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
  • Italy
  • c. 1560
  • Steel, leather and copper alloy, embossed
  • Weight: 3.997 kg, helmet
    Weight: 1.97 kg, reinforcing bevor
    Weight: 3.77 kg, breastplate
    Weight: 0.96 kg, tasset (left)
    Weight: 0.65 kg, tasset (right)
    Weight: 3.7 kg, grandguard
  • A61
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Although these armour parts are associated, with each one originating from a different harness, they all belong to the same style of mid 16th-century Italian jousting armour. This style was characterised by a heavy close-helmet with a sharply angular visor, a very deep reinforcing bevor or buffe drawn down to the level of the wearer’s sternum, and a grandguard carefully moulded to the shape of the left side of the breastplate and shoulder. The grandguard was distinctively secured to the breastplate by means of three large bolts, the upper two also holding the lower edge of the reinforcing bevor in place underneath the grandguard. Normally the reinforcing bevor would simply carry a pair of large holes to engage with the bolts mounted on the breastplate beneath; here however the bevor has been slotted at a later date in a somewhat unsuccessful effort to made the associate bevor fit this particular breastplate.

    A complete armour of this style would also have included asymmetrical vambraces, the left carrying a large, heavy reinforce for the elbow, the right made lighter and more flexible to enable good control of the lance. The asymmetrical design continued into the gauntlets, with the left being a heavier mitten-type with a solid wrist and vertical flange to protect the thumb, the right being again lighter and permitting a much greater range of movement. The armour would also have included full leg armour, with the lower edges of the greaves cut straight above the ankles to facilitate riding, and full boot-stirrups to protect the feet in the event of collision with the tilt.

    The fluted tassets are also typical of the style, although the Wallace Collection examples were acquired separately by Sir Richard Wallace as part of the composite German field armour A20; these were removed in the 20th century and remounted as part of this ensemble in order to display them in a more accurate context.

    Italian jousts of this type were most commonly held in town squares such as the Piazza della Loggia in Brescia, where lavish jousts at the tilt were staged throughout the 16th century and later. An armour of this style is among the trophies of arms and armour represented in relief in Brescia’s Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie in Brescia.