The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Three-quarter armour
  • Three-quarter armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • North Italy
  • c. 1620 - 1635
  • Very low-carbon steel, gold, gold braid, velvet and leather, gilt, blued, etched and incised
  • Weight: 2.11 kg, helmet
    Weight: 0.652 kg, gorget
    Weight: 3.51 kg, breastplate
    Weight: 4.05 kg, backplate
    Weight: 1.88 kg, tasset (left)
    Weight: 1.85 kg, tasset (right)
    Weight: 1.92 kg, culet
    Weight: 2.54 kg, pauldron and arm (left)
    Weight: 2.46 kg, pauldron and arm (right)
    Weight: 6.12 kg, gauntlets
    Weight: 20.09 kg, complete armour
  • A63
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • It is often thought that the invention of firearms brought a swift end to knights in armour. But this is not at all the case. Firearms and full plate armour co-existed on the battlefield for over two hundred years, from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. And armoured horsemen in the seventeenth century were themselves armed with firearms, generally a pair of large pistols and a small long-gun called a carbine. This fine gilded armour was made between about 1620 and 1635 in Northern Italy, probably for a highranking member of the ruling House of Savoy, a region in the border country between southern France to the west and Italy and Switzerland to the east. The whole surface of the armour is richly decorated with an etched network of diamond-shaped panels, formed by Savoyard knots enclosing trophies, coronets and palm branches, and pairs of clasped hands, all gilt against a dark, granulated background. The clasped hands, together with a representation of the fire of friendship, also appear on the elbow wings.

    In the 1600s cavalrymen armed with this type of equipment were called cuirassiers, after the cuirass, the breast and backplates, that formed the core element of the armour. In England cuirassiers were sometimes called ‘lobsters’, the use of large sets of articulated plates, on the legs and inside the elbows, making the armoured man look somewhat like a large crustacean, at least in the eyes of seventeenth-century soldiers for whom full armour was becoming something of a novelty.