a special reinforcing plate for the left side employed in the free tourney, a team combat fought on horseback with lances and swords. If this armour were meant only for the battlefield, it would not have that attachment point.

    In most respects this armour is typical of Italian war armours of its time. The waist line is quite low and gently rounded, a fashion dateable to c. 1550-70. The couters (elbow plates) also are of the standard form, with roped medial ridges.

    This armour appears to have been ‘refreshed’ in the 19th century. Areas of the etched decoration, which involves scrolling foliage in the Italian style, has been re-etched or engraved, where formerly it was probably quite worn. Also, the gauntlets appear not to have originally belonged to the armour, but have been etched and modified in other ways to match the rest of the armour.